Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Are We Still Barbarians? Yes, Anastasia

This piece was published in the USA in 1916 by The Day Book. It has been more than one hundred years since the author of this publication compared Africans and white Americans/Europeans and asked the question: Are We Still Barbarians?

Are we still barbarians?

After glimpsing the Spring Maiden of 1916 on the main streets of our home vilage, we fear so, Anastasia.

Can you see any resemblence, for instance, in these very much abbreviated flare skirts to the grass-cloth petticoats of the care-free belles of Hawaii?

Do these new dangling earrings that our very best debutantes are wearing remind you of the ornaments of the happy Hottentos of Zanzibar? (We believe that is where the H.H. dwells)

Do you think that the sheer, silken shirt waists (blouses, our fashion editor says they are) have anything in common with the single chaste garments of the nalads of the South Sea islands?

Of course, thus far, these few kind words will make the menfolk smirk.

But listen, you men:

What of you who beleive your wives are just chattels-like the kitchen stove or the parlor rug?

What of you who paint up your insides with Hard Stuff and try to lick a policeman?

What of you who cheer when anybody mentions Lincoln, the liberator of the slaves, and then hire a few stenographers of clerks for six dollars a week?

The barbaric strain in our women-fork isn't harmful; indeed, we would be the first to protest if our own firkin did not tog out as gaudy and faily as others.

The barbaric germ in men is what concerns us most.

Are we still barbarians?  We are afraid so, Anastasia, we are afraid so.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mzee Morris Nyunyusa: A Legend in His Own Right

For many years those tuning in to listen to news on Tanzania Broadcast Corporation heard music coming from the drums of Morris Nyunyusa or Mzee Morris as he was known by many. Shortly before news was broadcasted, sounds of drums would be followed by a beeping sound exactly six seconds before the hour, six beeps each second leading up to the hour when news of the day was broadcasted. The drum beats and the beeps became a daily ritual for the hundreds of thousands of people who would tune in each day to listen to news. The legendary drummer behind the music was none other than Morris Nyunyusa, one of the most celebrated drummers ever to come out of East Africa. 
Playing seven drums could be challenging for many people with good vision. Mzee Morris was blind and he could play up to seventeen drums by the time of his death. Like many artists in Tanzania, Mzee Morris remains a distant memory for the many women and men who came of age in the 1980s. For the new generations, the name Mzee Morris, is unrecognizable, lost to the winds of time. Memory of this legendary musician, a national hero, appears to be fading away each passing day. Yet to sum up the life of this accomplished musician to the fading winds of time, abject poverty he experienced at the end of his life, or his blindness, would be to miss an important point: he was able to rise above challenges thrown his way, make significant contributions to the nation, and ultimately, guarantee his place in history.
Morris Nyunyusa was a Ngoni born in Tunduru, southern Tanzania circa 1918. He died in 1999. Morris contracted smallpox when he was a child. He lost his sight at the age of three due to complications caused by smallpox. The young boy developed love for music at a young age. He learned to play the marimba and then eventually switched to playing drums. Morris’s mother was one of the most important figures who helped mold and shape the young boy's interest in music. His mother led unyago ceremonies; the little Morris was allowed in to the secretive unyago dances because he was blind. Ever close to his teacher and mentor, Mohamed Kalesa, Morris would later learn to play three drums at first, before eventually graduating to seventeen drums. His wife moved around with him and helped arrange the drums; this task was eventually be shared with his son. 
Morris slowly gained fame as a drummer in the 1950s. Tanzania, then Tanganyika, was under British colonial rule. Sometime towards the end of 1950s, he increased the number of drums from three to seven, and eventually, increased the number to seventeen drums. Morris was brought to the attention of Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation in 1959; his skills on the drums were unparalleled. Morris was recorded for the first time in 1959 and broadcasted on the radio. He slowly gained fame around the territory as his music could be heard on the radio. Invitations for him to play in different events would increase in time. 
The government of Tanzania moved Morris Nyunyusa from Tunduru to Dar es Salaam in 1969. He went on to represent Tanzania in cultural festivals in Tokyo, Japan in 1970. It was reported that Morris Nyunyusa had the Emperor Hirohito of Japan spellbound by the rhythm of his drums. Nyunyusa was in Japan together with the Tanzania Dance Company that included snake and stilt dancers, and the Police Band. Recognizing his unique talent, the government decided to hire Nyunyusa to work for the Ministry of Culture in 1970. Mzee Morris travelled to different parts of Africa, Europe, and Asian, often as part of Tanzania Dance Company. He became one of Tanzania’s most recognized cultural ambassadors. Mzee Morris travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to entertain at the opening of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 5th Assembly November of 1975. This was one tour among the many others done in Africa.
The Tanzania government recognized Mzee Morris with a special stamp issued in 1981. The stamp immortalized Mzee Morris as one of the most accomplished cultural ambassadors in the country. The stamp featured him playing drums. Few Tanzanians have had the honor of being featured on the national post office stamps. This was a celebration of his achievements, and at the same time, part of a campaign to bring awareness to disabled persons. 
By some accounts, Mzee Morris was abandoned and left to live a destitute life towards the end of his life. He suffered the fate that is not uncommon for many other artists who have left their mark on the nation. Yet focusing on the fact that the nation appears to have abandoned him at his time of greatest need, or focusing on his blindness as a handicap, would be doing injustice to his life and accomplishments. Mzee Morris had a long career that span well over five decades, from at least 1930s to 1990s. He entertained the nation through his music and served as a government employee for twenty-two years until he retired in 1992. 
For the few who were able to see Mzee Morris play drums, his performances were thrilling and unforgettable. He was a master drummer able to make the drums talk, his hands moved with lighting speed; he knew exactly where his seventeen drums were, never missing a beat. Mzee Morris was without a doubt a musical genius. His life and accomplishments tells us something about the human spirit, determination to achieve excellence using the very cards we have been handed and not what we have been denied. He took his art to another level, elevated his country with every drum beat. His place in the annals of history is guaranteed.

