A bit of what happened in London as Tanzanians voted

Friday October 30 2020

We watched and waited. Someone suggested we overseas dwellers should be allowed to vote. We would add millions of votes. Politicians, are you listening?

Anyway, as we waited for election results, I perused through some of the biggest newspapers here. On the actual Wednesday, the historic October 28, checked Metro. London’s world biggest free travel tabloid. Metro is a daily cake.

If you are broke and cannot afford a paper or your phone Wi-Fi is kaput outside your home, Metro is a lifeline.

Page One. Headline was about Manchester United footballer, also England striker, Marcus Rashford. Who is he? You mean apart from scoring goals for club and country? To begin with he was recently awarded an MBE (Member of British Empire) for services to his community. The coronavirus has hit people of all walks of life, notably, lower income folks. What the athlete did was to be a voice for free meals during school holidays.

Meantime, Metro headline on the 28th screamed that the British government had rejected Rawford’s pleas.

“A volunteer army of caring Britons is trying to make sure no child goes hungry this half term as Boris Johnson refuses to cave in to demands for free meals during the holiday. From London to Leeds and Liverpool, to the south coast, cafes, restaurants, takeaways and individuals are backing football star Marcus Rashford’s food poverty campaign.”


As we read this, voters lined up at polling stations in Tanzania. Was there any reporting of the East African election?

Flick to Page Three. Two pieces about black people. Nothing about Tanzania, but listen. First a gargantuan photograph of the African American singer Beyoncé, squatting on some white pedestal (very symbolic) dressed in a pink tracksuit and white Adidas trainers. An advert, I suppose. Part of the caption stated Beyoncé is USA’s 55th richest self-made woman worth $420 million. Below her was another self-made female singer and millionaire, Adele. Adele is from London, but lately she hosted a comedy show in the USA.

One of the skits she did was about tourism in Africa. The Metro title screamed, “Adele’s sketch about Africa sex tourism, tone deaf...”

Tone deaf is used to describe people who cannot follow a tune, or basically can’t sing. Which is ironic as Adele is currently one of the best vocalists in the world. The criticism was about the sketch and hollered: “Adele then joked about the sandy beaches...the massive bamboo, she added I found a deep deep connection...”

Bamboo is a word associated with Jamaica where years ago white women were quoted to highlight the manhood of us black males.

Nowadays you cannot just make jokes like that. A Black Lives Matter Instagram comment quoted by Metro claimed, “The skit about using black men as human sex toys is highly offensive and tone deaf given the year we have had globally.”

Sensitivity is 2020, yes.

And two days earlier, one of The Sunday Times columnists, a famous BBC broadcaster, wrote on his page:

“I don’t think there is been a time when society is as divided as it is now. Women versus men. Black people versus white people. Rich versus poor. Right versus left. ...and it is because people are always absolutely convinced by social media that they have the majority on their side.”


While pondering on that I did receive a WhatsApp message from a Jamaican friend. For years, he has fondly eyed Tanzania. Not just for its peaceful image since the Nyerere days, but to date the Covid-19 success.

“Why isn’t the world been told how successful your President and Tanzania has dealt with this so called virus, while we here are messing up in masks and scandals?”

What do you do? You just shrug and smile.

Now he sent me an advert he had just seen on Zoom Tanzania, where a seven-bedroom house is up for sale for a quarter million Sterling pounds (Sh920 million).

He was flabbergasted.

“You cannot buy a house, let alone a 7 bedroom bungalow for that price in London,” he quipped.

I flicked through Metro flats adverts. One on Tuesday (day before the election) , is just a studio, i.e., single room with kitchen, bathroom, bed, for that similar amount (quarter million pounds) in West London.

Comparative analysis is a strange cat.

Live in London or Dar es Salaam?

Speaking of Dar es Salaam, I was listening to a song of the same name by Vuli Yeni. Vuli lived in Dar es Salaam during the era of Apartheid. He was a South African refugee musician who seemed to know everyone on the arts scene. Now back in his homeland, he just released a tribute to Dar. YouTube has already boosted the Vulimanjaro Muziki publishers release clip in March 2020.

“Dar es Salaam ni muzuri sana...” sax player Vuli Yeni chants while mentioning names of deceased musicians like Adam Kingui (Rifters) and Patrick Balisidja (Afro 70).


Freddy Macha is a writer and musician based in London.