Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Voter

Freezing cold
A yawn and off the bed
First in line
Its 4 a.m Tuesday
He had waited for this moment
He chatted with his friends - rubbing his hands
A bit of warmth needed
Rukia was up as well - she sold hot tangawizi and coffee
As they waited for the centre to be opened - at 8:00 a.m
The coffee made him awake till then
Throngs of people began to gather at the registration centre
But he was first in line
Ecstasy - As he got in and filled the forms
Biometric Voter Registered - Lolz
A voter ID was in his hand
Change was in his hand
October 2015  

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Future of Democracy and Freedom in Tanzania is at Stake

Controversial pieces of legislations have been passed in Tanzania that will undermine press freedoms and democracy. Chadema's Chairman Freeman Mbowe comments on these legislations that put the country at stake ahead of the general elections in October.  

By Freeman Aikaeli Mbowe

The ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapindizi (CCM), has enacted a cluster of laws to clamp down on freedom of the media that will put a country once admired for its transparency and openness - and a significant development partner of the West - into the same league as other dictatorships on the continent.

The Media Services Bill will bar all but officially licensed journalists and media houses from operating, create a "media council" to control publications down to small newsletters and blogger sites, and impose stiff penalties such as the banning of newspapers.

The Cybercrimes Act will outlaw online publication of what the government deems "misleading, deceptive or false" information, and grant police the power to search the homes of suspected violators, seize their computers and demand their data from online service providers. It will be an offence to send an email or other electronic communication without solicitation.

The Statistics Act outlaws the publication of statistics deemed by the government to be false, an offence punishable by a $6,000 fine or a three-year prison sentence. A researcher or journalist can go to jail for publishing data that the government does not agree with.

The laws ostensibly set out to confront concerns such as child pornography and hate speech but instead strangle freedom of speech both on traditional and social media.

The laws have either passed Parliament or are being fast tracked through. President Jaya Kikwete has announced that he will assent to all, though he has not yet signed them into law.

There is only one motive that explains the breadth of these measures and the speed with which they have been rushed into law: Tanzania is to hold national elections in October this year.

Cumulatively, the new laws could silence criticism of poor governance and stifle what has been a feature of media reporting in recent years: investigations and exposes of corruption in government.

By setting stiff penalties for breaking the law, the government is assembling a series of traps that will force the opposition to choose between silence and jail.

The CCM has effectively ruled Tanzania since independence in 1961, and won every election since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1992. But this year, it is faces the prospect for the first time that it could be beaten, by an opposition movement spearheaded by my party, the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema).

Millions of Tanzanians are tired of endemic corruption and paralysis and are eager for change. Tanzania has become one of the largest recipients of aid in Africa, yet we have the resources and opportunities to become one of the economic powerhouses of the continent.

The government is determined to hold onto power by all means, and we see the crackdown on the media and free speech as part of a broader attack on democracy.

As our support has grown, our members have been violently attacked - several have been killed and hundreds more jailed. Almost a dozen Chadema members face politically motivated charges in court. I personally narrowly escaped with my life when a hand-grenade thrown at me during one of our rallies killed four people.

Why should this matter to people in the US?

Tanzania is first among the West's development partners in Africa. From the US government alone, it is one of the leading beneficiaries of aid from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Feed the Future, the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and Obama's signature Africa initiative, Power Africa.

Many Americans know Tanzania as a land of great beauty and one of the world's most splendid wildlife refuges. It is the home of the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, the Olduvai Gorge and Mount Kilimanjaro.

And yet an NGO, the Environmental Investigative Agency, says more elephants are killed for their ivory in Tanzania than in any other country, as a consequence of corruption and criminality.

The British television station, ITN, published statistics recently that elephant numbers in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem had fallen by 60 %, from 20,000 to 8,200. National Geographic has pointed out that mere publication of these facts will soon be a criminal act. Under the cloak of censorship, the slaughter will continue.

The international community does have leverage and bears some responsibility if nothing is done. President Kikwete appeared to acknowledge this when, addressing the opening of the US-sponsored Open Government Initiative in Tanzania recently, he claimed to be open to hearing objections to the legislation and to be willing to fix them - after they have been signed into law.