©Azaria Mbughuni 
January 15, 2018

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Did Tanzania Win Independence in 1961?

Tanzania won independence from Britain on December 9, 1961. At least that is what we are told. Is Tanzania independent today? The British ruled Tanzania, then Tanganyika, for over forty years. What did forty years of British rule do to Tanganyika and was the changing of flags in December 9th lead to independence? The British were not in Tanganyika to develop the territory and its people; they were there to develop their own people and country, not Tanganyika and Tanganyikans. Tanganyika was underdeveloped and set up by the British to be dependent on the former colonial power. The "independence" of Tanganyika was ultimately contingent upon compliance with Western demands. Steering away from the West meant a declaration of war. This, Tanzania, would learn the hard way in the course of five years after the so-called independence. The quest for an independentTanzania is far from over fifty six years later. 

Tanganyika, and later Tanzania, struggled from December 9, 1961 to assert its so-called independence. This is not just the story of Tanzania alone, it is the story of Africa in general. In the case of Tanzania, the leadership attempted to capitalize on the shifting of flags in 1961 to curve out an independent path.  Tanzania took a path that was unique in Africa.  First, much of the young nation's resources were directed in removing minority regimes in southern Africa from the beginning.  Secondly, Tanzania under the leadership of Julius Nyerere attempted to curve out a path set in the Arusha Declaration.  Both policies placed Tanzania on a collision course with the West.  

The Arusha Declaration was a remarkable statement of principles; it sought to enshrine ideals and principles and curve out an independent path for the young nation. Like the American Declaration of Independence or the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Arusha Declaration sought to declare to the world principles and objectives of Tanzania; most of the principles were grounded in the ideas of equality, liberty, and justice.  However, the Arusha Declaration sounded alarm bells in western capitals. Why would a document that starts with the principle that "all human beings are equal", that "every individual has a right to dignity and respect" a document whose first listed aims were "to consolidate and maintain the independence of this country and freedom of its people" and to "safeguard the inherent dignity of the individual in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" cause so much controversy and subsequent clandestine war? Perhaps the answer lies in the commitment to policy of Socialism, African Socialism to be exact. Or maybe it could be due to the fourth and the eleventh aims of the Declarations, namely "to cooperate with all the political parties in Africa engaged in the liberation of all Africa" and "to see that the Government co-operates with other States in Africa in bringing about African unity"? Even if the Arusha Declaration left out commitment to Socialist principle, it would still have been perceived as antagonistic to Western interests. After all, one of the key parts of the Declaration was Self-Reliance, the quest to build up Tanzania independently and set it on a path to glory. Self-reliance was one of the most important components of the Arusha Declaration. Tanzania sought to become self-reliant in order to be in position to assert its independence.
Going back to December 1961, it is clear that the colonial powers were not serious about giving Tanganyika true independence. It is telling that major Western powers were busy promising Tanganyika economic aid on the eve of "independence" and in the weeks and months after December 9th. A review of some of the western newspapers from December 1961 reveals headlines such as "Tanganyika needing aid on eve of independence," "American and German Loans to Aid Tanganyika," and "US offers Prompt Aid to Newly Independent Tanganyika." Why would Britain rush to offer aid to newly independent Tanganyika after ruling the territory for forty years? It is obvious that the country had been underdeveloped in order to develop Britain. Furthermore, it is evident that Tanganyika was being set up to become a dependent state. Such is the story of Tanzania's so-called "independence." It is a story that resonates in all corners of Africa.  The struggle for independence is far from over.  Political independence means nothing if there is no economic, and an extent, social independence.  The young nation has fell short of achieving true independence. A nation that is weak economically is bound to face political interference.  Most importantly, a nation that cannot feed and provide for its own people is bound to be caught up in a cycle of dependency, and hence, give up its independence.  

