Sunday, February 14, 2010

Some more pictures from class

Here are some more pictures from the internet training for journalists from Zanzibar. Above Haji Nassor, reporter of Television Zanzibar from Chake Chake, Pemba. Behind Saumu Shaaban from Media Council of Zanzibar.

Ali Mbarouk on the left is a journalist based is Chake Chake, Pemba, and also information officer for Zanzibar AIDS Commission. Behind him is Zaituni Makwali, radio journalist at Chuchu FM, and Ramadhan Suleiman from Zanzibar Leo.

Above is Abdallah Mitawi, news editor of Television Zanzibar TVZ, working with his laptop at SUZA.

And here Asya Sharif Omar, Radio Zanzibar correspondent in Wete, Pemba, is sharing her ideas with Marko Gideon, MISA-Tanzania. All photos by Maggid Mjengwa.

On Barack Obama and the Åland Islands

The training has ended on Friday, and all went well with very nice speeches and promises to keep in touch in the future.

On the last day, the participants learned to post images to their blogs and finished their last assignments. There were several options to choose from.

Salha Mohammed Ali has written about Barack Obama’s childhood years and posted several pictures.

Zaituni Makwali and Ali Othman chose the topic about similarities between Zanzibar and the Åland islands, an autonomous area being part of Finland.

Ramadhan Suleiman has published a summary about why people in many countries are boycotting products of the multinational Nestlé company.

Salha Ali Hamad and Saphia Ngalapi have postings about the trial against the awarded TBC journalist Jerry Muro, who is now accused for extortion. The topic has been the hottest news story in Tanzania for the last two weeks, and the assignment was to search for information from local media.

The participants have also posted some feedback about the whole training. Ali Mohammed provides a full report of the topics we covered during the week. Ali Mbarouk says the ending of the training is like the ending of a love affair. And here’s the links to Saphia, Zaituni, Hassan Issa Ali and Khadija Kombo Khamis. For all other blogs, please use the links on the right.

I personally want to thank all participants for the great energy, motivation and eagerness you’ve showed during the week in the search for new lands across the cyber ocean.

Many thanks to Marko Gideon of MISA for good company and for arranging everything so well. Thanks also to Ali Othman for the local facilitating and hosting. Tusen tack to Maggid for joining us for the last days. Thanks to Seif and Suleiman and others from SUZA for the good mood and stand-by IT support. And many thanks to Bibi Maulib, Hamza and Mohammed for the delicious birianis that kept us going all through the week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sounds of wisdom tonight in Zanzibar

I’ll also add one post about the Sauti za Busara music festival here in Zanzibar, as the schedule for tonight is both manifold and inviting. The title of the festival stands for “Sound of Wisdom”.

Malick Pathé Sow, a traditional hoddu and kora player from Senegal, already started just after sunset around 7 pm. This is a guy who has played for years together with his world-famous compatriot Baaba Maal. The music is acoustic and timeless. The festival brochure says his latest album Maayo Men “could surely have been recorded at any point in the last few centuries.”

Soon the stage will be open for Mari Boine, indigenous Sámi singer from the furthest north of Norwegian Lapland. She brings the musical joiku greetings from the land of reindeers, Santa Claus and about one metre of clean white snow at the moment.

Later in the evening, there will be a group called Del & Diho from the island of Mayotte, which is one of Seychelles islands, but has decided to remain as a French overseas territory. From what I know, the Indian Ocean islands’ popular music is something really unique, mixing rhythms from Madagascar to their own Creole culture with coastal and other influences.

Next on stage will be Ba Cissokho, whose Guinean fusion of traditions and the modern is already well-known by fans all over the world. I’m looking much forward to experience this performance live at 11 pm under the starlight at the Zanzibar Old Fort.

The final performer tonight will be the modern taarab star Nyota Ndogo from Mombasa. She’s the winner of several national music awards in Kenya.

African and international web resources

Here’s a list of some local and international websites we have visited and discussed during the previous days, useful sites not only for journalists but for anyone with the desire to find information. For Tanzanian online media, I will add some links separately to the column on the right side of the page. But here are now the other links.

