Saturday, January 20, 2018

Women fashion challenges that men don’t understand

Women tend to take long doing makeup. PHOTO |

Women tend to take long doing makeup. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By Mpoki Thomson

It is one of life’s great mysteries; why does it take women so long to get ready to leave the house? In any household, going anywhere can become frustrating when it involves a woman getting ready.

“Are you ready yet? We are going to be late,” are some of the common phrases on constant repeat as you stand by the door waiting for her to get done. 

Being a man, I’m yet to grasp why it necessitates a woman to take hours to get ready for the simplest of outings. 

According to a survey by Marks & Spencer (a multinational retail brand), men should allow no less than 21 minutes for their partner to get ready, regardless of where they are going. Daily mail (UK) reports that the average female takes the equivalent of ten working days a year getting ready for work.

Ernest Nomwela, an independent lawyer working in the city spends about 30-40 minutes getting ready to leave the house. “Since I’m my own boss, I dictate what time to start work, I guess this gives me an added advantage,” she says. Asked whether the situation would be any different had she been employed, Ernest, who normally leaves home for work at 8:30am, says that she would trim the time by half if she were employed by someone else.

Spending time preening yourself is essential to your appearance, this is according to Upendo Mlay, a commercial and runway model. “Women like looking good all the time. The misconception that most men have is that women want to look good for them (men), but truth is we get intrinsic satisfaction by the shear fact of looking beautiful. Having good makeup makes us feel good, it’s an inherent desire” she says, and adds, but as a woman, you’d want your man to take notice when you change your hairstyle, nail polish, buy a new outfit, or even lose weight. Unfortunately most men don’t notice such things.

Upcoming designer, Agnes Marridot, concurs with Upendo. She says that for most women, looking good means everything. “There are women who can wear fancy clothes and makeup and just look at themselves in the mirror, even without plans of going anywhere,” she reveals..

Stacy Phillipo, a Fashion blogger and Stylist lists distraction among the reasons that cause women to delay getting ready for an outing. “Women are easily distracted, we think up to seven things at the same time,” she admits. Having a preoccupied mind during such rush hours is not alien to women. Stacy says that in that moment, you start thinking of doing this and that, all at the same time.

 If distraction isn’t reason enough to keep you waiting, Stacy says the biggest reason of them all, is makeup! “Women have to wear makeup before they live the house,” she notes, adding; “I have to make sure my eyeliner is on fleek, my foundation is on fleek, everything has to be perfectly put together. The problem with that is that beauty products are so many, and everyday a new beauty product is launched. So by the time you are done, you find that you have over 50 beauty products on your face.”


Outfit selection and those judging eyes

It is believed that even with the accomplishments that women have, some are still concerned about how people will judge their appearance whenever they go out. Some women are even concerned about what their fellow colleagues at work will say about their choice of office attire. Neema Janet, employed at a local firm in the city says that for women, selection of office outfit can take an undue amount of time because of indecisiveness. “It’s not so much about what your fellow colleagues will say about your choice of outfit, but rather an innate reasoning which drives you to make multiple selections of what to wear,” she says. 

Personal comfort is all that matters when selecting an outfit to wear either to work or any other occasion, this is according to Rosemary Stella, a journalist in the city. “I make my own choice on what to wear, what other people will say doesn’t really matter, my comfort comes first,” she notes.

Former Miss Universe (Tanzania) Jihan Dimack pleads guilty of taking long hours getting ready to leave the house. “I tend to take almost an hour to get ready and no matter how I try to hurry up it just doesn’t work,” she says.

To avoid the common “African” problem of poor time-keeping, Jihan designates an hour to prepare herself before attending an event, meeting or just catching up with friends. “I need that much time to organize the outfit, shoes, bag and accessories that will make the perfect ensemble, then the rest of the time is spent on putting makeup, either heavy or light – depending on the occasion,” says Jihan.

Men, on the other hand, do not put so much effort on how they dress up for work – most men at least. 


Shopping nightmare

If you thought waiting for a woman to get ready to leave the house is a frustrating experience, try going shopping with her. Most men will tell you that one of the things they dread most is going shopping with their wife. Forget groceries, we are talking about shopping for clothes. It’s an experience that is less desired by men. Men are more mono-focused than browsers in stores, women are the latter. Men know what they want, and within minutes of getting in to the store, they are done with shopping.

Women however present a different case. Generally speaking, shopping is a more popular past time for women than men.  Women can take an average of two hours in a shopping mall. Even with a specific selection in mind, they like spending time browsing through different items. This is a constant frustration for men, who lose interest after just minutes in the store.

Whether it’s selecting the latest trending fashion style or simply stocking on regular outfits, shopping is a more complex affair to women. Most of them buy out of desire than need. This is perhaps one of the reasons they spend an extended period of time in malls; because one’s desires know no bounds.

Claire Sumari vows to never go shopping with her husband again, unless they are buying outfits for their children. Recollecting on a past shopping experience with her husband that ended in argument, Claire says she felt harassed by her husband’s constant nagging, asking her to make quick selections. “I like taking my time, try on a few outfits before selecting what to buy,” Claire says, adding, “I don’t like being rushed when doing shopping. My husband should wait for me until I’m content with what I’ve bought.”

Bonaventura Baligo, a Psychologist based in Dar es Salaam attributes the difference in demeanour between men and women when it comes to getting ready to leave the house or shopping to difference in the way the two genders think. “Women are more intuitive than men, men like using logic all the time, but women prefer intuition,” he says. 

Psychologist and author Bridget Brennan, in her book Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers (Crown Business) says that there’s a stereotype that women have an insatiable appetite for shoes, handbags and sparkly things. However, she begs to differ; “The real reason is sobering.  In virtually every society in the world, women have primary care-giving responsibilities for both children and the elderly (and often, just about everybody else in-between). In this primary caregiving role, women find themselves buying on behalf of everyone else in their lives,” she says.



Saturday, December 30, 2017

Women who made an impact in 2017

Vanessa Mdee

Vanessa Mdee 

By Elizabeth Tungaraza @TheCitizenTz

As we say goodbye to the year 2017 and open doors to 2018, there are Tanzanian women whose activities in their respective fields have had a positive impact on society.

As a year-ender, Woman magazine takes this opportunity to acknowledge and applaud these women by highlighting their contributions and accomplishments this year. From fashion, business to politics, this list features a diverse group of women.

Flaviana Matata (Modeling and social work)

Flaviana Matata is a beauty queen and one of the most successful international models from Tanzania. Throughout her career in the fashion world, she has garnered multiple endorsements from big brands and made a fortune from her work. This year, Flaviana was mentioned among the top 100 women in Africa by

Flaviana is currently living and working in New York and has been listed among the top 10 Black Models by Essence Magazine and the online magazine; Models and Moguls.