©Azaria Mbughuni 
December 9, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Why Did Che Guevara Come to Tanzania Secretly. Part I-II

Why Did Che Guevara Come to Tanzania Secretly-I

The Argentinean revolutionary and hero of the Cuban revolution, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, spent over four months in Tanzania between 1965 and 1966. He entered Tanzanian soil a total of three times, once publicly and twice in secret between February and November of 1965. Che was attracted to Tanzania because it was the headquarters of most liberation movements from southern Africa; it was one of the centers of revolutionary thought in the African continent at the time. After almost three months of travelling to 6 different African countries pitching a case for a revolution, it was in Tanzania that Che would find a government ready to support his plan and a place to launch his next revolution. Tanzania would eventually become the starting point for a Cuban operation that would see Che together with more than 130 Cubans cross Lake Tanganyika and spend the next seven months fighting in the Congo.

Che landed in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, February 11, 1965 from China. He had one mission: to rally support from the liberation movements to create a united army to fight against imperialist and neocolonial forces in the Congo. Che went to Tanzania with a mission. He wanted a revolution. If there was any place in Africa with a large number of revolutionaries from different countries close to the battlefields in 1965, it was Tanzania. A war was escalating in the neighboring Mozambique against the Portuguese. Revolutionaries from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, were flocking into the country. Tanzania was the one place in Africa that Che had hopes for his mission to recruit fighters and establish a rear base for a revolutionary war.

Che spent the first day in Dar es Salaam and then flew to Zanzibar to attend the celebrations of the anniversary of the Zanzibar revolution on the weekend of February 13, 1965. The anniversary was postponed from January 12 to February 12, 1965 because of Ramadan. Attending the anniversary celebrations of the Zanzibar revolution was a symbolic start for Che’s tour of Tanzania. Cuba provided military training for numerous Zanzibar comrades who came to play a big role in the eventual victory of that revolution.

The security situation in Tanzania was tense in the end of 1964 and the beginning of 1965. A diplomatic crisis between Tanzania and the US erupted in November of 1964 with discovery of documents purporting a plan by the US to help Portugal overthrow the Tanzanian government. The crisis escalated when on January 11th, 1965, Tanzanian intelligence services snooping on telephone conversation between two American diplomats, Bob Gordon and Frank Carlucci, heard them speaking in codes about what appeared to be a plot against the Zanzibar government. The two US diplomats were expelled from Tanzania in January of 1965. It was a crisis that, according to one American diplomat, Don Patterson, would bring Nyerere to tears during his discussion with William Leonhart, the US Ambassador to Tanzania at the time. Che was in Tanzania during this difficult period for the Tanzanian government officials. The New York Times carried an article on the diplomatic crisis between the US and Tanzania on February 15, 1965; it noted that the Tanzanian government was hosting Maj. Ernesto Che Guevara amidst the crisis.

Back in Zanzibar, Ali Sultan Issa, the newly appointed Minister of Education, was given the task of hosting Che. Ali was a socialist who had studied in Britain, spent time in Cuba and China. In fact, Ali had first met Che in Cuba in 1962 and again later at a conference in Geneva in 1964. Che stayed at a small house in Buba, Zanzibar. Ali made sure that preparations were made for Che to stay in the house. Che and Ali would spend two hours discussing Che’s Tricontinental vision. Che wanted to build revolutionary armies from three different continents-Africa, South America, and Asia- to struggle against imperialism. The two also discussed the awakening of African revolutionary thought among the rebels in Congo, freedom fighters in Mozambique and southern African.

Che spent time with Salim Ahmed Salim and his family in Zanzibar. Salim was Tanzania’s Ambassador to Egypt from 1964 to 1965. Salim invited Che to his house for a meal. Salim’s wife, Amne Ahmed, prepared a meal for the renowned revolutionary. Che and Salim spent several hours discussing the Cuban revolution and the strength of the liberation movements in Africa. Che returned to Dar es Salaam after spending several days in Zanzibar.

Arrangements were made for a meeting between Che and at least 50 representatives of various liberation groups from 10 countries. The black Cuban Ambassador to Tanzania Pablo Rivalta and Juan Carretero, Head of Latin America Section of the Intelligence Department for Cuba, took part in the talks. The meeting was held at the Cuban Embassy in Upanga, Dar es Salaam. It was at this meeting that Che unveiled his scheme to create an army made up of soldiers from different African countries to be trained in the Congo. Che called his initiative the “Common Front.” This was a difficult proposal for the various liberation groups to accept. The freedom fighters wanted to focus on the campaigns in their own countries. Che faced resistance and realized very quickly that it would be better to meet with individual groups one at a time. Separate meetings were arranged later for some of the groups.