Tanzania government You will find here all statistical data of the country, national budget and so on. For reaching the different ministries, better to go directly to the section National information by topics with the giraffe image surrounded by links. For some reason, the site was down several times during the week, but then it came back again.

Bunge, meaning the parliament, has a good site with CV’s of all MP’s and other info, but it’s a bit too slow to open. Zanzibar also has its own House of Representatives, which is supposed to have an own website too, though I haven’t been able to open it.

Tanzania Online The only functioning Tanzanian web portal, has many links that you might also easily find by googling.

Jamii Forums This is the Tanzanian discussion site, with the slogan: “Where we dare to talk openly.” Here people use to leak out scandalous documents of corruption etc. that maybe wouldn’t be published in the mainstream media.

Zanzibar Website This is a local social media portal with taarab music, other entertainment, current topics and chatting in Zanzibar.

Reuters Africa Latest news country by country updated constantly when news happen. If things at home are relatively cool, meaning no huge floods or wars or rigged elections, the site might include only week-old business news.

IPS News “Tells the story underneath!” Well written news features from the South produced by journalists from the South. The Kiswahili service you can find here.

Other international Kiswahili language news sites include BBC Swahili, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, with all providing audio clips as well. Content from more than 125 African news organizations. Here you can read papers from Cameroon to Kenya. Of the Tanzanian media houses, The Citizen seems to have joined this news portal recently.

Al Jazeera This satellite channel from Doha, Qatar, is today providing probably the best Africa and Middle East reporting of all the big international news channels. The website is beautiful with sharp pictures and often clever stories.

Awdal News This is a curiosity from Somaliland. Online journalism can be a great media in a country with long distances and lack of paper, as long as wireless connections are there. See also the Somalian news site with more than a hundred links to other Somalian news and other websites.

Pambazuka News Pan-African forum for social justice. Human rights activists and the best intellectuals on the continent are publishing enlightening stories on politics, development and people’s struggles.

African Elections Database Compiled by a chap somewhere out of Africa with numbers of votes, percentages and all other details from every election since colonial times.

African Journals Online On this website updated in South Africa, you can browse and read close to 400 different African scientific journals, from the social science journal Africa Development to Zimbabwe Veterinary Journal.

African Literature and Writers on the Internet A web portal hosted by Stanford University in California with hundreds of links to websites on African literature, from sites about Chinua Achebe to Zimbabwe Book Fair.

African Studies Internet Resources Web portal by Columbia University, New York. So many links that you can choose by region, country or topic.

Blogging on daily events and happy babies

Today we have had a guest lecturer in class, as Maggid Mjengwa, Tanzanian blogger and newspaper editor, has been presenting to us his blog and telling how he operates it, updating pictures and comments usually several times a day.

Maggid is a long-time friend of mine from Iringa, where he is heading the Tanzania programme of the Swedish NGO, Forum Syd. But he is also a journalist and managing editor of the new weekly newspaper Kwanza Jamii. His blog at is today one of the most famous and most visited blogs in Tanzania, giving a sympathetic picture of the lives Tanzanians are living in both the rural areas and in the cities. You’ll see photos of people and peculiar events wherever Maggid moves, telling a story often more worth than thousand words.

These days you can see in his blog pictures from Zanzibar with comments. Here some coconut vendors, here are some sporting youth, and from this link you will see pictures from the Sauti za Busara festival showing the Tanzanian rumba star Fresh Jumbe on stage with his Japanese dancing group.

Lately, there’s appeared several other interesting blogs in Tanzania, each of them usually focusing on one particular topic.

Daily News journalist Jiang Alipo maintains the Mama na Mwana blog for publishing happy photos of babies and comments about baby care. Tuntufye Abel is hosting a blog on football coaching, with comments and advice. Mzee Mwanakijiji, again, is a Tanzanian living in USA and running a podcast blog with audio recordings, on corruption revelations and other local Tanzanian topics.

I’m not aware of any Zanzibari blog before this training, but I will make a link list for other Tanzanian blogs later to the column on the right side. (Update Feb 16: I have now provided links also to a few Zanzibar blogs. See the list on the right.)