Apart from modeling, Flaviana Matata Foundation did a remarkable job in empowering young girls, assuring them access to education through “Back to School” project, whereby the top model supports girls by distributing stationery kits to schools in need.Additionally, the foundation in partnership with Monica Joseph constructed pit latrine building at Msinune Primary School to improve sanitation. Apart from that, Flaviana has her own successful nail polish brand ‘Lavy’.

Jennifer Bash (entrepreneur)

Jennifer is an entrepreneur who owns AKTZ Industries Ltd, which produces food products branded Alaska Tanzania. What she does is add value to food products, especially locally produced agricultural products and linking its supplier-members to the supply-value chain. Main products currently at the market are rice and eggs, which are packed and distributed under the Alaska Tanzania brand.

This year Jennifer won All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA’s Awars) and became the Young Business Leader of The Year - East Africa.

Through her Alaska Tanzania brand, she links local farmers to the market by sourcing products from them, adds value to their products through processing, branding and packaging and selling them to supermarkets and hotels in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha and Moshi regions.

Faraja Kotta Nyalandu (Technology)

Faraja is the Founder and Executive Director of Shule Direct, an online platform that joins other Tanzania women who use their passion to impact social change through technology to bring students’ success by creating and providing anywhere, anytime learning opportunities for young learners.

Shule Direct is an online platform that provides educational learning content for students and teachers in secondary schools.

Her organisation designs new and innovative resources and solutions to ensure students and teachers are prepared for the future, through Shule direct, Faraja continues to offer a range of secondary school subjects including Physics, Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry and more on the web and on mobile.

This year, Faraja has continued to impact the education sector through different initiatives under Shule Direct.

Vanessa Mdee (Entertainment – Music)

Vanessa continues to set the standards for local female artistes in Tanzania. She has been at the top of her game ever since she embarked on her musical journey. With successful songs such as Cash Madame, Bounce Along and multiple features with other African artistes this year, Vanessa is set to record another milestone by officially releasing an album titled ‘Money Mondays’ early next year. The music sensation also started her own record label, Mdee Music, and went on to sign artistes such as Brian Simba.

She is recognised among the most successful African artistes (male or female) and was nominated in multiple awards as the top female artiste in East Africa this year.

Elizabeth Michael ‘Lulu’ (Film, fashion)

Elizabeth, famously known as ‘Lulu’, is one of the ‘hottest’ actresses in Tanzania. Even though she hasn’t ended her year well, Lulu still managed to have a positive impact on society in 2017. This year, Africa Youth Awards named Lulu among 100 Most Influential Young Africans. She also managed to dazzle in the fashion world by embracing a style admired by many. She instantly became the queen of red carpets. Her sophisticated fashion sense, which oozes perfection, made her to be noticed among the top fashion icons in Tanzania this year. She was even selected among the judges at Ally Rehmtulla’s fashion show model selection this year.

Unfortunately the young actress is spending her New Year behind bars following her two-year jail sentence passed this year following her involvement in the death of a film actor, Steven Kanumba back in 2012.

Dr Tulia Akson (Politics)

The Deputy speaker of Parliament is recognised as one of the most influential women in Tanzania. Her different activities in and outside the political realm have garnered her such recognition. Tulia has a foundation ‘The Tulia Trust’ which organised the first traditional dance festival. Under the Tulia Traditional Dances Festival program, annual traditional dance festivals are held in different parts of the country.

In line with the vision and mission of Tulia Trust, the Tulia Traditional Dance Festival aims at promoting the rich traditions and culture of more than 120 ethnic communities in Tanzania through dance. The festival fights poverty in the community through creation of employment to the traditional dance groups.

Apart from that, the deputy Speaker founded the Tulia Marathon, this is a spectacular annual race held in different cities in Tanzania. Not only that, but the active political leader has Tulia Trust Community Economic Empowerment programme guided by the principle of empowering communities and Tulia Trust Community Assistance which all aim at bringing national progress.

Alice Magaka – (Social work)

Alice is the youngest woman featured on this list. The 21-year-old is the founder of the Pink Box, an initiative that helps school girls manage their menstrual better. “I believe that menstruation matters to every girl and it should not be a factor to hinder girls out there from achieving what they want,” Alice says.

This year, Alice, along with another Tanzanian, Isaya Yunge, received global recognition after they were listed among the recipients of a prestigious award under the Queen’s Young Leadership Programme.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

DEAR DIARY: Celebrating women

Flaviana Matata

Flaviana Matata 

2017 has been a year filled with lots of events in Tanzania. Women have made headlines for positive and negative reasons, but today, we would like to take this opportunity to applaud those who had a positive impact on society.

From film, politics, business to fashion, we have lots of reasons to celebrate our Tanzanian women. The success that these women have had in their careers has directly or indirectly had an impact on other people around them.

The positive moves Faraja Nyalandu has made in the technological world have helped thousands of children acquire better education; efforts by Flaviana Matata to found her own makeup brand have helped many girls access a new beauty product, Jennifer Bash continues to help farmers get profit from their produce through Alaska Tanzania.

The list is endless but we have so many reasons to be proud of our bold women who’ve managed to achieve success this year. As we embark on a new year, let us aspire to achieve bigger and better things. It is within our capability to attain success, it only requires determination and focus.

Let 2018 be a year of success, have a plan on how you are going to fulfill all your plans in the coming year. Women in Tanzania are rising; you need to rise with them.

You need to be a part of the success story. Let everyone know you for all the right reasons, for the good deeds you’ve done to society.

Leave the failures of 2017 behind you and learn from your mistakes. Open a new slate in 2018.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

THE DNA: I am done making New Year resolutions


By Christine Chacha

Just a few days to the end of the year and with it comes the New Year resolutions. I am unlucky because the New Year almost coincides with my birthday – a time where I am forced to self-reflect on my life and strategize for the New Year. Resolutions ca be fun and the New Year is one of the only times of the year that we come up with massive goals – and who doesn’t like dreaming big?

Today I looked at the goals I set out for myself for this year, while they are impressive I must admit that just like the previous year, I did not achieve all. So am wondering what is the point? Why should I set resolutions every year then stare at the face of defeat every December? Remember what Albert Einstein said? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I’m willing to bet that like me, you’ve been setting New Year’s resolutions every year without really achieving them 100%. Infact research has shown that most people break their resolutions within the first 3 months.

Ever wondered how the New Year resolutions came to be? Apparently January is named after Janus, a mythical roman god. Janus had two faces — one looking forward, one looking backward allowing him to see both into the future and back to the past. So on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking backward into the old year and forward into the New Year. This became a symbolic time for them to make resolutions for the New Year and forgive enemies for troubles in the past.

