DAR ES SALAAM, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian education authorities said on Wednesday plans are underway to construct a state-of-the-art 44.5-million-U.S. dollar university to be named after the country's founding leader, Julius Nyerere.
The university to be known as Julius Nyerere University of Agriculture and Technology will be built at Butiama, Nyerere's the native village, Omary Kipanga, the Deputy Minister for Education, Science and Technology, told parliament in Dodoma.
Kipanga said the university seeks to transform the country's agriculture through use of technology and highly skilled manpower.
He said that the high learning institution will be built through the Higher Education for Economic Transformation (HEET) program supported by the World Bank aimed at helping strengthen the capacity and quality of selected universities to build high skilled workforce.
Kipanga was responding to a Member of Parliament for Butiama constituency, Abdallah Sagini, who had requested the government to explain when the university will be constructed.
He said preparations for the construction of the university were at the advanced stage, including acquisition of 573.5 hectares of land, preparation of a master plan, undertaking of an environmental and social impact assessment, and architectural designs. - Xinhua
Area residents who live at the foothills of the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro have seen it in transition during their lifetimes. (Andrew Wasike / AA)
While scientists warn that the three ice-capped mountains in Africa may soon be left without snow, the melting glaciers of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro have borne wetlands and lakes in Kenya.
The layer of snow covering the summit of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is rapidly disappearing because of the climate crisis.
Area residents who live at the foothills of the snow-capped mountain have seen it in transition during their lifetimes.
“Every morning as a child when I took the cows out to graze, I could see the snow, the mountain was so clear back then. There was snow everywhere covering not only the top part of the mountain like it does today, but stretching close to the mid-section,” 72-year old Stephen Koitalel reminisces.
“It was a beautiful sight for everyone and people used to pray and hold initiation ceremonies such as circumcision and weddings while facing the mountain. Nowadays, the snow is thin, barely visible, it used to be a huge chunk of white snow. I don’t know what happened to the snow but it just disappeared.”
Lekumok Lakamai, a 53-year-old nomadic herder from the Entonet area of Kajiado County, echoes those sentiments. “When growing up, my parents used to tell me that there was so much snow on the mountain, even our grandparents told us folk stories based on the mountains passed down from generation to generation. We can’t tell our kids such stories today because there is no snow to talk about,” he says.
Indeed, the dormant volcano has been losing snow from its peaks at a steady pace. A 2013 article published by the European Geosciences Union notes that “The glaciers have retreated from their former extent of 11.40 km2 in 1912 to 1.76 km2 in 2011, which represents a total loss of about 85% of the ice cover over the last 100 [years].”
Another article, from 2009, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), documents the ice cover loss: “Summit ice cover (areal extent) decreased ≈1% per year from 1912 to 1953 and ≈2.5% per year from 1989 to 2007. Of the ice cover present in 1912, 85% has disappeared and 26% of that present in 2000 is now gone.”
The authors of the PNAS article note that “The three remaining ice fields on the plateau and the slopes are both shrinking laterally and rapidly thinning,” and warn that “If current climatological conditions are sustained, the ice fields atop Kilimanjaro and on its flanks will likely disappear within several decades.”
The UN has warned that rising temperatures are leading to the disappearance of glaciers found on only three mountains in Africa –– Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and the Rwenzori Mountains –– which are expected to melt entirely in the near future.
In the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report published by World Meteorological Organization last month, scientists suggest that “If current retreat rates prevail, the African mountains will be deglaciated by the 2040s,” adding that “Mount Kenya is likely to be deglaciated a decade sooner, which will make it one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glaciers due to anthropogenic climate change.”
Dr. Patrick Omondi, chief executive officer of Wildlife Research and Training Institute in Kenya says the melting snow has turned a large area of the 151 square miles (392 square kilometers) Amboseli National Park into a wetland.
He adds that the melting of the Kilimanjaro glacier has had positive and negative effects. On the Kenyan side, the results have been positive.
“It is positive because Amboseli was not originally a wetland area. The melting glaciers now have filtered through and created swamps. Amboseli has now become a new bird paradise, we have birds like flamingos, which we used not to have here before and we are actually thinking of naming Amboseli as one of the international wetlands of importance,” comments the top Kenyan researcher.
The drastic climatic change has brought the pink-feathered birds that stand on impossibly thin legs to Amboseli where there is abundant food in swamps. According to scientists, snow forms on Kilimanjaro and immediately melts because of the warm temperature. The cycle forms an uninterrupted supply of underground water that flows down the mountain to the park.
“These swamps serve the local communities occasionally, when they come to give water to their animals when the drought is high, and like now, when the drought is here, this is a permanent water source, so it has helped,” says Omondi.
Despite a severe drought in that part of Kenya, park life is thriving with water and swampy grasslands everywhere. Elephants can be seen wallowing in the mud and other animals like zebras and wildebeests feeding on pasture.
The melting Kilimanjaro has positive effects on the Kenyan side but devastating effects in Tanzania.
In Loitokitok, on the Kenyan side, residents complain of low water levels.
“The melting of the mountain on the other side is not very good. There are high temperatures that come with droughts meaning animals disperse wide and far and it escalates human-wildlife conflict,” explains Omondi.
Paleo-climatologists have warned that melting glaciers will lead to fewer water resources for communities living around the mountain, especially on the Tanzanian side. Streams and rivers originating from the mountain have either dried up or have lower volumes of water.