We have a better solution: the international community should insist that he should not sign these laws. He should send them back to Parliament so that all measures designed to crack down on the media or stifle freedom of expression can be expunged.

This is not just about these laws, bad as they are. This is about ensuring that there is a level playing field in the election so that the will of the people can prevail. Nothing less than the future of democracy and freedom in Tanzania is at stake.

Freeman Aikaeli Mbowe is the chairman of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA - Party for Democracy and Development) and the leader of the opposition in Tanzania's Parliament. Mbowe was elected to the National Assembly in 2000 representing the Hai Constituency in Kilimanjaro Region.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Katiba? Not a vocabulary for the Aspirants so far!

I have listened and followed all speeches by 'watia nia' of CCM. I followed the grand farce of Edward Lowassa on 30 May in Arusha. I followed Mwigulu Nchemba's address the following day. Online comments said he did well. Stephen Wassira also announced that he will seek his party's nomination. His address was in Mwanza and he prioritised infrastructure. This Twitter parody account sums up Makongoro Nyerere's presidential ambitions. Amb. Ali Karume from Zanzibar has also declared his interest for the top seat. Many more will announce. I am told there are over 30 aspirants for CCM's presidential nomination. That is good for democracy! 

One conspicuous thing missing is the talk of the fate of the constitution process.

These snapshots show the aspirants key priority areas if they are nominated by their party CCM.
Makongoro Nyerere Twitter parody account

Thursday, 28 May 2015

My 2 Hours in Police Detention

A stoic feeling. The day was coming to an end. Aware that the market closes at 6:00 p.m I rushed through the chest routines at the gym. Just in time before it closed - went through the list and began shopping. I always haggle but with a smile to the sellers. Being Monday the traffic was crazy - but I was patient. As I approached the Nakumatt junction I decided to overlap, we call it 'kutanua' in our neck of the woods. Two irate policemen stopped me with the other rushing to my car window. He gave me the "whats wrong with you" look. A seemingly young officer came to the window and started pulling the car keys from the ignition. I fumed! I rolled the car window in defiance. A police lady with two-stars on her uniform approached and told the officer "Mpeleke huyu Central". I was running late - I was going to buy medicine for my mum. The officer with gusto jumped into the car and said I should drive to Central Police Station. Adamantly I drove into Nakumatt to buy bread! That incensed the officer. 

I needed to rush the medicine to my mother. "You need to be calm I told myself!" I pleaded with him to allow me to take the medicine to my mother - he was steadfast and said he was taking orders from his superior. The two-star police lady had instructed that I should spend the night in remand. "Vijana wa siku hizi wanajifanya wamesoma sana, wanadharau lazima niwafundishe adabu -atalala ndani leo."She was serious. The realisation of spending the night in remand started to sink in. I called my dad. He managed to sweet-talk the officer in charge at the station that evening - not without the customary 'chai ya mzee'. The car was seized and was asked to report to the station first thing in the morning. 

When I reported to the station in the morning, the two-star police lady was not in. I was told she'll be in the afternoon. I duly reported at 1400 hrs. They say if looks could kill! - the police lady sneered as she majestically swung on her chair. She said she didn't want to see me at all and she ordered I be taken to remand. "Mpeleke huyu mahabusu," she ordered a junior officer who had just stepped in. I pleaded for forgiveness but she said she'll only speak to me after I spend the night in custody.

I was ushered to remand by a tall traffic officer. As I removed my shoes, ring, wallet and belt, it began to dawn on me. One officer seeing that I had carried a significant amount of money in my wallet told me if I gave him something, he will take me to a more 'comfortable remand'. I agreed. But the police lady had ordered that I be put in the common remand. I was received like a Form I student as I entered 'wachanganyeni' - the common remand. A light skinned gentleman with no t-shirt on welcomed me by conducting the customary search. I had nothing on me as I had surrendered it at the police counter. I was given a paper that outlined the possessions I had surrendered at the counter. Another gentleman who was tall also with no t-shirt on with hairy chest came and said hello. "I'm Ibrahim Mashaka, I've been here for over a month now," he retorted. He was wounded all over but the scar on his right eye was vivid. I was ordered to go and take a shower which I duly obliged. The gentleman who had received was in charge there. He ordered a seemingly elder man to mop the bathroom which doubled up as the toilet. He was full of energy. I got in and just washed my hands, face, legs, and cleaned up my armpits.

