Monday, 18 September 2017

Anecdotes from WAA-'Women Advancing Africa' forum debut

By +Caroline Anande Uliwa @CarolAnande-Instagram @CarolAnande-Facebook @CarolAnande-Twitter

Left Mme Graca Machel former first lady 
to South Africa & Mocambique, 
a powerful activist and key driver through 
her trust 'Graca Machel Trust'of this conference. 
Here she is sitting with another
powerful woman current 
Vice President to Tanzania
Hon Samia Suluhu at the WAA forum 1st annual
conference in Dar es Salaam last month
It wasn’t just the glamorous African fabrics glittering off  their skin in striking colours that unified these ladies. There was something else, a fire that lit their sternums urging them to share the best of their knowledge, so as to drive a movement for the betterment of the continent. 

“The products which are coming from our soil, the fruits of our own sweat they have to be transformed here… Even food, we are at a point in this continent where we’re spending billions to import food! Women have a role in changing this, they don’t have to sweat like my mother, use technology get industrialisation, to deduce small machinery to cultivate without sweating that much…”—Mme Graca Machel on the first day of the ‘Women Advancing Africa-WAA’ forum, that held it’s first annual conference inside the Hyatt Hotel in Dar es Salaam, from the 9th to the 12th last month. 

Organised by the Graca Machel Trust-GMT this new Pan African initiative WAA, looks to acknowledge and celebrate the critical role women play in shaping Africa’s future. “We’re meeting at a time where we can no longer afford, to ignore the intricate role of women in pushing for the development agenda…This platform provides us with yet another opportunity, to renew our collective efforts in identifying solutions and pitching new ideas. That will ensure everyone lives a life of dignity and isn’t left behind in the development bandwagon…” Hon Vice president  of Tanzania Samia Suluhu  speaking as guest of honour at the launch of the plenary sessions inside the WAA conference.

During the conference you would bump into amazing African women, like Andia Chakava- currently an Investment Consultant, back in 2009 she was the youngest female managing director in Kenya to run a non family owned business ‘Old Mutual Investment Group’. Where she was responsible for assets amounting to US$1 billion. Mme Getrude Mongela Tanzanian the former Secretary-General and Chair of the Beijing World Conference on Women and first President of the Pan-African Parliament. 

Among the speakers in the 'AgriBusiness track' with the CEO
of Alaska Enterprises in Tanzania Jennifer Bash
(wearing a coral blue top with an ivory necklace)
Sheila Khama from Botswana, current Practice Manager-'energy and extractive industries global practice' at the World Bank, former CEO of De-Beers Botswana. Vice Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa; former Miss Tanzania and Managing Director of Enjipai a fashion accessories brand working with rural Maasai Women since 2010 Nasreen Karim. Hon Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Gender, Community Development, Children and the Elderly inTanzania and so many more.

Seeing these women at every turn though for just a few days, made you easily envision that African World. Where the corridors of power are lined with fair inclusion of women to the ratios of our population. Oh yes the ambience would be sweet. 

Identified challenges facing women's advancement in Africa

Hon Vice President Mme Samia Suluhu, presenting
as the Guest of Honour to open the track sessions
that went on in this WAA forum
The plenary sessions were the crux of the conference lining captains of industry in various fields mostly women, who were divided into six main tracks that convened in small groups. Divided into agribusiness; energy, extractives and infrastructure; services and trade; technology; financial inclusion and media and creative industries. 

In energy extractives & infrastructure

The data is out now, that indicates how much capacity Africa has in terms of solar power. And with this technology we can work towards base load solar without necessarily worrying about storage…there aren’t that many women participating in this field, we have less than 3% women participating in the Energy space in Africa. We also have a funding issue even as you find women who are in engineering as in this room. It’s very difficult for us to be able to raise the funding to develop power projects because development is a risk…”—Elekanyani Ndlovu SA, speaking inside the energy, extractives & infrastructure track hailing as head of engineering and project management at Pele Energy Group in South Africa. 

