Azama M Bwinza: The Audacity to Rescue 7 people from being drowned in Lake Tanganyika.
Saturday 11th October 2014 will remain a dark day for the people of Kigoma in general and Kigoma North constituency in particular, especially the villages of Mtanga, Kigalye and Kalalangabo Kagongo ward. Ten people drowned in Lake Tanganyika following the capsizing of twin canoes (mtumbwi wa kipe) with more than 50 people in it.
It was a celebratory day at the offset. There was a wedding ceremony in Mwandiga village and the bride and groom with relatives and friends were travelling to their new home in Kigalye village, which entailed travelling first by cars and ‘bodaboda’ and then crossing the lake in a twin canoe. The people in this area cannot afford hiring a boat so for many years, in community solidarity, fishermen offer their ‘mitumbwi’ to be used as transport for social events. Worse, villages along Lake Tanganyika North have only one means of transport which is waterways as no road has been built so far.
At around 1 pm that Saturday almost 50 people including the bride and groom got into the mitumbwi from Kalalangabo ferry and started to sail northward to Kigalye. 1pm after they set sail the mitumbwi turned upside down and what followed is now history.
Amongst the passengers was a 24 year old lady, Azama Mahmoud Bwinza. She is a widow with one child. She was the first to jump into the waters of this second deepest lake in the world and swam to shore. According to her story, she stood on the rocks at the shore to catch her breath and saw others trying to rescue themselves. She heard her younger sister calling out for help. Courage sank in and she dived back into the water. Knowing that Kalalangabo area is one of the deepest parts of the lake, she set off on her rescue mission.
‘I was holding people by their back and pulling them to the shore. I made seven trips and as a result I rescued 7 people including a pregnant woman and 3 children,’ Azama narrated. The last person she tried to rescue died. She was holding on to Azama so firmly that Azama couldn’t swim and both were at the brink of drowning. ‘I had to bite her to leave me or relax and I was exhausted. I went swam back to shore. The woman died.’ Azama explains while crying as the dead was her sister-in-law.
In whatever measure, Azama is the heroine of 2014 so far. The leadership she has shown is rare and her selfishlessness is worth emulating. If only our world had more Azamas.
Mwaka 1984 nilianza darasa la kwanza katika Shule ya Msingi Kigoma, katika mji wa Kigoma. Nakumbuka kupelekwa Shule siku ya kwanza na mama yangu mzazi Bi Shida Salum (Mungu amrehemu) nikiwa sina viatu yaani pekupeku wala begi la mkononi, nilikuwa nimebeba mfuko wa nailoni. Nakumbuka usiku wa kuamkia siku ya kwanza kwenda shule, sikulala kwa furaha na hamu ya kuwa msomi, nilijisikia fahari kuanza shule japokuwa sikuwa na kitu chochote cha zaida zaidi ya kaptula ya shule na shati liloshonwa kwa kitambaa cha sanda. Pia nilianza shule nikiwa nimechelewa kwa mwaka mmoja maana wenzangu walianza wakiwa na miaka 7. Mwaka 1983 nilipopelekwa shule mkono wangu haukuweza kushika sikio upande wa pili, ambacho kilikuwa kipimo cha kuandikishwa darasa la kwanza.
Hali ya maisha wakati huo ilikuwa mbaya sana. Nakumbuka kwenda shuleni nikiwa sina kitu tumboni au siku nzima nilikunywa uji usio na sukari. Uji wenyewe ulikuwa ni wa unga wa njano uliotokana na mahindi ya njano ambayo tuliambiwa nchi yetu ililetewa kama msaada kutoka nchini marekani.
Shule yetu kama zilivyokuwa shule nyingi za wakati huo hatukuwa na madawati ya kutosha na vyumba vya madarasa vilikuwa vichache sana. Ilikuwa ni kawaida kwa wadogo (darasa la kwanza mpaka la tatu) kusomea chini ya mwembe na kukaa juu ya matofali. Hali hiyo ilipelekea kaptura yangu ya shule kuwekwa viraka vingi maana ilikuwa inachanika mara kwa mara. Nyakati nyingine ilibidi kwenda shuleni na shati likiwa halijakauka hasa siku za alhamis, siku ya usafi na iwapo nikiwa zamu ya mchana kwani nilikuwa nina shati moja tu tena lililotokana na kitambaa cha sanda.