The Romans also believed Janus could forgive them for their wrongdoings in the previous year. The Romans would give gifts and make promises, believing Janus would see this and bless them in the year ahead. And thus the New Year’s resolution was born! Quite interesting.

But the reality is that while New Year’s resolutions are well-intentioned, they are ultimately unhelpful. All this New year, New me are absolutely ridiculous because you are the same person you were last year. I have concluded that there’s no point in setting resolutions only to end up feeling disappointed and down every December. So this year, it’s time to make a change. I will not be setting any resolutions goals infact, my goal is to set no goal. This means I enter the New Year with zero pressure to do anything rather I remain open to the possibility of my potential, receptive to change and ready to show compassion for any shortcomings.

While I do believe there is always room for improvement in life, and goal-setting is important, I think there is an easier approach to it. One thing about making resolutions is that it’s an assumption that there is something with you that needs fixing. You look at yourself and say “This year I am going to lose weight” deep down you think you are overweight. So am changing the narrative, instead of changing anything or doing anything new, this New Year I will only be reinforcing. I am going to do more of all the good things that I did in the past year. That way I am not setting myself up for failure rather self-improvement is guaranteed.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

When women are the breadwinners


By Salome Gregory

We got so accustomed to the term ‘stay-at-home-mother’, well, now the tables have turned, we have ‘stay-at-home-dads’. It is an undeniable fact that wives are becoming more breadwinners for their families, while husbands stay at home taking care of the children, or engage in other activities.

A random survey by Woman reveals that with the change in lifestyle and various movements such as the fight for the rights of the girl child have helped propel women to the forefront. Today there is a rise of women in the workforce (both formal and informal employment).

Tecla Tito, 36, lives in Kinondoni. She is a married businesswoman and a mother of two children. For her business, she has to travel to Uganda. She brings bed sheets, bed nets and shoes. She has been the bread winner the family bread winner for more than five years now.

She was married in 2007. Earlier she used to work as a hotelier at a certain Hotel in Arusha. Soon after her marriage she agreed to relocate from Arusha and join her husband who worked as a civil servant.

“We saw a need to spend more time together as a new married couple. I had to quit my job and join my husband. That left me unemployed. However much my husband was happy to provide for everything, I was not happy just to sitting at home doing nothing,” says Tecla.

After sharing several business ideas with her husband they finally agreed with her current business. Three years after her marriage she started travelling on business trips.

Initial stages of her business were hampered with obstacles. “Getting customers at the begging of the business was never easy. Some of the customers were not faithful and either never paid on time or never paid at all,” the married business woman speaks.

According to Tecla, a year later, her husband was sacked from his job. He later started a small business close to their home.

“My husband tried out my business, but couldn’t tolerate giving things on credit. He gave up on this business in just two months. This made me put more effort in my business because it was the sole source of income for our family,” says Tecla.

She further says that her business started on humble footing, but grew with time.

Adding to that she says, through walking to different offices advertising her business, three years later she managed to set up a small shop in Kariakoo.

“The family completely depends on my business. I pay school fees for my two children. In a year I pay up to Sh3million in school fees. There is also rent which stands at Sh3.6million per year, not forgetting food expenses and other essentials,” says Tecla.

Staying focused

William Kuyunga is a Pentecostal Pastor in Sinza. He says that, the rise in number of women bread winners is a result of working hard without losing focus.

He says, women are becoming more influential compared to men. And they are capable of multitasking. A woman can cool while washing clothes and at the same time taking care of the children without losing her focus.

“The biggest challenge women face is how people around them help them reach their goals. If well supported from family level, women are considered to be more engaged and fruitful in bringing food at home,” he says.

Anna Bantulaki, 39, is a nurse by profession. Three years ago she was retrenched from the dispensary she used to work. Anna was shattered, considering the fact that she was the bread winner for her family after her husband moved to Dodoma to look for a job but never returned for over two years. She wondered how she was going to provide for her two children; Diana, 6, and Muganyizi, 4.

“I used to get paid Sh200,000 per month. I lived in a one room apartment that cost me Sh50,000 per moth. My first born was just three years old and I had to pay for her nursery education which stood at Sh40,000 per month,” she says.

Anna was retrenched partly due to the fact that she would carry her baby to work since she couldn’t afford a sitter at home. After getting her benefits money from the retrenchment, she started off by opening a food vending business. In just a year her life changed and until now she can at least manage to provide three daily meals for her children.

Commenting on her husband’s absence she says previously she used to call her husband asking for his support but he always said he had no money.

“After sometime I decided to just stand alone and fight for my children. It was never easy to accept the situation but soon as I started my new business things started working out for the better,” says Anna.

Anna’s husband returned from Dodoma 5 months ago, but Anna doesn’t want anything to do with him.

Richard Kihiyo, 40,* is a father of a 10-year-old child. He lost his job four years ago. Since then his wife has been providing for the family.

He says, as a man he is not happy and comfortable seeing his wife who works at an Embassy taking care of everything at home.

They only have one child but are living with three of his relatives. He thinks that his wife is overburdened.

“It kills me when I can’t give my family the best of me as a father and as a husband but I have no way out than to keep looking for jobs. Next year I’ll start a business to help me contribute to the family expenses,” he says.

Commenting on how it feels to have the woman be the one providing for the family, Richard says it can become a little embarrassing for the man. There is a tendency of feeling like the woman is being disrespectful but in reality it is just lack of self-confidence on the man’s side.

Effects on intimacy

According to UK’s telegraph, ‘stay-at-home’ dads - househusbands, emasculated by being financially dependent on their breadwinning wives, are more likely to have an affair

“Engaging in infidelity may be a way of re-establishing threatened masculinity,” suggested lead researcher, Professor Christin Munsch. “Simultaneously, infidelity allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their higher earning spouses,” reads party of the article.

In his recent New York Times article, “Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands,” Richard Thaler, a behavioral economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, wrote “evidence suggests that while men tend to applaud their spouses when they help to bring home the bacon, husbands aren’t always as enthusiastic when women start bringing home the filet mignon.”


Saturday, December 16, 2017

What qualities make a woman wife material?


By Christine Chacha

My brother recently broke up with his girlfriend of many years citing irreconcilable differences. I always thought they would get married and have their portion of the happily ever after. Their split was a big shock. We were taking the other day and he told me he had no idea how to start dating again after so long. I thought hooking him up with my single friends was a good idea but his response shocked me.

“Are your friends’ wife material or are they slay queens?” He asked saying he does not want modern women drama. I was initially offended by his assumption that women are full of drama but also because I think my friends are good people. But after a while I did a quick analysis and asked myself if my friends were really marriageable. Which of my friends would I be happy to have as a sister in law?