She highlighted how concentrated solar power-CSP, poses huge opportunities for energy solutions in Africa, yet with the gender gap in the implementation of this investment. Interlinked with the fact that women are the ones to greatly benefit from bridging the gap of over 600 million Africans, in Sub-Sahara who lack electricity. A fact her fellow speaker Adele Boadzo knew personally, from the unfortunate passing of her grandmother in Ghana due to a gas stove explosion. Which inspired her to start the company ‘Hope Rises Solar’; that works to bring solar power to the rural areas. It was understood clearly that recruiting & sustaining more women in this industry was key. <iframe src="" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

In financial Inclusion

Far left Andia Chakavo next to one of the MC's for
this forum Chidiogo Akunjili 
“Unfortunately new data will be out later, so I am going to use the 2013 data. Financial inclusion in Tanzania has grown from 15% in 2009 to 58% in 2013 that is huge growth…You look at the formal banking in 2009 it was 9.2% in 2013 it only grew by 2% points…the growth is coming from the non-banking sector…”—Irene Mlola operations director at Financial Sector Deepening Tanzania-FSDT. This track was one hot bed of discussion. It was noted that the majority of women entrepreneurs on the continent still fall within the small holder farmer, vendor category. That they faced the challenge of collateral, battling with land ownership due to customs and or lack of financial literacy due to levels of education growing up. 

That said it was also noted that there was a growing number of middle sized businesses that found bottlenecks in expanding their businesses, “Over 50% of 607 female entrepreneurs cited access to finance (31%) and access to markets (23%) as the two main challenges. The two biggest obstacles cited in accessing finance are collateral requirements and prohibitive interest rates.We found that out of the total 443 respondents that applied for a loan, just over a quarter (12) of them were successful”—Survey to explore growth barriers faced by female entrepreneurs in East Africa by the Graca machel Trust, Women in Finance network 2016. 

In services & trade

A photo with key members oppening the WAA confrence in DSM
In cream suit Ambassador Dr Gemet Zewide,
Navy blue suit mme Graca Machel,
Red hijab Hon Samia Suluhu,
sitting with kitenge outfit Mmr Jacqueline Maleko,
In blue jacket Nomsa Daniels CEO GMT
Another key challenge identified came from the services & trade track which noted how lack of intra African trade, posed a lost opportunity for women economic welfare on the continent. 

I was surprised I went to Mauritius, they had lots of sugar in their food supplies. When I asked why they have so much, they said because some European countries are no longer buying sugar from cane, that they’re buying it from beet…you see only 10% African trade is Intra-trade.” —Seun Omobo, Technical Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria 

In Technology

In the technology track, first it was noted that awareness of what technology is for the majority of the population in Africa is low. It was noted here that technology is how to use the knowledge that you know to make something. “There’s a 300 billion USD deficit from the gender gap bridge in the tech industry in the world, how do we leverage this opportunity…”—Robin Miller Partner at Dalberg Development Partners

Agenda's moving forward from WAA

Before long it was the final day of the conference, each of these tracks were given a mandate to formulate three key solutions, that they would present on the last day and oversee them going forward. The fire lit in the sternums of all participants fuelled by the passionate speeches of Mama Graca, as well as Dr Mongela and Dr Gennet Zewide (former Minister of Education in Ethiopia & Ambassador to India for Ethiopia). Was now ready to present the barbecue it had been roasting. <iframe src="" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

Energy Extractives & Infrastructure 

A gender procurement based corporate policy is one of  our mainstream agenda, as a matter of fact currently at the World Bank, we have a call with a mining company to work with them in designing a gender sensitive policy…”—Sheila Khama in responding to the challenge of empowering women in extractive industries, so as to usher them from artisanal miners to small scale miners. 

In this track Elekanyi Ndlovu also highlighted the proposed solution of starting a fund by women for women, in the energy infrastructure sector. It was noted here that lobbying for an African multinational project, that will procure women in this industry from all over the continent, will  further strengthen the stakeholders in this field in pushing for women’s inclusion.

Financial Inclusion

In the financial inclusion track“We foresee leveraging influence of  the GMT to incite governors of each African country to commit to policy or strategies. That focus on women financial inclusion that aim to reduce by 50% the gender gap in access to finance by 2021. This will be championed by Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa  and Dr Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula Dept Governor in the Bank of Zambia”—Maureen Kwilasa TZ, financial inclusion advisor-Southern Africa CARE 

Sisonke Msimang, writer and activist presenting
at the WAA on
'changing the narrative 
women in the storytelling landscape of Africa'
Maureen further added as solutions  in this track, a goal of ensuring that 30% of all grassroots savings collectives the likes of SACCOS. To use digital solutions this to be championed by Irene Mlola of FSDT, an apt candidate as her organisation is in the throws of a trial applying this method. That will formalise records of these grassroots finance collectives, without disrupting their social design. 

