Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Visitors to Butiama

Part of my work as coordinator for the Butiama Cultural Tourism Enterprise is to receive visitors and respond to questions on Butiama's historical and cultural heritage.

Recently I had another privilege of receiving visiting students and teachers from Kowak Girls' Secondary School. The students did not have a lot of questions to ask, but we posed for several photographs, including the one above.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

A visit to an elderly woman, and revelations on a traditional brewing venture

For more than ten years I have paid school fees and other related expenses for two orphaned students who have recently completed secondary education. Today, I visited their grandmother at the neigbouring village of Muryaza.

A few days ago she asked to see me and I told her to remain at home and that I would visit her instead. Over the years she has been walking all the way from her house to mine to remind me of overdue fees, and to ask for my assistance on various issues. It is a round trip of about 8 kilometres; not a short distance for a woman who I estimate is at least 80 years old.
With Nyakwe Masura (left) at her house.
A few months ago when I delayed the final payment of the school fees for her grandsons she urged me to pay the fees as soon as possible adding: “You have eaten the whole cow; you only have the tail to finish.”

Now both her grandchildren want to join the army. And that was the reason why she called me today to ask me to help them enlist. Two weeks ago the younger of the two asked me for Shs.17,000 (approximately $US 8) for launching a brewing venture. I gave him the money after he reassured me he was not going to produce illicit brew. Today he gave me details of his new venture, and I am worried he might not join the army.

With the money I gave him he produced three containers of approximately 20 litres each, and sold them for a total of shs.105,000 (Over $US 50), a profit of over 600 percent. The brewing process takes about two weeks, but the produce is sold in a day to owners of shebeens.

As I left, I told him I was worried that if he continues making money at this rate he might not join the army anymore. If he overcomes the initial challenge of raising sufficient capital, earning $US 50 adds up to $US 1,500 per month. And that isn’t small change by Tanzanian living standards.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Letter from Butiama: Everything is new

As Tanzanians wait eagerly for newly-elected President John Magufuli to unveil his new cabinet in the next few days, I share an old article I wrote over ten years ago when Tanzanians, in quite similar circumstances, were attempting to make sense of newly-elected President Jakaya Kikwete's campaign slogan.

The article, from my column "Letter from Butiama", was published in the Sundays News of 15 January 2015.


There are an overwhelming number of new names that Tanzanians have to begin to get used to. We have a newly elected president and we still have to get used to hearing “President Kikwete”; we have a new former president, and I was amused recently to hear someone say “Mzee Mkapa”, suggesting that only former presidents deserve that title; there is the new cabinet with new ministers and ministries.

What is probably not as new is President Jakaya Kikwete’s campaign slogan which first surfaced during the campaign period and left me, as one who writes in English, caught totally unprepared.

Ever since I first heard the slogan, I have attempted to translate it into English and it hasn’t been a pleasant exercise. It leaves me, as an English-language columnist with a sense that this government feels that English-language journalists should put in more hours of work than their Kiswahili-language colleagues. It is quite clear where the priorities of the administration lie. Kiswahili is on the rise while English is in for a rough five years, at the very least.

The Swahili words of the slogan, ari mpya, nguvu mpya, kasi mpya, which now has become a rallying call and is entering the day-to-day conversation of ordinary Tanzanians, convey pretty straightforward meanings. From a political standpoint the phrase has a clear and unambiguous meaning.

My interpretation of the slogan is an affirmation by a presidential aspirant and, later, presidential candidate that, once he gets hold of the steering wheel, he will apply  a little more power behind the engine of a car which is already in motion. Or was he, perhaps, thinking of fitting-in a new turbo-charged 12 cylinder monster of an engine to the vehicle? It would still amount to the same effect, just a difference of the power applied. The point, as I understood it, is he is looking at adding some impetus to a process that is already in motion. Any person, who understands Kiswahili and understands something about the political process, will undoubtedly understand the general intended meaning of the slogan.

