Black Lives Matter and Africa’s Point of View

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

With the death of George Floyd in 2020, countless number of people were enraged with the cause of his demise. White police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck while Floyd was screaming for his life. Thus, the phrase “I can’t breathe” became an iconic one. As a result, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement rose into existence “to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe”. The BLM Movement was of great importance, and it motivated people in Africa to shed light on the police brutalities that occurred in their own countries.

Encyclopedia Britannica (source)

In Kenya, the police killed 22 individuals in the midst of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, a Kenyan trader was killed by the police since the latter accused the former of selling fake sanitizers. In response, inhabitants of a small town in western Kenya burned down a police station. Whereas, in South Africa, a similar scenario took place where at least 10 people died due to the police’s implementation of COVID-19 regulations.

Having the BLM Movement becoming relevant and pertinent in today’s time, people from the African continent finally have the opportunity to publicize their frustrations about the violent incidents executed by police forces. For instance, in Nigeria, a group of locals organized demonstrations, and they described themselves as the, “Black Lives Matter in Nigeria (BLMMN)”. The latter was found protesting in the Abuja and Lagos where the Embassy of the United States and the Consulate of the United States are located respectively. BLMMN was particularly vocal about bringing justice not only for George Floyd, but they were also calling justice for several other black people who were victims of police brutality. These victims include the following: Alex Ogbu, a journalist who was killed by the police as he was reporting the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)’s protest; Tina Ezekwe, a 16-year old high school student who was shot by the police; as well as Vera Uwaila and Barakat Bello who fell victims of sexual violence and femicide.

ROAPE (source)

Furthermore, protests and resistance to systemic racism were not just in the form of demonstrating in the streets. A literary community, composed of African writers, “signed a statement demanding that American legal institutions address police violence”. Additionally, the African Union Commission criticized the malicious crimes conducted by the police. It is essential to understand that the issue of racism means a lot to Africans in the continent. Africans are prone to discrimination wherever they go. Such dilemma all started with the colonizing powers as the latter imposed racism and xenophobia in educational and cultural systems.

National History of African American History and Culture (source)

Yet, in spite of the motivation to revolutionize against such a tyrannical system, eliminating police brutality remains farfetched because the police are the product of “institutional underdevelopment”. Police are “often poorly trained and paid; many resort to petty corruption simply to feed their families.”

In conclusion, fighting for the lives of the Black people is pivotal for they are human being with fundamental human rights. Let us not marginalize and leave them behind since UDHR Article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Sources

Black lives matter – views from Africa – ROAPE. Review of African Political Economy. (2020, June 18). Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://roape.net/2020/06/18/black-lives-matter-views-from-africa/

Campbell, J. (2020, July 8). Black lives matter protests in Africa Shine a light on local police brutality. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.cfr.org/blog/black-lives-matter-protests-africa-shine-light-local-police-brutality

Kagumire, R. (2020, June 29). Black lives matter resonates with Africans pushing for decolonisation. Global Reporting Centre. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://globalreportingcentre.org/ideas/black-lives-matter-resonates-with-africans/

United Nations. (n.d.). Universal declaration of human rights. United Nations. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

Food Insecurity in Tanzania: A Challenge That Still Remains

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

Introduction

According to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), food insecurity refers to the “lack [of] regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life”. There are several causes to food insecurity including poverty, unemployment, or low income (lack of resources to obtain food); it could also be due to the unavailability of food. FAO monitors levels of food insecurity by referring to the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).

FAO (source)

Tanzania is a country where socio-economic development has grown steadily, but there remains a sector of the population that is marginalized. Unfortunately, inequality is continuously widening the gap between locals and refugees; however, inequality is also applied even among Tanzanians themselves.

The Problem in Tanzania

Based on the report published by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), “nearly 1 million people are food insecure” in Tanzania. Limited food availability is mainly due to climate change (dry spells and irregular rainfalls), and such a natural disaster significantly reduced “casual labor opportunities for post-harvest on and off farm activities”. Therefore, Tanzania is struggling to provide sufficient food to its population. Moreover, the refugee population is affected by this insecurity as they have limited access to basic needs. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), Tanzania’s “chronic malnutrition rates are above the African average”. 32% of children under 5 years old are suffering from extreme malnutrition, and the number of anemic women and children are also increasing. With the expected incline in birth rates by 2050, the aggravating climate change, and the vulnerability of agriculture to the latter, food insecurity is inevitable.

AllAfrica.com (source)

Linda Simon, a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellow, initiated an organization called, Education Village, “to support rural schools in Tanzania to improve their food systems”. Simon believes that inequality is perpetuated in the schools’ food systems as she compared children’s accessibility to food in Dar es Salaam and in private schools versus schools located in Northern Tanzania. Every child has the right to education, but this right cannot be attained if children do not have food to survive.

