Tag Archives: corruption

The right to shine

Not for saleWhat did you learn today?, I asked Jennifer, aged 9. We learned about child abuse, she replied. Bit of a conversation killer, that one.

I’m supposed to be blogging about human rights today – part of the global Blog Action Day. I’ve only been in the country three days, though, so I’m not exactly a voice of authority. But surprises – like the primary three curriculum – have given me some indication of what issues Ugandan bloggers might be discussing.

Like the scrawled not-for-sale signs on houses and plots nearby, defensive and angry at developers trying to buy their land. In some cases, they use fake documents to kick them off, I was told; people who can’t afford a lawyer are powerless. Continue reading

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Getting in the way

Tomorrow I’m off to the dark underbelly of Dar to capture on film the corrupt authorities at work, and the people paying them off.  Except I’m not actually allowed to go along: the others in my group, two Tanzanians, told me: “You should stay away”. People would be too suspicious if a white person was asking the questions or even within observing distance.

We’re lucky, though: we have James in our group – now a musician, he used to live on the streets himself and he knows exactly where to find the people who’ll be smoking joints and likely to be paying bribes to the police. Continue reading

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Struggling against the status quo

Is dishonesty that common?

Asking questions in Tanzania presents you with an endless repetition, in various forms, of the same answer. A shrug of the shoulders, “that’s just the way it is”, “there’s no point”, “there’s nothing you can do about it”.

A Tanzanian friend told me her car was once broken into and the electric window controls from the four doors were stolen. She went to the “shop” where she knew she’d find them: she was asked what car she drove, what colour it was, and where and when it had been broken into. A few calls were made, and then she was told she could buy, conveniently, the exact goods for her make and model of car, for 400,000 Tsh (about 200 EUR). Had she told the police? No point. “Either they’ll hit a dead end, or they’ll have been paid off anyway by the people who’ve stolen the stuff”. Continue reading

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