Monday, March 11, 2013

Jinsi Wapinzani Walivyoteswa Enzi za Mwalimu Nyerere

Wadau, hapo zamani za kale, ukiwa mpizani wa Chama Kimoja, Ujamaa, Serikali, basi unakamatwa, unafunikwa macho, unaingizwa kwenye gari na kuzungunshwa, una minywa mapumbu au maziwa hadi useme. Usalama wa Taifa walikuwa wakali, maana kila kona moja alikuwepo. Nafahamu wengi waliokamatwa. Wengine walikuwa wanafunzi wa UDSM.

Someni Mkasa wa Ludovick S. Mwijage, utashangaa majina yaliotajwa huko!

L-R Sam Nujoma (Nambia), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Samora Machel (Mozambique) Mwalimu Nyerere (Tanzania), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) &  ?




Having no baggage to claim, I proceeded through customs at Matsapha

airport, Swaziland, without delays, thanks largely to holding a

Commonwealth passport. I did not require a visa and had no cause to

explain my situation to Swazi officials. I proceeded to Mbabane, the

capital, taking a ride with an Eritrean UN official who had collected

a relation from the same flight.

By the time I arrived in Mbabane it was late afternoon, and I noted that

the following day was a public holiday. Finding accommodation was my main

concern as I wandered aimlessly along Allister Miller Street, Mbabane's

main road. As I passed Jabula Inn, a main road hotel, a lean man who

looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties emerged. Apparently

he had detached himself from a group of people he was conferring with

in the hotel foyer. He wore a fez hat and was far too dark to be Swazi

(most Swazis are light in complexion).

His right hand held a set of joined beads which he counted quickly and

repeatedly, as if he was meditating or praying although he continued

to talk with people as he did this. He gesticulated and looked at me

as if he recognised me. I returned the look, thinking I recognised him

from somewhere. We exchanged glances and it occurred to me that I knew

the man, but I couldn't recall from where.

He made the first move, greeting me in Swahili. I returned his greeting,

surging forward to shake his hand. There was no doubt the man I had

just greeted was the renowned Nairobi-based Tanzanian astrologer, Sheikh

Yahya Hussein. Now I remembered seeing his pictures in newspapers almost

every day, advertising his trade, although I could never work out how

he recognised someone like me he had never seen before.

Hussein invited me to his room, cutting through a long queue of people who

had come to consult him. He was, as he frequently told the Swazi press,

a prophet, faith-healer, palm-reader and fortune-teller, not merely an

astrologer who could determine the influence of the planets on human

affairs. He even told the local media that King Hussein of Jordan was

one of his clients, and he provided them with a photograph of him shaking

hands with the monarch. This, of course, generated more business for him.

Hussein led me into his room with quick, short strides, nodding at

people in the queue. He was booked in Room 1 at Jabula Inn and had a

room-within-a-room inside his quarters. This provided him with the space

he needed: one room for consultancy, the other for his private sleeping


He invited me into his private room; it seemed there was someone else

in the consultation room. A beautiful woman, about half Hussein's age,

sat on the unkept bed, seemingly vegetating. She held a can of Castle

Beer which seemed empty. Hussein talked briefly to the man in the other

room, then joined us.

Africans generally respect elders as sages of infinite wisdom. Hussein's

professional standing and the trust others confided in him encouraged

me to tell all. Moreover, he had the title of sheikh, which, with its

spiritual overtones, projected a sense of moral purity and authority. To

my surprise, he knew quite a bit about my situation.

Before I had finished my story Hussein telephoned the receptionist

and asked her to come to his room. A tall, well-built woman with big

eyes arrived and Hussein instructed her to give me a room for several

nights at his expense. She agreed, but said the vacant room had to

be tidied up. As we waited Hussein asked me to place my paper bag,

which I still nursed on my lap, under his bed. He wanted me to go and

buy some articles for him. On my return I picked up my paper bag and,

being very tired, proceeded to the room Hussein had hired for me. It

was there that I realised that some items were missing: the telex from

Germany; the letter I had received from a friend, Amos Ole Chiwele,

a refugee recognised by the UN; and the cover of my air ticket.

I hastily returned to Hussein's room hoping to retrieve these items,

which I nevertheless doubted could have fallen out of the packet. A

thorough check under Hussein's bed revealed no trace of the missing

items. Hussein supervised as I searched the bed, all the time claiming

that nobody had touched my bag during my absence. I did not at any time

imply this might have occurred. The items had unfortunately disappeared,

rather mysteriously.

Swaziland granted me political asylum within weeks. But due to other

factors which I had overlooked in Kenya - Tanzanian troops were stationed

next door in Mozambique - the United Nations High Commissioner for

Refugees (UNHCR), in Mbabane, was working hard to find a country in

which I could be permanently settled. Indeed, on the day Cartridge and

I lunched together I had only one and a half months in which to leave

for resettlement in Canada.

My diet consisted of boiled rice and fried fish; sometimes there was

simply no lunch or dinner because, as I was told later, there was a

food shortage in Mozambique. In the mornings I would get black tea with

a doughnut, sometimes nothing at all. Every morning for ten minutes I

was allowed out of my cell to pass water and wash my face; but washing

my face proved difficult with handcuffs. Lights blazed day and night,

their controllers oblivious to the lack of electricity elsewhere in

Mozambique. I felt as if I was in a grave, buried alive.


This was the second time I had been in detention, the first going back

to August 1971 when I was a student teacher at Morogoro.

I was detained at Morogoro merely for expressing a political opinion. I

had been appointed editor-in-chief of Mhonda college's newsletter,

which, as it turned out, never got off the ground anyway. Basically, the

newsletter intended to reflect the thinking of the college community,

using articles from students and staff. But an English lecturer had

insisted that all articles be censored before publication. I strongly

disagreed, setting him and myself on a collision course.


Anonymous said...

Mnawakumbuka Hans Poppe na Sylvester Hanga?

Anonymous said...

Naweza kuandika chochote.Kinaweza kuwa cha ukweli asilimia mia moja,kinaweza kuwa cha ukweli 50% na kinaweza kuwa cha uwongo 100% Ni nani mwenye kuthibitisha? Ni kuamua tu kuandika basi.

Anonymous said...

Kuna majaji waliuwawa eti ajali za gari!

Anonymous said...

Chemi kwani na wewe pia siku hizi umeshakuwa muislamu? Maana yake huko marekani kuna mtu anaitwa farakhan ambaye kazi yake ni kuwarubuni wanawake desperate kama wewe ili waingie dini ya wafanya fujo.

Chemi Che-Mponda said...

Anonymous wa 8:13AM, naomba unieleze vizuri maana ya "umeshakuwa muislamu". Naona kama umewatusi waislamu. Ingawa mimi ni MKristo ninawaheshimu waIslamu. Tuache Udini tafadhali.

Anonymous said...

Ni kweli watu waliteswa na hata kuawa enzi za Mwalimu. Hakuwa Malaika kwa wapinzani wake. Ndugu yangu naye alikamatwa na kunzungushwa na kuminya kushindishwa njaa halafu kapewa hambuger enye sumu!

Anonymous said...

Ilikuwa mwiko kusema mabaya dhidi ya sirikali au kupinga Chama Kimoja au Mwalimu kwa miaka mingi. Naomba vijana waelewe hiyo. Yaliyoandikwa yanaweza kuwa ya kweli. Nimewasilisha.

Anonymous said...

Sema usiogope sema! Nyerere hakuwa malaika. Alifanya mazuri kwa kuunganisha taifa kwa kiswahili na kufuta ukabila. Lakini mengine DUH!