Saturday, November 11, 2017

Rape survivor initiates global beach run to fight sexual violence

Claire McFarlane uses an unconventional way to

Claire McFarlane uses an unconventional way to spur public debate on sexual abuse 

By Roger Braun

The 18th July 1999 turned the life of Claire McFarlane upside down. This Australian citizen had moved to Paris a year before to study fine arts in the French capital. The night of the dreadful event, Ms McFarlane had just closed the bar she regularly worked at and walked down a short street to the taxi stand, as she often did. But that night she didn’t make it to the taxi. A man intercepted her way and held her back. What followed was brutal violence, strangulation, rape and the taste of death. Ms McFarlane thought it was the end of her life. But it wasn’t. After hours of sexual abuse, she found herself in a street of Paris, severely injured.

Her dreams of becoming an artist in Paris were shattered. Shortly after the assault she left Paris, without knowing who did this to her since the police couldn’t get hold of the perpetrator. Ms McFarlane wanted to forget, forget what happened that horrible night of the 18th July of 1999. She desperately tried to push her memories aside, looking for a restart button for her life by returning to Australia. She became so busy that she didn’t have the time to think about the incident. She launched herself into graphic design, corporate communication, investment banking and international trade. She went on like that for almost ten years. “I was in denial,” she says today. “I didn’t allow my wounds to heal.”

Then three weeks before the ten years mark of the sexual assault, she gets a phone call from Paris. They had caught the man who raped her back in Paris. She was called to testify in court. She recognized the man immediately. “All the memories came flashing back, my world began to crumble,” she remembers. It was the most traumatic time of her life. After a long judiciary battle the man was finally sentenced to twelve years in prison. But soon after, hardly two years had passed, he got released from prison. McFarlane continued her judiciary battle with the French justice, spent a total of over $50,000, but her appeal was rejected. Again, she felt isolated. “Not once did the system treat me with compassion,” she says. “I was the victim, but in the process, I felt like the guilty party.”

Making a difference

It was at that time when she felt that all this happened for a bigger purpose. “One day, I realised that I should use my story to make a difference in the world,” she says. Ms McFarlane started talking openly about the sexual assault. Soon after she decided to begin a completely new chapter in her life. She gave up her job for the Australian government in the office of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva and sold everything she had. She took the decision to dedicate the next years of her life to the fight against sexual violence. She wanted to become the voice of women, men and children that had been sexually abused in their life.

 Her main goal was to make people talk about their experiences with sexual violence. She cites a long row of shocking numbers, for instance the one showing that more women are affected by sexual abuse than from cancer. “It’s startling,” she says. “Sexual violence is the epidemic of our time, but still people don’t want to talk about it.” This doesn’t come as a big surprise to Ms McFarlane. She condemns an environment that doesn’t encourage victims to speak up, but to keep quiet. She denounces a “rape culture” that blames the victim, instead of giving support. “What we need is a global dialogue about sexual violence,” she says.

 And that’s exactly what she tries to promote since the 18th July of 2016. Ms McFarlane used an unconventional way to spur the public debate. She went on a run. Exactly 17 years after the near-fatal event in Paris, she ran barefoot 16 kilometres along the coast in South Africa, in the country of her birth. It was the starting point for “Footsteps To Inspire”, a global beach run with the goal of raising awareness for sexual violence.

 “Sometimes you need to tackle a problem from a completely different angle to resolve it,” she says. Ms McFarlane chose sport because almost everybody can relate to it. She describes it as something that brings communities together and has a uniting effect. It was also sports that helped Ms McFarlane through the darkest hours of her life, when she was soul-searching over what happened to her.

 So she ran 16 kilometres along the South African beach with other people who supported the cause. And little by little she found a more purposeful role. She went to places like Japan, India, England, Mexico and Fiji. She has run in 33 countries and territories so far, all over the globe. Most recently, she ran her 16 kilometres in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. About every six days she moves over to a new place. Her goal is to run in every country and territory of the world, about 230 places total. This will take about five years of her lifetime and will end in France as a symbolic end of her story. It is a restless journey on behalf of the victims of sexual violence. Ms McFarlane wouldn’t state it like this though. She refuses to talk about victims outside of the legal term. For her, people who went through this are not victims, but survivors. The use of language is important, she says. “Calling someone a survivor empowers him or her to speak openly about what happened.”

 With the run, Ms McFarlane wants to give the victims – the survivors – a safe place for an open conversation and understanding. “Many people spoke with me for the first time about a sexual assault they experienced,” she says. In the course of her global trip, she realized that it is not only women, but also men and children that are affected by sexual violence. And most of them knew their offender. She also realized that there are no stereotypes when it comes to sexual violence. Be it in terms of country, age, beliefs or sexual orientation, “sexual violence crosses all these boundaries,” Ms McFarlane says.

 The 39 years old woman moves so quickly from one place to the other, there is not much time for a great deal of organization. Before the run she usually establishes contacts with local women groups or gets contacted by them, something that becomes increasingly common with the publicity the run receives. Then they would run together. McFarlane says, it’s very rare that she is alone on her run. She recalls El Salvador where several people had actually promised to join her on the run, but eventually didn’t show up. “Based on the text messages I received that day, every car in San Salvador must have broken down that morning,” she says and laughs. It was one of the few exceptions. Normally, she is joined by five to 200 people for the run.

 Having an impact

Ms McFarlane didn’t know at the beginning if this campaign could really take off. It was at her fifth run in Papua-New Guinea where she felt that this could work out. That day, she went on the beach expecting a handful of people. But about 200 people were there, dressed up for the run. “I was so touched that I wanted to cry,” she says. In a country like Papua New-Guinea where sexual violence was so widespread, there were a lot of people who wanted to talk about it. “It was at that very moment that I realised that an insignificant rape survivor like me can make a difference in the world,” she says.

 As fascinated as people are by Ms McFarlane’s endeavour, they keep asking her one question: Don’t you want to put this story finally behind you? Ms McFarlane says, she cannot do that. “The story is part of my personality,” she says. “I am not the same person anymore.” She doesn’t mean that in a negative way. The sexual assault sent her on a mission to help other victims of sexual violence to overcome their trauma. She wants them to feel stronger by talking about it, realizing that they are survivors, not victims. “I want to inspire hopes of those who still suffer in silence,” she says. “Imagine that there is a world without sexual violence, isn’t this worth fighting for?”


 Two beach runs in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar

On her trip around the globe, Claire McFarlane reached Tanzania at the end of October. She did two beach runs in the country, one in Dar es Salaam and, since it has its own jurisdiction, one in Zanzibar. As for Zanzibar, she had to run alone since she didn’t manage to engage with local organizations. “I get the sense that there is a strong resistance to discussing the issue of sexual violence openly even though many young girls and boys are being raped,” Ms McFarlane says about the experience she had in Zanzibar.

It was all different when she ran in Kigamboni at the beachside of Dar es Salaam, since she could count amongst others on the support from the Tanzania Widows Association. Its director Rose Sarwatt was immediately taken when she heard about Ms McFarlane’s story. “Her determination and her passion for the fight against sexual violence is very inspiring,” she says.

 For Ms Sarwatt it is people like Ms McFarlane who can improve the way people talk about the issue. That’s why she and 20 other members of the association joined the run. Not all of them could keep up with the pace of Ms McFarlane, but this was obviously not what the event was all about. Ms Sarwatt was astounded when members of the widows organization came out with stories about sexual violence she had never heard about. This showed her clearly that people like Ms McFarlane can serve as important role models to give victims of gender based violence the courage to speak up.

 “We must realize that anybody can be a victim of sexual violence,” Ms Sarwatt says. “Claire’s example shows it is nothing to be ashamed of.” As a direct consequence of the beach run, Ms Sarwatt will put up a program within the Tanzania Widows Association to stimulate the discussion about sexual violence. Ms Sarwatt sees especially in Tanzania a big need for that. “Rapes are considered a curse in this country,” she says. “Nobody wants to speak about it because they are ashamed and are in fear of losing their spouses,” she says. “But if we don’t talk about it, how can we end it?” she concludes. 


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Giving women confidence, dignity and new lease on life

Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister for Health,

Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children talks to Lydia Makanda, one of the beneficiaries of CCBRT’s Mabinti Centre. With them is CCBRT head of operations, Brenda Msangi. PHOTO | HERIETH MAKWETTA 

By Elizabeth Tungaraza

It is a beautiful thing for a woman to conceive. The realization that there is a life growing inside the womb brings a lot of joy. The feeling of becoming a mother is overwhelmingly gratifying. The more the days go by the more alive an expectant mother becomes. 

For most women, giving births is a blessing. However, when something bad happens before or after giving birth, it looks like a curse. One of the most devastating diseases women lack the courage to handle is obstetric fistula.

Cherry Msangi was so terrified when she was first told that she suffers from obstetric fistula some four years ago. “It was in 2013. I locked myself up in the house for almost three months. I was very sad and frightened. I didn’t understand why a precious thing like giving birth could lead to such a horrible situation,” said Cherry when giving her testimony at a recent event.

“After undergoing operation, I saw urine excreting without my will to stop it. A quick thought came to mind; I thought maybe I have been bewitched. I didn’t tell anyone because I was ashamed of such an embarrassing situation. Worse enough, I didn’t know that it was obstetric fistula until when I saw it on TV,” narrated Cherry.

According to her, if it hadn’t been for the aired TV programme discussion centred on obstetric fistula, she could have still been suffering from the disease. “The symptoms explained on the programme were akin to what I was experiencing. I held my breath. I then decided to share it with my husband who didn’t share the same views as mine. The whole situation was like a curse,” said Cherry.

After a long discussion, Cherry and her husband decided to do some research in order to find out exactly what the problem was. They then visited Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) in Dar es Salaam to seek medical treatment. After a short period of time the situation became normal.

Suffering in silence

While Cherry was lucky not only to have received treatment but also to have known what the problem was, thousands of women and girls in Tanzania suffer from obstetric fistula without knowing what to do. Available statistics show that more than 21,000 women and girls in the country suffer from obstetric fistula with about 1,500 to 3,000 new cases every year.

 Although Cherry was among women who suffered from obstetric fistula, she is now happy that she fully recovered from the disease. She was lucky to get early treatment. While undergoing treatment at CCBRT, she was among women who were selected to join “Mabinti Centre” project, an entrepreneurial training for women with obstetric fistula. “I was happy to get the second chance in my life. Joining the training programme for a year was a fresh restart, something that totally revived me,” she said.

“The experience I got from Mabinti Centre project was useful. I was given a tailoring machine after a year of training. If I kept my suffering a secret, I could have missed such an opportunity.  I urge women who suffer from Fistula to come out and defeat the disease, it is treatable,” she said.

Mabinti centre project is part of CCBRT’s holistic model of care for women recovering from obstetric fistula. The project’s unique vocational training and holistic care programme has unlocked the confidence, potential and economic independence of 100 women previously treated for obstetric fistula at CCBRT.

Speaking during the celebration to mark 10 years of Mabinti’s growth as a social business, Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children, commended the project for transforming lives of some 100 girls, recognizing efforts done by Mama Katia Geurts, in particular, in supporting the initiative.

The minister acknowledged that myriad challenges are still facing the country in its endeavour to provide quality maternal and child healthcare services to the population. “We are determined to have dispensaries in every village and health centres in every ward at the village level. However, we have not reached the target yet,” she said when addressing the occasion.

Although obstetric fistula may not be as widely recognized as other maternal health issues, the Fistula Foundation estimates that over two million women and girls in developing countries suffer from this condition today. The World Health Organization has labelled it as “the single most dramatic aftermath of neglected childbirth.”

For medical experts, obstetric fistula is a devastating condition often resulting from obstructed labour that can cause infections, incontinence, and even paralysis. According to them, such a condition largely afflicts poor, rural, and illiterate women mostly in developing countries who lack resources and access to emergency care and surgery. The sufferers often face an additional burden of social stigma.

“Indeed, we still have a large number of women who are suffering from obstetric fistula. Some women stay at home until the last minutes of labour pain,” she noted. Most health centres in rural areas cannot perform operation or provide caesarean services to expectant mothers. Such delivery delays pregnant women experience during the rushing from one health centre to another could, according to the minister, be the cause obstetric fistula.

“Also there are a large number of women who do not attend clinic as advised by the specialist. Our human resource in the health sector is also a big challenge. The country still has shortage of about 49 per cent in human resource in the sector despite efforts to expand recruitment of health professionals,” noted the minister.

According to her, about 21,000 women are suffering from obstetric fistula and others are yet to be reached. “Obstetric fistula is still a challenge in the country as every year; between 1,500 to 3,000 new cases are reported. Out of the number, less than 1,400 women are treated annually. The only way to reach these women is to improve access to health services and improve health facilities across the country,” she noted, adding that the government is planning to spend some Sh160bn to upgrade 150 health facilities countrywide by June 2018.

She said some $36m the government has so far received from the World Bank, plus other funds that came from Canada and other health stakeholders have already been channelled to some regions to start construction of maternal surgery theatres and upgrade some health facilities.

The minister used the celebrations to challenge health stakeholders to join forces with CCBRT to reach out to over 20,000 women with obstetric fistula, most of them in remote rural areas. “Let us reach those 21,000 women in villages who have obstetric fistula. Let us reduce the number. It is possible to cut down the new cases from the current 3,000,” urged the minister, commending Cherry’s husband for supporting his wife as most of African men abandon their wives who suffer from the disease.

Urging good customer care

She also challenged health professionals to provide the best customer care to patients so that they can feel comfortable in attending clinics and build trust on the service provided.

“About 90 per cent of pregnant women who attend clinics in our health centres visit the clinics once instead of four times a year. Why are these women not coming back after their first attendance?” Ummy queried, saying: “May be it is because of poor customer care in our health facilities”.

With close cooperation with health stakeholders, the minister was confident that the country can at least achieve to increase the number of visits to at least 80 per cent. “We should be able to make them attend clinics four times a year. Currently, only 50 per cent of pregnant women attend clinics. The number should at least reach 80 per cent,” she noted.

For his part, the CCBRT CEO Erwin Telemans said the project helps to reduce stigma and barriers existing to patients with obstetric fistula. “As we celebrate 10th anniversary of Mabinti Centre, the project has imparted new life to those who had suffered from obstetric fistula, giving them more confidence, dignity and new life,” he said.

“They visit obstetric fistula patients at CCBRT hospital, help in prepare wards and share experience with patients, giving them hope that there is a life after obstetric fistula is cured,” he said.

“Today they are here to celebrate the day and display their legal business as some are former trainees who now have shops. They hail from Kigamboni and Kisarawe, in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. A year ago some of these women were wearing blue gowns in the hospital but today they own shops,” he added. 

Leokadia Namhani was only 17 years old when she had obstetric fistula in 2013. By then she was a Form Two student at Kisorya Secondary School. The 22-years-old Leokadia said she was in labour pain for three days. Her parents told her to wait a bit longer for the baby as going to hospital early would make her tired of waiting for the baby to come out.

“After seeing that there was no sign for me to deliver, they took me to a nearby dispensary where I stayed for two more days without any help from the nurses or doctors.  I didn’t know why. My parents decided to take me to another hospital in Bunda where it was later found that the child had already died. They operated on me to take remove the stillborn baby,” she recalled.

“After the operation my health condition deteriorated every day. I was seriously sick. I leaked urine everywhere I sat. I only stayed indoors. I reeked and even my relatives stigmatized me,” she said.

Leokadia didn’t know what to do, thanks to a little boy who brought home a leaflet with him, without knowing, the leaflet contained information about obstetric fistula. “After reading it I knew that the disease is curable. They took me to Sekou Toure Hospital in Mwanza. However, the treatment did not do any good. It was lucky that I met an old woman who took me to CCBRT hospital where I was operated for the third time. It only took me two weeks to get relief and recover. The entrepreneurial training offered by Mabinti Centre brought a new lease of life to me,” she added.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

A tribute to all guys who’ve been hurt

Men go through heartbreaks too

Men go through heartbreaks too 

By Christine Chacha

Social media has made everyone accessible, you can even find that weird kid from your kindergarten all you need is a name. A few weeks ago I received a friend request from an old friend. As we were catching up, he told me how I broke his heart when I rejected him way back in high school and how it made him swear off girls and dating till after college. I didn’t even really realize how much pain I caused him until he told me how my public rejection broke his heart and self-confidence.

As a female columnist it may seem like all I do is write about men who hurt women and just rant and bash men in general. But that is not the reality at all. I know for sure men get hurt by women too, it’s just harder for me to write about it because I can’t relate. I’m not a guy. However, I do know what it feels like to be hurt and how it can change someone for the worst.

I can clearly recall all the times I had my heart broken by some guy. I know how much I cried and how I was stuck in in my proverbial dark hole of emptiness and self-loathing, dreading love and anything that had to do with it. It’s a bad feeling that I wouldn’t wish on anyone but I’ve broken guys’ hearts before and I’ve hurt some really nice guys in the process. It sounds so egotistical but it’s the truth.

Obviously, I’ve never intentionally broken someone’s heart, even though some deserved it. I’ve never been a vindictive woman in a relationship and malicious person. It’s just not in me. There could be a few exes out there who may feel like I overlooked, ignored or played then but that was never my intention. There are women I know who have cheated on, hurt, abused and used their boyfriends causing lots of pain and a general resentment of women. And for that, I’m sorry.

After talking to that guy for the first time I thought about all the guys who ended up in that same dark hole because of me. My second thought was how that experience changed their dating behavior for the worse. This is what I’ve noticed about men; they take heartbreak just as bad as women do. Maybe even harder to be honest. But they’re not as expressive or emotional, so on the outside, it seems like they’re doing perfectly fine but deep down they are shattered. Whereas women are very expressive when hurt, we cry, talk, post, binge and then cry some more, men hold the pain inside and show no emotions.

Despite the difference in how we react to a heartbreak, we are very similar in the way we approach the next relationship. When you’re hurt, you build a wall because you don’t want to hurt again, your pride takes over and you end up hurting someone else in the process. It’s a vicious cycle. Every guy that has been hurt in a relationship will end up hurting the next woman he dates, it’s just how it is.

But you can choose not to be part of the cycle. The next woman is not the one who hurt you. Don’t let your broken heart affect the next woman you date. It’s a fact that there are heartless women but there are kind and wonderful women who have done nothing wrong. Don’t punish them for someone else’s mistakes and don’t be afraid to love again. You are not protecting your heart by acting like You don’t have one, you are simply missing out on love.

Be respectful, be kind, be honest and be a good person despite your dating history. Not because that person deserves that from you (sometimes they don’t), but because that’s the type of person you are.



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Breaking the silence on workplace harassment

A Dar es Salaam City tricycle vendor Ailanga

A Dar es Salaam City tricycle vendor Ailanga Elipokea transporting luggage.  PHOTO/Emmanuel Mtengwa  

By Emmanuel Mtengwa

It’s 14:20 noon and Ailanga Elipokea, a resident at Tabata Kisiwani in Dar es Salaam City, is stuck as she attempts to climb a hill heading to Tabata Twiga in Ilala District. She’s sweating in the intense heat, having waited more than half an hour to regain momentum to continue her journey on a tricycle, famously known as Guta. On board the tricycle are two heavily loaded sacks; one containing potatoes another containing charcoal and a bamboo basket filled with tomatoes on top, all these lay beside her as she fumbles for a way through.

She looks exhausted, clothes clearly in need of cleaning; on her face is a look of dejection. She starts complaining about an earlier incident that had occurred at her workplace in Mabibo Market near National Institute of Transport (NIT).

“I am resting for a moment to re-gain composure in order to climb this hill with my luggage, if I totally fail I’ll ask for some assistance from passersby,” she says as she prepares to have another go at the hill.

“I’m exhausted and angry; someone irritated me with his insults at our workstation. Regardless, I still have to reach my customers at my next destination,” Elipokea says.

The hardworking woman is a tricycle vendor who has dedicated her lifework in transporting luggage in Dar es Salaam city since 2005. The transportation means she uses, locally known as ‘Guta’ is a common choice for men, but not popular among women traders. This has set her aside from her colleagues, who often harass her for the choice she has made.

Why guta vendor?

Elipokea is one among a few women in Dar es Salaam who are seen to engage in odd jobs neglected by fellow women. This is partly due to the tough economic situation that is felt throughout the country.

“When I came to Dar es Salaam in 2005, I didn’t know that Guta service will be my destiny, my neighbour invited me to join her in training as a tailor. Initially I was excited for I knew my dream to work in Dar was coming to fruition. But when I arrived here, the reality was further from what I had expected and what was promised to me. I ended up working as a housemaid, contrary to what my neighbor had promised me,” recounts the Arusha native.

