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LETTER FROM DAR
A tale of a curfew and a documentary movie
Rose Thuo
Published: 23-OCT-06

Dar residents will no longer be able to enjoy a riveting game of pool long into the night. The Government has issued a curfew. The government directive says the game attracts idlers and those inclined to conspiring to break the law. Pool hall owners and managers are horrified that they will lose business, not to mention the number of employees who will lose their jobs with the low turnout for the daily game of pool.

The implication of the curfew means that pool in Dar can only be played after working hours for a maximum of three hours. This will definitely reduce the crime rate and plotting of illegal deals. Pool hall owners and managers claim that hundreds of jobs will be lost when the ban is imposed. Some owners have gone ahead to reduce the number of employees, as they will only now require the night shift to work, whilst services of the day shift employees are no longer required.As the government clamps down heavily on criminals who are playing pool, it brings to the fore another problem, this time from Europe. Tanzania, but mostly Dar, has been living in a daily nightmare for the past month. A nightmare that arises from a film shot on location in Mwanza, the fishing town of Tanzania near Lake Victoria. The film, which has been nominated for an Oscar, has brought the Tanzanian government sleepless nights, international embarrassment and engaging foreign embassies in diplomatic chit chats back and forth.

The film is called Darwin’s Nightmare, in French, Le Cauchemar de Darwin. Darwin’s Nightmare has fuelled the anger of the head of state, President Jakaya Kikwete, who in a live televised address to the business community in Moshi took not less than one hour describing the damage that the film has caused to the fish export market as well as tarnishing the image of the country.

But the nightmare just won’t go away. Darwin’s Nightmare — a documentary film that many a Tanzanian is eager to see to better comprehend the reason for the President’s anger — depicts the digressing Nile Perch export market from Tanzania to the European market which has been overrun by the trafficking of illegal firearms from Asia, Europe and parts of the Americas. The destination — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and other parts of Africa where civil strife is being fuelled amidst a flourishing firearms trade.

Beneficiaries of this illegal firearms trade are masterminds when it comes to getting these weapons of destruction into the hands of lunatics’ hell-bent on murdering their fellow men. Aircrafts used to transport fresh water fish and other fresh produces to the big European markets are also used to ferry contraband firearms. Of course along the way, several of our brothers are benefiting from this corrupt deal by pocketing a handsome commission. Darwin’s Nightmare has been branded the film that depicts Africa in the most negative form; as a continent of murderers, a haven for illegal trade and the economic downtrodden.

The President is not taking this lying down — he is fighting back through the media and by talking to the hierarchies of power in Europe to stop this folly. However, in the meantime, the daily catch numbers of Nile perch are dwindling and so is the export market. The Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing, Nazir Mustafa Karamagi, is on record saying that this is the real cause for the reduction in the price of fish as well as the market share for Tanzania’s fish export.

So how do we fix the problem?

Simple. Catch more fish; get more fish farms and better equipment for fishing and processing. This might raise the numbers. On the other hand, increasing the market share calls for sourcing new markets other than Europe.



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