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East Africa

 By FREDDY MACHA 

Tanzania and films. Films and Tanzania. It is not what we are famous for. What about Kenya? Uganda? Rwanda? East African film industry is not as well- known as say, our athletics or our tourist haven.  So every now and then we hear an actor (or actress) has been awarded some international prize. 

We think of Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya or may be Steven Kanumba. Nyong'o is currently the most well- known Kenyan film star outside Africa, followed by Kaluuya- the 2021 Oscar for best supporting actor (playing Black Panther slain leader Fred Hampton).  If you Google,  Kaluuya , however, he is listed as a British actor. We know his parents were born in Uganda. So... 

What about Stephen Kanumba? His 2012 funeral attracted at least 30,000 film fans in Tanzania. He was only 28. And he starred in a few Nollywood (i.e. Nigerian) movies.  What does that say about our East African film business?  Like the Swahili proverb goes ...Kwenu ni Kwenu Hata Ikiwa Chini ya Mti. (Your home is the best place even if  under a tree.)

Home offers the best pie. 

In May 1963, more than 30 African leaders met in Addis Ababa and created the Organisation of African Unity (nowadays African Union).  Ardent Pan-Africanists – Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah differed on how the continent should unite. Ghana's Nkrumah wanted an African state while Tanzania's Mwalimu preferred a more inter-regional approach. 

And that prevailed and beside things like ECOWAS we had the East African Community. And that is where we are at with films. I gather it is apt for this article to check out individual efforts. In Tanzania we have had the success of Bongo-land one and two (twenty years ago) by Josiah Kibira. Kibira dealt with African migrants t overseas; failing and returning home to face even more challenges and struggles. Prior to that Fimbo ya Mnyonge was the well- known feature film. Funded by the state-run Tanzania Film Company, it was a massive hit in mid 1970s. 

Several individual film makers have ejected feature films. None of them made a major international impact. The best thing is they tried though. Out of this straggle and struggle....

Wetengere Kitojo arrived in the UK study film in mid 2000s and by 2010 he was shooting short films. It is always said start small. And that is Nyerere (as opposed to Nkrumah's) vision. Manageable projects are a taste and perfume of accomplishment. 

Wetengere invited me to a viewing of his first serious attempt in Reading a city with a large number of of UK based Tanzanian students.   “Coactum” was about a young lady being coerced to perform an abortion. This is a problem of African females.  The second endeavour was writing scripts and striving to get funding. Kitojo was(and is) always interested in true stories. Film Freeway, an international cinema forum describes him as such:

 Wetengere's passion is to educate society by using film medium, tackling most critical political and social issues whilst entertaining audiences...” 

 So, in 2020 Asking God was completed. In Swahili with English subtitles the 139 minutes thriller steers three main themes.  Family of three.  Abusive husband, Moses (played by Saidi Kitanji) who quite early on is seen pointing a gun at his wife Rosemary (Rene Joseph). Then their child, Regina (Ester Said Ndalu) knocked down by car and is in a life supporting machine. The pressures and tensions to have her survive, unfold deep rooted emotions plus religious beliefs. 

This is the second theme.  Christianity and the role of religion in contemporary Africa.

Third theme is the corrupt, husband, Moses' dodgy deals shedding light on institutional financial dishonesty. At the end of the film there is redemption and Wetengere puts his stamp on the importance of family and community cohesion. 

The new director was born in Suji, not far from Mount Kilimanjaro, North East Tanzania in the 1970s. After graduating with a Masters degree in Sound design for Film at Bournemouth University he settled at Basingstoke with his family. Asking God was a low budget of £7,000 which in film economics is meagre but expensive for him. 

Wetengere speaks of self- sacrifice. Doing odd jobs to maintain his family and keep this creative dream buzzing.  He says it is very hard to get funding as our East African businesses do not yet bother invest in cinema. So far Asking God has been accepted at two international film festivals in Canada (Motion Pictures International Festival- MOPIFF) and Boden in Sweden. 

Meantime the determined writer is working on his second long feature; aiming to highlight illegal poaching and destruction of our wildlife. Asking God can be seen by logging into NUELLA TV – a site for African and International films.

Contact Wetengere Tel +44- 7886 902558. 

Freddy Macha is a London based Tanzanian writer and musician.