 Elipokea, says that she worked as a housemaid for about six months at Mabibo Mwisho in the city. She was promised to be paid Sh20,000 per month, a payment which she didn’t receive. She eventually decided to escape from her employer and started engaging in the work which she has maintained to date.  

Like Elipokea, Maria Abdalla, 29, who has worked as a street food vendor, commonly known as mama lishe, for nearly 10 years, left her home village for Dar es Salaam promised to land a good job.

Both Elipokea and Maria are victims of harassment at the workplace.

Workplace harassment

Elipokea has experienced many challenges at her work as a Guta vendor, but the most critical one which tops her list is harassment. She admits that she faces hostility from men, who dominate the business.

Apart from verbal insults, which are common in her line of work, Elipokea notes that she experiences sexual harassment as well, which includes unwanted physical contact from men.

“As a woman I face a lot of harassment in my daily business, sometimes it’s verbal and other times it escalates to being physical as men try to touch me inappropriately,” she speaks.

Being the only female surrounded by male colleagues at her workstation in Mabibo, Elipokea, 33, assumes that she is harassed due to her gender.

‘It really hurts me that I have to go through such harassment at my workplace. I feel devalued as a woman,” she says.

Due to such unbecoming behavior toward her, Elipokea has once been remanded at a police post after she beat a man who had insulted her. Her choice of weapon was a beer bottle.

Maria, who works as a food vendor experiences harassment from her customers, a majority of whom are male. “Customers call me insulting names such as prostitute and other similar names while I serve them food,” says Maria, a resident of Yombo in Temeke District, Dar.

A female Kariakoo telephones vendor, 28, who chose anonymity, says she experiences a lot of harassment from men at her work. ‘I experience sexual harassment; some customers me inappropriately while I try to do my job. I can’t do anything to them becuase they are men and I’m a woman,’’ she said.

Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) executive director Lillian Liundi noted that gender harassment and gender-based corruption exist in many workplaces and particularly affect women.

Why Silence

When interviewed many women allege to have experienced some form of harassment in their day to day duties, but few talk of reporting the matter to responsible authorities. Elipokea noted that among the reasons holding her back from reporting sexual harassment incidents is a fear of losing her reputation as a family mother.

“I didn’t report my cases anywhere because I see it as a shame when other people become aware of what happened to me, it will dent my image,” says the mother of four, adding that; “I think often women don't talk about such issues or don't report them to the police because we consider them as a challenge in our day to day duties, but indeed it’s something which is devastating, considering I am a someone’s wife.’’

Like Elipokea and Maria, many women have over the years had to silently put up with sexual harassment in their workplace.

What's worse is that even when victims are questioned by concerned citizens, they become hesitant to reveal the exact harassment challenges they face, and who the perpetrators are.

‘’Sometimes I feel shy to express what exactly happened,” says a 38-year-old pharmacy nurse in Mwenge, Dar es Salaam, who also sought anonymity.  

Lillian Liundi from TGNP says that violence or harassment against women unfolds at all levels in the workplace, not only to small entrepreneurs, but even within formal jobs.

‘‘Some women are demanded sexual favours when they are in the process of getting business licenses or searching for jobs. This is a big challenge when it comes to empowering women,” says the TGNP chief, adding that; “It is disturbing that there are many women experiencing harassment cases and gander-based corruption at their workplace but not all report to responsible authorities, but rather decide to suffer in silence.”

Emmanuel Sosthenes, an advocate working with a non-governmental organization based in Dar es Salaam, says that, ignorance of the law is a contributory factor affecting women from reporting harassment incidents.

“Despite of the presence of laws against gender based violence; women are still hesitant to report such cases. I think women hide such cases at times due to ignorance of the law,” says the advocate.  


What the police force says

Tanzania Police Force spokesperson, Barnabas Mwakalukwa says that women don’t report such cases of harassment because probably they don’t think that such acts qualify as illegal acts against the law.

Inspector of Police, Mohamed Mcheu, who is in charge of gender and children affairs at Tanzania Police Force Headquarters in Dar es Salaam, says that sometimes women fail to report harassment cases to protect their business and customer.

‘In my experience, many women do not report such incidents, however when you visit their place of work, you find them involved in heated exchange of insults with their customers,” he says, adding; “they think that once they report they will expel their customers.”


Lack of awareness

Although interviewed women raised their grievances against unwanted harassment, none of them filed a complaint with police or their local leader against the perpetuator(s).

Mcheu noted that sometimes women stay silent due to little understanding of their rights; “they probably refrain from reporting harassment incidents because they are not aware that harassment is a criminal offence. And this is not limited only to work place, but even within family setups where a wife faces abuse from the husband,” he states.  

The Constitution of the United Republic states that: ‘every person has the right to work’, therefore the harassment challenges women face can be defined as a violation of the Constitution and violation of human rights.

 “Sometimes we turn a blind eye to retain our customers, knowing that negative response to such incidents might result in losing the customer altogether,” says Maria, a mother of two.


Situation on gender-based violence

Violence is a daily reality for large numbers of women and children in Tanzania. According to the Global 2015 Human Development Report as cited in the Five-year National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children in Tanzania (NPAVAWC 2017/18-2021/22), 35 percent of women globally have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence, which impacts on women’s empowerment.

In Tanzania, almost four in ten women have experienced physical violence, and one in five women report experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime (from the age of 15), says the Global 2015 Human Development Report.


Mr. Mcheu says that the police’s effort is to ensure violence against women comes to a complete end. “We have established special desks in police offices which cases of gender-based violence and this has paved the way for police to know how to handle such cases when reports,’’ says the Police inspector, adding that; ‘’through gender desks every region has their plan and arrange campaigns aimed at ending or reducing violence against women and children. Through these gender desks there has been an increase of reporting on violence cases.”

Challenges in addressing violence against women

The National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children in Tanzania (NPAVAWC 2017/18-2021/22), indicates that among the challenges in addressing common forms of violence against women and children is poor cooperation among the police and victims.

Inspector of Police Mcheu admits that there are a lot of challenges in combatting gender based violence. But the most critical one is lack of cooperation from victims. He says police officers find difficulty dealing with perpetrators because many victims do not report the incidents. Furthermore, those who report fear to testify.

‘’The number of those who report incidents is lower in comparison to incidents that occur. Even some reported cases do not reach court as victims who report their complaints disappear due to lack of confidence to give witness testimonies,” says Mcheu.

Another challenge identified by the police in handling cases of gender violence is budget constraint that adversely affects tackling the issue.

“Our desire is to reach many women through our workshop and seminars but inadequate budget is still a challenge affecting our strategies to end violence against women,’’ explains Mr Mcheu.

How to curb women violence

The 2016/2017 UN Women’s Annual Report points that realizing the 2030 Agenda of achieving peaceful societies and safe, sustainable cities as well as eradicating poverty depends on ending violence against women. “Ending violence requires laws and services geared towards protection and the provision of support to survivors. Prevention of violence by addressing its root causes is equally important. And people from all walks of life, men and women, must mobilize to say no to violence,” says the UN Women Report.

Liundi acknowledges that TGNP has made impressive progress both in the fight against women violence and sexual corruption in the promotion of women.

“Through TGNP we have been praised on our commitment in sensitise women to realize their rights and promoting gender equality through seminars and our gender festival,” says Liundi from TGNP.

Advocate Sosthenes states that seminars and campaigns will enable women to understand the laws that protect them and use such laws as a shield. ‘‘Campaigns and seminars are inevitable in a bid to promote women rights and laws, this will encourage them to take action against the perpetuators,” he said, adding; “I encourage women to report these incidents to their local leaders or the police.”

Through police patrols around places congested by small scale entrepreneurs, there will be a reduction of cases of sexual harassment.  

“We conduct different seminars and workshops in which people concerned participate. This helps victims to identifiy their rights but also for perpetrators, this is an opportunity for them to understand how serious their crime is, and hopefully opt not to do it,” says Police Force spokesperson Mwakalukwa. 


Reporting sexual harassment case

Victims are supposed to report the matter to the local authorities or directly to the police post where they will meet gender desks. They can start from local government offices, social welfare office, ward executive’s office, or police posts.

Victims can also visit the Police Force website ( and report violence by selecting the type of crime she wants to report.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Death is a reminder of what’s important


By Christine Chacha

I got a shocker this week when I logged into Facebook; I found out a longtime friend I was in high school with had passed away suddenly from birth related complications. Only a few week before she had posted pictures of her baby shower surrounded by family and friends. She was very young, healthy, and so full of life…and then boom, she’s gone. It didn’t feel real. How did this happen? I started going through Facebook, gathering whatever details I could, and I completely lost it when I found out she had left her day old baby. I just sobbed my heart out.

Death is always tragic, more so when it happens to a woman who was just about to have a baby and looking forward to life. I was completely heartbroken over the news despite the fact that we hadn’t spoken or seen each other in years. But I still found myself tremendously affected more than I would have anticipated, and I realized it was partly because of the circumstances of her death and partly because her death was a reality check for me.

We hear about people dying every day and we know we’re all going to die one day yet, when it happens to someone we know, it’s the biggest shock in the world. One of my biggest fears is losing someone I love, which seems crazy because it’s inevitable, but as I read her husband’s posts on Facebook I felt his pain in a way I cannot describe. How do you move on from this? Where and how will he find the strength? How will he cater for a new baby after losing his wife?  I couldn’t get the answers.

I instantly began thinking of all the people I love and what I would do if I lost any of them. I called my parents and texted a few of my friends to let them know I love them (I do it often, but it was deeper this time). Sometimes we take our loved ones for granted because they are here without realizing we could lose them anytime. Death doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter if you’re a horrible person or Mother Teresa, if you eat healthy or live on burgers, if you say your prayers every day or don’t believe in God –when it’s your time to go, you’re gone. And that is so terrifying.

We always hear, “Live today like it’s your last.” But how many of us really do that? How many of us really make the most of each day? How many of us would be full of regret when death knocks on our door? How many of us would be completely content?

I have been thinking about my relationships with people ever since–Is there anything I need to say to someone? Is there anything still lingering on my mind? In my heart? If they died tomorrow, would there be something I wish I told them? If I died right now, what would people say and think about me? It’s all very overwhelming, I know, but I truly thought about it.

To my friend Gwen, I’m sure you didn’t expect me to cry for you. You definitely didn’t expect me to write about you. But here I am. I watched you from a distance, as most do now, thanks to social media. I wish we talked more and I would have told you how proud I was of the woman you were becoming. My heart and prayers go out to your loved ones especially your husband and child. I can only imagine what they’re going through, but I know your spirit is still here to guide and strengthen them. I wish you could see just how many people you touched in such a short time. RIP.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

This is my breast cancer survival story

Breast cancer survivor Praxeda Pande

Breast cancer survivor Praxeda Pande 

By Beldina Nyakeke

Musoma. October is Breast Cancer awareness month, and even though several activities and initiatives have been conducted to increase awareness to the public concerning the deadly disease, more effort is still needed, especially in form of public education and awareness to rural women so that they too can seek medical care at early stages.

A report carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children of the United Republic of Tanzania predicts that by 2030 there will be an 82 per cent increase in number of new breast cancers diagnosed in Tanzania.

The report further states that following cervical cancer, breast cancer is the second most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in Tanzania.

Praxeda Pande, 47, is a breast cancer survivor living in Musoma in the Lake Zone. In April 2010 Pande felt a lump in her left breast after touching it. Three days before she found a lump in her breast, she had gone to Mara Regional Hospital for cervical cancer screening that was carried out by the Medical Women Association of Tanzania  (Mewata).

She explained that even though she is a nurse by profession, she had no habit of regularly checking her breasts by either visiting the hospital or doing self-examination, but on that day it happened that she touched her breasts in the morning and found a lump. She was very shocked to find the lump, even though she wasn’t experiencing any pain at that time. 

She decided to go to the regional hospital where she works as a nurse and met with the doctor who was given a refresher course concerning cancer in general by Mewata and she explained to him that she has found a lump in her left breast, the doctor told her that it was normal and that the lump has no effect at all.

Being cautious about her health after finding the lump, Pande didn’t believe the doctor that the lump is harmless. She demanded medical care and the doctor administered medication for Pande to use for ten days and he insisted that after the dosage was finished, then the lump will have disappeared.  

“I was very anxious when I first found the lump in my breast. Even though I had no pain I kept having these thoughts running through my mind. It was a very tough time for me, one that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I thought that my life was coming to an end sooner than expected,” she explains.  


No change

After ten days of taking medication, the lump was still there. Pande then went back to the hospital and after discussing with her doctor on May 5, 2010 it was agreed that she will have to undergo an operation to remove the lump. The operation was successful and the lump was removed. A sample of the lump was taken for breast cancer diagnosis at Bugando Hospital in Mwanza region. This exercise required a month for results to be confirmed. 

“After one month, a colleague from Mara Regional Hospital was on official duty in Bugando, I asked him to help bring back my results from the test. I was very nervous, not knowing what the results will say,” Pande recounts.

Ms Pande says that her colleague had to go through the results and he was shocked to realise that his fellow workmate had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It took him some days before he garnered the courage to hand over the results to her. Pande was distraught upon receiving the results and finding out that indeed she had breast cancer.

“At first I thought that maybe they had made a mistake and that the results weren’t mine. I double checked the name just to be sure. I couldn’t believe that I tested positive for breast cancer. My world came tumbling down. I started sweating with fear, I had to control myself from completely losing it, my mind was going wild,” she says, adding, “After a while I pulled myself together and went with my results to the hospital matron.”

After arriving at the matron’s office, she was then taken to see the doctor. The doctor was shocked upon reading the results; he immediately referred Pande to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) for more checkups and further treatment.

This referral shades light on the state of medical care in other regions in Tanzania, Pande, a resident of Mara region had to travel all the way to MNH in Dar es Salaam so as to get required medical care. There are a host of women who fail to get good medical care in other regions due to lack of health facilities.

One week after the referral Pande went to MNH in order to continue with other medical procedures. On June 26, 2010 she was operated on, two weeks later she started cancer treatment at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI). 

Not enough awareness

After receiving treatment, Pande was later able to go back to Mara region. Today she is in charge of a cancer unit at Mara Referral Hospital. She says that despite the efforts taken by different stakeholders in collaboration with the government, many women are still not aware of cancer and often go to the hospital at advanced stages of the disease.

Pande says that there are a number of factors which hinder women in rural Tanzania from seeking medical care when the disease is still in its infancy. A number of key challenges impede availability and access to care. These challenges result in fragmented, unclear and inefficient  clinical pathways for women with breast health concerns  and create significant delays in detection, diagnosis and treatment.

She points to myths and traditional beliefs as being part of the hindrances deterring early treatment. “Most women in rural areas prefer seeking medication from witch doctors, or using local herbs than going to a hospital,” she says.

Another factor that she pointed out is the cost of treatment. She says that breast cancer treatment can be very costly thereby making it not an option for many women across the country. She was able to afford the treatment because she has health insurance, but the case is different for many women. Most women living in rural areas depend on farming to sustain their living, and cannot afford health insurance. Such a situation further aggravates the painful reality of having a majority of women who don’t get breast cancer treatment on time. 

Pande explains that more inclusive awareness campaigns need to be carried out so that the community may be aware of the effects of breast cancer as well as how they can overcome it, including empowering the community so that they can have health insurance.

She says that experience shows that women, especially from rural areas, go to hospitals at a very advanced stage of the cancer and that once they are attended to by doctors, the only option that is left is to remove the affected breast (mastectomy) as well as recommend chemotherapy treatment. But after removal of the breast and chemotherapy, the pain still persists, at times leading to death, a situation that has resulted to negative perception on medical treatment.

“Some women have a misguided perception that once you go to the hospital for cancer treatment, you are bound to die. But what most don’t acknowledge is the fact that these cases of fatalities are for patients who go to the hospital at an advanced stage of the disease,” she says. It is as a result of this that some women opt to go to witch doctors. “Later they realize they made a mistake when the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body,” Pande speaks. 

She says that some residents of Musoma have urged the government to invest in containing cancer as it has done for HIV/Aids campaigns; this is one of the ways the situation of breast cancer can be addressed.


More awareness needed

Mr Felix Kalisa, a resident of Musoma and advocate for cancer awareness says that strategies that are used by the government and other stakeholders to address HIV/Aids should also be used to address and create awareness to the community concerning the growing threat of breast cancer and cancer in general.

He said that currently organizations that are fighting against cancer are found within the big cities while other areas have been left without any help, a situation contributing to reasons why the public is not well aware of the dangers of cancer.

Medical reports note that cancer is deadlier than HIV/Aids but the community tends to believe that HIV is the most dangerous disease and that is due to endless campaigns carried out countrywide concerning the spread and dangers of HIV, but if such efforts are applied on cancer as well, the community will be made more aware and take appropriate measures at early stages.

“We have free medication for HIV in form of ARVs, but when seeking cancer screening a patient has to travel a long distance to access the screening. In rural areas, accessing screening for breast cancer is a hurdle. This inevitably reduces the chances of having breast cancer survivors in Tanzania,” Kialisa speaks. 

He further stated that even the hospitals that provide cancer treatment are not easily accessible, explaining that the only hospital that is popular is Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salam, adding that due to financial constraints many people fail to go to the hospital to get the right medication, thus resorting to alternative means of medication.

Furthermore, protocols and guidelines for breast cancer early detection, diagnosis and treatment are not standardized. An inefficient and hierarchical referral system adds delays and costs and increases rates of attrition. Economic issues—both at institutional and at individual levels—also present significant barriers to care. While health care for women diagnosed with breast cancer is free of charge, women are still expected to pay for essential services and commodities.

Kalisa suggests for the government to make huge investment on cancer so that services may be readily available at least at regional level and that it will be wastage of time creating awareness to the community on the importance of screening while the treatment itself cannot be easily accessed.

Another resident, Mr Bigambo Binaisa said that it has reached the time where government has to introduce cancer centers at regional levels so that citizens, especially women who have a lot of complications, including breast and cervical cancer can get the services they require promptly.

Having to travel to Dar es Slaam for treatment has led to many fatalities because some families cannot even foot travel expenses to the big city.

MaraRegional Medical Officer, Dr Francis Mwanisi said that 469 women were found with breast cancer out of 111,733 women who were examined from January 2016 to September 2017 in the region.

He said once a woman is screened and found positive with breast cancer she’s immediately engaged in treatment because breast cancer is curable if diagnosed at an early stage.

Dr Mwanisi said that most patients from the hospital have been given referral to Bugando, Muhimbili and Ocean road for more and advanced treatment.

He said that this year Mara Regional Referral Hospital started providing breast cancer treatment, especially for those detected at early stages. The hospital has managed to conduct surgery to four women at the hospital and that all surgeries were successfully done.

He said that is as much as there are screening facilities within the region, turnout is too low and that’s due to various factors including lack of awareness in the community.

According to the doctor, another factor hindering treatment is lack of skilled health workers, especially at peripheral areas, who can identify women suffering from breast cancer at early stages so that they can link them with regional referral hospital for further procedures.

 In order to create awareness on the importance of screening, the regional health management was in the process of organising a mass campaign that will involve awareness on screening and that currently they are looking for funds so that the exercise can be conducted as soon as possible.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

She battled to get out of ancient tradition

Health effects of FGM can be quite severe

Health effects of FGM can be quite severe 

By Jonathan Musa

Despite a police crackdown to stop female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that affects millions of girls in Tanzania, cases of FGM are still being reported.

Woman traveled to Ng’ereng’ere village in Tarime district where we got to meet a woman who has transformed her life after leaving the ancient tradition.

  She is with her granddaughter trying to convince her on the impacts of undergoing female genital mutilation; Meet Paulina Matinde, a 67 year old woman living in Ng’ereng’ere village, Sirari ward, Tarime Urban district, who has been a female circumciser for the past twenty three (23) years. She says it is high time people get to know of the consequences female genital mutilation has on the victimised children.

The elderly woman informs that her life is now in jeopardy as the village clan elders want to punish her to the extent of deciding a death sentence upon her, claiming that she has gone against her obligations by deciding to quit the practice.

“I decided to stop this kind of ritual obligation because I wanted to turn to God, I have been doing it knowing that it is illegal before the government and holly books, too,” Matinde acknowledges.

She says, before marriage while in her teenage years, she never imagined involving herself in such mythical inclination. She inherited the profession from her mother in-law who died of natural causes due to old age.