What makes one woman wife material and another one dating material? According to him it’s quite hard to tell if a woman is wife material or not. I kinda agree with him though. See in the 1950s, what constituted “wife material” was pretty basic compared to how it is now. “Perfect” wives were women who stayed home to take care of the kids, keep the house in order, and have dinner ready promptly at 6PM when her husband walked through the door. Women’s aspirations became second to fulfilling their “wifely duties.” It sounds terribly depressing, to be honest.

But so much has changed since then. Nowadays what makes a woman a wife isn’t about being docile, submissive, and letting the man run the show? Thanks to the Women’s Movement, there is an equality that makes men want to find their partner and not their maids.

So I asked my brother what qualities he was looking for in his wife to be and he was quick to give a list of wifely attributes he wanted. I found it quite amusing because he did not have some of those qualities he was looking for. What is marriage material anyway? In reality, everyone is marriage material and can walk down the aisle. The real question is, do you have the correct skills to stay married by maintaining a healthy, long-term, and successful relationship?

I am certainly no expert in marriage. However, as a woman columnist and with a number of relationships under my stead, I’m privy to what it takes to get off the dating market and enjoying a satisfying marriage other people admire. But being marriage material is not just for women, the men too need to develop qualities that they want in the women because it takes 2 to tango.

There are some of the key qualities I think are crucial to both men and women who are considering marriage. One is transparency; Are you capable of being completely transparent and have the guts to talk about even the most uncomfortable stuff?. If you have a million bones in your closet that you can never share then maybe you care not ready for marriage. The second one is faithfulness; are you capable of sticking it up with one man or woman for the rest of your life? If the answer is no then you have no business entering marriage. The other thing is to ask yourself if you are an adult. Remember adulthood has nothing to do with age. Being an adult in a relationship is not about everything being perfect. Rather, it’s about being willing to have a two-way conversation. It also takes talking live on the phone or in person, instead of trying to discuss something via text message or email. Just sayin’.     


Saturday, December 16, 2017

THE PUB: It’s sad we aren’t here to eat Xmas!


By Wa Muyanza

We’re in a location in the Moshi Municipality called Old Moshi, most likely so-named because it was where the original Moshi Town used to be.

(My watani please communicate through the address below and educate me). Don’t wonder why Wa Muyanza didn’t ask while there, because the truth is, everybody was uptight as they mourned the death of one of their own, Ms JM who was recalled by her Maker on December 6.

With a couple of friends from Dar, we somehow manage to sneak away and take a look at the surroundings of this place called Mbokomu. Curiosity is part and parcel of being a scribbler, au siyo?

This is Ndiziland, where it’s not uncommon for the wenyeji to have bananas for breakfast, bananas for midmorning snack, bananas for lunch and even more bananas for supper! And, as if that weren’t bad enough, they’d proceed to wash down their banana meal with grayish, sweetish coarse banana brew, namely mbege!

You were exposed to mbege just a few years after independence, for it was also popular in Kandeland—

the mountain territory to the south of Ndiziland—your birthplace where another name for food is kande.

We ended up at the Lema Grocery, owned and run by a seventy-plus old guy, Babu Lema. We ask for mbege.

“You people from Darisalama also drink mbege?” the old man asks, noting that he never expected to have anyone asking for mbege on this particular occasion, since “it is not Christmas yet.”

It’s clear he was basing his stocking on Chasakas (literally, people from the wilderness, or more politely, non-Ndizimen and women), who are here to lay to rest a daughter of this land.

We explain to him that we want mbege, mainly because we’re keen on something local. “We take lots of beer in Dar and now that we’re here, we feel we should have something different,” you say.

“Okay, I can send someone to fetch mbege from somewhere else…you’ll have to add one thousand on top of the four thousand required for the jerry can of mbege you need,” he says.

“An extra one thousand?” you ask, “what for?”

“For the bodaboda; mbege is found some distance from here,” he explains.

“It’s okay,” you say.

A bodaboda rider is soon hailed and directed to us. You give him five thousand bob. In less than ten minutes, the young fellow is back and we promptly start working on the mbege.

It’s cool and refreshing. We, however, unanimously agree it’s a little too soft, so we call Babu Lema and ask for a kasichana, that is, the 200ml Spirit of the Nation bottle.

The kasichana gives the mbege the necessary kick and before long you’re feeling really nice in the head as you drink from a huge plastic mug which you pass around. Like it used to be in the good old days.

What a pity you’re here, not to eat Xmas with your watani, but to bury a most beloved media colleague! RIP, Joyce Mmasi.     


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stigma against dark-skinned women


By Mpoki Thomson

What propagates the dark-skin prejudice? Women across the world are being taunted for having dark skin.

Neema Abel, 24, is a young model who’s experienced prejudice because of her dark skin. The young model has had to withstand the ordeal of being overlooked simply because she doesn’t fit the definition of ‘beauty’ according to some modeling agencies’ standards.

She moved from Arusha to study in Dar es Salaam and also pursue a modeling career. Being the commercial capital, Dar presented her with an abundance of opportunities that could propel her career. She had a close friend who owned a modeling agency; Neema was one among a few women in the agency who had a skin tone that is a bit darker than the rest. During ushering events, she would often get mocked by some of her colleagues due to the fact that most men preferred light-skinned women. “I wasn’t fazed by their insults, I knew that I was beautiful no matter what anybody else said,” she speaks.

Neema has endured such mockery for years, being in the modeling industry means that she gets to experience prejudice against her skin disproportionately in comparison to women outside the trade.

Such is the world we live in today, and such prejudice has existed since time immemorial. Dark-skinned women have had to claim their spot in society. For some degenerate reason women with dark skin are condemned for how they look. Why can’t we just embrace all racial ethnicities, you are beautiful either black or white.

In India, a country that’s home to more than a billion people, women with dark-skin face hate and mockery. Southern Indians, or those from the Dravidian’s family tree, mostly have a darker skin tone. In an article titled ‘When I stopped accepting the stigma against dark skin’ written by Roshni Patel, an Indian woman who has experienced prejudice because of her skin, an excerpt reads; “I would like to urge all women who have experienced or have been experiencing such stereotyping on the basis of the skin colour, not to feel disgust or disdain themselves.” After years of putting up with discrimination based on her skin colour, Roshni finally decided to focus on herself and live her independent life.

Miranda Tryphone, Miss Universe Tanzania 2017 second runner-up, says that Tanzania’s modeling industry is now more accepting of dark-skinned models. “The (modeling) industry in our country values dark-skinned girls compared to other countries,” she says. Miranda does however add that there are people who still think and believe that light-skinned girls are more beautiful. “One of the challenges I’ve faced as a dark-skinned model is when a client specifically asks to work with a light-skinned model, this would mean that I lose out on the job,” she says.

