E-Learning in Tanzania: Will it boost students’ performance and understanding of content?

E Learning
E learning

I attended the Africa E-learning Forum at Mlimani City last year in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Most of the participants I spoke with were abuzz with this issue. They explained to me— E- learning could be a game changer for Africans— not just for improving content attainment for our students but also as a resource and a tool that will foster a new brand of African renovation.

I looked at them and said sure!

There are some great examples for E-learning successes in African countries like Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria. All these examples point to the benefits that Africa can and will receive if it invests heavily in E-learning and IT education. Massive work and government commitment is needed for all these pipe dreams to become a reality.

E- Learning programming are very expensive. The infrastructure to support massive data bandwidth is not there yet in most African countries. This situation applies to both rural and urban areas. E-learning will not flourish in a wireless cell phone dependent kind of environment. The wireless environment is simply too expensive for data transfer and is really not reliable.

While I see the need to transfer learning platforms into the E-learning environment, I don’t think Africa should invest blindedly in self-directed E-Learning courses part as of yet. These courses are time-consuming and expensive to design and produce.

There is little to no expertise in this area in most african countries since educated Africans still look at educational expertise as worthless endeavor.

Africa and Tanzania in particular could benefit more if they use ICT’s usefulness as a resource library —to store many articles on a DVD, videos, and pre-saved computer simulated labs or as a practicing tool to help students to learn how to type, to conduct source research and other useful skills building activities using a computer.

In addition, the E learning center could be used by students as resource and skills building centers–where students and the local population could access pre-stored information from the computers’ hard drives or cds and dvds in a as needed basis.

Land Grabbing in Tanzania and Africa.

I had written a year ago about land grabbing issues in Tanzania. I had described “the idle land” argument the government  uses to push away poor peasants from their traditional land. Some of this land grabbing phenomenon is having a huge impact in perpetuating poverty for the rural residents in the country.

The new constitution needs to take land away from the governments and back to its rightful owners, the locals in their own villages, vitongojis and the likes.

Some education on land ownership need to be provided to the villagers so that they can make informed decision on what to do with their ancestral land. The crooks from the government should not be allowed to strike land deals with foreign or local investors in any shape or form.

Here is a very good article on this issue. Read it.

Will the “Kiswahili only” Language of Instruction Model be the Answer for the Massive Failures in Tanzania?

This debate come and go every year when the dismal pass rates of our secondary and primary school students are announced. This year, this same debate came with a twist. The guardian newspaper reported recently that the Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training Philipo Mulugo and the government of Tanzania are in the process of drafting a new policy to make Kiswahili the language of instruction in both primary and secondary schools in Tanzania.

It is indeed true that the current system is not working. Everyone agrees with this premise. To make this situation worse, there is no ideal solution to the problem. This problem is so complex and multi-faceted.

While I see the value of a Kiswahili only model in improving students’ scores and comprehension for all the subjects matter, I fear that this new system will only perpetuate the already existing stratified education system in Tanzania between the very few “ the haves” and the majority of the “have-nots”. The “haves” will continue to send their children to English Medium Schools while the poor will be stuck with the Swahili only schools, creating a country of masters and slaves in the not too far future. If we are not already there?

Is this what we really want?

the path to improving the system relies on a strengthened bilingual education system model.  A strengthened bilingual education system model will put enough resources to colleges to be able to teach teachers the current research based teaching methods which will not only benefit educators but, students as well. To provide professional development opportunities for teachers by improving their working conditions, to pay them a livable wage, and to attract more people to become teachers. Furthermore, to encintivise the good teachers to stay in the profession for a long enough time for them to become competent and efficient educators. Without those kinds of incentives, the change of language of instruction alone will not yield anything worthwhile.

The argument that changing just the language of instruction will yield the desired results is flawed. Don’t we already have English teachers in these schools? Why then are the students not learning English proficiently?The problem impacting the education system in Tanzania is not largely due to the language of instruction.  If that was the case, we would see a huge pass rate in primary schools where mostly everything is taught in Kiswahili. The TWAWEZA report on this matter last year point to the contrary. Kids are not learning anything worthwhile in primary school either.

Resources needs to be improved, from teacher quality, the teaching environment, and to teaching tools.

I realize that there is a huge difference between learning English and being taught in English. Switching just the language of instruction will not be the solution to the massive failure rates in both primary and secondary schools. The problem is deeper than that. Huge systematic and policy changes need to happen before we see a real and meaningful uptick in the pass rates. Maybe pairing our existing teachers with teachers from abroad over a long time “ten years” could be something to be explored. The East Asian countries used this model and they are doing very well. Maybe we can learn from them this time around.

Presidents’ Day Week End: Chattanooga Night Life.

Horse Riders Down Broad Street
Horse Carriage Riders Down Broad Street

I am always fond of the secluded night life—a good meal, a quiet night walk and a place to watch some outstanding stand-up comedy— to have a laugh and drink a local beer—before calling it a day. And in the city of Chattanooga almost ALL of the above are—plenty.Everything is located on, near and/or around the Broad Street.

I left the hotel after a hot bath and drove to the nearest restaurant on Broad Street. I took the first open street parking I found close to the Sticky Fingers Restaurant. I checked the meter—it said—parking is free after 6:00pm. I walked in, looked at the menu. I was in heaven on earth.

Sticky Fingers Restaurant
Sticky Fingers Restaurant

This place does true justice to food especially the Southern Cooking—barbeques, cone on the cob, collard greens and green beans. What more can you ask for?

Broad Street
Broad Street

The food was simply delicious. The fact that the food is cooked for long hours before you even get to the restaurant makes it to be—an incredible time saver. You get in; you order; and the food is brought to your table within minutes. The time you spent at the restaurant is completely negligible for wherever you have planned for your night life.

Deep South Blues Street Performer
Deep South Blues Street Performer

I left the restaurant “Sticky Fingers that is” for my nightly walk in a briskly winter night. The whole area around Broad Street, Market Street and Chestnut Street were parked with huge numbers of people enjoying the not-so-wintry cold winter night. Street musicians of all sorts were playing free music on the corners around the city center. The lights all over the place lighted the mood for a beautiful February night in Chattanooga.


The not-so-cold night was finally getting to me. I therefore decided to go to the Hampton’s Vaudeville Cafe for a three hours stand-up comedy show and to also have a taste of some local Chattanooga beers. I had my “plenty of” laugh for the night there. All of the comedians were really funny. The time flew by so quickly, before I knew it, it was over. Back to my hotel for some sleep and another day, tomorrow.

Presidents’ Day Week End: Chattanooga: Day 2.

Rock City Garden Water Fall, Chattanooga TN
Rock City Garden Water Fall, Chattanooga TN

After lunch, I continued driving down a clearly marked road to the Rock City Garden parking lot. I got to the entrance; exchange my online bar-coded ticket for a ticket with a map of the place. At first, I was not impressed.

I took a few steps down the path and then started to realize the magic of the Rock City Garden. You start the route from a flat surface and within a few steps you find yourself sinking—literary—sinking into the ground. The troughs and gaps between the over exposed rocks invites you down under. Within a few minutes I was wholly swallowed and found myself 15-20 feet underground. And; that was just the beginning.

Goin Down: Rock City Garden, Chattanooga, TN
Goin Down: Rock City Garden, Chattanooga, TN

The whole park was just magical. I will highlight a few spots that I found to be beyond amazing. First, was the FAT MAN SQUEEZE—this is really nature’s work of art. The huge rocks on both sides of the path are so close such that if your waist is more than 12 inches in diameter —you won’t be able to go on. You will be squeezed out of the journey—-hence the name fat man squeeze.

Vantage Point: Rock City Garden, Chattanooga, TN
Vantage Point: Rock City Garden, Chattanooga, TN
The hanging bridge
The hanging bridge

After the fat man squeeze, you come across a hanging bridge about 0.5 miles dangling on the sky.  It is beyond beautiful.  You could see (without aided eyes) the whole city of Chattanooga down below, providing you with an incredible view beyond any imagination.

Flags of the Seven States
Flags of the Seven States

Second, was the top flat on the edge of the cliff, from here you could see where the 7 southern states meet. From this vantage point, you could see the states of: Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, South and North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. Just ridiculously amazing.

The Fat mans' Squeeze
The Fat mans’ Squeeze

The waterfall was also spectacular. The water drops about 0.5 of mile down to a pond that is incredibly stunning. At this very point, the legend has it that “one American Indian young man was thrown to his death by members of a rival tribe just for the simple reason that he was in love with a girl of that tribe. The girl was overwhelmed with grief of losing her lover and decided to kill herself by jumping to her death at the same spot”.

Kid's Wonderland Cavern
Kid’s Wonderland Cavern

To top it all, you end up in an underground wonderland tunnel filled with all the fairies. Here is where human imagination—meets—nature’s work of art.

President’s Day Week End: Chattanooga: Day 1.

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee

This morning I left Atlanta for Chattanooga, Tennessee. It only take about 2 hours to drive there. The drive from Atlanta to Chattanooga is somewhat interesting—the mountains and road bends welcomes you into the heart of the city of Chattanooga down below. After arriving in Chattanooga, we picked up our groupon tickets for the Ruby Falls and the Rock City Garden.

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee

We drove up the mountain to Ruby Fall and waited for our tour to start. Just around 10:15pm we got into the elevator and, started our decent 260 feet underground to start a geological magical journey to the falls. The half a mile walk (a one mile return journey) from the elevator station to the falls is filled will numerous geological formation including various shapes of stalactite and stalagmites.

Near the end of the underground journey, you will hear the thundering roar of the breathtaking Ruby Falls. It is an amazing journey and view and a must see if you find yourself in this part of the world.

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee

After visiting the beautiful Ruby Falls, we left to catch some lunch and continued on with our adventure to the Rocky city Garden. The details from the Rock City Garden adventure will be added tomorrow.

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee

My First Dad Daughter Dance

My First Dad Daughter Dance
My First Dad Daughter Dance

Mmmh what a day? I am kinda not ready for these things but what is a father to say when your daughter asks you to escort her for her first dance? I am sure a resounding yes would be the appropriate answer for  all the loving fathers outhere.

Today was my daughter’s school DDD, which is a way to raise funds for extracurricula activities for the school. The place was parked with many fathers, some had one, some had two and a few had three daughters to dance with. It was really fun.

My First Dad Daughter Dance
My First Dad Daughter Dance

OMG!! The prizes, the music, the glomour and everything was just beautiful. I had  a lot of fun I had never had in a while. Watching those kids’ moves was so hillarious.

My First Dad Daughter Dance
My First Dad Daughter Dance



Tanzania Form IV Results 2011: Abysmal Again.