To illustrate the food pattern consumption of Tanzanians, FAO described their diet “based on cereals (maize and sorghum), starchy roots (cassava), and pulses (mainly beans).” Whereas, animal products, fruits, and vegetables are of low food consumption. Tanzanians are not able to fulfill their average energy requirements. Consequently, they suffer from various illnesses such as Vitamin A deficiency, anemia, and iron deficiency.

PreventionWeb (source)

Possible Solutions and Current Efforts

To tackle the issue of food insecurity in Tanzania, several international organizations have been contributing in the improvement of the country’s food system. Tanzania is a state with great potential in terms of its “strong natural supply chain route” for the region. WFP has been investing in the amelioration of the supply chain performance “by providing capacity support to the Tanzania Railways Corporation and the Lake Victoria Corridor”. Additionally, WFP sent an estimate of 200,000 metric tons of food across Tanzania; this helped the country by introducing 43 million dollars to the economy. As for USAID Tanzania and Africa Lead, they Education Village “to develop an action plan in to strengthen the organization and improve school-based food systems in Northern Tanzania”. Successfully, Education Village is implementing a business plan “to generate income from sales of drip irrigation systems” for small-scale farmers and Northern Tanzanian schools. Lastly, FAO has several recommendations to limit the aggravation of food insecurity in Tanzania. FAO believes in “promoting and strengthening livelihood programmes”, “improving water projects and promoting rainwater-harvesting techniques at household level”, “encouraging horticultural cultivation” and many more.

WFP (source)

Conclusion

Food insecurity is a serious issue that needs to be limited not only in Tanzania but in the world as well. Large numbers of people are dying due to insufficient food consumption, and this is a violation of Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The latter declares, “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.” Thus, it is pivotal States and international organizations to work together to attain SDG2 No Hunger.

Sources

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS. (2008). (publication). NUTRITION COUNTRY PROFILE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA . Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.fao.org/publications/card/en/c/ec321075-ffe6-4729-a695-/.

Hunger. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.fao.org/hunger/en/

Tanzania: Acute food insecurity situation overview – rural, urban and IDP: Current Food Security Outcomes: November 2019 – April 2020 (issued in February 2020) – united republic of Tanzania. ReliefWeb. (2020, February 18). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://reliefweb.int/report/united-republic-tanzania/tanzania-acute-food-insecurity-situation-overview-rural-urban-and

Tanzania: World Food Programme. UN World Food Programme. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.wfp.org/countries/tanzania

United Nations. (n.d.). Universal declaration of human rights. United Nations. Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights#:~:text=Article%2011,guarantees%20necessary%20for%20his%20defence.

YouTube. (2019, August 2). Education village tackles food insecurity and poor nutrition in northern Tanzania’s rural schools. YouTube. Retrieved November 19, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0UUxOyLiTE

Corporate Social Responsibility: The Case of Barrick Gold Mine

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business model which involves accountability in terms of the process and impact the company has on the society; it could be social, economic, and environmental. When a company adopts the CSR model, it has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that it does not negatively affect the society; this includes protecting and promoting human rights.

Here is an example to better understand this notion. Starbucks wanted to guarantee the diversity and inclusivity of its workforce. Hence, the company aimed “to hire 25,000 US military veterans and spouses by 2025”. Additionally, it even announced a mentorship program to connect other marginalized members of the community such as people of color and indigenous people, to senior business leaders.

Forbes (source)

CSR & Barrick Gold Mine

Barrick is a mining company which identifies itself as a “sector-leading gold and copper producer” in 18 countries around the world. Its mission is “to be the world’s most valued gold and copper mining business by finding, developing, and owning the best assets…” In efforts of attaining so, Barrick determines several core values, and some of the notable ones are “zero harm workplace” and “responsible and accountable”. Moreover, the company commits itself in protecting human rights by meeting the expectations stated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Barrick Gold Corporation (source)

Yet, in spite of Barrick’s priority for human rights protection, the company faced serious human rights complaints. Ever since Barrick was authorized to conduct operational control at North Mara in Tanzania, police and security forces used excessive force. Unfortunately, it led to the death of at least 4 local residents and the assault of 7 other individuals. RAID, an NGO which works on holding businesses accountable in terms of standing up for human rights, found out that assigned police forces constantly entered residential areas during mine-related operations. They would forcibly enter homes warrantless, arbitrarily arrest and abuse locals, throw teargas, and shoot live ammunition haphazardly.

The Toronto Star (source)

Most recently, 10 Tanzanians joined forces to file a lawsuit at the UK High Court against the mining company, which was formerly known as Acacia Mining. In fact, the company has had few drawbacks in terms of its history and reputation. For instance, Barrick’s current CEO, Mark Bristow, said “The historic problem of Barrick in Tanzania was that no one embraced the communities [around the mine]”. Bristow added that it was “an irresponsibly-run business”.

