Life-changing communication growth: personal experience

Saturday December 7 2019


When I graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam in the mid 70s, I was looking forward to perform what I assumed to be my ‘boss’ duties in one of the many public and government institutions in Bongoland.

You see during that time every Bongolander who went through university or the few higher learning institutions in the country or abroad would necessarily have to be employed by these institutions. This was courtesy of one government institution appropriately named, the High Level Manpower Allocation Committee.

I therefore sauntered into the newsroom of the government owned Daily/Sunday newspapers along Maktaba Street in the city centre, where I was allocated, ready to perform my ‘boss’ duties.

Instead I was shocked when my news editor, the late Abdalla Ngororo, handed me a pen and notebook and assigned me to go to the nearby Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court to gather news on the cases going on there.

I was to receive an ‘on-the-spot fatherly’ guidance, as the North Koreans would say, from a veteran journalist, the late Subira Kumbuka.

At the end of my day’s assignment I came back into the newsroom, sat on my desk, and hand wrote the news items from the Kisutu Court.


To my utter shock the handwritten materials were thrown back to me. I was ordered to now type them on the dilapidated Facet typewriters scattered around in the newsroom.

Now to my ungroomed brain at that time ‘typing’ was for typists and/or secretaries. And it was not for graduates. To this day I laugh at this immature notion.

In due course I was forced to learn how to type all my news stories and articles, using what we called ‘the two-finger’ system. It still is my only and favourite system to-date.

You should have seen the newsroom of that era. Typewriters with their worn-out ribbons being pounded by rusty fingers. Journalists, most of them smoking profusely inside the always smoky newsroom, trying to beat the deadlines. It was indeed a scene to behold.

On out-of-station assignments the task of sending back news and articles became more complicated. One would, after drafting one’s story, look for a telephone landline and request for a reverse call to the newsroom. He or she would then literally dictate one’s story over the phone.

And where there were Telex facilities they would become handy - to the modern scribes - these were communication machines where one sent an article through perforated paper bands back to Telex room strategically located at the newsroom. There it would be transcribed into the normal worded article.

Many years later, after leaving the papers for another public institution, I was introduced to the then mysterious DeskTop computer, with its humped back. I initially confused this hump for the computer brain.

Again I had to go through a life changing experience. I thank the guys from the Dar es Salaam Computing Centre for successfully guiding me and my colleagues through the mysteries of this gadget.

And now we have very flat computer screens and the added Internet and other social media facilities, among others.

Again this is another somehow confusing development for an ageing relic like me.

But I am forced to keep abreast of these developments since I do not want to be left behind.

Actually it is now an open secret that my young children are my resident tutors and ‘on-the spot guides’ on these matters .

But still this is not all. We now have simu hanja, smart phones. This is again a completely new cutting edge development. You simply have the whole world in a tiny gadget in your hands.

You can communicate - through text, voice and image, enjoy music from any part of the globe, watch films, read books, transact business, bank and withdraw monies, buy and sell products, pray, record music, take pictures and videos, to mention just a few, using the smart phone.

I do not know what will come next in this fast changing world. But at this pace I am just about to throw my hands up in the air and surrender.

Notwithstanding the fact that I am sending this article using my simu janja, God Help Me!