Once again, it is that time of the year when the Form IV results from the Tanzania National Examination Council comes out.  To be specific, the 2011 Form Results were officially announced yesterday.  This is the time when I post the snippets of what has happened with the numbers. My prediction looking to the future last year was that, the pass rates percentages will remain largely low in the foreseeable future.

The major factors contributing to the low performance are many. I will list just a few: 1) The Ward school’s lack of well qualified staffs and resources and 2) The social promotion of those who failed Form II Examination is catching up with the ill-advised policy, 3) Lack of English proficiency for the language of instruction for both students and teachers, 4) Lack of content knowledge and  pedagogical skills for the teachers (quality instructional practices).

Here is the breakdown (Tanzania Form Four, Pass Rates 2011a) of the number for the 2011 just announced results. Out of 459,324 students who registered to take the examination, 426,314 students took the exams and 53.37% of them passed it.  There was a 2.63% uptick in pass rates for this year comparing to last year’s results of 50.74%. The 2011 results are still approximately 20% drop from the 2009 pass rate of 72.51%.

Just looking at the numbers on the attached Excel graph, there is no significant performance improvement graphically speaking. Failure rate stabilization is the correct term to use in this year’s characterization of the Form IV results.

The results provided by NECTA did not provide a meaningful disaggregation of the 53.37 pass rate for this year. Meaningful numbers of the 53.37% who passed the exams; how many got division Ones, twos, threes and fours? Those numbers would offer a better picture than the pass rate comparison that is currently used. Here is graphical representation of the(Kwiro Center Form IV Results 2011 ) in Mahenge-Ulanga, Morogoro.

Maybe the failure rates have hit the bottom, but I would not say that there was a performance improvement in exams results this year. The numbers will largely stay at this level for years to come until the four factors I mentioned earlier have been addressed.

Putting Kiswahili on the Atlanta Map of World Languages.

A Beautiful Sunset in a Swahili Beach, Zanzibar
A Beautiful Sunset in a Swahili Beach, Zanzibar

I will be teaching a 90 minutes Swahili lesson for beginners in Atlanta on July 11th, 2012 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Come join me and other international language LOVERS from across this lovely city of Atlanta.  This lecture is part of the CASIE Atlanta Language Meet-Up.  The Speakeasy is a monthly meeting showcasing a model language lesson taught entirely in the target language.

A Swahili Child Picking Up Crabs During a Low Tide, Zanzibar
A Swahili Child Picking Up Crabs During a Low Tide, Zanzibar

It scares me a little to be speaking and teaching Swahili for 90 minutes to a group of 23 people who have never heard a word of Swahili before other than Simba, Pumba, Rafiki and/or Hakuna Matata while watching the Lion King.

I know it is going to be a challenge. Engaging a huge number of grown-ups for that length of time and building interest in them to learn Swahili beyond the basic greetings is going to be hard to say the least. I do love the challenge though and I will make sure that my first impression will last long enough to make them want to come back and learn Swahili to conversational level of proficiency and beyond.

This is a quote from the CASIE Atlanta website: “There are many organizations who promote languages, but no organizations who offer face to face instruction with a focus on communicative approaches for learning language”.  For this and other reasons, I feel it is very important for me to get involved in Atlanta to put Kiswahili language on the map. I know there are many African and other world languages that are spoken in Atlanta, but Swahili is left behind due to lack of promotion on our part and the fact that there was no a real platform before for that to happen.

Sailing Party in Nungwi, Zanzibar
Sailing Party in Nungwi, Zanzibar

Therefore, the Speak-Easy Meet-Ups are a great opportunity for Swahili to get the attention it deserves. There are many people who would love to learn Swahili, but the lack of organized classes for them to take and practice with a native speaker sometimes is getting on the way. I believe with this opportunity; we can change all that.

I need help to do this correctly though. If you know anyone who teaches Swahili to beginners let me know. I will be happy to have a phone conversation with them so that I will be better prepared to deliver a good session. Let’s Put Swahili in the ranks with other major international languages here in Atlanta.

An Evening Full of Life in a Swahili Street, Dar Es Salaam
An Evening Full of Life in a Swahili Street, Dar Es Salaam

DICOTA: “A Missed Opportunity”.

I have been having flashbacks lately regarding the DICOTA convention I attended in September, 2011. The fact that it was a missed opportunity for this organization to do a collective gesture to the common ills that we all know exists back home is still bothering me to date.  The basic necessities like books for school children, desks, hospital beds and the like are lacking in all four corners of Tanzania. The conventions could even in a small scale be used to address these nuances.

DICOTA as an organization has several objectives and one of them is to promote the improvement of infrastructure in Tanzania. Thinking of just  that, It would have been really nice to have at least a “Harambee” type of event during the allocated convention time where people (DICOTA Members) could be asked to donate money or goods that will be used to fill-those-gaps that we already know exists.

I am not putting any blame to the DICOTA leadership or anything like that, but when opportunities like 600 plus Tanzanian folks happening to be in one place for three or four days, it’s an opportunity that we need to harness. Let’s say all 600 delegates gave S50 each.  What is 50 bucks? For most of the folks who attended the convention, it is just gas money these days. That alone would raise about $30,000. Imagine, how many mattresses Tshs 48,000,000 would buy for hospitals or maternity wards in Tanzania?

We could even go further and pay for our own lunches for the days we have the convention. The money allocated for lunches from the sponsors could be used to add value to our own harambee contibution. I’m not very sure how much those lunches cost at a Marriott hotel in Washington D.C.? I bet, its not less than 20-25 bucks each.

Therefore, for the sake of our image, if we have one and the fact that we care a lot about the lives of the people back in Tanzania—such kind of a gesture will help even our common goal for a Dual Citizenship. We may not be able to build roads and making uninterrupted supply of electricity possible to Tanzania, but we can do a better job that way than nothing at all.

These simple but helpful gestures to our fellow citizens—will go a long way in letting them know that we not just a bunch of people who are enjoying BATAS in the western world and  at the same time we happen to want it GOOD in Tanzania as well.

Analyzing the Mv. Spice Islander Investigation Report in Light of Mv. Nyerere Ferry Sinking in Mwanza.

According to credible reports, “MV Spice Islander” had a maximum human loading capacity of 600 passengers. However, at the time of its sinking, it was carrying 2470 passengers. That is four times the maximum allowed. Further reports says, 941 passengers survived, 203 passengers lost their lives and 1326 passengers are still missing. I’m saddened by the magnitude of human loss.

The report further states, the cause of the accident was “severe levels of negligence.” Nine (9) people have been arraigned in connection to the accident. The dead and survivors of this accident will be compensated at a rate of Tshs 125,000 for 80 months which is equivalent to Tshs 10,000,000 per person.

The suggested figure is what I have issues with.  I feel like the figures are too low and will not work as a deterrent for future man-made accidents. My understanding is that human life is priceless. To save it, stiffer penalties must be imposed as a deterrent.

My questions are:

  1. Why payments are based on the basic salary levels?
  2. What made the commission to assume that all these people were going to die in the next 6 years and a half (80 months)?
  3. Why not use established income earning potentials for each of the passengers and life expectancy figures to figure out the payment?

This was an opportunity to severely punish those involved so that it will be a lesson to them and for others currently benefiting from this kind of behavior. Don’t let this incident be another missed opportunity like MV Bukoba. This should be a wake up call to shipowners, bus owners, and everyone involved in the transportation business. They needs to understand that “if you cause an accident due to negligence” leading to a loss or loss of lives; severe consequences will follow. The “kazi ya mungu” excuse should not be be the norm.

Once a person purchase a ticket, it’s a contractual agreement between the two parties and that the latter will transport the former safely from point A to point B. These contracts need to be honored. Maybe in the future (“that means now”) the government could implement a system that forces bus, ship and any kind of transportation business owners to declare the insurance value of a passenger and luggage on the back of the ticket in case an accident happens.

My belief is that if the owners are subjected to stiff penalties whenever accidents happens and are starting to see that their profits are being eroded; they will make sure that accidents due to negligence will not be a daily occurrences in Tanzania. To make them change their minds and put safety measures before profit, you have to hit them where it matters most—profits.

In addition to a deterrence on the part of the ship, buses, and any-other type of transportation owners. Citizen awareness campaign regarding overcrowding in public transportation needs to be carried out. It seems people are not learning from these incidence. More campaigns on road safety and problems associated with overcrowding are severely needed.

I will end you with this, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome.”

The Killing shall continue……..

What Made 2011 Special for Me?

This was an incredible year. I finally had the opportunity to visit Soweto. It was an incredible moment for me to see the houses of both my favorite South African leaders, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. 

I also had the opportunity to work with my co-workers to organize an event to raise funds for the Mutombo Dikembe Foundation. I have always thought that I was of a decent height, until Dikembe Mutombo towered over me at the event. The whole experience resulted into a sore neck at the end. Is this how short people feel standing next to me?

I just had to take this photo. The girls were such a beauty along the side of the beach in Nungwi Village, Zanzibar. Aren’t they cute?

 This is the view over a window at the Zanzibar Museum in Stone Town, Zanzibar. It was too beautiful. I had to grab my camera and shoot this amazing scenary.

I had an amazing walk in those sweaty and humid narrow streets in Mji Mkongwe (Stone Town), Zanzibar. The shops are everywhere and the shop keepers are eager for you to unzip your wallet. 

I took the three shots below in the Rock City (Mwanza), Tanzania. I fell in love with Mwanza. The temperature was just right and the price was also right. The city was very gentle to my wallet. I will be here again in the near future.

 I just could not resist remembering this small restaurant just on the outside of the main bus stop in Shinyanga. The menu tells it all. I had to test the “LOST KUKU” and amazingly it was really good for the price. I will indeed eat there next time. Hopefully, I will find myself in this party of the country soon.


These three shots were taken in Meatu, Shinyanga, Tanzania. This is the only superstore in Town. Despite the lack of necessities in Meatu, I met the friendliest people on earth.

Kibogoji, what else can I say about it. This is the village that I humbly borrowed the name for my blog. The village is located somewhere between madongo poromoka in Morogoro, Tanzania.

 The three shots above shows some of the residents of Kibogoji.  The next two pics below shows the mountains surrounding the village of Kibogoji.

 Back in Dar Es Salaam. It was such a joy to meet and take photos of the people I love and remember as the year comes to an end. Merry Xmass, hear!!.

Enough with Tanzania and now back to reality-my reality that is.

This woman wanted to take a picture of me at the DICOTA convention in Washington D.C. and I was like ooh no babe! I have to take yours as well. I have no idea who she was, but her image is still fresh in my memory.

Michango in the Diaspora Context.

