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

AFRIKA YA KESHO. MTU AKIKUAMBIA UJINGA NI BORA KULIKO USTAARABU USIMSADIKI

 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?
AFRIKA YA KESHO. MTU AKIKUAMBIA UJINGA NI BORA KULIKO USTAARABU USIMSADIKI 

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. 
ITAENDELEA!



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




The Legacy of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere

The Legacy of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere 
There are those who are bent on tarnishing the legacy of Mwalimu Nyerere. The campaign to tarnish the legacy of Mwalimu is based on various claims; one of the most frequent criticism lies in the economic challenges that the country faced during his tenure. The criticism fails to take into account some of the major gains in the development of people, not things, the sacrifices made for the liberation of southern Africa and its consequences, and more importantly, many critics fail to take into account the larger context of the 1960s and 70s. 
Nyerere’s contributions to the struggle for freedom and independence is unparalleled in Africa. ANC of South Africa, FRELIMO of Mozambique, ZAPU and later ZANU of Zimbabwe, SWANU/SWAPO of Namibia, all these organizations established a presence in Tanganyika before independence, and starting in 1963, opened up military camps. FRELIMO, one of the most successful groups in southern Africa, was formed in Tanganyika in 1962. Nyerere gave the different groups from Mozambique based in Tanganyika an ultimatum: either unite or leave the country. The outcome was a meeting at Arnautoglu Hall, in Dar es Salaam, that led to the formation of FRELIMO. The establishment of military camps in Kongwa in 1963 was the beginning of liberation armies from southern Africa that eventually ended racist minority rule in southern Africa. FRELIMO, ANC, SWAPO, ZANU, all established military camps at Kongwa. The SWAPO consultative conference in Tanga, Tanzania was a turning point in the struggle for Namibia. So was the ANC conference in Morogoro, Tanzania in 1969; this was an important moment for the struggle for South Africa. For the South Africans, Namibians, Zimbabweans, and Mozambicans, Tanzania was one of the most important places in the history of their struggles. Nyerere committed Tanzania's limited resources to the liberation of southern Africa from 1961 through the 1980s. Tanzania was punished politically and economically for this. The economic cost for Tanzania’s role in supporting liberation movements in southern Africa cannot be overestimated. 
Britain cut off economic aid to Tanzania in 1965 over disagreements on Southern Rhodesia. The government of Tanganyika had signed a 7 million pounds aid package with Britain; the aid was cancelled because of Southern Rhodesia. Nyerere was committed to the principle of NIBMAR, No Independence Before Majority Rule in Zimbabwe. And for this reason, he was ready to let go the financial assistance from the West. This was no easy decision for an independent country just 3 years after winning independence. As far back as 1960, Nyerere indicated the desire to leave the Commonwealth if South Africa was allowed to join the Commonwealth. Nyerere took part in formation of the Anti Apartheid Movement in London in 1959 with the help of his close friend and comrade K.W. M. Chiume from Malawi. He gave the keynote speech during a meeting that launched the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the UK. Later, pressure from Tanganyika eventually forced South Africa out of the Commonwealth. No amount of money, aid, would convince Mwalimu to betray his conscience. He believed that all humans were created equal, that human dignity, the dignity of Africa, was worth more than a few pieces of silver.
The economic difficulties Tanzania faced must be placed in a wider context. Let us not forget that Tanzania was not alone in Africa in facing economic difficulties. There are many reasons for this and not much has changed to this day. World oil crisis of 1973 due to Arab/Israel war devastated the economies of countries such as Tanzania. Tanzania's foreign reserve was wiped out during the crisis. Natural disasters such as the serious drought of the 1970s in eastern Africa worsened the regional economic situation. The war between Tanzania and Uganda came just as Tanganyika was showing signs of recovery towards the end of 1970s. The Tanzania/Uganda war of 1978-1979 finished whatever the government of Tanzania had in its reserves. Tanzania leaders had to travel to different capitals around the world to get what they needed for the war. Idi Amin who was put into power with the help of British and Israel intelligence had turned his back on his masters. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya committed his resources and army to help Amin against Tanzania. Nyerere would later refuse an offer of millions of dollars from Gaddafi to free the mostly black Libyan soldiers sent to fight with Uganda against Tanzania. He instead put the Libyan soldiers on a plane back to Libya free of charge. This was a bloody and costly war that raged for almost a year. Tanzania won the war; but the cash-strapped nation was left in an even greater debt. 
Tanzania was already in a difficult economic situation at the start of 1980. There are many who like to criticize Nyerere for the economic hardships of the 1970s and 1980s as if they just started from nowhere and that the difficulties were only the result of socialist policies. Again, one is missing the big picture if they do not take into account the broader context. In addition to outside conditions that Tanzania had no control over, such as drought and oil crisis abroad, there was an underground economic war waged against Tanzania that made a bad economic situation worse by 1980. Lastly, IMF and World Bank policies, i.e. Structural Adjustment Programs, further destroyed whatever prospects countries like Tanzania had in strengthening their economies by mid-1980s. 
Mwalimu Nyerere was not an angel and he did make mistakes. Yet Nyerere took a country with a handful of doctors and engineers and a literacy rate of about 15% after 40 years of British rule and left it with over 90% literacy rate in 1985. The literacy rate has decreased significantly since then. As Nyerere pointed out correctly: he was interested in the development of people, not things. You can have skyscrapers, expensive homes and cars, great monuments, but if such things are owned and enjoyed by a few while the majority remain in poverty, then such things/development are ultimately meaningless. On the balance, Nyerere's contributions far outweigh his shortfalls. 
There is no doubt about it, Nyerere was a giant among giants. History will absolve him and place him in his rightful place as one of the most remarkable African and world leaders of the 20th century.