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

 

 

 

Photo VCG

 

The Tanzanian government has teamed up with a national non-governmental organization in efforts to eradicate domestic and gender violence as well as early marriages.

The C-Sema NGO, also supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), has set up a toll-free National Child Helpline, in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam to protect children and women from abuse.

The #116 toll-free service, available across all mobile networks, is open to people in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.

The helpline responds to around 3,500 calls a day from women and children who are at risk of violence, and from family and community members who report abuses.

A recent visit to the National Child Helpline by UNFPA's Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem showed just how vital the facility is in Tanzania's efforts to eradicate domestic violence and early marriages.

Dr. Kanem expressed gratitude to C-Sema and counsellors for their dedication to advancing gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and young people, including through the use of digital platforms and new technologies.

The UNFPA reports a recent case of a 13-year-old girl who was saved from getting married to a 35-year-old man. The girl's parents had accepted to give her up for marriage in exchange for a dowry payment.

Despite the occurrence of such incidents, the Tanzanian government has rolled out various efforts to end the vices, including the institution of a Five-year National Plans of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children.

The current administration has also pledged to continue efforts to eradicate such vices from the East African country.

During her visit to Tanzania, Dr. Kanem met with President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who expressed Tanzania's commitment to eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation.

The UNFPA's Executive Director commended the government's leadership and reaffirmed her organization's support to Tanzania to realize development targets and stronger, more inclusive socioeconomic growth with the goal of leaving no one behind. - CGTN

President Museveni and Burundian president Evariste Ndayishimiye wave to officials at State House, Entebbe. Photo PPU

 

President Museveni and his Burundian counterpart, Mr Evariste Ndayishimiye, have agreed to strengthen cooperation on agriculture, energy, trade, health, finance, tourism, and investment.

State House last evening said the two leaders after meeting at State House to commemorate Mr Ndayishimiye’s two-day state visit, which ended yesterday, committed to work together on transport and communication, defence and security, education, culture, and sports.

“In this regard, they directed their respective ministers to ensure that implementation of existing agreements, memoranda of understanding and other frameworks of cooperation, is fast-tracked,” a joint communique signed by Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kuteesa and his Burundian counterpart Ambassador Albert Shingiro, read in part.  

The two leaders congratulated each other for winning elections last and this year and President Ndayishimiye commended Mr Museveni for his efforts as a guarantor of the Arusha Peace Accord and a mediator on Burundi dialogue.

President Museveni and his guest, who attended the former’s inauguration for a sixth elective term on Wednesday, promised to boost the relationship between the two countries by canvassing respective private sectors to lead identification of opportunities for trade and investment.

They committed to upgrade inter-linking roads to improve connectivity and reduce transportation costs.

Uganda Airlines, which started operations last year, has already started direct flights between Entebbe and Bujumbura, cutting travel time and boosting trade, tourism and investment.

The two presidents, according to the joint communique, directed their respective Foreign Affairs to convene a meeting of the third session of the Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) and a Joint Business Forum within the next six months.

In addition, the presidents agreed to deepen integration in the East African Community, currently challenged by frosty relations between some member states, and the wider African Union. 

They welcomed the January 1 entry into force of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA), which they hope will help boost African trade, development of value chains and integration.

They also commended the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) for its role in pacifying the country, including the fight against terrorist groups. They called upon the international community to continue supporting the Somalia in building its institutions, especially the national army, to ensure that the progress and gains made are consolidated.

The leaders also asked Africa to always speak with one voice on international matters such as climate change, fight against terrorism, the reform of the United Nations Security Council, international migration and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the communique, the two leaders exhorted Burundi’s partners to lift sanctions imposed since 2015 in order to boost the country’s socio-economic development. - Daily Monitor

 

NAIROBI, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's quest to realize climate resilient growth is facing headwinds as widespread flooding experienced in the March-May season of long rains is damaging livelihoods and vital ecosystems in the country.

A number of civilians have lost their lives and property of unknown value destroyed in the recent past as storm water swept across Kenyan lowlands and densely-populated urban slums following a heavy downpour.

Local media reported Friday that four people were killed in Nairobi's Kibera slum Thursday night after they were swept away by raging waters as they attempted to cross a swollen river in the country's biggest slum.

The heavy rains that pounded the capital Thursday night caused flooding in other informal settlements, marooning local residents and worsening the risk of disease outbreaks.

