Burundian children stand behind a fence as they wait to be registered as refugees at Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania on June 11, 2015. Stephanie Aglietti/AFP via Getty Images

John, a Burundian living in Tanzania’s Nyarugusu refugee camp, is the embodiment of the instability that more than 100,000 other Burundian refugees are facing as the Tanzanian government renews threats to forcibly repatriate Burundian refugees if they do not return “voluntarily”.

John, who we’ve given a pseudonym for his safety, says, “I have seen a lot of things. I have fled the genocide in 1972 and the war in 1993”.

In addition to fleeing Burundi multiple times, John, like many other Burundians, has also been displaced from Tanzania, the state that provided him refuge. During his second displacement from Burundi in 2012, the Tanzanian government forced John and thousands of other Burundians refugees to repatriate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tanzania president Samia Suluhu attends a service honouring her predecessor John Magufuli in Chato, Tanzania. Photo by Luke Dray/Getty Images.

As the first 100 days pass since Samia Suluhu Hassan was unexpectedly propelled to Tanzania’s presidency, her less combative style of leadership compared to predecessor John Magufuli is raising expectations of policy change and a reopening of civic space – but how much she is prepared to truly transform the country remains in doubt.

Magufuli’s sudden death left an unfinished legacy and a deeply polarized nation as he wielded the considerable power of Tanzania’s executive to shut down critical voices, and Hassan has been reluctant to distance herself from him so far, asserting the two of them are ‘essentially the same person’.…  Seguir leyendo »

Samia Suluhu Hassan takes oath of office on March 19 to become the president of Tanzania. (Reuters)

Last week, after the sudden death of Tanzanian president John Magufuli, the nation swore in Samia Suluhu Hassan, its first female president.

The moment is significant for Tanzania, and not just because Hassan is a woman. Hassan is from Zanzibar — the semi-autonomous archipelago that united with mainland Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania, making her only the second Zanzibari president of the United Republic. She is a devout Muslim, and wears a hijab.

Out of her many politically significant identities, Hassan has stood boldly in her womanhood. During her swearing-in ceremony before a packed stadium, she asserted, “I know there are people who have doubt and ask, ‘Can this woman be the President of the United Republic of Tanzania?’…  Seguir leyendo »

News headlines announce the death of Tanzanian president John Magufuli at the business center in Kariakoo, Dar Es Salaam. Photo by AFP via Getty Images.

An unprecedented transition process has been set in motion following the unexpected death of President John Magufuli early in his second term, with Tanzania’s former vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in to take office until the end of the current presidential term in 2025, becoming the country’s first female head of state.

Magufuli’s global notoriety peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to his discredited claims the virus had been eliminated from Tanzania and his outright rejection of modern treatments and vaccines. Indeed, the president’s overall leadership style was consistent only in its ability to divide opinion both at home and abroad.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Dar es Salaam, the organization Sanku sends staff members to interview shop owners about the market for fortified flour there. Credit Malicky Boaz/Sanku

When I began reporting this article, before the pandemic, it was about an ingenious solution to a huge but hard-to-see problem: In many poor countries, most people get their grain from mom-and-pop local mills. But these mills don’t fortify their flour with the basic nutrients that children (and others) need.

That solution, which is important and hopeful, is still part of this story. But it has also become a tale of how Covid-19 kills in more than one way, including the terrible complexity of decisions of whether to reopen economies whose workers are desperate for an income.

The case for letting people go back to work isn’t just about individual liberty.…  Seguir leyendo »

People look at newspapers without adhering to the rules of social distancing despite confirmed coronavirus cases in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo by ERICKY BONIPHACE/AFP via Getty Images.

Tanzania’s COVID-19 containment measures have been markedly less strict than many neighbouring states, where lockdowns and travel restrictions have largely become the norm. Despite schools and universities being closed, a ban on mass public gatherings imposed, and citizens encouraged not to leave home for non-essential purposes, reports indicate daily life for the majority of working citizens has been minimally affected.

Government officials have emphasised the risk of starvation brought by lockdowns and the need to protect economic stability, with the deputy minister of health noting that ‘when you go for a total lockdown it means some will instead die of hunger.’…  Seguir leyendo »

Tanzanian President John Magufuli holds up a ceremonial spear and shield to signify the beginning of his term on Nov. 5, 2015, in Dar es Salaam. (AP)

Over the past month, Tanzanian politics has been making international headlines. Journalists representing the Committee to Protect Journalists were detained in Dar es Salaam, the country’s commercial capital. The government expelled pregnant girls from school. Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner for Dar, announced plans to round up LGBT people. Eventually, the rest of the government distanced itself from Makonda, but the damage was done. Donors have withdrawn aid. The European Union and the United States condemned these human rights abuses.

What’s going on? Since 1961, Tanzania has been ruled by the same party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). While it has never been a democracy, Tanzania had been better known as a safari tourism destination and as a donor darling.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli: policing women’s bodies. Photograph: Emmanuel Herman/Reuters

In Tanzania, teenage girls who become pregnant are not allowed back in school; female MPs are forbidden from wearing fake eyelashes and nails; now, a senior government official has called on the public to report gay people so that they can be punished.