FRELIMO was one of the groups that had a separate meeting with Che. The list of attendees included, Marcelino dos Santos, Samora Machel, and Eduardo Mondlane. Once again, Che took the time to make a case to FRELIMO to send soldiers to train and fight in the Congo. FRELIMO leaders were not impressed with the plan. What followed was a long debate between Che and FRELIMO leaders. According to Marcelinos dos Santos, they informed Che about some of the details of the war in Mozambique and Che questioned the veracity of some of the claims. The debate became heated and acrimonious at one point. Mondlane, the President of FRELIMO, was offended. The meeting was adjourned, but not before numerous pictures were taken.

The most productive meeting for Che in Dar es Salaam was with the Congo rebels based in Tanzania, Laurent Kabila, Godefrei Tchamlesso, and later Gaston Soumialot. Che had at least three meetings with the Congo rebels in Dar es Salaam in February of 1965. He was particularly impressed with Kabila. Che wrote in his diary that Kabila “made an excellent impression on me.” He presented a clear plan of action and identified US imperialism as the main enemy; this is something that made an impression on Che. The Congo rebels eventually accepted Che’s proposal. The initial plan was to send 30 Cubans to train the rebels. Che never told the Congolese rebel leaders or the Tanzanian officials that he was planning to lead the group of Cubans himself into combat.

The Cuban plan for the Congo would not have had a chance of succeeding without the approval and support of the Tanzanian government. Rivalta set up a meeting between Che and President Nyerere. There was a reception at the State House and Che got an opportunity to speak to Nyerere, the Foreign Minister Oscar Kambona, Joseph Lusinde, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Babu, and the Vice President, Rashidi Kawawa. Rivalta was present at the meeting. The meeting was productive. Che made a case to the Tanzanian officials about Cuban assistance to the Congolese Liberation Movement. Cuba would support the Congo rebels by providing supplies and training. Tanzanian government promised the Cubans that instructors and supplies would be given a safe passage to the Congo.

Che stayed in Tanzania from February 11 to 18, 1965. He gave a press conference in Dar es Salaam on February 18th before he left the country. Che told reporters that his African tour had “reaffirmed his conviction of the possibility of a ‘common front’ against imperialism and colonialism.” He told reporters that the “Common Front” would include Latin-American countries, Socialist African and Asian states. The Americans were paying close attention to his visit to Dar es Salaam. The New York Times carried an article of Che’s press conference in Tanzania on February 19, 1965.

Che left Tanzania for Egypt and then Algeria. He did not return to Cuba until March 14, 1965. The trip to Tanzania had been a resounding success. He convinced the Congo rebels to accept assistance from Cuba; Che and Rivalta had secured the approval of the Tanzanian government to allow them to transit Cuban instructors and supplies to the Congo. Che’s dream of an all out war against imperialism launched from the shores of Lake Tanganyika was getting closer to becoming a reality.

Preparations were made for Cuban soldiers to go to fight in the Congo in Cuba. The Cuban soldiers had to travel to Tanzania first and then sneak into the Congo secretly. Che and his men arrived in Dar es Salaam on April 19, 1965 according to most accounts. Ambassador Rivalta received a cable from Cuba to go pick up three Cubans at the Dar es Salaam airport prior to their arrival. He was not told who the three men were; he did know that the men were part of the group going to fight in the Congo.
Che passed through the Tanzania immigration using the assumed name Ramon Benetiz. The name did not raise any suspicion about the true identity of the man carrying the diplomatic passport. He was clean-shaven, wore glasses, and had prosthetic devices to alter his look. Rivalta who had known Che well did not recognize him. Che eventually leaned over and told his old friend “Stop being a fool, and take it easy.” Rivalta then recognized Che, an old comrade from the Cuban war of revolution. (To continue next week)

Why Did Che Guevara Come to Tanzania Secretly-II 

He later wrote “I almost peed in my pants.” Rivalta took Che, a black Cuban soldier named Victor Dreke and Jose Maria Martinez Tamayo to a hotel in the city. A Cuban diplomat named Rogelio Oliva picked them up the next day and took the trio to a house about five kilometers from the city. The Cuban embassy obtained the house for the operation. The house had a small farm and it would have been in the outskirts of the city back in 1965.

Che and his men did not stay at the farm for very long. According to Dreke’s account, Rivalta went to the farm one night and took some of the Cubans on a tour of Dar es Salaam. It is not clear if Che was included in that short tour of the city. He had already seen most of the city in his visit two months before.
Che gave his men new names based on Swahili numbers. He gave Dreke the name Moja (one), Tamayo became Mbili (two), and he named himself Tatu (three). The wait in Dar es Salaam was short; but Che was restless nevertheless. He was anxious to go to the Congo. The longer they stayed in Dar es Salaam, the greater the chances they would be detected by enemies. The Tanzanian government was not informed of his presence at the time. Exactly when the Tanzanian government was informed of Che’s presence is not clear.