While runway and commercial dark-skinned models might see the light at the end of the tunnel, the case is a bit different for video vixens. The bongo flava industry recently found itself in hot waters when most of the videos that were released by big artistes featured light-skinned models playing leading roles, with dark-skinned ones playing second fiddle.

From Diamond Platnumz, Shetta, Ommy Dimpoz, Ben Pol to Alikiba, all we could see in their high-budget music videos shot in South Africa were light-skinned models. The setup for the videos being Africa, a popular question was posed by fans making inquiries on why these artistes couldn’t use dark-skinned models. “Foreign modeling agencies have their own models, once we contract an agency, they bring us the model to work with,” was the response given by Ben Pol, an RnB artist.

After the heated debate on preference being given to light-skinned models had gotten enough steam, videos that followed started featuring a recognizable number of dark-skinned women. But this whole scenario taints the image of our society. Tanzania is a country filled with diverse cultures and people who hail from different backgrounds, racial prejudice should be a thing of the past.

In neighbouring Uganda, a dark-skinned artist, Sandra Nankoma embarked on a journey to change people’s perception about dark-skinned women. She too, like many African women with dark skin has been a victim of prejudice because of her complexion. “I felt that I did not fit in school. I stole my mother’s make-up in order to appear lighter because she is light-skinned - which did not help. I even asked my mother to change my school because of the daily taunting. I hated myself and even contemplated suicide because my mother did not understand my situation,” she said.

Sandra resorted to using art as a form of expression and shield against the hate. She decided to embrace her colour and launch an art exhibition titled “Melanin” that was held at the Under Ground - Contemporary Art Space in Kampala. The exhibition ran in June this year.

Sandra transformed the art space into one huge piece of artwork where she showcased her photography and a video installation for a performance under the theme “Dark or Light? The Politics of Beauty.”

As a self-taught photographer, she explores the stigma that society visits upon dark-skinned girls through the harsh comments and subliminal messages directed at them especially through the media.

Society to blame

I recently visited Kenya, in a dialogue with a longtime colleague, a comment was made which despite of its intended effect, made me reflect a little. In an attempt to crack a joke, my colleague said “in Tanzania, no woman is dark-skinned.” Such a view was made in reference to the number of women in Tanzania who have decided to change the colour of their skin tone through bleaching – that’s how much we’ve digressed from embracing dark skin.

Women who bleach have succumbed to the view that being light-skinned is beautiful. As such, they use all sorts of chemicals that can help change their skin-colour. Beauty shops are awash with all sorts of products made purposely to change skin tone from dark to light. Somehow, this has become the standard of beauty. On social media, adverts pop-up every minute advertising different skin enlightenment products and women buy them in bulks, to their own detriment.

Popular musician, Rihanna launched her Fenty beauty products to the merriment of many black women. For the first time, a high-end beauty product catered to the needs of women with dark skin. Never before had there been a product which targeted black women, most only served consumer needs of women with light skin. After the successful launch of Fenty, a host of other big brands started making beauty shades for women with dark skin.

I believe change in the way women with dark-skin are viewed starts with us. We need to make everyone feel proud of their skin tone, either black or white; we are all beautiful in our own unique ways.     


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Black is beautiful

Janet Otieno-Prosper

Janet Otieno-Prosper 

        I recently went to a salon and an interesting topic emerged about the African skin. There is this lady who I always meet in the salon, it’s like we have been booking our appointments on the same days for the past four years. So she asked me why I haven’t improved my complexion. I told her I am proud of my dark chocolate skin.

Then she goes like, “you see Tanzanian men like fairer skinned women.” That dark pigment melanin protects us from harmful UV rays so please don’t tamper with it. Beauty standard should not be set on European levels where black skin is viewed as antithesis of beauty.

Let’s ignore the negative images the media and cosmetic industries are bombarding us with about our black skin. The black skin tone is a gem, we should embrace it and never forsake or be ashamed of the colour of our skin.

Let no one put you down or make you think that having black skin is a sin, or it doesn’t reflect God’s image. We live in a diverse world that’s filled with different ethnic groups, embrcae your identity.

Let’s reinforce our blackness and stand proud. So as assaulters of blacks exalt light skin as the epitome of beauty, let’s celebrate our African skin as the epitome of greatness. Black skin is simply magnificent.

For all those bleaching their skins, kindly put a stop to this and enjoy your glorious black beauty.     


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Grocery employees consider you useless


By Wa Muyanza

You’re at this roadside grocery having a drink. It’s as peaceful and serene as Dar can be. And then, crash! Bang! Bang! You look out to check out the source of nerve-wrenching noise. You notice it’s from the huge metallic trash bin at the corner into which a grocery employee is striving to push more and more garbage.

There’re protests all round, with at least three patrons saying the fellow is affecting their heart condition. “Wengine tuna presha eti, ala!” says a drinker at the table next to yours, a concern that’s echoed by two others. The fellow gives us a look and continues with his work as if nothing of significance has been noted by the patrons, the very people whose spending ensures he earns his living.

You call the manager to complain. He gives the young man a verbal bashing after which he leaves to attend to other matters.

Thereafter, the grocery hand, looking at you with obvious disdain, says: “What a fussy old man! Just a bit of noise and he complains to the manager, you’d think the little noise from the bin would have killed him….some people!”

It’s clear he’s very angry with you and the other “grumbling” drinkers.

And then on this other day, you’re at a certain grocery accompanied by Uncle Kich (short for Kichawele), a regular drinking buddy of yours. We’re in a jovial mood, for the month-end week is still fresh, and like all wage earners, we’re both in a spending mood.

We’re feeling somehow important and want to be appreciated. Mwanamme pesa.

Kich hails a barmaid, whose name, we soon learn, is Rachel. She walks towards us in a “tired way”. This being a Sunday, it’s fair to conclude she finished work late, because this joint operates as a nightclub on weekends, but is it our problem?

We give our orders and, lazily, Rachel walks towards the counter to get the drinks. It’s the same thing as she walks back to us, our drinks in a tray. At long, long last, she arrives with our drinks, which she proceeds to open like she has all the time in the world to do the very difficult task.

Kich is visibly disturbed and after she’s through with opening our bottles, he asks: “Hey, sister, how come you’re so gloomy today, no cordiality, no smile, no what… what’s the problem?”

“There’s no problem,” she says curtly. “So, why the gloomy face?” asks Kich.

Her answer is classic: “Hivi ndivyo nilivyo!” And with that, she walks away, lazily, to another table where she has been called to provide service.

These thoughts run through your mind: Uhuru has opened doors to all East Africans to go to Kenya, even without a passport, and seek jobs there! Are our youth ready to take up the offer?