Kwa dhahiri, watoto wa masikini na matajiri tulikuwa shule moja, darasa moja hata wote kukaa kwenye matofali. Watoto watawala na watawaliwa tulicheza mpira pamoja, kuruka dana na hata kuruka kamba. Hatukujisikia wanyonge kwa sababu hatuna viatu au kuvaa kaptura zenye viraka na mashati ya sanda. Kamwe sikumbuki kudharauliwa shuleni sababu ya uduni wa maisha yangu. Heshima ilitokana na uwezo wako darasani na kupitia hilo nilipata marafiki wa kutoka madaraja yote ya maisha. Nakumbuka mtoto wa Mkurugenzi wa Maendeleo Mkoa wa Kigoma ndugu Daniel Masanja ndiye alikuwa rafiki yangu wa karibu na kwa kuwa sikuwa na hata pesa ya kununua bajia wakati wa mapumziko, yeye alikuwa ananinunulia.
Huko baadaye, ada yangu ya kidato cha kwanza ililipwa na Mzee Sebastian Kasomi ambaye mwanaye Kasomi Mabula alikuwa rafiki yangu mkubwa mara alipohamia shuleni kwetu akitokea mjini Shinyanga. Mzee Kasomi alikuwa Mkuu wa idara ya Kodi ya Mapato mkoani Kigoma.
Licha ya uduni wa maisha watoto wengi tuliishi kwa matumaini makubwa sana. Mwalimu wetu Mkuu ndg. Daniel Andulile alikuwa mkali sana kwa watoto wote bila kujali daraja la maisha la wazazi wao. Alikuwa anatucharaza viboko kwa makosa na utundu bila ubaguzi. Alisisitiza sana kusoma kwa bidii ili kujenga Taifa. Dhana hii ya kujenga Taifa iliingizwa kwenye akili zetu na sisi kumeza bila kujali maana yake. Wakati mwingine tulikuwa tunarudi nyumbani huku tukijadili kitoto kuwa tunajenga Taifa. Kila siku mwendo wa kilometa Sita kwenda na kurudi shuleni.
Elimu hii isiyo ya kibaguzi sasa najua ilitokana na sera za Baba wa Taifa Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Jitihada zangu darasani ndio ziilikuwa kipimo cha utu wangu na sio uwezo wa kiuchumi wa wazazi wangu.. Elimu iliyompa fursa sawa za kuendelea na kusonga mbele mtoto aliyekuwa kigoma, kantalamba au Dar es salaam. Elimu iliyokuza ndoto, kuinua ari na kujenga matumaini ya kila mtoto wa kitanzania. Elimu iliyovunja na kusambaratisha matabaka ya kiuchumi na dhamana. Elimu iliyojenga uzalendo na hamasa ya kutumikia taifa letu kwa misingi ya haki, uadilifu na upendo.
Sikuwahi kukutana na Mwalimu Nyerere isipokuwa niliwahi kumwona akiwa ndani ya gari nikiwa nimepanga mstari barabarani alipofanya ziara mkoani kwetu mwaka 1987 nikiwa darasa la nne. Lakini nilikuwa kama ninaishi naye kutokana na namna nilivyotaka kuwa kama yeye. Nikiwa darasa la pili nakumbuka katika mkebe wangu ( mathematical set) mkuu kuu niliweka picha ya kukatwa kutoka kwenye gazeti ya Mwalimu na Kawawa. Na nilijisikia fahari kuwa na picha zao, mara zote nilipokuwa nafungua mkebe kutoa kalamu nilijisemea kimoyomoyo, “siku moja nitakuwa kama wewe”
Licha ya maisha magumu tuliyokuwa tunaishi, maisha ya kupanga mawe kwenye mstari wa kununua mahitaji muhimu kama sukari, sabuni na mafuta kutoka duka la ushirika, maisha ya kushindia uji wa yanga na kutembea mwendo mrefu kwenda shuleni, niliishi kwa imani kubwa kuwa mimi na watoto wengine tupo sawa. Usawa katika kupata elimu, usawa katika kucheza na usawa katika ndoto na matumaini. Nimemaliza elimu ya Chuo Kikuu, ndoto niliyoruhusiwa kuwa nayo kwa sababu ya sera za Ujamaa, za Mwalimu Nyerere.
