Twenty eight individuals attended this very apprehensive seminar. Apprehensive in the sense that some of the speakers withdrew at the last minute and only three Tanzanians were present. The rest were foreigners who love the country, former volunteers and expatriates who had worked in Tanzania- some as far back as 50 years ago.
Pensive mood and discussions...
I chatted to a former Bwana Shamba, who roved and managed villages shortly after Uhuru was declared. The man could still greet and joke in one of the tribal languages. Smiling and jovial he told stories about local villagers he had interacted with. The former Bwana Shamba- a term that is associated with pre –Arusha Declaration times- could still remember Mbege, Ulanzi, Dengelua and Chang’aa, which he pronounced well. Swahili learners always find it hard to pronounce words like “chang’aa” called Gongo or Machozi ya Simba (these days). For the reader who is unfamiliar with hardcore local drinks, Gongo is the crude, raw version of Konyagi - distilled, packaged and bottled 35 percent original Tanzanian whisky. Of course Gongo (or the said “chang’aa”) is stronger and much more sinister, hence the deadly name, Machozi ya Simba (lion’s tears).
SOAS Radio pundits and students, Rob Wilson (UK) and Debula Kimoli (Kenya) participated...
Lesson one from last Thursday’s event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is Mmmh... what? Most that have walked on Tanzanian soil never forget the country. May I include ones who had unpleasant experiences? I recently met a young British guy who speaks good Swahili, loves the language and the people but is slightly wary and cautious to return. One warm evening he hailed a cab in Dar es Salaam and ended being robbed. The cabbie stopped to pick up two armed thugs, who then threateningly drove him around the beleaguered city. He was forced to call his family in the UK who then sent a couple of thousand pounds- (millions of shillings) - via Western Union.
Bottom line here is that although Tanganyika of the Bwana Shamba gentleman has dramatically changed, apprehension and politics remain focussed on the “three mantras” that Mwalimu and TANU used to chant: ignorance, poverty and disease.
How can that be assessed?
Newly appointed UK Ambassador to Tanzania, Dianna Melrose (centre) with BTS man, William Fulton (right) and author (self taken I-Phone pic)...
The seminar’s goals was to look at media and democracy- born through multi-party reforms in 1992. The seminar was organised by British Tanzania Society (created in 1975) currently presided by ex President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.