The “Acerbic Arushan” blog has been shut down. I came across this story in the Daily News, and thought we had another example of the Tanzanian government cracking down on inconvenient media. After all, MwanaHalisi newspaper has been closed down, editors at Mwananchi and Tanzania Daima have been taken to court, and journalist Daud Mwangosi was killed, to name just a few cases among many. I thought perhaps the battle against media freedom had moved back online. It wouldn’t be the first time.
But with just a little online investigating I found evidence that suggests this is a quite different matter. I wasn’t familiar with the Acerbic Arushan blog, or the controversy it has stirred among the expat community of Arusha and the surrounding area.
At the time of writing (though perhaps not for long), a new blog, AcerbicArushan2 is up and running. This gives a sense of what the previous blog – now available only via Google’s web cache and similar services – was like:
“Inspiring, isn’t it? How just one tiny voice can threaten the high and mighty untouchable white elite here so seriously that they have to run screaming to anyone who will listen and cry for help like little babies.”
“Maybe when they are getting their eyeballs stabbed out with screwdrivers by an angry mob then they will at last understand what this blog was trying to tell them and their eyes will be opened (not literally of course cos they won’t actually have any eyes left by then).That would be a most fitting punishment because they are already blinded to the reality of what is going on all around them by their own greed.”
“Racist Dolly resident Vicky wrote a book all about how great she is and how shit Tanzanians are. Classy lady.”
Unpleasant, angry and vicious? Yes. Libellous? Almost certainly. But a threat to the Tanzanian government? Hardly. No more than nuisance, upsetting the foreign (or settler) investors that the blog targets – people that the government would prefer to keep happy, but hardly top priority.
No, it seems much more likely that the blog has been closed down by Google – who run the blogger/blogspot platform – for breaching its content policy. There’s plenty in there that would allow Google to justify closing down the original Acerbic Arushan blog, presumably in response to complaints from the folks targeted by the blog’s vitriol.
This conclusion is effectively confirmed by recent statements in the comments section of AcerbicArushan2, by the blog’s author. She writes that “this blog was under review” and that it “has now passed.” That sounds much more like the kind of due process Google would to apply to cases like this than the Tanzania government.
The Acerbic Arushan herself says she is not Tanzanian. So it seems this is a battle waged between one member of Arusha’s expat community, unhappy about how other expats were behaving, and that community defending itself.
“Not in front of the servants,” one might say. But only if you’re willing to risk marking yourself out as sharing the lifestyle and/or worldview of the community that has got the Acerbic Arushan so hot under the collar.
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Update: The Acerbic Arushan has posted a response to this post on her blog.