Ujamaa haukuwa katika usawa wa elimu tu ambapo kila mtoto alipata elimu bure na bora katika Shule za umma bila ubaguzi bali pia namna jamii iliishi. Mtoto alikuwa analelewa na jamii nzima. Ukifanya makosa mtaani mzazi yeyote anakuadhibu ili kukurekebisha. Ukifanya jambo jema, mzazi yeyote anakupongeza.
Mwaka 1985 mwezi Novemba nilipokuwa natoka shuleni, karibia na Benki ya Taifa ya Biashara Tawi la Obed Katikaza, nilikutana na Mama Colleta Furugunya tuliyekuwa tunaishi mtaa mmoja na nikimwita bibi Colleta. Aliponiuliza matokeo yangu ya mtihani wa kumaliza muhula wa pili wa darasa la pili kwa kujiamini nikampa karatasi yangu ya matokeo. Nilikuwa nimeshika nafasi ya tatu darasani nyuma ya Ramadhan Kalukula na Haki Manyaga. Bibi Colleta alinishika mkono mpaka duka la Viatu, Bora Shoes na kuninunulia jozi yangu ya kwanza ya viatu. Viatu vile viliitwa Asante Salim, aliyekuwa Waziri Mkuu wa mwisho wa Mwalimu Nyerere ambaye alikuwa anajaribu kubadili hali mbaya iliyokuwepo. Hivyo ndivyo nilivyopata viatu vyangu vya kwanza vya shule. Shukrani kwa sera nzuri ya ujamaa, mshikamano na upendo.
Hizo ni enzi.
Presentation by Zitto Kabwe, MP United Republic of Tanzania at 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference Yaoundé, Cameroon, 2th – 10th October, 2014
“Parliaments shall exercise oversight on policies for tackling illicit capital flight, address inequalities within and between our countries, cut poverty and spur sustainable global economic recovery“.
The world has experienced tremendous growth over the past two decades fuelled by fast growth in the developing world especially emerging economies including Commonwealth members such as India. The global recession experienced in 2007 – 2009 has slowed this. Higher unemployment rates, sovereign debt crisis, and increasing inequalities are challenges faced the world over and of course across the commonwealth.
“The Commonwealth is an association of sovereign nations which support each other and work together towards international goals. With their common heritage in language, culture, law, education and democratic traditions, among other things, Commonwealth countries are able to work together in an atmosphere of greater trust and understanding than generally prevails among nations”
The Commonwealth charter reflects the greater ideals we share – but the very make-up of the Commonwealth, the diversity of member countries, varying in size, varying in wealth, prompts us to acknowledge the tensions that may arise as we seek solutions to emerging problems in an unequal world.
Our world economy with 7.2 billion people, is now valued at US$74 trillion. Our commonwealth represents a significant share of this with 1.3 billion people or one-fifth of the world population.
- Two of its nations are among 10 largest economies – The United Kingdom and Union of India.
- Four – United Kingdom, India, Canada and Australia, are among 20 largest economies in the world by 2013 (forming 10% of the global GDP) • Two largest economies in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, are leading commonwealth members. The latter forms 60% of the combined Sub-Saharan African economies.
These statistics reveal one thing, that global challenges are commonwealth challenges therefore parliamentarians in the commonwealth have a role to play to ensure they are addressed.
That said, the dominant place in the world economy claimed by some of our fellow commonwealth members masks a worrying complexity – Some of the growth we witness is driven by capital flows that are illicit – the proceeds of corruption, tax evasion and criminal activity.
- Let us remind ourselves of the estimates from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) which have shown that for the period 1970-2008, commercial tax evasion accounted for 60-65% of the illicit flows from developing countries, while criminal activity made up 30-35% and corruption accounted for 3%.
- Together with the African Development Bank, GFI has also estimated that Africa lost between US$597 billion and US$1.4 trillion in net resource transfers over the period 1980-2009, exceeding by far the amount of resources Africa received in the same period, and thus making Africa a net creditor to the world.