Some shots from the class

Here are some pictures from the internet training at SUZA computer room, Stone Town, Zanzibar. In the flashlight on the left, Ali Mohammed from the Maelezo Zanzibar, the government information services. Behind Hasina Hamad Shehe, Radio Zanzibar, Salha Mohammed Ali, TVZ, Mozza Saleh Alli, Zenj FM and Asya Sharif Omar, Radio Zanzibar, Pemba.

Here are from the front Ali Mbarouk, Pemba journalist and information officer, Zaituni Makwali, Chuchu FM, Ramadhan Suleiman, Zanzibar Leo, Juma Mbarouk Mohammed, TVZ, Mohammed Othman, Zanzibar Leo, Hassan Issa Ali, Business Times, and Abdallah Mitawi, TVZ. Many thanks to Maggid Mjengwa for the pictures.

Stories on the sons of Zanzibar

Yesterday afternoon I gave the workshop participants a cultural feature story assignment, where there had the chance to choose from three different options, all with a touch to Zanzibar. One was to explain, who was Freddie Mercury and what was his connection with Zanzibar. The other was to explain, who is Abdulrazak Gurnah and to tell about his books. The third option was to search for information about the Sauti za Busara music festival that started here yesterday evening and to tell about the programme.

For the stories on the legendary rock musician Freddie Mercury, originally Farrokh Bulsara, a son of Stone Town, Zanzibar, see what Ali Mbarouk, Mohammed Othman and Zaituni Makwali have produced. And if you want, you can also click on the play button on the YouTube video below to watch Freddie Mercury performing “We are the champions” live in panties only.

About Abdulrazak Gurnah, the world-famous Zanzibari author and professor of literature at University of Kent, UK, you can go to see the briefing in Kiswahili by Salha Mohammed Ali, news reporter at TVZ. I you want to read the books themselves, I really recommend the beautiful novel Desertion.

For Sauti za Busara, see the Kiswahili posting by Haji Nassor, TVZ reporter from Chake Chake, Pemba. You can also go to the Sauti za Busara website itself to read even more.

Links to sources and other powerful resources

The sun is hot up in the sky doing its daily route again and already about to reach the zenith. But we are indoors sitting under fans whirling fast-fast in the ceiling trying their best to cool the air a bit. There’s no public electricity in Zanzibar after some cables broke down connecting the islands to the national grid. So power is produced only by diesel generators of different sizes, which for obvious reasons are used just when they are needed. Here at SUZA, the power goes on at about 9 am and is cut off at 5 pm, and not a minute later.

Short summary of yesterday practicals. We were doing fact-finding assignments and adding links. I think Hasina Hamad Shehe, radio producer of Radio Zanzibar - Sauti ya Tanzania Zanzibar, has really got the point. I quote her blog:
“On Thursday 11 Feb, we started by arranging our blogs and do some practical assignments which kept us very busy in looking for information on the internet through different websites. We did also linking between participants’ blogs and even links to other websites or other sources for the story to get more information. This lead us to think of useful websites, where you can get the information you need.”
Zaituni, Chuchu FM, is explaining our assignment topics in more detail, and so does also Ramadhan Suleiman, Zanzibar Leo.

For many links to Tanzanian media and other websites, go to see the blog of Abdallah Mitawi, TVZ. He has also posted many, many stories about other issues unrelated to the training itself. The same goes for Ali Othman, Zanzibar Press Club. They seem to have got the blogging in their veins.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Searching for facts and moving forwards

Zanzibar is hot, but an active group of journalists is sitting inside in the computer lab at State University of Zanzibar. These people are very fast to pick up, and also very fluent in trying to move forwards by themselves, trying different options and finding their way.

Now, since yesterday morning, we have basically been searching for information from the web, starting from very easy small assignments about names of capitals and presidents, and moving forward to more complicated background stories.

I underlined that it’s important to think before going to search from the web. What exactly is it that you are searching for, some fact or background or context? Do you know where to find it or should you use a search engine to find it more randomly? And also, is the internet necessarily the best way to find the information you are seeking, or should you rather just call someone or go out to the streets or go to ask your grandmother?

For a good briefing of Day 3, please visit the blog of Zaituni Makwali from Chuchu FM. She says it all, in a casual style, and the story is short enough.

If you read Kiswahili, see the report of Ali Othman, secretary of Zanzibar Press Club and correspondent of Tanzania mainland newspaper Changamoto.