Che spent at least one day in Dar es Salaam by most accounts. He left on April 20 with a group of about 14 people. Tchamlesso and a member of the Tanzanian police accompanied the Cubans. The Tanzanian police joined them to make sure that they did not have any problems along the way. The men travelled in a convoy of three cars: one Land Rover, three Mercedes Benzes, and two jeeps. The vehicles carried some of the weapons they would use in the Congo. The Cubans, including Che, took turns driving the more than 1,700 Kilometers from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. It was a long journey on dirt road that took two days. The group was delayed at one point because they had to wait for a barge to cross a river. Che read a book about the Congo when he was not driving.

The group arrived in Kigoma on the night of April 22, 1965. Kigoma was a city of about 70,000 people at the time. Congo was about 50 Kilometers directly across Lake Tanganyika, one of the deepest lakes in the world. Kigoma was a busy city. Refugees were escaping the Congo and rebel soldiers came in and out of the city in large numbers. The Cubans split up into two groups. Che, Dreke, Tamayo, Zerquera, and a couple of other Cubans went to stay at the residence of Sinfua, the Regional Commissioner of Kigoma.

Che and his men spent one night in Kigoma. The Tanzanian Regional Commissioner of Kigoma, Sinfua, warned Che during their discussions that the Congo rebels were undisciplined. Che would admit later that Sinfua had been correct. The Cubans boarded a boat just before midnight on April 23, 1965 for the Congo. Che and his men would spend the next 7 months fighting in the Congo.

Tanzania was critical for the Cuban operations in the Congo. Che could not have lasted seven months in the Congo without cooperation of the Tanzanian government. The heart of the Congo operations was at the Cuban Embassy in Dar es Salaam. All supplies came through Tanzania had to be sent to the Congo.
Che’s whereabouts was unknown to the public. Very few people were aware of Che’s presence in Tanzania and in the Congo. According to most accounts, Westerners did not know Che’s whereabouts. Larry Devlin, the CIA chief station in the Congo, claimed that he reported Che’s presence in October of 1965, but was ignored. Some recent reports indicate that the Americans had a ship in the Indian Ocean along East Africa monitoring communication between the Cuban Embassy in Dar es Salaam and the Cuban soldiers in the Congo. Interception of the communication does not necessary mean that Americans knew Che was among the soldiers, even if they had their suspicions. There is one report that indicates the possibility that someone may have known where Che was at the time. Rumors emerged in Cairo and Dar es Salaam in October of 1965 that Che and Soumialot were killed in the Congo. The reports forced Soumialot to give a press conference in Dar es Salaam in October 17, 1965. The Times of London reported Soumialot’s press conference that same day, October 17, 1965. Soumialot told reporters that he was well and alive. He denied claims that Che had been in the Congo and that he was killed in an ambush.

The situation in the Congo was desperate for the Cubans by the end of October 1965. A group of white mercenaries and Congo soldiers led by Mobuto Sese Seko and an Irish mercenary named Mike Hoare, started closing in on the Cubans by October. To make matters worse, the Congo leader Joseph Kasa-Vubu went to the OAU conference in Ghana from October 21 to 15, 1965, and promised to remove foreign mercenaries. He managed to secure OAU resolution calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Congo. Nyerere called Ambassador Rivalta shortly afterwards and asked the Cubans to withdraw their troops.

Che and the Cuban soldiers crossed Lake Tanganyika and entered Kigoma on November 21, 1965. Oliva and another Cuban diplomat named Coloman Ferrer, were in Kigoma to welcome Che and the Cuban soldiers back to Tanzanian soil. The Tanzanian police went to the boat and took all the weapons. Che took a bath, changed clothes, and ate food. He and his men slept on the floor of a waiting room in Kigoma. This was the third and last time Che would enter Tanzania; it was a bittersweet moment for Che. The mission had failed, but his determination to continue the struggle remained strong.
Coloman received instructions to take Che and a few men he selected back to Dar es Salaam. The group left on a van for Dar es Salaam. They barely made it on time for the last ferry that crossed the river at 7pm. Coloman was instructed to keep the Cuban embassy informed of their whereabouts. He made a call from Morogoro to inform the embassy of their location. Coloman and Che went to the house owned by the Tanzania Director of Prisons, near the airport when they reached Dar es Salaam. Che and other comrades spent the first night at the house. Coloman went to see Che the next day and bought some supplies for him. Che would spend another two or three days at the house near the airport, just outside the city.

So it was, Che was in Dar es Salaam once again in the end of November 1965. Eventually he moved from the house on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam to a two- bedroom apartment on top of the Cuban Embassy in Upanga, a suburb of Dar es Salaam. He would spend the next four months in the apartment without venturing outside.

Che kept himself very busy in Dar es Salaam. He contemplated about the shortcomings of the Congo operation and considered his next move. Che was clear about one thing: he wanted to fight. However, he was not sure where he would launch his next campaign against imperialists. He did not want to return to Cuba. The failure of the Congo mission weighed heavily on him.

The Cubans kept Che’s presence in Tanzania top secret. Very few people in the Cuban Embassy knew of his presence. There were only about three people who were allowed to enter Che’s apartment: Rivalta, Oscar Fernandez Mell, Padilla, and Delfin, the telegraph operator. Che spent his time reading, playing chess, and writing diaries of his Congo experiences.