Funny Gravestone Sayings
funny gravestone sayings

I am now starting to feel slightly disconnected from my own culture. Living in this country for some years and in isolation from the Tanzanian and other African communities make you unaware of a lot of the “things” African. Things like wedding contributions, death michangos, and many “things” of that nature.

The other day, I was invited to go to a msiba, if invited is the right word in this kind of a situation. I had a hard time figuring out what should I bring. The first thing that came to my mind was buying a card.  But, being born and raised in Africa, I started to question myself maybe a card without money will not suffice. Then I started to think “Should I bring money? food? drinks? Or what?

If it is money, then how much is acceptable or expected? It’s kinda hard to translate shillings into dollars, especially the significantly depreciated shilling of today.

I was tempted to call a friend to ask. On the flipside, I was like what will he think of me? What have I become–a sell-out? How would I go about asking about this sensitive issue without him noticing my ignorance? Is there a blue book for how much to give? I mean, if I do not personally know the person (mfiwa and/or muoaji) for that matter.

It is really hard to figure these things out—arrgh!!!!

Living here, the only people you feel concern for are your immediate family members. Even to them, you are not expected to offer contribution neither for death nor for a wedding—insurance or planning ahead takes care of all that. I am a little apprehensive about this issue. I would love to be part of all that is going on in my community; honestly I just do not know what to do?  What to do? What to do?

Sokoine: The Old Leadership in Tanzania

Dar Es Salaam 2011
Dar Es Salaam Street (2011)

Today, I am taking time to reflect on what is happening to the new order of leadership in Tanzania. I remember when I was little. I mean, when I was very little. Back in the day. The days in the early 1980s.

In those days. A young energetic prime minister tragically died on a terrible car accident close to Morogoro. He died on the-then-newly opened paved/tarmac road from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma.

I was just a child, thus, my recollection of the events surrounding the accident may not be entirely correct.

However, I have a vivid memory of it all.


Picha kwa Hisani ya Bongo Pixs

Mr. Sokoine passed away from injury sustained after the car he was traveling-in collided with Dumisan Dube’s at Dumila, Morogoro. Dumisan was a young South African freedom fighter living in Tanzania at the time. In the 70s and the early 80s, many South African freedom fighters lived in camps in Tanzania  where they learned general life and military skills aimed at  equipping  them with necessary life and military skills to fight apartheid once they returned back to their home country.

I have no idea what the court rulings for case were. I do not know whether Dube was found guilty or not.

I sometimes ask myself whom was at fault?

or whom was found guilty for causing the accident?

The accident that caused the eventual death of the Prime Minister.

I have no answers to my own questions.

The whole investigation and court ruling was kept secret.

What I know is this–there is still a huge cloud of suspicion onto the manner in which the accident happened.

The accident happened at the heat of the war against economic saboteurs.

Vita dhidi ya walanguzi.

Was the war against economic saboteur the reason for his death?

or was it just a coincident?

I don’t know.

The one thing I vividly remember to date is this:

When Sokoine died.

The whole country was in tears.

Real tears.

Not crocodile tears we often see now-days.

Everyone was mourning the death of a great promising young leader.

At the time.

It was information overload in a sense. Talking about information overload back then–it was kind of weird.

There was  only  one radio station on the dial.

Radio Tanzania Dar Es Salaam (RTD) and  in some occasions the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

You had no choice but listen to the never-ending four weeks of the Nation in Mourning.

I mean this in a good way.

I could still remember man’s burial ceremony on the radio.

It was like the biggest super-ball game.

The event is imprinted forever on my mind.

The song “kila mtu atauchukua mzigo wake mwenyewe” was in our 277 Panasonic radio (Radio Mkulima).

The only radio we had in the house.

The burial ceremony was broadcasted live on the radio.

It felt like I was in Monduli that day.

Watching his casket lowered to the ground.

It was surreal.

I was  young.

A child.

Like many young minds. I was wondering what happened to dead people.

Do they go to hell (motoni)?

or do they go to heaven (peponi)?

The dichotomy that religion teaches us.

Are there no middle grounds for the dead?


Half hell.

Half heaven.

The gray area so to speak.

What is it with young people’s mind and death?

Death is sometimes scary to the young mind.

The thought of laying in the grave and being eaten by termites.

I had those thoughts.

The undeveloped thought.

Lack of maturity.

And death is sometimes fascinating to the young mind.

The “goods” of not knowing “too much” of and about what is happening around you.

Of not entirely comprehending the laws of nature.

The laws that suggests the natural cycling of matter in the universe.

That matter is neither created nor destroyed.

That matter has to return back to the ground.

To release the essential elements of life.

Through decomposition.

With maggots




So now I wonder.

I wonder what would happen if a leader on the same stature as Edward Moringe Sokoine was ever died on an accident today.

Would the Tanzanians of today.

Full of udaku.

Would they cry?



Or will they just be consumed with indifference?

I know the current leaders are smart people.

At least that is what they believe.

The Tanzania contemporary leaders.

They have great solutions for everything.

I wonder.

And ask myself.

Would those in power today parade people on the street to show emotion that isn’t there?

How would they do it?

Think of how they buy votes.

Perhaps, they could buy people to cry.

on the street.

For the dead.

Like they do in Ghana.

The crier for hire.

Or will they do what happened in Ethiopia a few years ago when the not so beloved Prime Minister passed away.


I feel ashamed.

of myself.

of the people who are being corned.

With the crookedness of the human nature.


All for me attitude.

The capitalists attitude.


Wanting more for self.

Nothing else matters.

What happened to human descence

Is it all gone?

I wonder.


I feel like the connection between leaders and their subjects has disappeared.

That connection has completely evaporated.

Disappeared and never to be seen again.

Is it because most of the new leaders have lost touch?

Touch with the people they pretend to lead.


In the old day.

In the Ntemi days.

Was being with the people.

Listening to the people.

Working on the people’s ideas.

Finding solutions.





Imposition of external solution.

Solution with no real meaning to the intended communities.

Not organic solution.





The contemporary leaders.

Chose to serve themselves.

Rather than the people who entrusted them with the office in the first place.


Just me wondering.






My mind sometimes goes in circles.





I do not wish for any of you leaders in Tanzania to die.

Of course not.

I am just interested in seeing what will the reaction be?


One of them.


Don’t you?

Happy 58 Birthday Tanganyika!!!!

Mimi Sio Mpiga Kura

2004-2005 Garrison Middle School’s Maryland Report Cards.

Grade 6  Grade 7
Year Advanced Proficient Basic Advanced Proficient Basic
2004  6.6% 24.6%  59.5%  1.9%  29.5% 61.5%
 2005  9.1%  31.6% 68.9%  3.8%  34.7% 68.7%
 Diversity: 99.3% Afrikan American Student’s Mobility: 30%

Garrison middle school is a title 1 school in the Baltimore city public school system. 99.3 % of the students were African American according to the school systems website. The rest (0.7 %) were Hispanic, Asian and Whites. 93 % of the students received free lunch and breakfast. The student enrollment for the 2004/2005, 2005/2006 school years were 808 and 876 respectively. The school had a total of 56 teachers.

Garrison middle school was performing poorly in reading and mathematics. The school had failed to meet the states’ Adequately Yearly Progress for three years (2004 to 2006). The data on the table shows the performance levels in reading for the six and seventh graders at Garrison middle school for two years (2004 and 2005).

I believe strongly that the performance levels at Garrison is Influenced largely by the lack of commitment by parents and teachers towards students success. Conducive learning environment where the learning process is uninterrupted by students misbehavior is an essential component for students to demonstrate the highest levels of  understanding. When this is lucking, the result more often appear in the students’ mediocre performance in standardized tests at all levels.

The chaotic nature in the classroom is directly linked to how the parents value education. Whenever children are constantly told the strong value of education by the parents…..most often they come to school well prepared and hence allowing the process of learning to take its course. This has been lacking at Garrison  Middle school for the past few years and is reflected of the students’ performance on the Maryland  State Assessment report-card.

The other factor affecting reading performance at Garrison is student mobility. The Baltimore city school system students are highly mobile and that affects their learning process. They move from school to school with teachers of varying levels of teaching ability. This interferes with their progress in learning.

Furthermore, Garrison middle school is a revolving door for teachers. Most teachers spend one to two years and then  move on to do other things or to teach at less stressful schools. This leaves Garrison with less qualified teachers and veteran teachers who are “burned out” and could careless with what is happening to their students in terms of learning.

Garrison had only 45 % of highly qualified teachers for the three years (2004 to 2006). Most classes were taught by unqualified teachers working on conditional certification. This had negative consequences in terms of student performance levels as reflected by the Maryland State report card.

Resources and Opportunities for African-Americans

Here are some great resources and opportunities for African-American individuals to go to undergraduate and graduate school for free to some of the top American Universities. Have fun with it!

1. Wake Forest University has an opportunity for minority students to attend its MBA program for FREE, and so far, the response has been very poor. Please pass along this opportunity to your friends, families. This is a great school and a tremendous opportunity to attend a top graduate school. See the details below, the contact person is: Derrick S. Boone, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, Rm. 3139 Worrell Professional Center, Babcock Graduate School of Management – Wake Forest University_ WINSTON_SALEM N.C 27109-8738 email:derrick.boone@mba.wfu.ed​u or visit http://www.wfu.edu phone# toll free (866) 925-3622

2. Black Male Teachers needed. Do you know any Black Males who are seniors in high school who want to go to college out of state for FREE? The CALL ME MISTER program offered by 4 historically black colleges in South Carolina, Benedict College, Chaflin University, Morris College, and South Carolina State University – visit the www.callmemister.clemson.edu/i​ndex.htl details online application or call 1.800.640.2657

3. Harvard University is offering free tuition to families of HONOR STUDENTS whose income is less than $125,000 per year. Visit www.fao.fas.harvard.edc or call 617.495.1581.

4. Syracuse University School of Architecture is desperately seeking young women and men of color interested in pursuing a 5 yr. professional degree in Architecture. Contact: Mark Robbins, Dean School of Architecture, 201 Slocum Hall, Syracuse , NY 13244-1250 (315) 443-256 www.soa.syr.edu/indes.php

5. A free pair of eyeglasses from Target for any child ages 12 and under brings a valid prescription for glasses from their doctor. You can find stores with optical departments at www.target.com

6. APPLY NOW – If you have/know young adults between the ages of 18-31 with a High School Diploma. Can earn up to $100,000 and earn benefits. The Federal Aviation Association is taking application for Air Traffic Controller School visit the website www.faa.gov/jobs_opportunities​/airtrafficcontroller/

Effective Teaching Ideas from an Educator.

By Shaaban Fundi,

I have summarized the three most effective teaching ideals that I find useful in my daily duty as an educator.

1.People learn to do well only what they practice by doing.

