Six-year-old Christian Alex was mauled to death in broad daylight by dangerous dogs on Wednesday last week in Dar es Salaam. Sad news indeed. So sad that even if you try to Google this kid’s slaughter you won’t find much in English. It has mostly been championed by Swahili blogs. The international community is still unaware, consequently. Graphic image of the little boy’s body, his head and ears still showing ugly red marks where the animals clawed him, has touched everyone’s heart.
It was alleged three powerful dogs belonging to the Qatar Embassy in the Jangwani Beach area attacked the innocent child in front of his frustrated father, then “ate” parts of his body killing him instantly.
Memories of this beautiful area zoom into focus. The breeze, sunshine and palm trees of Jangwani seem to have vanished with Christian Alex. I read the blogs and recalled a 19-year-old American who was punished by slashes for theft in Singapore 20 years ago. American, foreigner or not, Singapore authorities would not let wrongdoing go free.
Now to Tanzania 2014.
The father said he had warned the dog owners to build an enclosure for the dangerous dogs but was not listened to. (Do the wealthy heed their “house workers”?)
More funeral photos and how police merely issued a statement and refused to speak further.
It reminded one of past follies committed by foreign nationals. Remember the Dar es Salaam sex worker, Conjesta Ulikaye, who was allegedly murdered by two British soldiers in 2004? Were the accused ever punished?
Like the three dogs, the accused might do it again, somewhere…
Kept on reading. The most important piece of information was missing. Normally, in a world where the law is right, dogs biting or killing the innocent should instantly be KILLED to avoid future attacks. Has this happened? Do our country’s laws care for the poor?
The next equally unsettling news is the continuous spread of the Ebola virus in Guinea. The crisis has been reported for some time now via Francophone media. Finally this week BBC and other Anglophone stations began discussing preventive measures. Senegal closed borders with Guinea. Saudi Arabia suspended visas for Muslim pilgrims (to Mecca) from the area.
At the beginning of the HIV tragedy in the mid-1980s, similar concerns occurred.
Ebola too, has no cure.
“Hygiene is the key,” the media keeps saying. But more important was a report on French television that the original source of the virus is wild meat e.g. bats and monkeys.
The love of “bush meat” by some Africans has allegedly been cited as source. Just like HIV, mad cow disease and swine flu, animals have transmitted diseases to humans.
It was interesting watching one Guinean woman sternly denying that Ebola could have originated from bush meat.
“Ebola has been brought about by God,” she said, loud and clear. Defiantly. Eloquently.
“My family has been eating bush meat for years and never got sick. Why should this happen now?”
Funny and unbelievable. We Africans love meat so much that any indication it may contain harmful elements is hastily dismissed.
Blame it on God.
Third interesting item this week was President Jakaya Kikwete’s visit to London. Officially, he was here on the invitation of Prime Minister David Cameron. He also squeezed in a meeting with UK-based Tanzanians at the Sattavis Patidar Centre just a few minutes from the famous Wembley Stadium. A beautiful and comfortable venue.
The charismatic President and his wife Salma were accompanied by Foreign minister Bernard Membe, Transport minister Harrison Mwakyembe and Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Britain, Mr Peter Kallaghe, and his wife Joyce. All sat at the podium flanked by co-ordinator of the event, Ms Mariam Kilumanga.
Much was said on Sunday March 30; a long evening (MC’ed by London businessman Abubakar Faraji) that had begun at 4 pm prior to the nation’s chief arrival. President Kikwete covered much ground. There was an air of finality in his candid speech. He narrated major aims of eight years back; what was successful, pending and what would be carried further by the next leadership. I detected a tone of legacy and a man trying to summarise the national chemistry.
I found what he said about Tanzania’s position on the world to be the most poignant and interesting. That at this moment in history Tanzania has friends everywhere. That we are presently well received by the Pope or any other nation across the world. “This” said the President “is rare and special and let us capitalise on it. It might never occur again.”
It stirred patriotic pride. I asked myself what exactly makes us so liked and respected? Is it because we haven’t had serious civilian bloodshed since the 1905-1907 Maji Maji resistance against the Germans? Or assisting the toppling of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 1979? Is it because of a smooth transition of democratically elected presidents? What makes us so special?