Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Literary competetion ‘Andika na Soma’ launches its first chapbook

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

From left Maria Makasi & Buliba Magambo next to one of
the judges of the literary competetion Laila Nanji  'Andika na Soma'
at the launch of their chapbook inside Soma Book Cafe
grounds in Dar es Salaam recently
“I have read a lot of Shaaban Robert,  also Hussein Tuwa as well this one who’s using popular language Eric Shigongo, I used to follow his novels…for instance in our school where I completed my form 4 at Chang’ombe Secondary, we had a library. It had various books, I used to take novels borrow them to go and read. For novels the likes of Eric Shigongo’s, from my pocket money I would put aside, a certain amount & another as soon as it reached 10,000TSHS. I would go ahead & buy my own copy…” Buliba Magambo

Director of SOMA learning & readership
Agency Mme Demere Kitunga, at the
launch of the chapbook giving an
 inspiring speech to the audience present 
His handshake was formal his expression serious, meeting Buliba for the first time wearing a plain cream tailored shirt and charcoal pants. It didn’t seem that he was one to launch into smiles & laughter so easily yet further into our interview his face softened, a big smile peeked through his eyes. As soon as he went on to tell his journey as a writer of fiction, which began since he was in form 1, penning stories at the back of his exercise books for his friends to read.

“You know, a writer feels deeply. Something always irked me to say something, I thought it not ok to keep it to myself. Thinking on what better way to voice my thoughts, I fell for the written word…” Buliba

Buliba Magambo is among 10 young Tanzania writers, who were shortlisted in last year’s short story competition ‘Andika na Soma’. He was in form VI at Benjamin William Mkapa Sec School, when he received the news of being selected in the top ten. Currently he is studying Mass Communications at Dar es Salaam University. ‘Andika na Soma’ calls for short story entries in Kiswahili from secondary school students all over Tanzania. Now running in its fourth year, it is organised by E&D publishers and sponsored by the Danish Embassy to Tanzania.

From left Zawadi S. Kondo-Tambaza Sec School,
Jackline Kisanga Machame Girls sec School,
'she's not featured in the book', Swedi Shaury Makongo Sec School,
 Kulwa Abdallah-Makongo Sec School, 'not featured in the book'.
Eliana Swai winner in last years 'Andika na Soma' competetion-
Kifungilo Sec School, Mariam Mwenesi-Machame Sec School,
Buliba Magambo-Benjamin Mkapa Sec School,
Asha Hassan Malolo-Zanaki Sec School, 'not featured in the book',
Anneth Mirambo-Ruvu Sec School and Maria makasi Jangwani Sec school
For the first time in its three annual rounds ‘Andika na Soma’ has published a chapbook, comprising of 10 short stories from its 7 shortlisted writers of last year’s round, as well 3 other short stories from selected contestants of the same year. The  official launch of the book took place at SOMA Book Cafe, an outlet of E&D publishers Ltd located in Regent Estate, Dar es Salaam on the 24th June. With special guest Laila Ally Nanji being present, one of the judges for this years competition who is an Asst Lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam in Kiswahili department.

“You can now call yourselves writers as you are published…it would be a shame though, if you ended on this pages. A real writer keeps writing, its like a knife if you don’t use it, it goes blunt…” Mme Demere Kitunga, Editor & Director of E&D publishers Ltd. Giving a word of encouragement to the young writers at the launch of their chapbook, detailing the processes of the birthing a book, she further congratulated them for daring to pen their stories urging them to keep doing so, for if we keep reading stories from other countries then we affirm a mediocre belief that we are not good enough or creative enough as other cultures.

“Hapaaana Emma, hapana mwanangu! Usifanye hivyo…!” Haya yalikuwa maneno ya mama huku akikimbia kutoka meza kuu kuja mahali nilipo. Nilitumia muda huo kumuomba mama msamaha na pia nilimsihi aniruhusu niendelee kukisoma kijitabu hicho. Hata hivyo nilijikuta niko chini tayari kumuinuua mama, ambaye wakati anajaribu kunikimbilia alianguka kutokana na viatu virefu alivyovaa siku hiyo. Nililia sana kwa uchungu si tu kwasababu ya kutaka kukisoma kile kijitabu ,bali juu ya mama ambaye alianguka mbele ya wageni wake katika siku hiyo muhimu sana kwake…” ‘Zawadi ya Mama’-Andika na Soma 2016

Facilitators at the launch of the 1st Andika na Soma chapbook
left George Lauwo Manger at Soma and Laila Ally Nanji Asst
Lecturer in the Kiswahili Department at the University
of Dar es Salaam, also one of the judges of this literary competition
Above is an excerpt from the chapbook, within the short story ‘A gift for Mother’ by Maria Makasi. She completed high school at Jangwani Sec School last year. It was through her involvement in the school’s  book club ‘Mzalendo’ that she got wind of Andika’s call for submissions. Currently she’s a member of TYVA-Tanzania Youth Vision Association, where she’s a board member in their TCB-‘training & capacity building’ program. She is also working on the pilot of a TV program to be aired at StarTV, that will assist secondary students to learn Science using music.

