Education Seminar at SOAS on Monday 14th May 2018 at 17:00 pm

Join us for presentations from Ben Taylor, Deus Kibamba and Martin Rainsford, followed by informal questions and discussions organised by BTS education group.

Ben Taylor (@mtega) is a governance and development analyst with a particular interest in Tanzania. He works as a consultant for Twaweza, a citizen-centred initiative in East Africa working on education and open government. He edits the journal Tanzanian Affairs and blogs at .

Deus Kibamba is a Research Fellow at The Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. He was formerly the executive director of a small dynamic information research organization – the Tanzania Citizens’ Information Bureau. Deus is a frequent commentator on topical issues in the Tanzanian and international media, and he has also authored and co-authored journal articles and training manuals

Martin Rainsforth from PIXL will be talking about his work on school improvement with Headteachers particularly in Rukwa.

For registration, please click on the following link;

Railwaychildren: Working with vulnerable children on the streets in Tanzania. Monday, March 26 at 5 PM – 7 PM @ SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG London.

Pete Kent from Railway Children will talk about their work with vulnerable children in Tanzania.

Railway Children is a leading children’s charity fighting for vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets, where they suffer abuse and exploitation. In the UK, society often denies their existence, and in other countries the problem is so prevalent that it has become ‘normal’.

Children and young people run away or are forced to leave home where they suffer poverty, violence, abuse and neglect. They find themselves living on the streets because there is nowhere else to go and no one left to turn to. The problems they face on the streets are often even worse than those they endured at home. Every day we fight to change their story.

Railway Children races to reach children as soon as they arrive on the streets and intervene before an abuser can. Our pioneering work in the UK, India and East Africa enables us to get to street children before the streets get to them.

‘Pete Kent is East Africa Regional Director at Railway Children. Railway Children is a leading UK development agency focused on supporting children living on the streets. Pete spent two years as volunteer teacher living in a small town in Tanzania in 1999-2001. He has been at Railway Children since 2004 and was responsible for establishing Railway Children’s first partnership there in 2006. Since then Railway Children has registered as an independent agency in Tanzania and now supports projects working with children on the streets in six of the major cities with funding from USAID and DFID amongst others. Our work with children focuses on street based interventions, youth based peer support work, and on family reintegration. In addition we work with communities to challenge their perceptions about children on the streets and we work closely with government to create the legislative framework required to protect children on the streets and to help government create the systems that can effectively support children in future years without relying on support from the NGO community.’

To find out more about Railway Children at




For more information, please do contact Janet Chapman on

Tuesday 6th March 2018, Joint meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tanzania. 6.00pm in Committee Room 6 of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster

Tanzania: Making Progress in Agriculture.

Over 60 per cent of Tanzania’s population earn their living from agriculture, and while this percentage is reducing slowly the absolute numbers involved are increasing.
Yet the importance and potential of the sector is often played down.
This event looked at some of the recent successes in the sector, and the ways in which it is likely to develop in future.
Speakers  included Antony Ellman, whose field experience of agriculture in Tanzania goes back to the 1960s, Jeremy Lefroy MP whose family is involved with farming in Northern Tanzania, Mukesh Lakhani whose company MD Import Export Ltd imports tropical agricultural products from Tanzania, and Andrew Coulson who continues to write about small scale agriculture in Tanzania. The short presentations were followed by discussion and debate.

The event was held in Houses of Parliament in   Committee Room 6. Please click here to see the report of the meeting, click  here to see Andrew’s presentation and click here to see Anthony’s Presentation. Please click here for listening to an audio recording of the event.

There are also presentations of a previous general APPG on Agriculture here which may be of interest.

The next BTS event is at SOAS on street children, details are here


Children’s Rights in Tanzania – Monday 29th January 2018, @17:10pm at SOAS Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG.

The main speaker for this seminar will be Kate McAlpine, who has lived in Tanzania for 23 years. When she arrived, she was struck by the plight of street children, and subsequently set up an organisation Mkombozi to help them. She will talk about the world views of Tanzanians who take action to protect children – as a lens on how large scale behavioural change to end violence may occur. Her websites are and  Twitter@katemcalpine. For more information contact Janet Chapman on

Britain-Tanzania Society AGM 28th October 2017

A Pathbreaking AGM for BTS

Our AGM ended with the biggest committee ever – 24 – including 13 Tanzanians living and working in this country.