The problem with language is that we always try to find the equivalent meanings in other languages, but sometimes it is not easy. I have heard a non-Tanzanian translate mapinduzi in Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) with the English word “revolution”, and so CCM to him was the Revolutionary Party. The images I get of a party that has “revolutionary” as part of its name is one that has spent years waging a war against an occupying force, with the AK-47 assault rifle as its weapon of choice. I suggested that the translation could have been improved.

In English ari is also zeal, enthusiasm, eagerness, initiative, and spirit, while kasi is less ambiguous and is the equivalent of speed. It is when I looked up the English equivalent of nguvu that I was left with a feeling that this administration probably wants English-language columnists to spend more time doing their homework. Nguvu is also force, power, strength; it can be authority, or supremacy; and it can be impetus, pressure, or solidarity.

The Swahili version of the slogan has a neat rhythmic sound to it. In English, depending on the words you use, the slogan can sound awkward, and produce an equally awkward meaning. From the several equivalent English translations provided of ari, nguvu, and kasi consider, “New (or is it renewed?) zeal, new pressure, and new speed”. I admit that translators and interpreters will, and probably already have, made a tidy sensible equivalent slogan in English.

Although, as I said, I feel excluded, I feel it is perfectly all right because the intended audience of the slogan is Tanzanian and Tanzanians understand Kiswahili better than any other language. Those who don’t understand Kiswahili can go to Kiswahili language schools. And those writers who do not want to spend too much time translating can switch to other subjects. To me it’s not even necessary to translate the slogan into English.

Perhaps a lesson can be learnt from the French. I know that one aspect of their culture that the French will defend, especially against English, to the last survivor is their language.

For all the love they have for their language I learnt from a fellow Tanzanian student in Canada, more than twenty years ago, that there is an English name that the French continued to use in speech: hot dog, that hot sausage enclosed as a sandwich in a roll of bread, the archetypal American food.

He told me that while the French in France continued to order their “hotdogs” using the original American name, the irony was that in Canada some staunch French Canadians from the province of Quebec would not have a single word of English in their discourse, and so to them the hot dog was chien chaud, literally “hot dog” – in French!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The government should ban male drivers on passenger buses

Sometime last year a passenger bus on the Mwanza - Musoma highway overtook a car I was driving and hardly ten seconds later smashed head-on against another oncoming bus. Death toll 12 and scores injured.

There are many character differences between males and females and I believe one of these might be the solution for avoiding, or at least reducing, road accidents on Tanzania's roads. The male drivers who sit behind the wheels of the country's passenger buses do not appear to care about the safety of the passengers they drive. The principal concern of most of these drivers is how fast they can drive from point A to point B and any consideration that the excessive speeds they are used to might prevent anyone from reaching point B is hidden or eludes their intellectual capacity and collective experiences.

Women are different in how preoccupied they are inclined to preserve rather than to end a life, particularly if its someone else's life. I have seen a photograph of a woman who having walked for days from a hunger-stricken area reached a relief camp with her child on her back. She died on a crouched position on all fours because she did not want to crush her child strapped on her back. The malnourished child survived.
Over speeding was the cause of this bus, plying between Tarime and Mwanza, to veer off the road near Mwanza on 18th October 2012. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported.
I was once approached by a woman whose husband had lost all his property to con men including an oxen plough that could have provided cash by hiring to farmers. He was ashamed to beg from neighbours for food; she, rather than see her children starve, walked more than twenty kilometres to ask for my assistance.

When the ill-fated bus overtook us I told the passenger sitting next to me how dangerous it was to drive on the unpaved road at a high speed and I slowed down to allow the dust ahead of us to clear up. When it did, hardly ten seconds later, we saw debris on the road and the bus that overtook us was lying on the ditch on the left side while the other bus it had struck was in the same position on the right side of the road. One passenger was attempting to get out of one of the bus windows.