Listening to her journey in penning this short story, which involved her learning to use the computer for the first time. Where she lost her work twice a result of power cuts and her rookie experience with PC’s. It was to glimpse a courageous young woman, who despite being a science student  going through form six finals preparations, with little experience in writing literature. Went on to scoop the second prize in last years ‘Andika na Soma’ competition, which had her taking 300,000Tshs cash and books to the same value.

Among the lady writers in this chapbook, left Maria Makasi
and Anneth Mirambo both now graduated from
secondary school awaiting university

As this chapbook was allotted limited funding due to the finite sponsorship of this competition. It will be given to each of the writer’s secondary schools for their libraries, a copy for each to the contributing writers. The remaining  few copies will be retained for public reading at Soma Book Cafe. Maria & Buliba attested how ‘the written word lives on’.  Its commendable how these young writers have gone on to tell vivid stories of their landscape.

The short stories in this chapbook explore pertinent issues in our times like Buliba’s story ‘Timbwili la Inspekta Kajigu’, which looks at drugs & leadership. Also the case for family bonds their myriad facades in our society, themes of democracy, youth employment, rural urban migration & corruption dominate the book. Scoring the fact that youths do have an interest  in our geo-political and cultural edicts and so deserve a platform to air their views more often.

This year entries to ‘Andika na Soma’ competition under the theme globalisation, are closed. Over 400 short stories were submitted ranging from 31 Secondary schools all over the country. The winners will be announced by September this year.

First published in the East African Newspaper..

Sunday, 16 July 2017

ZIFF’17 paving way for TZ film industry

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

Against the backdrop of these words “I really admire artists because I love music, of any genre. In my youth I danced ‘Rumba’ plenty. During these yesteryears at ‘DDC Magomeni Kondoa' I had a special seat. If you went and sat there they would tell you, ‘that seat is reserved when he arrives you’ll have to leave’…”- Dr Jakaya M. Kikwete from his speech at the opening of this year’s Zanzibar International Film Festival, that is celebrating two decades since its inception.

We saw the unveiling of Zanzibar’s film festival-ZIFF on the 8th of July, where former President of the United Rep of Tanzania graced the opening ceremony as guest of honour. He was honoured with the lifetime achievement award from this festival, for his passionate contributions to the arts & for pushing the festival’s visibility for the past 20 years.
(click link for more photos of the festival)

His speech which went on for a good 30 minutes, that towards the end he kindly chided himself ‘perhaps because it’s been a while since I was speaking to Tanzanians in front of a podium…’. Went on to congratulate the organisers including former festival’s CEO Martin Mhando, founding board members of ZIFF like Fatma Alloo & Hassan Mitawi. For establishing a platform that is recognised internationally, erecting firm infrastructure in the film industry in Africa.

Former President of Tanzania among Dr J. M. Kikwete
giving a speech as GOH at ZIFF
opening ceremony this year-Photo by ZIFF photographer
Mentioning that this is no small feat, he urged local film stakeholders to up their skillset, like taking advantage of the opportunities presented in this year’s ZIFF film school program. Which saw applications from several young film makers all over the continent, still despite the entry being free very few Tanzanian filmmakers applied. “I watch a lot of Bongo Movies…and you reach a point you can’t even hear the words. If we want our local movies to compete reaching international platforms like Cannes or even Ouagadougou in their Pan-African Film Festival, ultimately getting to Hollywood. If ZIFF is giving these opportunities to local filmmakers why aren’t we using them?”

To understand why our mainstream movie industry has many shortcomings a look at history is warranted. As ZIFF’s Board Chairman Hon Mahmoud T. Kombo (Current Health Minister of Zanzibar) highlights. “Yes, indeed by 1997 all the cinemas in Tanzania had collapsed thanks to the IMF conditions and tunnel thinking, where a peoples’ culture was held in short-thrift. Culture wasn’t considered part of development and no tear was shed when 53 cinemas in the country along with many hundreds around Africa were closed in the 80’s and 90’s…”
Photo by ZIFF photographer, audiences at the Old Forte Ampi theatre,
one of the screening venues of the festival

With this hacking from the knees of a whole industry casualties are to be expected. Yet the industry as of 2010 was contributing more than 300 billion TSHS to Tanzania’s annual GDP. Where a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) global entertainment and media outlook 2016-2020 report noted that: “in 36 out of the 54 countries covered by PwC’s outlook, entertainment and media spending is growing more rapidly than GDP, often by a factor of more than 50 percent.” PwC is present in Tanzania, former president Dr Kikwete noted how he’s always been impressed by the resilience of youth in the industry, who have found employment by the thousands in this sector.
Among the pillars of ZIFF festival from left Festival
 Director Fabrizio Colombo, former festival CEO Prof Martin
Mhando and current festival CEO Daniel Nyalusi at ZIFF'17
opening ceremony

ZIFF this year continued to propel the local movie industry, by debuting its festival with a Tanzanian film 'T-Junction' of Kijiweni Productions, Directed & written by Amil Shivji. The film on the award night of this festival (15th July) went onto scoop, ‘the Best European African Film Festival Award’ of 1000 Euros. As well as having its lead actress Hawa Ally, receive ‘Best Actress’ in the Bongo Movie Award section of the ceremony.