This year, Barrick officially put out its 2021 Sustainability Report, and the latter mentioned how the company has done “significant reductions” with regards to its security forces at the North Mara mine. It also declared its efforts in “diligently… restoring and rebuilding the relationship with the local community”. However, local residents have stated otherwise; they told RAID that they have not observed any significant improvements in regards to security forces. Moreover, Barrick denied the allegations, and it argued saying that the Tanzanian police forces are of the State’s responsibility and not the company’s.

RAID (source)

Conclusion

Barrick should execute efforts in promoting and protecting human rights. Many local workers endanger their lives for the sake of making a living; hence, as an affluent company, it should invest in the safety and security of its workers by all means. The people are their greatest assets, so it is pivotal for the company to minimize hazards.

Sources

About Barrick. Barrick Gold Corporation – About Barrick. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.barrick.com/English/about/default.aspx

African Barrick Gold Lawsuit (re tanzania). Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/african-barrick-gold-lawsuit-re-tanzania/

Digital Marketing Institute. (2022, September 1). 16 brands doing Corporate Social Responsibility successfully. Digital Marketing Institute. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/corporate-16-brands-doing-corporate-social-responsibility-successfully

Human Rights. Barrick Gold Corporation – Sustainability – Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.barrick.com/English/sustainability/human-rights/default.aspx

Investors in Barrick Gold should act to halt violence at Tanzania mine. RAID. (2022, April 27). Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.raid-uk.org/blog/investors-barrick-gold-should-act-halt-violence-tanzania-mine

Van Woudenberg, A. (2021, December 15). Will barrick gold CEO go beyond rhetoric to deliver justice for victims of police killings at Tanzanian mine? Inequality.org. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://inequality.org/research/barrick-gold-human-rights/

Whitehouse, D. (2022, March 29). Barrick: LBMA to consider raid allegations over Tanzania Gold-mine deaths. The Africa Report. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.theafricareport.com/188111/barrick-lbma-to-consider-raid-allegations-over-tanzania-gold-mine-deaths/

Media Repression in Tanzania

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

In celebration of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists last November 2, it is vital to encourage States to protect media personnel and “to promote a safe and enabling environment for [them] to perform their work independently and without undue interference”. Journalists are essential to our societies because they motivate freedom of expression and access to information for all citizens.

The Council of Europe (source)

Freedom of expression refers to one’s ability to express their thoughts, opinions, ideas, emotions, and beliefs about various issues without the fear of being criminalized by the government. In fact, freedom of expression is a right which should be protected. For instance, the First Amendment of the US’ Constitution clearly states that individuals have the right to “freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly”; these freedoms fall under the category of freedom of expression.

Yet, this freedom still remains farfetched in many countries worldwide. Tanzania is a country where this right is not completely exercised. According to Freedom House, “independent journalists and media outlets are subject to harsh repression in Tanzania”. Additionally, the country’s 2016 Media Services Act gives the government the power to control media content as well as the ability to grant licenses of media outlets and journalists.

Human Rights Watch (source)

Press freedom in the country has been decadent particularly under the ruling of former President Magufuli. The latter was nicknamed as “the bulldozer” as he was seen to be an “aggressive” leader. He showed extreme intolerance to political, economic, social, and cultural opposition. Thus, Magufuli’s administration does not consider human rights a top priority. The newspaper, Mawio, was banned after publishing an article related to “Tanzania’s mining industry and attaching pictures of two former presidents to the story”. Consequently, Mawio was banned for 2 years since the newspaper was breaching “national security and public safety”. Moreover, the Tanzanian Communication Regulatory Authority imposed legal sanctions on “three online TV channels” due to their critical content on President Magufuli.

Highcharts.com (source)

With Magufuli’s rising intolerance to resistance, a legislation was passed to enable the Tanzanian government “to de-register parties and impose harsh sentences of up to a year for those engaged in ‘unauthorized civic education’”. Indeed, the State has a very high control of media ownership, which degrades democracy and sustainable development.

However, the mere suspension of media outlets is not the most alarming situation; the lives of Tanzanian journalists are also at stake. There are various cases where media workers are detained, arbitrarily attacked, and even killed. For example, two journalists were attacked by policemen. Journalist Sitta Tuma was beaten after taking pictures at a political demonstration. Whereas, Sillas Mbise was attacked at a football game.

Therefore, in order to avoid any form of impunity, several journalists and other critics end up adopting self-censorship. Simply put, critical topics are sugarcoated to pass the government’s standards of “ideal” content. Some see this strategy as something that defeats the purpose of press freedom. Some are satisfied as it is a way to deliver information to the people while simultaneously behaving under the government’s rules.