- The most recent study from GFI estimates that illicit financial flows cost developing countries as a group on average US$590 billion per year during the period 2002-2011.
In Tanzania PAC requested the Auditor General to conduct special audit on the sale transaction from a Malaysian Company Mechmar bhd to PiperLink Investment limited in British Virgin Island. This suspected fraudulent transaction is valued around US$250 million siphoned from the Central Bank of Tanzania. PAC is moreover conducting an inquiry on the extent of tax evasion and avoidance which is estimated to cost around 5% of Tanzanian GDP. Surely, many countries represented here can share their own similar accounts, fraudulent activity, which ultimately restricts funding for social services like education and health.
While drawing attention to global economic challenges, it is imperative, that issues of criminal activity, corruption, tax avoidance and evasion are not side-lined. The black economy deeply affects developing countries, many of them in the commonwealth. What is more, some of the beneficiaries of these activities are also to be found in our commonwealth.
These challenges are explicitly narrated by the World Economic Forum “By almost any measure, in a wide range of countries, domestic income inequality is rising even as the gap between average incomes in advanced and developing countries declines. The upper end of the income distribution is developing a fatter and fatter tail, while the median income remains stuck in low-growth mode. Post crisis, the lower tail of the income distribution is also fattening as poverty increases. This pattern has emerged in the past 30 years.
It undermines social cohesion, political stability and causes declining support for an open global economic and financial system.
Compounding the distributional challenge is persistently high unemployment in the post-crisis period. Growth is nowhere near high enough to bring down these numbers fast enough. And in advanced countries, growth in the tradable sector of the economy has contributed relatively little to net employment growth in the past two decades”.
In our roles as Commonwealth Member States, in our roles as MPs, how do we begin to meet the challenges?
The relevance of the commonwealth will be measured among other things by its ability to address the challenge of global poverty and income inequality. With both advanced economies and the developing world within one association, there is an opportunity for solution. The secretariat has been given a role to play “providing analysis and interpretation of the global economy for the benefit of the Commonwealth countries, putting across the case for the membership need in international settings, and supporting members in achieving their domestic and international economic objectives”.
So what can public representatives of member states do to underpin this? Members of legislatures of the Commonwealth have to provide oversight and ensure that support given by the secretariat helps their countries to face economic challenges in the most effective and impactful way. Oversight over government expenditures, government revenues, public debt management, accountability and specific economic policies are so central to the role of parliamentarians in galvanizing the commonwealth to face global economic challenges.
My country serves another example of how wealth is siphoned from poor countries. In the Mining sector alone, Tanzania was collecting a mere 4% of the total minerals exported. This has been addressed through effective oversight exercised by Tanzanian Parliament. In 2010 the new Mining act was enacted in order to curb the abuses. Recently, Zambia has been in the media with regards to one multinational corporation misinvoicing its copper exports causing Zambia loose hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.
As we challenge within our own countries, we must also be prepared to challenge each other within the Commonwealth. Wealth that is illicitly diverted from my country Tanzania and from other poorer members of our Commonwealth does not disappear into thin air. Illicit capital flight is facilitated by institutions laws and firms based in entities that if not full members of the commonwealth, are tied to it through their dependency on the United Kingdom – British Overseas Territories such as The British Virgin Islands or Bermuda, and places closer to London such as Jersey. The structural reforms necessary require active parliamentarians across our member countries. Without tackling the blight of illicit capital flight, we cannot begin to address the inequalities within and between our countries – instabilities that are destabilizing and will act as a block on any sustainable global economic recovery.
The world is yet to do away with the scourge of infant mortality, income inequality and poverty. Poverty is basically a lack of entitlement to the basic needs of human sustenance. The challenges before the global economy are indeed tough. Timely intervention in the form of appropriate policies and fiscal help from the world bodies are needed to tide over the crisis. No less important is the political will needed for the seamless implementation of the policies.
The imperative now is to generate the growth necessary to create the millions of jobs needed to reduce unemployment and absorb new entrants into the labour force.
The reform process that I speak of will require political courage. This reform is however key to bringing about the most benefits to the population as a whole in our member states. This reform is key to a continued building of inclusive countries that can be a proud example to the international community.