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By FREDDY MACHA

President Joseph Pombe Magufuli died. It was sudden and cruel and shocking and provided two opposite thoughts. One shouted negativity. Accused. Mentioned all sorts of things. Charged Magufuli was this and that. This article is interested with the second voice. The emotional...that screamed, leaped and yelled. 

He did a lot for our business, cried a Machinga trader at Kariakoo Market Dar es Salaam. Machingas are street vendors, self- employed hand to mouth small time traders who felt valued under the Government of John Pombe Magufuli...since 2015. Across Tanzania, Machingas have always been vilified like hunted wildebeest in Serengeti plains.

So then... Wamachinga are a good measure of the grass-root panorama ...the emotion of the Magufuli passing. 

Citing ones in the Mwenge area, Angela Charles, a young Machinga interviewed live by  Simulizi na Sauti Online TV eulogised:

“ I feel hurt, I feel hurt, I feel very hurt. I have not much to add but ask for God to rest his soul in peace. He was a President who cared for us small traders and people on the lower extremities with no voice...words fail me and I have no words. I feel very very hurt. When I heard this news. I was shocked.  He was a President who cared. When he came to power he gave us an opportunity.” 

Angela said she had been trading for two years. She recalled before 2015, Machingas used to be kicked off the streets. “ He said please do not harass Machingas. He made sure we had valid identity cards and permits. So trading became smooth for us... he was a very different president who loved God, a  man of the people who feared God. He was a very, very different President. I don't know how to describe him...” 

This view was not only in Dar es Salaam but other major towns, too. A Jamhuri area Machinga in Dodoma for example declared many young people's lives improved.  They could make money and buy land and construct small houses.

“Many youths are shocked and saddened...and hope and request the new President shall continue supporting us,” he said. 

 This is just a small example of the running emotions after the unexpected departure of the CCM leader aged 61 on 17th March 2021. Then there were five, innocent deaths.

Five members of one family, mostly children were caught up in the tumult and crowd mayhem to say farewell to the body of the President at the Dar es Salaam International Nyerere Airport. 

Speaking to BBC Swahili, Dennis Mtuwa, said his wife, two children and their two cousins did not return. The house-girl accompanying them could not be found. The social media resembled a busy traffic jam throughout the week of 17th March. 2021.

Clips did not stop circulating. The most popular one was of a Prophetic Magufuli telling his audience, “you shall remember me. Not for the bad things, but the good things I have done. Because I love my country...” 

Another was of Magufuli addressing the issue of mining. Riches of the nation returning to Tanzanians.  “They do not like me...they feel envious...they feel jealous...they feel hurt.” He shouted. This particular clip had English titles. 

What about outside Tanzania? 

One African country claimed to have been saddened by God. That prayers for the demise of their dictator leader, who has been loading it over them, the said African country for decades, to die had not materialised. Instead of the dictator being taken by God, Magufuli, a President they had wished for, had been snuffed out by heart failure.

Mmmh. 

The general consensus across Africa was whether we could have other leaders like John Pombe Magufuli. Back in 2017 barely two years after John Pombe Magufuli's leadership, Kenya's Professor PL Lumumba called for “hygiene in African politics...” 

Speaking at the Nkrumah hall, University of Dar es Salaam, Professor Lumumba declared the continent needs to see the “Magufulification of Africa.” Magufuli's emotional departure brought back memories of other sudden political deaths. Beginning with then Minister and poet, Sheikh Amri Abeid Kaluta who died in 1964, three years after Tanzania's Uhuru.  Today the Arusha stadium is named after him. 

Then two significant assassinations. 

 Dr Wilbert Kleruu, then Regional Commissioner of Iringa, shot dead by a dissatisfied farmer, Said Mwamindi on Christmas day, 1971. Mwamindi was later hanged. Dr Kleruu was one of the early fatalities of the Arusha Declaration. A tenet and ideology that wanted land and its riches to be equally shared by the Tanzanian population.  A tenet dear to President John Pombe Magufuli. 

The following year, April 1972, Zanzibar's then President Sheikh Abeid Karume was gunned while relaxing, playing Bao, a board game, with other politicians, at Afro Shiraz Party (ASP).

Next shocking casualty was Edward Sokoine. This Maasai born, no nonsense, 45- year- old Prime Minister, was whispered to be the next President after Mwalimu. Like Magufuli,  Edward Moringe Sokoine had a reputation for fighting Fisadis, i.e.  corruption and inept politics.  Sokoine died in a mysterious traffic accident on his way from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam in 1984. 

To keep his torch alight members of his family have created the Sokoine Memorial Foundation to highlight the values of truthfulness, transparency and good leadership, which Sokoine was well known for.

“The  Foundation envisions Tanzania that is a just nation with sustainable economic development and dignified future for her people.” 

-Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Freddy Macha is a Tanzanian born, London based writer and musician.

Jesuit Refugee Service Kenya has added its voice to that of the nation’s Bishops in calling on the Kenyan government to keep the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps open.

In a statement issued on Monday, JRS-Kenya “reaffirms the appeal from the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and recommends that the Government of Kenya exert maximum forethought and caution in this particular time of uncertainty, wisely considering the legal obligations imposed by international law and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention.”

The statement urges the Kenyan government to bear in mind the principle of non-refoulment (guaranteeing “that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm), as well as “the practical limitations” of closing the camps, and the “moral obligation to take care of the most vulnerable in society and to pursue the common good.”

The Jesuit Refugee Service’s statement echoes the appeal earlier this month of the Kenyan Bishops, which acknowledged Kenya’s efforts to host and protect refugees and asylum seekers. “This has been a good gesture to these people who felt they are a lot safer in Kenya,” they say. However, the Bishops continue, “it is highly unfortunate and regrettable that the intention by the Kenyan authorities to close the Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee camps within a short timeframe comes at a time that these people need help.”