Global Voices (source)

Unfortunately, with the limited freedom of expression, growing self-censorship, and continuous suspension of authentic media outlets, not only does it foster an atmosphere of fear and tension, but it also hinders the exercise of multiple human rights such as children’s rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights etc. Human Rights Watch’s report states that “the media are not covering the activities of these groups of the restrictions placed on them, for fear of government reprisals”.

In conclusion, the Tanzanian government should fully respect freedom of expression and association which includes individuals who are part of the media industry, civil society organizations as well as political opposition. This obligation is in reference to the country’s constitution, international, and regional treaties and conventions.

Sources

“As long as I am quiet, I am safe”. Human Rights Watch. (2019, October 28). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/10/28/long-i-am-quiet-i-am-safe/threats-independent-media-and-civil-society-tanzania

K_port. (2019, December 10). Media Freedom Crisis in Tanzania. Public Media Alliance. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.publicmediaalliance.org/media-freedom-crisis-in-tanzania/

Pekkonen, S. (2022, February 24). Tanzania Press Freedom plunges into unprecedented crisis. International Press Institute. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://ipi.media/tanzania-press-freedom-plunges-into-unprecedented-crisis/

Repression and media censorship in Tanzania under president Magufuli. V. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://v-dem.net/weekly_graph/repression-and-media-censorship-in-tanzania-u

Tanzania: Freedom in the world 2022 country report. Freedom House. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://freedomhouse.org/country/tanzania/freedom-world/2022

United Nations. (n.d.). International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists. United Nations. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-impunity-crimes-against-journalists

What is freedom of expression? Freedom Forum Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.freedomforuminstitute.org/about/faq/what-is-freedom-of-expression/

FGM in Tanzania: A Violation of Women and Girls’ Rights

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to a procedure of removing a female’s external genitalia either partially or completely; it can also be any other form of injury to the female’s genitals. However, studies have shown that FGM has no particular health benefits. Instead, FGM is performed mainly due to tradition, rite of passage, and preparation for marriage.

It has been proven that FGM can lead to “severe bleeding”, problems with urination, “later cysts”, “infections”, and “complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths”. Hence, the World Health Organization (WHO) is an advocate of anti-FGM because this practice is not only extremely harmful for the health of women and girls, but it is also an international human rights violation.

In fact, more than 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM, and they are from countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Tanzania is no exception to such a hostile procedure.

allAfrica.com (source)

FGM in Tanzania

According to UNICEF, there are approximately 7.9 million Tanzanian women and girls who have had their genitalia mutilated. FGM is significantly observed (20% to 70%) in the regions of Arusha, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Mara and Singida. In Tanzania, FGM is considered a religious and traditional norm rather than a medical practice. But, there was an emergence of an illness called, lawalawa. The latter is said to be a “curse from the ancestors”, and FGM was the “only way” to heal from such a curse. With scientific and medical innovation, this so-called “disease” is simply an “easily treatable vaginal or urinary tract infection”. Yet, ethnic groups such as the Nyaturu ethnic group, Gogo and Maasai ethnic groups continue to perform FGM even in secrecy.

28 Too Many (source)

In 1998, Tanzania officially declared FGM as an illegal act by enacting the Sexual Offences (Special Provision) Act 1998. This act aims to “protect the dignity and integrity of women in matters pertaining to rape, defilement, sordomy, sexual harassment, incest, female genital mutilation, child abuse and child trafficking.” The Tanzanian Government also adopted a “National Plan of Action to end Violence against Women and Children” to terminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Despite the laws adopted to end FGM, a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation cannot be halted immediately. For instance, ethnic leaders pretend to stop executing FGM on young girls, but they organize “alternative rite of passage festivals” as a disguise to perform FGM.

Furthermore, there are cases where FGM is “medicalized” by involving health care providers. This way, it is seen to be “safer”. However, the WHO is against the “medicalization” of FGM since health care providers themselves are “members of FGM-practicing communities and are subject to the same social norms”.

Unfortunately, eliminating FGM is challenging since politicians often support this practice or remain silent in order to win electoral votes among particular ethnic groups (i.e. Maasai group).

Efforts and Recommendations to end FGM

Former Miss Tanzania, Diana Lukumai, founded a non-governmental organization called, Cut Alert Foundation, in which she aims to have Tanzanian communities invest in educating young girls instead of making them marriageable.

DW The 77 Percent (source)

Human rights activist, Rhobi Samwelly, manages two safe houses for girls who suffer from FGM, gender-based violence, child marriages, and rape. Moreover, a humanitarian mapping, Crowd2Map, is being developed to protect children at risk as well as to promote community development. In spite of the technological advancement, rural Tanzanian areas remain poorly mapped. So, in collaboration between international and local volunteers, Crowd2Map has added schools, hospitals, roads, buildings, and villages. Eventually, human rights activists like Samwelly can find the villages where girls are at risk of FGM.