Kenya Metrological Department said Friday that the heavy rains are expected to subside this weekend, but due to already saturated soils, it is likely to trigger landslides in hilly parts of the country.

The weathermen said that light showers could become a regular phenomenon in many parts of the country until the end of May, hence signaling improved agricultural productivity.

Massive flooding that accompanied torrential rains in western Kenyan lowlands and the coast region in the past week has displaced hundreds of families, destroying farms, roads and critical amenities such as schools.

Cyrus Oguna, spokesman for the Government of Kenya, said at a briefing early this week that the state was working on a long-term plan to help communities cope with recurrent floods.

"In the interim, we will be providing humanitarian assistance to flood victims in different parts of the country. These assistance include food, life-saving medicine and shelter," said Oguna.

He said the government had prioritized early warning, renovation of urban drainage infrastructure and tree planting to cushion local communities from negative impacts of flooding.

Kenya has been experiencing widespread flooding in the past several years during rainy seasons worsened by human encroachment on natural buffers like forests, wetlands and mangrove swamps.

The recurrent floods, that are also linked to climate change and unplanned settlements in urban areas, have jeopardized the country's ability to realize low-carbon development.

Keriako Tobiko, the cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said that Kenya's ability to tame climatic shocks including severe droughts and floods, is key to boosting green and inclusive growth.

"We aspire to attain green growth through strengthening the capacity of communities to withstand negative impacts of climate change," Tobiko said at a virtual Kenya-European Union green diplomacy conference held Tuesday.

He said the government will increase funding, promote uptake of clean technologies and regeneration of ecosystems to boost resilience of communities amid climatic stresses.

Tobiko said that some climate change adaptation projects under implementation including construction of large dams, restoration of degraded landscapes and household-based water harvesting initiatives, are aimed at containing floods.

He said that Kenya is leveraging on domestic resource mobilization, partnership and technology adoption to realize climate resilient and sustainable growth as part of the pandemic recovery.

Chris Kiptoo, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the government is focusing on community-led interventions to minimize the impact of flooding, drought and habitat loss on livelihoods.

"Ultimately, local-led actions will strengthen resilience of our communities and the natural habitats whenever they experience climate change-related impacts like acute drought and flooding," said Kiptoo, adding that climatic stresses will be inevitable in the future hence the need to boost coping mechanism for local communities as part of Kenya's green aspirations. - Xinhua

By FLEVIAN MUTIE

Kenya is one of the countries in East Africa and the world that has suffered a deadly blow from  COVID-19, which has recently swept across most parts of the world. Over 3 million people in the world have succumbed to the covid-19. Total number of covid-19 deaths in Africa has reached 123,627.  In Kenya coid-19 deaths has gone up to 2,850.

Kenya’s Health stakeholders in collaboration with the World Health Organization, among several other organizations have, and continue to recommend, administering and enforcement of safety measures, both preventive and curative, in an effort to flatten the infection curve, through launching of safety campaigns and implementation of these measures.

Recently, the Kenya’s Health CAS Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, officially reported the official onset of the third wave of the pandemic. Mwangangi says that the surge in the number of infections in the country and the entire East Africa serves as an indication that as a nation we have lowered our guard and completely disregarded caution, throwing it to the wind. Mwangangi recommends that since Kenya’s Health stakeholders have already communicated to everyone the existence of the third wave, Kenyans should all go back to the basics in response to the Covid-19 as set out by the Ministry of Health.

Over the last few months, the third wave of the deadly COVID-19 has claimed many lives in Kenya, not leaving out the elderly and the young. This has happened mostly due to the ignorance displayed by Kenyans towards both protective and preventive measures, their double standards in relation to these measures, failure to abide by the Ministry of Health (MoH) guidelines, among many other things. Many stakeholders have let down their guard, not leaving out stakeholders in the government who should lead by setting an exemplary standard.

Some of these measures include social distance, lack of physical contact and proper sanitization of both the body and surfaces we come into conduct with in our daily activities. On top of these measures, President Uhuru Kenyatta early last year directed a night- time curfew that ensured all businesses close at 9.00pm (EAT) to ensure that no activities such as drinking in clubs and bars happen at night.

