Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Former soccer player George Weah has won Liberian elections

Former soccer player George Weah has won Liberia's elections, held on 26th December 2017.

When I wrote about his possible political ambitions in 2008 it appeared to me that he placed a higher priority on his soccer career.

George Tawlon Manneh Opong Ousman Weah is 51 years old and was FIFA Footballer of the Year in 1995. He also won the Ballon d'Or and was the first African to win these two prestigious awards.

In 1999 soccer legend Pele named him in FIFA's list of 100 world's greatest living players.

Some of the teams he played for include Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Milan, and Manchester City.

In politics, he ran against and lost to outgoing president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005. He was elected to the Liberian Senate in 2014.

If he still occasionally puts on his soccer boots, he would be the second African soccer playing president, after Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The League of Nations sought a world peace that remains elusive

At the end of World War I the allied victors formed the League of Nations, later to become the United Nations, as part of the outcome of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The first session of the League of Nations was held in Geneva on this day, 97 years ago.

The principal objective of the League of Nations was to maintain world peace, a quest that has remained elusive throughout.
Bell Uh-1, Helicopter, Iroquois, Huey
The Vietnam War estimated deaths: more than 2 million.
The League had 42 founding members who agreed to avoid future wars through collective security and disarmament, and settling disputes through arbitration and negotiations.
Landing Craft, Omaha Beach, Normandy
World War II casualties: more than 50 million deaths
Fast forward to today and throughout the existence of the United Nations and it would appear that humans are still grasping to learn the principles of the maintenance of peace. There have been more than 180 armed conflicts in the world between 1900 and today, claiming an estimated 80 million battle-related deaths.

As the United States flexes its muscles against North Korea, we know we still have a long way to go to grasp the painful lessons of war and find a lasting solution to the elusive nature of the peace we claim to cherish.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

it is the 37th anniversary of Voyager I's Saturn approach

This day, 37 years ago, NASA's Voyager I spacecraft approached Saturn and sent back images of the outer planet.
Saturn from Voyager I. Photo: NASA
The spacecrafts' statistics are mind-boggling:
  • it has travelled through space for forty years and two months - and counting
  • it's the spacecraft that has covered the farthest distance from Earth
  • it became the first craft to enter interstellar space, having crossed the boundaries of the heliopause on 25th August 2012. That's 14.4 billion kilometres away.
  • it travels at 17 kilometres per second. It would take just over 7 minutes to cover the distance between Cairo and Cape Town
  • it will continue its trajectory for the next 40,000 years, perhaps eternally, if it does not collide with any object
YouTube video links:

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Today is International Day of the Girl Child

It's United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child today.

It has been commemorated since 2011 through resolution 66/170 of the UN of 9th December 2011 and has been observed since October 2012.

It is a day for reflecting on the plight faced by adolescent girls worldwide and the challenges that constrain their empowerment and human rights.


Links on the International Day of the Girl Child:


Customs and traditions throughout societies have provided lifelong advantages to the boy child and left girls with less opportunities for their education, security, and a healthy life.

As we mark the fifth year since its launch, let us join forces to increase efforts to raise opportunities for girls on an equal par to the opportunities given to boys.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Reasons for Mwalimu Nyerere's choice of two governments for Tanzania

Ever since Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to form the United Republic Tanzania, there have been continuous discussions on the ideal structure of government.

A two-government structure has remained in place since the union's inception on 26th April 1964 with a government for Zanzibar and a union government. Tanganyika's affairs were absolved into the union government machinery.

Although Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume of Zanzibar had initially suggested there should be a single government, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere objected. Two principal reasons were given by Mwalimu Nyerere for establishing only two governments, instead of three:

  1. It was imperative that Zanzibar's position (whose population was 300,000) was safeguarded by establishing its own government. Tanganyika had a population of 12 million 
  2. The additional cost of establishing a third government for Tanganyika would be carried by Tanganyikan taxpayers, a burden that was considered unnecessary  

Nevertheless throughout its existence Tanzanians from both sides continued to demand a restructuring the union. The latest of these demands arose in the recent constitutional review process whose commission, led by Judge Joseph Warioba, recommended a three-government structure, accommodating demands for a Tanganyikan government.
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume exchange the signed Article of the Union at Karimjee Hall on 26th April 1964.
When a similar demand was about to be accepted by President Ali Hassan Mwinyi's administration in the early 1990s, Mwalimu Nyerere vehemently opposed it and published his defense for a two-government union in his book, Our Leadership and the Destiny of Tanzania.

He wrote:-
"Let me add that only 8.91% of the Mainland CCM members favoured a Three Government structure - so much for the "mass support" for this proposal about which we heard so much in the earlier months of last year."
The constitutional review process, launched by President John Magufuli's predecessor Jakaya Kikwete has been put on hold for the moment. If Mwalimu Nyerere was around there is little doubt he would have written another book to defend the movement towards a single government, rather than three.