Crowd2Map.com (source)

The WHO reinforces its efforts to end FGM by “strengthening the health sector response” (i.e. development and implementation of tools to ensure that girls are being provided with medical care), “building evidence” (i.e. being informed about the causes and effects of FGM), and “increasing advocacy” (i.e. generating publications to raise awareness internationally and locally about the hostility of FGM).

Conclusion

FGM is a non-medical practice which needs to be eradicated since it harms the physical and psychological health of women and girls, and it is also a violation international human rights. Young girls should not be forced to undergo such a procedure by any person, even if it is their family members. Again, FGM can potentially lead to long-term problems such as increasing rates of child marriage, and it can even be a financial burden to countries since the treatment of FGM complications is very costly (a total of 1.4 billion dollars in 2018).

Sources

Crowd2Map. Tanzania Development Trust. (2022, January 21). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://tanzdevtrust.org/crowd2map/

Mugumu Safe House for girls. Tanzania Development Trust. (2022, March 2). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://tanzdevtrust.org/projects-2/mugumu-safe-house-for-girls/

OHCHR. (n.d.). United Nations Study on Violence against Children Response to questionnaire received from the Government of the United Republic of TANZANIA . Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/HRBodies/CRC/StudyViolenceChildren/Responses/United%20Republic%20of%20Tanzania.pdf

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2013). Country profile: FGM in Tanzania. Refworld. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.refworld.org/docid/54bce4b44.html

World Health Organization. (2022, January 21). Female genital mutilation. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation#:~:text=Female%20genital%20mutilation%20(FGM)%20involves,benefits%20for%20girls%20and%20women.

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Rooting out female genital mutilation in Tanzania. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.afro.who.int/news/rooting-out-female-genital-mutilation-tanzania#:~:text=Tanzania%20criminalized%20female%20genital%20mutilation,female%20genital%20mutilation%2C%20by%202030. YouTube. (2020, October 12). Former Beauty Queen fights FGM in Tanzania. YouTube. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynho1vJon7o

Tanzania’s Refugee Crisis: A Human Rights Violation

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

Introduction

Not many people may have heard of this, but Tanzania is “one of the world’s most generous refugee hosting countries”, and it even hosted more than a million refugees 30 years ago.

The United Republic of Tanzania currently hosts around 248,000 refugees, mainly from its neighbouring countries, which are Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Refugees are full of hope as they consider Tanzania a place to survive and build their future. For instance, #CaseForChange is a movement which aims to transform lives with the use of mobile technology. This movement reached Tanzania’s largest refugee camp, Nyagurusu. #CaseForChange worked on innovating students’ learning experience by providing them with computers, tablets, and the Internet. This initiative inspired many students to strive for their dreams. In fact, a 20-year-old female student named Sephora says, “We’re not afraid anymore…we’re confident that we can achieve whatever we want”.

UNHCR (source)

Yet, despite the opportunities which Tanzania has to offer, the country is suffering from a refugee crisis. Here are some of the reasons why it is harder to become a refugee in Tanzania:

  1. Restricted Mobility

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), refugees are forbidden to leave the camps “to work, trade, or go to school”. Tanzania justifies such a “strict encampment policy” as the State aims to return refugees back to their conflict-ridden homeland rather than integrating them in Tanzanian society. Not only does this enforce discrimination and division, but it also endangers the lives of refugees. Consequently, refugees are neither able to sustain themselves nor able to contribute to the local economy. To comprehend such marginalization, Tanzania pulled out from the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). The latter is an “initiative to find solutions for refugees and improve the situation in refugee-hosting countries”.

allAfrica.com

2. Underfunded Refugee Response

Tanzania’s refugees struggle to attain their basic needs; thus, various humanitarian organizations struggle to provide basic services such as water and sanitation, education, shelter, and social services. According to UN OCHA, the refugee population needs 302.7 million dollars, but the available funds are only 82 million. In short, only 27% of the total needs can be covered.

UN OCHA (source)

In the education sector, there are limited classrooms for a rising number of students. For example, one classroom has 180 pupils per session, which can worsen due to possible camp relocations.

ReliefWeb (source)

Regarding shelter, refugees initially stay in a tent for a week since they are still in emergency mode. However, refugees are suffering from an unending cycle of “emergency mode”; hence, they must stay in these fragile tents due to the lack of more sustainable shelters. Fred Magumba, NRC’s Area Manager in Kibondo, Tanzania, says, “The standards are just so low. Less than half the families have their own latrines. The rest have to use communal latrines. This is OK for an emergency when people have just fled and arrived in the camp, but eventually, people have to own their own latrines. Right now, there simply isn’t money to fund it”. Unfortunately, considering the tough living conditions in these camps, various illnesses (i.e. malaria) are more probable to spread among refugees.