The venue was stunning: St.Mary-at-Hill, one of the churches redesigned and rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Fire of London in 1666. It hosts the Lutheran congregation which meets there for worship in English every week and in Kiswahili every month.

Willie Fulton stood down as Vice-Chair and was replaced by Petronilla Mlowe.  Gabriel Mgambwa is our new Treasurer.  Elizabeth Taylor stood down as Secretary but is staying on the committee, and was replaced by Tessa Most. John Wood has agreed to maintain our database of members. Drs Hamza Mohamed and Gideon Mlawa have joined us to facilitate liaison with TUHEDA, the new organisation promoting medical work in Tanzania. Ida Hadjivianis will link us with the Swahili Department at SOAS – she specialises in translation, and among much else has translated Alice in Wonderland into Kiswahili. We were more than pleased when, after these changes had been approved, 5 people stood up and offered their services to the committee. We hope that this will give us a much improved administration, enable us to promote our events and other activities much more, but above all link us with a wide range of activities involving the diaspora in the UK.


BBC Swahili: “A Flagship for the Swahili Language”

Our speaker was Zawadi Machibwa, an experienced journalist who has worked for the BBC Swahili Service for many years.

BBC Swahili prides itself on its accuracy. In a world where “fake news” and unconfirmed gossip is often reported, the BBC tries to get a controversial story cross-checked from three separate sources before it uses it. The result is that listeners trust it, and believe what it says. BBC Swahili is keen to employ women and to discuss matters that are important for women. 17% of those working in the media in East Africa are now women, and the numbers are rising. Zawadi offered the hope that her talk would be the start of a long and productive relationship between BBC Swahili and the BTS.


The AGM at 2.00pm on Saturday 28 October, will be at a new venue for us – St Mary-at-Hill Church, Lovat Lane, London EC3R 8EE.  This is where the Swahili-speaking congregation meet once a month – near Bank and Monument Stations.

Speaker:  Salim Kikeke, BBC Swahili Service presenter, who has over 1 million people on his Facebook account! The Dira ya Dunia programme which he presents often gets audiences of 7 million, and perhaps even more tune into his programmes on football.  He will talk about how the Swahili Service works, and what it offers to Tanzania.

If you would like a table to sell items for good causes in the run up to Christmas, or to promote an NGO relating to work in Tanzania, please contact Elizabeth Taylor on

Modern Swahili Poems – Ushairi wa Kiswahili wa Kisasa – a seminar and book launch on 16th October 2017

Modern Swahili Poems – Ushairi wa Kiswahili wa Kisasa – a seminar and book launch on 16 October, SOAS, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG

In 2014 a prize for modern swahili poetry was created in Dar es Salaam, using money left by Gerald Belkin. A little of his story is told on page 11 of this Newsletter.

The competition was first held in 2014, and attracted a lot of interest. 81 of the poems submitted for the first two competitions have now been published (Diwani ya Tunzo ya Ushairi ya Ibrahim Hussein. Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam, 2016).

This seminar, run in conjunction with the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at SOAS, will introduce this literature to audiences in Europe. Ahmed Rajab – a retired journalist with the BBC Swahili Service – will chair the event and give an introduction to the modern development of swahili poetry. The poems will be read in swahili, with English translations, and then discussed in English. So this event will be meaningful to anyone interested in poetry from the African and Arab worlds – and its contemporary impact.

An extraordinary Canadian, Gerald Belkin, who took some of the first video cameras used in Africa into two ujamaa villages in 1971 (the camera being far to heavy for a person to hold, and so mounted on the back of a pick up truck, with a huge array of batteries behind it, that could be recharged by the engine of the pick up). In true anthropological style he spent a year preparing for this and became fluent in swahili in the process and also became friends with Ibrahim Hussein. When he died he left money to promote the swahili language, and his old friend Laurence Cockcroft worked with Ibrahim Hussein (itself a achievement, as he was living a quiet, almost reclusive life to avoid political persecution) to set up the prize. The book which we celebrated on Monday is a selection of poems from the many entries in the first two competitions. Belkin’s daughter Aurore spoke about the prize at the baraza and I assumed that she had mentioned the seminar then. She was also at the seminar on Monday, along with some very distinguished swahili scholars, one of whom had come from Hamburg to be there. There were 6 readers of the poems, including Farouk Topan, Donovan McGrath, Chege Githiora, Ida Hadjivayanis. Translations were available in English. Much of the discussion was about the meaning of “modern” in this context – and the debate between Mulokozi (one of the judges but not at the seminar) and Topan (who was one of the readers) on the one hand and Abdilatif Abdullah (the guy from Hamburg) on the other about whether it was acceptable to write in free verse. The poems themselves were very touching – about struggles and joys in today’s Tanzania but almost all with some kind of message or twist. A second book has just been published, so Laurence thought it made most sense to review the two together.