I sat at the concrete slab with my head down and holding my hands like someone who was praying. Ibrahim came and sat besides me. Three young men were in the same cell with a look of resignation. A somehow old man in a blue shirt was fast asleep on the floor. Ibrahim told me frankly that he wished to got to jail. "I have been here for a month now. I have not tasted a good meal for many days now." As he narrated his ordeal, the metal door kept opening periodically with names being called and other coming in. I was praying to be called next. Ibrahim seemed to have lost hope. He told me he had killed his girlfriend after a brawl in a local bar. "I hit her with a beer bottle and she died" he told me with no shred of tenderness or regret. "I honestly would prefer the ugali and beans of prison, this place is a mess." I asked why they hadn't taken him to court. He brushed off my question and told me he had lost all hope. He stands up and peers into a small window in the cell. He walks away and I engage the rest in some conversation.

The three boys tell me they have been there for four days now. They say the police caught them in possession of a gun after a raid in their friends house. As we speak, a gentleman who by the looks is from the Coast or Zanzibar gets into the cell. The others welcome him by calling him 'transporter'. He had stepped out after being called by a lanky police. I later learn that he was caught trafficking Somalis just past the Kenya-Tanzania border. He was taking them to South Africa. He tells me that he will go for questioning at the immigration office the following day. He asks me my name and why I was there. Another gentleman steps in the cell and seats besides me. He doesn't tell me his name but he asks me why I was here. He was brought there after failing to offset the debt his friend owed. As he began to narrate his story my name is called out. Ibrahim and the gentleman in charge follow me to the door. "Usitusahau kaka, tulete hata mikate na juice." I promised to bring them bread and juice.

The police lady is there waiting for me at her office. She was joined by two other gentlemen - all with two-stars in their shirts. They had ordered chips and 'mishikaki'. She tells me to join in but I tell her I am okay. She said that I had now learned my mistakes and I should pay Tshs.30,000 fine. She gave me my car keys and left. As I drove home she was there at the same junction where I was stopped last night. I hooted and said hello. "Nico, ukipita bila kunisalimia nitakukamata" She said with a smile on her face. I laughed. She waved. I narrated the story to my wife. She now calls me "my convict husband."

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Press Freedoms and the Need to Repeal Draconian Media Legislation in Tanzania

Kujenga Amani, recently published my article on the need to repeal retrogressive media legislations. This article was written in February 2010 before just before the Tanzanian government through parliament started debating on other controversial legislations such as the cybercrimes bill and the statistics bill. We understand the president has assented to the cybercrimes bill. On January 21, 2015, the Tanzanian government banned The East African after accusing the regional paper of...continue reading 


My take: Burundi

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Significance of John Kerry East Africa Visit

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited three countries in East Africa. The visit to Kenya and Djibouti was open in his itinerary but his visit to Somalia was surprising to say the least and according to FP's David Francis "too dangerous". It has been said that his visit to Kenya was to make preparations for President Obama's visit in July. For Kenya, a country that has suffered the brunt of terrorism in the past few years, Kerry's visit and that of President Obama, is a welcome sign of American support to Kenya's fight against Al Shabaab. Kerry's visit further highlight the strides Kenya has made in reshaping her foreign policy which, after the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto was stained. Kenya's foreign affairs docket headed by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed has been transformed remarkably. The country has been able to balance its international obligations well by luring new friends and even rediscovering old foes. An example was Kenya's welcoming of Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in February where they discussed trade and investment between the two countries. 
John Kerry in Kenya

John Kerry while in Kenya met and discussed on various issues with top government officials, members of the opposition and civil societies. Of greater significance was the US pledge of $100 million to boost counter-terrorism in Kenya and a further $45 million to go to refugee aid. John Kerry also pledged support for deradicalization programs to prevent the youth from joining terror networks. US support for counter-terrorism will include intelligence sharing, law enforcement and border security. Although this support does not come without strings, it is a welcome addition to Kenya's fight against terrorism. Kerry's visit comes a month after the Garrisa university attacks that claimed 147 souls. 