With regard to the above mentioned effective teaching idea, I have always tried to incorporate some hands on activities in my lesson plans and delivery. For instance, last week when my students were learning about the menstrual cycle, I used data from the internet that shows how luteinizing hormone (LH) levels changes before and after ovulation.

This helped my students to not only learn how to draw line graphs but also to interpret what is represented by the data. It was not the perfect way of showing them the hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle, but it just help them to visually comprehend the abstract idea I was presenting to them.

2.Expectations affect performance.

I always expect high performance in whatever my students are engaged in. This is not only for my students, I strive to be a better educator for them and I will not accept less than what I am confidence they are capable of.

This should not be translated as lamping all students in the same category but to recognize their individual potentials as well. I do realize that students learn and perform differently, but they all have to conform to the same standards regardless of their individual capabilities in learning. Therefore, whenever opportunity arises I do try to help each and every student to realize their full potentials without demanding for something that they might not be able to achieve otherwise.

3. Use of team approach.

Regardless of my struggle with teaching and learning, I have always tried to involve my students in group work especially during interactive lessons. I believe that it is paramount for students to gain experience for sharing responsibility for learning with each other. I do use name cards for each students with their specialties for that particular lesson in order to reduce confusions and increase efficiency in the flow of the lesson or experiment.

I know the strategy does limit the students to a particular function each day and there is no room for them to explore other functions, but at least the classroom environment becomes less confusing. I will try to rotate the students’ functions as much as possible to be in line with the best learning environment I am developing for my students.

Educating Black Kids: What Does the Research Say?

I was reading a few peer reviewed articles in my educational research class and found some interesting information that I would like to share with you all. If you are interested in how students learn and the strategies that research has proven to help all students learn, you will more than likely be informed by reading through the annotated bibliography I painstakingly created below.

And, if you are not interested in the process of educating the minds, you will also learn something about yourself through reading these articles as well. All in all, happy reading and I hope you discover something new from the research.

Shaaban K. Fundi
Annotated Biblography

1.Young, Y.Y., Wright, J.V., and Laster, J. (2005). Instructing African American Students. Journal of Education and Urban Society 125(3): 516-524.

This peer reviewed paper identifies and examine research based findings on effective instructional practices in the context of their applicability for classroom teaching-learning situations. The research paper has identified two types of learners, the global learner and the analytical learner. A global learner (right brain) is visual, tactile and kinesthetic. She/He visualizes what has to be learned, touches what has to be learned and also moves a lot during the learning process.
Most, if not all African American students are global learners and tend to be uncomfortable in an academic setting because their learning styles are not met.

Analytical learners (left brain) recall facts and dates with relative easy as well as process information linearly. They can process information that is written or orally. Most analytical learners are American students with European descent. Based on the aforementioned information, this style of learner tends to be comfortable in an academic setting (Angro-American Centered Classroom) because their learning style is most often addressed.

In order to teach African American students successfully, instructional variability is a key. Instructional strategies need to incorporate movement, visual and touching to address the learning style needs of African American students.

2.Castle, S., Deniz, C.B., and Tortola, M. (2005). Flexible Grouping and Students Leanring in a High-Needs School. Journal of Education and Urban Society 37(2): 139-150.

This peer reviewed paper studied the impact of flexible grouping on students learning during a period of 5 years in a high-needs school. The researchers tracked non-transient, below goal elementary students on multiple literacy assessments using flexible grouping strategies. Results from the study showed that the percentage of students attaining mastery increased in 16 of 19 over-time comparisons.

Flexible grouping is a classroom organizational strategy that is designed to address a broad range of students needs within a single classroom. To meet the need of contemporary classrooms that are characterized by widely diverse student population with varying academic, language, social, and cultural needs, need based instruction strategies are paramount. Additionally, grouping students according to their needs is more effective instructional strategy than ability grouping.

3.Westhuizen, V.P., Mosoge, M.J., Swanepoel, L.H., and Coetsee, L.D. (2005). Organizational Culture and Academic Achievement in Secondary Schools. Journal of Education and Urban Society, 38(1): 89-109.

This peer reviewed paper looks at factors affecting performance negatively in lower achieving schools and positively in high achieving schools. The researchers have identified several factors that affect academic achievement of learners. These factors include organizational culture and school culture. Organizational culture seems to be a key factor for under-achievement in schools.

The findings in this research indicate that a healthy and positive organizational culture exists in high achieving schools whereas the same cannot be said for low achieving schools. A positive organizational culture seems to exercise an exceptionally positive influence on the members of a school and is instrumental in directing their behavior in achieving the stated goal of the school.

4.Shulman, V., and Armitage, D. (2005). Project Discovery: An Urban Middle School Reform Effort. Journal of Education and Urban Society, 37(4): 371-397.

This peer reviewed study reports on a 5- year project to improve urban, middle level student achievement through the implementation of two initiatives. (1) Teachers at participating New York middle school were engaged in weekly curriculum planning workshops to reformulate classroom curricula into interdisciplinary, discovery learning oriented activities. (2) Undergraduate college students from urban public colleges were recruited to work as teaching scholars in the middle school.

The results showed a gain in student achievement which was demonstrated by a significant increase in the number of students meeting state standards on standardized test score in mathematics and English.

5.Heystek, H., (2003). Parents as Governors and Partners in Schools. Journal of Education and Urban Society, 37(4): 371-397.

This peer reviewed study looks at parental involvement as a factor for academic achievement of students. Parents and schools are partners in the education of children because schools are a formalized extension of the family. Schools can not function properly void of parental involvement.

In spite of this demand on parental involvement in schools, this research in black schools indicates that parental involvement in school activities is limited. This in turn, leads to low achievement in most of these schools.

An Executive Summary to My M.S. Practicum in Environmental Science.

A Review of the Effectiveness of Lead Abatement Strategies in Reducing Lead Exposure Among Children.

By Shaaban Kitindi Fundi,

Executive Summary

Despite the growing recognition of lead abatement as an intervention for reducing the risk of lead exposure to children, very few scientists have attempted to review data on its effectiveness. This study reviews the current information on residential lead abatement procedures in order to determine whether these abatement strategies are an effective method to prevent lead exposure in children, as measured by blood lead levels.

A standardized protocol for searching, acquiring, and extracting study data and synthesizing results across studies was used. The criteria for studies to be included in the review were: (1) includes children under the age of 6 years, (2) conducted in the United States, (3) published between January 1990 and March 2004, and (4) have a pre/post or multi arm study design. Nineteen studies were found that met the inclusion criteria.

Three of the nineteen identified studies looked at soil abatement, four looked at paint abatement, ten looked at dust abatement, and two studies used a mixture of soil and dust abatement. No studies looking at the effect of monitoring tap water for lead on children’s lead exposure were identified in this review. The studies varied greatly in terms of their sample size, study design, and methods of data collection.

A review of studies looking at the effectiveness of residential lead abatement strategies at reducing blood lead levels in children found mixed results. Soil abatement strategies appear to be most effective when the soil concentration is quite high (>1000ppm) and when children’s exposure to lead is primarily through contaminated soil and not household dust.

The studies regarding lead paint abatement also show mixed results. Amitai, et al. found that doing abatement while children were living in the home actually caused a short term increase in mean blood lead levels. For this reason, it may be more effective to do primary prevention by abating homes before occupancy than to wait to do abatement after the children have already been exposed. There is also evidence that lead paint abatement may be most effective for children with very high lead blood levels (>25μg/dL) suggesting that this strategy may make more sense as a targeted intervention.

Finally, the data suggest that residential dust abatement strategies are most effective when done multiple times as household dust tends to re-accumulate after short periods of time. In addition, carpets and upholstery remain important reservoirs for lead exposure and new techniques need to be developed to better clean these potential sources of lead exposure.

Click Practicum_ShaabanFundi  to review the full paper and Practicum_ShaabanFundi_ppt for the power points presentation.


The Turning of Leaves Color in Atlanta

Leaves changing color

Once again, fall is upon us-the temperature is dipping
by the day.  I saw a weatherman today, predicting the temperature will continue to fall and by next week’s end we might be in the 20’s. It is amazing how temperature changes here, without notice we will be back in the 20F’s again and walking to our mail boxes in the after-work hours to pick up those astronomical winter gas (electricity) bills. It seems like there is no end.

The summers are extremely hot in the Hotlanta, and the winters are mildly colder. Hence, there is no break from Georgia Power. I was just thinking (wishful thinking here) maybe fall should stay for awhile. That will indeed give us a break from these back to back gas (electrical) bills.

On the other hand I feel like we put ourselves in this situation. What happened to just owning homes that are relative to our family sizes?  Less space equals to lesser space to warm up during the winter and less space to cool down during the summer months. What I am trying to say is that, Atlanta has a median of 3 people per family. Surprisingly, the average house in Atlanta suburbs has a median of 4 rooms and 3.5 bathrooms. Why do we need all this space? OR Just filing-up our egos I presume.!!!

I guess it is a choice people have to make, but in this one I truly didn’t have a choice.  I just had to swallow it, as there are no in betweens. I am one of those people who think dollars and cents before doing anything. I am among the people who would criticize people who drive huge SUVs (bad for the environmental, taking up two parking spaces and all the other tree huggers’ cries) but I have fallen with the masses in this one.  Why? Even if I chose to buy a small house where would I find it? Everything is big here-cars, motorcycles, bicycles, human and even cats and dogs are all big.

Am I complaining? Not even close.  I do really love my house except for them “summer and winter” electrical bills. Thinking of it, TANESCO would be a welcome  break here. But, Georgia Power is always on and so are their bills, always on time.

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Neutrinos: Is “physics as we know it” nearing an end???

By: Shaaban Fundi,

The end of Einstein era?I read with interest the article by Charles Krauthammer on the www.nydailynews.com today about the discovery of neutrino particles that travels faster than the speed of light.

If this experiment and the discovery happen to be correct, then most–if not all of the Einsteinian theories in physics will be absolute. It will set a precedence to the dawn of new physics laws and theories.

It is hard to imagine that what we have been made to believe for almost 100 years was (or might be) fundamentally incorect. What is next for physics? Are there other flaws to other sciences that we’re unaware of?

It is the waiting game now for more scientists to replicate the experiment and come up with same or different results.

At the end, we will always love you Einstein (in Whitney Houston’s Voice).

Click here for original article.

A Ship Wreck in Tanzania:Again?

People waiting to be rescued
Another maritime tragedy in Tanzania
It is with sorrow I write this as my countrymen and women are grieving the loss of another too many lives wasted. My deepest condolence are to those who lost their loved ones.

A word of mouth from the survivors ……..” many of the people who died in the accident are  children and women.” Thus, many of the died are going to an early grave.