© Azaria C. Mbughuni








Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Easy We Forget!: Dunstan Omari’s Service to the Nation and Troubled Waters!

How Easy We Forget!: Dunstan Omari’s Service to the Nation and Troubled Waters!
The temptation to focus on a handful of individuals when tracing early histories of nations can often be difficult to overcome. In what was the territory of Tanganyika in the early 1950s, there were very few men and women who had earned degrees and excelled in what they did. Even less individuals were in position to impact the independence movement and help build Tanganyika government in preparations for independence and after winning independence. Dunstan Omari is one example of important people who appear to have been forgotten.
Dunstan Omari was born August 9, 1922. He was the first son of the Rev. Alfege Omari of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, Newala. He attended primary school in Newala District from 1929-1933, and from there attended St. Joseph's Secondary, Chidya, Masasi District, until 1941. He studied for a year at St. Andrew's College, Minaki and passed the entrance examination to Makerere College where he attended from 1943 to 1945. He trained to become a teacher.
Omari was an exceptional student. He obtained a First Class Teacher's diploma when he graduated from Makerere. He taught for nine months at his old school St. Joseph, starting in 1946. The British colonial government recruited him in December 1946 and was sent to Government Secondary School in Tanga. He taught at Tanga from 1946 to 1949. 
Omari studied privately while teaching at Tanga. He later sat for the London University Examination. He passed with First Division. The colonial government awarded him with a scholarship to attend school in the UK. Omari spent the next four years studying at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. Always the exceptional student that he was, Omari graduated from Wales with an Honours Degree in economics.
The colonial government appointed Omari as the education officer in broadcasting in the former Senior Service of the Tanganyika Government while he was still in England. He endeavored to take further courses on broadcasting with the BBC London. He was among some of the earliest Tanganyikans to earn a degree in UK. 
Omari returned to Tanganyika in 1953 and was posted with the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation. Omari worked to start the broadcasting service for schools. It was while he worked in Dar es Salaam that Omari was among a handful of highly educated Tanganyikans agitating for independence. He was among the early African elite who included John Rupia, Abdulwahid Sykes, and Mwalimu Nyerere. He often met with Mwalimu, the Sykes brothers, and others on Sundays to discuss politics. He was known to be among the people who drove Mwalimu back to Pugu after meetings.
In January 1955, he became the first African District Officer and was posted in Morogoro. He worked in Morogoro for three years before being transfered to Korogwe. The appointment as the first African District Officer placed him among the most respected Tanganyikans at the time. 
The colonial govenrment appointed Omari as the first African District Commissioner in October 1958. He was transfered to Iramba as DC in January 1960. He was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honors June 1960.
Tanganyika won Self Government in May 1961. Omari was called to service in anticipation of Self Government in January 1961 and moved to the Prime Minister’s Office; he worked in the Prime Minister’s Office for two months and went to the UK for three month’s course on public administration. Omari was moved to the Office of the Australian High Commissioner in London for initial training for the future Tanganyika Foreign Service.
To BE CONTINUED
© Azaria C.Mbughuni 





   

Paul Lazaro Bomani (1925-2005)