The last topic of the day was to search for background information about the Kenyan Green Belt Movement. You know, the rural women’s tree-planting movement headed by Wangari Maathai, Nobel peace laureate in 2004.

Read more in the posting of Mohammed Othman, Zanzibar Leo, or in Kiswahili, see the stories of Mozza Saleh Alli from Zenj FM or Ali Mbarouk, journalist and information officer from Pemba. You’ll also see pictures of the smiling face of Wangari Maathai.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Like the opening of Burj Dubai...

The participants have published their reports on what we have been doing during the first two days. Many have also posted links for more information or links to some of the websites they mention.

Here’s a comprehensive summary by Ali Mbarouk, journalist from Pemba and information officer of Zanzibar AIDS Commission. He compares Day 2 to “the opening of a big cybercafé, if not the Burj Dubai”, the tallest building in the world.

Here you can find the comments by Zaituni Makwali, radio presenter at Chuchu FM. And here’s the posting of Saphia Ngalapi, freelance journalist and press coordinator from Zanzibar.

For Kiswahili readers, check the blogs of Mohammed Othman, Zanzibar Leo, and Abdallah Mitawi, news editor at Zanzibar Television TVZ. Both are providing several links.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tanzanian online media is growing fast

The second day of the training is soon over, and we have again been working hard at the computer classroom at SUZA. Here’s my own briefing.

In the morning, we visited the blogs and worked a bit on them so everyone would have his or her own blog, and I showed how to customize and edit the posts or layout.

Some participants had been fast. See for example the postings from Monday afternoon by Mohammed Othman Abdulrahman, graphic designer at Zanzibar Leo newspaper. Here’s his short introductory posting and here’s a photo of Forodhani Gardens at the seaside of the Zanzibar Stone Town.

After some soda na keki, I showed some statistics on the use of internet in different world regions. The overall leader today is Asia with some 740 million internet users, followed by Europe where there are about 420 million users. Africa is yet low in the world statistics, but here the growth is today the fastest. The number of internet users in Africa has tripled in the last three years from 22 million to 67 million people. We also had a good discussion on reasons why neighbouring Kenya has some seven times more internet users than Tanzania: differences in economic development and also the language, as English is quite commonly spoken in Kenya. For the statistics themselves, see the website Internet World Statistics.

Then we have gone through some dozens of media websites, both local Tanzanian and international news sites and other web resources. Tanzanian online media is developing fast. In 2006, IPP Media was the only media house that regularly published news material on a website, but now there are more than 20 newspapers and TV stations online, the latest player in the field being the sports newspaper Spoti Starehe. For international news, in addition to the Kiswahili services of BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, we also visited IPS News, Al Jazeera,, Pambazuka News, to mention a few.

Monday, February 8, 2010

First hot and spicy day at the tovuti training

The Stone Town of Zanzibar is so nice, with narrow alleys, chalked white houses with traditionally carved wooden doors and balconies, small mosques in every second corner, children playing in the street, and vendors trading fruits and spices. The scent of spices is really everywhere.

This is the place where we are conducting a one-week training course for local journalists in the use of internet, tovuti in Kiswahili, for fact-finding, news monitoring, communication and also publication. The training is organized by MISA-Tanzania and VIKES Foundation, a solidarity organization of journalist associations in Finland.

There are altogether 20 participants in the training, 15 from Unguja (the bigger of the Zanzibar islands) and five participants from Pemba. There are TV journalists from the government television, radio journalists from the government radio and also private channels, and print journalists from Zanzibar Leo newspaper and correspondents for newspapers in mainland Tanzania.

Our venue is the computer lab at the State University of Zanzibar, shortly SUZA, at the edge of the Stone Town.

After an introduction of all participants, we have today visited a number of websites that have in one way or another changed the world in the quite recent era of internet. We have seen what Americans buy at eBay, we have visited the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia to edit the actual population of Wete town in Pemba, and we have watched a video on YouTube where people seem to be making popcorn by the use of mobile phones. We also did an exercise on how to book a plane ticket from Zanzibar to Nairobi through the new Kenyan flight company

And at the end of the day, most of the participants opened their own blogs. I will provide links later.