ICRC (source)

3. Abuse and Forced Disappearances

Burundian refugees have been suffering from arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances in collaboration with Tanzanian security forces and the Burundi State. The UN reports, “Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers now live in fear of being abducted in the middle of the night by Tanzanian security forces and taken to an unknown location or being forcefully returned to Burundi”. More specifically, Burundi intelligence staff pretend to be refugees to identify certain people. Afterwards, Tanzanian forces arrest these individuals. Furthermore, Burundian refugees are harassed to sign up for “voluntary return”.

Efforts for Improvement

Although Tanzania’s refugee response is considered “forgotten”, international humanitarian organizations are doing its best to cater to the needs of refugees. Examples include the following:

NRC provided “vocational training including basic education, life skills and entrepreneurship skills to youth”, “construction, maintenance and upgrade of transitional shelters”, “appropriate water supply systems including source selection, abstraction, storage, treatment and distribution of new systems and/or the repair/rehabilitation of old systems” etc.

IRC helped by “working with leaders of refugee communities to prevent violence against women and bolster women’s empowerment”, “providing counselling services and support to survivors” etc.

Oxfam contributed to the camps’ betterment “by installing water supplies and tap-stands, constructing water storage tanks, toilets, bathing shelters and hand washing facilities, and digging rubbish pits.”

MSF (source)

Conclusion

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, “a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom”. Therefore, as a host country, Tanzania must respect the core principle of non-refoulment, for it is a rule under customary international law. Together with international humanitarian organizations, Tanzania’s refugee crisis needs greater attention since, in human rights, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.” (Article 7 of UDHR).

Sources

At Tanzania’s refugee camps, local health teams take the lead. The US Presidents Malaria Initiative VectorLink Project. (2022, June 6). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://pmivectorlink.org/2022/06/06/at-tanzanias-refugee-camps-local-health-teams-take-the-lead/

Burundian refugees find safety in Tanzania but also new challenges. Oxfam International. (2022, May 25). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.oxfam.org/en/burundian-refugees-find-safety-tanzania-also-new-challenges

NRC in United Republic of Tanzania. NRC. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.nrc.no/countries/africa/nrc-in-tanzania/

Romtveit , G. (2019, March 6). 6 things to know about refugees in Tanzania. NRC. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.nrc.no/perspectives/2019/6-things-you-should-know-about-refugees-in-tanzania/

Romtveit, G. (2019, March 7). Tanzania crisis ignored: “You people should look at us”. NRC. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.nrc.no/news/2019/march/tanzania-crisis-ignored-you-people-should-look-at-us/

Tanzania. International Rescue Committee. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.rescue.org/uk/country/tanzania

UNHCR – the 1951 refugee convention. UNHCR. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.unhcr.org/1951-refugee-convention.html

United Nations. (2021, April 13). Burundi refugees in Tanzania living in fear: Un rights experts | | 1UN news. United Nations. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1089632

United Nations. (n.d.). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

YouTube. (2019, February 26). From hardship to hope in the classrooms of Tanzania’s biggest refugee camp | #caseforchange. YouTube. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqGSesy2RLs&t=332s

Human Rights in Africa: A General Overview

By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern

Introduction

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights came into force on the 21st of October, 1986. It established a solid foundation and standards to promote and protect Africans’ human rights.

According to Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, “Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.”

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (source)

Despite the efforts to improve the lives of the African people, the continent still suffers from increasing human rights violations. These human rights abuses include violating socio-economic and cultural rights, illicit killings, discrimination and harassment, suppression of dissent, environmental deterioration etc. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa’s human rights situation worsened; thus, many people were obliged to halt their education and even forcibly lose their homes.

Here are some of the numerous human rights violations which have been occurring across the region:

Restriction of Expression:

Tiseke Kasambala, Chief of Party of Advancing Rights in Southern Africa Program at Freedom House, says that some African countries have been introducing cybercrime and cybersecurity laws; these aim “to prevent the type of organizing and mobilization of social movements, and civil society organizations on the ground”. Kasambala adds that it is not merely shutting down the internet, but it also involves preventing people from discussing and criticizing the State in the online space. Such shutdowns can be observed in southern African nations such as Lesotho. These cybercrime and cybersecurity laws were also under discussion in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

TechCabal (source)

In addition, internet disruptions occurred in countries like Eswatini, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia. As a matter of fact, on June 2021, the Nigerian government suspended Twitter after the latter “deleted a controversial tweet from President Buhari for violating its community rule”. On September 2021, the Tanzanian Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports suspended the operations of a privately owned media outlet called Raia Mwema, for a month. The Tanzanian government justified such action since Raia Mwema was constantly “publishing false information and deliberate incitement”.