President Uhuru Kenyatta tasked the Police to ensure Kenyans observe all set measures, guidelines and strategies put in place to flatten the COVID 19 infection curve. This ranges from the enforcement of the 8pm evening curfew, proper wearing of facemasks, maintaining of social and physical distance, avoidance and limitations of social gatherings and functions so as to curb the spread of the virus.  

Some Kenyans, despite the indefinite closure of churches, a directive issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta last month, geared towards minimizing the spread of the pandemic, are still operating in churches beyond the recommended capacity. In a crackdown on the same, the   police stopped a live service in a church in Rongai.

The Kenya Police recently warned residents especially of urban centres, towns and cities across the country against defying curfew orders and COVID-19 regulations. Police Spokesman Owino Wahongo, in a televised interview said that police have been tasked under firm instructions This, among other measures have seen the Police also potentially facilitate transmission of the deadly virus from person to person while forcefully holding masses of people arrested past curfew hours in their temporary police quarantines. 

Most people in such facilities that lack proper sanitation, protective equipment and food, and end up contracting the virus. Wahongo further said that Kenyans should avoid the last-minute rush to avoid ending up as culprits of the curfew. “We have seen so many who are caught everyday in the curfew. Kenyans should learn to prepare and do their things early” says Wahongo.

In a research, IEA News reached out to several police officers on this, and one of them, Amos Keitany, says that no one is perfect, ranging from both the police and the wananchi, as some police officers take bribes to cover up the citizens when caught on the wrong by the law. Keitany says Kenyans should not blame the authorities, especially the police for their failure to control themselves in regard to flattening the curve.

“As the police force, we cannot stop some habits that Kenyans have, as some will still shake hands, get close to one another beyond the recommended 1.5 metres social distance, still hide to attend church services and drinking sprees. Yes, they may never be caught, but prevention against the pandemic is more of a personal initiative” says Keitany.  “Some do not wear facemasks or wear them wrongly, or wear them because they do not want to cross paths with the law, rather than for their own safety.“ he adds.  

Peter Kinuthia, a Nairobi resident, is a village head, and head of nyumba kumi in Embakasi. Kinuthia says that stakeholders in the transport industry, both the private and the public sector should also play their role towards flattening the curve. “Despite the social distance recommendation, matatus still ferry excess passengers, due to greed and their strive to cash in. Yes, we know they have loans to service and needs to meet, but even so, they should not risk the lives of other Kenyans.” He speaks.

Peter adds that some people still sit to eat in hotels and restaurants despite the ban and the regulation to strictly serve take-away meals. Some of these people do such things because they do not know the risk behind their actions. “The only remedy here would be the government, in collaboration with Kenya’s ministry of Health and other stakeholders to do more sensitization especially in rural areas. This should target their behaviors and measures that halt the spread of the pandemic. 

Kinuthia adds that it is sad to see the government embracing overcrowding especially in the Railways Sector in Kenya. Before the president halted the movement of the trains in and out of counties within the East African state, Kenyans have been sitting in full capacity in the trains, both the meter gauge and the SGR. Peter says to avoid this Kenya government should introduce more trains plying through all routes to ensure passengers seat separately and safely.

“I wonder why the government should demand and enforce the aspect of social distancing in public service vehicles when they don’t lead by example themselves. They should be exemplary, leading us by practically walking the talk as other stakeholders emulate them.” Says Kinuthia, adding that halting down the spread and reducing the infection curve is both an individual and a collective responsibility as well, asking every Kenyan to be a partaker in the fight against the pandemic. 

Cynthia Nkubitu says that Kenya's public transport vehicles have been deemed to be one of the most unsafe and the weakest towards the fight against COVID-19. “Matatus always carry passengers to their full capacity, with some even carrying excess and being badly driven, where that poses another risk of road safety in addition to COVID. I beseech the authorities to take action against them. 

Cynthia adds that most of the matatus nowadays do not stock safety apparatus like hand sanitizers and hand washing equipment, as they used to do it to play safe to the police and not to protect the passengers, as it should be, but as it is a personal responsibility, passengers do have their own sanitizers. 

Nkubitu supports the words by the Health CAS, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, noting that Kenyans have let their guard down and dropped the ball as pertains protection against the virus, as some commuters have abhorred digital payment. “They still carry hard cash and do not care about the safety and the hygiene of the crew and the fellow passengers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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