The point at which both buses struck each other told the whole story; they were both severely damaged on the drivers' sides. Having seen most of what happened I could tell that either one or both of the bus drivers had strayed too far inside the opposite lane. To make matters worse that section of the road was under rehabilitation and any car ahead kicks up so much dust as to reduce visibility to a very short distance. A truck driven in the opposite direction minutes before the impact had exacerbated the already poor visibility. The driver of the bus that overtook us was driving at an excessive speed in a dust cloud and  without a clue of the whereabouts of incoming traffic that was approaching from the opposite direction.

There is another issue that should be tackled when addressing the incessant bus accidents on Tanzania's roads.  Most of the drivers on Tanzania's roads obtain their driving licences even before they learn how to drive. After driving behind a car from a driving school with a student driver and instructor on the road and having being signaled to overtake on a blind spot, I can also conclude there are probably few driving schools that actually impart even the most basic driving skills.

My point is that even the worst women bus driver in Tanzania will not drive blindly in a dust storm at more than 100 kilometres per hour without having a clear vision of the road ahead. Men will continue overtaking where they should not and continue risking the lives of other passengers without an iota of concern that things do not always go as planned.

Banning male bus passenger drivers will most certainly reduce bus accidents.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Kenyan mother names son "Air Force One"

This could be old news to Kenyans, but it came to my attention only recently.

When I read recently that a mother in Kenya named his son Air Force One, born during President Barack Obama's visit to Kenya I thought that was odd. Odd, but culturally understandable.

Throughout African societies, naming tradition is influenced by significant events. And if a Kenyan parent decides that a US president's visit is significant, she has every right to think so. In Tanzania Chausiku is the name given to girls born at night. The name Abidemi in Yoruba is given to a child born during the father's absence. Esi in Akan means born on Sunday.

So if a mother gave birth as Air Force One was touching down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport recently we might raise eyebrows on the choice of name, but as far as African naming tradition goes, it is perfectly in order.

So I was surprised to learn that some Kenyans squirmed and cringed in reaction when a Kenyan news anchor ululated as she introduced President Barack Obama and his host President Uhuru Kenyatta at a Nairobi meeting.

Julie Gichuru of Citizen TV ululated, as many Africans do on festive occasions, as she ceded the floor to President Obama and her action drew some criticism from some Kenyans. I suspect it reminded these critics that Kenyans were Kenyans; that Africans are Africans. And that act, to those who embrace and extol other cultures, was the the most damaging act she could have projected to a world-wide audience.

The interesting part is that anyone who watches American audiences will notice that, they too, utilise a form of ululation, as a positive reaction to speakers, and at sporting events.

Not surprisingly, besides the criticism, I have seen some praise for her high-pitched welcome from other Kenyans.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

My kind of politics

It's a long way to 2020, but already Zitto Kabwe has reportedly announced he will be one of the presidential candidates. Kabwe is chair of the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT - Tanzania). I do not not have a strong reason yet to support any single political party but I commend his move.
Zitto Kabwe addresses a campaign meeting in Musoma of the CHADEMA party in the 2010 elections.
Foremost, it provides an opportunity and ample time - five years - for voters to monitor his words and actions and decide in 2020 whether he deserves to become the next president. The current practice of presidential candidates revealing their presidential ambitions in final moments leading to an election is wrong, in my opinion.

Voters should have ample opportunity to assess the various candidates over a much more prolonged period. It is not enough to gauge the performance of a politician only during the several months leading up to the elections, and only, in my estimation, on how well the sponsoring party and image consultants project the candidates to the voters.

The Political Performance Indicator lists four qualities for judging the personality of a politician: rationality, authoritativeness, adventurousness, and inspiration. I am surprised they have omitted integrity, the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. All the four listed qualities would be worthless if a leader lacks integrity. Perhaps it is assumed that integrity is a default quality among candidates.

There are undoubtedly some good apples in the political basket but integrity is the single most important factor that leaves many voters searching aimlessly for credible choices in contemporary Tanzanian politics.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The President doesn't earn $192,000 per month. How much does he earn?