And, suppose JPM reciprocates in kind and says: hey, East Africans, come one, come all, and take up any job you like in Bongo. Are we ready?


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bridging a gap in beauty therapy

Women are trained on professional beauty skills

Women are trained on professional beauty skills 

By Paul Owere

Flawless skin is what every woman dreams of and on many occasions women have done crazy things to attain this for it is a vital component of every woman’s looks.

From hydration to clean eating women are religious about their skin care regimen as they wash, tone, and moisturise in the morning and at night sometimes to the annoyance of their spouses.

Several skin care studios have opened in recent years to take care of the growing demand from the ever growing number of women who seek professional skin care and make up.

However, in most of these facilities those who take care of the valued looks are not trained and if at all they are trained then they were trained abroad.

On many occasions it is a gamble that has left many a woman with regrets, from the choice of the cosmetics to the handling, the damage is sometimes irreparable.

But even with such growing demand and void, beauty therapists are difficult to come by and even those that are on the market locally are not trusted by high end clientele that they seek to serve.

Worse still, the African woman with a dark skin seems to have been forgotten because not many cosmetic lines put them into the picture when coming up with beauty products.

In 2016 the Manajo Beauty Academy in Dar es Salaam opened its doors to the first batch of students who enrolled for beauty therapy with the objective of filling this void.

And finally, two weeks ago, the first batch of therapists graduated at a colourful ceremony at the Makumbusho Village.

According to the founder of the academy, Shekha Naseer, the 120 young women received certificates and Diplomas in Beauty therapy and hair dressing.

“It is an undeniable fact that beauty and fashion industry is one of the leading sectors that employs thousands of women today, yet it remains very informal. Many of the women who work in the salons across the country are not trained at all, and yet they are the ones that many men and women go to for their valued looks, they simply survive by the grace of guess work!

She adds that this can sometimes be very costly with quite a price to pay should the results backfire.

Speaking at the ceremony Shekha Nasser says it was with this vision that she decided to set up a state-of-the-art beauty academy.

The academy, which is affiliated with the City and Guild of London UK, offers level two diploma in beauty therapy, manicure and pedicure, and make up artistry

She says the Manjano Beauty Academy is a health and beauty school that seeks to empower young women in Tanzania to use their skills to employ themselves.

 “We mentored, coached, trained and prepared trainees for the labour market providing them with marketable and employable skills in the beauty industry. The government can’t employ all graduates; neither can the private sector at the moment, so vocational training is key to helping more young women gain marketable skills,” said Shekha.


More professionalism

According to her, the young women have been well trained by the best that is available in the industry through hands-on approach to make sure they achieve both personal and institutional objectives.

 “I believe these graduates will change the industry significantly, like how Korea and Philippines is known for best skin care products and professional therapists, in the future Tanzania will be known as Africa’s best in cosmetics for the African skin, from facial mask made from Zanzibar seaweed to powders having natural organic ingredients,” adds Shekha who is also the founder of Manjano Foundation.

The academy has taken off on the right footing as their curriculum has been validated by the national examinations council of Tanzania (Nacte). Catherine Saninga is a makeup artist who is one of the success stories. She has opened up a bridal studio where she caters for tens of women on a daily basis.

According to her she now earns more money in a week than what she used to earn in a month while she was employed.

“The difference is huge from when I was employed, I have a salon, I can educate my son and I have a home of my own,” says Catherine.

And just like her, Enna Kiondo, who was in the first batch of graduates has also opened a makeup studio in Mwanayamala, a suburb in Dar es Salaam where she says she doing quite well.

“The training has been a revelation because it differentiates our services from those that are offered by untrained men and women in the streets. These services are in most cases disastrous,” says Enna.

For her part, Anna Michael Sawe believes that the only way that women can become independent is by owning their own businesses because even at their places of work they are always still down in the pecking order.

“Gone are the days when women had to wait for their husbands to bring home food, we need to train ourselves to gain marketable skills so that we can own some income,” says Anna.

To most of these girls the sky is now the limit as they see endless potential in the beauty industry because every woman bears the desire to look their best.


Dream makers

In 2015, through the LuvTouch Manjano products Shekha launched the Manjano Dream Makers, an initiative that is meant to empower young women with entrepreneurial skills.   

    In just two years since founding the Manjano Foundation, the Manjano Dream-Makers women’s network has gained a footing in seven major cities and towns in Tanzania, and this being an opportunity for not only delivering cosmetics door-to-door, but financial empowerment for un-employed women.

    To-date, there are 360 ‘Manjano Dream-Makers’ who hope to improve their wellbeing and that of their families by selling ‘LuvTouch Manjano’ products.

     “Today we are proud to have the 2016/2017 batch with us and I must admit that the response that we have got is that they are all doing very well save for a few cases. Our objective is to train 5,000 women across the country in the next five years.”

     In the last two phases the foundation has trained women in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Mwanza, Arusha, Mbeya, Dodoma and Mtwara with more regions set for consideration in the near future.



Saturday, November 25, 2017

Standing as a pillar of strength for her family

Alicia Magabe in Nairobi. PHOTO | FRANCIS

Alicia Magabe in Nairobi. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU (NMG) 

By Mpoki Thomson @TheCitizenTz

“Hon Tundu Lissu has been shot,” is the message Advocate Alicia Magabe, Tundu Lissu’s wife remembers reading the day her husband, an outspoken political leader and chief whip of the official opposition camp in parliament (Chadema) was brutally shot outside his home in Dodoma.

Magabe and Lissu have known each other since they were law students at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1991. “We started as friends, as classmates,” Magabe says. After graduating, Lissu continued with further studies while Alicia went abroad. The two stayed in touch and later in 1997 they got married.

Magabe works as an advocate and is a partner at a law firm in Dar es Salaam. The attack on her husband’s life rendered her incapable of continuing with work since she had to be by his side while he recovers. “My colleagues help me with my work since I’m currently taking care of my husband,” she says.

Magabe has shifted her entire life to Nairobi. This was inevitable due to the treatment requirements. She wakes up early in the morning at her adopted place of residence and heads to the hospital to be by her husband’s side, she leaves the hospital at night, and this is a daily routine.

Leaving her job behind is one thing, but she had to leave her children behind too. They are being taken care of by family members, but they miss that motherly presence. It is a sacrifice that Magabe had to make. She and her husband had to leave their two children, twins named Augustine and Edward aged 15 back in Tanzania when they travelled to Kenya.

For the first time ever the embattled parents missed their children’s birthday that’s on the 25 of September due to medical treatment in a foreign land.

On 16 October Magabe travelled back to Dar es Salaam to bring her children with her back to Nairobi so they could see their father. It was the first time since the incident that they got to see their Dad.