Kerry's surprise visit to Somalia, a first for a US Secretary of State further buttress US efforts to combat violent extremism. It also showed according to Kerry "Washington's Commitment" to renewed ties between the two countries. Kerry met with Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud at the country's airport and later returned to Kenya. Key in their talks was insecurity caused by the Al Shabaab militant group. Kerry promised increased support of the AU mission to Somalia. 

Kerry in Somali - Picture courtesy of FP
Bradley Klapper reporting for Associated Press says Kerry's visit to Djibouti as one that highlights the importance of small nations in US policy. However, Djibouti remains a crucial state in the geopolitical setup of the Horn of Africa. The small country is base to US troops in Camp Lemmonier. With the ongoing Saudi airstrikes in Yemen aimed at Houthi rebels, it is expected that many Yemeni citizens will flee and take refuge in Somalia and Djibouti. Kerry will discuss the Yemen crisis together with his host President Omar Guelleh. 

Kerry while in Kenya also spoke on the Burundi situation which according to analysts is in the brink of a civil crisis. Pierre Nkurunziza, the Burundian president is seeking a third term contrary to the constitution and the Arusha reconciliation Accords. Protesters have since taken to the streets to oppose Nkurunziza's decision. Significantly, Kerry's East Africa visit illustrates US commitment to fighting terrorism in the region. For Kenya, the visit is another foreign policy triumph after a previous backlash and seemingly isolation.     

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Kerry meets Zarif at his New York Residence

Secretary of State John Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif at the Iranian ambassadors residence in New York. This is the first meeting of the two after the P5+1 signed a deal that will see Iran reduce nuclear enrichment that will in effect ease sanctions. This is also a diplomatic victory that will redefine Iran and US foreign policies.

See more analysis on Al-Monitor  

Monday, 27 April 2015

TIME 100: A Reflection

I read through The Time 100: The World's Most Influential People before Sunday Mass yesterday. Inspiring? YES, Informative Graphics? YES, Choice of people? Mh..that is for another day. All in all I enjoyed reading this April 27 - May 4 2015 double issue of TIME. The cover had Kanye West, the maverick American artist - who according to the writer Elon Musk, says would be the first person to tell you he belongs on the list. Kanye West is known far and wide. In our part of the world, he is famed more on his relationship with Kim Kardashian - who is also in the list - than his music. Or am I wrong? My wife doesn't read TIME Magazine, but she took notice of it when she saw Kanye on the cover. Was this TIME's intention? The graphic representation of the Homelands - where the 100 were born is covered in the first pages. It is not surprising to observe the left side of the page which has the Americas is filled with more people - almost three quarters. 

I am not surprised that the list has Kim Kardashian - the first lady of #fame. You can see the harshtag, yes she is a media phenomenon with over 29 million followers on Instagram. When Kim flew to Armenia, her ancestral land, it made the news and remarkably, she made a plea to President Obama to recognise the Armenian Genocide. I am moved by the first woman in charge of the US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen, this is a positive stride in women empowerment. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the celebrated Nigerian novelist also makes the list an indication that the strides women are making are also been felt in Africa. I have read all her books save for Half of a Yellow Sun which I intend to read soon. The way she moulds her characters in her works is just amazing. Her stories resonate with many people in Africa - remember Kambili in Purple Hibiscus

Jorge Ramos is described as "America's New Anchor" a man with silver-haired but with a heart of gold. Christiane Amanpour says Ramos who has redefined the immigration narrative can 'move the needle' with another presidential election coming up. Obiageli Ezekwesili was the face of the #bringbackourgirls campaign. You know making the list of TIME 100 is not an easy task, it requires, in some instances, selfless service to humanity, unbreakable commitment and service. It has been a year and the girls in Chibok have not been rescued but Nigeria has a new man in Muhammadu Buhari who also makes the list. 