It was also agreed in this track as a solution to create a ‘gender sensitive Pan African corporative investment fund’ following the success of the ‘stockvel’s' model in South Africa. As well the establishment of a disruptive platform where fintech, market access, backward and forward linkages, are provided to allow women entrepreneurs to sell their products to other women entrepreneurs all over the continent. Pulling government and financial stakeholders to bring financial literacy as a service to the platform. This track foresees opening this platform by December 2017 championed by Irene Kiwia of the Portia Novelli company in Tanzania.

These solutions inspired contributions from the audience like when Marjorie Crauss from APCO added “I would like to find a corporate sponsor for each one of the tracks, not to come in and takeover anything because this has got to be from Africa for Africa driving Africa. But to provide a little bit of funding, maybe some assistance, the use of their labs, their know-how’s. Things that can accelerate the process…so by this time next year Mama Machel we will have at least one sponsor for each of these tracks

In Agribusiness

In the Agribusiness tracks it was noted that efforts should be made to diversify produce for sustainability of small holder farmers by moving into indigenous crops such as Cannabis, Moringa. Which have a big market and could bring big financial gains.

At a side event inside WAA-looking at what activisim 
looks like for the young generation.
The middle four from right Dr Ruth Meena (Lecturer,
Activist member of TGNP), Dr Getrude Mongela,
Mme Graca Machel &
Ambassador Dr Gemet Zewide from Ethiopia 
To which an audience member, the CEO of Bomgi Nutraceuticals in Uganda, Brian Holmes responded by highlighting a solution through his organisation. Which pays women farmers for 8 USD per kilo of Moringa Ocifera, which is almost three times the price offered by other companies. He shared that the Moringa they get from these farmers in Uganda is being used to create a nutrition supplement that will greatly assist patients living with HIV/AIDS and children with chronic malnutrition.

More concrete data will be published by the forum from the wealth of knowledge that was shared and generated at this forum. You can follow the conversation here 

This conference was erected by the GMT in partnerships with APCO Worldwide, the UPS Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Intel’s Girls & Women Commitment, American Tower Corporation, CNBC Africa & The Nation Media Group. 

P.S. this article was first published by The East African Newspaper here

Friday, 25 August 2017

eBay partners with Mall for Africa to sell African Handmade goods

By Correspondent

Goods from Africa found on
eBay Inc www.ebayinc.coma global commerce leader and Mall for Africa Africa’s award-winning global e-commerce and m-commerce platform. Yesterday announced a strategic partnership that will further boost the sale of handmade African products into the United States.  

eBay Inc. founded in 1995 in San Jose, California is one of the world's largest and most vibrant online marketplaces. In 2016, eBay enabled $84 billion of gross merchandise volume. 

In it's partnership with Mall for Africa, which provides African consumers a platform to purchase items directly from over 200 of the best US and UK retailers in the world www.Mall for

The partnership allows Africans the ability to purchase items from or directly through the Mall for Africa app. Mall for Africa and eBay will now provide Africans starting with Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Rwanda a new platform to sell their one-of-a-kind artisan products into the U.S. 

Goods from Africa found on
The inventory will be surfaced on the Mall for Africa store on, allowing sellers to expand their businesses and increase brand awareness. To start, product categories will include fashion, art & collectibles, jewellery and clothing.  Expansion into other categories and additional African countries will occur in the upcoming months.

To ensure the most unique and highest quality products that are 100 percent African made, the Africa Made Product Standards (AMPS) was created. It provides consumers with the assurance that products meet an international standard in quality.  All artisans are meticulously handpicked and all products are crafted with the utmost care by an African artisan. 

We couldn’t be more pleased with extending our partnership with eBay as we empower, expose, and positively affect thousands of hard-working artisans while making it convenient for US shoppers to purchase African made products that would otherwise be unavailable to them...As someone who grew up in Africa, became an entrepreneur, and who currently does business in Africa, I know first-hand the importance of cross-border trade and having the opportunity to expand a business internationally.” adds Chris Folayan, CEO of Mall for Africa. 

