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

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.

ASMARA – The City of Women

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

Asmara is the capital city of Eritrea a country which found in the northern tip of the Ethiopian Plateau in the North-Eastern part of the Continent. It is naturally elevated and is at the height of 7628 feet. It is the sixth highest capital in the world by its capital. In 2017, it was declared as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. There is a population of close to one million people, it is one of the cleanest and well-planned cities in the continent. 

The city Asmara is also called as the African city of Women, it is because this city has a very high population of women as compared to men. There are three times more women than men in this city. 


According to Eritrean oral tradition history the history of Asmara goes back to the 800 BCE. In which it states that there were four clans initially ruling Asmara. The women suggested that these four clans come together and unite and fight against the opposing clans who are a threat. From this point on the name “Asmara” originated which typically means that “They all came together to unite”.

Asmara was formerly colonised by the Italians who used Asmara to attack the nearby countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, etc. Later on it was passed on the British Empire. It was fully recognised as Asmara the city of Asmara in 1993 after they got their Independence in 1991 from Ethiopia.

At this day the official languages spoken in Asmara is Tigrinya, English and Arabic. Due to the Italian colonisation the city was gifted by Italian Architecture and there are about 95% Christians and 5% Muslims. 

The major transportation of this city is bus even though there are also cabs. You need an Archaeological permit in order for you to visit the famous tourist spot of this city that is the National Museum. The second recommended place is the City Park which is known for people coming there for relaxation.

Eritrean economy is one of the strongest economy in the African continent. It stands at sixth place among the top ten currencies of this continent. Eritrean Nakfa is the currency which when compared to the U.S dollar its: 1USD=15ERN. The major manufacturing of this economy is agriculture and meat and diary products. As far as Exports there are mining of minerals such as gold, copper, granite, potash, etc. As the city itself is a UNESCO registered world heritage site there city revenue is majorly contributed by tourists.

TINGA TINGA ART IN TANZANIA

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

The Tinga Tinga Art is considered as an art that has historical value. It is named after the Edward Said Tingatinga who copied and reinvented the art in 1968. Back then he used Masonite and bicycle paint to make the art. Through which he attracted admirers of his work from all over the world which has now become tourist attractions for Tanzania.

Tinga Tinga art is now being made in a village in Dar es Salaam. After the demise of Edward Tingatinga in 1972 there were imitators who started making Tinga Tinga art and kept the art alive. In 1990 they have formed a Tinga Tinga co-operative society. Abdul Amonde Mkura is the senior painter and head of this society as of now. He moved to Dar es Salaam in 1974 and fell in love with the art as he learnt it. 

As many people might know that Africa is a country which is rich in its fauna category and there are lots of forests and desserts. It is one of the countries that is still 100% natural in many parts of it unlike all the other countries which are artificial, and man-made. Tinga Tinga art is renowned for its surrealistic and native style. There are lots of admirers of this art and even there are lots of collectors of this art. 

Tinga Tinga paintings are all about imagination. Over the years these paintings have had a number of altercations, as these paintings were done on boards initially and changed to fabric material as customers found board heavy to carry. In the early stages in the village, they used to look at animals in real life and draw them from imagination now they also use the modern way of painting like sketching it first and then painting on it.

The head the Society said in an interview that he likes to paint about various subjects from his village and from his past life experiences. But his all-time favorite is drawing elephants. He has painted elephants for over 20 years. The elephants are bigger and stronger than any other animal which has a huge significance he believes. These artists of this village are astonished by the significance and the nature of animals, and they respect them. These paintings are of animal from which these people get inspiration and want others to also get it. 

These paintings have evolved to the fact that the youngsters of this society make digital art based on Tinga Tinga and also they have created cartoon series with these art. Tinga Tinga is so highly respected among the Tanzanian people as it’s a curriculum in schools. 

Child Labour in Tanzania

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

Life as a kid in Tanzania is tougher than people presume it to be. The poverty there causes children who are the future of Tanzania, into labourers. Need overcomes all their wants as they need basic necessities for their families to survive.

In Tanzania, around 4.2 million children between the ages of 5 – 17 are working as child labourers. Despite all the amenities given by the government to the people in Tanzania, families have to make their children go and work due to their financial difficulties.

Not only children but mothers are also working as labourers in tough jobs such as stone mining and etc, to earn a living. As there is a lack of rain and many families rely on agriculture as their source of income, their forced to go and work as labourers along with their children in stone mining.

In Tanzania, not only children are working as labourers, but also are forced to quit school because of the hardships they face.

The children working are in the age groups of 5–17 and some of them go to school in the morning and work during the night and some of them quit school and work full time, like from 7 a.m till 8 p.m late in the evening. If the situation is too bad they have to work till they could make buckets of stones worth 4000–5000 according to their necessity for that day.

These children don’t have the normal lifestyle that a child gets, which they too deserve. Even with all the work, most days they don’t even get 3 meals. After all the work till late in the evening and they wake up the next day only to realize they don’t have breakfast which gives them the energy they need to work.

Like every other kid, these kids also have the dream to become an officer or a doctor. But due to their school situation they can’t. They could not afford the uniforms and shoes for the school. Some of the children gave up on dreaming of going to school because they think they will not get any help.

On top of child labour being an unfair act which is still evident in many places like Tanzania, these children gets paid very little even though they work a lot. Even worse, somedays they don’t even get paid.

It is not relevant to them wether they are not well or can’t work due to any medical situation, they wake up everyday and go for work, because many of their parents also have medical problems which makes it impossible for them to work.