Date: 16th October 2017

Time : 5pm – 7pm

Location :  School of Oriental and African Studies, Russell Square, London  WC1H 0XG

The tradition of poetry writing and recital has very long roots in Swahili culture, and is recorded as a feature of life in the great halls of Kilwa in the sixteenth century.  Ebrahim Hussein, whose family originates in Kilwa Kisawani, is both an heir to this tradition and has been one of its leading modern exponents. But he is not alone: the Department of Swahili Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam found in a national survey that there are five thousand writers of poetry in Tanzania at the present time. In recognition both of the tradition and its living exponents a ‘Prize for Swahili Poetry’ was established in 2014 having been funded by Gerald Belkin, an enthusiast for the language, its poetry and of Ebrahim Hussein himself.

The friendship between Gerald, (who sadly died in 2012) and Ebrahim dates from the early 1970s when Gerald was filming village life in selected but pioneering ujamaa villages in Singida and Tanga Regions.  Ebrahim was part of his advisory and linguistic team and they remained in touch whilst he took his PhD in East Berlin.  Gerald’s films are now being curated by the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris and will be publicly available in a year’s time.

The first round of the Prize was awarded in 2014 and the second in 2016. The 2016  award and reading of the poems was held at the National Museum in Dar. Ebrahim Hussein was present on both occasions.

81 of the poems from these two competitions were published last year (Diwani ya Tunzo ya Ushairi ya Ibrahim Hussein. Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam).

On 16 October we will introduce this to audiences in Europe for the first time. Ahmed Rajab – a London based journalist born in Zanzibar — will give us a brief introduction to the modern development of Swahili poetry and chair the event. A selection of the poems will be read in Swahili, with English translations, and then discussed in English. So this event will be meaningful to anyone interested in poetry from the African and Arab worlds – in its contemporary cultural situations.

Informal Housing in Dar es Salaam: A Tale of Three Cities – Monday 20 November 2017

Dar es Salaam – A Tale of Many Cities

At Independence in 1961, Dar es Salaam was a sleepy little port and administrative centre. Today it is home to upwards of 5 million people, one of the fastest growing cities in the world, projected to reach 10 million in the 2030s and perhaps 20 million in the 2050s. It is a city of contrasts – skyscraper offices and luxury flats, luxurious detached houses in large plots, planned housing and commercial developments, but the majority of the people live in unplanned and overcrowded housing areas, increasingly distant from the original centre, and lacking piped water, solid waste collection and reliable drainage. The average income is the higher than elsewhere in the country. But only a small fraction have jobs in the formal sector. Most have insecure, unreliable, and often minimal incomes. Many rooms in the poorer areas are individually let, and many families live in just one room.

The Development Planning Unit, now part of the Bartlett School at University College London, have been sending masters students on study visits to Dar es Salaam for the last four years, where they have been hosted by local NGOs struggling to improve the conditions. Stephanie  Butcher and Tim Wickson, the speakers at the Seminar on 20 November, have been part of this. The students met local people, and identified the challenges facing them and  the NGOs who work with them.

The housing team focussed on three contrasting locations. Kombo, in the Vingunguti area, is about three miles from the harbour, and very convenient for jobs and services. The area has been settled for many years, but water and is a problem most houses use pit latrines, not good in a densely settled area. But CCI, the Centre for Community Initiatives, the Dar es Salaam branch of the international Federation of Urban Poor, have a solution. Working with small local savings groups, for £30 per house they can install drainage and flush toilets in a group of houses – though for many the water for the toilet will have to be lifted by hand to a tank on the roof.

Suma, about the same distance out, is on the floodplain of the Msimbazi River, which flows out under Selander Bridge. In 2011 nearly all the houses were flooded, and the Government decided to demolish most of the remaining houses and move the residents to new settlements to be constructed 20 miles North.  But this meant moving away from employment and friends. So many have returned, living where they can, often in lofts or roof spaces, or moving out each year in the rainy season.  It is very hard to see a basis for long term improvement here.