Mohammad Javad Zarif, is a man I have always admired. Iranian top diplomat returned from the Iran Talks with a deal. The deal has brought about world rapprochement after decades of Iran isolation from international relations. Zarif was a member of the prominent personalities of the dialogue among civilisations of President Mohamed Khatami. A distinguished scholar who has encapsulated President Hassan Rouhani's constructive engagement policy. I also hold to high esteem Pope Francis, who according to Desmond Tutu has instilled a new sense of human-centredness in the papacy. Pope Francis is indeed God's gift to humanity. His humility and modesty is bringing hope to the world's poor. Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu also makes the list. Ehud Barak, writing on Bibi in his last paragraph, he states "To leave his mark Netanyahu must swiftly heal wounds opened by his campaign [] for a tougher policy, and even, if needed, an attack against Iran [..]. Daring actions are needed. Not just words. From praising Zarif's diplomacy during the Iran Talks to Obama's victory on nuclear nonproliferation deal, TIME ought to have warned against Ehud Barak's insinuation.

TIME 100 gives young people like myself time to reflect on the future. I aspire not to make the list of 100 but to be like Pope Francis, a face of humanity or like Malala a champion of education or just simply like Abby Wambach, to use passion to lead. Or simply like the many who have not made the list who touch the lives of others by bringing hope in their lives.      

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Mzee Moyo's Expulsion: Why CCM has miscalculated this!

Mzee Hassan Nassor Moyo is a revered Zanzibari statesman. This veteran politician embodies Zanzibar's history - a history of struggle and revolution. He was an instrumental figure during the days of the 1964 revolution and was a key man in the merger between the Afro Shirazi Party (ASP) and Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) to form present day Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM). Mzee Moyo, as he is fondly known also embodies the reconciliation efforts in Zanzibar that led to the formation of the Government of National Unity in 2010. 
Abeid Karume, Julius Nyerere and Mzee Moyo

I met him last year at his colleague's house in Zanzibar. He was full of apologies because he came in late. It was past the Ramadhan month, but he told my colleague and I that he was still fasting to make up for the time he had lost. He said he just came from Muscat were he was on holiday. We greeted him with the customary Salaam Aleikum greeting. As he sat down on the comfortable leather coach, he wanted to know my name. I duly introduced myself to him and he quickly made a joke. "You must be from Kilimanjaro" I laughed and he joined in the laugher. His colleague offered us a drink and we sat down to listen to his wise counsel. He was measured in his responses not loquacious like his colleague. He paused and answered our questions in a subtle manner. His calm demeanour was exemplified by his responses.

This week, Mzee Moyo has been in the news. He has just been expelled by CCM. CCM claims that he has betrayed the party by openly supporting a three government Union format. CCM as a party believes and advocates for a two-government Union. Mzee Moyo has also been accused of attending rallies organised by the opposition CUF and openly showing his support for Maalim Seif Shariff, the CUF leader in Zanzibar. His expulsion from CCM come a year after Mansour Yussuf Himid, the former legislator for Kiembesamaki was also expelled. Mansour has since joined CUF and is now a key political strategist for Maalim Seif. 

When asked about his expulsion Mzee Moyo said "CCM is not my father or mother". Mzee Moyo was instrumental in the Maridhiano (reconciliation) agreement that ushered in the GNU in 2010. He served as the chairman of the Moyo Committee of Six, which Mansour was a member. His stand on the Union format is also supported by many CCM stalwarts in Zanzibar who are afraid of the fate that has now befallen Moyo and Mansour. With the elections in October, the decision to expunge Mzee Moyo from the party will be bear great ramifications. There is no doubt that the reconciliation spirit that oozed in the wake of the GNU formation is not there anymore. The old divide that characterised Zanzibari politics is back. Reminiscent of this is the recent torching of CUF party offices in Dimani constituency. There is an apparent attempt to flare up the schism in Zanzibar ahead of the general elections. 