“Back at my home, none of my relatives participated in this kind of tale. My parents were Christians hence such ceremonies had no room in our house,” she speaks.

In as much as Matinde got to practice circumcision ritual, her inheritance of the practice didn’t stem from family lineage. She got in to the practice through her mother-in-law after the passing of her husband.

“In mid-60’s, I got married to a man from a different clan, my parents had no problem with that because my prospective husband had enough dowry to pay for me. Since I had fallen in love with the man, I too could not hesitate to take the chance to become his wife,” Matinde speaks.

 The Abasweta, Abangurweme and many more clans in Mara region, make up Kurian community. She was therefore a Msweta from Kilumi, Serengeti district.

Matinde informs that her wedlock never lasted for more than ten years before her husband unfortunately passed away in Morogoro where he worked in masonry.

In regard to the taboos from both clans which make up Kurian community, Matinde could no longer go back to her home as the dowry had already been paid and there was no alternative to reverse the protocols.

“I had to accept the deeds that I will have to stay and raise my two children whom I was blessed with from my marriage to my late husband. I had to begin a new life, staying close to my mother in-law who was the only person to support me to make ends meet,” she says.


Getting involved in the ritual

During the circumcision ceremonies, her mother in-law would encourage her and order her to carry some of her working tools towards the ‘field’ where hundreds of young ladies waited for the razor-blade, seated in a queue.

She said during this moment, the mother-in-law, who was old enough to be attributed full respect would show her how the tools are being handled and also the kind of clothes one needs to put on to perform the exercise which takes place after every three years (three-year-seasoned exercise).

“When my mother in-law passed on in early 90s, the clan elders automatically chose me because the deceased had proposed to them behind my back that if she happens to die anytime, anywhere, I (Matinde) will carry on with her duties. I had to accept but keeping in mind that I won’t do it for long,” she speaks..

Matinde states that the money received from performing this exercise is insignificant because it cannot help on development. One will eat and keep livestock which cannot be sold or be exchanged for anything. A lot of sacrifices are being demonstrated before the whole event yet there is no reward to show for it.

“I noted that the Sh10, 000 paid per head to perform this cold-hearted practice first passes through the hands of clan elders before being handed to me. So I knew that it is partly to this reason that the money does little to help. It is so rare for someone with deep-rooted belief in rituals to think of anything economic or developmental,” she says. 

Matinde knew that abandoning to perform the ritual would cost her in one way or another. She had plans to quit earlier than she did, only that her plans hadn’t fully materialised and her children were still young, hence needed her guidance and presence. 

It is due to divine intervention that she finally got the guts to quit performing FGM.. 

“I had a calling from up above which warned me against practicing such a gruesome ritual. Additionally, I knew I was committing an unmitigated sin by victimising innocent girls,” she confesses.


Why she got involved

Matinde says due to fear of dying, she couldn’t defy what the clan elders had decided. After her name was presented forward by her late mother-in-law, she couldn’t back down because the elders had also agreed with the suggestion of her taking over the practice.

The elders saw such a duty as a will from their god and so Matinde had to continue the custom lest she leave her fatherless children orphans. 

“What normally happens behind such customary rituals is something that only a few people understand. Most people do not understand what traditional circumcisers go through, the sacrifices made are so frightening and if you do not do as you are told you might end up losing your life in the process,” a sad Matinde speaks.

The now retired traditional circumciser says she felt guilty for performing such a ritual. She wanted her heart to be in the right place before she passes on. She then made a bold decision to quit the practice, a move which she knew would come with a lot of consequences.

“My mother in-law died before repenting, I never wanted to follow her footsteps but instead seek for forgiveness before my time on this earth is up. Right now I sleep at the village executive leader’s domain in fear of attacks from the clan elders. I just come home during the day when it’s bright because I know they cannot harm me in broad day light,” a fearful Matinde explains.



Effects identified during mutilation

Women who undergo FGM are faced with very many problems; from being tortured psychologically by the whole experience, to the physical agony they go through during the exercise itself. They have to endure the pain of  genital mutilation and are not taken to the hospital for any medical care.

“Most men from Kurian community believe that circumcised women have low levels of sexual appetite and hence stay clear of men thereby avoiding contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. However, they forget that such an unprofessional exercise, performed under the most extreme of circumstances exposes women to other health hazards such as contracting cervical diseases, especially when giving birth for the first time,” she says.


What she does for a living today

Apart from modern farming on maize and other seasonal crops, Matinde has managed to open up a shop. Her business, despite of little income, is better than the money she used to make as a traditional circumciser. For this, she would have to wait for about two to three years to make the money, and at the end of it all, the money wouldn’t be spent on anything significant, she knew it came with strings attached. 

“During the circumcision event, I used to make up to Sh2million but within a month after the exercise the whole money would be over. I clearly noted that due to the involvement of elders and the channels the money would pass through before getting to me, it had to have some problems, therefore it’s better I sweat for the little I’m making now, as long as it’s genuinely made,” she notes.

Her children now also support her in any way. Since she changed, she has never thought of recycling the vice again.


What experts say on FGM

Dr. Joseph Nyakoba, a health Specialist at Shirati Hospital, Rorya District hospital in Mara says FGM involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, hemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or bacterial infection, urine retention and open sores.

“It doesn’t have any advantage at all but instead it initiates health complications to our children,” Dr. Nyakoba says.

Dr Leonard Subi, a Mwanza Medical Regional Officer, says female genital mutilation can lead to death, severe chronic pains, urinary tract infections, fistula, incontinence, infertility, Painful intercourse and painful septicemia.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Do not lose sleep over body shamers

You should be proud of your body size

You should be proud of your body size 

By Christine Chacha

Having been out of work for a few months for maternity leave, I was overwhelmed by the attention that I got when I got back a few weeks ago. Everyone exclaimed at how different I look and I became increasingly frustrated as they commented on my weight gain. It doesn’t help that each morning has been a struggle as I look for something to wear. See I amassed outfits over the course of my entire career life and now thanks to childbirth none of them fit.

Nowadays there is intense pressure for women to look fab during pregnancy and once the baby is born it seems as if the race is on to get back into pre-pregnancy jeans, to shed the weight gained during pregnancy and to be beach ready – almost on discharge from hospital, it’s ridiculous!

I too succumbed to the pressure to bounce back quick but despite working out and eating healthy, I could not shake the baby weight fast enough to get back to my original size. I became increasingly self-conscious every time I had to leave the house to go anywhere. People constantly told me, “You’re young, you’ll snap back into shape quick” but there was no ‘bounce back’. The media didn’t help, with constant photos of celebs appearing to rapidly shrink back to their pre-baby size weeks after giving birth. I have just had enough of these quick post baby bounce backs that I see on social media. 

Then one day it hit me that I do not owe anyone a flat stomach, a beach body or a fab post baby body. I thought what if I can’t lose the baby weight fast enough or at all? The media is quick to show us the “hottest Hollywood post-baby bods” forming an impression that losing baby weight is such an easy thing to do but what they do not show us is the teams of dieticians, personal chefs, trainers and sometimes surgeons working round the clock to help celebs burn off the kilos.

Can society just give women a break!! Actress Anne Hathaway once said, the only appropriate thing to say to any new mom is, “You look great!”, if you have nothing positive to say to me please shut up. I can totally relate how frustrating it can be to explain the slow body change after having a baby. It took ten months to grow a baby in your body, to gain all of that weight, there is no way you will go back to normal overnight. We need to give ourselves a break and stop buying into the media fascination with women’s bodies.

Today I looked at my body in the mirror and realized what my body just did; I created life!! Who cares how long it takes to bounce back? I just made a human being? Why can’t people focus on that and celebrate women’s strength to bring life?? Instead, society and media celebrate the model who bounced back in a month eating fruits and salads.

In the real world, most women will never get their pre-baby bodies back, their lives will never be the same don’t recall our mothers being worried about their post baby body. In fact in the beginning no one knew anything about what they were supposed to look like. There was no perfect body or body goals. Then came the media with the perfect body and now we all aspire to be something the media created.

So instead of aspiring to achieve an unrealistic image that the media is forcing on me, I have decided that body bounce-back is not a thing in my world anymore. Body empowerment is. Loving who I am at this moment is my goal. I will work out and eat well not to shed baby weight quick but because I need to stay healthy.

All women have insecurities and they will be exaggerated with age and life milestones particularly childbirth but it’s up to us to decide how to respond to the body shamers. Society may not be kind to women but I challenge you to love yourself at every stage of your life.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Young lady is here to work but then, is she?

Even as customers stand in pub, mhudumu remains

Even as customers stand in pub, mhudumu remains seated 

By Wa Muyanza

You arrive at this neighbourhood grocery and head for the counter. There isn’t a single empty stool, but that doesn’t stop you from ordering a drink, for you need it urgently. You had a long day toiling for your daily ugali and that of the mini-tribe which shares a roof with you. You badly need to unwind.

 Agnes the akaunta serves you promptly with your usual small, warm Serengeti, which you proceed to imbibe straight from the bottle—trumpet blowing style, as we call it in Kiswahili. Kupiga tarumbeta.

By the way, the trumpet style has been your preferred way of drinking beer for years now, following the introduction of the “small” bottles measuring 3.5mls and below.  Very good way of imbibing if you’re the Wa Muyanza type of drinker, a man who’s careful not to drink much,  more so if it’s not free beer.

Back to the story… you’re standing and resting your hands on the counter as you do justice to your Serengeti, not because you enjoy drinking in this position, Andy Capp style. The reason is, as you stated above, there’s no free stool for you. Soon, however, the manager appears from nowhere and asks, “Mzee, how come you’re standing?”

“I’m standing because, as you can see, you people have run short of stools,” you say. The manager looks this way and that way, then, takes note of this young woman in a white blouse and red miniskirt, seated on a stool.

You had noticed her earlier too—how could anyone miss her, noisy as she is. You’re awed by the way she’s commanding the attention of everybody around her.

Speaking on top of her voice, she has been arguing, making jokes and laughing with those seated to her left and right and those who, like you, are just standing with drinks in their hands. What a customer, you had wondered!

“You, Sihaba! How come you’re occupying a stool while all these customers are standing?” says the manager, “now, get off the stool and bring it here for our mzee, quick!”

Oh, my! You say to yourself. So the noisy drinking lady at the counter is actually an employee here! Well, we say in Bongo, kazi na dawa. Which is supposed to mean that, one doesn’t just work, one has to, at the same time, enjoy oneself too.

Actually, most drinking establishments in Bongo seem to have a policy that encourages attendants, especially lady attendants, to mingle and mix liberally with patrons in order to push up sales. Cases of barmaids getting sloshed courtesy of generous patrons are not infrequent.

Sihaba gets off the stool as ordered by her boss and brings it to you, saying: “Karibu mzee… sorry I never noticed you didn’t have a stool.”

 Well, you’re not in a mood to lecture anyone on the obvious… like telling her that the idea of sitting on a stool, for whatever reason, is not acceptable for an employee in grocery, irrespective of whether or not there’s customer who needs it.

In her case today, there were actually numerous drinkers at the counter who were standing for lack of stools. And she was occupying one!

Nor are you in a mood to tell her that one shouldn’t drink while on duty, even if that duty entails selling drinks. She ought to know that, you tell yourself, otherwise she has no business working as a grocery attendant.

You don’t say anything that would sound like a lecture, for this is Bongo, where the maxim—the customer is king—doesn’t seem to make sense to many of our service providers. Your response to her is, “It’s okay.”

You know of a grocery owner cum manager in your side of town who, intoxicated by the relative success of his outfit during the past regime, reached a point of telling unsatisfied drinkers to go elsewhere for their booze.

“You don’t have to drink here, there’re many bars in Dar for you to choose from…this is a free country,” he was apt to telling any grumbling customer.

Poor chap! He’s now, as we say, reading the number. Anaisoma namba. Hardly anybody, including his one-time most regular customers who doubled as friends, comes for a drink or nyama choma at his grocery.

Word has it he’s looking for someone to buy the establishment so that he can go back to the village, but as we all know and as everybody readily says these days, pesa imepotea.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Human beings are of more value alive than dead… always

By Marete Wa Marete

Here is a typical Tanzanian scenario; you have lately been unwell, perhaps hospitalized. Your NSSF and NHIF along with your savings have been depleted to the last farthing. Having pulled out of the misfortune, you are trying to pick up bits and pieces of your life. All that time, your relatives have been too “busy” running around organizing zillions of fancy weddings that will perhaps end in bitter divorces. None of them even bothered to make a single telephone call – to at least comfort you in the time of dire need.

Had the worst happened, that is if you had died, fancy cars would have littered your compound and those of your neighbors’. Wailing relatives would have spent nights, some feigning grief untold, mourning and making ambulance wails. Your ever green grass compound would have been trampled to baldness. Funeral contributions would lavishly have been given.  Beer and food would have flowed. In your lifetime, you have never seen the inside of an aircraft but this time round, your casket would have been stacked together with other stuff in the aircraft l, luggage cabin. You probably would have taken your last kingly ride in a sinister black Mercedes or Bentley hearse driven by a stocky man in a black uniform. As soon as the grave has been covered with a ton of soil and concrete, relatives will pat themselves on their shoulders for a job well done and disperse. That’s life. It would have been a perfect occasion for your relatives to showcase their wealth!

Thank God that you have cheated death and pulled out sickness and you are recuperating. But sooner than you have started footing that school fees bill and house rent arrears accumulated during your sickness, than fancy wedding cards start flowing. Endless and lengthy phone calls even at the wee hours of the night start flowing. Wedding meetings will ensue and the wage you call  a salary will be all committed to “worthy” causes of marrying off your daughters in the form of “send offs”, so-called “kitchen parties”, lavish weddings and mumbo-jumbos.

To me, all these acts of self-aggrandizement are vain and stupid to say the least. I have never come to terms with the convoluted notion of attaching more value to the dead than the living. I simply cannot comprehend how human beings can be so myopic and insensitive not to see that a living human being is of more value alive than dead!   


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Real grim world of domestic workers

Housemaids deserve to be treated well

Housemaids deserve to be treated well 

By Devotha John

Housemaids are of utmost importance in many families. As many married couples are workers who tend to leave in the morning and come back at dusk, the significance of these domestic workers should not be ignored.

 We’ve had of different issues that occur in household set ups that are directly or indirectly connected to househelps. Often times we are quick to blame the househelp for these problems, but there’s always another side to the story.

 Experience has shown that many employers of domestic workers do not accord most of the labour law rights to employees, and research has shown that this is due to poverty.               

Ashura Mohammed*, 17, a resident of Muheza District, Tanga Region, works as housemaid in Dar es-Salaam.  She accuses her employer for not paying her wages for a year and three months. She was supposed to be paid Sh50, 000 per month.

“A friend of mine linked me  and after two days the employer sent me bus fare. I travelled all the way from Tanga to Tegeta, Dar-es Salaam to a family of five people,” she says.

The employer had three children; the first born was in Grade Four, and the last born was two-month- old, the other members were the second born, mother and father of the children.

 “I love children.  That’s why it was not difficult to work for the family. I regarded the young ones as my siblings,” says Ashura.

But as months went on, Ashura was surprised that she wasn’t getting her monthly pay. After working for months, she managed to negotiate with her employer to pay her three-months salary in arrears. 

She notes that her boss promised to pay her the remaining amount the moment she planned to leave for her rural home.

“I had no option but to accept her idea even though I was in dire need of cash to send back home to my mother, who depended on me to provide for her. Unfortunately my plea was not honoured,” she notes.

Ashura was told by her employer to include food and clothing expenses as part of her wage. 

 With no one to turn to, the helpless housemaid sought help from the public by asking neighbours to talk to her employer regarding her unpaid dues. Unfortunately Ashura’s employer remained adamant on her stance to clear outstanding wages.

After talking to her mother back in the village, Ashura made a decision to leave Dar es Salaam in search of greener pastures.

“I then told my boss I needed money because I was about to leave, she asked for more time to collect the remaining unpaid wages, this took other several months. I kept working without receiving any pay,” she says.  Furaha Chaula, 20, is a housemaid who has been overwhelmed with house chores. She says she only sleeps for 5 hours a day.

“My employer does not pay me enough. He sometimes give me little cash, which cannot not cater for my needs,” Furaha says, adding, “When I came from Mtwara, we negotiated that she would pay me Sh60, 000 per month but when I started working she changed her mind. She accused me of being a bad housemaid, noting that I was divulging house secrets outside the courtyard, something which wasn’t true.”


Domestic workers agents

Housemaids wake up early in the morning and go to bed during wee hours.

According to Zakayo Ngimbudzi, a director of Ngimbudzi Investment Company (a domestic workers agency), employers should treat house maids well by paying them salaries promptly.

“Before hiring a maid, ensure that you have thoroughly gone through her background before embarking on negotiating the salary. It is risky employing a person to take care of your children while you don’t even trust them.

He noted he had established an organization which fights for housemaids’ rights.

“I have been doing this job since 1995 and the way I see it, the problem originates from both sides; employer and the employee. These girls never speak the truth because of the way they are treated. Also some employers are rude. They do not pay them on time,” he notes.

Being a maids agent, Zakayo talks of how he agency tries to deal with domestic challenges that house maids face; “For example, we write a letter to the employer to ask him to come to our office. Initially, we try to resolve the problem amicably, without going to court, so that good relations can be maintained. If that is not possible, we go further,” he explains. Zawadi Mushi,a mother of four, is of the view that housemaids need to be treated like any other family member. She says she pays her house maid Sh60, 000 and rewards her with an extra Sh20, 000 whenever she performs well, adding that, whenever her house maid gets sick she foots her medical bill.

“I always make sure that I pay her on time and ensure she signs and in case I’m in cash woes, I tell her to be patient for a few days,” says the bakery owner in Tabata.

The act of documenting pay is highly important because a claim of omission to pay can be made by the housemaid, or the employer can claim to have issued pay when reality is they didn’t.

The former scenario is what Pamela Kaheza, 36, a Dar es Salaam resident who was living with her children before her maid decided to quit faced. Upon getting a new house maid, Pamela later faced another problem when her maid claimed to not have been paid for six months, while Pamela says that she paid salary every end of the month. Such contradictions can be avoided by ensuring that upon each payment, there’s documentation to act as evidence.

Housemaids are at times forced to take extreme measures to safeguard their interests if they at all feel that they are being treated unfairly. Most of them do not know the legal recourse at their disposal when faced with an injustice.


Wages according to the law

Despite the hefty task that housemaids are expected to execute on a daily basis, employers still pay them meager wages which do not cater for most of their needs. Most families pay them Sh40, 000 to Sh70, 000 per month and sometimes they pay them without keeping record, a situation which causes conflict. But what does the law say about payment for domestic workers?

According to the Labour Institutions Act, under Regulation of Wages and Terms of Employment Order, 2010, a domestic worker is defined as any person employed wholly or partly as a cook, house servant, waiter, butler, maidservant, valet, bar attendant, groom, gardener, washman or watchman.

Conservation, Hotels, Domestic, Social Services and Consultancy

Workers (CHODAWU) education officer, Salum O. Kaumba says salaries for domestic workers are divided into three categories as per the 2013,


Government Notice (GN).183.201.

Domestic Workers employed by Diplomats and Potential businessmen; these are entitled to at least Sh150,000 per month, while those working for government officers including ministers (entitled officers) are paid at least Sh130,000.

Domestic Workers other than those employed by diplomats and potential businessmen and entitled officers who are not residing in the household of the employer are supposed to be paid Sh80,000 per month. The Government Notice states that domestic workers residing in the household of the employer are to be paid Sh40,000 monthly salary. 

Mr Kaumba notes that the employers of domestic workers who live with them should also provide health coverage. He added that Domestic workers are confirmed as workers like any other and should be registered to the workers union association.

Kaumba said before employing domestic workers at your household the employer must give him/her a contract which states how much they will be paid and their working conditions including how many hours daily.

He further noted that the workers need to be provided with payslip as evidence of monthly payment or in case of lack of a payslip they should have a diary where they write each monthly payment and a signature as evidence of payment. “This helps to avoid conflict in case either of the parties is not truthful,” he said.

In case of breach of contract, the house help who is humiliated, tortured or fails to be paid is required to report at the CHODAWU offices and the same applies to the employer so as to find a solution amicably.

 “There are different ways of solving the problem when it occurs starting with ward officers then (CHODAWU) but if a solution cannot be found they will be sent to the government’s commission for mediation and decision making, the high court labor unit,” he said.

Further adding, “Domestic workers should come to register at our organization. We have different domestic workers registered under us and some of them attend different seminars regarding their career.