Among the notable screenings of Tanzanian film at the festival this year was the documentary ‘Sinema Ujamaa’ directed by Symphorian Belleghe from Tanzania.  Here one can trace the gap since the 60’s to the late 80’s of Tanzanian film before ‘Bongo Movies’ when cinema houses were prominent in the country.

Members of 'Mtendeje' performing 'Maulid ya Home'
at the opening ceremony of ZIFF this year inside
the ampi theatre at Old Fort in Zanzibar
Littered with archival footage and reenactments of classics from the time including ‘Fimbo ya Mnyonge’ and ‘Harusi ya Mariam’. Sinema Ujamaa reunites a group of early film makers to an intergenerational dialogue with young ‘Bongo Movie’ film makers. That ignites patriotic sentiments from audiences in noting our responsibility to hold the industry erect.

Also the dramatised documentary ’Son of Sinbad: A call of Zanzibar’, was another local film that was featured at the festival which had its world premier on this platform. The documentary didn’t use any professional actors in its dramatised clips. “So we were looking for people on the streets, who were willing to take part. Most of them had never been in front of the camera…” Friedrich Kluetshc the director of this documentary, which explores the maritime history of Zanzibar with connection to Oman since the 1840’s to the present.

From right Members of the Board of ZIFF Chande Omar,
Fatma Alloo and Hassan Mitawi as well former
CEO of ZIFF Prof Martin Mhando, current
CEO Daniel Nyalusi and Festival Director Fabrizio Colombo
Among the producers Said Odeithi commented how Mafoudh et Mafouth a native of Zanzibar playing the role of Sultan Said Sayyed, was an example of hidden talent that this documentary unearthed. Having seen the documentary I can vouch that one wouldn’t think the man has never acted before.

ZIFF this year through its Film School Program saw this years chief guest, US-based producer Davis Dexter, conduct a three-day workshop that culminated in a pitching competition for African filmmakers. Where Tanzania’s own Amby Lusekelo won the bid which will culminate in a film grant between 50,000 to 200,000 US Dollars.

Indeed the festival this year has gone aways in lighting the torch for the local industry including the opening of Soko Filam, that brought over 50 filmakers from over 12 countries to our shores of Zanzibar. Who were joined by mroe than 100 Soko Filam delegates, a wonderful opportunity in placing our country on the map in the African film industry.

We saw the Bi Kidude, chairperson award from ZIFF go to a Tanzanian production-White Potion by Ash Mswaki, together with the COMNET Bongo Movie Awards continuing to boost our own industry. Here Best Actor went to Ibrahim Osward in Hadithi za Kumekucha, Best Editor to Freddy Feruzi in Genge, Best Cinematographer to Freddy Feruzi in Genge, Best Screenplay/Writer to Ernest Napoleon & Daniel Manege, Best Film in Sound to Homecoming by Seko Shamte and Best Director to Nicholas Marwa in Kiumeni, with T-Junction as mentioned earlier scooping Best Feature Film and the Best Actress for Hawa Ally.

Board Chairman of ZIFF (in white)
Hon Mahmoud T. Kombo presenting the
Lifetime Achievement Award to former
President of Tanzania Dr Jakaya Kikwete
at the opening ceremony of ZIFF this year
The theme for next year’s ZIFF festival was announced as ‘Speak Up and Say It!, ‘Sema Usikike’ which will occur on the 7th to the 15th of July. Special thanks to the sponsors of this festival which include Danido, ComNet, ZanLink, Danish Film Institute, DoubleTree by Hilton, British Council. Maru Maru Hotel, Azam Marine Division, Showmax Trace Mziki, US Embassy Dar es Salaam, Kenya Film Classification Board, Milele Zanzibar Foundation, Ethiopian Airlines, Emerson Foundation, GIZ. Goethe Institute. Sauti za Busara Festival, ACRA, Italian Embassy Dar es Salaam, Embassy of Israel, Park Hyatt Zanzibar, Clouds Plus TV, African Movie Channel, Maharaba Swahili Music Festival, Wanene Productions and ZBC.

For the full list of ZIFF winners this year click

First published in the east african newspaper

Friday, 16 June 2017

The African Report on Child Wellbeing, the case for Tanzania

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

Ms Graca Machel at the launch of the ARCW'16 in Johannesburg
last month 
Almost half of Africa’s population is under 18 (half a billion), where in most countries the child population is doubling every 25 years. Facts like this litter the ‘The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2016’ (ARCW’16) generated by The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). 