Related post:

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Esperanto is a language you probably haven't heard about

Not until early this year did I learn of the existence of this language. Esperanto is a language you probably haven't heard about.

I always thought of myself of being capable of identifying many of the world's most-spoken languages, but when a group of visitors showed up at Mwitongo in January I realized I had overestimated my capabilities.

Through their own introductions I learnt that the visitors represented several nationalities: European, Asiatic, African, and South American. But they communicated in a language that sounded familiar, and one I could not identify. Sometimes the pronunciations sounded Spanish, but I just could not figure out what language was used.
The group of Esperanto-speaking visitors to Butiama
I asked and was told they were speaking Esperanto, a language first developed by a Polish physician, Dr. Ludwig L. Zamenhof, in 1887. One of his objectives in constructing a new language was to enable all nationalities to have a common language of communication.

Esperanto's grammar is derived from Romance and Germanic languages, while its vocabulary is derived from Slavic languages.

Here's more information on Esperanto:

Worldwide estimates of users of Esperanto range from 2 to 10 million.

The visitors to Butiama had taken time off from a meeting of Esperanto users held in the nearby town of Bunda.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Butiama's image of the day

During rare moments a few times every year weather patterns over Butiama produce colourful images. It begins in the late afternoon with a dark rain cloud that hovers and moves slowly from a northerly direction towards the south. The cloud covers the sun, and a period of light rainfall begins, seen on the right edge of the photo.

At a certain point, just before sunset, the sun drops below the cloud cover and releases a bright hue of golden orange sunlight before sinking below the horizon.

We turn a page on another episode of nature and wait for the next memorable sunset.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

When and how to say "sorry"

This is one of numerous articles I wrote for the Sunday News (Tanzania) column "Letter from Butiama" between 2005 and 2011. Publication date: 2 July 2006.

I posted it in this blog in 2013, but I felt it warranted being dug up from this blog's archives for readers who have not read it.
There are proportionally far fewer people who will commit a mistake and say, “I am sorry”, or “I made a complete fool of myself.” You are likely to hear a far greater number of people justifying their mistakes.

To err is human, but to make excuses is even more so. Humans make errors, and are experts at making excuses.

We learn from childhood that we are likely to face serious consequences when we admit mistakes. The result is that we grow into adults who instinctively make excuses for our mistakes so that blame is shifted to some other person or factor.

Considering some of the problems we may encounter by admitting mistakes, it is understandable that we do not readily accept blame. If you break the law, the consequences of admitting guilt in a court of law are known: a fine or a jail term - or a one-way ticket to heaven or hell for the serious offences. It seems that the more serious consequences of admitting fault are permanently registered in our memories from childhood and so, in adulthood, we spend a great deal of time disassociating ourselves with our mistakes.

The excuses are sometimes ingenious. The whole World except Argentina believes that footballer Diego Maradona scored with his hand, while playing for Argentina in a FIFA World Cup match against England on 22 June 1986 at Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium. His excuse: “It was the hand of God.”

The football matches we see on television show some of the players praying each time they score, or when they enter the pitch. It creates the impression that many of the players are extremely religious individuals, but Maradona’s excuse had the effect of elevating excuses to an unprecedented level. There are few who would attribute Maradona's goal to God. The more conventional justification would have been to blame it on the devil.

To be fair to Maradona, footballers have no mechanism for admitting fault on or off the pitch. Maybe FIFA, the World’s football federation, might want to add confessions to its “fair play” campaign.

By spending time in excusing ourselves we end up lengthening an extremely short story with only three words, “I am sorry” (only one word in Kiswahili, samahani) to one containing hundreds of words.

Sometimes apologies are not enough and people demand to know the reasons for committing a mistake. There are many reasons for making mistakes, which are often grouped under the heading, “reasons beyond my control”. If you are tempted to utilise this overused phrase, you might consider leaving that judgement for others to make. A reason beyond control is not a good excuse, a Tsunami is.

The simple advice is, unless you are not facing a judge, when you make a mistake just say you are sorry, don’t make excuses. However, there should be a limit to the number of times one can apologise. If you begin to sound like an old phonograph record, stuck on the same three words all the time, then you do not become believable anymore, but may only reveal that you are addicted to those words.

When you find you just have to make an excuse, try and make them believable. I failed that test years ago during a visit to Washington D.C. I phoned for a taxi and waited for an extremely long period outside the house I was staying in. When I called the company again to find out the reason for the delay, the dispatcher pointed out to me that I had provided her an erroneous house number, which did not exist on that street. The taxi driver had been driving around for a long time looking for house number 2065, when he should have been looking for house number 2056.

When after my second call the taxi driver was given the correct house number he arrived at the house furious. I was quick to apologize, but made the error of justifying my excuse. Instead of providing a three-word apology, I transformed the apology into an excuse of about ten words. I told him I was actually a visitor to Washington D.C., suggesting that was the reason why I made the error.