Mall for Africa’s long-time shipping partner, DHL, will be responsible for all shipping needs.  
The seller simply packs the product, prints the label and drops the package off at DHL’s nearest drop-off location. Last February DHL published research that indicated a significant forthcoming increase in cross-border e-commerce sales. It also asserts that in 2020, 1 out of 5 e-commerce dollars will be generated cross-border and the market is anticipated to grow at 25% annually—almost twice the rate of domestic e-commerce.

eBay’s vision for commerce is one that is enabled by people, powered by technology, and open to everyone. This expanded relationship with Mall for Africa will not only bring great inventory and more selection to our marketplace, but will also create greater economic opportunity for African artisans looking to expand their reach.”said Sylvie De Wever, eBay’s General Manager of Latin America and US Exports.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

T-Junction to the big screen at Mlimani City

By +Caroline Anande Uliwa @CarolAnande-Instagram @CarolAnande-Facebook @CarolAnande-Twitter

From left Magdalene Christopher & Hawa Ally
lead actresses in this film, where Hawa has won
Best Actress in the 'Bongo Movie' category in the
ZIFF festival this year for her performance in
“There’s waking up at 4am asking myself, what would ‘Fatima’ be doing right now, I am walking then ask myself, what would Fatima think as she is walking here. That is something I took from the training…you are not supposed to act but to live out ‘the character’” Hawa Ally one of the lead actresses playing ‘Fatima’ in the film T-Junction, that debuted at this years ZIFF (Zanzibar International Film festival) as the opening film.

T-Junction a product of Kijiweni Production directed by Amil Shivji with Asst Director Cece Mlay, is a 100 minute feature film. The first feature film from the budding Tanzanian film company, that had it’s humble beginnings on a street corner in Upanga, Dar es Salaam hence its name.

Nilipata fursa ya kukaa chini na waigiazaji wa filamu hii baada ya kuiangalia pale Ngome Kongwe Zanzibar. Nikiwa na Sabrina Kumba aliyeigiza kama Mama Maria, Magdalena Christopher aliyeigiza kama Maria, Moses Meshack na David Msia walioigiza kama baadhi ya wamachinga pale ’t-junction’. 

“Rafiki yangu alintumia meseji kuniambia kuna watu wanaitwa ‘Kijiweni Production’ wana usaili hivyo tunabidi twende tukatafute fursa…Tulikuwa 560! kwanza ile siku yenyewe ya usaili huwezi amini nilichelewa. Nilitakiwa nifike saa tatu nikafika saa tano kwasababu nilipotea. Mpaka nimefika nilikuwa nishaanza kukata tamaa, lakini nillipokabidhiwa mswada nikasame wacha nifanye kazi kadri ya uwezo wangu…” Sabrina Kumba akikumbuka jinsi alivyoibuka mshindi wa kuigiza kama Mama Maria ndani ya filamu hii.

Sabrina Kumba, mmoja wa waigizaji wa filamu hii T-Junction

Sabrina anauzoefu usiopungua miaka 7 kama muigizaji wa jukwaani. Yani kwenye maigizo na michezo akiwa ndani ya vikundi na taasisi mbalimbali. Mbela ya kamera alishawahi kuigiza kwenye matangazo. Ila ndani ya T-Junction, ndo ilikuwa mara yake ya kwanza kuigiza kwa kufuata mswada wa filamu mbele ya kamera za weledi.
“You see what we do is, we do auditions…Without having auditions you are not able to find new talent that’s the basic factor…when I started I was naive. I thought I’ll just have auditions and everyone will come. The big actors, the small actors and all the professionals and then I learned the system and how actors were afraid of tabloids. If they wouldn’t get the role, what would happen to their status, their characters, their persona’s in media.” Amil Shivji Director of T-Junction and company exec of Kijiweni Productions. 

The cast (2nd from left film Director Amil Shivji
with crew of the film 'T-Junction' at the debut screening
of their film inside ZIFF festival in July'17. Where former
President Dr Jakaya Kikwete was guest of Honour as seen in
the photo (middle in beige suit). 
He goes on to explain the challenges his team faces in integrating the two worlds of Bongo Movies & Independent films or rather introducing film etiquettes to the street smarts employed in the local film industry. The result is this film which casts two lead characters who have never acted in front of a camera, namely Hawa Ally and Magdalena Christopher- playing Fatima & Maria respectively, alongside veteran actors in the local movie industry namely Cojack Chilo-Iddi and Tin White-Shabani.

