Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.

I picked up the last copy at the news stand at Posta yesterday, on my way to lunch with a fellow blogger, so I guess these are selling. It’s Kainerugaba Msemakweli’s list of Members of Parliament and Ministers who he claims hold shoddy degrees. And by ‘shoddy’ he doesn’t mean a 2.2. He means they’re lying.

There’s an initial prurient interest. Who is in and who is out? Next you want to check his sources, but in most cases he’s trying to prove a negative, so that’s frustrating.

So you look to his style. Forthright:

Naudhibitishia umma wa Tanzania kuwa nitapambana nao mpaka mwisho / I swear to all the Tanzanian community that I will struggle with them to the end.

Ninaudhibitishia umma wa Watanzania kuwa kuna siku moja nitafanya mapinduzi katika nchi hii / I swear to all Tanzanians that there will come a day that I’ll make a revolution in this country


Language is interesting. The only English is the final statement above and the sub-title, pictured. So it’s more of a badge of…. learning, I guess, than a means of communication.

And finally, the medium. Kainerugaba Msemakweli, writer and publisher, is nothing less than a pamphleteer.

I recall once studying 16th century German reformation pamphlets (their illustrations in particular). Designed to be read aloud and handed around, they were well illustrated for the illiterate. Mine has certainly been handed around and last night I read aloud from it – just a short extract. And if you don’t have 3,000/= in your pocket at Posta the mug shots on the cover give you Msemakweli’s story.

It’s good to bear in mind that ‘old’ media can still be a valid choice at getting your message across.


8 responses to “Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.

  1. Hmmm. Viva the pamphlet indeed. So, as a blogger in the Tanzanian context, what is your take on the fate of traditional print media (ye pamphlets and ye newspapers) in light of its rapid demise in the West?

    I have a long-term debate going on whether print or electronic is the medium of choice in TZ and my position is that paper is still king- it has longevity, is independent from power cuts and crappy ISPs and is easily shared and debated (and it can’t be deleted easily).

  2. that’s too big a question for a response in comments Elsie!

  3. Pingback: Richmond, Fake Degrees and Parliament « Serengeti Advisers Media

  4. Such an easy question to respond to through comments. Medium of choice in Tanzania, eh?

    Google the words ‘internet users tanzania’, and – lo and behold – you get a nice graph with 2008 World Bank data showing us that a staggering 1.22% of the population use the internet in this country.

    So, while those of us who are able to actually read this fine blog may have our 24/7 connections, dongles, notebooks and typing skills, the other 98.78% of the population are choosing between print/radio/television as their medium of choice.

    Simple as. The pamphlet is dead: long live the pamphlet.

    • Yes, simple – if you see it in a steady state. Between 2000 and 2007 there was a reported ten fold increase in number of internet users in Tz (bank figures again…). The increasing number of providers entering the market suggests continued growth. Then there’s communications strategies and finding out what works for what purpose. I can think of one blog with a readership close to zero that has managed to get the right attention to get its issues into mainstream media. Actually, I can think of two. But the news stand tells its own story, as I suggest above.

      Secondly, the question was also about the impact of the possible decline of MSM in the rich world. Think about that and its possible impact on the space filling strategies of Tz media.

      Simple, really.

  5. A tenfold continued growth from ‘miniscule’ to ‘tiny’ does not tell us much. At this rate, we might make it to ‘paltry’ in another ten years, eti?

  6. Thanks gents. Klinton with a K- I feel you. A tenfold increase in almost nothing gives you almost nothing times ten. But there’s people who swear up and down that electronic media is not the future, it is the present. And Swahili Street with an S- yes, so what is the impact of the Death of Trad Media in The West gonna do to us here (if anything). Also, what is MSM?

  7. MainStream Media. If it goes all pay wall on us, our newspapers may have to start generating some original content for a change to fill the pages they need to carry the aid sponsored advertising- for tenders and half page NGO recruitment ads.

    K, you have a point, of course. And an important one. But….. it’s not polite to keep trying to have the last word when I should just be thanking you for commenting!

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