ACPF is an independent, not for profit, Pan African centre for research and advocacy on the African child based in Addis Ababa, established since 2003. On its board of trustees is notable persons like H. E.  Dr Salim A. Salim former Prime Minister of Tanzania and Secretary General of the then OAU; H. E.  Joaqium Chissano, President of Mozambique (1986-2005) as well Ms Graca Machel, International advocate for women’s and children's rights; former freedom fighter and first Education & Culture Minister of Mozambique. 

The report the fourth of its kind from the forum, titled ‘Getting it right: Bridging the gap between policy and practice’. Was launched in Dakar, Senegal in December last year and in May this year ,it was launched in Johannesburg, South Africa. It focuses on child rights implementation with the aim of helping bridge the gap  between policy and practice. 

Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen from University
of Western Cape in SA, running the
 Children Rights & Advocacy project
 at the Community Centre delivering
 her speech at the launch of the
ARCW'16 in J'burg last month
“I find it quite interesting, that the general comment that’s being developed by the African committee of experts here, is specifically on general measures of implementation and systems strengthening. Which is new… that is precisely to take account community informal systems that respond to reach our protection issues. So we have a very different content to the CRC committee general measures of implementation of 2003. This report deals directly with the resource context and the capacity context in Africa…” —Prof Julio Sloth-Nielsen from the University of Western Cape in SA, who was present at the launch of the report in South Africa.

As Tanzania is a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of  the Child (ACRWC) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Where article 1 of the ACRWC declares that states must: ‘…recognise the rights, freedoms, and duties enshrined in this Charter and […] must take the necessary steps, in accordance with their constitutional processes…” Where in the CRC, article 4, requires states to take all ‘appropriate legislative administrative and other measures’ to enforce children rights. 

“Here in Africa, we are not short of laws and policies, as we have done tremendous work in this regard over the last decades. What we fundamentally lack is implementation, commitment and capacity to translate them into action…” Ms Graca Machel, present at the launch of the report in Johannesburg. 

Members of the ACFP and invited guests at the launch of ARCW'16
in J'burg last month

The report critiques the previous national plan, ‘National Child Protection Agenda’ (NCPA II). As effective yet poor in its implementation due to several factors including budgetary constraints to the government wing responsible. That is the now Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly & Children (MHCDGEC). 

“…The total budget for the Plan was USD 44 million for 2014 and USD 57 million for 2013. However much less than this was allocated. The government attributed this to donor delays in disbursing funds, the reality was that the Ministry of Finance allocated the available funds to other expenditures. 

The report further elucidates that poor coordination at lower administrative levels “…such as the committees for the most vulnerable children (MVCC’s) and the Child protection Teams are not recognised as formal structures. They are only funded after the Prime Minsters Office regional administrative and local government PMO-RALG, has authorised their payments. But this has not happened so it has not been possible to strengthen the capacity of the committees at ward and community levels to facilitate activities, local government agencies and so implement the plan more effectively. Source ACPF 2016”

We caught up with Mr Obey N. Assery, the Director of the Department of Coordination of Government Business at the Prime Minister’s office. He instead cited positive efforts by the Prime Minister’s office. “In terms of child wellbeing I can recall two initiatives relating to children’s welfare. One is on nutrition where our focus has been to combat both chronic and acute malnutrition among children. 

Invited guests at the launch of the ARCW'16 in J'burg last month
We put emphasis on the first 1000 days of a baby’s life window as well the post 1000 days campaign, as you know within 5 years we were able to bring statistics for stunted children down from 42% to 35%, here our National Multi sectoral Nutrition Action Plan played a big role…We also coordinate social protection issues which we are focusing on helping children from poor backgrounds access health, education and other services through cash transfers. Issues of child labour and violence against women are also coordinated under PMO.”

Its wise to note here that 70-80% of the recurring budget for the MHCDGEC is facilitated by donors, so for instance the budget in 2015-16 for the ministry was USD 14,482,000. Yet only 5,035,000 was left for development, wherein the children rights implementation faction is found. In the 2014/15 national budget, the child rights implementation faction received only 230,500 less than 2% of the ministry’s budget that year. Bear in mind this is the wing left to carry out NACP II and delay in budget arrivals to the ministries is common as the report cites. ‘In Tanzania…only 22.8% of the development budget had been disbursed by April 2015 (two to three months before the end of the financial year).’

So it fairs sub nationally 61 percent of community development posts in Tanzania at ward levels, were vacant following last year with many districts having no ward community development officers, not to mention child protective teams or social workers.