He told me he didn’t care where I came from because “…twenty fifty-six was twenty fifty-six, even in Chinese!” Even in Kiswahili script, 2056 was and remains 2056, and I should have not had a problem translating that into English.

To be fair to myself, I only had a few seconds in which to come up with a believable excuse.

Under normal circumstances I would have immediately laughed at myself for making such an amateurish excuse, but I had no wish to further provoke the taxi driver.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The benefits of rising up early

Not quite a long time ago, I would have failed to list the benefits of rising up early. Now, having tried it for a while, I find there are distinctive benefits to beginning the day when almost everyone else is asleep.

My timeless Utopia was a world where the day extends to 30 hours, and the year to 16 months, enough to accomplish all my tasks. If a day on Earth was similar to a day on Pluto, my problems would be solved.

The next best option for accomplishing my tasks was to vigorously use time management to fit in with my daily duties. That didn't work well; I still couldn't manage to actively reduce my to-do list. It kept growing.

Then I decided to wake up earlier than I was accustomed to gain a few extra hours of work every day. It worked. I now wake up at 4:45 AM, but aim to wake up 15 minutes earlier within the next few weeks.

And, already, there are huge changes to how much I manage to clear in a day. Here are more benefits to waking up early.

Faster Internet
The busier the time of day, the slower the Internet becomes. Waking up early provides me with relatively faster connection speeds, something that is quite beneficial for clearing the daily inflow of emails.

Using the Internet when most people are asleep provides a slightly higher connection speed and the ability to clear more work.

Uninterrupted workflow
An early start provides the least interruption to the workflow from others with whom I interact during the day.

Between waking up and taking the shower, I have the privilege of working without interruption during the most productive time of the day.

More energized
I have discovered that waking up early keeps me highly energized throughout the day, both physically and mentally. In my previous routine the more time I spent in bed the more tired I was during the day.

A bonus to waking up early is viewing a captivating sunrise..

Less Stressful
Because there is ample time between waking up and leaving for office, there is also ample time to plan the day ahead instead of rushing from one task to the next. It provides a less stressful work day.

More time to exercise
I wont lie and say I have begun to exercise regularly. When I begin to exercise, I can use that extra time slot in the morning for a healthy dose of exercise.

These are a few of the benefits of rising up early. Not long ago, I worked late and rose late. The transformation and the fact that I am enjoying the change could be a sign that I am growing old.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

"Only a fool would take 1.2 billion shillings to a village"

Only a fool would take 1.2 billion shillings to a village. These are words quoted from an interview with Kenya's Deputy President, William Ruto.

For some of us who have chosen to move back to the village, they are words that are, at the very least, disappointing, and at worst, offensive.
File:William Ruto at WTO Public Forum 2014.jpg
Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto (Photo: World Trade Organization)
I normally avoid commenting on what politicians of other countries say, but given the road map laid out towards an East African political federation, it is fair for a citizen of East Africa to comment on East Africa's leaders. William Ruto could very well become a future president of the East African federation but, apparently, his opinion of villages is rather low.

How would a leader who thinks it is unwise to invest his own money in a village decide it is important for government to invest in rural communities?

Kenya's rural residents account for 74 percent of the country's population. The proportion for other East African Community member countries is 68 for Tanzania, 88 for Burundi, 70 for Rwanda, 81 for South Sudan, and 84 for Uganda. That's a significant proportion of East Africans.

Here's the link to the quoted article by Willim Ruto:
Given the context of his response, it is evident he is speaking of a choice between spending that much money building a personal home in his village, or spending the same amount in 100-bed hotel in a city, and concluding from an investor's viewpoint that a village cannot provide the best returns.

A leader speaks for every citizen. He may have pleased his fellow investors by his comments, but he most certainly could not have pleased the majority of rural people living in rural areas who may have fooled themselves into believing that their interests coincide with their leader's interests.

Monday, 20 March 2017

This is my greatest fear of traveling

This is my greatest fear of traveling. To sit next to someone who talks endlessly.

I am not anti-social; I just lack the ability to constantly come up with topics of conversation.

And when I have exhausted what I have to say, which rarely takes long, I find the quite moments, referred to in the Swahili language by the expression: shetani kapita (the devil has just passed by), rather awkward and unsettling, especially when I am also expected to contribute to the conversation.

It is easier when I am sitting next to someone I know, but a huge challenge when sitting next to a stranger.
You can stay away from a conversation on a ship, but not in the confined space of an aircraft.
When I travel it's the only time that I find convenient to have a period of quiet and reflection away from the office, from the daily routine which constantly keeps me in touch with people I work with, with constant contact with clients who ask questions and demand answers to the work I do.

It would be misleading to say that I do not enjoy my work and the interaction it provides me with other people. But I also cherish the opportunity to get away from all that once in a while. And I get that when I travel.

What is your greatest fear of travel? Apart from flying in planes?