Tag Archives: Tanzania

Reflections from JHR’s first year in Tanzania

In February 2013, we launched JHR’s first program in Tanzania. A year later, JHR Trainer Rosella Chibambo reflects on the impact for students at Saint Augustine University.

This is JHR’s first year at Saint Augustine University of Tanzania, and the university’s journalism program is widely regarded as one of the country’s best.

Located in Tanzania’s Lake Zone region, a hot spot for human rights abuses in the country, SAUT offers students the opportunity to study journalism in a place in regular need of quality human rights reporting.

Members of the Mwanza, Tanzania JHR Student Chapter set up a film shot.

Members of the Mwanza, Tanzania JHR Student Chapter set up a film shot.

JHR’s work at SAUT began with a series of human rights reporting workshops attended by male and female students in almost equal numbers. The students were particularly interested in women and children’s rights, as well as press freedom issues.

In collaboration with the journalism department, local NGOs and media organizations, fellow JHR trainer Roohi Sahajpal, and I are planning a media forum on violence against women. We hope this event will encourage students and local media to look more critically at the impact their reporting has on Tanzanian women and their families.

With the help of SAUT’s Legal and Human Rights centre, I have been further developing human rights curriculum begun by my predecessor, Ashley Koen. The journalism department is currently working to implement a new human rights reporting certificate program at SAUT. Even though it will take well over a year to bring this project to life, staff and students have expressed a sincere desire to strengthen SAUT’s reputation for producing quality human rights reporters. One of my most devoted students, Kamilo Albira, has been working tirelessly over the last few months, to develop an English language human rights radio program to be broadcast on the campus station. This will be the only English program broadcast by the station and will appeal to students coming from outside Tanzania, as well as local students. JHR’s program in Tanzania is generously supported by 

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Flash from the past

Photographer Rohit Oza poses with a picture of his father, Ranchhod, the original proprietor of Capital Art Studio. Photo by Katie Lin.

Behind a set of imposing wooden doors and in a building teeming with antiquity, lies an invaluable collection of historical documents: photographs.

Nestled among the labyrinth of narrow streets that make up the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone Town, Capital Art Studio literally wears the image of Zanzibar’s past but is also a treasure trove of individual histories.

I stumbled upon the studio as I haplessly wandered Stone Town one morning. Initially drawn in by the myriad of black-and-white photographs filling its windows, I somehow ended up having an impromptu studio session with the studio’s proprietor, Rohit Oza.

As I sat there on a stool with Oza’s hands cupping my shoulders for our portrait, I felt oddly anachronistic; I smiled nonetheless and stared straight ahead as we waited for the self-timer on my camera to go off.

Beep. Beep.

Maybe it was the 80-year-old faded balcony-scene screen behind me – or the 1930s children’s rocking horse in front.

Beep. Beep.

Maybe it was the retro wedding portraits plastered on the studio walls – or the 19th century Arabic architecture those walls were holding up.

FLASH!

Oza’s father, Ranchhod Oza, originally opened up shop in 1930, and apart from a 100m relocation down the street, everything – from studio props to the 1950s Kodak cardboard cutout at the door – remains the same.

“Many old people, they remember us,” Oza later explained of the business’s clientele, many of whom his late father photographed.

“Families who left the country for a long time, they’re coming back and asking for the old photographs.”

Following the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964 – just a month after Zanzibar gained independence from Britain – thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed and thousands more forced to flee the island.

But in 1992, the island ceased being a one-party state and made the transition to a multi-party political system – and now Zanzibar is seeing the return of both Arab and Indian exiles and British expats.

Rohit and I in the studio, which has remained unchanged since the 1930s.

“I’m very interested in some of the people who are coming back and asking me for photos,” Oza says as he leafs through a box of black-and-white 8x10s.

He emerges victorious, presenting me with a photograph of a ship. He explains that a man once walked into his studio looking for pictures of a ship by the name of S.S. Said Khalifa – presumably the same ship in the photo.

The S.S. Said Khalifa belonged to Sultan Khalifa ibn Kharub, ruler of Zanzibar from 1911 to 1960, and this man’s grandfather was its captain.

“I had to print it, but I showed him the photograph the next day,” Oza explains, as he points at two blurry figures standing near the ship’s bow. “He looked at it and he said, ‘It might be my grandfather standing in the cabin.’”

As he replaces the lid on the box of 8x10s, Oza assures me that I shouldn’t expect to see much change in the future – only in hands, when he passes the business along to his photographer brother upon his retirement.

So for at least one more generation, those in possession of photographs wearing the unmistakable “Capital Art Studio” stamp need only sail off the Tanzanian coast to Stone Town shores to find their origin.

Poaching in Tanzania’s game parks

Tanzania's elephant population fell by 24 per cent from 2006 to 2009, yet patrolling of game parks is lax and park official deny poaching is a problem

With cameras in tow and binoculars ready, I embrace the Tanzanian tourist trap I fell into and peer out the roof of our truck to admire two lions and four baby cubs relaxing in the midday sun, not far from their zebra leftovers.

As amusing as this rare sighting is, I’m aware of the darker side of animal parks. To kill and be killed may be the nature of wildlife, but poaching should not be a part of the game. Though Tanzanian park officials deny the problem still exists, recent newspaper coverage and an investigation by the international organization, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), suggest otherwise.

“So what can you tell me about the latest poaching of elephants in Tanzania?” I ask our safari guide as we circle down a windy road toward the crater floor.

Caught off guard by my question, he mumbles back with hesitation, “Oh, that’s not a problem. We don’t have poaching in our country anymore.”

Someone should tell my driver he’s been misinformed—in 2009 alone, about 11,678 kilograms of seized African ivory originated in Tanzania. On top of that, all of sub-Saharan Africa was targeted for mass seizures between January and November of the same year, totaling over 20,000 kilograms.

What’s more, a 2010 report released by EIA documents discussions between Tanzanian traders and ivory dealers about how they illegally smuggle ivory using bribes to quiet officials. According to the organization, Tanzania’s elephant population fell by 24 per cent between 2006 and 2009—more than 33,000 elephants in total.

After viewing the lax security at the park gates—a few rangers and the odd ranger car patrolling the grounds—it’s evident how poaching persists.

Sadly, when the sun sets on the Serengeti plains and camera-toting tourists disperse, some animals have more than nature’s predators to fear with poachers on the prowl.

Tanzania’s main trading partner in the smuggling of illegal ivory is a country that has had its own poaching problems in the past: China. About two years ago, China faced accusations when ivory from 11,000 elephants mysteriously disappeared into the country’s black markets.

Fears of illegal ivory trading became the focal point of discussion at this year’s International Elephant Conservation and Research Symposium in January, when Tanzania and Zambia presented a proposal to alter their elephant populations from Appendix I, which bans commercial trade, to Appendix II, which allows regulated trade subject to certain conditions.

Tanzania’s request was not granted, but there is still a long way to go regarding illegal trading. On Sept. 9, 2010, a shipment of 1,550 kg of ivory tusks was confiscated by port officials in Hong Kong. The ivory originated from Tanzania.

It would be a lie to say the safari wasn’t an amazing experience, but part of me still wonders, if poaching continues at this rate, how many elephants will I see roaming Tanzania’s supposedly protected game parks in five years?