On the ground what this breaks down to, is that for every 1000 live births as of 2015 in Tanzania, 35 passed away at infancy and 49 passed away under 5 years.  Since 2010-15 only 49% of pregnant women in the country gave birth with a skilled health worker present. Since 2009-13 the government only contributed 25% to the overall budget of EPI (immunisation kit).  Only 15% of our babies born in the country are registered with a birth certificate as of 2016 (an indicator that civil registration and state systems aren’t very efficient at low levels of government). We had 810,000 children orphaned by AIDS as of 2014. The rate of stunted children is still above 30%, in some regions up 50%. Source ARCW’16

We caught up with Mr Jones John Matungwa g'Omukama, from Tanzania Child Rights Forum (TCRF), he was among the experts from Tanzania consulted in the making of this report. He shed light on what is available on the ground for children seeking protection from abuse in Tanzania. 

“You might have already read in the report that by operationalising the Gender and Children Police Desks in most police stations across the country. The government has put in place a system of accountability specifically for children, though distant. We’ve yet to fully gauge it’s effectiveness. There’s also the toll free no that children across the country can call to report their problems 116. Also there are various districts supported by UNICEF programs as well the scarce but times available district child protection teams at government ward offices. Also legal services through response provided by paralegals support many districts across the country.” He further cited a lack of priority for children’s well being by society and government as a whole, being the main reason for lack of quality advertisement of these services to the public. 

“I think there is a need to mobilise around it. Besides, the just launched National Plan of Action on Violence Against Women and Children should help galvanise actions towards promoting access to these and other prevention and response services, hopefully.”

It’s not all gloomy, the good thing is our laws and policies are strong, we have the existence of domestic laws on child trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, harmful traditional practices including FGM, we have child friendly courts, plus corporal punishment (at least on the books) is prohibited at home & at school. Our immunisation against measles was at 99% as of 2014. 

We caught up with Mr. Richard Mabala from TAMASHA, another expert from Tanzania who was consulted on  the making of this report from Tanzania. He echoed Mr g’Omukama’s sentiments on the low level priority given to children issues, highlighting the impacts of neglecting children for the nation.

“The likelihood of children (who were malnourished, having no access to basic services like primary education and vaccinations; who have experienced sexual abuse and or excessive corporal punishment); growing up as happy, healthy, productive human beings is a miracle. 

There are more likely to extend this abusive behaviour to their children even participate in crime & such regressive behaviour. Which in no way profits our nation, in the work force or at home. However from our experience in TAMASHA (youth organisation), the resilience of young people is very high and when they are given a second chance, the majority grab at it with both hands. We spend all our money on physical infrastructure, what about human infrastructure…”

The report in its remedial advice urges our government to strengthen its accountability systems at all levels of governance by building their capacities. Investing in data collection and dissemination plus involving children in the implementation of their rights. You can access the report at 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Hazina za mimea asili ya fukwe za Afrika Mashariki

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

Bi Shamba Ireen Colyvas Mtuil, ndani ya bustani
yake akiwa na miche ya Pembana, mmea asili
wa Afrika Mashariki
Athari za tabia nchi zinatukabili wa Afrika Mashariki kuliko tunavyodhani. Kwa wale wanaoishi ufukweni mwa Afrika Mashariki kuanzia Msumbiji (Mozambique) hadi Somali kusini, kupitia Tanzania na Kenya. Asimilia 90 ya mimea asilia inayoota humu ikihifadhi viumbe mbali mbali, (wengi wao wanaopatikana hapa tu duniani) imetoweka.

“Misitu ya fukwe za Afrika Mashariki pamoja na milima ya Uzungwa Tanzania yajulikana duniani na wanabiolojia, kama vyanzo pekee vya makazi ya viumbe wanaopatikana huku tu dunia nzima. Misitu ya pwani mabondeni inayo hifadhi watu kwa miaka nenda rudi (ma elfu) sasa imesalia kwa asimilia kumi tu…” Mazingira hatarini, Viumbe hatarini: Misitu na Pori za kanda ya fukwe za Afrika Mashariki hati ya WWF-World Wildlife Fund-2011


Wangapi tunoishi pwani tunagongana mitaani kwetu na miti kama Mkungu, Mvule au mimea ya Mabungo na Aloe-Memosa (aina ya aloe-vera asilia toka Afrika Mashariki). Haswa kwa wale tunaokaa miji ya Pwani za Afrika Mashariki, tunazidi sahau muonekano wa mimea hii. Kwani tumezungukwa na mimea geni kama miashok, miarobaini, ‘minazi ya njano’ n.k.

NIkiongea na Dkt William Joseph Kindeketa (Ph.D), afisa mtafiti wa viumbe hai pale Tanzania Commission for Science & Techonology-COSTECH. Alisema hali inazidi kudhofika licha ya baadhi ya misitu kutengwa kwa hifadhi, kama ‘Pande game reserve, Kazizungwi, Vitindu na Msitu wa Kusini Ruvu. 