Paul Lazaro Bomani (1925-2005)
Paul Bomani was born in 1925 in Ikuzi, Mara. He served as the Minister of Finance, Agriculture, Economic Affairs and Planning, and Commerce and Industry. He also served as a member of Parliament. Paul Bomani was a very successful business man and was reported to be one of the richest African in Tanzania by 1970. Paul Bomani is among a handful of Tanganyikans/Tanzanians who made significant contributions to the country. He was active in the independence struggle and after Tanganyika/Tanzania won independence, he was one of the main people responsible for finance and development for the country in the 1960s to early 70s.
Paul Bomani attended Nassa Primary School in Mwanza from 1936 to 39. He joined the Teacher Training College in Ikizu, Mara from 1939 to 1944. He worked as the Assistant Secretary of Cash Stores of the Williamson Diamonds Limited in Shinyanga between 1945 and 1947. He became the Managing Secretary of Mwanza African Traders Co-operative Society Limited 1947 to 1952. Mwanza African Traders Co-operative Society was a wholesale cooperative started to assist African traders. Bomani founded the Lake Province Cotton Growers Association in 1950. 
Bomani left Tanganyika to study in England in 1953. He studied Agricultural Economics and Co-operative Laws at Loughborough Co-operative College in England from 1953 to 1954. Bomani returned to Tanganyika and continued with work as an organizer and one of the leaders of the nascent independence movement. He worked as the General Manager of Victoria Federation of Co-operative Unions Limited from 1955 to 1960. 
Bomani became very active in Tanganyika politics early on; he was elected as the provincial Chairman of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA) from 1950 to 1953. The colonial government appointed him as the member of the Legislative Council in 1954. The appointment came after Chief Kidaha Makwaia left the territory. Makwaia would later resign under pressure. Paul Bomani became a powerful force in the Lake Province with the establishment of TANU as the main political party fighting for independence starting in 1954. Bomani helped to make TANU a powerful force in the Lake Province. 
Paul Bomani was appointed as a member of the Post Election Committee in 1959 by the Tanganyika Governmor, Sir Richard Turnbull. Bomani was among a handful of Africans appointed to the committee; others included Chief John Maruma, Rashidi Kawawa, and L.N. Sijaona. The committee was given the responsibility of making recommendations for the next step for Tanganyika. 
Tanganyika won Responsible Govenrment in 1960 and Self Govenrment in 1961. Bomani was appointed as the Minister for Agriculture and Co-operatives between 1960 and 1962. Paul Bomani’s brother, Mark Bomani, was appointed as the Deputy Solicitor General for Tanganyika in August 1962. Paul Bomani became the Minister for Finance between 1962 and 1965 and the Minister for Economic Affairs and Development Planning from 1965 to 1970. Bomani served as the Minister for Commerce and Industry between 1970 and 1972 and then served as the Tanzania Ambassador to the US.
Paul Bomani took on the challenge of finding ways to finance the govenrment after independence; it was a daunting task. The UK was not willing to provide funding necessary for developing a newly independent Tanganyika. The country did not have enough trained men and women to do the necessary work needed to move the country foward. Bomani travelled to East and Western countries asking for funds at the height of the Cold War. It was a difficult assignment that he managed with ease. He had to collect funds needed to educate Tanganyikans who did not have opportunities during the colonial period. This assignment he performed with distinction. 
Bomani was one of the few leaders who remained active during the army mutiny of 1964. Bomani, Lusinde, and Kambona were among the few leaders who negotiated with the soldiers during the most tense moments of the mutiny between January 20 and 25th, 1964. One day before the British troops landed in Dar es Salaam, Bomani spent all day negotiating with the ringleaders of the mutiny regarding their pay. He knew that a request was made to the British for intervention while he was negotiating. In fact Bomani together with Kambona were the ones who took a letter from Kawawa and delivered it to the UK HIgh Commissioner in Tanganyika; the letter made an official request for British intervention. During those tense hours of negotiations, Bomani is reported to have said he only had a “glass of milk in the morning and a large whisky in the evening.” He worked tirelessly to calm down the soldiers and reassure the public that all was under control. His brother, Mark Bomani, would later lead the government case against the mutineers. 
Tanzania broke off diplomatic relations with UK in 1965 over the question of Southern Rhodesia. UK reacted by cancelling all aid promised to Tanzania. Tanganyika became Tanzania in October 1964. In 1964, Bomani had been instrumental in securing a 7.5 million Pound loan to Tanganyika from UK. UK refused to fulfill any financial commitment it made to Tanzania in 1965 after Tanzania broke off diplomatic relations with the UK over the question of independence of Southern Rhodesia. Bomani once again found himself in a difficult situation. He had to find other ways to raise funds for the Tanzania government. Bomani was among those who negotiated successful agreements with China to provide needed funds for Tanzania in 1966. 
Bomani became close to many African American leaders in the 1970s and helped attract interest on Tanzania. Bomani was among the organizers of the 5th Pan African Congress held in Tanzania in 1974
TBC….
 © Azaria C. Mbughuni