For the first time in a while the two children got to be in the presence of their mum and Dad at the same time. It has certainly been tough on the family, having to deal with the reality that an attempt on the life of one of their own was made. “I’m worried about the safety of my family,” Magabe says. This incident has laid bare the fact that our safety is not assured.

The day of the incident

It was a day like any other as Magabe went about her business in Dar es Salaam, while her husband did his political duties in the country’s capital. Little did she know that later on that day she was going to receive the shock of her life.

She had just left Kerege in Bagamoyo and decided to head to Bunju, where her longtime friend Gloria, who works as a primary school teacher, lived.

The two friends met over at Gloria’s place at around 12:30 noon they had lunch, and out of fatigue, Alicia went on to take a quick nap on the couch before heading to her place in Tegeta, a house she shares with her husband and their two children.

After about 25 minutes, Alicia was awoken by Gloria, advising her that if she sleeps a lot during the day, she will lack sleep later at night. “After waking up I decided to check my phones for any important messages,” she recalls, continuing, “I checked my first phone and saw a message from Lillian Masiaga, a member of Chadema and a distant relative. The message read “Hello sister, I hope all is well, there’s unconfirmed news that’s circulating, if it’s indeed true, I send my condolences.” Magabe was taken aback by the message. First thing that came to her mind was that her husband was involved in an accident.

Magabe asked her friend Gloria to call Lillian because she didn’t know if she could bear to hear the news herself. Gloria then asked to read the message first before making the phone call, hoping that Magabe had misinterpreted the message.

After handing over the phone, Magabe decided to check WhatsApp messages on her other phone while Gloria confirmed the news. Being a member of different groups affiliated to Chadema on WhatsApp, Magabe logged into one of them to see if there’s any news. “As I scrolled through the messages, I came across a message saying ‘Hon. Tundu Lissu has been shot’ I instantly screamed,” she recalls. Gloria and other people (members of Gloria’s family) who were in the house dashed to the living room upon hearing the screams.

After knowing the reason for the frenzy, a social media crosscheck was conducted to see whether there was similar news anywhere else. Unfortunately the news had gone viral on all online media platforms. “I started asking myself; if my husband has been shot, is he still alive, how is he doing?” Magabe, in complete shock, wondered. “These are the thoughts that ran through my mind; I started thinking of what immediate action to take.”

After a while Magabe asked to go home, she knew a home environment would calm her down and she would be able to decide whether to immediately fly to Dodoma or take other measures.

Calls and messages started coming in uncontrollably on both her phones. Considering her state of mind at that time, the distraught wife and mother couldn’t respond to any inquiries so she asked her friend to take charge of her phones. The two of them left for Magabe’s residence.

Magabe, flustered and exceedingly worried was still in disbelief over everything that was unfolding. In order not to draw attention to herself, she avoided large crowds, even opting to use an ATM other than going inside a bank to make a withdrawal on her way home.

As she and Gloria approached her neighbourhood street, Magabe instantly noticed a crowd of people looking at her vehicle. “Our neighbours and some street vendors were outside my house as I entered the driveway.

They wore dejected expressions which were indicative of the current nightmare,” Magabe speaks. The gate to her house was left open welcoming those who had come to show their support.

Magabe then got in contact with people in Dodoma to get further information about the current state of her husband. “I spoke to people who were at the hospital, they informed me that my husband is undergoing emergency treatment but is alive. They assured me that he is alive,” she speaks. She then got a phone call from Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe who instructed her on what to do next.

Magabe was required to travel to Dodoma that same day. She got into the car with Tundu Lissu’s brother and Gloria. While on the way to the airport, they got a call, which required them to change means of transportation. “We had to hop on motorcycles (bodaboda) to the airport in order to beat the late evening traffic,” she narrates. “It was the first time I rode a bodaboda in Dar es Salaam,” she reveals. Throughout the hectic journey to the airport, Magabe prayed to God for a safe arrival.

The agitated wife got a chance to see her husband for the first time after the attempted assassination when she arrived at the hospital in Dodoma.

“I looked at him in his unconscious state and could clearly see that he was badly hurt,” she recalls with sadness.

Treatment in Nairobi

A decision was made for Lissu to be taken to Nairobi Hospital for treatment. Magabe had to accompany her husband to Nairobi.

She wanted to be by his side. She stands as the pillar of strength for her family.

Doctors in Nairobi were equally shocked by Lissu’s case. The team of doctors, which comprised of over 12 highly skilled specialists, said that for a victim who’s been hit 16 times by bullets, it is miraculous that all the bullets missed major organs.

“Doctors said that my husband needed a lot of blood transfusion due to the profuse amount of blood he lost after the attack,” she says, and went on to thank everyone who volunteered to donate blood at Nairobi hospital.

Recovery is imminent for Lissu. What is left now is the next phase of treatment, which involves physical therapy to reinstate his mobility.

Lissu has been at the hospital for 3 months now, and every single day his devoted wife has been there to support him. She leaves her new residence in Nairobi around 8-9am to head to the hospital, and departs at night. She is not allowed to sleep at the hospital.

Questions linger

Since the attack, no arrest has been made in connection to the case. Magabe wants justice to be done.

“I want to know who ordered the hit on my husband, I want to know who tried to kill my husband and I want to know why they did it,” she demands.

Magabe has since forgiven the assailants, but she wants justice to be done.

“My forgiveness shouldn’t be misconstrued; I want to see justice get served. Those who did the atrocious act should be dealt with legally,” she notes.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Top TANZANIAN women techpreneurs to watch

Faraja Nyalandu - Founder & Executive Director-

Faraja Nyalandu - Founder & Executive Director- Shule Direct 

By Esther Kibakaya

Start-up businesses owned by women have in recent years gained popularity with a number of Tanzanian innovators receiving recognition beyond the borders. Women have done so much in the technological field to create great impact in the society and show their potential.

Below is a list of some of the women innovators who have founded start-up businesses which have brought positive results in various sectors including education and health.

Lilian Makoi - founder of Jamii Africa, a mobile micro-health insurance product

Lilian Makoi is one of the few innovative women who is doing her part to transform her country through innovative solutions using Jamii Africa, a start-up that provides health insurance targeted at Tanzania’s low income population.

Being passionate about the low income population in her country , she believes that what she and her team are doing have given them purpose in life because their start-up is a solution to the ignored population who can’t afford healthcare financing.

With the mobile technology performing all the administration activities of the insurer, the App has already touched the lives of more than 8,000 families by making the health insurance affordable.

Despite making marginal profit from the App, she has also managed to put her efforts and energy to it since she believe that, it is only Africans that can change Africa for the better.