I write with the realization that it is hard to supervise and monitor all marine and fresh water means of transportation in Tanzania. But, the facts still remain — we should at least have learned our lesson from the MV. Bukoba accident that killed over 1000 people in 1996.

While all this is happening, and after the fact–we hear that the Tanzania government is thinking about creating a “National Emergency Preparedness Task Force”.  Don’t we have one already??? This should have been created and/done with — in 1997 after the MV. Bukoba catastrophic accident. Did we learn anything from accident?

In my views I do not see the need for another bureaucratic organ. It is indeed not needed considering the amount of resources available. We do have a traffic police force and road accidents are happening in a daily basis. The issue here is not lack of an organ to rescue people but lack of enforcement of the preventive steps to insure accidents do not happen in the first place. That is what is lacking!

What needs to be done is concentrate more on the prevention side of the preparedness and enforcement of the already established prevention measures such that accidents rarely happens. Having routine ship engine checks, ship body checks, life boat checks, making sure that ships owners adhere to loading capacities of their vessels etc, etc should be the first priority.

Always–prevention is better than a cure and it is cheaper at the same time. Most of the accidents that are happening in Tanzania are avoidable. It’s just common sense. Why do they allow un-maintained, over-loaded-ships to operate on our waterways?

How many accidents will it take for the “senses” to be “common” again?

Maybe  ship-owners need to carry high premium insurance for the cargo and human life they waste every now and then. That would put them on notice and on the right path thinking-wise. They need to be taken to court and if found guilty–spend time in jail and pay both the dead and the injured handsomely.

I believe their bottom-line (profits) is merely affected when these types of accidents happens—because when people die due to negligence the people who profit from these types of negligence are not taken to account. This in turn creates no incentive to change what they are currently doing–that is killing indiscriminately in the name of accidents.

It is not Allah or Jesus that kills in most of these accidents, it is just negligence and negligence needs to be seriously confronted.

This accident has happened in the Zanzibar route which is a much safer route than the Mtwara –Dar Es Salaam route. It is quite common for ships in this route to stall (engine actually lose power in high seas) sometimes two times in a one way journey from either Mtwara –Dar or vice versa.  Ill-maintained ships, over-loaded passengers and excess cargo are a norm in this route as well.

It is just a matter of time an accident like the one in Zanzibar will happen in this route as well if necessary preventive steps  like the ones mentioned above are not going to be taken sooner.

In Pictures: The Zanzibar Ferry Disaster–Source BBC News.

Note: I use the word accident very lightly here as most of these so-called accidents are avoidable.

Tanzania: President Kikwete Denies WiKiLeak Cables

1.In an outrageous cable reported by Wikileaks, the former US Ambassador to Tanzania, Michael Retzer is reported to have said in his cable reports that President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has accepted gifts from the owner of the Kempinski Hotel chain, who is a citizen of the United Emirates.

2.This is, according to Ambassador Retzer, from a conversation he had with the Manager and Publicity Director of the former Dar es Salaam-based Kilimanjaro-Kempinski Hotel, Miss Lisa Pile.

3.This cable is as untruthful as it is outrageous. It is full of lies and innuendoes seeking to tarnish the good image and name of the President. It is unfortunate and highly disappointing that an ambassador worth his name could engage in this kind of lazy gossip.

4.The Directorate of the Presidential Communications would like to deny these lies in the strongest terms possible as follows:

5.We would like to state categorically that there has never been a time when the President received gifts from Ali Albwardy. This is definitely an outrageous claim and if there is evidence to the contrary, we would like to challenge Mr. Ambassador Retzer to produce it for the public to satisfy itself that what he is claiming are mere lies.

6.That there has never been a time, ever, when His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, during his time as Foreign Minister or currently as President of the United Republic of Tanzania, was flown by anybody to London on a subsidized shopping expedition to buy five suits. All his travels to London or any other places in the world have been duty assignments paid for by the Government of Tanzania. The matter of him being flown to London for subsidised shopping of five suites is outrageous.

7.That during his entire life, as Foreign Minister or as President, the President has never met in London nor travelled with Ali Albwardy to London on a shopping expedition. In any case as Foreign Minister he is given adequate clothing allowance. And, now as President his clothing is the responsibility of the state. He does not therefore need to be flown by anybody for subsidized shopping of suits.

8.That the President was not responsible for raising nor receiving campaign funds for CCM Party during the 2005 General Elections. He was simply the flag bearer of the Party. However, he is privy to information that Kempinski Kilimanjaro Hotel was never asked nor contributed a single cent towards CCM campaign. Therefore the allegations that Kempinski Kilimanjaro Hotel contributed one million (USD 1,000,000) toward CCM campaign are baseless and unfounded.

9.That the Government permission for possessing of the Kilimanjaro Hotel by Kempinski Hotels and the subsequent permission to Kempinski to build two new hotels – one on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater and another on the Serengeti plains overlooking the main animal migration routes were issued by the Third Phase Tanzania Government and not by Mr. Kikwete’s Administration.

10.However, President Kikwete declined to grant permission to Kempinski Hotels permission to build on the right of the Ngorongoro Crater on the strength of environmental concerns. How come then that the President who had been offered so many favors such as suits and election money, took this principled position? This therefore testifies to the fact that, claims that the President has received favours are a concoction with malicious intentions from the authors.

11.That it is a lie that Mr Kikwete has frequented Kilimanjaro Kempinski Hotel in his personal capacity. The records are very clear; the President has never, ever on his own visited that Hotel except on official duties or when he has escorted official state guests or attended meetings.

12.It is unfortunate that the distinguished Ambassador would believe and transmit such baseless lies and hear-says from a single source. The Office of the President takes strong exception to such behaviour which seeks to tarnish the name and person of the President.

Here is the link to Swahili version of same.

Released by:

Directorate of Presidential Communications,

State House,


05th September, 2011

Telephone: 255-22-2114512, 2116539

E-mail: press@ikulu.go.tz

Fax: 255222113425

P.O. BOX 9120,



The Evolution vs. Creationism Controversy in America

Shaaban Fundi, Ph.D.

Evolution vs creationismGoing through the articles regarding creationism vs evolution has made me aware of the existence of the great debate that is boiling between the creationists and the evidence based supporters of the evolution process. I understand the fear that is held by the creationists about evolution and the significant challenge it possess to the creation only idea. As a science instructor representing the larger scientific community in a classroom, I feel that curriculum decisions based on the belief of creationism have no place in determining science standards.

To me, science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are limited to those based on observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Explanations that cannot be based on empirical evidence are not a part of science. Thus, creationism, that provides explanations based on faith and not on empirical evidence has no part in science and no part in the science classroom.

Moreover, progress in science consists of the development of better explanations for the causes of natural phenomena. Scientists never can be sure that a given explanation is complete and final. Some of the hypotheses advanced by scientists turn out to be incorrect when tested by further observations or experiments. Yet many scientific explanations have been so thoroughly tested and confirmed that they are held with great confidence. The theory of evolution is one of these well-established explanations. An enormous amount of scientific investigation since the mid-19th century has converted early ideas about evolution proposed by Darwin and others into a strong and well-supported theory. Today the theory of evolution has become the bedrock of modern biology and is universally accepted by scientists as the engine for speciation.

However, creationists in their bid to get equal time in the science classroom, deliberately mislead the public by trying to present evolution as a controversial theory. I simply don’t understand why it is that today, more than 150 years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, we are still fighting over evolution. The Catholic Church has endorsed evolution; every competent biologist relies on its theoretical framework; and its mechanism and its consequences have been thoroughly documented. The theory of evolution has become the central unifying concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested. These observations lead to two fundamental conclusions: the teaching of evolution should be an integral part of science instruction, and creation science is in fact not science and should not be presented as such in science classes.

The claim that equity demands balanced treatment of evolutionary theory and special creation in science classrooms reflects a misunderstanding of what science is and how it is conducted. Scientific investigators seek to understand natural phenomena by observation and experimentation. Scientific interpretations of facts and the explanations that account for them therefore must be testable by observation and experimentation.

Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science. These claims subordinate observed data to statements based on authority, revelation, or religious belief. Documentation offered in support of these claims is typically limited to the special publications of their advocates. These publications do not offer hypotheses subject to change in light of new data, new interpretations, or demonstration of error. This contrasts with science, where any hypothesis or theory always remains subject to the possibility of rejection or modification in the light of new knowledge.

No body of beliefs that has its origin in doctrinal material rather than scientific observation, interpretation, and experimentation should be admissible as science in any science course. Incorporating the teaching of such doctrines into a science curriculum compromises the objectives of public education. Science has been greatly successful at explaining natural processes, and this has led not only to an increased understanding of the universe but also to major improvements in technology and public health and welfare. The growing role that science plays in modern life requires that science, and not religion, be taught in science classes.

I am not advocating that students not have the right to believe in creationism. I am simply arguing that in the science classroom students be allowed to explore the truth about their own origin and the origin of their universe based on scientifically collected and proven evidence. In the science classroom, we teach students that all good science is based on the scientific method. Based on this method, we form hypothesis that we later test with experimentation. The evolutionary theory has undergone much experimentation over the past 150 years since Darwin first outlined his theory and for the most part this experimentation has upheld his ideas. Creationism, however, by its very nature, resists attempts to explore its validity using the scientific method. It is impossible to test this theory using experimentation. Thus, I believe that it has no place in the science classroom. I have no problems with it being taught as part of religious instruction or even in a philosophy class. However, I do not think it belongs in a science classroom simply because we cannot use scientific tools to understand and explore the idea.

I strongly reject the Creationists’ claim that if one believes that the theory of evolution is true then one necessarily must believe that there is no God, no meaning or purpose to life, and thus no moral accountability. This statement is completely wrong due to the fact that believing in evolution and believing in God are not mutually exclusive beliefs. The dilemma creationists have for themselves of being unable to reconcile science and religion should not be imposed upon the rest of world populous, and particularly not on educational systems. The courts have consistently ruled that “creation science” is actually a religious view. Because public education must be religiously neutral under the U.S. Constitution, the courts have held that it is unconstitutional to present creation science as legitimate scholarship. I believe that these court rulings should be upheld and creation science kept out of science instruction in the public education system.

Over the past 50 years, our world has become increasingly more technological and the need for students to understand scientific principles has become increasingly more important. If we want our public school students to compete on a global level it is essential that we teach them sound scientific principles and keep creationism out of the science classroom.

Suggestions for Teaching English to Native Swahili Speakers.

Shaaban Fundi,

Last week I conducted several interviews with Swahili speaking students at a local community college in Atlanta. Amongst the interviewees: three were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one from the United Republic of Tanzania and four were from the republic of Burundi. The eight students spoke Swahili with different dialects.