Speaking about CHODAWU, Mr Kaumba said the organisation was registered in 1995 like any other workers organization and the aim is to defend, promote and protect the rights and interests of all sectors of the industry and consult with the government and employers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) started a campaign to safeguard the interests of domestic workers. According to ILO manual to promote ILO convention no. 189 (Domestic Workers Convention) and build domestic workers’ power, it is stated that domestic workers do not benefit from adequate legal protection in most countries, and their isolated working conditions place them among the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.s

The manual talks of campaigns as one of the way to safeguard domestic workers’ rights. “Campaigns provide opportunities to raise awareness among public officials and the public at large, shift perceptions of domestic workers and the industry in general, and inform domestic workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities,” it states.



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Relationship should not feel like sacrifice

You can be in a relationship but still be free

You can be in a relationship but still be free 

By Christine Chacha

“I just love my freedom and I don’t want to lose myself,” says the single lady. One of the greatest fear of the single lady is losing herself and her independence once she says “I do”. The married do not necessarily paint a beautiful picture of married, you will hear them lament about missing their old life and their inability to do what they what whenever they want.

Independence is something we take very seriously when debating the pros and cons of being single versus being in a relationship. I’ve had married friends advise me not to settle down until I have accomplished all that I dreamed about. If you ask me why I have been single for so long, I will tell you it’s because I did not want to give up my freedom too soon. But now I know better.

I still believe that it’s important and healthy for a woman to be alone for some time before settling down. I call it the incubation period where the single woman finds herself, learns what makes her happy and achieves her wildest dreams. How long should you be alone? Depends on the person, there is no universal time table for how long it takes to find yourself and become strong solo. There is, however, the possibility of falling too deep into the single mentality that you become jaded and misguided. Trust me I know. If you have been a keen reader of my column you know I am the queen of single. I’ve been single for five years straight and by that, I mean I haven’t been labeled as someone’s “girlfriend” in those years but I’ve been in situationships with men that felt very much like a relationship without the title (#SingleProblems).

While my single period has been the best time of my life, I’ve found myself falling into this abyss of the singleton where I believed I don’t need anyone. I began to feed into the misconception that I would somehow be sacrificing my happiness or my free time or my sanity if I chose to get into a relationship, and so, I’d kind of push that entire concept away.

It was so easy to think that since all the situationships I found myself in, made me feel as though relinquishing those parts of myself was absolutely necessary. Even in past relationships I had to sacrifice a piece of myself or happiness to make it work so that’s how I viewed love.

After years of self-reflection and analysis I see all this was based on a faulty prototype. I now know that love is never meant to be a reward for my sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong. Every relationship involves some compromise, but a compromise is different than giving up a part of yourself for a relationship, and I hope you can decipher the difference.

Getting into a relationship shouldn’t feel like a sacrifice all it requires is finding someone who understands your lifestyle and is willing to roll with it, not change it. For example if you are an entrepreneur you need someone that understands that there are busy days  and there are easy days, if you travel a lot you need someone who is okay with your long absence or can join you and if you are a wild child, you need a guy who won’t try to tame you.

Also you don’t have to give up your time alone. We all need some alone time to re-calibrate and get our minds right. Most people suffocate their partners because they think being with them all the time is an indication of love but it’s not. True love is about being able to give each other healthy distance without fear of losing them.

However, most women feel like being in a committed  relationship –especially marriage- means giving up certain aspects of our lifestyle that make us happy but that shouldn’t be the case (unless you’re talking about sleeping around). A healthy relationship should not make you feel like you’re giving up the parts of you and your life that help you feel alive. It should feel like you’re now adding someone special into the equation to share those experiences with, and that’s a beautiful thing.



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Women’s lib according to Wa Muyanza's tablemate

This is what women’s liberation should be about

This is what women’s liberation should be about 

You’re sharing a table with three guys and this quite attractive woman. The lady, who should be in her early 30s is, for obvious reason, the centre of attraction. More so because she isn’t talking much…actually she’s talking, in very low tone, to mainly one guy. He must be her date, you conclude.

We are all taking beer except her. The guy you have concluded is her date had ordered her a bottle of water and the mhudumu, trust him, had brought her the big bottle of Kilimanjaro, which he had quickly opened.

“Sorry, I don’t take cold water…get me another bottle please… warm, that’s what I had asked for, very clearly,” she says politely.

 “Now what shall we do with this bottle that has already been opened?”asks the mhudumu as he picks the bottle that has been rejected. Almost everybody at our table responds in a virtual chorus: “You, stop complaining and get her another bottle!”

One of the tablemates tells the mhudumu to just leave the bottle where it is, assuring him it will be paid for.

In your mind you’re muse over the tendency of attendants in our watering holes to assume that everybody takes cold drinks, be they beer, juice or water! They fail to acknowledge the fact that some of us, Wa Muyanza included, are actually allergic to cold liquids. A couple of sips of a cold drink of any variety and you develop a sore throat immediately, sneezing like an old sheep that has been made to sniff ground tobacco. 

Many guys who have been to Majuu

have told you that if you ask for warm beer—cold as the countries in the northern hemisphere are—everybody would turn and look at you with disbelief. A beer, they would tell you, isn’t beer unless it’s cold.

Now this is Dar, one of Bongoland’s hottest areas, yet some of us partake of warm liquids, like this lady tablemate of ours! It’s kind of strange, and no wonder, the idea a patron ordering a warm drink has failed to sink in many of our pub attendants. That is, much they would ask you, “Moto au baridi?”

Yeah, the mhudumu would ask you that and you would say, loud and clear, “warm”, but they would still bring you a cold drink! It’s therefore most important that, as soon as the bottle  lands on the table, you move fast to touch it before it’s opened, just to make sure it’s warm as per your order!

Our lady tablemate, as we note above, is talking very little, and that, only with her date… when she responds to a matter directed to her. Like when you offer to read the SIM numbers on the scratch card she has ordered for her cell phone.

“I appreciate, thank you,” she says, further commenting how strange you can read without specs. You aren’t surprised by her disbelief, for many people relate graying head with poor sight. Well, it’s thanks to your Maker, and most likely, lots of mchicha (since you can hardly afford meat) that you normally use as kitoweo for your ugali wa dona.

At one point, you notice the woman speaking in a low tone to the mhudumu—trust the paparazzo’s udaku tendency in you—and it sounds like she’s ordering something. You tell yourself it can’t be another bottle of warm Kilimanjaro water, for the one she ordered earlier on is still one third full.

The mhudumu ends his subdued conversation with the lady and heads for the counter and a few moments later, he is back with a tray full of drinks. The fresh order of drinks, it comes to pass, comprises a beer for every guy at our table. Wow!

Indeed, you had kind of heard her tell the mhudumu, “No more water for me, the one I have is enough.”

As it is customary, as the mhudumu places a bottle of a warm small Serengeti before you, you ask, “Where is it from?”

“It’s from this mama here,” says the mhudumu.

“Tell her ahsante,” you say, just like every guy says as a bottle is placed before them.

Soon, the lady stands up and she walks to her car, leaving heated discussion on how “this woman is different”.

One fellow soon concludes, “This is what women’s liberation should be about.”

Well, well, well…no comment from the son of Muyanza.



Friday, September 29, 2017

Women defying the odds behind Uber wheel

Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, something that has led to the demand for affordable and flexible transport.

Such demands have seen the advent of various means of standard transportation systems, one of them being Uber; a Transport Network Company that provides commuters with a technologically based platform to request rides. Since it started its operation in Dar es Salaam in June last year, Uber has experienced popularity among locals.

Despite operating in a less developed market, drivers have continued to sign up to the online app in numbers. Women in particular have not been left behind as some of them have made a bold decision to join in what is believed to be a male dominated field.

Woman had an opportunity to talk to some of these few women who shared their experiences in breaking a taboo in what is perceived to be a job reserved for men and what really pushed them to join the network.


Suma Mwaitenda, 34, a quantity surveyor by profession and a Lecturer at Ardhi University and Uber driver

   Defining herself as a leader, self-motivated person who is  obsessed with creativity and Innovation, the academician currently works as a registered Uber driver and also founder and CEO of Uhuru Women Club – a club dedicated to empowering women in different ventures.

    Suma, 34, who believes that she was brought into this world for a purpose joined Uber in March this year after her trip to Nairobi.

“While I was in Nairobi, I happened to use the Uber App I had installed on my phone and the person who came to pick me up was a woman. I was impressed by her courage. The woman shared her experience and how she got into Uber business. She told me she was once employed but later decided to quit her job after she saw an opportunity as an Uber driver and decided to take on the job fulltime,” explains the academician, adding; “I was motivated and I gave some thought to the idea and told myself that when I return back to Tanzania I will tell people, particularly women about the opportunity. But then I told myself that if I wanted people to believe that this thing can really work I had to do it first. So when I came back, I went to Uber offices and registered, thereon I started working.”

To be sure of the possible opportunities, Suma started her latest job as a demo to see if she could make money out of it, also to observe the challenges that existed and if it was feasible for a woman to really do it.

“After making a few trips, I realised it is possible and exciting for a woman to work as an Uber driver. I was very happy and even the passengers I picked were pleased and surprised to see a woman doing such kind of a job. One of the biggest question they always ask me is ‘why I am I doing this?’ And when I tell them that I also have another job they get confused altogether. After a while I met with several women and encouraged them to see Uber as an opportunity that they can use to make money either by working part time or full time,” she happily explains

Explaining how she manages to balance her time between her other jobs and doing Uber, Suma, a mother of two  says this depends on her teaching schedule, “I usually spare three to four  hours a day depending on my teaching schedule, sometimes I might have morning lectures at the university which end in the afternoon and I happen to be free say at 4pm, or if it happens I have an appointment in town then I switch on Uber App so I can pick any passenger along the way, same as when I return from town. So in short I can do it at my own convenience,” she notes.

As a married woman she had to talk to her husband first about the idea, however it didn’t take a lot of her energy to convince him to agree. “I am a type of person who believes and trusts herself and so I didn’t see it as something that I needed to ask permission for as long as it was something to empower women. I consulted him out of respect and he agreed,” she says.

Suma sees Uber as an opportunity for women to make extra money in a safe way possible because the car scan be tracked and easily monitored so long as they follow all the rules. She says instead of letting their personal cars or family cars stay idle at home, they can make use of them by hiring someone to drive or they can do it themselves because this is a business just like any other business.



The Uber driver admits that challenges are there just like in any other job, for instance being inappropriately approached by male customers, but this will depend on how smartly one deals with them and in what manner these women tend to value themselves. “You should view this just like any other challenge you face in a day to day working environment. Some passengers can be rude thinking that you’re doing it because you have got nothing much to do,” she advices.

I used to tell  and I convinced  myself that I am not a  feminist as I believed  that preaching feminism is to acknowledge the shortfall that women have – that there is something wrong with us that we need to correct. So I believed that was not the case and that I am just like everybody else and if I want to do something then I can do it.

My advice to women is they need to trust in themselves, they need to believe that they can achieve anything they set their mind to.

Instead of letting their cars stay idle they can decide to empower each other by hiring women who can drive so they can both earn something at the end of the day.


Happiness Mremi, 25, a Bachelor of Education degree holder from St. Augustine University.

Soon after completing her degree in 2015, Happiness 25,  engaged herself in agriculture by cultivating rice in Mwanza region for few months before she had to stop and return to her hometown in Kilimanjaro.

Thereon she engaged in the business of buying clothes from Dar es Salaam and sold them in Moshi but she had to temporarily stop doing this business too after she got married last year in October and moved to Dar es Salaam with her husband.

To keep herself busy, Happiness continued with the apparel business including owning a small shop in Kariakoo but with little success. “The business wasn’t doing well and so I had to think of doing something else. It was around this time when I heard a family friend who paid us a visit at our home talking about Uber. I got a little curious and so I asked my husband about it. He told me what it was and when I asked him if I could also do it he told me that I could not do something like that.

After doing more research I became more excited about the idea and told my husband I wanted to become an Uber driver because my car was just packed idle at home, he adamantly refused and it reached a point where talking about Uber would stir up a heated conversation,” she explains.

One day after her husband had gone to the office, Happiness decided to go the Ubero offices so that she could get a better understanding of how it works, “I was impressed especially when I met other women who were doing the Uber business. They connected me to their network and that helped me to convince my husband that what I wanted to do was safe since other professional women had also registered,” Happiness says.

That marked the beginning of her journey as an Uber driver. June this year she registered and started working as a full time driver after seeing great potential in the business. “I wake up at 6am to prepare for the busy day ahead, my day usually ends at 7pm” she explains.

With the money she earns every month ranging from Sh1.5 million to Sh2 million, she doesn’t see herself being employed in the near future, “I don’t plan to look for a job anytime soon, I love what I am doing because I earn enough, even more than what some employed women earn,” states Happiness.

Being a female Uber driver has its own challenges; however Happiness is happy with how most of the passengers who request for her service reciprocate her kindness and professionalism. “Most of the passengers I deal show appreciation for the service I offer and at times wonder how a young woman like me ended up doing such a job,” she says.

Happiness plans to do the business across the country once the Uber service expands to other regions. This is the type of business that anyone, especially young graduates can do and benefit from it because it is reliable and safe.


Angelina Shonza, 29, Holder of Bachelor degree in social work from the Institute of Social Work

After qualifying as a social worker upon completing her degree, unlike many of the young graduates, Shonza didn’t take much of her time to apply for a job in different organizations, but rather she chose to be self-employed.

One thing that saw her making the decision to become an Uber driver was her determination to make something out of her life, “before I joined Uber I used to sell handbags and clothes, a business I did while I was in college. I would sell to students, unfortunately the business wasn’t performing well and so I had to cut my losses. It was during this time when I heard about Uber,” explains Shonza.

Instead of staying at home she made a decision that would probably be one of the hardest decisions for any modern young woman – becoming an Uber driver, a rare profession for women in this part of the world.

“The idea of staying home idle while there was something out there I could do to make money pushed me to try my luck. The first person to tell me about this opportunity was my husband, but he told me it was not a job suitable for women since it is tough sitting for a long time driving. However, that didn’t stop me from trying, I decided to give it a try and later started doing it full time, working from 4 or 5 am up to 6 or 8 pm. Because I am a married woman and I have a family to care for, I have to return home early from work,” Shonza says.

Today, Shonza has been working as an Uber driver for five months, and she doesn’t regret making such a decision. I am happy with what I am doing and so far I have carried passengers in not less than 480 trips within the city. I am also happy to see how people react when they see me driving Uber, they usually don’t believe that a woman can do such a job but their reaction most of the time has been positive. Most customers are happy and comfortable to be driven by a woman,” she reveals.

For Shonza, young ladies should not shy away from a job that comes their way but instead they should make the best of whatever opportunity that they get. “This is just a job like any other because if a woman can drive her car to the office or market it is the same way they can use their car to make money. All they need is a driving experience and determination to do the job. I can now support my family and relatives with the money I earn monthly, which ranges between Sh2 million up to 2.5 million where per day I can  make Shs150,000 up to 200,000,” Shonza elaborates.

Pascalia Dominic and Prisca Kabendera are other women Uber drivers, also members of Uhuru Women Club. These Uber drivers have also defied odds by choosing to do a job that is still peculair among women.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Hail all women drivers out there

By Janet Otieno-Prosper

This week we are celebrating some few women Uber drivers on this issue. It is interestingly coming at a time when news reports of Saudi Arabia lifting ban on women – allowing them to drive.

The change will take effect in June next year and could do good to the Kingdom’s economy by increasing women’s participation at work place.

The ban, which attracted condemnation from many quarters, has been seen as a strong symbol of oppression to women with clerics giving all manner of reasons why women would not drive. Many women would spend their resources on male drivers to take them to and from work.

At one point in 2015, a woman who was at the forefront of the right to drive campaign was arrested. However, it is a new chapter and now women can take over the wheels. Back to our Uber drivers in Tanzania, with the introduction of this means of transport system, many women have taken charge of the wheel.

They share their experiences on Dar es Salaam roads, their safety concerns and how people perceive them.

They also give us those details of how women who are interested could grab this opportunity and make money.

I have had my experiences  with female Uber drivers, some are in my age bracket and some are old and all I can say is that it is always great to see a woman out there trying out to make ends meet.

Some drive for extra cash during their extra time. I have had confessions from a few of my acquaintances of how they feel safe with a woman driver on the wheel especially after partying late in the night or if they need airport drop-offs and pickups. This is not to mean that there are no great male Uber drivers out there but let’s give it up to these strong women on our crazy roads.

Just the other day, a woman Uber driver issued a sex discrimination proceedings against the company with claim that in unfairly disadvantages women who work for it according to the UK based Independent newspaper.

But even amidst this new development, these strong women are still giving us that good ride. Kudos to all female Uber, taxi, daladala, buses and rapid transit bus drivers out there in Bongoland. We celebrate you.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tanzanian men expect too much from their women

By Peter Muthamia

In today’s column, I will not be bashing women but men reading this will be on the receiving end.

Tanzanian man is headed the wrong direction – towards extinction. Indeed, he is fast overtaking babies in the cradle in his crave for being pampered and being attended to, a shot away from being fed and dressed and draped in nappies. He may holler about his manhood but he is indeed a baby as reflected by his disposition.

While it is an old practice for men to expect good treatment from women, it comes to point where it becomes somewhat boring to the woman, probably causing resentments and anger. Tanzanian men expect so much from their women.

We need to be considerate of our women’s needs. A typical Tanzanian man will leave the office, make a stop-over at his favourite bar, gorge himself with the choicest meat and beer and trudge home to a very tired woman. He will still demand for food, fuss over this or that and end up in bed where he is expected to romp with the same tired woman. This routine does not take into account that the same woman has been working all day.

Anyway, let’s take an opposite scenario. A friend I know works for a very demanding company. He arrives at 10.00 after kids have gone to sleep. He hardly has time for lunch let alone a beer.

On Sundays, he has made it a day when he makes up for the family. Nobody, including the house help is supposed to cook. He does it (the man is an excellent cook). After lunch, being a superb guitarist, he will be training his kids on how to pluck guitar wires. That, to me is a good family. 

The other side of the coin is disgusting. Let me advance the theory of ‘use and disuse’ further to illustrate. The more a bodily organ is put to use, the more it develops. Try not using your brains to troubleshoot your family’s problems and what you will have between your ears is thick mass purporting to be a brain but having the qualities of a cabbage (no offense intended).

We tire our women by expecting too much from them and giving too little. The outcome is that our women, out of the fear of losing you to other men-hungry women (and they are many), will overstretch themselves to the limits.


The main danger is that behind your back, you will be inviting infidelity. Another man who shows consideration, albeit a little – a man whose imagination is alive will certainly sweep her off the ground and you will be left a shell. You will remain a provider and not a husband. Think twice before you get to that level. Women are human beings too.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Lady can’t believe you can’t buy her another

You enter this roadside “grocery”, head to the counter and order yourself a drink. Next to where you’ve have placed your small Serengeti, there’s a Kilimanjaro lager of the half-litre variety whose owner soon appears.  The owner of the Kili is a lady attendant here—call her Clara. She greets you cheerfully.

Her charm towards you would make someone conclude you and her are old friends, but the fact is, you’ve her known for just a couple of weeks now, for she’s a new recruit. It’s not very surprising, though, because, a person working in the hospitality industry doesn’t have to be familiar with a customer to be charming towards them, au siyo?

“You’ve disappeared for quite long; where have you been all these days?” Clara   asks you.

“I am around… maybe I turn up here when you’re off duty,” you say.

“That can’t be true; I haven’t been off duty since the day you were here… don’t lie to me, my dear,” she says. You’re shocked by the “my dear bit”… mpenzi wangu. Why, there’s nothing amicable that has developed between the two of you. However, you tell yourself, being called mpenzi by pretty young woman has never killed any man, even if he’s of the zilipendwa generation like Wa Muyanza.

You concede to her that she’s right; you haven’t been to this grocery for sometime because you were tied up and didn’t find time to come to this good grocery of hers. You’re gentleman of sort and so you need not tell her the truth, which is that this is not exactly one of your favourite groceries and that you only visit it on the hope that you might bump into something interesting that can go into this crap you call “my Saturday column”. 

“You sound like you’ve missed me, eh?” you ask her.

“Oh, yes, my dear, I’ve really missed you… and today I said to myself I must rush to greet you because last time you were here you said I ignored you.”

“Did I? I can’t remember it.”

“Yes, you did; I was busy with other customers and took time to greet you and when I found time to say hi, you sort of reprimanded me for ignoring you.”