Mti wa Mvule pale Bustani ya Botania jijini kati
Dar es Salaam, ni mti asilia ya fukwe za Afrika
Mashariki na upo hatarani kupotea 
“Mwaka 2016 hadi awali mwaka huu, nilifanya utafiti kujua maendeleo ya hifadhi hizi za misitu. Nilitembelea mikoa ya Pwani, Lindi na Dar es Salaam, nikaona wazi hali yazidi kuwa mbaya. Tokea juu na picha za ‘satelite’ huwezi ona vizuri hali ya misitu hii, ukiwa ndani ndo unaona uharibifu unaoendelea. Miti yakatwa kwa ajili ya biashara ya mkaa na mahitaji mengine ya watu licha ya kuwa sehemu pekee za hifadhi ya mazingira kitaifa, kama kule Ikwiliri, Rufiji”

Kuna manufaa mengi ya kuhifadhi na kuotesha mimea ya asili hata kwenye bustani zetu majumbani. Kwa kuwa mimea hii imeshazoea hali ya hewa ya maeneo yetu, huweza kustaimili kiangazi, pia kupunguza athari za mafuriko. Kwa kuwa inashamriri ina mtandao mkubwa wa mizizi chini ya ardhi, inayoshikilia ardhi na kunyonya maji vizuri toka kina cha chini. 

Pia mtandao huu husaidia kuchuja mchanga na kusaidia maji yanoyofika kwenye mito au visima kuwa safi, yakikosa mchanga na udongo mwingi. Vile vile kutosababisha mmonyoko wa ardhi. Mimea ya asili huwa imezoea wadudu waharibifu na wasionekana wa maeneo yao, vivyo huweza kukabiliana nao bila kutumia dawa kali za kemikali. Hata mbolea kwenye mimea hii haiitajiki kama kwenye mimea ngeni. 

Kwa kuwa mimea ya asili imekuwepo kwa miaka elfu na maelfu, wakuta imekua na kuelewana na viumbe hai wa sehemu ile. Pamoja na viumbe chavu kama nyuki na vipepeo, wengi wao wakipendelea kuishi kwenye mimea hii au kutumia maligafi yake kujikidhi. Vivyo ukitokomeza mmea wa asili ni kama umeondoa kijiji kizima, kwani wengi wa viumbe hawa hawawezi kuishi na mimea ngeni.

“Tulifanya tafiti kwenye kahawa za Kilimanjaro, tuliachia baadhi ya kahawa zikumbane na viumbe chavu na kahawa nyingine tulizinyima viumbe hawa. Mimea yote ilizaa, sema matunda ya zile kahawa zilizokosa viumbe chavu, yalikosa ubora ukilinganisha na kahawa zilizopewa viumbe chavu…”Dkt W. Kindeketa

Mifano ya suluhu

Dkt Anne Outwater mhadhiri wa chuo cha manesi Muhimbili-MUHAS, anayependa mno mazingira . Kwa sasa yupo kwenye mchakato akisaidiwa na Ilana Locker pamoja na Roy Gerau (wanabiologia wa bustani ya botania Missouri-USA) wa kuchapisha kitabu ‘Mimea Asili ya Fukwe za Afrika Mashariki’. Kitabu hiki kitatumia lugha zote mbili ikiwemo Kiswahili na Kingeresza. Kitaelezea zaidi mimea asilia ya fukwe za Afrika Mashairiki matunzo yake, jinsi ya kuiotesha n.k.
Shina la mnazi wa 'Pembana' ndani ya bustani
ya Bi Shamba Ireen Mtui 

Ikitoa majina na picha ya mimea hii kama Mkunga, Mkongo, Mujogolo, Mkuruti, Mtundu, Mkangazni, Mpwipwi, Mvule, Mswaki, Morula, Mluze, Mkwaju, Mbuyu, Mkuyu na mingine mingi. Pia itatoa elimu juu ya mimea geni iliyoteshwa kwenya kanda hii, na jinisi inavyoathiri mazingira yetu. 

Dkt. Anne pia alikuwa mmoja wa wanaharakati waliowezesha wanafunzi wa MUHAS awali mwaka huu. Kushirikiana na manispaa ya Ilala kwenye ‘wiki ya kusafisha ilala’ ambapo walisafisha pori la hifadhi ya Mikoko, karibu na Salendar Bridge jijini Dar es Salaam. Mansipaa baadaye ilimuomba awasaidie kutekeleza maadhimisho ya siku ya mazingira duniani, itakayofanyika mwezi juni mwaka huu.

Vivyo akamshirikisha rafiki yake Ireen Colyvas Mtui, ambaye ni Bi Shamba anayetunza na kuuza mimea mbalimbali tangu 1993. Bi Ireen ataipa manispaa ya Ilala zaidi ya miche 200, ili manispaa iipande siku hii ya mazingira duniani. Dkt Anne alitumia fursa hii ya kusaidia mazingira jijini DSM, kwa kujaribu kutengeneza akiba mbadala ya mnazi wa Pembana. Mnazi huu ulipewa tathmini mwaka 2009, kuwa hatarini kutoweka duniani na kitengo cha ‘East African Plant Red List Authority.