The WMO report notes that this is to be expected, yet adds that the glaciers are significant for other reasons: “Although these glaciers [the Mount Kenya massif (Kenya), the Rwenzori Mountains (Uganda) and Mount Kilimanjaro (United Republic of Tanzania)] are too small to act as significant water reservoirs, they are of eminent touristic and scientific importance.”
Kenya Wildlife Service Director-General John Waweru says that two lakes have formed in Amboseli due to global warming.
“The water that is in the Amboseli system is water that actually comes from Mount Kilimanjaro through underground rivers. We have noticed that there are two lakes that are now forming which have not been named yet, but of course, there is a plan to name them in the near future,” he says. Source: TRTWorld and agencies
As Kenya approaches the highly charged 2022 elections, peacebuilders face a growing challenge on how to make peacebuilding known, accessible, and actionable in an objective and informative manner through scientific inquiry or research. As election activities heat up, we are witnessing increased ethnic polarization veiled as political persuasion with economic undertones and fear of conflict. The latter is characterized by a political discourse of class struggle between hustlers (the proletariat/peasants) and dynasties (the ruling class). It is often very clear on social media spaces how ethnic political and class polarization is playing out in real-time on the ground.
The media’s representation of ideas including peace and security involves privileged access to the symbolic cultural artefacts that are used as the language of constructing meaning.
This includes access to media technologies and cultural capital, a domain dominated by the elite. This is why representation is central in constructing material experiences or reality and should not be taken for granted. The media is at the core (public sphere) of shaping this reality.
Elections in Kenya are usually controversial and violent and have led to the loss of lives and property. The deadliest electoral violence occurred in 2007-2008, when hundreds died, thousands were displaced, and property worth hundreds of millions was destroyed. Investors shunned the country as a result, and the outcome subsequently affected tourism and agriculture, mainstays of the Kenyan economy.
Notably, post-election violence in Kenya historically erupts from the opposition stronghold of Kisumu City in a township called Kondele where multi-ethnic youth face high levels of poverty and unemployment. This demographic is therefore weaponized every electoral cycle by political elites as a negative ethnicity in their quest for political power.
The 2017 elections were a replay of the 2007 elections, not by magnitude of violence, but by the manner in which those elections contested the Supreme Court of Kenya (SCOK), which ruled that they were neither free nor fair. Subsequently, the SCOK rejected those elections and declared them null and void, triggering panic and awakening ethnic insecurity and violence and setting the stage for Kenya’s uncertain future.
Concurrently, a compromise between the two electoral contenders and "ethnic" historical rivals/leaders from the Kikuyu and Luo community emerged. Public discourse argues that when the Mountain (Mount Kenya) meets the Lake (Lake Victoria or Nam Lolwe in Dho Luo) Kenya often progresses peacefully. In this spirit of “the mountain meeting the lake,” the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the leading opposition, Raila Odinga, put their differences aside and shook hands outside Harambee House (or Pulling Together House) in a public display under the media’s glare as a sign of peace. This action, famously known as "The Handshake", was later anchored into law as the Building Bridges to a better Kenya Initiative (BBI), as deliberated and approved by about 45 County Assemblies or devolved units of government.
However, BBI faces challenges, including legal hurdles, which led to its nullification at the High Court of Kenya. The case was declared null and void by the court of appeal and is currently awaiting the Supreme Court's decision in order to be implemented. Like the nullified 2017 controversial elections, BBI's nullification has further set the stage for political extremism as uncertainty looms over its fate.
Peace Building Campaign
Politicians often refer to Canaan for selfish interests to gain political favor rather than as a genuine attempt to make a spiritual/theological reference. Consequently, this ideal of Canaan would translate to the land of plenty (economic liberation). In that process, they have politicized and ethnicized theological connotations of Canaan. They also smeared its symbolic cultural meaning, leaving peacebuilders with limited and distorted lexicons—a reality that must be rejected at all costs by reclaiming the authentic biblical reference of Canaan as opposed to political in all forms of representation.
The Karibu Kanaan or Welcome to Kanaan Music and Art Festival for Peace is an attempt to take up space for peace, subverted as Kanaan to be more realistic and less idealistic, where Kenyans embrace Ubuntu or humanity, Umoja or unity and Harambee or collective responsibility. It is therefore a collective pan-African attempt to take the potentially divisive idea of Canaan in national political discourse and creatively and constructively use it through music, art, and cultural activities as a peacebuilding strategy.
The festival that happened on October 2, 2021, created awareness about the value of peace. It also utilized creative outlets to educate on what is at stake if Kenya was to return to electoral violence, what Kenyans are bound to lose, how they can pull together, and what they can do to stop electoral violence in order to imagine what a peaceful and prosperous country would look like (Kanaan or Canaan).
The festival’s design acted as a laboratory context for peacebuilding research. Truth Wire conducted a survey that targeted festival participants, and Peace Design Lab measured sentiments of Kisumu residents around the upcoming elections for conflict mapping through scenario building. The analysis concluded that on one side, ethnicity and pride remain some of the biggest peacebuilding challenges; however, on the other side, love and unity emerge as the greatest desires.
These findings acted as our baseline and would be later probed by the Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security– Rongo University, PeaceTech Lab, and the Peacemaker Corps Foundation Kenya in a national offline survey to corroborate the baseline data. The data is also used by The Peacemaker Corps Foundation Kenya, +Peace Coalition, National Crime Research Center, BuildUp, Maskani Commons, The Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security-Rongo University, Kuchora Tu Studios (artists), and Kisumu County/City as the basis for our 16-month campaign for peaceful elections in 2022. The campaign utilizes hashtags to monitor peacebuilding posts online. Wilson Center
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