Mzee Moyo has stated that he is not looking to join any other party despite his expulsion from CCM. He continues to reiterate that he will fight for Zanzibari interests which he says include a three-government format and more autonomy for Zanzibar. The decision by CCM to oust him will no doubt have some implications. Mansour was earlier this year quoted in DW radio stating that CCM -Zanzibar has always used the racial card to divide the people of Zanzibar. His public utterances on what he calls 'siri kubwa za chama' (top secrets of the party (CCM) make the general elections in Zanzibar interesting.  

Monday, 13 April 2015

Picture of the Week: Obama and Castro in Historic Handshake

Obama Castro
Obama and Raul Castro in historic handshake

Moving Out

His father looked and waved goodbye 
As his son reversed his car
He watched almost teary
His mom couldn't control herself
She remained inside and cried
The son was now grown
Moving out

The son too was moved
He had to be strong 
It was hard for the boy who loves his parents
"I was taken by emotions" said his mum
As the son opened the gate 
A new home
You're now all grown
Responsibilities Await
Moving Out 

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Gift of Marriage

14 February 2015
The day was here
The day I had dreamed all of my life
The alarm went on - the ringtone - Today is my Wedding Day
Masha got into my room - She hugged me - All the best bro
I almost cried - But we danced - Today is my Wedding Day
I undraped my suit, white tuxedo, black trousers
The nobility of purple - purple bow tie - prose and elegant

She stepped into the aisle
Side by side with her brother and mom
She was so beautiful
Her vail couldn't hide her beauty
Could I resist the cry? No I couldn't..
So beautiful, she walked towards the altar
The 'proud of you son' look from my dad and mum
"Yes she's the one" So beautiful

As we danced to - "Beautiful in white"
A thousand Years
I give you all of me
The gift of marriage

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Black Narrative: Too Black to Coach?

Al Jazeera's program Sports Matters examined the black narrative in the sporting world. "Too black to coach?" Interesting discussions.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Yes we need Collective Learning in Schools

I sat and listened to the presenters during the farewell function of Rakesh Rajani. The topic for that afternoon was "How can we help children in school learn real skills?" The founder of Twaweza Rakesh, has always wanted improvement in education and the education system in Tanzania. He has championed this ideal and he is a living testimony of a campaigner for education. Befittingly, Rakesh wanted to sign off with debates. In this particular debate on 8 January 2015, the panel which had distinguished educationists and policy practitioners highlighted a number of very interesting points. 

Although I did not have the opportunity to relay my appreciation and reaction, I choose to pen them down here. Madam Marjorie Mbilinyi, an educationist and former Executive Director of Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TDNP) highlighted a very important point. She believes the best way to make children in school learn real skills is through collective learning. A tragedy of our time, is that we live in a individualistic society, a society that is geared to competition. I call this unnecessary competition where we forget the values of working together, pulling together in the African spirit. 

Today, children are moulded to become competitive beings; who comes first is feted and he comes last is vilified. Parents demand their children to come first in class regardless of whether they grasp what is being taught. Our children today are taught how to cram and reproduce what they've crammed. What a tragedy! Children need to be taught the art of collective learning as Madam Marjorie pointed out. In addition, how do we make sure that learning is enjoyable? Learning should be fun, learning should be interesting. Hence teachers should also learn and nurture the spirit of collective learning. This spirit breeds unlimited success as children learn to appreciate their strengths, and work on their weaknesses. Children will learn to appreciate that they could get a careers in sports, music, entertainment, and not be bulldozed into the traditional careers because his father is an engineers and the mother is a paediatrician. Although not to its entirety, this can be achieved through collective learning in our schools.       

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

#WeddingDiaries: Time with Frinds

Its 9:45 a.m Tuesday 6 January, 2015. My good friend Elvis calls me and says we should meet later that evening. Coincidentally, I had also planned another meeting with Nancy, a good friend of mine the same evening. I call Nancy and tell her that Elvis, whom she knows has planned a meeting with me. She tells me he had also asked her to join us in the meeting and his sister Ikunda will also be joining us as well. I continue with my work but fixated on the bridesmaids material which I need to buy later in the afternoon. 