By definition, Swahili or Kiswahili is a “Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups inhabiting a large Indian Ocean Coastal stretch from Mozambique to Somalia”. The countries include: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Comoro, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, and Congo DRC.

I learned from the interviews that Standard Swahili has 5 vowels phonemes. The vowels are: a, e, I, o, u. And that the vowels are never reduced, regardless of stress. The vowels are pronounced as follows:

“a” is pronounced like the “a” in pasta
‘e’ is pronounced like the “e” in bed
‘i’ is pronounced like the “i” in ski
‘o’ is pronounced like the “o” in “or”
‘u’ is pronounced like the “oo” in “bassoon”.”

I also learned that like in numerous Bantu languages, Swahili arranges nouns into a number of classes. The ancestral system had 22 classes. Counting singular and plural as distinct according to the Meinhof System. Most Bantu languages share at least ten of these noun classes. Swahili employs sixteen nouns classes: six classes usually indicate singular nouns, five classes usually indicate plural nouns, one class for abstract nouns, one class for verbal infinitives used as nouns, and three classes to indicate location.

Some examples of the nouns classes are presented below:
“class semantics prefix singular translation plural translation
1, 2 persons m-/mu-, wa- mtu person watu persons
3, 4 trees, natural forces m-/mu-, mi- mti tree miti trees”

As seen above, Swahili is a very complex language and differs significantly from the English language. The vowels are pronounced the way they are written while in the English language the vowels carry different sounds from the written expression. This difference in particular causes a huge challenge to students who are learning English as a second language from the Swahili speaking cultures. Students from Swahili speaking countries struggle with intonation and word sound relationships in English because this is a very different system from that of Swahili or Kiswahili.

Implication in the classroom instruction

It is very important for educators to understand the linguistic similarities and differences between Swahili and English to have an opportunity to help students like the ones I interviewed. In addition, Swahili has a different system for singular and plural to that used in the English language. The addition of vowels to words does not exist in the Swahili language. Thus, making it harder for Swahili speakers to learn the English language.

Opportunity in classroom instruction:

It would be helpful to educators who teach content specific course to understand the linguistic similarities and differences between Swahili and English. This understanding will help them to anticipate when and where Swahili speaking students will have challenges learning the English language. This understanding will provides educators with an opportunity to help students for Swahili speaking nations to be engaged in their own learning and also in using the new language for other content specific courses.

Educators need to develop lessons that will focus more in helping students new to the English language understand the differences and similarities between the two languages and use the opportunity to highlight how to overcome those differences. For example, educators can start by teaching the students the English alphabet, vowels and word sounds. This will help the students to understand where the two languages are similar and where they differ.

After students have mastered word sounds, educators can go further into reading, writing and comprehension of the English language. The step by step instruction will help many ESOL students to become fluent English speakers and writers and in turn this will have a significant impact on how the ESOL students excel in the content classrooms.

1.Prins, A.H.J. 1961. “The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Zanzibar and the East African Coast (Arabs, Shirazi and Swahili)”. Ethnographic Survey of Africa, edited by Daryll Forde. London: International African Institute.
2.Prins, A.H.J. 1970. A Swahili Nautical Dictionary. Preliminary Studies in Swahili Lexicon – 1. Dar es Salaam.
3.Whiteley, Wilfred. 1969. Swahili: the rise of a national language. London: Methuen. Series: Studies in African History.
4.Brock-Utne, Birgit (2001). “Education for all — in whose language?” Oxford Review of Education 27 (1): 115–134.

An Old Primary School Right of Passage.

The first thing I heard from the Head Teacher when I went to register to start my primary school education was— “raise your right hand over your head and touch your ear on the other side.” It was a heart breaker for many children those days. If your right or left hand couldn’t touch the tips of your ear on the opposite side, it meant you was not old enough to start a primary education.

It actually happened to me twice before I was formally registered. Two years in a roll, going to that long line, with my peers and being rejected at the end of the line—just because my fingers could not touch the tips of my ear. I guess the first time I was a little younger, but the second time I was really 7 years old. It was humiliating in both cases.

My mother was and continues to be a law abiding citizen. Most parents whose kids were rejected due to the hand over head to ear rule, would go to the district office and just buy a birth certificate for their kids. My mother kept me home for two years so that I could start primary school at the right age.

I knew all my A, B, Cs for gods sake! I could count to a hundred in Ones and in tens in Swahili, but, that was not enough. I had to touch the ear, because that was the rule of the land. For most of us who did not have a birth certificate to prove that we were indeed 7 years old, we had to wait for the next round–which was next year. The lack of birth certificate was very rampant during those days. Even though I was delivered in a regional Hospital “Kitete Regional Hospital” I still lacked one.

It is still a mystery to me to why we had to do that? I have not been able to find any logical explanations to collaborate the relationship between age and hand over head touching your ear on the other side preposition. If you know anything as to the origin of this rule—please share!!

Random Thoughts!

Girl Peeing on the side of the roadWhile holidaying in Tanzania I had to take the bus from Mwanza to Shinyanga. The bus was going all the way to Dar Es Salaam. We left Mwanza before sunrise and we had to travel for about an hour for the sun to start coming up. It was a beautiful morning, there were No clouds on the horizon. You could see the sun rising from the ground-up, first pinkish-yellow in color, then slowly turning into that warm red African hot sun. It was simply beautiful!

The bus was traveling at a very high speed. Everyone had a seat and some of the seats on the back of the bus remained empty. We continued to stop here and there picking up passengers going to Dodoma, or further ahead to Dar Es Salaam. I was in a bus, comfortably seated, the passengers spoke loudly and I could hardly understand the language. It was mostly Sukuma mixed with some Swahili words. I could see the pride in them, these people were very proud to be Sukumas.

Before we arrived at Old Shinyanga, we stopped for all the passengers to go out and relieve themselves. Everyone jumped out of the bus and off into the side of the road’s bushes. Some went further afield; I guess some were “taking a dump” and some were just going out to pee. I was just wondering what you would do if you really had to go poop in the bushes while you had forgotten to pack your toiletry?

I remember when I was a kid; we used to use tree leaves or corn cobs to wipe our asses with after we went pooping into the bush. I remember in those times, you would go into the bush and hold on a small bush trunk to let it out. Grab some tree leaves “soft ones off-course” and wipe your butt with. I am not exactly sure how clean you would get while doing this, but it was how things were done back then.

No digging holes to poop in, just on top of the dirt. The hole in the ground type was a way to advanced sanitation system. The hole on the ground toilets were 5-10KM away sometimes. I just had to do what I had to do! answering mother nature’s call.

This post is inspired by the little girl taking a dump at the side of the road on my way to Shinyanga from Mwanza. The father (seen on the picture) did exactly what I described above. He picked some young tree leaves and used them to wipe the kid’s bummy after she was done pooping. It was hilorious to see that done on the side of the road.

Raising a Blood Alcohol Limit to Solve a Drunken Driving Epidemic.

I did not follow closely the conversation and debate between the democrats and the republicans over the issue of raising the debt limit in the United States. There were fears of a default and economic Armageddon if the debt limit was not raised by August 2rd, 2011.

Looking at how the market “wall street” has performed since the passage of the debt limit bill, one could easily conclude that the America economy is slowly walking to a train wreck. It was running towards it before the bill passage as some have suggested. The bill has just put some temporary brakes on the inevitability.

The American deficit or the difference between what the U.S government collects and what it actually spends is approximately 1 trillion dollars. That is, the U.S government is spending approximately 15 trillion dollars a year and collecting only 14 trillion dollars in the same time span.

In my little understanding about economics, what the raising of the debt limit is doing is analogous to raising the blood alcohol limit when you’re trying to curb a drunken driving epidemic. That is to say, you can still drink and be drunk before you breach the legal limit and/or before the cops can legally stop you. In the same token, the government now can continue to over spend without taking serious measures on the actual debt that the U.S government is currently carrying.

Nairobi Westgate Mall Bombing, Kenya

This is what I wrote two years ago about Somalia. Is it still relevant?? Is this a continuation of the indecisive political capitals in East Africa? Is Dar Es Salaam prepared for the incoming terrorist act?

By Shaaban Fundi,

I deeply regret the loss of lives and the senseless injuries caused by the bombings in Kampala. I wish the injured a speedy recovery and the dead mercy from the creator. And to the relatives of the victims, time will heal the wounds and sorrows. The killing of innocent people should be forcefully condemned.

What should Uganda do now? The issue of dealing with al Shabaab should not be left to Uganda alone. If they can bomb Kampala, then they are indeed capable of bombing Nairobi, Dar es Salaam or Kigali at any time in the future. It should be a collective gesture by the East African Community to show al Shabaab that East Africa is fed up with this barbaric and nonsense killings of innocents.

Somalis terrorists have now become a regional nuisance that needs to be dealt with decisively. Forces should be combined (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda etc) to uproot them from their bases in Mogadishu and wherever they might be hiding in the countryside. Their acts and existence are destabilising the region and hindering further investment in East Africa from outside investors.

As East Africans are trying to build an integrated East Africa, we can’t lose sight of the problem of piracy, terrorism and refugees streaming from Somaliland. It is in the interest of East African nations to deal with this problem now, once and for all. These resolutions after resolutions by the AU of sending peacekeepers to keep nonexistent peace in Somalia should end.

We East Africans actually need to go into Somali, create peace by disarming all the fighting factions and then keep the peace until Somalis are ready to lead their own county.

We have been watching Somalis kill each other for far too long, over 20 years in fact. The fact of the matter is they seem incapable of figuring out solutions to their problems. It is now time for neighbours to intervene. We are not going to intervene just because it is morally right, but because we will also be preventing future attacks.

If Tanzania, with the support of Ugandans, was able to uprooted the ruthless regime of Idi Amin Dada, three countries or more in the East African bloc should be able to do the same in Somalia with the help of moderate Somalis.

This is our problem and we need to deal with it as East Africans. America and the West will not be fully engaged in this as their interventions around the world usually involve the presence of oil or minerals resource in the country in question, and Somalia has neither.

As the AU head of states gather in Kampala from July 25, this issue needs to be at the top of the summit’s agenda. The Somalia problem cannot be left to take its own cause any longer and needs to be dealt with forcefully and conclusively.

Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal

By Shaaban Fundi

It has been all over the news channels for the most part of last and this week. It is a huge scandal involving 178 teachers and administrators in 44 different schools.  Some of the accused have already confessed to changing student’s test answers and doing special arrangements to raise students’ achievement in their schools.

In following this issue, I came across an article on the internationalguy’s blog that talks in detail about what happened (an inconvenience truth in his views). I do not agree entirely with the author but there is some truth on what he is saying (despite some racist vernom in his writings). Read the article here and arrive at your own conclusion.

