Sunday, January 31, 2010

Young Kimaro, Daily News Dar Es Salaam: "Precious gems of human kindness: That’s Tanzania"

Precious gems of human kindness: That’s Tanzania

Young Kimaro, 22nd January 2010 @ 21:00

ONE day, a Ugandan journalist gets hopelessly lost in the maze of streets of Dar es Salaam. An ice cream; just what she needed. After a few bites into pure, refreshing coldness she asks the vendor, do you know where I could get a taxi?

Wait, he tells her and sprints away even before she could utter a word. Moments later he reappears, beaming, with a taxi trailing at his heels.

A young girl passes her Primary School Leaving Exams with flying colours. But there is no way her unwed mother could scrape up enough money to send her to secondary school.

Forget about it, her mother tells her. You can stay home and help out. There are household chores to be done, a plot to cultivate, things to sell at the market. But the young girl just can’t let go of a bigger dream for herself.

The girl hears about a kind neighbour. She stalks this neighbour’s comings and goings. She wants to ask for help but her courage fails her each time.

The neighbour catches fleeting glimpses of a young face that vanishes the moment she notices it. It’s the same face each time, she was sure of it. Who are you? What are you doing there?

What do you want? One day, she calls out quickly before the face could vanish again. A pause. Then a skinny little girl with two beautiful, huge eyes slowly and timidly materializes from behind a bush. She opens her mouth to speak.

No sooner than had she spoken three words, a flood of tears. Between her wild sobs, the good neighbour makes out a few words … passed exams … first division … secondary … no money … help.

Ten years thereafter, that little girl has grown into a beautiful young lady with two beautiful, huge eyes. She is in her final year at the University of Nairobi. Her neighbour had come to her rescue and taken her in. Now it’s as if she had been born into that family.

An old woman goes to weed her farm as usual. Unknowingly she disturbs a hive of wasps. At the rude jerk on their dwelling, angry drones swarm over the presumed attacker and release a torrent of stings. She cries out for help. A neighbor runs over. Wasps go at him too.

Ignoring their stings, he lights a fire to make smoke and fiercely thrashes back at them with a branch full of leaves. Fire, smoke and the thrashing.

Eventually the wasps take off to look for a quieter, more hospitable setting to build a new home for themselves. The neighbour picks up the old woman, now only half conscious, and carries her to another who rushes her to a nearby hospital in a car.

Life saved. That old woman, my mother-in-law, lived for many more years, showering her family, friends and neighbours with love and a delicious sense of humour to the very end.

Wife of a young man dies, leaving him with a little child. A few years later he remarries. His sister takes in the child and raises her as if she was her own. This year that child graduated from Sokoine University.

An elderly woman from U.K. visits her friend in Tanzania shortly after she’s had a hip surgery. The Nissan Patrol of her friend sits so high that her arm muscles strain to hoist her into the car.

Her friend’s driver Hassani has a solution. He keeps a stepping stool in the car on the ready. Every time she gets in or out of the car, Hassani is there with the stool, a smile and a helping hand to steady her climbs up or down.

To this day, she proclaims to whomsoever will listen that Hassani, that driver in Tanzania, has given her the best help ever, anywhere. For these and other good reasons, an expatriate from a developed country claims that there is nowhere on earth she’d rather be than in rural Tanzania.

What if you fall sick? I ask, needling her. Oh, I have already lived long enough. When my time comes, it comes. With that she brushes off my concern and continues happily with her life in a Tanzanian village.

Human kindness; that, we have in abundance in Tanzania. They are so common that more often than not we take them for granted. They are the gems that brighten our lives. But the dehumanizing hand of poverty threatens.

Already we see ominous signs. Can we get out of poverty before it destroys these precious gems of human kindness?

B.F. Oswald - Author and Renaissance Man

I recently had the pleasure of meeting author and Renaissance man B.F. Oswald -- and am looking forward to reading
Echoes of Ellen, his novel-in-stories and a 2007 National Book Award nominee.