Gender-Based Violence and Discrimination

Females still struggle to fulfil their rights as Africa remains subordinate to women and girls. Hence, issues such as child marriage, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health services, and discrimination against pregnant students are prominent in the region.

In South Africa, there was a significant increase in crime rates related to sexual offences, and there were at least “117 cases of femicide in the first half of the year”. For instance, a 23-year old female law student named Nosicelo Mtebeni, was killed, mutilated, and placed in a suitcase and in plastic bags by her partner. In Chad, a 15-year old girl was gang raped, and the cruel act was recorded and posted on social media.

The Conversation (source)

Furthermore, child marriage remains rampant in Africa. For example, a 4-year-old Namibian child was forced to marry a 25-year-old man when she was 2 years old. In Tanzania, pregnant girls were banned from attending school, and these girls were forced by the government to participate in a “parallel accelerated education program”, which is known to be an “alternative education pathway”. The problem with the latter is its inaccessibility in terms of distance and cost. Fortunately, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education officially declared on November 24, 2021, that adolescent mothers are now allowed to attend public schools.  

Abductions, Torture, and Evictions

The lives of human rights activists are prone to abduction, torture, and eviction in Africa. In the case of Zimbabwe, the government fails to hold security forces accountable for their serious human rights abuses, particularly during the “August 2018 post-election violence” and the “killings and molestations during the January 2019 protests”. In Rwanda, a YouTuber named, Yvonne Idamange, was sentenced a 15-year imprisonment as he condemned the State’s policies.

The New York Times (source)

Jon Temin, Director of the Africa Program at Freedom House, mentions their organization’s research on NGO legislation in Africa. Their studies have shown that over the last 15 years, 12 Sub-Saharan African nations “have adopted various versions of repressive NGO legislation”, and such legislation aims to limit NGOs’ ability to register and receive funding. For instance, in Togo, granting and renewing NGO licenses are suspended.

Violation of Refugee Rights

Refugees carry a great burden since not only are they forced to flee their lands, but they are also victims of threats, harassment, and arrests. Tanzania is one of the most important hosting countries for refugees. As of January 1, 2022, it has 246, 780 refugees who are originally from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Human Rights Watch, Burundian refugees were being maltreated by Tanzanian security forces. Moreover, the latter forcibly returned Mozambican refugees to their conflict-ridden northern part of the country. Therefore, the UNHCR raised this concern by stating that Tanzania violated “the principle of non-refoulement under international standards and regional refugee law.”

The United Nations (source)

In South Africa, refugees were being discriminated particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugees were not provided with COVID-19 aid programs such as food packages during lockdowns.

Conclusion

Despite Africa’s commitment to promote and protect human rights, there still remain flaws in the government’s response. States should respect media freedom and freedom of expression, for they are human rights. Governments should allow human rights activists to speak for their fellow citizens since criticism is the start of positive change.

African governments must prioritize the well-being of women and children. Females should have equal rights to men regarding education, health, jobs etc. Additionally, victims of malicious gender-based crimes should be protected and given remedies to recover. Whereas perpetrators of the crime should be held responsible for their abusive actions.

Lastly, refugees should not be mistreated; instead, they have the right to be protected and taken care of, considering the unfortunate evacuations they need to execute.

In short, according to Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.”

Sources

Africa Regional Overview Archives. Amnesty International. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/africa/report-africa/

African Commission on human and peoples’ rights. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Legalinstruments. (1981, June 27). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.achpr.org/legalinstruments/detail?id=49

Brookings Institution. (2019, November 21). The state of human rights in Africa. YouTube. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eA5KJRmKH8

Operational Data Portal. Country – Tanzania (United Republic of). (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://data.unhcr.org/en/country/tza

World Report 2022: Rights trends in Tanzania. Human Rights Watch. (2022, January 17). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2022/country-chapters/tanzania-and-zanzibar#:~:text=In%202021%2C%20Human%20Rights%20Watch,province%20during%202020%20and%202021

Zenda, C. (n.d.). Human rights violations soar across Africa, report finds. FairPlanet. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.fairplanet.org/story/human-rights-violations-soar-across-africa-report-finds/

DALLOL – Hottest place on Earth

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

In the north- eastern parts of Ethiopia there is an alien landscape that is home to the hottest plays on earth. Getting to such place requires an expedition team with jeeps, camels, and lots of water. It is situated around a cinder cone volcano in the Danakil dessert. The Dallol hot springs are one of kind, abandoned settlements can be found in the outskirts. 

It holds the record for the highest temperature for an inhabitable place. In 1966 it averaged 95F or 35C, during this time the temperature would reach up to 120 or 150 degrees. Not only being the hottest places on the planet it’s also one the most remote, paved roads are being put in by villagers, but jeeps and camel caravans are essential and are used today to collect and transport salt from the area. 