A story about appreciation

Unknown Author,

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview; the director did the last interview, made the last decision.

The director discovered from the CV that the young man’s academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not have high scores.

The director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?” the youth answered “none”.
The director asked, “Was it your father who paid for your school fees?” The youth answered, “My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.

The director asked, “Where did your mother work?” The young man answered, “My mother worked as clothes cleaner.

The director requested the youth to show his hands. The young man showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, “Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?” The youth answered, “Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, “I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.”

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid.

The young man cleaned his mother’s hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water. This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

That night, mother and son talked for a very long time. Next morning, the young man went to the director’s office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, asked: “Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?”

The youngman answered, “I cleaned my mother’s hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes’
The Director asked, “Please tell me your feelings.”

The young man said, Number 1, I know now what Appreciation is. Without my mother, there would not the successful me today. Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done. Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, “This is what I am looking for to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.
Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company’s performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop “entitlement mentality” and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent’s efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others.

For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?

You can let your kid live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person.

Student Wasting Valuable Time in Tanzanian Schools.

By Shaaban Fundi

If education and how we educate our children is paramount to you, you may find Mr. Daudi Msseemmaa’s (of lenana blog) excellent analysis of Twaweza recent report to be very insightful. Kudos to lenana blog for sharing this very interesting report and story.

What’s what?

By Shaaban Fundi

I know. A whole week has gone bye bye and I have not had the audacity to write anything. Speaking of audacity, since when have I had the audacity to write anything worth reading anyways.

Yes, sometimes it is hard to write. I have had my ears on the ground all these days but nothing seems to be worth my comments. I usually watch, listen and view things to get my inspiration to write. Nothing appears to inspire me this week!!! What’s the hell is going on?

To the tree huggers like myself and all those who have abstained from this habit. I would like to pass on a thought provoking interview from author of The Failure of Environmental Education (And How We Can Fix It), Charles Saylan. Take a look and tell me what you think? Click here for the interview.

Just think!!! You might learn something new today. Hahahahah!! I seriously dought it.

Serengeti Road No More: Victory or Not?

By Shaaban Fundi

The king of the jungle eating
Serengeti Road No More: Victory or Not? The letter presented to UNESCO by Mr. Ezekiel Maige clearly states that the SERENGETI HIGHWAY will be constructed on both ends of the Serengeti National Park (click the link above,for the letter and the proposed Serengeti Highway Map at the bottom of the linked document).

According to the letter, the only portion of the road that will not be paved is the 53 kilometers through the Serengeti and will remain under the supervision of TANAPA. This means in layman’s term that only TANAPA vehicles and tourists related transportation would be allowed to use the roads within the park.

Some of the questions I have with this new plan are: 1) why build a highway that is cut in the middle? 2) What will happen to the cars and trucks on both ends of the highway?(since only TANAPA and tourists vehicles will be allowed in the park), 3) Are the cars and trucks going to fly to get to the other paved side of the highway so that they don’t interfere with the already fragile ecosystem?

I feel like this (kiini macho) is just a joke! It all means that the highway will in some way get completed sooner or later. The cars and trucks on both ends will be allowed to circulate within the TANAPA supervised roads (the unpaved portion of the highway) and hence dramatically affecting the wildebeest migration and the Serengeti Ecosystem as a whole.

This road will have even a higher impact on the Maasai people living traditionally on the Serengeti plains. More people will move in, near or close to the park and therefore adding pressure to the subsistence means of living that many of the Maasai people in this area depend on. The gradual diminishing of the subsistence means or lack thereof, will force most of them to leave or join the ranks of many Maasai working as guards (Walinzi) in many cities and hotels across Tanzania. I can’t wait for the time to come (very soon) when the proudest tribe in Africa is turned into beggars by blind governmental policies.

The culture of freeloading shamelessly.

By Shaaban Fundi

I travel to Tanzania every other year. It has not been difficult to spend my time there every time I go except this year (the “good people” that made my stay pleasant, thanks guys; you know who you are, you are truly not included in this).Two weeks in and I was ready to change my flight date and leave. I do not know what is happening to me, but I feel like I am in a foreign country in Tanzania these days. I feel as though I do not belong there any-longer.

It is not the same any more. The very small, small inconveniences like lack of electricity, lack of running water (maji ya kuoga kwa ndoo–i hate that), endless traffic (or I should say roads turned into parking lots) and hiking prices to foreigners bothers me now more than before. It is dawning to me that I might be at that juncture where I feel I belong more to the predictability of life in the U.S. than the unpredictability in Tanzania.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Tanzania. I love the countryside and the simple life that goes with it. But, the culture of “mgeni njoo mwenyeji apone” is getting in my nerves and it is literary frustrating me. Why my coming to see you necessitate me to give you money? I paid a heavy price on my air ticket already. Jeez!!!! It should just be enough for me to come and spend time and seeing you for god’s sake!!

The meals that you get in exchange for your 100,000Tshs are unnecessary. You know what I mean, when visiting a relative or a friend, they will cook food for you in anticipation that you will definitely leave “kitu kidogo” behind. Just tell me your problems and if I can afford, I will surely help rather than providing me with food and when I am leaving you start telling me that you have problems. Keep the money to solve your life’s problems, I can handle my own. My once in two year’s cash is not going to change your life instantly.

I felt like I was a walking ATM machine. People have that mentality of expecting something from nothing. What have you done for me to feel that I owe you something?

I make and save for a budget to visit home and I would love to stay within budget, “please”. I don’t like to spend just for the sake of spending, unless it is off course spending on myself and probably the people very close to me. Am I just another African getting frustrated with his own culture?????

Can we change? What do you feel about this culture of shamelessly receiving money or gift without working for it? Maybe that is the reason why even our government officials come abroad shamelessly to ask for misada? No shame to getting “things” for free (free-loading). What a shame!!! I wonder what the white people on those meeting thinks of these leaders!!!!???

English as a Second Language of Instruction in Tanzania

By Shaaban Fundi

English language learning in the Tanzanian Education System can be characterized as being “problem-solving” oriented. The type of problem solving that does not include exercises that cultivate higher-order thinking skills.

The main goals are: 1) to obtain enough knowledge of English to reach a minimal level for a specific purpose, such as obtaining a position doing menial work, 2) to help students pass standardized exams. Noticeably absent is the goal of real learning and/or authentic learning.

Fixating on Standardized Testing

When students focus on passing exams, they lose sight of authentic learning. Especially for those that English is their second, third, or fourth language. Most students in Tanzania falls in this group.

Equivalently, when educators fixate on having their students pass exams, they may neglect authentic teaching. Educators should certainly work to comply with the country’s learning standards and prepare students for standardized tests, however, these formalities should be placed in the background and place authentic learning in the foreground. If students are truly learning, they will pass standardize tests ANYWAY.

As educators, one question we need to ask ourselves is this, “Do we want to teach our students to just survive, or to flourish?”

The Cycle of Learning is Important

Along similar lines of reasoning, educators need to grasp the need for cycles of Question-Answer-Question instead of merely Question-Answer. For that matter, educators should not be the only ones asking questions. Instead, students should be afforded the opportunity to ask and answer own questions. If educators are to treat students as “explorers”, rather than “plants” that absorb information, and provide space for their voices, students should be able to pose their own questions and problems and seek solutions themselves with the facilitation of the educator, as needed.

The idea is to break the orthodox of what is called in education as “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” in which educators control learning and “deposit” knowledge into students. This is quite rampant in the Tanzanian education system.

Sharing the Expertise Stage

Similarly, educators cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to dis-empower them. Let the students ask and answer their own questions.

When working with English Language Learners, it is especially important to help build students’ confidence. Adapting these ideas would hopefully create an environment rich in learning. In that students would learn from each other and the teacher and the teacher would learn from the students.

Competing Ideas in Resource Poor Countries

These ideas may be difficult to accept and implement in teacher dominated classrooms. They require educators to relinquish some or most of their powers. Implementing these ideas sometimes leads to classroom management issues in the beginning. Thus,  such classrooms and students would need adequate practice in instructional conversation and class discussions. I do realize the fact that most classes in Tanzania are extremely overclouded. This could lead to other issues including how to group students for group activities. Moreover, enrichment activities that feature language learning would likely require increased efforts on the part of the teacher to construct and execute, as compared with implementing lessons grounded in straightforward test preparation and grammar drills.

Ideological Shift

Yes, fostering real and authentic learning will require a lot of work. However, instructional practices and broad structural changes are necessary.  Real change cannot occur until we drastically modify our ideological framework.

Expectations make all the difference. That is, if all that is expected from the educator is that students pass the standardized exams or obtain jobs in the menial labor industry, than learning goals and instructional practices will reflect such aims, and at best, that is merely what students will learn and do.

Should Tanzania change the language of Instruction? In my humble opinion, I believe that there is no need to switch from all English instructional delivery in secondary and tertiary schools as of yet. However, changing the way we teach English to second, third or fourth language learners in Tanzania will take us a long way, modifying our ideological framework will also help, and raising our expectations for what our students can learn and do will increase tremendously higher-order-thinking skills of our students. In my view, at present time, the Swahili only educational delivery model is flawed to say the least.

Tanzania, Tanzania, Nakupenda kwa Moyo Wote!

After spending three weeks in Tanzania and seeing people from all walks of life, I am taking this opportunity to reflect on my experience. Generally, Tanzania is a great country with tremendous potential and opportunities. The country is endowed with a vast amount of natural resources (lakes, oceans, rivers, trees and minerals) and huge chunks of untapped land that is readily available for all sorts of development activities. It can be used for tourism, agriculture, fishing, and all other sorts of entrepreneurship.

However, a small group of Tanzanians are getting richer beyond recognition. Some of the rich Tanzanians are actually vacationing outside the country to far lands such as Europe and the United States. Whereas the majority of  Tanzanians face serious hardship putting a roof over their heads and food on the table. It is an interesting contrast.

I care less how people spend their hard earned cash. But, the issue here is that most of these rich Tanzanians actually work for the government. With government salaries alone, these people would not be able to afford to take their families to Kigamboni(FunCity), not mentioning Stone Town, Zanzibar. It is the corruption and embezzlement of public funds that is so open and publicly accepted that allows for all this to happen.

Actually I somewhat believe it does not matter how well you pay a Tanzanian (a grain of salt here), s/he will definitely find a way to embezzle public funds anyway. In my views, low wages is not the singular reason for why people steal from wherever position they have.  The culture of corruptness and the societal expectations that comes along with it contribute directly to this problem. For example, it is openly accepted that if you have a good position in the government or wherever; you should be able to have a nicer car, a gorofa, and many other stuffs. If you won’t do that people in Tanzania will start asking questions. Does s/he have a mental problem? Why is s/he not stealing?