State House has refuted claims that President Jakaya Kikwete earns $US192,000 as salary per month. I thought the statement would say how much he actually earns. It did not. That, apparently, is within the legal protection enjoyed by public servants that maintains that salaries of public servants is confidential information.

Despite that, I note that the press release mentions that the newspaper that published the erroneous information could have used proper channels to obtain accurate information. And that is a change from the past when it appeared to me that any citizen inquiring about a public official's pay would have been told to find some other work to do.

Opposition presidential candidate Edward Lowassa is promising to slash the presidential salary considerably if elected in October's general elections although I do not know whether voters should read more politics than resolve in his promise.

I thought I should write something about my attitude on the secrecy surrounding these salaries but realised I had already written about it in 2013. Here's what I wrote then. What is your opinion?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Max Graham mixes up two Arusha Declarations

Max Graham, writing for The Independent, mixes up two Arusha Declarations; he erroneously cites the 1967 declaration instead of the 1961 declaration in his article.

The latter one was a political statement of intent; the earlier one - made at the eve of Tanganyika's independence - a declaration to protect and preserve the country's wildlife heritage for all humanity.

The Arusha Declaration is normally use to refer to the 1967 declaration, while the earlier one should have been referred to as the Arusha Declaration on Conservation.
A street in Arusha.
Both declarations are cited and mentioned regularly by those interested in conservation and politics. If you are not Tanzanian and have no interest in neither conservation nor politics you might have be excused for not having heard of Arusha. Wikipedia describes Arusha well.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Hard disk crash blues

I kept postponing backup of my data until it became too late. My hard disk crashed and I lost crucial data on my netbook.

The technician in Mwanza who replaced my disk was matter-of-fact when I asked him why disks crashed. He asked me how long I had used the laptop and I noted that he was calling it a laptop, instead of a what it is, a netbook. I assume "notebook" has not been readily accepted even by the experts.
I said: "three or four years." And he told me that is about the maximum life expectancy I should expect from my hard disc.

I plan to set up more regular data backups now.

The data loss includes a large selection of my digital photos and that means I cannot continue with posts on my 2013 in review series.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

2013 in review: 31 July

On the second day of our bicycle ride we stopped briefly at a village on our way to Nansio,

Ukerewe, and Ross took photographs of a group of enthusiastic children who took great delight to see their faces on camera.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Seventh Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival



Welcome to the 7th Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival.
As we, once again, gather to honour Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and reflect on his exemplary contribution to human development, our attention is drawn to challenges that seem to increasingly divert the development direction of our countries away from the people-centered development ideals to which Mwalimu Nyerere and like minded African leaders devoted their lives.

Africa is quoted as having witnessed significant economic growth in recent years, recording a growth of 5.8% in 2014 as compared to the global 3%, with many of its countries recording an 8% annual GDP growth. This economic growth is, to a large extent, attributed to the adoption of liberal and free market economic opportunities and interventions plus the intensification of private sector control of the means of economic production.

This economic success, however, has not necessarily translated into tangible improvement of the living conditions of the majority of the continent’s citizenry. Poverty rates in Sub Sahara Africa are still high, standing at 46.8% for people living under 1.25$ a day (2011).

In Tanzania, for example, the recently launched Tanzania Human Development Report 2014 states that “ Unfortunately,in recent decades Tanzania did not develop in a way desired by the nation’s father. Contrary to the strong desire set soon after independence to build a nation with high levels of human development, the state of human development in Tanzania to date is still low” (ESRF/UNDP/URT: 2015).

This observation is backed by an alarming increase in media reports on conflicts over land grabbing by foreign and local investors, land evictions of peasant communities, conflicts over mining rights between small scale and large scale miners, conflicts between rural communities and government over land reserves or conflicts over land between agricultural and pastoralist communities.

Such conflicts are a manifestation that something is going amiss and violating the economic, social and human rights of the ordinary citizenry, particularly rural grassroots communities who seem to bear the brunt of the forces of rapid and deep entrenchment of capitalism Africa is going through.