Spending four months in an apartment without going outside would be difficult for most people. This was not the case for Che. The few Cubans who interacted with Che during that time did not notice any signs of distress. He welcomed the new year of 1966 in Dar es Salaam with Rivalta, Padillla, and Fernandez Mell. Che spent time. He spent considerable time working on his Congo diaries. He dictated the text to Ferrer and Ferrer would later transcribe it. Che revised and corrected the final manuscript.
One of the best moments for Che in Tanzania was when his wife Aleida March came to visit him secretly sometime around February of 1966. Aleida and Che would spend the next month, clammed up in the two-bedroom apartment. According to Aleida, this was to become one of the best times the couple spent together. They spent day and nights together catching up on lost time. The couple had not spent much time together since they got married in 1959. And so it was in Dar es Salaam that Che would rekindle romance with his wife. Aleida recalled later that “it was the first time we had ever been alone together” and closest thing to a “honeymoon” that the two had enjoyed. She would allude to “making up of all the lost time.” The reunion would be the first and last time the two spent considerable time alone. 

© Azaria Mbughuni
Published by Business Times of Tanzania, September 19, 1964 (Part I) and September 26, 2014 (Part II)              

From left-Pablo Rivalta, Cuban Ambassador to Tanzania, Che Guevara, and Juan Gonzalez in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mchango wa Familia ya Sykes Katika Historia ya Tanganyika/Tanzania

Familia ya Sykes ni moja ya familia muhimu katika historia ya Tanzania. Kuanzia Abdulwalid Sykes, Abbas Sykes, na wengine katika familia kuna mengi yanasemwa kuhusu mchango wa familia ya Sykes katika kwa Tanganyika/Tanzania. Mengi zaidi yameandikwa kuhusu miaka ya hamsini, lakini pia kuna michango mingine ilifanywa miaka ya sitini ambayo haiongelewi. Moja ya michango iliyosahaulika ni katika uhusiano kati ya ASP ya Zanzibar na TANU.

Mnamo mwaka 1960, Mtoro Rehani na Eddy Kleist Sykes (dada wa Abbas and Abdulwalid), walihudhuria mkutano wa TANU kwa niaba ya ASP ambako kulifanyika maongozi ya uwezekano wa "Federation" (Ushirikisho) na "unification" (Muungano). Abbas Sykes alikuwa mmoja wa viongozi wa TANU aliyekuwa anapeleka ujumbe na pesa kwa ASP ya Zanzibar kati ya mwaka 1960 na 1963. Mwaka 1961 Abbas Sykes alienda Zanzibar na Ali Mogne Haloua na Roland Mwanjisi na kufanya mkutano wa siri na ASP. Abbas Sykes alitoa Shs. 7500 za TANU na kuwapa ASP. Pesa hizo zilitolewa kwa maelewano kwamba itakuwa siri. Mwaka 1962 Abbas Sykes alienda Zanzibar na kukutana na ZPFL. Aliwaambia ZPFL kwamba TANU itaacha kuwapa msaada kama wakiendelea kushambulia ASP. Abbas Sykes alienda Zanzibar mwanzoni wa mwaka 1963 na kuhudhuria mkutano wa ASP akiwa na ujumbe kutoka serikali ya Tanganyika. Waliokuwepo kwenye mkutano huo ni pamoja na Hassan Nassor Moyo na Ahmed Diria Hassan.

Kuna mahali nilisoma kwamba serikali ya Tanzania na TANU haikutaka kuandika mahali popote kuhusu mchango wa Abdulwalid Sykes. Katika utafiti wangu, nilikuta makala moja iliyoandikwa kwenye gazeti la serikali miaka ya sabini (Daily News) yenye kichwa cha habari "Sykes One of TANU Pioneers" yaani Sykes Alikuwa Mmoja ya Waasisi wa TANU." Makala hii inaongelea mchango wa Abdulwalid Sykes katika miaka ya hamsini. Haya ni baadhi ya mambo yaliyoandikwa katika makala hio iliyoandikwa kwa kiingereza.

Inasema: "Mr. Sykes was a founder member of Tanu. By his death the party lost one of its first pioneers. His political activities started way back before the formation of TANU. He was President of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA) from which TANU emerged."

As for the name TANU, the article asserts "..Mr. Abdul Sykes suggested the name of the new Party to be Tanganyika African Union (TAU). However his colleagues objected saying that it was very similar to Kenya African Union (KAU) that had already been banned by the colonialists. "They thought under such a name the colonialists would use the name as pretext to ban TAU. Mwalimu Nyerere then suggested that a word "National: be included, making the name Tanganyika National African Union. "Mr. Ally Sykes a brother of Abdul Walid objected to Mwalimu Nyerere's suggestion saying that the short form of the party name-TNAU-would not be easy to pronounce. He called for another arrangement of the words. This resulted into an acceptable party title-TANU."