This infantilisation of women and homophobia is all part of President John Magufuli’s “morality crusade”. When he was elected in 2015, he was seen as a decisive figure determined to run a frugal government, stamp out corruption and deliver better services in the east African country.

However, in a flash, he turned from cracking down on corrupt government officials to evoking redundant colonial laws in order to police women’s bodies, reinforce discrimination against girls and now, in this latest move, to hunt down homosexuals.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace poco hablé por teléfono con una periodista y activista por los derechos humanos tanzana a quien conozco bien; respondió a muchas de mis preguntas con un silencio atípico en ella. Mi amiga es una persona valiente, desinhibida y por lo general locuaz. Pero en esta ocasión, hablar de política era demasiado peligroso para ella. En momentos en que los periodistas de Tanzania son blanco de amenazas, ataques y secuestros, nuestra conversación tuvo que limitarse a temas mundanos.

Tanzania, una de las democracias más estables de África, está cayendo en el autoritarismo. El presidente John Magufuli lleva meses atacando a opositores y periodistas y cerrando medios de prensa.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man in a control center of the NTV channel, which was shut down by the Kenyan government because of coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s symbolic presidential inauguration, at the Nation group media building in Nairobi on Feb. 1. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Imagine paying over $900 to a government agency just to be allowed to blog.

This is what the government of Tanzania wants to require of its citizens. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority has given all online content providers until May 5 to submit massive amounts of documentation to earn state approval for what the Internet has always given for free. If you can’t pony up details of shareholders, share capital, citizenship of owners, staff qualifications, training programs and a tax clearance certificate, you risk a fine of at least $2,200 and/or a year-long prison sentence. While the rest of the progressive world is considering blockchain technology or investing in robots, Tanzania’s big idea this year is licensing bloggers.…  Seguir leyendo »

A popular rapper was arrested and then released this weekend in Tanzania for releasing a song that criticized President John P. Magufuli. In the track, rapper Nay wa Mitego asks whether freedom of expression still exists in Tanzania, calls out the double standard in holding public officials accountable, and wonders whether the president considers himself Jesus Christ’s relative.

Although Mitego’s arrest has raised alarms about declining rights and civil liberties in Tanzania, it fits a larger pattern of the president ruling with impunity. After the elections in late 2015, Ruth Carlitz and I warned that Magufuli’s regime leaned toward authoritarianism.

Just last week, the president fired his information minister, Nape Nnauye.…  Seguir leyendo »

Plans for a 1,410-kilometre heated pipeline from Hoima in western Uganda to Tanzania’s deep water port at Tanga have been chosen to carry Uganda’s oil to international markets, over the initially favoured ‘northern route’ through Kenya. Heavy lobbying by international oil companies, changes in regional politics and Kenya’s fragile security situation seem to be major reasons behind Kampala’s change of heart. But by engaging a member long seen as a hindrance to integration efforts, a cross-border project with Tanzania could also help spur the development of the East African Community (EAC).

How the Kenya deal fell through

On 10 August 2015, the presidents of Uganda and Kenya publically agreed to jointly develop a pipeline, depending on Kenya meeting a number of conditions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demasiadas enfermedades prevenibles, que van desde el SIDA hasta la fiebre amarilla, han afectado desde hace ya mucho tiempo atrás al África subsahariana. No obstante, para erradicarlas se requiere de una comprensión de la enfermedad en cuestión, de dinero, educación, apoyo gubernamental, planificación, y, finalmente pero no por ello es menos importante, se requiere que la comunidad y el mundo en general tengan interés en la solución del problema.

Considere la posibilidad de una enfermedad prevenible, sobre la cual la mayoría de las personas no ha oído hablar nunca antes: Konzo, un trastorno de la neurona motora superior que es irreversible y permanente, un trastorno común en las zonas rurales de África subsahariana cuya alimentación básica depende de una variedad amarga de la planta de yuca.…  Seguir leyendo »

Odd as it may sound, American trophy hunters play a critical role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania. The millions of dollars that hunters spend to go on safari here each year help finance the game reserves, wildlife management areas and conservation efforts in our rapidly growing country.

This is why we are alarmed that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the African lion as endangered. Doing so would make it illegal for American hunters to bring their trophies home. Those hunters constitute 60 percent of our trophy-hunting market, and losing them would be disastrous to our conservation efforts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lazing around this Bank Holiday, we should raise a glass to Atta Sherpa, the Nepalese guide who has just broken all records and reached the summit of Everest for the 18th time.

For while we battle with bedding plants, Atta dallies in the death zone, hoisting a constant stream of fat, unfit, oxygen-starved Westerners into one of the most hostile environments on the planet. However reluctant the lobelia, they cannot really compete with that.

We may mourn the vulgar circus that Everest has become - with wealthy egotists queuing like ants to conquer it - but we should feel justifiably happy for 48-year-old Atta, who is fêted as a result of his exploits on the mountain.…  Seguir leyendo »