My mum and sister Teddy will be joining me in the afternoon to go shop for the material. I have lunch and go to the CBD Arusha to meet them at around 3:00 p.m. We go to these Indian shops, which have very good lace material, which my fiancee has insisted we use despite it being very expensive. Its fine, she says it is her wedding and it should be the best day of her life. Well and good, we identify the purple lace material. Glory, Teddy's close friend had since joined us. After intensive bargaining with this middle aged man who is either Somali or Indian, we decide that we should try somewhere else. Glory, who got married last year knows these wedding stuff so she takes us to another shop. There we get the material at a relative cheaper rate. I am a great bargainer, my family, especially sisters know me for this.I further bargain and at last we settle on a negotiated price. Its already 5:00 p.m, we had taken two hours to buy material for seven bridesmaid. My word, this wedding thing is not easy. 

I rush to my car and hit the gym. With my wedding coming up, I have intensified my work out regime. After forty minutes of work out, Elvis calls me saying he could be running late. I finish up and rush to Bay Leaf, the scheduled place for our meeting. Elvis and Nancy had already arrived. Nancy was sipping her customary masala tea. "Its not as good as that of Arusha Cafe," she tells me as she adds a teaspoon of honey. We normally meet at Arusha Cafe some evenings. We briefly debated if we should seat outside or inside. I was okay with either. We agree to seat inside because of the mosquitoes. 

We take a table in the corner where this somehow shy waiter comes and takes our order. Past reviews indicate the place as expensive. I had never been there before. I order a jug full masala tea while Elvis orders cappuccino, apparently he is detoxing and his new year resolution is to stop taking alcohol. Ikunda soon joins us and laughs at Elvis' new year resolution. "Bwana harusi" became my codename. They ask if am excited about the wedding. Yes am excited but a bit nervous and jittery. All shall be well. We share jokes and talk about politics and other stuff. The topic on politics is not well received by Ikunda who says she's not into politics at all. We shift to E!, yes E!, of the Kardashian fame, Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, Fashion Police, and blah blah blah. Oh my God, I also know these programs? My sisters Masha, Gloria, Teddy and Doris are such a bad influence. Yes, they are the kids of today, the Instagram kids, so no need to blame them. Let them enjoy this as it lasts, or as I often tell them, "you will eventually grow up". We talk about family, life and religion. Religion, as is ritual, divided us. No need for details. 

There drizzles outside, soon it pours, it good we chose to stay inside. I look at my watch, its 11:23 p.m, I have to head home now. "Safari njema kaka Elvis" He and Ikunda were traveling to Dar the following morning.        

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015 - #Prayerfor2015

Happy New Year to you all. I want to thank the Almighty Lord for granting me life and blessings. 2014 was my best year yet. As my spiritual mentor Joel Osteen likes to say "This year is going to be your best year so far." I believed 2014 was going to be my best year. Trials and tribulations had rocked me in 2013, but I never lost hope. I prayed and God granted me success. I stood by him when all seemed to go wrong. In so doing, I strengthened my faith and trusted in him more. I was reminded of Job's relent and faith when he was confronted by Satan's deceit. He was restored and gianed favor from the Lord. A new beginning came in 2014. When all seemed lost, an olive branch was extended to me. I rose in happiness, thanking God for the new beginning. The Lord has been be good to me and I praise his name. More and more I grew spiritually, my faith was strengthened, and I sought to know hime more. He gave me an amazing job, I engaged my girlfriend Joan, and we are getting married this year. I believe I will go from strength to strength, victory to victory and success to success. I pray this year will be my best year yet. I pray for the down trodden, those that have lost their faith, those that are persecuted because of their faith, the sick, those in prison, the poor, orphans and widows. I pray for my country Tanzania. As this is an election year, I pray for peace and tranquility. I pray that loves prevails over hatred, and anything that will threaten peace be thwarted in Jesus name. I BELIEVE 2015 will be my best year yet! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!  

Nicodemus Minde