Matawi ya mnazi wa Pembana ambao upo hatarani
kupotea na ni mti asilia wa fukwe za Afrika
Huu mnazi ni mmea asilia wa pwani ya Afrika Mashariki. Ukipatikana kisiwa cha Pemba pekee ndani ya msitu wa Ngezi mahala pasipozidi Kilometa 20 ‘square’. 

“Huu mnazi ni rahisi kuumudu, mbegu zake ni ndogo nyekundu. Kwa mwaka huzaa mara mbili hadi tatu. Anne alivyoniomba nimpe mbegu za mmea huu, nilihofu kama tutapata miche 200, kwani sikuwahi kuuza kwa wingi. Lakini nilichukua mbegu zake na kuzitupa ardhini, nilifurahi nlipoona zimechipua bila shida. Basi nikazihamisha kwenye vikopo. Baadaye zilivyozidi kuota nilihamisha mche mmoja, mmoja kwenda kwenye vyungu hivi unavyoviona vya plastiki…” Ireen Colyvas Mtui

Wanawake hawa wapo mstari wa mbele kukabiliana na janga hili linaokabili mimea yetu ya asili. Ukweli sio ajabu tunakabiliana na athari za tabia nchi, zinazoleta mvua bila mpangilio na joto au ukame usio wakawaidia, kurudisha mimea yetu asilia kutatusaidia kukumbana na tatizo hili. Hivyo ukiwa Dar es Salaam waweza fika kwenye bustani ya Mama Ireen pale Mlandege Rd, No7, Mikocheni B, Dar es Salaam-0713410857, ili na wewe ujipatie mmea wa asili na kusaidia mazingira yetu.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Cooking for Isimila Festival's second leg

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

Grace Matata performing her recent single 'Utanifaa'-photo
by Grace Matata cre
A festival is finding root some 20 km from Iringa in Tanzania, close to the Isimila historical stone age site inside the ‘Isimila African Garden’. Launched last year in September, it’s now scheduled to occur this May on the 20st & 21st. 

“A couple of us had been playing as a small band in Iringa,  one time we played at this fundraiser for one of the schools here. A number of residents turned up just to hear our band play four or five songs…like a 150 people. Afterwards we just sort of realised that here in Iringa people are hungry for live music and so decided to organise a day of music…” Matt Van Dis, Festival Co-ordinator & musician.
A performance from last years inaugural 
Isimila Festival in Iringa

This is how Isimila festival was born last year in September. In its organising team together with Matt are Tom Hilton, Josephine Smit, Kerstin Scheffler & Saidy Mlewa the former two also run the ‘Isimila African Garden’ where the festival takes place.

This year the festival has gone a notch higher, inviting more established artists from all over Tanzania onto their stage. To include Jhikoman a.k.a Jhiko Manyika, the Tanzanian reggae musician based in Bagamoyo. Who has been serenading audiences since 1994, his music which fuses roots reggae with contemporary Tanzanian music. Has lyrics in Kiswahili. English & his mother tongue ‘Kinyasa’, many at times lending to social justice.

Also afro-RnB songstress Grace Matata will be on stage at the festival, this petite fire cracker has been lighting the torch for female live singers in the country since 2013. 
Jhikoman on stage in Dar es Salaam
Earlier this year she released her new single ‘Utanifaa’ and got signed up for a management contract with Panamusic, based in South Africa. She’s been featured in several festivals in the region to include the Doa Doa Festival in Uganda and ZIFF in Zanzibar.  Based in Dar es Salaam one can find her performing live on Fridays at The Hyatt Hotel.

“My mom is from Iringa, I have lots of relatives there, but I’ve never performed in Iringa. So I’m really excited to be climb on stage this May…” Grace Matata quips of her anticipation for the festival.

Mzungu Kichaa onstage
in Dar es Salaam
Also Mzungu Kichaa makes the headlining list of artists for this year’s Isimila Festival. This Danish born singer who is well known in Tanzania, having featured with artists like Juma Nature, TID, Mangwaya & Ferooz in the late 90’s. Today he runs his own recording label ‘Caravan Records’, with his band featuring Kevin Micheal Mpangala on the base, Abdallah Membe (Kikombe) on the drums, Shaaban Rashid (Mugado) on the keyboard and Emmanuel Abraham Mwandemelela ( Mopao) on lead guitar.  Together they’ve performed extensively in Europe and within the country.

The festival will also feature Chi Temu a rising diva  a.k.a Achieli Temu as well Hip Hop star Bill Nass & many others including; 'kwaya ya vijana kanisa kuu Lutheran'. Meanwhile the festival is proud to be providing support to local artisans by providing them to showcase their goods. Here NGO’s like STEP, an elephant conservation program working in the region, will be displaying their literature to educate the audiences. 