The feature 100 minute film sponsored by the Irish Aid, Selcom & Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. Is set on the streets of Upanga & the suburbs of Mwananyamala in Dar es Salaam. We’re met with Fatima who has just lost her father, who we learn was not much of a father to her growing up. Further along Fatima encounters Maria a strange young lady around her age, who slowly helps Fatima with her conflicted emotions in grieving for her dad.

Magdalena Christopher mmoja wa waigizaji wakuu ndani
ya filamu ya T-Junction
“Mwanzoni kwenye sanaa nilikuwepo lakini nilikuwa nafanya mambo ya ‘modeling’. Sasa baadaye nikasema natamani kuwa mwigizaji…nikaona ngoja niende nikasome…Chuoni ndio tulitumia miswada ya filamu ila si unajua, ni jukwaani likipita limepita. Lakini huku lazima uhariri, lazima ushike neno lile lile. Lakini kule kama kwenye mswada imeandikwa ‘poa’ wewe ukasema ‘safi’ imeshapita.” Magdalena akielezea changamoto alizokumbana nazo kwenye kuigiza ndani ya filamu kwa mara ya kwanza.

Magdalena ni mhitimu wa chuo cha Sanaa Bagamoyo, na kwa kweli kazi yake kwenye filamu hii yavutia. Nafsi anayoicheza ni ngumu kwani, Maria waweza sema amepagawa kidogo, ila pia tunamwona kama kijana wa kawaida. Anayepambana na maisha ili kujikwamua kiuchumi. Vivyo anatokea kuwa msichana wa kazi, na kwa bahati nzuri anampata mpenzi anayemliwaza. Ila ghafla yabadilika na vivyo Maria ndani ya filamu hii, ni kichaa si kichaa, mcheshi, mkweli na Magdalena amefanya kazi nzuri kuturejeshea Maria wa T-Junction.

Moses Meshack, mmoja wa waigizaji
ndani ya filamu hii ya T-Junction
“Tulianza kwanza na mazoezi ya viuongo kulainisha mwili na kusaidia sauti zetu zitoke vizuri, nlikuwa sitegemei kabisa…Baada ya kama wiki mbili hivi, ndo tulifanya mazoezi ya kuigiza jinsi ya kutembea n.k. Sijawahi kuigiza chochcote hii ni filamu yangu ya kwanza…” Moses akielezea kidogo juu ya mafunzo aliyopata na waigizaji wenzake kabla ya kunaswa kwenye filamu na kamera. Mafunzo haya yaliendeshwa na muigizaji Godliver Gordian muigizaji mzoefu, Aisha (2015), Siri ya Mtungi (2012) na Homecoming (2016).

Despite this film pulling virgin actors in front of the camera, performances like those of Hawa Ally. Who has already scooped ‘Best Actress’ at the ZIFF festival this year in their Bongo Movie Awards for her performance in this film. You wouldn’t know think it was her first time in a film. She sunk into her role so well, that I never had that uncomfortable glimpse of the real person behind the character. Performances by Magdalena Christopher, Tin White Shabani & Moses Meshack were as well impressive. Moses even gained weight for his role, the man is obviously meant to be an actor. Shabani added vulnerability to his comedic character making his performance memorable.

David Msia, mmoja wa waigizaji wa filamu ya T-Junction
“Nakumbuka baada tu ya kuambiwa tutamuigiza nani, tuliambiwa tukajuane na wahusika. Kwa bahati nzuri niliweza tembelea sehemu amabazo walibomolewa wamachinga kama pale Mbezi, Kibaha walikokuwa wanabomolewa ili kupanua barabara. Nilijionea mwenyewe kwamba hawa ni wenzetu. Licha ya kumkuta asubuhi anapokuuzia gazeti au matunda. Hawa pia ni wana familia, ni watu ambao wana maisha yao, ni watu ambao wana hadithi zao. Ni watu ambao wakikutana pale wanajua hii ni sehemu ya mtu fulani, hii ni sehemu ya mtu flani…” David Msia akisimulia kilichompa hamasa kuigiza kama mmachinga kwenye filamu hii.