When it comes to salt mining, the locals have had a unique adaptation to their bodies that allows them to work through the heat yet keep cool. They look for cracks in the ground which will chip away with an axe like tool that will further split the ground. Once a defined crack opens the workers will put multiple sticks in the whole and start jumping up and down to pop the salt block out of the earth.

A long time ago when the oceans were much higher and the whole area was flooded with water. As the water disappeared it left a large crust of salt-which explains the salt across the dessert. But what about fresh bubbling boiling salts that emerge from the hot spring for which Dallol is known for. As the salty waters from the red sea is pushed up through the surface of the rock by the volcanic pressure below, resulting in this alien landscape we see today. 

The pools of water may look tempting in the scorching sun, but they are concentrated pools of acid. These are identified by yellow color. Most of the acid pools here are sulphuric acid. The consequences of falling into any one of these pools are instantaneous burns.

Closest to Medusa – LAKE NATRON

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

Although Medusa is a Greek mythological character whose eyes when people see turn into stone, the lake Natron is a real place situated in north Ngorongoro District of Arusha Region in Tanzania. It is one of the most shallow lakes in the world, its only 9.8 feet deep. The lake is a maximum of 57 kilometres long and 22 kilometres wide. 

Why is It dangerous?

It seems like a normal lake when you hear its name, so what makes it lethal? The lake Natron is very close to the active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai, this volcano forms a rare kind of lava that consists of rich amounts of sodium and potassium carbonate. These two chemicals were the key ingredients for the ancient Egyptian mummification. Hence, this lake has that preservative in a perfect lake form. This gives the lake that Vermillion-Red vibrance. 

In 2013, a wildlife photographer, Nick Brandt found out that there are dead birds found in the surface of the red water which seemed like as the bird came in contact with the water it turned into stone. 

Is there Life in lake Natron?

Although lot of these birds fly into lake as its reflective and mirror-like and die and turn into stone-this lake is not barren. The lakes toxic waters provide a safe haven from predators. This is why its best suited for flamingos. Flamingos thrive in salty lakes as they have tough skin and long-scaly legs that prevent burns. They have a special gland in their nasal cavity which helps them filter water for drinking. They are able to feed on the toxic algae found all over the lake as their stomach are very strong.

Can Humans go into lake Natron?

The simple answer is no as we are NOT flamingos. As depending on the time of the year the water can be up to 60 degrees which can cause third degree burn in less than 5 seconds. You can’t take a quick dive either as the lake is very shallow and as it has high concentration of sodium there are sharp salt crystals found in the surface.

The Medusa factor:

Anything that falls into the lake Natron or touches it, won’t be turned into stone immediately. But if an animal is drowned in it and its body manages to stay submerged in the lake the entire body would harden in time and be preserved. If you find a body even after hundreds of years after becoming stone, the hair and organs would still be intact. In the ancient Egypt they used the natron salt for mummification, with which is what the whole lake Natron is made of. As the lake has high alkaline content, it stops the decomposition process.

MAASAI TRIBE

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

The Maasai tribe is a tribe in which the people are very proud of their culture, and they do not want to succumb to the western modernization of the digitalized world. They are believed to migrated from northwestern Kenya in the 15th century. Over the years they spread out and settled now in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. As of today, there is a population of over 2 million people in this tribe. 

In the Maasai culture old men are the leaders, they run everything in this tribe. They way there is to be ruled is determined by these men. These men have absolute power over the women and children in the society. Unlike many other tribes the Maasai worship a single god that is Enkai. Enkai has a dual nature- Enkai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Enkai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful. They are also two totems of the Maasai society- Oodo Mongi, the Red Cow and Orok Kiteng, the Black Cow with a subdivision of five clans or family trees.

Mbatian the Greatest Spiritual Leader of the Maasai For around 200 years the Maasai were ruled by spiritual leaders known as or Laibons. Though not much is known about the origin of their ritual power it is believed that it was passed on between generations of the ole Supeet family dynasty.

A Laibon held the highest place in the social hierarchy of the Maasai. A Laibon’s position was not political, but he wielded supreme influence and power through his role as chief medicine-man, diviner, and prophet of the people. When the people desire any spiritual connection or when they need it to rain talk to the Laibon.

The Maasai people heavily rely on cattle products, they are well-known for their consumption of cow milk. They also consume raw blood, taken directly from a cow. They find a vein and cut it open and take the blood while. They claim its very nutritious for them and that’s why they have been doing it for years now. Generally, they rely a lot on cattle products as they also consume a lot of beef.

The Maasai are well known for the art of body modification such as the elongating of ears lobes and lips.  All these modifications are done at a young age, and they use thorns, twigs, and stones to create the whole effect on the body. So, as they grow the whole also grows and modifications change accordingly. So, it’s not as painful as it looks! They are also very well known for their colourful and artistic jewelry and the dance they do with all the costume on.