Makala hii ya gazeti la serikali inasema kwamba Abdul Sykes alikuwa ni mmoja wa waasisi wa TANU, kwamba alikuwa kiongozi wa TAA kabla Mwalimu Nyerere hajachaguliwa kuwa mwenyekiti wa TAA, na inaongelea jinsi wanafamilia ya Sykes walivyochangia kuja na jina la TANU.

Ni wazi kwamba Tanganyika haikupata uhuru kwa mchango wa mtu mmoja na pia kuna wengi walijitolea katika miaka ya mwanzo baada ya uhuru kujenga nchi hii kama ilivyoandikwa na gazeti la serikali na nyaraka zingine zilizogusia mawasiliano kati ya Abbas Sykes na viongozi wa ASP. Kila mmoja alitoa mchango wake kwa Tanganyika/Tanzania, na pamoja, nguvu ya wananchi ilihakikisha ushindi katika harakati za kupata uhuru kutoka kwa mkoloni na kujenga nchi baada ya uhuru

Azaria Mbughuni
September 26, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017


 Makala hii itamfanya mtu yeyote atayoisoma kwa makini na utulivu, atayeisoma bila papara, kukaa chini na kutafakari tulipotoka, tulipofika, na tunapoenda. Makala hii Iliandikwa mwaka 1923 na mwandishi ambae hakujitambulisha. Hapa kuna mengi ya kujifunza na maswali mengi zaidi ya kujiuliza leo hii, miaka karibu 100 tangu makala ichapishwe. Ustaarabu ni nini? Tulikuwa vipi kabla ya wageni?Tumetoka wapi, tupo vipi sasa hivi, na tunaelekea wapi?

Tangu zamani, kabla Wazungu hawajaja katika inchi yetu ya Afrika, sisi tulijifahamu wenyewe kuwa ni watu wa nyuma sana, yaani si wastaarabu. Watu wa inchi zingine walikuwa watuwastaabika. Na sisi asili ya kukosa kustaarabu ni hii:
sisi siku zote tunakimibilia ganda la ustaarabu, asili ya ustaarabu tunaiacha. Mfano kama hivi.
Katika kufafanua kwetu macho tumewaona Waarabu ndio wastaarabu wa kwanza tuliowaona katika inchi yetu. Wakaja na ustaarabu wao wakakaa miaka kathawakatha. Na ingiwa wao hawakutaka sisi tustaarabu, lakini kwa kukaa nao tu tungeweza kuiga ustaarabu. Lakini tutazame tumeiga nini kwao? Hakika tukiwa tunataka tuwape haki yao wameleta dini katika inchi ya Afrika, na kwa dini yao watu kidogo wamekuwa hawajambo kwa mambo mengine ya desturi za ustaarabu. Lakini zaidi kuliko hivi hatukuiga neno illa mambo yasiyo na faida. Kununua watumwa, kujaribu kuwatuma wenzetu watufanyie kazi, sisi wenyewe tuvae joho na vilemba, na mambo kama haya.
Na Zaidi kuliko haya tukawatwaa ndugu zetu tukawauza kwa Waarabu, wengine wakawahadaa tu kwa kuwapa kanzu na kuwachukua pwani. Tena tukatwaa mali yetu tuliokuwa nayo ya pembe tukawauzia wao kwa doti ya shuka. Wao wakachukua mali na ndugu zetu, wakaenda zao Maskati, Unguja, na Pemba, wakanunua mashamba wakastarehe. Sisi wakatuacha na ujinga wetu. 
Hatima imekuja Dola ya Kizungu, na Wazungu kama tujuavyo wanataka sana tustaarabu, yaani tuwe watu kama watu. Lakini naona tumeanza kufanya makosa yale yale tuliofanya wakati wa Waarabu, ya kuchukua maganda ya ustaarabu, kuacha ustaarabu wenyewe. Nyinyi wenyewe mnaona yakuwa siku hizi vijana waote wanakimbilia wanaoita ustaarab wa Kizungu, kuiga mwendo wa Kizungu, kusema kwa sauti ya Kizungu na mambo mengine kama haya ambayo hayamfai mtu kwa lolote. Na sisi twajiona tumestaarabu, kumbe ni ujinga.
Ustaarabu ni nini? Ustaarabu ni kuwa watu kama watu. Yaani kuendelea katika mambo yote ya dunia yanayotuletea faida sisi na inchi yetu. Huu ndio ustaarabu. Tujitahidi kuendelea katia (1) Mambo ya Biashara, (2) Kazi ya Ufundi, (3) Kusoma, (4) Kulima, (5) Ukarani, 
Labda mtaniuliza kuwa kwani sasa hatufanyi hayo? Tunafanya, lakini hatufanyi kama inavyopasa. Mambo haya yote yanafanywa na wageni, yaani watu wa Asia, wanafanya haya yote wanapata mapesa wanarudisha kwao, sisi wnatuacha na ujinga wetu.
Ingekuwa ni watu wa kuamka, na kushika ustaarabu, tangu kuja Wazungu katika inchi yety tungalikuwa tumeanza kuonyesha alama za ustaarabu. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Plundering of Tanzania's Diamonds