An act from the locale community, on stage in the first
Isimila festival last year
“It’s our hope that this festival works as a catalyst for local community integration through cultural exchange. Also bringing attention to the wonderful touristic cites of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania…” Tom Hilton, founder Isimila Festival. 

For more details on how to get tickets including camping opportunities at the Isimila African Garden grounds. Visit

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Book Review-'The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things'

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

Like rummaging for goods in a pile of flee market treasures, there’s a smile teasing your psyche as you find yet another sensuous piece. Such is the smell of adventure found in this anthology of short stories ‘The daily assortment of astonishing things’ from last years selected writers in the Caine Prize for African Writing. 

“Her hair was alive; a constant stream of liquid dreadlocks emanated from the top of her head and covered her bare breasts…I tried to look at Mlenga, her face even more beautiful in the creeping light. I looked into her big eyes and drowned in the pools of their spellbinding essence. She slowly faded and disappeared with the rising sun, along with the rest of the non-human festival attendees.”—The Wandering Festival by Bwanga Kapumpa from Zambia

Stories like ‘the wandering festival’ are in the fantasy genre, expanding the very narrow pool of fiction works in fantasy based on African mythologies. Commendable still is the way Bwanga here, straddles a delicate perspective as the subject in this story is light-we’re at a festival. However the setting is teetering on horror, yet so warmly described by the main character who is just curious & nonchalant. 

Writer Lesley Nneka Arimah from Nigeria dips her feet into another genre in fiction that is thin with authors, that of Sci-fi rooted in Africa. Her story in this anthology ‘What it means when a man falls from the sky’ is so relatable, no wonder she’s one of the shortlisted writers from last year’s Caine prize. The manner in which she drops the facts that we’re in a different world. Is effortlessly woven into the narrative. You don’t get a sense the author is working too hard, convincing you of this alternate world by using elaborate ominous descriptions.

There are other treasures in this book, certainly all the five shortlisted stories, in their own way leave a clear imprint in your memory. Here the winning story ‘The memories we lost’ by Lidudumalingani from South Africa, which had him scooping the Caine Prize of £10,000 last year; certainly stayed in my memory bank.

“I looked at my sister and found her face, as it had become in earlier months, emotionless. In the past few days she had given me hope that she had returned. Now tears rolled down our cheeks. I knew then that she still felt something, that the last few days of holding hands. laughing and jumping in the rain were not a dream.”-Memories we lost 

This story is endearing not so much for its word architecture but its authenticity, poured from the emotions of the main characters. Lidudu focuses on the weight of the affliction suffered by his protagonist’s sister, singeing the whole story with the mood of it.

Complex humor can be enjoyed in the story ‘The lifebloom Gift’ by Abdul Adan from Somalia/Kenya. His piece is very interesting in the way it collects sad circumstances, by dressing them in a unique prescription of bravery. “Ted was quick to take the old man’s alarm bell away from him lest he called anyone. I grabbed his little wrinkly hands and told him to stay mute or face the lifebloom wrath. We pulled his pyjamas and set the pegs in the right order. The old fool kept squirming and convulsing so much that I had to hold him back by his back as Ted tended to his every mole…”

Lesley Nneka Arimah the shortlisted writer
featured in this book, from Nigeria here she was
present at a reading session hosted by CDEA
of her short story in this Caine Prize antholog
‘At you requiem’ is another gem in this collection written by Bongani Kona from Zimbabwe; another of the five shortlisted writers for the Caine Prize last year. His piece has a strong start where we meet a character who has died and his cousin brother is recanting the event, not so much for anyone but himself. We see then his revealing mixed feelings for his cousin, through a clever flash back the author uses that eventually ties to the death. 

Various authors in this book tackle complex issues in society like Bongani here who looks at addiction & suicide as well as sexual abuse on boys. Tope Folarin (Nigeria) in ‘Genesis’ highlights mental illnesses and subtle but vicious racism. Where in ‘The Goat’ Tope also looks at fundamentalist religious beliefs and their falls in African modern settings.  

There are times throughout this book, when you’re just left agape with lush African backdrops like in Okwiri Oduor’s-‘The daily assortment of Astonishing things’. This piece had me sad for the mother, then was charmed by the sheer truancy of her son Dudu. The authors descriptions were also a lull.

“He ran across the street, past the marabou storks and the parked tuktuks and the vandalised lampposts. He ran past the cobbler’s hovel and the milliner’s shack and the mechanic’s oil-stained lot. He ran past the man who hawked a cure for syphilis and a salve for knock-knees. He wished that another cargo train would crawl out of its lair, wished that he could jump onto the roof of one of its coaches and ride all the way home.”-The daily assortment of astonishing things by Okwiri

I encourage you to get your copy for a dip into a sensuous sip of contemporary African stories. The book is published by Kwani Publishers in Kenya and FEMRITE books in Uganda and so you can get your copy in their outlets. You can otherwise order the book online . In Tanzania it’s available at TPH bookstores.