“It’s okay, Clara, thank you for recognising my presence quickly today… I appreciate that.”

 Not long after this conversation, Clara, upon returning from attending to one of the few patrons (business is clearly bad here) she polishes off the contents of her glass, refills it with what remained of her bottle and says: “Can I have another?”

“Mmh…why don’t you finish that beer in your glass first, then I might consider buying you another bottle?” you say.

“Okay, let me finish it,” she says and proceeds to gulp her drink so fast you’d think she’s in a competition. Amazing, you say to yourself!

The girl looks at you, expecting you to say something. You don’t, for you’re still flabbergasted by her act.

“So,” she says, can I have your offer now?” she asks.

“Sure, have it,” you say and, without wasting time, she tells the akaunta to do the necessary. 

She’s soon enjoying her drink from you and getting friendlier. She even goes to the extent of giving you what you consider unnecessary information, namely, that tomorrow she’ll be off duty. You don’t react to this information other than saying, “Okay”.

 She finishes her bottle in record time and, as she pours the last drops of her Kilimanjaro lager bottle into her glass, she looks at you straight in the eye and says, “Can I have another, please?”

You look at your little Serengeti, which you had ordered around the time she ordered her big Kilimanjaro. You’re just half way through yours. You can afford her another bottle alright, but her speed is disturbing. You see lack of courtesy in her, you see greed. However, being the gentleman that you consider yourself to be, you don’t express your disappointment. Instead, you politely tell her you don’t have the money.

“It’s not possible… you cannot fail to buy me just one extra bottle,” she says.

“Oh, yeah; it’s possible… my wallet is empty; I’ll buy you that extra bottle another day,” you say and pick up the day’s newspaper you had placed on the counter and resume reading, something you had suspended in order to be sociable with her.



Saturday, September 23, 2017

Breaking barriers: Taking charge of your sexual health

Say no to unprotected sex

Say no to unprotected sex 

By Salome Gregory

 In Tanzania, five out of every 100 people are living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The HIV and Malaria Indicator Survey (THMIS) 2011/2012 show that, the general HIV prevalence is estimated at 5.1 per cent among adults aged 15-49 years.

Of the mentioned age majority are youth. Unprotected sex is among the major factors that instigate the spread of HIV, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and unwanted pregnancies.

Different researches on the spread of HIV show that women are at a higher risk of being infected with HIV compared to men. However, a survey by Woman shed light on what might be part of this problem; failure to make their own decisions when it comes to using protection during sex. 

Juliana Isaya, 33, a primary teacher in Tabata says male domination has a lot of impact in Tanzania. As a matter of fact, this is evidenced in the early stages of a relationship where women tend to be shy to talk openly about their feelings towards a man. There’s this perception that it is the man who should profess his love, and not the woman.

She says women in many African countries play second fiddle to men when it comes to making decisions, denyingthem of their right to an opinion.

“We grew up with the embedded notion that women should always be under men. Even on matters that affect their lives directly. This has brought a very serious challenge in our society today and it makes it hard for women to open up and share their feelings,” says Juliana.

Talking about her sex life, she says it has never been easy to bring up a conversation on having protected sex. Only way she can protect herself is by making sure she gets a faithful partner who’s only committed to her.

“I know it is very risky to put your health in the hands of someone else. At the same time it is not easy bringing up conversation on using protection. There is a need for us to change our mindset,” says Juliana.

Taught right from school

Dina Robert, 37, is a sales person at a telecommunications company in the country. She says that, during her high school years back in Uganda, her teachers taught her on self respect and the value of her life.

She says that teachers went ahead and taught them more about HIV/AIDS and how to protect themselves from being infected through having unprotected sex. Since then she has always been careful and never has sex without protecting herself.

As soon as she came back to Tanzania from Uganda, her first boyfriend was surprised when he saw her carrying condoms and bringing them whenever they planned to have sex. To her, carrying protection is a normal thing and helps her take better care of her own health. 

However, as days went by her boyfriend accused her of being a prostitute for carrying condoms. It (carrying condom) being a habit associated with majority of boys and men in Tanzania, carrying protection rendered her an easy victim of insults from men. 

“I am not yet a mother and I am still single. I believe in having a very stable family in the future. There is no way I can risk my life by having unprotected sex as majority of men are not ready to start a family but still like to enjoy the privileges of married couples,” says Dina.

A recent research published by Mail online reads that men are more likely to have unprotected sex with women they find very attractive while ugly women have higher chances of carrying a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the eyes of men.

The research further shows protection methods get thrown out of the window when it comes to one-night stands with pretty women, experts discovered.

The study aimed to better understand the relationship between perceived attractiveness, sexual health status and intended condom use among heterosexual men. 

Dr Colman Matunda is a gynaecologist at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH). He says, not being able to decide on important matters especially reproductive health is because the society has undermined the girl child.

It is important for all parents and teachers to come up as one and break the silence among girls. They have to be educated on different things and on proper ways to go about any challenge.

He says that majority of women especially in rural settings think that men are in a position of making major decisions, even those that affect them directly.

“Gone are the days when a woman was taken for granted. Living the decision of using protection entirely to men  has affected the lives of so many women and in this process a number of them have ended up contracting STDs,” says Matunda.


Failure to open up

According to the physiologist, ten out of 40 patients he sees in a week are women who can’t open up and explain what disruptions persist in their lives. To take control of this submissiveness to men portrayed by women, education of self-worth and using protection during intercourse should start at an early age. “They have to be taught on the importance of taking care of their lives as well as protecting themselves from diseases,” he says.

The situation of submissiveness has crossed all boundaries and now you find that even a married woman lives it up to her husband to decide whether to use protection or not. As a result most couples find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy which often comes with a host of complications.

Aisha Ismail, 36, is a banker and a mother of three children who also never wanted to discuss about family planning issues with her husband.  Her first born, Lamra is 8, second born Hussein is 6 and her third born Sharifa is 4 years old.

She says her husband doesn’t like to use condoms. They never get time to discus about reproductive health because her husband never likes using condoms.

She says she has been married for the past ten years, and during all these years she’s been using morning after pills as a way of protecting herself from unplanned pregnancies.

“I have been struggling very hard to balance my career and personal life. There is never a balance between the two. Most of the times I fail to deliver at work due to family issues that I have to handle as a mother and a wife,” says Aisha.

She says her family comes first but she wishes she could’ve managed to decide on spacing the birth of her children to give room for her career growth. She believes that being a mother of three children without a good parental planning has brought a lot of challenges in her career life. And it will take years for her to fix the career damage that has happened in all those years.

Studies show that the HIV prevalence among key and vulnerable populations is higher than that of the general population. HIV prevalence among these groups is as follows: Female Sex Workers 26%: People who inject drugs 36%.

The HIV prevalence among adolescent girls and young women aged 15 -19 is 1.1%, and those aged 20-24 is 4.4%; whereas the HIV prevalence among young boys of the same age groups is 0.6% and 2.8% respectively. This situation compelled the Government to develop a National guideline targeting HIV prevention programs for Key and Vulnerable Populations.

Urio Mbago a psychologist  based at Mororogoro Regional Hospital says use of protection is not only to prevent the spread of HIV, but to also act as a family planning method for families having more than two children and are not financially stable to handle more children.

“Having a high number of children who cannot be well taken care of especially in rurall settings can result to critical poverty and being unable to meet the basic family needs.

He suggests that, people, especially married couples should get proper education on family planning as well as reproductive health in order to help them plan their families better.



Saturday, September 23, 2017

Take charge of your sexual health

By Janet Otieno-Prosper

Today as Woman desk, we want to share with you an interesting conversation between men and women on who should be responsible for protection use in a relationship. Majority are of the view that when it comes to condoms, women leave it to men.

How true is this? Well read the story to find out. In the neighbouring nation of Uganda, condoms are sold openly and people are not afraid to pick them. Women also buy them and stash them in their handbags.

 But in a conservative society like ours, people could scorn at a woman picking condoms openly, right? Here is what I think, your safety is your responsibility.

Anybody thinking of engaging in an intimate relationship should buy condom and it should not be left for the men to decide at their own whim.

You should protect yourself from Sexually Transmitted Diseases. I believe that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to this issue and women should not be stigmatised when they buy condoms.

I mean why should people be afraid to buy condoms? Even men are afraid to buy condoms in the supermarket fearing scorn from other buyers.

Why should condom be bought in whisper? It  is a contraceptive against pregnancy for those who want to plan their families  so why should one be afraid.

It also protects from STDs including HIV/Aids so why would you please everyone else and compromise on your health.

I know there are people out there who would slut-shame women who openly buy condoms and it is not right because if they don’t they may end up with unplanned pregnancies or diseases which they will regret in their lifetime.

It is time as a society, we revisit that conversation about condoms. And women should know that taking control of one’s sexual health is an empowering action that one should be proud of.

Nobody should convince you that using or carrying a condom equates to promiscuity.

So let everyone take charge of their sexual and reproductive health using condoms since it is a non intrusive method and is also convenient according to several studies.



Saturday, September 23, 2017

We seldom end up with the woman we had envisaged

By Marete Wa Marete

A close buddy, during our youth, retained some of the best women any man could ask for – beautiful, intelligent, educated and loaded with dispositions and characters that would have led to immediate proposals and subsequent marriage to one of them. The kind of women any man would like to be the mother of his children. I also remember some good girls who fell by wayside in my life, some of whom I had imagined being the right wife material especially in college and immediately after.

I don’t mean that my current wife is lesser than these girls, but looking back, one of said women could easily have ended up as my life partner. My friend settled for a domineering and outright ugly woman. He later divorced and married another. I also have done a lot of trial and error marriages that I have come to conclusion that perhaps the partner that one settles for is predetermined by fate.

Let me explain. Sometimes, the woman a man ends up with never really fits the ideals that a man had envisaged – ideals of beauty, duty, and intelligence. Just like women love fantasizing the kind men only found in cheap romance novels – tall, dark, rich and with chivalry, so men imagine the kind of women they would give an arm to settle with.

That often does not occur. Here is a typical scenario; Life has a way of flinging you far away from your comfort zones be it work, study or business. Since you are a social being, you find yourself in the company of men and women. Generally, among the women in the group, you will find one woman who warms your heart whenever she’s around you. You are not sure whether it is love so you will tend to try to keep a polite distance.

A few things will however be noticeable. Even though she does not meet Miss Tanzania’s kind of beauty, she has this inner thing that you cannot really point at but are attracted to. By and by, you will start taking her out for dinner, and before you know it, you will start longing to see each other. By the end of the next three months, you will have invited her to your bachelor’s pad to spend steamy nights. She will desist from “shikamoo” greetings and new names such as sweetie, honey, baby, will creep into her vocabulary. To her family and friends, she will be referring to you as “my husband”.

Slowly, she will start “forgetting” her bras, panties and other women paraphernalia in your room. Another two months, she will drop the bombshell that she is pregnant. You will not be sure whether to keep or chuck her out. Since she is not a bad woman. You will keep her. The rest is history.



Saturday, September 23, 2017

She has two names, reveals to you why

Bar maid uses two names at grocery

Bar maid uses two names at grocery 

You arrive at the “grocery” where you’re warmly welcomed by a tallish, charming barmaid.  Boosts your ego… you feel important. Not strange, of course, for this is one big reason men spend more time than they should in groceries… the desire to be appreciated as “heads” in a world where members of the hitherto weaker sex are increasingly getting disturbingly stronger..

 Oh yeah; many husbands feeling like they’re the “fairer” sex in today’s Bongo. Why, we’ve all these women who, like Doki of the Biko gambling promo, own cars while their husband’s, like “her” Mpoki, is a mere holder of a six-year-old driving licence but without a car!

That’s what the world has come to, but our brother Mpoki must take heart that he’s not alone… many fellow men are socially and economically de-franchised by the formerly meek “mama watoto” who today doesn’t even cook for their hubby. The housemaid does that. She could be a CEO of some company or a powerful businesswoman and the hubby, a struggler with a miserly monthly pay. He’s no longer the traditionally ever important sole bread winner.

Husband or no husband, there’s always enough bread at home, thanks to today’s mama. Asiwababaishe huyu baba yenu, today’s mama watoto can tell the brats who call you dad. Being called baba watoto is no longer a big deal. However, since men continue to consider themselves more important than women “by nature”, they need to find a place where their “God-given” importance is recognised.  The grocery provides such an outlet, au siyo?  Sorry, we’re digressing.

Now when this mhudumu rushes to you as you arrive, you can’t but feel great… it’s like she has known you since Adam, kumbe wapi! You’re led to a table and asked what you want and before long, a warm, small Serengeti is before you. There aren’t that many patrons and most mhudumu can afford the luxury of sitting—and even drinking—with patrons. 

 You look left and right and notice yours is the only mhudumu without a drink before her and you feel guilty about it. This cannot go on, you tell yourself.

“How come you aren’t having a drink?” you ask her.

“You haven’t offered me one,” she says.

“Sorry… go get yourself a soda.”

“A soda? Why do you want me to have a soda, mzee wangu?” she asks coyly, adding: “Or maybe I look like a primary schoolgirl?”

“Well, I didn’t know you drink; sorry… and by the way, what’s your name?” you say.


“Okay, Renata; have a beer on my bill,” you say.

You’re soon sharing a table, not only with a mhudumu, but a fellow drinker. It’s okay, for this is Bongo. Service providers and receivers enjoy equal rights since ours is officially a socialist country—wajamaa.

In due course, the number of customers rises or as we say, baa inachangamka. Renata spends less and less time with you now. She moves from here and there attending to patrons, just like her colleagues, but makes sure she returns to your table to maintain her membership, more so because her second beer (from you) is still more than half full.

At some stage, you hear the matron’s voice call the name Vero. First time, second time… and then, Renata your tablemate, er, sorry, your mhudumu, shoots up and walks towards the matron. The boss directs to a table with patrons who have apparently been forgotten by wahudumu, most of whom are busy drinking and chatting and generally having a good time like they were patrons!

When she returns to join you, she apologises for leaving you alone “for so long”. You tell her not to worry. “In any case, you’re at work… you’ve to serve other drinkers, not only me,” you say.

“Thank you for your understanding, but you’re my best customer” says she. Ha! Ha! Ha! You laugh inwardly.

“By the way,” you say, “I heard the matron call Vero and you answered to that name; are you Vero or Renata?”

“Both names are mine?”

“And you use them interchangeably?” you ask.

“Yes… to my friends, I am Renata, to my employer, I ‘m Vero.”


“So that when I choose to leave, the manager won’t be able to trace me…it also helps to keep away crooked men, the ones I give the wrong phone number.”



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Changing narrative on gender-based violence

Humanitarian effort: Graca Machel has been

Humanitarian effort: Graca Machel has been speaking up for girls’ rights. PHOTO I FILE 

By Hellen Nachilongo

For years, African women have been subjected to infliction of gender violence which is oftentimes disregarded as mere domestic squabbles among couples.

They suffer in silence and resign themselves to a life filled with resentment and hopelessness. It reached a point where silence was perceived as a norm for a woman going through gender violence.

Josina Machel, a daughter of Glaca Machel and stepdaughter of the late South African former President Nelson Mandela took a brave step and told the world of her own domestic violence nightmare.

It was 17, October 2015, when the man she loved so much, beat her up to the point where she was left bleeding profusely and lost sight on one of her eyes.

“Since that day I’ve never regained sight on my right eye and I’ve been permanently scarred by the traumatic event,” she said, adding that she had never once thought that one day the man she loved so much would do that to her.

Josina decided that she was going to speak out; she doesn’t want women who go through such ordeals to suffer in silence. Through her NGO called ‘Kuhluka Movement’, she would continue to speak out.

There are many women survivors who have suffered harassment, gender-based violence but their voices are not heard because they present their issues to the wrong people.

“We need a platform where we can be heard and seen so that we can heel our wounds and become champions of others, encourage them to speak out, empowering our spirits without helping each other cannot make any difference,” she said.

She further said that through her NGO she encourages more women and victims to share their experience in order to change the narratives.

It is apparent that it is not just the victims of gender based violence who fail to justly convey information on the brutality of such violence, but media as well has at times failed to extensively provide detailed reporting on the violence that women are subjected to.

In a bid to change the perception on women and approach to reporting on cases of domestic violence and other forms of gender based abuses, last month, Tanzania hosted the United Nations Women capacity building training to fifteen African journalists across the continent on Gender Responsive Story Telling and Documenting Stories of success.

During the course of the program, fifteen journalists including myself had another privilege to be linked with a Women Advancing Africa Forum (WAA) “Driving Social Economic Transformation” launched by Tanzanian Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Celebrating role of women

The new initiative was a Pan-African flagship Trust to acknowledge and celebrate the critical role women play and it brought more than 140 women across Africa and other developed countries to discuss several issues.

Issues discussed during the forum included; Mothers and Daughter Intergenerational Dialogue on the Changing Role of Women in Activism, women progress and the future however, I found an interest on Changing the Narrative, Media and Creative Industries and Unleashing Our Power for Social Change.

The two topics presented by different women brought tears to almost every woman who attended the WAA forum, because women amongst the panelists shared touching stories that shed light on the devastating state of affairs in as far as gender based violence is concerned. The stories were horrid but touching such that everyone who listened to them couldn’t hold back their tears.

“No woman should lose her dignity because she lost her husband, and no woman should keep quiet because of harassment,” these are some of the words that Schoolistca Kimarya and Josina Machel said during a panel discussion on “Unleashing our Power for Social Change”

“Where I come from, when you lose a husband, someone must succeed your husband by cleansing your body,” the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Maadili Leadership Solutions and Self Mentor, Ms Schoolastica Kimarya said.

She said that most women in her country have been victims of Sexually Transmitted Diseases because of sexual cleansing, “we must say no to such inhuman and uncomfortable behavior,” she demanded.

The unspoken truth

According to her, women must speak for the unspoken truth, say no to make a change, “we must see change, sexual cleansing does not happen once but it happens more than twice therefore it is time to say no to cleansing,” she speaks.

Mr Abdul Mohamed, one of the attendees at the forum applauded the initiative started by Josina Machel which encourages women to speak out when faced with gender violence. “It is a great initiative because next time the culprits will think twice before abusing women for fear of being exposed,” he says, adding, “This is a positive move because victims of gender violence will not remain silent anymore.”

According to him, women often do not have the resources to find their way to the authorities to report incidences of domestic violence. When they do, they are often met with victim-blaming attitudes by those mandated to support them therefore it was time for women to say no to violence.

He said that in some cases they are even encouraged to remain silent, as what happens between a man and his wife is regarded as private.

The Former President of Pan African Parliament Dr Getrude Mongella said as Africa was moving to second liberation, media should portray strong voices of interesting women because in the first liberation media have portrayed women as victims.

“In developing countries, most of the time strong women have not been heard nor seen in the media but instead they have been portrayed in images,” she said.

She explained that to ensure that women were heard and seen, women themselves should partner with media and move together in the second liberation to claim their rightful place.

“Sometimes women deny giving the media information they want, this doesn’t work in our favour because failure to share information leads to concealment of facts,” she said. She explained that as Africa is taking a leap in to the second liberation and looking into the fact that liberation depends much on technology and partnership, the only way to deal with stereotype is through dialogue with women and the media.

UN Women Tanzania Representative Ms Hodan Addou said that African women are often depicted as victims, having little stake in control of their future, and with a limited role to play in the transformation and development of African nations.

“We need to change this narrative that relegates African women to a role of despondent individual, incapable of helping herself -- a one-dimensional personality that only focuses on fashion, food and romantic relationships,” she said.

According to her, studies have proven that the effective promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment through role models and a positive narrative of the African woman not only contributes to the benefit of the women in terms of their individual capacities, but also contributes to the well-being and development of communities, countries and the continent as a whole.

For such initiatives to deliver worthwhile results, we need the support, contribution and commitment of the media through all its platforms.

The media is our key partner is ending gender-biased reporting on women and girls. Through your articles, programmes, photographs, radio shows and editorials, you shape the thoughts and beliefs of the people of your country.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Using challenges to advance women’s rights

Janet Otieno

Janet Otieno 

By Janet Otieno-Prosper

I came across this article in the Guardian, a UK based newspaper on how cycling is keeping the fights for women’s rights moving. In Saudi Arabia, male consent is still very important according to the article.

For your information, women are not allowed to drive. However cycling was legalized but women are only allowed to cycle in parks and beaches with male guardianship.

Strange stuff huh? Well, women have found a way to fight for their gender rights in this cycling. One woman, Baraah Luhaid has managed to organize a women only community and through that they have come up with a cycling shop, café and workshop.