Why am I now urging him to write his memoirs? From the Author's Biography page of his website, here's a view into his fascinating life:

bf oswald was born in 1934 in Lakewood, Ohio and lived in Bay Village, Ohio until he left home at age sixteen. He completed his high school education at Randolph Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA; earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, and a Masters in Counseling, starting his graduate work at Oberlin College and completing it at METHESCO, Delaware. Ohio.

During his adult life he served as a drill instructor in the U.S. Air Force, worked as a life guard at the Hotel Biloxi MacArthur, a short order cook in Meadville, a printer’s devil in Philadelphia, and as a federal investigator working out of Baltimore. He relocated to his birth state and in various communities around North Central, Ohio was a high school teacher, minister, dairyman, contractor, and practiced as a psychotherapist - hypnotherapist, finally accepting an Associate Professorship at North Central Technical College, Mansfield, Ohio where he taught for twenty-seven years and was awarded the honor of becoming the second Emeritus Professor in the college's history.

During his teaching career he taught twenty-three different courses that covered all aspects of human development and behavior from conception through dying and death, and created eighteen of those courses especially for the nursing, radiology, human services, and behavioral science curriculums. He also authored two textbooks, one on human sexuality, the other on aging, both published by the college; and contributed poetry, essays, and short fiction to the college literary journals...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My favorite hangout in Dar Es Salaam - Soma Book Cafe

Soma Book Cafe

Soma Book Cafe on Facebook

53 Mlingotini, Regent Estate, Kinondoni.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Phone:+255 (0) 22 277 27 59
Birthday:June 7, 2008

Click here for Soma Book Cafe website

Soma Book Cafe is an organisation geared to ‘contribute to the creation, promotion and sustenance of a reading culture’ as a leisurely, cultural and learning endeavour. This is in response to a serious lack of a reading habit among many Tanzanians, for reasons that have not been systematically investigated. In Soma one aims to provide a synergy of knowledge, culture and leisure as a means for promoting culture of reading among Tanzanians

“A hub for activities that stimulate reading and creativity such as: book talks, literary reviews, music concerts, art exhibitions, poetry recitations, theatre performances, dialogues and talk shows of and between writers, readers and literary critics; and many others”

Soma History
In 1989, two women friends employed in two different Publishing Houses; disturbed by the dearth of literature for general readership and the low level of importance this branch of readership was given in education, culture and development; decided to start their own publishing firm. They decided that their House should be developmental and chart out a path different from the norm. To realize this dream, they agreed they should anchor themselves at home front and save, for theirs was going to be a long walk.

Soma co-founder Demere Kitunga

In 1997 and 1998, the women broke free of employment and embarked on a serious task of shaping the commercial and development mandates of the firm. They engaged in vigorous debates on the problems of education and readership, general access to books, generation and dissemination of ideas, the problems with the book chain and finally together with publishing, they developed a program proposal to establish school libraries and readership clubs run by pupils and teachers. They successfully implement the project in two phases: 1999 -2000 (pilot) and 2001-2005 (extended phase); in partnership with Care International, Tanzania; and with Royal Netherlands Embassy support funds.

The experience and lessons gained from running a development project within a commercial firm led to restructuring of the company in 2006. E & D Readership and Development Agency was born and registered in 2007 to assume the readership and development mandate; while E & D Vision Publishing Limited registered in 2006 took over the commercial mandate; and the Holding company retains Consultancy and Information Packaging.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Alive & Kicking @BallsForAfrica

8 VISIONS OF HOPE @8VisionsofHope

Backpack Farm Agriculture Program @BackpackFarm


Please forward to interested persons !!!

Exchange Programs Announcement

Call for Applications for the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Secondary School Educators

The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy is pleased to announce the competition to select candidates for Study of the United States Institutes for Secondary School Educators, for the 2010-2011 academic year. The entire program is paid for by the U.S. Government, including university tuition, maintenance allowance, and international airfare.

Study of the United States Institutes are intensive post-graduate level academic programs with integrated study tours whose purpose is to provide foreign university faculty and other scholars the opportunity to deepen their understanding of American society, culture and institutions. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of teaching about the United States in secondary schools and other academic institutions abroad.