The Assistant Director of this film Cece Mlay,
who has worked on all the films produced at Kijiweni
Kama hukuwepo Zanzibar kujionea filamu hii, usikose kuitazama pale Mlimani City kuanzia tarehe 11 hadi 17 mwezi huu. Naye Cece Mlaya msaidizi Muendashaji wa filamu hii, aliniambia kuwa filamu hii endapo watanzania wengi watafika kuingalia. Viyvo wao watavyoweza kupewa siku nyingi zaidi za maonyesho pale Mlimani City. Hata kuweza kuipeleka mikoani na nje ya mipaka ya Tanzania.

T-Junction will be showing at Mlimani City from the 11th till the 17th of this month, be sure to catch it. So as to support our own stories on the big screen. Kudos to the whole team for the ability to engrave our everday scenes onto the big screen (it just doesn’t get old). Also for delivering intelligent storytelling with flashbacks, color grading that was on point and a tempo that completed the emotive qualities of the story. The film has already won the Best European African Film Festival Award’ of 1000 Euros from ZIFF this year.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Saving Mothers in TZ-Loveluck the Midwife

By +Caroline Anande Uliwa @CarolAnande-Instagram @CarolAnande-Facebook @CarolAnande-Twitter
“A Midwife is not someone who just catches the baby, it’s someone who has undergone specified training, which is recognised at national and international levels. Who fulfils certain competencies is registered and is licensed to practice as a midwife.” Nurse & Midwife Loveluck from Tanzania.

Mme Loveluck Mwasha inside a lecture room at AgaKhan University
in Dar es Salaam, where she teaches
Loveluck Mwasha is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Dar es Salaam, she has over 30 years experience as a Nurse & Midwife. Earlier this month she was honoured with the coveted ‘Midwife for Life Award 2017’ by Save the Children and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) at the ICM 31st’s Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada.

Loveluck Mwasha in her younger
 years as a Midwife in Dar es Salaam

A mother of three she grew up in Machame, Moshi raised by a single mother (a widow) with six siblings. Despite her humble beginnings she recalls her mother’s generosity towards her community, particularly women and children. “…these children as they were going to church arrived late. The pastor then asked them, ‘why are you late, where were you?’. They all said they ‘we were helping Mama Mwema.’ He asked them ‘who is Mama Mwema?’ They gave him the description of my mom. Later the pastor came home and told my mom ‘you have inspired even these children because now they call you ‘kind mother’…” -Loveluck recalls an incident in her childhood.

She affirms that her mother’s kindness  and commitment to serve, coupled with a stint when she was four years old.That saw her hospitalised for a while due to an illness, “my mom was always with me and of course the nurses were really, really good…” Cemented her fate in this caregiving profession, so in 1983 she graduated from the then Muhimbili Medical Center (today Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences) with a Diploma in Nursing & Midwifery.

Loveluck in her childhoold home with her siblings
and neighbours after receiving her confirmation
Straight after graduation she was deployed to Ruvu JKT-National Service, compulsory at the time. It was at their clinic where she was attached after three months of enrolment, that she helped deliver her first baby. The mother in question arrived at the clinic in the evening. There was no other Medical officer present so she had to deliver the baby herself, plus there was no electricity so they used candlelight. She recalls being nervous but quickly went to work, as she had a mother in clear distress and knew she had to calm her down. The birth was natural and went smoothly however when the baby arrived, she was hardly breathing. Loveluck had to resuscitate her and thankfully the baby responded and was soon ok.

Loveluck Mwasha's graduation in 1983 for her
Diploma in Nursing & Midwifery from
Muhimbili Medical Centre in Dar es Salaam
“Five years later the mother found me by then I was back in Dar es Salaam. I was working, she traced our house, I was living with my brother and his family. When I came back from work as I walked in, the children came running saying ‘Aunty, Aunty you have a guest’.So I went inside and found this lady with her daughter of five years but I couldn’t place her… She introduced herself and said, ‘I know you will not remember me but if it were not for you this girl. This girl today would not be here. You really helped her to survive, so when I found someone who knew you I was like I must go and see her’…she brought me some cassava, a chicken. Those were the most precious gifts that someone had ever given me…”