She uses this to advocate for women’s independence. So you see in the face of patriarchal system, we can still turn things around just as Baraah is doing in Saudi Arabia. I know as a woman that we have many challenges and many are originating from gender stereotypes. There are even silent rules in certain places about things woman should do or not do, say or not say. In most boardrooms, women who voice their opinions have been viewed as threats.

In most cases women are expected to sit quietly and hear what the men have to say. But you know what, you can find a way around this and make things work out. For instance, you can start doing things in your organisation which positively impacts on the results.

This way, you will channel your energy positively in turning things around instead of complaining of how chauvanistic people you work with are. This is not the time to complain any more about gender challenges at home, work in the society but to try and turn things round in women’s favour.

For instance, if most women in your neighbourhood are unemployed and are subject to gender violence from their spouses, you can find time and talk to them and help create awareness about gender-based violence.

You can then take them to the community leader to report the case. From there, she will go and educate her peers and soon they will be acting towards ending this violence instead of just keeping quite.

And if many women in your community are un employed, you could just take two and talk to them about the importance of financial independence. If they show that they are willing to do some business, you could inform them about micro-financial institutions you know giving small loans to women.

And push them to go, it will be worth a try. So let’s use our challenges to achieve women’s rights in the society.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Women are fighting for their place in the mining industry

Doreen Kissia (third left), Sarah Kusambagulo

Doreen Kissia (third left), Sarah Kusambagulo (2nd right) and other women chat with Getrude Mongella, first President of Pan African Parliament (first left) on the challenges facing women in mining. PHOTO I Salhim SHAO 

By Salome Gregory

Women, girls and other stakeholders on gender issues came together from different parts of the World to participate on the 14th edition of the gender festival with the theme the transformation of oppressive systems for gender equality and sustainable development.

The four days festival from September 5 to 8 is an open forum for women rights activists to come together and share experiences and knowledge, and celebrate achievements and asses the challenges ahead.

A lot of challenges and recommendations were brought up through different sessions. Opportunities for networking, building capacity and contributing to public debate and planning collectively for social change from a feminist perspective ensued.

Woman brings you interviews from women in the mining industry. They shared their stories on how they started their business and the challenges they are going through just because they are women.

Sarah Kisambagulo, 45, is a mother of three children and divorced. She is the Chairperson of the Female Mining Association of Tanzania. Her mining business started six years ago. She decided to change her business from selling fish all the way from Mwanza to the Democratic Republic of Congo to become a mineworker.

She says that, selling fish in DRC pushed her to also start a mining business as some of her customers offered her gold in exchange for fish. Selling the gold she got from the exchange upon her return home helped her realize the profit in the mining industry.

She decided to give it a try by surveying Ludewa area in Iringa where she was informed there are copper minerals. It was never easy for her to locate the right place to get copper since she had no expertise and professionals to help her with the entire process.

She says that, she would travel about 50 kilometres by car from Ludewa town to Muhambalesi village where her research on the availability of copper minerals started. Kisambagulo says she would spend more than eight hours walking just to get to where she wanted to settle and start from.

Back then, small miners were allowed to look for the right place where they would want to start their business. She managed to get a place in Muhambalahesi village and employed about 20 people to work for her.

Money gone down the drain

“I spent more than Sh300,000, 000 million, for paying workers, paying for 175 plots to make sure I get a mining plant in Ludewa. Surprisingly I did not even manage to get a license after four years of surveying if the area has copper and I also incurred other expenses such as upgrading the village road to simplify the village logistics,” she says.

Even her 10 tons of copper she managed to get in Muhambalesi village could not be allowed to get out of the village since she had no license. On making a follow up on the plots she paid for she was told the plots had already been sold to another person prior to her purchase.

She says that, 2012 to 2015 was a period of recording losses in her new business as the bulldozer she hired for a year to make the road in the village had some of its parts stolen and she consequently had to pay more than Sh270,000,0000 million to cover the losses.

As she was still waiting for her license, she had already paid for 175 plots whose mandate for ownership was never granted to her. That was a very big letdown which forced her to halt mining activities for a year; as a result, her copper mineral was eventually engulfed by soil.

“A lot was said undercover that where was I getting money to do all these investments as a woman. At the end of the day they managed to pull me down and it is just one year since I officially resumed with the same business,” says Kisambagulo.

Rachael Njau, 42, is a mother of two children who has a mining site called Rachael camp in Mererani, Arusha. She has been mining for the past 12 years. She mines Tanzanite. She has employed more than 21 people.

She says the challenges she is going through at her mining site include lack of proper facilities to support miners to get more of the minerals as well as bureaucracy in getting mining license for women.

Unfavourable laws

Rachael is happy her father gave her the mining site. However she is not happy with the contracts and laws that surround the mining industry in Tanzania. She thinks that the situation could be much better if the government goes through all contracts and make sure they are not impartial and serve the benefit of the country itself.

“Being a woman, it’s not easy managing to survive in the industry for that long unless you accept the fact that you have to be a woman but behave like a man to keep your business alive and growing,” says Rachael.

She says that, women who are in mining industry are not considered when it comes to loans. Lack of proper facilities that can identify if a mineral is a gem, semi or caption is affecting our production.

She calls upon the government and other stakeholders in the mining industry to educate women on the best ways to go about the business as well as how to defend themselves when they are faced with any form of injustice just because they are women.

Doreen Kissia is a mineral broker who has been involved with the business for seven years now and owns Ikombo mining. She says that there is so much going on in the mining industry in Tanzania as far as women are concerned. And one can never succeed if she doesn’t cope with how men do things.

Her history in mining is very unique due to the fact that she was the only person chosen by the villagers to be given a mining license despite the fact that men spend a lot of their time and money campaigning for themselves to be given the license.

“I spent four years fighting to get my license while I had everything in place. Some powerful officials in Dodoma denied me license for that long and without any explanation,” she says.

She says that, whatever men can do women can do better. It is time for women to stand their ground and fight for whatever they want to achieve in life. “Men will always try to pull women down. If we give them that time we will never go anywhere,” she states.

As a way of pulling her down, her machines at her mine were stolen. There was also a time she was accused of making death threats, and according to mining laws if you get involved in any murder case your license is completely revoked.

“I was taken to police for finger prints checkup and they tried to verify if I had ever owned a gun. Thank God nothing came out of their investigation and I was released to go on with my life,” says Doreen.

Commenting on the challenges women go through, the Former Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania mama Anne Makinda says that, women should stop waiting for others to do things on their behalf.

She says, “Women shouldn’t wait for the government dominated by men to support them in doing their jobs. Women can manage to do things without being supervised, it is time for women to the lead and show the world that they can manage complex issues.”

Efforts made to reach the Ministry of Energy and Minerals for comments on allegations of gender bias in the mining industry didn’t bare any fruits. Woman contacted Dr Medard Kalemani, the Deputy Minster of Energy and Minerals to have his view on the matter but his phone went unanswered.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

There is a need for gender parity


By Janet Otieno-Prosper

During the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) conference this week, Mama Anna Makinda, the former Speaker of Parliament said something which fascinated me. She said women shouldn’t wait for a government dominated by men to support them in doing their jobs.

She added that women can do things without being supervised, and called on women to the lead and show the world that they can manage complex issues. Now this came as women continue to struggle for equal rights in different spheres at home, work places and public places to find their place and space

s women continue to struggle for equal rights in different spheres, this year, awarded women who’ve had a tremendous impact in the development of our country. Though TGNP Director Lilian Liundi acknowledged the role women have played in this country’s development calling for their recignisation, a lot more could be done to ensure women enjoy equal rights. We can start from our homes and communities by supporting fellow women and rise beyond gender abuse.

There are several forms of gender abuses in our homes, workplaces, community and even public places. The button stops with us, we need to start standing up for ourselves. Any woman failing to support fellow woman is failing the nation and the world in achieving its gender objective.

We can be our sisters keepers, defend our sisters, give them constructive criticism, applaud them when they g o an extra mile. I know of women who don’t even greet fellow women who they perceive to be below them in rank.

You know what, they will one day rise and you would need their help. If you have a manual job to be done like laundry or tending to flower garden, give that job to a fellow woman just to uplift them and for their families. We can make small changes but touch the heart of many and positively impact many lives.

During the TGNP conference, some of the women who were recognised for their roles in contributing to development in the country are Vice President Samia Suluhu, Former Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Anne Makinda, Dr Ester Mwaikambo, Mama Getrude Mongella, first President of Pan African Parliament, Ester Bulaya Member of Parliament Bunda Urban constituent and the late Bi Kidude.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Practical tips new mothers should grasp


By Sue Chehreneger

Serena Williams, who just gave birth to an infant girl, has said that she does not know what to do with a baby. Even she needs tips for new mothers!

The following tips have been created in order to help women like her. These tips for new moms are not meant to be part of a guide that supplements directions provided by a paediatrician.

These tips for new mothers are meant to serve as a means for enriching and enhancing conventional baby-care guidelines.

Give your baby lots of love: Every infant longs for evidence of security and, in a baby’s eyes, love represents a promise of security. So, be conscious of where your baby is sleeping or playing, and make sure no object that could harm your baby is in this particular space. For example, do not use plastic to cover the mattress in the crib.

Feel free to kiss your new son or daughter. On the other hand, do not feel that you should allow every visitor to kiss the new addition to your household. Recent evidence suggests that a baby could fall victim to the herpes virus existing quietly on the lips of another, or a cold virus.

Make a point of prioritizing feeding your baby: Babies need two things: love and food. Become acquainted with the concept of sterile equipment. During the first couple months of your baby’s life, you must be sure that only sterile objects are used during the feeding process.

Of course, if you are nursing your baby, that will not be much of a problem. If you can nurse your baby, welcome that opportunity and enjoy it.2 If the doctor has said that you should not nurse, then heed that professional advice.

You will need to find other ways to establish a close connection between you and your child.

Connect with your baby by taking part in its development: Once you pursue this path, you should have little reason to repeat the question that was on Serena’s lips: What can I do with a baby? As you discover what your child is ready to learn next, you will think about what playtime activity might facilitate a simple learning experience. Children learn by playing.

So, set aside some time to play with your baby. Ideally, each of the playtime activities you initiate will help your baby discover a new aspect of this world. In other words, playtime should set the stage for a learning experience.

A Baby That is Less than One Week Old Seeks to Make Sense of a World That is Hard to See: An infant’s vision improves over their first week. Yet even an infant with limited vision can enjoy certain games. For example, you can hold your baby while standing in front of a mirror.

A baby has learned to recognize its Mother’s face, and knows when it enjoys the security of a Mother’s arms. Hence, it can begin to grasp the concept of a reflected image. As a result, it will welcome the chance to get yet another look its Mother’s reflection holding an infant.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Many questions asked when you order a soda


By Wa Muyanza

In last Saturday’s article, you let it be known that you too, at times, do partake of non-alcoholic beverages. Yes, first and foremost, water; and when you feel like it, a wide variety of other drinkables obtainable at “groceries”. You’ve no problems, for instance, with Pepsi, Coke, Tangawizi and Bavaria…or juice (ha!).

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving a break to lagers and spirits, if you ask Wa Muyanza, but most of his drinking associates and grocery operators express concern whenever he sits at his usual corner at the counter or settles at some table and orders a soft drink.

Like this other time when you enter Mama T’s and after settling at the counter, a bunch of the day’s newspapers in your hands and then say: “Let me have a Pepsi… a cold one, please.”

Now instead of heading for the freezer and get you a cold Pepsi, she looks at you, her eyes popping out of their sockets while exclaiming: “You, Mzee Muya; asking for a soda, and a cold one at that! What’s the problem?”

“Oh, my!” you say and continue: “There’s no problem… I’m okay.”

“You say you’re okay, yet you, of all people, are saying I give you a soda?” asks Mama T.

You can’t fully see how taking a soda and “not being okay” are associated, but all the same you explain to her you’re simply feeling like giving a break to alcohol now until you decide to get back to beer.

“I will soon resume my drinking, even tomorrow and indeed, even later tonight, so don’t worry, Mama T” you say as you proceed to order her a beer and another for Mongi, a mtani of you who hails—you guessed right reader—Moshi.

“Thanks Mzee Muya for the beer… like Mama T, I was also worried you’re sick,” says Mongi whose sense of relief is written on his face, a relief that his mtani is fine and that he’s abstaining today out of choice and not on orders from some malicious doctor.

On this other occasion, you’re at Halichachi Grocery where you pick an empty table and ask for a Coke—you had a craving for this brand of soda and you simply had to get one—a cold one. You cannot touch a chilled beer, yet when it comes to soft drinks, you like them cold. Zay, the attendant who has been in the employment of Halichachi for some three months now, is shocked on account of two things: one you’re ordering a drink that is cold while she has always served you with warm ones and two, that you’re here to drink a soda!

“Mzee Muya, kwani, is there a problem?” asks Zay.

Before you can respond, her manager, Mzee Halichachi, who must have heard you make the order, chips in, saying: “Mzee Muya, don’t worry about money, I’ll instruct my akaunta to give you beer on credit—any number of beers you want, even if you want to give offers to everybody here, including me.”

“Hey, Bwana meneja, who told you I’m broke? The month-end was just the other day.”

“Well, I was worried you didn’t come with money… it happens; it’s not like you to drink soda; things have changed under Magu and I thought you, like everybody else, is having cash flow problems.”

“You’re not correct in that score… I wasn’t in the eating fraternity of the past regime, so my situation after its exit remains basically the same,” you reassure the manager, then ask Zay to get him a Serengeti Lite on your bill.

“Okay,” says Zay, adding: “Can I also get one, Mzee Muya?”

“Well, well… okay; have one too—a soda, I mean.”

“No way! Why do you give me only sodas all the time? Today I’m taking a Castro Lite; in any case I heard you say Magu hasn’t affected you,” she says.

“Okay, you win, have your little Castro…”

In another grocery at a different location, you ask for a Tangawizi to wash down a mtori you’ve just taken and Jaqueline, your favourite barmaid at this joint, exclaims, “Hey, baby; has your mama watoto forbidden you from taking beer or Konyagi?”

“Why do you suggest that, my dear one?”

“I’ve never seen you take soda, like if you were a schoolboy!”

Duh! You say to yourself as you tell Jacqueline to stop joking and get you a cold Tangawizi.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Moms juggling between work and breastfeeding

By Salome Gregory

Last month, the world commemorated the annual breastfeeding week which happens every August 1-7. This year, the theme was ‘sustaining breastfeeding together’. As such, we are celebrating all the different ways we can work together to support breastfeeding mothers.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, only 21 per cent of women in the country observe the two-year breast-feeding period recommended by experts.

Majority of career women fall under the remaining percentage of mothers who don’t observe the breastfeeding period. Working mothers are affected by working environment when trying to balance both motherhood and career. Meeting career goals as well as fulfilling the real value of breast feeding without denying children their right to a nutritious diet is hard to achieve.

Woman brings you different experiences from career women who on one hand work to meet targets and deadlines while on the other are breastfeeding mothers who have to meet the two year breast feeding period as recommended by health experts.

Matilda Rugalabamu, 37, is a mother of four children and an engineer. Her last born is just one year old. It is recommended for a child to be breastfed for two years, she breastfed three of her babies for only one year and two months.

“Since I became a mother, none of my children have been breastfed for more than one year and two months. Managing time has been a permanent challenge that left me with no option but to breastfeed for one year and two months to create room to meet deadlines at work,” says Matilda.

She says that, soon after completing her maternity period she has to report to work from 8am and take a break for two hours to breastfeed her child before going back to work to finish her daily duties.

Balancing motherhood and work

Due to demanding schedules both at work and home, creating a balance between motherhood and work is a daunting task for Matilda. During the first three months soon after her maternity leave she departs from work at 2pm and due transport issues in Dar es Salaam she gets home between 4-5pm.

“You can imagine how hard it is to make sure work targets are met as well as getting enough time to rest and eat proper meals suitable for a breastfeeding mother. Leave alone the stress I go through on the road dealing with unprofessional drivers or at home dealing with the house girl,” she says.

It is because of such circumstances that I’m forced to relinquish the baby off breastfeeding when they turn one year and two months. It is not a good idea but it is the only feasible way I can juggle all the duties on my shoulders,” adding, “but also, at one year and two months a child is already walking and more physically developed.”

In 2014 Dr Donnan Mmbando, then acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, was quoted saying; failure to observe proper breast-feeding had resulted in an increasing number of children who are malnourished or stunted.

Tanzania had more stunted children than most African countries, except DRC and Ethiopia, with 42 per cent of its children being stunted.

He said children who have been deprived of nutrients for healthy growth have also been deprived of nutrients for healthy brain development and healthy immune systems, calling upon mothers to observe breastfeeding guidelines.

Joyceline Kaganda, the Director for Nutrition, Education and Training Tanzania at the Food and Nutrition Centre says that, breast milk substitutes and similarly designated products flooding the local market are the alternatives used by mothers.

She says that, about 50 per cent of mothers observed the exclusive six-month breast-feeding period, while only 30 percent breastfed alongside giving children pre-lacteal feeds.

Amina Dudu, 35, works at a hair dressing salon in Tabata. She is a breastfeeding mother to a 9 months-year-old daughter called Namla. Her experience is worst compared to Matilda’s. She was only given three months of maternity, soon after she resumed work she was not even considered for the two hours a day for breast feeding.

“It is not easy to breastfeed without being supported by the employer and family members. If all employers could create special places for breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed their children while at work, then we would be more productive,” says Amina.

Amina says that during the first six months the flow of her breast milk was so heavy that she could not manage to get enough milk to support her daughter’s intake of exclusive breastfeeding. As time went by, her breast milk production was completely affected by poor nutrition and now she no longer produces enough breast milk for her daughter so she uses formulas.

Earlier this month when launching a breastfeeding week, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu called upon employers to provide special rooms for lactating mothers at work places.

She said that, creating a supportive enviroment for breastfeeding mothers will push the government’s efforts to allow infants being breastfed exclusively for the first six months.

Education on breastfeeding

Rose Mathew, a Nursing Officer at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) says that despite the fact that there is a challenge on trying to make a balance between career and parenting; still there is the problem of low education on proper nutrition among mothers.

Rose is the head of the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Ward at the MNH, following the hospital’s decision to adopt the new initiative in August 2012. The decision was meant to cope with the lack of incubators to save lives of premature babies.

She says that about 98 per cent of women do not follow proper breastfeeding schedule suggesting that there is a need for the government as well as other stakeholders on reproductive health to introduce proper education on the importance of proper breastfeeding even before a woman thinks of getting a baby.

“Majority of mothers tend to even have schedules on what time they should breastfeed. A child should be breastfed whenever she/he wants. This helps to create a bond between a mother and a child as well as protecting a child from unnecessary diseases,” says Rose.

According to the Employment and Labour Relations Act-2004, a new mother is allowed to breastfeed a child for two hours a day for the first six months after her martenity period, completing the maternity period.

Mariamu Hussein, a teacher and a new mother to her son Issa, ten months, says that the government has done some changes to allow mothers to get two hours to breastfeed their children for nine moths.

“I think the government has created a very unique opportunity to support mothers to breastfeed their children with the time extension, however challenges are still the same as it is not easy for the mother to get home at exactly lunch time due to transport issues,” she says.

She suggests that employers and family members support breastfeeding mothers in order to make a proper arrangement that will give more time for a mother and a child. It is not possible for all employers to build special rooms for breastfeeding but atleast they should give a friendly schedule that can allow mothers to get home early.     


Saturday, September 2, 2017

DEAR DIARY: Importance of breastfeeding


Breastfeeding is an important stage in a child’s upbringing. Natural milk from a mother is filled with healthy nutrients pertinent to a child’s healthy development. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness

Breastfeeding protects your baby from a long list of illnesses: Numerous studies from around the world have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula, or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protection.

Your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby. Your body responds to pathogens (virus and bacteria) that are in your body and makes secretory IgA that’s specific to those pathogens, creating protection for your baby based on whatever you’re exposed to.

Breastfeeding’s protection against illness lasts beyond your baby’s breastfeeding stage, too. Breastfeeding can reduce a child’s risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists don’t know exactly how breast milk reduces the risk, but they think antibodies in breast milk may give a baby’s immune system a boost.

Breastfeeding may also help children avoid a host of diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease. In fact, preemies given breast milk as babies are less likely to have high blood pressure by the time they’re teenagers.

For babies who aren’t breastfed, researchers have documented a link between lack of breastfeeding and later development of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Breastfeeding can protect your baby from developing allergies: Babies who are fed a formula based on cow’s milk or soy tend to have more allergic reactions than breastfed babies.