The Plundering of Tanzania's Diamonds
The looting and plundering of African mineral resources has been taking place for centuries. In light of the recent report from Tanzania indicating widespread looting in the Diamond, Tanzanite, and other important mineral sectors, it is important to remember that this is not new, and with this knowledge, we must think carefully about how to make necessary changes in order to insure people of Tanzania benefit from what is theirs. 
Tanzania, then Tanganyika, became the "Wild Wild West" of mineral search in the 1920s. Tanganyika exported 8,898 ounces of gold, 411.5 carats of diamonds, 1,010 ounces of silver, and 10 tons of tin ore in 1926. These numbers were not very impressive, but the size of the deposits and future prospects was impressive and it drew the attention of big foreign multicorporations. The British, Americans, Canadians, South Africans, converged to Tanganyika in search of their piece of the pie, riches. The looting of Tanganyika reveals the ways in which imperialism and capitalism penetrated Africa. Although Tanganyika was a British colony, the territory was fair game for all major capitalist venture from the West; foreign companies from Europe, America, Asia, and even South Africa, competed to inject capital and exploit newly discovered minerals. Africans were set up to gain little, if anything, from these exploits. Nothing illustrates this point more than the competition for control of Diamond mines in the northern Tanganyika in the 1940s. Fierce international competition for Tanganyika's diamond led to the intervention of Western governments in support of their nationals. A Canadian named John Williamson, would eventually win the magnificent cake that was set in motion with the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885: one of the world's richest diamond mines in Mwanza, Tanganyika. You see Canada's exploitation of Tanzania, is afterall, not something that started recently with the revelations about ACACIA in 2017; it has long and deep roots. 
Large alluvial diamonds and diamondiferous deposists were discovered near Mwanza in 1925. The discovery was compared to the famous diamond mines of Kimberly, South Africa at the time. It should be remembered that Kimberly diamond mines was one of the largest in the world and it continues to yield diamonds to this day. The potential for making unimaginable profits from diamond exploits in north western Tanganyika was enormous. The initial discovery of diamondiferous deposists were found in a 250 acre farm that was owned by Germans before World War I. The German colonial government granted a concession to a South African named Van Koon. Van Koon established legal claim to the holdings after the British government took over Mandate of the territory in 1919. The concession was sold to a Johannesburg syndicate in 1925. 
In the mean time, a Canadian Geologist, John Williamson, found his way to South Africa and worked for a subsidiary of De Beers in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). He purchased a diamond mine in the mid-1930s in Northern Rhodesia; the venture failed. Williamson turned his attention to Mwadui area in north west Tanganyika in 1940. He would work to develop one of the most profitable diamond mines in the world. Williamson faced fierce competition from South African and American companies for the rights to mine diamonds in Mwanza. The US government intervened on behalf of a US company that wanted to exploit the diamonds in Mwanza. The State Department kept a close watch on mining potential in Tanganyika from the 1920s. The competition for Tanganyika's diamonds in the 1940s tells us a lot about what has taken place in Tanzania just in the past 20 years alone. Western companies work with their governments and do everything in their power to ensure that they have access to African minerals. 
By the end of 1940s, John Williamson's diamond company was mining over 8 million dollars of diamond annually; this is a sum that was close to the entire budget of the British colonial government for all of Tanganyika. In other words, one person earned in a year almost what the colonial government was spending for running the entire territory. Williamson gave the Queen of England one of the finest pink diamonds ever discovered in 1953 as a gift. The diamond was found in 1947 in his Mwadui mine. John Williamson was one of the richest people in the world when he died in 1958. The region that Williamson mined diamonds did not benefit much considering what was being exported from the region; neither did Tanganyika as a territory gain much from the diamond exploits. 
The development of Tanganyikans was then, and remains to this day, the last thing in the minds of those intent on acquiring personal riches, these are individuals inside and outside the country. Such is the nature of the tentacles of capitalism. A country with a wealth of mineral resources is left with little to nothing while multicorporations with the backing of their governments use every trick possible to ensure the system of exploitation of Africa's resources persists. This is what Tanzania and Africa in general is facing in the beginning of the 21st century, just as it did in the beginning of the 20th century. This pattern will continue into the 22nd century if Africans do not change. 
The recent reports of Diamond, Tanzanite and other minerals being looted from Tanzania, should not come as a surprise. A bag of diamond stopped at the airport August 2017 from Mwadui diamond mine was officially recorded to be worth $14.7 million; official investigation revealed that it was worth $29.5 million. The company underreported the value of diamonds it was exporting. How long have they been doing this? This kind of looting has been taking place for at least 100 years. What is important at this juncture is what we do next. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect different results.

© Azaria C. Mbughuni