Everyone is.

Fact of the matter is when you steal the allocated funds for development projects to build your lavish gorofas and beach front three storey houses, the expected development projects remain idol and incomplete. The people who suffer the most are those who depend on government social services who are indirectly reinforcing this societal norm. No wonder, there are no roads to accommodate all the cars in Dar Es Salaam not to mention the hinterlands, no stationary to write statements at most police posts (you have to provide your own 10 sheets of paper to write a police statement on), no gloves for midwives to deliver babies in most, if not all hospitals and the list goes on. It is a pathetic situation.

Changing this culture is one of the solutions to Tanzania’s problems. Issues like the Members of parliaments (MPs) having to receive three salaries {regular salaries (Tshs12, 000,000 per month), seating allowances and per diems) is absurd, but it all stems from the same societal culture of expecting too much from little to no work at all.

And, all this is happening at the time when the government is completely and entirely bankrupt. The government cannot afford to carry out its obligation due to lack of funds. Donors please help my fellow Tanzanians to finance their misplaced priorities and expectations. LMAO all the way back to the ATL.

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The Rock City, Mwanza

By: Shaaban Fundi

Mwanza: The Rock City
Mwanza: The Rock City

After spending a week on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar (Nungwi in particular), you would think that nothing can top those amazing “wow” moments. However, Mwanza is stunning on its own right.

Arriving in Mwanza, you fly on top of Lake Victoria. The first things you will see are those cropping up rocks on hills around the city.

It is very beautiful here.

The city is very relaxed. As opposed to Dar ES Salaam, the traffic is light and the temperature is just right. It feels like you are in a place worth visiting. You can reach any part of the city in moments’ notice.


In addition, most people are very friendly and welcoming here. They want to show you where the “it” in Mwanza is…..places for good foods, night clubs, swimming, and the likes. Furthermore, the way they cook Samakis (fish) here is just beautiful; nothing compare to a lake fish…nicely cooked!!!.

I played "draft" with this guy and lost
I played “draft” with this guy and lost

Pictures of Mwanza will be coming as soon as I find a place to download my pictures. Enjoy…!!!!!!

My first meal in Mwanza
My first meal in Mwanza
Lake Victoria View
Lake Victoria View

Bajaj Dar Es Salaam: Rest in Peace Abel Manyanza

I met Abel Manyanza in 2011. I did not know him at first. He was actually recommended to me through a mutual friend. But, after I spent a few days with him – taking me from one place to the next in Dar Es Salaam. I came to know him very well. Abel was a nice young man. Full of energy, fun to be with, and a great company. He used to drive a Bajaj in the Mbezi beach area of Dar Es Salaam. He knew Dar Es Salaam’s night life very well and would take you anywhere in Dar safely.

I am very saddened to hear that Abel passed away a few days ago. He was probably 30 years old living on his own, making a living as a bajaj driver. I am shocked that he passed away too young. I am sending my words of condolence to his family, relatives, and friends. Rest in peace Abel. This is my tribute to your short life.

Below is a old ad I wrote for him in 2011.

If you find yourself in and /or live in Dar-es-salaam and you need to run through the horrendous traffic jams, a Bajaj maybe the best option. The guy on the picture (top and bottom) operates one. His name is Abel M. Manyanza. He is a nice young man and does his job diligently and safely. Unlike most Bajaj drivers, Abel will charge you a very reasonable fare for your trips and you will get there alive and on time.

Abel is vey knowledgeable about Dar-Es-Salaam, its streets, night life and everything in between. You can reach him at 0773-589879. You will be very happy to use his services. Tell him that “Kibogoji sent you”!

Soweto, South Africa (2011).

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Many many years ago I had an opportunity to read a book called Mine Boy by Peter Abraham. The book was one among several other books on the reading list of the Secondary School English Curriculum in Tanzania. Since reading Mine Boy, I have had an u-n-d-i-m-i-n-i-s-h-i-n-g thirsty too see the Soweto township.

Today I am glad I took the time to see the township where 4 millions South Africans call home. I had the chance to walk proudly in the city where Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu still have homes from the apartheid era. I am not sure if they live in them at the moment or not, however, it was an exhilarating experience none the less .

If you find yourself in Johannesburg (Jozi) and have time to burn, call Chipo Chibememe. She is a South African tour-preneur and also a SOWETO native. She arranges tours to visit the township (half day and full day) on any day of the week. She is very knowledgeable about SOWETO (she lives in SOWETO). I truly enjoyed the tour she gave me of the township. For more info click her website

Johannesburg South Africa.

I spent a few days in the African economic engine. It’s hard to tell just by looking onto the faces of smiling, skinny Africans that Jo’burg is the economic engine of Africa. The plight of African immigrants to South Africa (Kwere Kwere) can also be seen everywhere. They are overworked, have no rights, and are underpaid.  I spoke to them as well. Don’t get me wrong, South Africa is in general,  a beautiful country.

I have had numerous conversations with mostly with seemingly frustrated and economically marginalized young white South Africans and some black South Africans. The common theme here is that, Zuma has turned this country into a mess (their views not mine). Majority of the white I have spoken to (most of them young and underemployed) have no regard for Zuma and the Southern African Leadership. They view the South African government as too pro-blacks and has lost touch with other races in the rainbow nation.

In addition, I had numerous heated conversations with many young black South Africans as well. They think the ANC government is doing fine in terms of closing the gap between the economically marginalized South Africans and those who held the driving seat of the South African economy for many years. The fact of the matter is that, to them, South Africa is an African majority but the mighty of the Rand still remain hugely in the hands of a few white South Africans. They would like to see that changed in the near future.

At least on the surface, it looks and feels like the race card is slowly and increasing being discredited. The main problem is economical  rather than race, as I gathered from the many people I spoke to. Hopefully, the seeds of togetherness Mr. Nelson Mandela sawed years ago while creating the rainbow nation are taking roots in today’s South Africa. Until, next time. goodluck to you all.

A Kenyan Movie: The First Grader

National Geographic Entertainment “The First Grader Movie” was released yesterday May 13, 2011. The film was launched in New York and Los Angeles and will be expanded to other US cities in the forthcoming weeks. The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government.

One new applicant (an old man) causes astonishment when he tries to register for a spot in the elementary class. Witch hunting and political correctness on resource allocation and use follows after that.

Find out where to watch it in your city. The movie has received favorable reviews from various movie reviewers. Below is the official trailer. Enjoy!!!!!

The Beautiful Gold, Tanzania.

I just found this video by the Barrick Gold Founder, Peter Munk. He is talking about how barrick is filling in the employment and income gap in places where none exits. Watch it and arrive to your own conclusion.

In addition, a new report was released yesterday by an investigative journalist(Zahra Moloo) who visited the North Mara Gold Mining Operation by Barrack. You can read the entire report here.

Be A Friend of the Mutombo Dikembe Foundation

Enjoying himself.I am 6 feets tall, but Mutombo id towering me like am a baby

Talking about the diaspora and africa connection.
It was a great morning at Dunwoody today. The man was waving his middle finger all-over the basketball court. Not to offend anyone, off course.

It was an international awareness day and a morning to raise funds for the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. The work he is doing is magnificent. I wish more successful people of african descent (athletes included) could do the same or more to save lives or just help the development of Africa. Watch a video of Dikembe Mutombo’s accomplishments here.

I was in the mist, having a conversation with Mutombo Dikembe on how the diaspora can contribute to the development of Africa through charity and social entrepreneurship.

He (Mutombo Dikembe, a very humble man) was like “ Your country is doing very good Mr. Fundi, I was with your president in Europe a few weeks ago. He spoke very positively about Mr. President (Kikwete) and the positive things he is doing for Tanzania. He also mentioned his meeting with our Balozi Mrs. Mwanaidi Maajar and spoke highly of her as well. Kudo to ya’all Tanzanian politicians.

If you want to know more about the Mutombo Dikembe Foundation and the work “he” and the foundation is doing and how you can help, click here.

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Education in Tanzania:a mirage of progress

I have written several posts on the state of the education system in Tanzania with some simple recommendations on how to change the tide of high failure rates in our education system. Our education system, must adapt to meet the needs of the students it serves.

Definitely, the student population has changed over the years, teaching methods have improved tremendously over the same time span, but we are teaching using a curricula left by the British with some bandages here and there.

The education system in Tanzania is a bilingual one (maybe even trilingual in some parts), but none of the best practice of bilingual education are being used or implemented to ensure student success. How do you expect children with limited English proficiency leaving primary schools to miraculously perform wonders at the secondary level through college if systems for improving their English acquisition and proficiency are not in place to begin with?

I am afraid we are not going to stop these failure rates just by adding money to the already flawed system. It is high time we revamp the whole system. Starting with how the money is distributed, the way we educate our educators, supervisors and the whole nine yards.

By the way, the money is not even reaching its intended target “the schools and the students”. With all this mess, people still have jobs???…… Seriously, what hapenned to that word KUWAJIBISHWA?……..I am completely flabbergasted.

Watch Mr. Rakesh Rajani of TWAWEZA, speaking about the pathetic state of the education system in Tanzania.

What are your views on this issue after watching the video? Do you think we still have a shot at this or just wait for babu’s cup to cure this problem? Where is the money going? Why are teachers teaching only an average of three hours a day?

The Loliondo Technical Report is Out, Read it!!! Tanzania


I was very enthused to read the long awaited “ Loliondo Technical Report” on the “Murigariga” miracle cure prescribed by Babu in Samunge Village, Loliondo, Tanzania. The scientists who conducted the study concluded that the miracle cure cup is safe (toxicity-wise) and also has activity against most of the chronic diseases including diabetes, HIV, blood pressure and many more. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel afterall.

I am not going to spill the juicy nature of the report, but I find the recommendations made by the scientists who conducted these investigations and wrote this report to be quite intriguing.

By the way, don’t forget to sign up to participate on a study to medically follow up patients receiving the remedy. The study will monitor progress of patients under babu’s miracle cure treatment. The head researcher is Dr. Malecela. Help this investigation by filling out the attached consent form at the end of the report if you have embibed the cup or are planning to in the near future. Good luck ya’all.

To read the entire report and/or sign up for the study, click on the link below or above:


Youth in Kenya: Infinity possibility or Definite disaster?

Interesting video about the explosive population of young people in Kenya and how that will affect issues like employment, education, health care, political participation, entrepreneurship and numerous others.

Is the explosive number of young people in east africa an asset or a burden to the countries involved (Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda)?

All these countries are experiencing the same issues facing Kenya right now.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this video by the young people themselves and people who are making policies that affect the lives of these youngsters in our communities?

Watch the video and am open to disussing your opinion on this………