There are more than 410,000 people in the two camps, including women, children, and the elderly. The camps host forcibly displaced people from Somalia, South Sudan, the Great Lakes region in Africa, and the Tigray region in Ethiopia.

Calling for a comprehensive approach to the “complex refugee situation” in the country, the Kenyan Bishops Conference recommends the government shelve the “unfortunate idea” of closing the camps, and instead “increase security and any other support to the refugees as well as the bodies that work directly with them in ensuring they receive their basic needs.”

The appeal concludes by calling on the government to “treat all refugees with care and concern especially during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic when humanity is faced with serious economic and psychological challenges.” By Tommaso Pozzi, Catholic Herald

The Democratic Republic of Congo will start its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on April 19 with 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses it received from the COVAX global vaccines sharing scheme after delaying the rollout for more than a month.

Congo received the vaccines on March 2 and was expected to begin the inoculation campaign almost immediately but delayed rollout after several European countries suspended use of the shots. 

A government statement late on Tuesday said a task force had determined that the AstraZeneca vaccines already available in the country presented no risks to the population.

Congo has reported 28,542 infections and 745 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.  Reuters

Do not travel to Kenya due to Covid–19. Exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism, health issues, and kidnapping - US Embassy 
 
In Summary

•The US has cautioned its citizens against traveling to Kenya due to Covid–19, and has asked them to exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism, health issues, and kidnapping.

•It is the leading international tourist market source for Kenya.


Tourists enjoy the scenery at Tree Tops Hotel in Nyeri county. The Central Kenya circuit and Mount Kenya region is preferred by American tourists coming to Kenya/FILE

The US administration's decision retain the highest travel advisory on Kenya has dealt a major blow to tourism, according to  sector players and investment advisors.

The leading international tourist market source for Kenya last week issued a ‘Level Four Travel Health Advisory’ to American nationals, due to what it said was the steep rise in Covid-19 cases in the country, as advised by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

It came days after the UK added Kenya on its ‘Red List’, saying it had established the lethal South African coronavirus variant is spreading locally, with the country having a high rate of Covid-19 infections.

Kenyans or anybody transiting through Kenyan airports was banned from setting foot in the UK effective April 9, save for residents who have to undergo mandatory quarantine at a government listed facility.

On its website, US Embassy in Kenya said: “Do not travel to Kenya due to Covid–19. Exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism, health issues, and kidnapping.”

According to investment firm–Cytonn, the move by both UK and USA is expected to result in a decline in the number of tourist arrivals, as the two markets are key sources.

Latest data from the Tourism Research Institute (TRI) shows US and UK were ranked as second and fourth highest source markets for tourists in Kenya, respectively from January to October 2020, with 53,444 tourists from US and 42,341 tourists from UK.

Pre-Covid, the US was the top market source for Kenya with 245,437 arrivals in 2019, a year that the country record the highest international numbers ever, at 2,048, 834.

UK arrivals during the year totaled 181,484.

“The expected declines in the tourism arrivals coupled with the current travel restrictions within the country is likely to affect the performance of serviced apartments which has witnessed subdued performance since the onset of the pandemic in Kenya,” Cytonn says in its weekly report.

This is expected to take a toll on occupancy rates as most tourists and expatriates will opt to stay in their countries.

The investment firm notes that serviced apartments in 2020 softened with the occupancy rates declining by 31.3 per cent points to 48 per cent, from 79.4 per cent. By Martin Mwita, The Star

Repatriated Burundians from Tanzania in the transit center of Mabanda, Makamba province, Burundi. Photo OCHA/Christian Cricboom

 

Burundi refugees have suffered violations such as arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances, allegedly carried out by the Tanzanian police and intelligence services in cooperation with counterparts in their homeland, they reported. 

“In addition to the strict encampment policy imposed on them by the Government of Tanzania, Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers now live in fear of being abducted in the middle of the night by Tanzanian security forces and taken to an unknown location or being forcefully returned to Burundi,” the experts said in a statement. 

Hundreds of thousands of people fled Burundi for neighbouring countries following deadly clashes surrounding the 2015 presidential election.  While the worst of the violence has eased, the situation remains fragile, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.  

Posing as refugees 

Nearly half of those who escaped, or around 150,000 people, are in Tanzania. The rights experts report that Burundian political opponents have allegedly been tracked among refugees and asylum-seekers there.  

Burundian intelligence agents, posing as refugees within the camps, are identifying specific individuals who are later arrested by Tanzanian security forces.  

“The Government of Burundi must stop its repression against its citizens including those seeking international protection in Tanzania,” they said. 

Forced disappearance, ‘voluntary return’ 

Burundian refugees have confirmed being taken by Tanzanian police and subjected to enforced disappearance and torture, before being forced to return home or to sign up for “voluntary return”.   

Some also were interrogated for their supposed affiliation with armed groups, or about their activities in the camps, and even asked for money in order to be released. 

“We are extremely alarmed by reports that some Burundian refugees have been killed after having been abducted by Tanzanian security forces”, the experts said, adding that fear has driven many refugees to return home. 

“It is extremely discouraging that since the Government announced in August 2020 that an investigation into the disappearances was underway no results have been made public yet,” the statement concluded. “The Government of Tanzania is aware of the situation and must take all necessary measures to immediately stop and remedy the violations.”  

UN experts’ role 

The 12 experts who issued the statement are mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor specific thematic issues, including enforced or voluntary disappearances, arbitrary detention, and torture or other degrading punishment.   

They serve in their individual capacity and are neither UN staff, nor are they paid by the Organization. - UNITED NATIONS

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