THE recent groundbreaking event at the Chongeleani village in Tanga hosting the two East African Presidents, Yoweri Museveni and John Magufuli in laying a foundation stone of the crude oil pipeline from Hoima to Tanga produced liberation nostalgia and a physical economic cooperation between the two sister countries.
With that hard bargaining spiced and fuelled with the fraternal brotherly blood between the two sister-countries ended in making Tanzania winning the tender thus, most part of the 1445km pipeline from Uganda will pass through Tanzania.
It is similar to that friendship between the former Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere that saw the construction of the Tazama pipeline some few years back that was more than 1700 km but very much different from this one having a new heating technology.
This is the kind of economic regional cooperation needed to unlock African countries from the dreadful dependence from the developed countries whose interests are to maximize profits in any given agreement.
Uganda’s President Museveni put it clearly that Africa kept on working for the European development while poor African countries go on producing peasants. “We need economic transformation” Museveni emphasized and requested for reciprocal gesture from Tanzania on a gas pipeline to Uganda to facilitate the smelting of the newly found iron ore in Uganda.
The agreement reached between the two countries can be described as give and take. There are several concessions in Vat, taxation and other agreed tariffs which have mutually been agreed upon.
The pipeline will transverse from Uganda passing across eight regions with twenty-four Tanzania districts promising economic fortunes in all those areas. However, Tanga residents had all the reasons to ululate after an economic lull that was for so long experienced in Tanga.
The global collapse of sisal products resulted to ineffectiveness of the Tanga port affecting badly all socioeconomic activities making Tanga almost like a ghost town. Tanga used to be the second biggest town of Tanganyika in the fifties.
According to this paper’s Business Forum held recently in Tanga, the use of synthesis fibre had killed the sisal market. In the 1960s Tanzania was the sisal hub and 70 per cent of it was from Tanga, according to Katani Limited Managing Director Salum Shamte.
In 1964 sisal production was 230,000 tones as opposed to 1990’s 20,000. After this economic doldrums of Tanga, the giant is now waking up showing indicators of renaissance, first with this US$3.5billion joint pipeline project between Uganda and Tanzania.
Again President Magufuli ensured the Tanga residents that the construction of a tarmac road link between Tanga and Bagamoyo, and another project that include deepening of the Tanga Port, and the expected construction by the Hengya Company of the biggest cement plant in the country at Tanga.
Also earlier the President promised the Muheza residents ending their water woe, sooner than later water will start to flow in Muheza’s dry taps. Perhaps, the about 30 km road stretch from Muheza to the famous old Malaria Research Institute at Amani, the home of Mount Usambara with several botanical herbs such as quinine trees, cardamom and tea plantations will not be forgotten.
It seems after Tanga becoming a ghost town for so long, not all that was lost but it became a very strategic area for harbouring freedom fighters during that period of African liberation wars. Museveni just said it at Chongeleani that he could pass at Horohoro via Tanga with his smuggled seven guns heading to Uganda during that difficult time of their war against Iddi Amin Dada.
He revealed further that even Mzee Milton Obote had a good sanctuary in Tanga at the Handeni District and also somewhere in Lanzoni in Mkinga District. No wonder Museveni has been very close to Tanzania and I am inclined to think his decision to award Tanzania this contract was influenced by his platonic love he has with Tanzanians.
Yes, Tanga was a heaven for freedom fighters. The Tanga politics is a real determining factor to the Namibia’s struggle for its liberation. The former Presidents of Namibia Dr Sam Nujoma, Dr Hifikipunye Pohamba and a few other senior South West African Peoples’ Organization ( SWAPO)members are known to belong to a Tanga SWAPO Group that met for Consultative meeting in Tanga 1970/71.
This SWAPO Consultative meet ing was very instrumental and strategic in paving the way for intensification of the liberation struggle that saw independence of that country in March 1990. And that is why the town of Tanga to Namibians is historic name in their books of political history of that country.
Unfortunately this Tanga group in Namibia is phasing out as the new generation known as ‘born free’ is taking over. The Tanga group identifies its self by speaking Kiswahili and would very much prefer to be referred to as the Tanga group from Tanganyika.
In his book ‘Where others wavered’ Dr. Nujoma also talks how he used Tanzania’s Passport by the name of Sam Mwakangale and passed through the border of Tanzania with smuggled AK 47 guns from Algeria going to Namibia.
The very guns were used by Namibia’s Peoples Liberation (PLAN) marching from Kongwa in Dodoma to shoot the first bullet on 26th August 1966, marking it today as Namibia’s Heroes Day. It is through the commitment of this country, Namibians in exile were travelling with Tanzanians documents.
Perhaps you may remember during the 50th Anniversary of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar former President Kikwete introduced Dr. Sam Nujoma to the cheering crowd as Mr. Sam Mwakangale, the name he used in his passport as a teacher at Dodoma as shown in the photograph.
The founding Father of the Namibia Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma with passport No 173309 issued in Tanzania as a travelling document during the liberation Struggle (Photo by Courtesy of the New Era Newspaper)