The capitalist character of free market, cut throat competition, maximization of profit, exploitation for profit, individual drive for quick wealth have ushered in a rise in human rights violations and social injustices against those unable to protect themselves against the economically powerful. For many grassroots communities in Africa, the social cost of capitalism far outweighs the widely publicized economic benefits. Economic exploitation, unemployment, lack of access to basic needs and services and poverty in general are intensifying.

While recognizing that scholars have widely engaged in an analysis of these developments, the 7th Mwalimu Nyerere Festival has selected the theme of “ Privatization and Social Justice for Grassroots Communities” in order to further interrogate this situation. Furthermore, we have opted to give a voice to grassroots communities to talk about their experiences relating to privatization and social justice for their communities. Representatives from grassroots communities from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa will speak on cases of conflicts over land and mining rights and highlight what strategies they are adopting to deal with the challenges posed.

It is hoped that the voices from these grassroots communities will provide a people’s perspective of the magnitude of development challenges on the ground and feed into the analysis and debate on what action is required to mitigate the social injustices to the continent’s citizenry arising out of privatization processes.

We wish you a very fruitful and enriching intellectual and social engagement during the festival and thank you for coming.

Professor Penina Mlama
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Professorial Chair in Pan African Studies
University of Dar es Salaam.
DAY 1 – MONDAY 13th April 2014

SESSION I – 9.00am – 11:00am

Opening Ceremony - 9.00 am – 9. 50am

Procession from Council Chamber- 9.00am - 9.10 am

Performance- Nyota Group- Majeleko, Dodoma – 9.10am- 9.20am

Installation of “Distinguished Nyerere Voices from the Grassroots - 9.20 am – 9. 30am

Opening Remarks – Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair- Prof Penina Mlama – 9.30pm – 9. 40am

Welcome Remarks- Vice Chancellor, University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala – 9.40- 9.50am.

Presentations 9.50 am – 11.00am

Grassroots Experiences on Privatization and Land- “Distinguished Nyerere Voices from the Grassroots” -

Loliondo Land case- – Mama Kooya Timan- Ololosokwan, Loliondo,Tanzania
Mubende land case – Mr Peter Kayiira – Mubende, Uganda
Garissa land case - Mr Abdul Sugaal – Garissa, Kenya

Health Break- 11.00am - 11.30 am

SESSION 2 – 11.30 am- 1.00pm

Goodwill Messages  - 11.30am – 11.40 am

Ambassador- Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Open Society Foundations (tbc)
National Cultural Heritage Council– South Africa

Presentations – 11.40 am- 1.00pm

Grassroots Communities Experiences on Privatization and Social Justice – Onesmo Olengurumwa – Human and Legal Rights Centre –Tanzania

Neo Liberalism Privatization and Social Justice- Mwandawiro Mghanga- Kenya.

What do Human Rights Standards Tell Us about Privatization and How to Use Human Rights Tools and Mechanisms – Experiences from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and other Countries- Sylvain Aubry, Researcher, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Kenya.

Lunch Break – 1.00 pm - 2.30 pm

SESSION 3 - 2.30pm – 4.30 pm

Poem – Mwalimu Nyerere Ideals Forum - Makongo Secondary School Dar esSalaam -2.30- 2.40pm

Presentations 1- 2.40pm- 4.30pm

Privatization and Social Services Provision

The Market Goes to School- Prof Willy Komba- University of Dodoma, Tanzania.

An Overview of Changes in the Financing and Governance of Education in Africa over the Last Twenty Years-Prof Joel Samoff – Stanford University, USA.

The Politics of Privatized and Marketized Secondary School Curriculum and Official Knowledge in Tanzania – 1990s- 2012 - Moshi Mislay, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Strategies for action/Legal Aid Clinic for grassroots communities - 4.30- 5. 30pm (tbc)


SESSION 1 – 9.00 am- 10.30 am

Music - 9.00 am- 9.10 am
Vitali Maembe

Recap of Day 1 – 9.10-9-20 am

Presentations - 9.20 am- 10.30 am.