With her love to be a pioneer in building highly innovative original solutions,last year she was selected from the World Economic Forum challenge to find Africa’s top women Innovators.She holds Masters in International Business.

Doreen Kessy – Chief Operating Officer and creator of Ubongo Kids

Being passionate about education and making education and learning fun is what has seen Doreen Kessy who has been active in the growth of the organization has helped Ubongo’s unique content spread throughout the continent.​

Having worked at various organisations, Doreen who holds an MBA and a BS in International Business and Economics from Liberty University in Virginia, USA has been working as a Chief Operating Officer at Ubongo Kids , a social enterprise which uses technology to provide educational content in the form of a cartoon show which is localised to Africa.

She has been part of Tanzanian animators and voice actors producing the show and also attributed its success. Anyone with even the most basic phone can access Ubongo Mobile. And it is even more interesting as children can use the system anytime, anywhere to keep learning.

The show has been focused on teaching Math through animated stories and catchy songs. With an estimation of more than 1.2 million weekly viewers across Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, the show is now working to teach early language and literacy for 3 to 6 year-old children across Africa.

Carolyne Ekyarisiima - Founder of Apps and Girls

As a social entrepreneur and founder of Apps and Girls, Carolyne Ekyarisiima love for programming and coding is what made her wish to bridge the gap in ICT among girls in Tanzania and give them the opportunity to use ICT to better their lives.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Master’s degree in Information Systems from Kampala International University, she saw a stereotype that girls are not good at Science, Technology and Math (STEM) hence came up with a mission to make girls tech leaders teaching them how to create Mobile Apps, how to build website and work with programs and this has been done through coding clubs in schools, where girls between the ages of 10 to 18 learn the basics and do real coding later on.

She believes in empowering girls with ICT skills because she trusts in their capacity and innovation power to change the community and build an innovative generation hence making Tanzania a better place for all despite their gender.

Carolyne is a Tigo and Reach for change Digital change maker and was awarded a certificate of achievement in 2014 for her great efforts in improving children’s lives through innovation and digital technology at the Hackathon Prototype Change 2014 in Sweden. She is also a 2016 YALI fellow and one of the YALI Tanzanian fellows to win a grant of $25,000.

She pitched her startup at the Reach for Change Tanzania Startup Competition and became one of the top five finalists. She teaches 40 young girls at a secondary school every week on how to create websites.

Her determination is for girls to use technology to change their lives. She understands that some girls don’t make it to the university, but through ICT they can continue working on their own ideas, and find information easily.

Neema Shosho - Founder of Afya Slice

As a Nutritionist by profession, Neema had an ambition to provide services continuously and reach as many people as possible and the easy way possible was for her to design an innovative digital tool kit that will provide mobile nutrition information.

Through her company Afya Slice, Neema started to provide information on how to use the available local foods to improve nutritional status of children.

She says AfyaSlice came like an idea while she was working at the hospital and doing nutrition consultancy. She says after working in this field for a while, she observed that due to some reasons, some of her clients could not manage to come and see her physically for the training or counselling.

She says her customers used to call or text and ask all the questions and she responded through the same channel. That’s where she thought she should use mobile technology to deliver information, communicate with clients, change their lifestyles and make money out of the whole idea.

After graduating from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, she pursued a Master’s degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences from 2012 to 2014 through the USAID project’s sponsorship at Tuskegee University in the United States.

Her experience in the US inspired Shosho’s work. In addition to her advocacy initiatives that ensure children are not underfed, she also teaches basic nutrition and the avoidance of over nutrition to her clients.

Sophia Mbega, Founder, Vicoba App

Sophia Mbega, holder of Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Software Engineering from Dodoma University is a young entrepreneur who has taken initiative to develop an innovative way of managing community banking groups. She is also this year winners of the 5th edition of the Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition.

Her innovative idea came after her understanding on the challenges that the vicoba model faces including the lack of transparency, poor documentation management and erratic participation from members and saw the need to address the problem.

This made her come up with a mobile app that creates a collaborative platform that uses existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adaptable to the African context.

Through the app users can transfer money to their Vicoba group account directly from the App, view all of their financial records, profit generated and weekly reports.

The App was launched for trial in December 2016, with an expectation to reach up to more than 1 000 vicoba groups across Tanzania until the end 2017. Over the next five years, Mbega hopes to take the app across East Africa.

Faraja Nyalandu - Founder & Executive Director- Shule Direct

She joins the group of young Tanzania women who uses their passion to impact social change through technology to bring students’ success by creating and providing anywhere, anytime learning opportunities for young learners.

Using Shule direct, a mobile educational platforms for students and teachers she has been offered useful local learning content on many subjects.

As her organisation continue designing new and innovative resources and solutions to ensure students and teachers are prepared for the future, she continue to offer a range of secondary school subjects including Physics, Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry and more on the web and on mobile.

Faraja who holds a Bachelor Degree in Law from the University of East London and Masters degree in the same field from the University of Dar es Salaam was the winner of Reach for Change Social Impact Challenge 2013-2014, Shule Direct was ranked in the top 3 Education and Technology startups in Africa at Pearson’s Edupreneurs in South Africa.

Nancy Sumari, Founder ,Kids Jenga Hub

Her initiatives has been in transforming learning outcomes among youth and children through digital literacy programs and applying design thinking methodologies to create value.

This initiatives has seen her coming up with innovative digital idea such as KIDS JENGA HUB which made her won an Award this year under Tigo Digital Changemaker and took home $ 20,000.

Focusing on foundation knowledge for children, through her hub and co-creation space for children, she teaches computer programming, robotics and coding skills to primary school children.

The hub also exposes children to learning basic Information and Communication Technology.


Saturday, November 18, 2017


Janet Otieno-Prosper

Janet Otieno-Prosper 

By Janet Otieno-Prosper

Welcome to your Woman pullout, which is your source of beauty, fashion, inspiration and empowerment. As you can see, we have a better look and a unique content, which is tailored for your needs.

If you have any comment then don’t hesitate to get back to us on the email provided below. In this week’s cover, we are featuring various women who are making it big in the technology field. Many years ago, only few women had professional skills as far as computing technology is concerned.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and for anything or idea to be successful then it must have an impact. And that is what we are all about. This time around, we have forward thinking women who are using technology to solve some of the problems in the society. That way, they make this world a better place.

Their passion and creativity is helping many people.

So the technology sector is not after all still horrible to women across the world. Many Tanzanian women are folding their shirts and are becoming the driving forces of innovation in the country and beyond.

And all over the world there is faster growth of many tech innovations by women. Long ago, technology was viewed as a field of men in T-shirts and jeans, not anymore, women have made inroads and are doing astounding work. Take a look at some of the high tech women or should I call them Tanzanian technology divas. Wishing you a great weekend.




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.