Category Archives: etc

“Elderly woman drops to earth while travelling in the air,” apparently

Mtanzania 310115

In Mtanzania today, a remarkable story, particularly when you note that this is a respectable newspaper, nothing like Sanian elderly woman apparently fell from the sky above Shinyanga.

The article doesn’t explain how she was “travelling through the air”, but it doesn’t need to: travelling by ‘ungo’ (flying basket) is a familiar concept in Tanzania. Fallen-from-the-sky stories appear fairly regularly in the press. Occasionally, they are told with some scepticism. But often, as in this case, they are told entirely at face value. Continue reading

It really is “nothing but witchcraft” in Sani newspaper

"Nothing but witchcraft" - Sani 24/1/15

“Uchawi Mtupu” (“Nothing but witchcraft”) – Sani 24/1/15

I spotted this newspaper headline last Saturday. “Urais Mwaka 2015: Uchawi Mtupu”, which roughly translates as “2015 Presidency: Nothing but witchcraft”, along with photos of five potential presidential candidates. Continue reading

Chart of the week #34: Giving birth without safe water and sanitation

Let’s start with some headline statistics:

  • 43% of births in Tanzania take place at home
  • Of these, only 1.5% take place in settings with access to safe water and sanitation
  • Only 44% of health facilities that conduct deliveries have provision of safe water and sanitation facilities

And putting that all together:

  • Only 30% of births in Tanzania take place in an environment that includes access to safe water and sanitation.

These findings come from an analysis of data from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the 2006 Service Provision Assessment, by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Health Organisation and Bugando Hospital.

Access to safe water and sanitation facilities seems like such a fundamental part of giving birth, wherever it happens. That only 30% of mothers in Tanzania have such access is pretty shocking.

But the researchers went further, to look at how access to a safe water and sanitation environment when giving birth varied across the country, and between richer and poorer Tanzanians. It turns out that the headline figures cover up some major differences.

Continue reading

Looking closer at Tanzania’s witchcraft ban

The Citizen, 24/8/14

The Citizen, 24/8/14

Tanzania bans witchdoctors,” says the headline on The East African website. For those who speak the language, the BBC Swahili website puts it a little more elegantly: “Wapiga ramli kupigwa marufuku.”

Both articles, along with many more in the Tanzanian papers this week, report on the announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mathias Chikawe, of new efforts to address a spate of violent attacks against people with albinism in Tanzania. Such attacks have been going on for some years, linked to a demand for the body parts of people with albinism for use in witchcraft, but a rise in attacks last year and the abduction last month of a four-year-old girl in a village near Mwanza has refocussed attention on the issue. Continue reading

Chart of the week #24: Attacks on people with albinism across Africa

Witchcraft-related attacks on people with albinism are big news in Tanzania, and have been for some years. Back in 2008, Vicky Ntetema, then working for the BBC, first went undercover to investigate, and then into hiding after receiving threats.

Vicky is now the Executive Director for Tanzania of Under the Same Sun, campaigning for the rights of people with albinism. They recently published a report on the number of reported attacks on people with albinism across Africa.

Below, I have turned the data from their report into a map and two charts: Continue reading

What have you missed since June?

If you’ve signed up to receive this blog by email (as you can do using the link on the right), then you may well have missed several posts over the past few months. I shifted to a new web-host at the beginning of June, in order to be able to show more interesting charts – particularly interactive charts like these. I tried to bring the site’s email subscribers along with me, but for some reason that I don’t understand, this didn’t happen – sorry!

Having discovered the problem earlier this week, I’ve now corrected this mistake, so you should be receiving the emails again.

And in case you missed something interesting, here are some highlights from the last three months on It’s been a busy few months.  Continue reading

Healer kills his child because she had been born in breech position

Tanzania Daima published a story last week about a remarkably unpleasant event that allegedly took place in Mpanda district, in the west of Tanzania. The reaction the story has generated within Tanzania demonstrates that the events described are not a typical / common occurrence. Nevertheless, I think it illustrates some wider interesting points, so I have translated the story in full. And make a few quick points below the translated article.

The original article is legally problematic, in that it potentially prejudices a pending legal case, (as do the Police Commander’s remarks), but that’s not the point I want to make here. Nevertheless, to avoid repeating the problem, I have changed or obscured the names of key participants and other identifying details in the translation.

Healer kills his child because she had been born in breech position

Source: Tanzania Daima, 2/9/2014 

Walter Mguluchuma

A fourteen-month-old baby, Consolata George, has been killed by her father, George Lubanga “Chuiwe”, 27, apparently because she was born in the breech position. Continue reading