Immune factors such as secretory IgA (only available in breast milk) help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to a baby’s intestinal tract.

Without this protection, inflammation can develop and the wall of the intestine can become “leaky.” This allows undigested proteins to cross the gut where they can cause an allergic reaction and other health problems.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

How a bar maid worked her way out of poverty



By Jonathan Musa

She has been on duty for more than seven years, serving as a waitress and a barmaid in restaurants and bars in various parts of the country.

She opted for the job as it entailed no credentials or any other educational background apart from health permit, energy, self-confidence and honesty. But at the moment, she runs her own pub, owns rental houses and an M-pesa shop.

Zainab Peter, 34, the waitress in topic, is a widow and a mother of four. Her husband died of stroke in August 2008 and left the family with nothing. What a burden it was by then for the young shy mother. Her late husband had not saved much for the survival of the kids he left fatherless.

Zainab was married to Peter Arufani, a mechanic in a garage at Nyarugusu ward in Geita district in early 2000’s. Her wish to live happily with her husband solemnly vanished following his untimely death.

Preparing for the worst

“After I had the last child in June, 2008, my husband’s condition had now worsened. I began realizing that he might not survive after doctors released him to go back home and try herbal treatment,” she remembered.

She says her first child who was born in 2002 was six years old while the youngest was two months when their dad passed. At such young ages, they all needed to eat, dress well and also go to school.

Her brothers in-law had no capacity to help the widow while back at her home place, nobody had enough money to solve her case.

“I now had to look for a quick option before things ran out of hand. In Geita town, I tried casual jobs like cooking and preparing food in small hotels for little payment, but things still never worked out so well because domestic work such as taking care of my child made me delay to get to work on a daily basis,” she confessed.

She did various casual jobs including sweeping of highways but still the outcome was never a promising one. At such tough times, Zainab would always reminisce of the good times she shared with her late husband.

In December 2010, she left her village (Nyarugusu) and headed to town, Geita. Here, a single cemented room with electricity would go for about Sh40, 000/- to Sh50,000/- a month. This, to her was too much, instead she made an option of going for a simple one single, cemented room but with no power connection.

All she needed was to see her kids eating well, growing healthy and going to school as well like other children.

“I got a room that I paid Sh20, 000 per month and thanks to God, my landlord accepted my financial arrangement and I therefore paid for the first three months (Sh60, 000) contrary to her six months policy,” she says.

Zainab further says the more days passed the more her family needs changed; eating habits changed, there was a change in dressing code and other school requirements became necessity as well.

Meanwhile, working as a cook, and as well as a waitress now in a big restaurant in Geita town, she met many customers of whom some came to know of her status and showed compassion while others just ignored her.

“Others, especially those who knew me from the same village would leave me their ‘change’ which I would keep for myself. The decision to keep the change stemmed from a state of dire need rather than ill motive. I needed money for my children,” she disclosed.

In 2013, Philip Peter, Zainab’s first child completed primary school education and was looking forward to joining secondary school the following year. By this time, things were looking up for the struggling mother; she had a job.

After her child’s school results were out, Zainab was delighted because he had done so well. By this time, she had made some money that would cater for the boy’s admission in Mwanza Secondary School.

“I was working in a big bar as a waiter and I had night shifts with my colleague as a care taker in the guest rooms. There are times when I had to use an unfair advantage so as to make it in life, I regret that at times I had to lie to my boss,” she said, feeling shy.

Using means that border on the line of deceit is a known tactic in the catering industry. Workers, mostly maids, have to resort to ‘other’ means in order to make money. Things like not tallying the actual number of customers in the visitors’ book enables waitresses to make extra cash.

Zainab says she has worked in more than ten restaurants and bars in Mwanza, Geita and Tabora regions, each with its challenges.

“The biggest amount I got paid was Sh60,000 a month and I also never stuck to one working station for a long time – for one, conditions varied at each work place,” she said.

How did you get the capital?

“Working as a bar maid wasn’t something I was passionate about, I had bigger goals in life. I only became a barmaid due to my life’s condition. The little I made I always tried to save ,’’ she says.

She remembered of a day when a fight broke out among the drunkards in bar and unfortunately, one of the men dropped his wallet. Zainab picked the wallet up and kept it for the man who had lost it to come and get it – he was a regular at the pub.

“When he came in the morning, I never hesitated to hand over the wallet to him. He gave me half the amount that it carried, Sh450,000. This was my first time to get such huge amount as mine and at once,” she elaborated.

This gave her a great boost in her life that was much needed.

In September 2016, Zainab decided to stop working in bars and restaurants, and started her own pub at Sengerema. She runs the business on her own because she has full experience owing to her previous jobs.

“You know twirling in the same field for about seven years, one must have had enough of what it takes even if you did not go to school. I now have my own business and at least I can be called the ‘boss’,” she laughs.

The mother also runs M-Pesa shop which she says has enabled her pay some basic needs in school and at times food in the house.

She now has her own piece of land and has managed to build rental houses in Geita suburb with three tenants. She says she is expecting to add more the moment her firstborn completes high school.

“All this success stems from the brain I applied when I was serving mostly men in bars. I had to endure their abusive languages, I had to tolerate and learn the hard way to cope with the situation,” Zainab.

She has now employed a young lady running her M-Pesa shop with other small electrical accessories and four of them in her pub of where she works as the manager.


She says collecting glasses can be a troublesome trial at times, especially when it’s a busy Friday or Saturday night. People treat bar staff like they’re invisible and won’t try to make that job any easier. Whilst one is trying to balance a tower of pint glasses on the other hand she’s trying to dodge a drunk folk.

“For one to do this kind of a job, she should be serious and only concentrate on what has brought her to the job. In this job, you handle different kind of people, others with good and bad intentions, so one has to watch out,” she advised.

Parting shots

First, she congratulates the fifth-phase government for having introduced free primary and secondary education, adding that was it not government’s policy, she would have strained a lot.

“With the free education system, I now have managed to do other businesses and offer support to others,” she explained.

In some places, barmaids are entitled to perform double duties and this does not last for long because at the end of it, fight erupts amongst maids due to the nature of the work they do.

“I hereby urge the community to understand the differences between a prostitute and a bar attendant because we even have male bar attendants,” she concluded.     


Saturday, August 19, 2017

DEAR DIARY: Who wants to learn manners?

Janet Otieno Prosper 

Janet Otieno Prosper  

By Janet Otieno Prosper

There was news earlier in the week of Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe hitting a young woman with extension cable. Grace was reportedly annoyed after finding the young woman in company of her sons.

The 52-year-old First Lady is accused of beating model Gabriella Engels, 20, on Sunday evening at the Sandton hotel, South Africa where her two sons were staying. Pictures circulating online show Engels with deep cuts to her forehead and the back of her head. Though the victim has lodged the matter with the police, as Woman desk we condemn such barbaric acts on women.

I will simply be frank and say women need to act with grace. At the level of a First Lady, there are certain things you should not do. How do you hit someone’s child in the first place as a mother? This drives me to a point, how should a woman act with grace in spite of challenges? We should start thinking of ourselves in the way we want to be perceived. The moment you start thinking about that, then everything else will fall in place. We all have those moments when we have responded inappropriately and would wish to take those moments back. This means that we should be very mindful of what we do and how they affect others.

Another thing, which we should possess to make us graceful, is self-control. We should always try to restrain ourselves in situations where anger pushes us to act stupid. We should also try not to give a thought of what others think about us as it can kill your confidence. A woman is passionate about life and has the ability to love herself and others. As you focus on yourself, you automatically learn to love others.

So let’s handle our emotions like business and command the right kind of attention and praise. This world needs women who are strong and gentle. You can be humble yet so fierce and rational. I don’t know about other faiths but Christianity commands us to be humble. The moment you act with humility, God lifts you up. Humility means being able to embrace people from different social and economic backgrounds and blending easily.

We should demonstrate respect wherever we are, embrace our strengths and accept our weaknesses. And when out there, let us strive to give our best. So whatever you do out there, know that somebody is watching so it is up to you to be a good role model or not. So let’s not act with disgrace like Grace Mugabe.     


Saturday, August 19, 2017

What being a millenial mom really means


I recently found out that I am what society calls a ‘Millennial Mom’.

At first I was little offended because from what I read and heard, Millennials are considered lazy, overly sensitive individuals and not as tough as previous generations. For me, especially as a first time mother, I certainly did not want those words to describe me. Since being called a millennial mom is out of my control, I decided to embrace this label and figure out how to navigate modern day motherhood in a more positive way.

Here is what being a Millennial Mom means:

The World Wide Web: Some may think that we rely on social media on how to take care of our children, but there is more to the internet than getting advice from memes on Facebook.

The internet has helped us open our eyes and not become so close minded to people’s opinions. We are shaped by technology and we have resources right at our fingertips. Because of technology and the internet we are more mindful about things such as our health.

Who would have thought that we would have a watch that tracks our daily steps, calculate how many calories we burn and then have that information sent to our phone for more analyzation?

Selfcare: Now that maternal mental health is recognized more than ever, mothers are advocated to take care of themselves. Whether that is taking an extra 15 minutes in the shower, going out for a run or simply scrolling through a celebrity’s Instagram feed, we should do what we enjoy to feel energized.

I have said in the past that there is no time for myself. I have determined that this is not entirely true and reprioritized some things in my life. Even though I do not have family near me, I have a supportive husband and amazing friends to help me.

Providing some alone time does not mean we are selfish or not putting our children first but we are acknowledging that in order to take care of our family we need to take care of ourselves as well.

Different lifestyles: As millennial mothers, we have more options on how we live our lifestyles and raise our families. I always assumed I would be a stay at home mom because that’s what my mom did and I admired her for that.

As I got older, graduated college and became pregnant with our son, I realized then that for us to be financially stable as a family, both my husband and I would need to go back to work full time. This option worked for my family but this choice does not necessarily work for others, and that is okay!

Each and every one of us have a unique and different lifestyle so we need to look at it as just another option and not a negative decision.     


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Women should forgive men for poor memory


No matter how many times I have unstrapped my woman’s bra, I still have no inkling what bra colour my woman prefers. Ideally, a man is supposed to know the wife’s shoe size, dress colour and design preferences and keep tabs of her birthday. A “caring” man in the eyes of most should go further take the small details. Realistically however, most men will try so hard in the first year but will give up thereafter.

I, just like most other men stand guilty as accused that I do not know her bra size – there has never been immediacy to the effect. I can also confide to you that the last time I remembered my own birthday was a decade ago - remembering hers is a task I cannot manage. There is no adequate reason for that and she has never complained about it. In many instances that I have had to buy a pair of shoes for her, the results are devastating.

Worse still, I end up buying the wrong stuff. She may accept the presents out of courtesy not to offend my goodwill, but will discard it as soon as I look the other way. This shrugging off of the little things women considered valuable by guys have been cited to as the reasons why many relationships come to a dead end.

My take is that most men’s minds are clogged with many things appertaining to life. While the woman’s mind has the capacity to multitask, a man’s mind is unidirectional (like that of a cow). Not to say that men are always to blame for forgetfulness, though. We’ll admit it—we don’t always remember even the most basic details about ourselves.

Take for instance, I am typing on the computer and my wife is trying to tell me how she spent her day in at work. Most probably, I will be nodding my head in acceptance but if you ask what she said, I most likely will not be able to replicate a quarter of what she said.

Various surveys point that a large percentage of men doesn’t remember their other half’s birthday, while an even larger percentage don’t remember her bra size. An additional percentage has no clue of their significant other’s choice of dress colour. Cell phone numbers top the list of things men forget about their wives or girlfriends, but we can at least understand this one. Who memorizes phone numbers these days? No one! Unfortunately, male memory span as said earlier is short.

But, what about the rest? It is totally unacceptable. Maybe it’s time we had a heart-to-heart with our women to make sure we actually know stuff about her.     


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Why size zero must come to an end!


By Khalifa Said @RealKhalifax

One of the most controversial aspects of fashion industry so far are the models. Specifically, how young they are and how thin they are.

It’s a topic that continues to create endless debate. Amidst the controversy the fashion world is divided in terms of the public opinion on whether or not size zero should be a criterion for modeling.

Size zero or size 0 refers to extremely thin individuals. Sometimes it can even refer to the trends associated with women and girls.

However, the appearance pressures experienced by fashion models have been criticized as harmful to their health. It has as well increased eating disorder risk among youth by promoting ideals of extreme thinness.

Zero, comfortable

“I’m zero and comfortable,” Niler Bernard tells Woman during an interview. “I currently don’t have thoughts of increasing my size but when time comes and I feel the urge to gain a bit of weight, I’ll definitely do so,” she says.

The now 25-year-old international model Niler is of the opinion that size matters in the modeling industry. Nevertheless, she defends that her loss of weight is not, in any way, associated with starving. She perceives starvation as odd and, as she puts it, would never recommend it to anyone since it’s not healthy.

“I worked out at least five times a week and ate super healthy meals like veggies and drank a lot of water,” says Niler, who works under Boss Models in Cape Town, South Africa. “My body weight reduced because of the balance I made between eating and exercising,” she adds.

Zero? Never

Melody Tryphone, also known as Miranda, is one of the country’s models with a very upfront view that size zero shouldn’t be, in any way, the gauge for modeling. This is not only based on health grounds, as she argues, but also that it will deprive others who don’t fit well with the size.

“Had it been the standard I wouldn’t have been a model in the first place in my whole life. There is not a single day I did or will think of losing my weight to that extent,” says the model, who started with size ten but is currently size six.

The 22-year old Miranda directs her accusations to the government through its ministry responsible with arts that it does lesser than the required in monitoring the industry. This includes protecting them from the nonsensical designers and stylists who care less for their employees’ health and wellbeing.

“There is no supervision in the modeling industry. It would be good that the government put a policy on the issue particularly stipulating the required size for the models. Sumptuous women should also be given space in the industry as their talent may run out,” Miranda says.

Designers, stylists speak

However, opinions from the country’s designers shade a different picture with some saying that whether or not size zero should be a criterion for modeling will depend upon the particular designer.

Ally Rehmtullah, one of the country’s famous fashion designers, makes it clear that he prefers size zero models for his casting. “I look at fashion as a fantasy kind of thing which undoubtedly slim girls have more to offer,” says Rehmtullah during a telephone interview with Woman recently.

But to Stacy Phillipo, a stylist with Nzuri Afrika Modeling Agency (NAMA), size zero shouldn’t, in any way, be taken as a determinant factor for modeling in the country as it would be at odds with the actual size of our models.

“It would be better if we take a thorough analysis on the common size of most of our girls and then after that we can come up with a particular size,” she says.

Nonetheless, Stacy is one among the few who sets herself apart from putting blame on the girls who decide to starve so that they can get slimmer but instead directs criticism to designers and stylists who have built that kind of mentality that a model must be slim.

“When rejected more than once at auditions because of their size, most girls, who are sometimes voluptuous, subject themselves to rogue techniques of losing weight including that of starving,” she says.

But Stacy has got a solution that she thinks can go a long way to save the lives of many girls both locally and internationally: “We need to change the mentality of these designers and stylists who think that models must be people with size zero only.”

Stacy says that she usually doesn’t look at size but attitude and other skills as well. She strongly agrees that designers pressurize their models but she doesn’t think that they are told to go and starve.

Designers, stylists under fire

Earlier this year a study titled ‘Results of a strategic science study to inform policies targeting extreme thinness standards in the fashion industry’ was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. The study assessed professional fashion models’ perceptions of the potential impact and feasibility of seven policy proposals.

The study was a part of the initiative by the Harvard graduate and former runway star Sara Ziff. Sara, with four other researchers from Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Boston Children’s Hospital, undertook the study as part of her taking on eating disorders in the modeling industry.

A sample of 85 female fashion models completed an online survey assessing unhealthy weight control behaviors, perceived pressure from agencies to lose weight, as well as the perceived impact and feasibility of seven potential policy actions.

Models reported high levels of pressure to lose weight, which was associated with higher odds of engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors.

Never pressured

On pressure from her designers, Niler says that the agencies, both former and the current one, never exerted any pressure on her to become zero but rather she herself admired the measurement and worked hard for it. “I didn’t intentionally decide to lose weight to zero, I’m naturally a 4 so after exercising and the change in my eating behavior patterns, I went to zero.” Though she acknowledges that as models, they sometimes receive pressure from designers to lose weight and become size zero, Miranda makes it clear that no designer can convince her to lose weight to such extreme levels.

“In 2014, I came across a designer whose name will remain anonymous for now; the designer in question made a request for me to lose weight and become size zero. I rejected the notion straight to his face,” recalls Miranda. Despite standing her ground, Miranda was nonetheless selected by the designer.

“I didn’t subject myself to weird techniques like starving, I instead adhered to the proper advice given which I still work on to this day,” she points out, adding, “I totally disagree that one’s weight should set her apart from the modeling industry. I can’t put my life at risk by dieting so hard that I become size zero, no matter how much I like modeling.”

No pressure, but advice

Despite his confession for the love of slim girls to feature in his fashion shows, Rehmtullah was quick to distance himself from the perception that as a designer, he pressurizes his models to lose weight to zero.

“But I do encourage and advise them to get slimmer through the appropriate and recommended ways like healthy diet and exercise. If someone goes out and then starts starving so that she can lose weight, that’s upon her,” he says. To him, if a model isn’t zero size, then she doesn’t qualify. “There are so many ways of becoming slim apart from starving. There is a healthy diet and exercises to name but a few. These ways take time and cannot be achieved overnight. Starving so that you can lose weight is a bad thing and not encouraged in any way,” he adds.

Word from a nutritionist

Most people think of diet as a specific weight-loss plan, but Ms Neema Shosho, a Nutrition Advisor at the Embassy of Ireland in Tanzania debunks that fallacy by saying that diet is simply the types and amounts of food we eat. “I don’t recommend starvation as a way of losing weight. When the body does not receive essential nutrients that come from food and liquids, side effects occur. Systems in the body stop to function well and can lead to death.” She says that losing weight is not a one time off event; it should be embedded into one’s lifestyle. Her advice: “Don’t go for shortcuts such as starvation plan rather learn to eat a well-balanced plate with all the essential nutrients and right portions.”

Way forward

The policy approaches rated as most impactful by the study undertaken by Sarah and her colleagues, were, among others, requiring employers to provide food and a 30-min break for jobs longer than six hours. In the list is also providing employment protections and healthier working conditions which is highly supported by professional models.

But these are hard to come by without the government intervention. “There is no supervision in the modeling industry in the country. It would be good that the government had a policy on the issue particularly stipulating the required size for the models. Voluptuous women should also be given space in the industry as their talent may expire,” cries Miranda. While in May this year France announced that it would ban unhealthy models, Tanzania is seen to be indecisive about the issue at hand. Speaking with Woman this week, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Arts, Culture and Sports, Prof Elisante Ole Gabriel Ole confesses that currently there is no policy on the ground to monitor the issue.

A sense of dignity

“However, as the government, we strongly strive for the respect of a person’s dignity and that anything that can compromise it and have negative repercussions to the society in any way is totally discouraged,” speaks Prof Ole Gabriel in a telephone interview from Dodoma.     


Saturday, August 5, 2017

DEAR DIARY: We need breastfeeding stations

Janet Otieno-Prosper

Janet Otieno-Prosper 

By Janet Otieno-Prosper

Breastfeeding has never been taken as an important issue in many nations. Though in Tanzania, emphasis has been put on breastfeeding by various health facilities, some people are still not aware of the importance of this exercise. Most people think that the moment a mother resumes work after maternity leave, the baby can survive on cow’s milk or solid foods. So on this breastfeeding week worldwide, it is about time we start discussing about breastfeeding and ensuring that it gets all the attention it deserves.

Did you know that 820,000 child deaths could be prevented annually (about 13 per cent of all under-five child deaths globally) by improving breastfeeding rates? Breastfeeding could be one of the unique intervention in maternal and child mortality to create a healthier society. Though the Tanzanian Government tries to ensure babies are exclusively breastfed for six months by allowing nursing mothers to work half day, some employers still don’t adhere since the workload these mothers do remain the same not allowing them time to go and breastfeed. And for those who strive to pump, there is no safe place to pump and store the breastmilk. It is good to highlight that babies should exclusively breastfeed for six months. This is because the breast milk alone is sufficient to help them grow and meet their development milestones. It is also laden with antibodies which help protect the babies from disease thus boosts their immunity. Breastmilk is loaded with vital nutrients and is easy to digest. It is also very convenient since no preparation is needed. For those career women out there, I know it can be hard to get time to breastfeed. The good news is that you could ensure that the baby gets enough milk while you are at home and pump or express some and store safely for the baby to take while you are at work. It is best stored in a freezer but for those without electricity, you can stand your container of breastmilk in a dish of cold water in a cool area in the room and ensure it is consumed within 24 hours. There is also an aspect of nutrition; nursing mothers could talk to their healthcare providers to guide them through proper nutrition to boost milk supply during this period. And to the government and all stakeholders, let’s join hands to support nursing mothers by providing breastfeeding stations in various public places and at work as it has an effect on the health of women and children. This would have a positive impact on the economy. Happy breastfeeding week to all nursing mothers.     