Loveluck Mwasha receiving her convocation
MSc in Nursing & Midwifery from AKU in Dar es Salaam
Loveluck is currently the Vice President of TAMA-Tanzania Midwife Association. After It twenty years working as a Nurse & Midwife with a Diploma, she went back to school. To pursue a Bachelors degree in Nursing & Midwifery from the Aga Khan University in Dar es Salaam. She graduated then went back to work for five years then again went back to school. At the School of Nursing & Midwifery in Karachi, Pakistan to attain her Masters degree. She has worked in various hospitals in Dar es Salaam including Muhimbili, Hindu Mandal & Aga-Khan hospital. Where through her affiliations with agencies like ‘Tanzania Nursing & Midwifery Council’ has volunteered in many rural medical health centres, in regions like Mwanza, Mara, Bukoba and Morogoro. “We provide skills & mentorship for Nurse Midwives, who are working in reproductive health sectors. Giving on site training…” Loveluck Mwasha

As a third world country Tanzania still faces critical challenges in it’s reproductive health care. According to the African Report on Child wellbeing 2016, as of 2010-15 only 49% of pregnant women in the country gave birth with a skilled health worker present and only 15% of our babies born in the country are registered with a birth certificate as of 2016.

Loveluck with her three kids when they were infants & toddlers
According to the Tanzania Health Demographic Survey (THDS) & Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics survey, our maternal mortality ratio (the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy). As of 2015/16 was 556 deaths for every 100,000 live births. The figure has slightly gone down from 2004/5 where it was 578 deaths for every 100,000 live births. This is not progress though for in 2010-12 the figures were much lower reaching the 400’s per every 100,000 live births. Whereas in neonatal deaths (death during the first 28 days of life (0-27 days) as of 1991/2 the figures were 40 deaths for every 1,000 live births. In 2015/16 its come down to 25 deaths per 1,000 live births however again the figures were lower in 2010 where it was 21 deaths per every 1,000 live births meaning we are not improving.

“Our fertility rate is 5.2 for every woman, which is quite high several health facilities in the country are not able to cope with the numbers. Bearing in mind when someone comes to a health centre they expect they will be received well, they will get dignified care. They are not going to spend hours suffering before they are given attention…but the reality on the ground is many health facilities are understaffed and lacking proper supplies. Which is demotivating for the few staff present and the patients who will be frustrated wondering what is the point of coming there.”

Loveluck with her newborn second child in 1989
Loveluck went on to ascertain that conditions like these ensure many women particularly in rural areas, resort to traditional birth attendants. Who she mentions as lacking the proper skills and equipment to cater for a pregnant woman. She however added that she doesn’t see them as the enemy. Rather as members who can be sensitised to educate the public to seek professional medical care. As she is sure they more than anyone, have met a complication during pregnancy from their patients which they couldn’t handle, that resulted in heavy losses. “Any pregnant woman is at a high health risk, because anything can happen. You have to be at a place where there is skilled attendants who are competent and on top of that have adequate supplies and materials so that they can support you…” Loveluck Mwasha

Loveluck observes other challenges in her profession include the lack of enough Higher Learning institutions, to teach upcoming nurses and midwives. She attributes this to our growing population which isn’t matched by a growth of adequate education services. Which is why she is so grateful of learning institutions like Aga Khan University, which has groomed her and where she is very happy administering the Nursing & Midwifery Undergrad courses. That are offered at the university in a special program, whch caters to working nurses & midwives, who at Diploma level are enrolled twice a week so they can attain a Degree.

Loveluck as a mother shortly after giving birth to her third
and last born 1993 at the Aga Khan Hospital
where she was working as a Manager for RM NC Health
Loveluck added “Also being a mother is something that has really helped me because in our profession personal integrity and values are very important. Otherwise it can be difficult for you to give quality care…my children are very important to me. So whenever I am interacting with a pregnant woman especially a young one. I reflect back on my own journey. When I think of how much love I have for my children, I feel that every mom deserves to go home with their child. No woman should lose life while giving birth and no woman should lose their baby…” 

It was a privilege sitting with this woman who is so passionate about women’s reproductive health through midwifery. Her contribution to the field not just as a practitioner but as a teacher is commendable. On her last note she emphasised for the publich, the importance of expectant parents to work with competent  Midwives starting from pre conception, during conception and post. Highlighting that post conception care is often under emphasised and is where most maternal deaths occur with bleeding & infections like sepsis.