Grassroots Experiences on Privatization and Mining-
“Distinguished Nyerere Voices from the Grassroots”.

Geita Mining Case – Pius Lugendo,  “Darfur”, Geita,Tanzania

Karamoja Mining Case - Deborah Iyebu – Moroto, Uganda

New Rural Struggles on the Platinum Belt: A case of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, North West Province, South Africa- Dr Sonwabile Mnwana- Researcher- Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Health Break – 10.30 am - 11. 00am

SESSION 2- 11.00 am -1.00pm

Presentation – Information on Akiba Uhaki Foundation- 11.00am- 11.10am

Panel Discussion - 11.10am- 11.45 am

Privatization and Social Justice for Grassroots Communities - Experiences from Poland
-Prof Andrzej Tymowski- Independent Consultant, Poland/USA
-Slawomir Sierawoski – Krytyka Polityczna (Political Organization)

Presentations - 11.45 am -1.00pm

Privatization and Social Service Provision 2

Kenyan Experience with Water Services Privatization- Peter Kanyi, Akiba Uhaki Foundation, Kenya.

Privatization, Private Universities in Tanzania: Access, Equity and QualityConcerns - Simon Peter, University of Dar es Salaam – Tanzania

Public-Private Partnership in Education: The Private Pursuit of the Public Purse – Prof Josephat Rugemalira – University of Dar es Salaam - Tanzania

Lunch Break – 1.00pm – 2.30 pm

SESSION 3 – 2.30pm- 4.30pm

Music- 2.30-2.40pm
Vitali Maembe

Book Launch – Ujamaa: The Hidden Story of Tanzania’s Socialist Villages by Ralph Ibbot-  SOMA - 2.40pm- 3.00pm.

Panel Discussion - 3.00pm- 4.30 pm

Privatization and Social justice for Grassroots Communities: Perspectives from the Private Sector.

- Speakers from The Private Sector Foundation – Tanzania (tbc)

Strategies for Action for grassroots communities/Legal Aid clinic – 4.30 pm -5.30 pm (tbc)

SESSION 1 - 9.00 am – 10.30 am

Music – Robert Emmanuel - 9.00am- 9.10 am

Recap of Day 2- 9.10am – 9.20 am

Presentations - 9.20 am- 10.30 am.

Grassroots Experiences on Privatization and Land-
Distinguished Voices from the Grassroots”-

Kilosa land case -  Abdala Niuyai ( Pastoralists community) Kilosa, Tanzania
-  Ailu Mustafa    (Farmers community) Kilosa, Tanzania

Mbarali land case – Feint Mwashikumbulu- Kapunga, Mbarali ,Tanzania
- Sekalaga Sandube- Kapunga, Mbarali- Tanzania

Health Break – 10.30 – 11.00am

SESSION 2 – 11.00am – 1.00pm

Brainstorming Session – (By invitation)11.00am -1.00pm

Research Programme on Privatization and Social Justice for Grassroots


2015 Votes to End Injustices on Resources - Alphonce Stima- University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Schooling in Pseudo Capitalist Tanzania- The Clash Between Education for Egalitarianism and Education for Elitism and Entrepreneurship- Prof Kitila Mkumbo- University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Eurocentric Privatization and Social Justice in African Economic Welfare: An Afro-centric Critique of Neo Classical Economics for Sustainable Development in East Africa- Dr Cammilius Kassala, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Lunch Break – 1.00pm – 2.30 pm

SESSION 3- 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

Video show -Pan Africanism- Prof Kahlil Fantazzil , Berkley- 2.30 pm- 2.40pm

Palaver with the Audience – 2.40 pm – 4.00pm

Strategies for Action to Mitigate the Effect of Privatization on Social Justice for Grassroots Communities

Way Forward – 4.00pm – 4.30pm

Summary of Issues raised and Way forward

Closing - 4. 30pm - 5.00pm

Note: Exhibitions by various publishing companies and organizations will be open throughout the festival.