Interested candidates are requested to provide detailed curriculum vitae with contact information (email addresses and phone numbers) and a short personal statement of one page indicating why they are interested in the program and what they expect to accomplish with the training. This information should be sent electronically to the Cultural Affairs Assistant, at ExchangesYaounde@, no later than January 22, 2010. Late submissions will not be considered.

For further information, contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, at 2220 1500, or by e-mail at ExchangesYaounde@

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My TEDxDar Nominations (7 of 7): Professor Pete Mhunzi

TEDxDar is happening in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 22 May 2010. The organizers are asking us to nominate speakers we think will be relevant to the mission, in particular relating to the session themes:

"What would Nyerere do?"

"Hadithi Zetu: Creating content to narrate our stories"

"The In-Between Spaces"

One of the people I nominated is Professor Pete Mhunzi.

Professor Mhunzi is a Nyerere scholar and teacher of Kiswahili with more than thirty years of professional experience. He proposes to speak at TEDxDar on "The Need & Rationale for Equal Bilingualism in Tanzania." To quote from his abstract:

"Tanzania under the leadership of the late founding father, President Julius Kambarage Nyerere took on a daunting responsibility: To elevate an Eastern and Central lingua franca to a national language. This effort has been admired and applauded all around the world. The role that Kiswahili has played in bringing ethnic groups together in a united effort to build a national culture and identity is undeniable. Today, the status of Kiswahili has suffered because of the world-wide usage of English. English has become the lingua franca of the world.

"This paper does not intend to discourage Tanzanians from learning and mastering the English language. It proposes equal bilingualism; the mastery of both Kiswahili and English..."

Friday, January 1, 2010

My TEDxDar Nominations

TEDxDar is happening in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on 22 May 2010. The organizers are asking us to nominate speakers we think will be relevant to the mission, in particular relating to the session themes:

"What would Nyerere do?"

"Hadithi Zetu: Creating content to narrate our stories"

"The In-Between Spaces"

Day 10: Donald Trump and a Chinese Folktale

Donald Trump and a Chinese Folktale:
Work hard, have fun, fulfill your calling.

The story so far ~

Day 1...
Day 2...
Day 3...
Day 4...
Day 5...
Day 6...
Day 7…
Day 8…
Day 9...

Today ~ Day 10:

My angle:

After I’ve banished my inner critic and fear, and the nay-sayers around me, I notice that my sensitive, creative side is not much help on its own. I need to summon the bold, courageous spirit within me to continue on the journey.

The mystical angle:

The Magic Tapestry: The mother anxiously awaited her second son. When he didn’t return with the tapestry, she went blind from weeping. “Let me go, Mother!” cried the youngest son. “I’ll bring back your tapestry, I promise.” The poor, blind mother nodded her consent.

Now the youngest son arrived at the mountain pass. There he met the guardian in front of the Dragon Tower. The guardian told the youngest son how to find the magic tapestry. He looked at the youngest son long and hard, and then he said, “Your brothers each preferred a box of jewels. You may have one too!” “I have promised to bring back the tapestry,” replied the son. “And so I shall.”

The Trump angle:

Donald Trump in Trump 101: The Way to Success

Identify your intrinsic values—what you really want and are willing to work hard to get. They provide you with strength, determination, and a powerful compass. Look at the big picture; think on a Trump scale. Find out what you really want to dedicate your life to and then go out and achieve it.

Reach Within to Rise Above. Assemble a group of trusted advisors. Consider their advice, but make your own decisions.

Day 9: Donald Trump and a Chinese Folktale

Donald Trump and a Chinese Folktale:
Work hard, have fun, fulfill your calling.

The story so far ~

Day 1...
Day 2...
Day 3...
Day 4...
Day 5...
Day 6...
Day 7…
Day 8…

Today ~ Day 9:

My angle:

The mother in the story is my sensitive, creative self. I see the departures of the two older sons as taking the initiative to banish the fear and nay-sayers from my life.

The mystical angle:

The Magic Tapestry: His mother waited for the eldest son patiently. When he didn’t return, her eyes became watery with tears. She begged her second son to go and find the tapestry.

When the second son reached the mountain pass, the guardian told him how to find the tapestry. And like his brother before him, the second son took the jewels and went to the city.

The Trump angle

(to tell the nay-sayers in your life):