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Meet to set plans for husband, dad-to-be


By Wa Muyanza

You, plus two ndugus, are having a drink at a place located a bit far from your neighbourhood. Why, there’re serious issues to discuss and you need privacy, away from your regular and intrusive drinking buddies.

So, we’re in this far-flung part of Bongoville off the Dar-Bagamoyo road, where you arrived sharing a vehicle with Yesaya, this ndugu who doubles as an on-and-off drinking companion.

We give Vita our driver strict orders to take only sodas and his response is: “Of course, wazee wangu, I won’t touch alcohol today, trust me; I’m actually on medication entailing a one-week drinking ban.”

“Okay, we trust you; take a seat somewhere and have a soda of your choice,” says Esaya after noting the fellow dragging a chair towards our selected table. There’re some sensitive family matters we want to discuss and we don’t want any third party around. “Okay boss,” he says as moves to another table.

There’re a lot of family issues that need deliberating on; like matters about brats who are now grown men and women who, however, consider themselves children. And all these several Form 4 leavers who attained a good grade but are declining to join high school. Like this one who has argued:

“Why should I go to high school? Sister (gives name) and brother (gives name) went to high school and then, to university; what have they benefitted from their degrees?”

A ndugu (call him Davy) who has just joined us reports about a clan member who has put someone’s daughter, who is still a student, in a family way.

“You mean,” Yesaya says, his lips trembling, “the crook has made some one’s school-going child pregnant? Poor guy! That means he’ll spend the next 30 years of his life in jail unless we act fast… he’s joking with JPM!”

“Hey, bro,” says Davy, “why are you jumping to conclusions so quickly?”

“It’s not a mere conclusion; it’s fact… when you impregnate a student, irrespective of her age, you get 30 years in prison,” insists Yesaya.

“But the girl in question is neither in primary school nor in secondary school,” says Davy.

“Ah, so, why do you call her student…where is she?” asks Yesaya?

“She’s at university, second year,” says Davy.

“Ah, then there’s no issue here,” says a visibly relieved Esaya, who adds, “why don’t they simply get married?”

His matter of fact that statement—si waoane tu chap-chap?—reminds you of the hit song by Chege, a Bongo Flava artiste, Waache Waoane.

According to Davy, if you put a grown girl in a family way, the one and only way forward, unless you’re a crook, is to move fast and marry her. And, as they, damn the consequences!

Now there are only three of us here, all ndugus to the culpable clan member who was reckless enough to see no need to use protection as he went about breaking the Sixth Commandment with someone’s daughter. We convince ourselves we comprise a quorum; that is, a group large enough to claim the mandate to plan what to do next since nothing can be undone regarding the mistake of the two “misguided” youngsters.

However, Davy comes up with a suggestion that it would be more appropriate to involve the culpable clansman for any decision we make implementable. We endorse that and ask the proposer of the idea to summon the young man.

Davy says fine and rings him, putting his phone on the speaker mode so we can follow the conversation. He informs the father-to-be the agenda at hand before directing him to where we are.

“Come here as quickly as you can,” Davy tells the young man at the other end, “I suggest you take a bodaboda, but tell the driver to be careful… you’re too precious to lose.”

“Poa uncle; I’ll make sure he doesn’t ride recklessly,” says the expectant dad.

Twenty minutes later, the young man appears and before he takes a seat, he bends towards Davy and whispers something. Then, Davy pulls out his wallet and produces some money which he hands to the father-to-be who dashes out, while saying to us: “I will be right back in a minute.”

“Hey, what’s going on?” Esaya asks Davy, “I saw you give the husband and dad-to-be some money, what was it for?”

“For paying the bodaboda driver,” says Davy.

“How much did he owe the bodaboda guy?”

“Two thousand bob.”     


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ways to keep your children active


In a day and age of Facebook, Netflix and WhatsApp, it seems that children are not as active as they used to be - so what are the ways to keep kids active?

Inactivity can have many detrimental effects to their physical and mental well-being. By encouraging them to be active, we will do wonders for their physical well-being, improve their mood and their social skills.

If you are struggling to get your kids active, here are a few suggestions:

Family walks are the best way to move for the entire family: Family walks are great because they allow you to spend quality time together and get out of the house. This is much easier if you have a dog, but if not, then you could take a picnic or stop off at a pub along the way. This is much healthier than sitting around and watching television and it is a good exercise for all.

Journey to school can be more fun if you walk or use bicycle: Instead of driving the kids to school and picking them up, consider a more active route. You could walk them to school, or try a more fun activity like using a bicycle - these are hugely popular with kids and a surprisingly good form of exercise. Of course, this is only possible if you live relatively close to the school, but encouraging them to walk or ride a bicycle anywhere can make a big difference to their fitness level and also improve independence.

Park and garden games are great activities: Take the kids to the park armed with a range of fun toys and games for them to play. You can take them to fun city in Kigamboni or another park closer to the city.

This can be great fun and a good chance to spend quality time together as a family. They could play tag, jump rope, play football, fly a kite, tug of war amongst other fun games. If it is a hot day, a water gun fight is a great way to keep cool!

Dancing is a great exercise: Rainy afternoons do not have to be spent in front of the television. Turn on some music and get the kids dancing - you can encourage them by making it a friendly competition, by using balloons or hula hoops and by playing their favourite music.

This is a decent form of exercise and is sure to be a fun-filled afternoon too. Swim together to stay active: Swimming is a great way of keeping kids moving and it’s a great way for the entire family to have fun and stay active. Just make sure the water is not too cold for your little ones and that all safety rules are observed. Water is tricky and it only takes a moment. Caution is advised even if you think your kids are good swimmer. Kids are still kids! It seems that kids are not as active as they once were, but keeping active is important for many different reasons. The above are a few ways to get your kids moving, but you should also encourage them to participate in sports, swimming or any other kind of activity during the week too.     


Saturday, August 5, 2017

EU child: You all greet each other here in TZ!


By Wa Muyanza

You’ve been invited to a family function whose agenda hasn’t been made clear to you. “Come with your own drinks if you can, for I suspect there’ll only be sodas and juice,” says the SMS invite.

You understand, for it isn’t like it’s a wedding or send-off reception to which you go to consume drinks and food purchased from money you were coerced to contribute.

The function is expected to begin at 5pm but since this is Bongo, you aren’t bothered, so by 6pm you’re still having a drink with some washikaji at a grocery in your neighbourhood. You arrive at the party venue well past 7pm.

It’s a surprise crowd you find here, for besides your fellow Waswahili, there’re numerous faces of the Gulf extraction as well as those from the European Union.

Your investigation soon reveals that virtually all the non-Wabongo guests had been here minutes to 5pm. This doesn’t surprise you much, for you’re an adherent of Freddy Macha, a Diaspora M’bongo who pens “must-read” weekly columns for Mwananchi Jumapili and The Citizen (Friday), in which he never misses a chance to impress upon us how Westerners respect time religiously.

You get the impression Freddy is trying to tell us that our disregard to the importance of keeping time could be one of the major reasons there’s huge development and wealth gap between Africa and the West.

Much as you notice some of the wageni looking at you and their watches as you make your entrance, you comfort yourself that they won’t murder you even if they were given the chance to, because, whatever part of the world they might be from, they must have heard of the infamous phrase, “There’s no hurry in Africa!”

Furthermore, in all appearances, this is a garden party that’s very casual. Guests and hosts are mingled anyhow, with almost everybody making a trip to where a goat is being roasted, claiming they want to check how Odiro the nyama choma boy and his assistants are faring. Without exception, each meat roasting inspector comes back munching something.

“The cook is great… a few minutes more and it’ll be ready,” says Esaya as he munches and swallows.

“Oh yeah,” agrees Katherine (from Switzerland), while munching, “actually to me this is more than ready… I know you guys in Africa like you’re meat thoroughly cooked, us, we like it rare.”

After a lot of tasting (strictly by adults) and critiquing, an impromptly (or was he self-appointed?) picked MC, Yesaya, welcomes us to file towards the nyama choma bay. Rice comes around in huge hot pots from God-knows-where and soon, everybody is eating.

The young are free to eat from wherever they are in the leafy, dimly lit garden. The table is for wakubwa.

Thanks to modern technology, deejaying is no big deal these days; several amateur disc “spinners” are giving people what they want from their smart phones via a huge speaker placed on a tree branch: Bongo Lava, Zilipendwa and German songs.

You learn there’s a lot of German influence in Switzerland and German is one of the major languages there. You’re impressed by the way the young boys and girls in this function speak English with confidence and you’re bawled when they tell you that besides Swiss, they also speak English (of course, that’s how you’re able to interview some of them) and German.

It soon transpires this function isn’t just a family reunion affair; it’s also a birthday party for Katherine, a Swiss lady married to Bulbul Kannadi, a Tanga-born Tanzanian hotelier based in the EU. Their daughter, 16-year-old Ramona, plays for Switzerland’s national Under-17 Team.

A number of people get the opportunity to speak, including Steven Baker who, together with his parents and sister, is in Bongo at the invitation of the Kannadis. They’ve plans to visit numerous touristic sites and enjoy what his dad describes as “this beautiful country of yours”.

Says the 12-year-old Steven in his speech, “Tanzania is such a good country…your people are very good, we’ve been to various places…the beaches, streets, marketplaces and everybody says hello… where we come from, only a person who knows says hello.”

We all clap to that. We’re touched, more so because it’s a compliment from a child speaking in pure innocence. It’s not like a grown up alien trying to flatter us, the locals.

One of the moved guests offers the boy a free stay if he chooses to make another visit to Bongo in future.     


Saturday, July 29, 2017

DEAR DIARY: You can still be sexy in that body

Janet Otieno Prosper

Janet Otieno Prosper 

By Janet Otieno Prosper

This is a very sensitive topic for women. As women, living in our own bodies can be a challenge as we aspire to get a certain look. We are always rushing to lose weight faster than we gained it. Recently, a nursing mother in my prayer cell shocked us. She wanted slimming tea though she was breastfeeding. Our attempts to warn her about its effects on breast milk production and breastfeeding in general fell on deaf ears. She told us she wanted to look like size zero models.

I agree that they look great but what is behind their sizes will shock you. While the younger models are naturally this size, their older counterparts are not and work extremely hard to achieve the desired weight. Nevertheless, it is perceived to be the ideal size for the high fashion industry.

A story of top Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos death hit headlines in 2006 after she collapsed minutes after stepping off the catwalk.

The already skinny 22-year-old had been told to lose more weight by her modeling agency so that she could conquer the fashion world. She then embarked on diet of diet coke, salads and other green veggies. Her death sparked calls from various quotes to fashion agencies to adopt more healthy looking women as their models.

In May this year, France announced that it would ban unhealthy models. And then there was a Miss World Kenya who looked really skinny to most people until the panelists decided that she was a bit hippy (not thin enough to fit the bill).

Many people were shocked since she was already painfully thin, but here we were being told that she was not thin enough. Well, she did not take the world crown, but she is back home doing several innitiaves in the community and reaching out to the less privileged. Her story did not end tragically like Ramos.

We are not going to deny that certain clothes look great on slim frames but we have to differentiate between slim and skinny. Girls don’t need to be forced to diet extremely to become top models. They have to endure calorie counting, obsessive dieting and extreme exercises to achieve ideal weight for the fashion agencies.

I think women can still be happy, sexy, powerful and confident in whatever body size. Without self-induced vomiting, punishing diets plus pills to look acceptable. My two cents.     


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Moral values to teach your children


By Woman Reporter

The moral values to teach your children are super-important in the kind of person they will grow up to be. Raising a family in a society that is fast-paced and ever changing can make it confusing to know just which values to teach your children. As a general rule, it’s up to you to teach your children what to believe, and how they should live their lives. But when it comes to teaching and instilling moral values, I’d love to pass on a few values to teach your children from a young age. These are simple and common everyday values that are quickly fading from our younger generation.

Respect: One of the most important values to teach your children is respect. Having worked in several daycare facilities, I’ve seen children who have no respect for authority at all. It’s exasperating to the teacher and to the parent when they arrive to pick up their kids. By teaching your kids respect, you are doing the world, yourself, and your child a favor! Life will go much easier for them with a little respect under their hat.

Obedience: Obedience is something that doesn’t come naturally, for any of us! It seems more “fun” to want to break the rules, doesn’t it? Kids see it this way too, so you must be firm and consistent. You can reward good behavior to give your children incentive to be obedient. And be patient, sometimes this one takes a while to catch on!

Politeness: Remembering to say “please” and “thank you” isn’t a difficult task, but if kids are never taught or reminded, they will never do it. As adults, we all know that sugar attracts more flies than vinegar! So start teaching these morals from the start and they will come naturally.

Responsibility: Believe it or not, children can be taught responsibility from a young age!

You don’t need to be overbearing about it, but giving your kids easy chores to do, like picking up their toys, putting away their clean laundry, or helping clear the table helps instill discipline and responsibility, two traits that will be helpful later on in life. Another way to teach responsibility is to make sure your kids brush their teeth or do their homework without being reminded.

Humility: I know this one may sound a little strange, but humility is an important aspect of life that we often overlook. Having humility has to do with not being prideful over accomplishments and achievements, but for children, it’s more about knowing to say they are sorry for acting up or doing something they shouldn’t. A good parent will always teach their child to apologize when they are wrong! Good manners: Good manners may not necessarily be a moral value per se, but you will find that for the most part, good manners are sorely lacking in the young people of today’s generation. Make sure to set a good example for manners at home and try to push through any influences that may be overshadowing your small one’s life.     


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When postpartum depression sets in


Having a baby is an experience that can cause a mixture of powerful emotions from excitement and joy to fear and nervousness. However apart from such amazing experience, some women are faced with a possibility of living through something unexpected after giving birth and that is depression.

While many new mothers are said to experience postpartum baby blues after childbirth including anxiety within the first two to three days after delivery, some new mothers on the other hand are believed to experience a more severe form of depression known as postpartum depression.

 Martha Joseph*, 28, is one among  women who went through such an experience after giving birth to her first child two years ago. According to her, the arrival of her baby girl was expected since she and her husband were eagerly trying to get pregnant for several months.

‘I remember how the first few days of my postpartum went well with few days of baby blues, however one month after I gave birth, things turned for the worse. I suffered from severe anxiety not being able to relax even when my baby was sleeping. I had lack of sleep and was always bad tempered,” explains Martha.

One thing that she never would have recognised was her possibility of suffering from postpartum mood disorder, “It did not occur to me that I would suffer from something that I have always heard and seen on TV and books. I always thought that it was a common condition for women living in European countries,” says Martha who after three months of suffering wanted to feel like herself again and therefore sought for help.

“A visit to my doctor and after several checkups I was finally told that I was suffering from postpartum depression. My doctor told me that anxiety was usually a big factor in postpartum depression and gave me the medications and monitored me carefully and within weeks I showed improvement,” she says, adding, “I have been doing much better since and I wish other women would be more open to seeking help such as medical advice when things get out of hand. I thought that what I was going through was normal that’s why I looked for medical help very late something which was not right. There is help for this curable, temporary illness.”


A common problem

Martha’s case represents a wider number of cases of women who have and continue to suffer from postpartum depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies postpartum depression as a serious public health problem that can lead to enduring mental illness for women and serious psychological and emotional consequences for their families.

 Often characterised by feelings of loss and sadness, insomnia, lack of energy, forgetfulness, irritability and poor functioning, worldwide about 10 per cent of pregnant women and 13 per cent of women who have just given birth are said to experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. In developing countries this is even higher, that is 15.6 percent during pregnancy and 19.8 percent after child birth according to World Health Organisation.

A gynecologist at Muhimbili National Hospital who requested  anonymity said postpartum depression can be viewed as simply a complication of giving birth and that signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe, “first we need to know that a woman experiencing motherhood can have a mixture of feelings after giving birth which can lead to what we call postpartum baby blues. Usually this comes with a number of symptoms which may include mood swings, anxiety and sadness and in most cases these symptoms usually last only a few days to two weeks after giving birth,” says the gynecologist

He went further saying  that postpartum depression  signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer compared to baby blues and without  noticing can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for her child. “If a mother has severe mood swings and she finds it hard bonding with her baby or that she withdraws from family and friends and has less interest in doing the activities she used to enjoy doing before or that she fears that she is not fit to be a good mother then this can be signs that a mother is suffering from depression.”

He says there are factors that contribute to postpartum depression, including having emotional concerns.

“A mother may feel less attractive or she might feel like she has lost control over her life. There is also the change that comes after a woman giving birth, for instance change in hormones; estrogen and progesterone may contribute to postpartum depression.”

He says if ignored, postpartum depression can cause a lot of problems especially when it comes to mother and child bonding. “If a mother is left untreated  for months or longer, it can become a  chronic depressive disorder and children of mothers who have untreated postpartum depression are likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; such as sleeping problems, they may also have excessive crying habits,” he says.


It’s treatable

With appropriate treatment, he says postpartum depression can be treated within six months, however in some cases it may last much longer. “With psychotherapy and antidepressants, a woman suffering can find better ways to cope with her problem. That’s why it is important to continue treatment after they begin to feel better,” he advised.

Studies from Sub-Saharan Africa identified a range of risk factors for post partum depression naming few factors such as unwanted and unplanned pregnancies to be associated with postpartum depression. Lack of emotional or practical support from husbands or partners was also a significant risk factor. Furthermore, family stress and being consistently unhappy during pregnancy are associated with it.

A research titled “Culturally determined risk factors for postnatal depression in Sub-Saharan Africa: A mixed method systematic review’’ showed a number of significant factors that could lead to depression – one among them include age, with younger mothers said to be more at risk for depression, similar to findings in Western cultures.

“Undesired gender of baby was found to be a significant risk factor, as there is an overall preference for male children within patrilineal society where an heir is considered of great importance. Having an unplanned pregnancy was found to be a significant risk factor in women who lived in a peri-urban environment but this association was not evident in women who lived in a rural environment. Although child bearing is often seen as desirable in African culture, the meaning ascribed to pregnancy and its context may be different to urban and rural women,” the study reads in part.

Gertrude Simon is one among many women who was caught between the cultural perceptions where being a single parent and having a baby out of wedlock was socially unacceptable, “I went through a lot including being stigmatised by some of my friends, family members and community after I had a baby out of wedlock. Born and raised in a Christian family, that was not expected of me,” she says.

Having a weak support system from family members and from a man, who impregnated her, let alone having financial problems and unplanned pregnancy was enough to cause a lot of emotional issues that led her into depression.

“I was 22 then, still in college depending on my parents to pay my college fees. My father was really angry and so was my mother. I could understand why they were angry because apart from our family having financial problems, I was the first born and my father had too much expectations from me, he expected me to set a good example to my other siblings. But I failed them, that caused a lot of pressure during and after giving birth since I had all these feelings of worthlessness, shame and guilt, however thanks to my aunties and grandmother who counseled both me and my parents. That’s when they came into terms with my situation,” says Gertrude.

Postpartum depression is the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, affecting up to 15 per cent of all women within the first three months following delivery. Research has shown that mothers of infants born prematurely have almost double the rates of postpartum depression, particularly during their time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Research led by Betty R. Vohr, MD, director of Women & Infants’ Neonatal Follow-Up Program and professor of pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in the US,  found that there are certain social and emotional factors that further increase the risk of postpartum depression in mothers of preterm infants. The research, entitled “Social Emotional Factors Increase Risk of Postpartum Depression in Mothers of Preterm Infants,” has been published in The Journal of Pediatrics by Katheleen Hawes of the Center for Children and Families at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island,  US elaborate more on post partum depression.

“We found mothers with a previous mental health disorder and experiencing negative perceptions of herself and her infant at NICU discharge were at increased risk for depression one month post discharge, regardless of the infant’s gestational age at birth,” explained Hawes.

By Esther Kibakaya


Friday, July 21, 2017