Saturday, 7 December 2013

London becomes focal point for Tanzanians the world over

By Freddy Macha,The citizen

Posted  Friday, December 6   2013 at  10:55
Today’s conference however, is different because it is aimed at wananchi, the citizens seeking ways of moving forward.
Mmmh.... Talk of Tanzania’s international gathering in London has been ongoing for months. Reminders on the Internet have been sent by none other than Mr Ayoub Mzee – a journalist and presenter whose “Swahili Diaries” programme on Ben TV Sky 184 has been running for ages. Almost everyone who frequents Tanzanian activities in London has heard or seen Ayoub Mzee.
With loads of cameras and film equipment on his busy back, Ayoub is a familiar figure at weddings, political spots and symposiums everywhere in this city and around the globe. I first met Ayoub Mzee during a one-day Kiswahili seminar at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in December 2003. Back then, he was just a young student and you could tell from his views and manners – he is one of those individuals that are keen and eager to contribute, participate and make a difference.
So then...
Monday morning, early this week.
When I ask Ayoub to give more details about this weekend’s “New Deal Africa” symposium, he unselfishly mentions a lady called Enzy Larusai. She has been crucial in making this event happen, he insists. He also cites the Tanzanian High Commission, Tanzania Trade Centre and the UK trade and Investment (UKI) team for patronage and continual support...
Ayoub’s intent here I gather, is thematic and typical of the reasons behind the conference. For many years now, nothing has been moving forward. We remain the most disunited lot (compared to folks from other parts of the continent); we do not run centres or businesses; we remain poor (although some might be well off, individually) -as a community we are peripheral, impact-less and unnoticeable. What is there to celebrate, hey?
He explains how it started: “After meeting the Arusha born Enzy Larusai who has been actively involved in assisting women and refugees from Tanzania and Africa win their rights of tenancy, food and welfare, we realised that our thoughts were similar.”
New Deal Africa is therefore, an individual initiative yet a collective effort. When the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Eng. Christopher Chiza met Tanzanians at the London High Commission in October, Ayoub stood up and explained: “This event shall be for all Tanzanians.” He has been singing this mantra again and again. He echoes thoughts of another media personality, the London blogger Jestina George, who always chimes: “Let us love each other.”
And this is the spirit of the conference. According to New Deal Africa’s concept note, today and tomorrow will provide “a platform where Tanzanians can showcase investment opportunities in their country. It is also an avenue for corporate organisations to expand their market base by collaborating with foreign investors.”
How different is this conference to all others, then?
Observe a typical, traditional scenario: We all sit in a large hall and welcome a government personality, who eventually makes a speech about this and that-which we then clap; clap and clap - ask questions and receive set answers. Thereafter, follows lunch, then another series of speeches and talks and finally dance and dinner while we of the press rush to file stories and pictures. Who gets the credit? The leaders and what they said and promised. We are subsequently, used to this sort of passive politics. No wonder some never bother attending; grudges are stored in deep seats of bellies and bosoms.
Today’s conference however, is different because it is aimed at wananchi, the citizens seeking ways of moving forward. It is just like the way the Internet has transformed us humans to be actively involved in social media. An incident occurs and any of us may take pictures via with mobile phones and post them as credible witnesses and informers.

The conference promises to provide an opportunity to discuss concrete ways of addressing challenges and policies, plus Diaspora issues ditto: “immigration, dual nationality, East African community, vehicle export MOT, constitution,” etc.
According to Ayoub, the response has been so positive that attendees are flocking from various institutions in Tanzania. Many have also booked accommodation via Italy, Spain and Germany. These include an unknown Germany-based author of several Kiswahili books, Gloria Gonslaves.
Tomorrow will be a Gala Dinner occasion whereby awards shall be given to outstanding individuals. One of the expected honours is for late legendary Kiswahili writer Shaaban Robert. His granddaughter, Amina Wazir, expects to receive this posthumous accolade and zawadi on his behalf.
The day time meeting (Tanzania Convention UK Chapter, Trade and Investment Forum) is scheduled to be addressed by Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda at Royal Regency Hotel, East London, this Friday morning.
More details visit or call Ayoub Mzee on +44-7556-130219