Let's Face It

writing as i think, thinking as i write

All heroes are dead? Excuse me!


Something is seriously wrong with the government of Tanzania, in the way it regards and treats journalism. It is becoming increasingly bitter with critical journalists; and this time around, as we prepare for the 2010 general election, I have become a victim of the government’s threats.

A few days ago, I received secret information about the government’s  sinister moves against me and other journalists who criticise the president. By the way, the president is vying for the second term in office this year. Five days after the warning, my office received a ‘confidential’ letter from the office of registar of newspapers. It was summoning the managing editor to report to the registrar’s office to discuss the government’s concerns about my article: “nani atajivunia rais mwoga, asiyejiamini?” which translates to “who could be proud of a timid, inconfident president?”. The article had been published in Tanzania Daima newspaper, on August 8, 2010 under my column Maswali Magumu (Tough Questions), addressing the president’s resistance to take part in a planned public debate for presidential candidates.  

In the letter, the managing editor was stricly advised to ‘take me with him’ to the registrar’s office. There we were, on Monday August 16, 2010, at 2.00 pm. Unfortunately for them, my most immediate article published the previous day was even more disturbing to the government. Its headline went “JK bado hafikirii kushindwa?” meaning “Is JK still not considering defeat?” JK is an acronym for Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president. The article was meant to encourage election losers to accept defeat gracefully; and it quoted JK saying, in 2005, that he wasn’t in the race for defeat.

So, these two articles became a subject of discussion in the registrar’s office. Around the table were the registrar, Clement Mshana, assistant registrar Raphael Hokororo, an officer with the Tanzania Information Office (MAELEZO), Jovina; my managing editor, Absalom Kibanda and myself.

What transpired in the course of this ‘discussion’ confirmed the secret information I had obtained from my sources about the government’s malicious moves to deal with listed critical newspapers and journalists before elections. It was clear, the registrar was acting on instructions from Ikulu (state house). But one statement struck me. One of these government officers, who thought I was too harsh and becoming a hero for criticising the president, told me: “Remember, all the heroes are dead…”

Need he say more?

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August 19, 2010 - Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Raphael Hokororo, heroes NEVER die; even when they die, life will hunt them down and bring them back.

    Comment by Stella | August 20, 2010

  2. “Remember, all the heroes are dead…”
    It is shocking, yesterday 17 Aug 2010, I was browsing one of the few Tanzanian’s investigative reporting blog goes by the name http://ngurumo.blogspot.com/, when I came across with some news I couldn’t believe, consequently was expecting such an incident to happen to this pragmatic, activist, analyst and yet journalist Ansbert Ngurumo.

    Mr Ansbert Ngurumo was called by Ofisi ya Idara ya Habari na Maelezo head officials for an interview, I should say inquiry to give it a bit of weight. The inquiry was in response of two articles written by the said journalist published by Tanzania Daima, on its fabulous weekly column well know as ‘Maswali Magumu’

    It has been learnt from Mr Ansbert Ngurumo for what he has heard the article’s severity and sensitivity, touched a real nerve of those at white house (state house) and caused emotional reaction, irritation and were annoyed. (Study one of the article published on 15 Aug 2010 http://www.freemedia.co.tz/daima/habari.php?id=18490, the other one published on 08 Aug 2010, I couldn’t achieve from the website).

    Mr Ngurumo went far by saying they had a lengthy discussion, but in all he picked up one sentence said by Mr Raphael Hokororo who is Deputy Director who said “Mashujaa wote hawako hai” literally translates as heroes/brave people/combatants/activists are not all alive.

    What does this tell us? The simple answer to this is journalism is at risk; and perhaps explains why we read less of such investigative reporting in many of our papers. Most of our journalists are being daunted and intimidated. Why should the government official discourage our journalists through fears? Why should the system terrorise journalists? Why should they seek to oppress and insult activists, the catalysts of our country’s good values? The catalysts of our tranquillity? The catalysts for our development and rule of law? What a shame.

    What his excellence Mr Raphael Hokororo did, is not acceptable in our liberal society and is a genuine example of many officials who are recklessly, irresponsibly and unlawful execute orders (from big bulls in the government for their bosses interests, so they can exist in power) to daunting those who question government wrong doing and failures.

    When will this violation of human and journalist rights end? The International community should not turn a blind eye on such an awful, evil and nasty move. The Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), Tanzania Journalist Society and wananchi in general should wake up, stand up and put more pressure to protect journalism by urging for entire review of journalism act, which has now reached a menopausal stage, does not function and doesn’t embrace the international agreements and resolution pertaining to journalist rights.

    We all know many journalists who were tortured whilst in the line of duty around the world because of exposing corruption or abuses of power, or for opposing entrenched interests. They are just doing their job, the investigative reporting task they are doing intend to help officials to realise they are off-truck, they are playing foul, that they are violating the accepted rules, standards and procedure of governing. The intention goes as far as urging them (officials) to correct their foul for the benefits of tax payers, for the interests of the country and not interests of their buddies and families. Journalist investigative reports intend to make them to become good leaders, responsible leaders, accountable leaders, and credible leaders.”………………………………….Waandishi wa habari hatuwaandami viongozi, tunawasaidia” (A. Ngurumo).

    What has happened to freemedia journalist is not unprecedented incident, the history can reveal by itself, we have seen the kind of story covered by Mwanahalisi which has cost Said Kubenea, We have seen what happened to critical journalists Jenerali Ulimwengu , Jerry Muro, Journalist x who were sent to Sodom & Gomorrah and forceful being raped to stop him from doing his job and many others to mention but a few.

    The trend will go in geometric fashion, if the necessary measures will not crop in. I urge the Government officials to adhere to rules of law, to work professionally by holding positive attitude and reasonable work moral. I urge them to put the interests of wananchi mbele, to think of the fate of what they are doing, nchi yetu ni nchi ya amani we don’t want to experience what our neighbours have gone through.

    I am sure no legal proceeding will take place against Mr Hokororo for his inhumane and immoral conduct set forth to A. Ngurumo, the message were real nasty and evil to be said by such a government official. Tunaomba sheria ichukue mkondo wake, ashitakiwe kwa tishio na uhatarishaji wa maisha ya Mwandishi wa Habari. I don’t wish any misfortune to happen to Mr Ngurumo, should something wrong happens to Ngurumo, are we going to hesitate to associate Hokororo’s evil and disgusting words? The obvious answer is no, due to a logical and causal connection.

    The Government officials should adhere to UNESCO General Conference resolution on promotion of press freedom in the world, recognizing that a free, pluralistic and independent press is an essential component of any democratic society.

    My take: Lets the journalist society and citizens rise and defend our journalists from the malice of corrupt government officials and their cronies.

    B. Kimbache UK.

    Comment by B Kimbache | September 3, 2010

  3. bullshit with this politician they think they are god by harrassing and terrorising critical journalist. be careful but keep the good job. we need critical journalist badly in this country. without them ufisadi will continue and wanasiasa uchwara will continue to eat our beloved country. poor people will continue to be poor. by the way no one gonna live forever in this world all we are pilgrims going home to our REAL FATHER THE GOD OUR CREATOR AND ALMIGHTY. people will remember you for what you did to them not what you acquired while you were living in this TIRED world, which according to bible one day will be destroyed together with the people who are WRONGDOERS- means mafisadi, wala rushwa, wanafiki, wezi wa mali ya umma, wabinafisi etc

    Comment by josh chas | December 7, 2010


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