Chamazi is a rapidly growing “town”, about 12 miles South and a bit West of the Centre. Here CCI were able to access 30 acres, which they divided into plots of 144 m2 on which, for £2,000, a family can build its own four-room house to a standard design. They can take out a loan, and replay £25 per month over 7 years. It shows what can be done physically; but is there the financial discipline to make it work? Already there are problems collecting the repayments, and those who live this far out have to pay for bus fares to commute in to Dar es Salaam. The Jury is still out.

Meanwhile the practical problems of life in Dar es Salaam continue, and as yet there is little sign that the authorities are able to keep even one step ahead of the rapid expansion of the city.

For more information on these schemes, in the first instance contact Stephanie Butcher [] Or Tim Wickson []


Date: 20th  November 2017 Time : 5pm – 7pm Location :  School of Oriental and African Studies, Russell Square, London  WC1H 0XG.

The speakers will be Stephanie Butcher and Tim Wickson, both of the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL.

Now home to a diverse population of over five million people, Dar es Salaam is a vibrant and expanding hub in East Africa. However, the rapid pace of growth has vastly outstripped the capacity of the planning system and housing market to respond, leaving 80 percent of the population living in largely unplanned, informal neighbourhoods.

For many, this housing crisis manifests itself in a lack of access to basic infrastructure, including water and drainage, substandard living conditions, and high levels of urban risk, with vulnerable residents increasingly confined to hazardous land in order to remain within reach of city-centre economic opportunities.

This seminar will discuss the everyday realities and challenges faced by residents of different types of low-income neighborhoods in Dar es Salaam, as well as the opportunities for action already being undertaken by the residents themselves. It will close with a discussion on the role of progressive urban planning in approaching some of these issues, and supporting the growth of a more equitable city.

All welcome

Horticultural Products Export from Tanzania to EU Markets – 19th June 2017

Date : Monday, 19th June 2017

Time : 5pm – 7pm

Location : Room 4429, School of Oriental and African Studies, Russell Square, London  WC1H 0XG

The Britain Tanzania Society in Partnership with the School of Oriental & African Studies held a seminar on how to link AGRI- businesses in Tanzania with EU markets.

PETRONILLA MLOWE  FRSPH MCIEH spoke about the great potential that Tanzania has to produce fruits and vegetables, and to export them to all parts of the world.  But at the present time less than 20% of this production is exported. To increase this will require many changes in Tanzania – better roads, better storage, better agricultural practices, more facilities at ports and airports, and professional exporters or cooperatives who can assemble products in bulk and get the benefits of cheaper freight costs for large consignments. It will also need a good understanding of the documentation that has to travel with a consignment coming into the EU, and the tests that may be undertaken by plant health officers at ports and airports. If a consignment is contaminated with pathogens, or does not meet the agreed high quality, it may be rejected, and then there will be no money to pay the farmers.

To look at her slides, go to Mlowe slides


PEREZ OCHIENG CEO Sacoma  spoke about the need for up to date market information, and the need for suppliers to respond quickly to changes in prices. It needs much more attention to quality, from top to bottom of the supply chain. For example, with a sample of sweet potatoes, 80% were rejected because of the way they had been harvested (marks from jembes meant that the product would quickly deteriorate) and transported. That was heart-breaking for the farmers. It takes time to develop a new market – sometimes several years – and very good knowledge of modern packaging products.

This event was live-streamed – go to

See also BTS Facebook Small Business Investments in Africa: Support from the Diaspora

About the speakers:
Petronilla is a Senior Food Safety Officer in a UK local Government, a trainer, and a consultant. She a member of the  BTS Executive Committee, and is a promoting a conference on Food Safety in Dar es Salaam on 12th & 13th October 2017. For information on this, email or  Tel: +44 (0) 7720246480:


Perez is the Chief Executive Officer or SACOMA, a UK-based NGO that promotes business opportunities, especially in agriculture, for the diasporas living in the UK. Email: Tel: +44 (0) 7764961489


Dentists and Friends Charity Dinner for Musoma – 19th May 2017

Date: Friday May 19th 2017   Time: 6.30 – 7.15pm: Cash Bar, 7.15 pm: Dinner, Raffle and Auction for fundraising Location: Royal National Hotel Russell Sq, London, WC1H 0DG.

Co-ordinators: Dr M K Vasant MBE, Dentist in London and Graham McClure, CEO of Go Make a Difference in Tanzania   Beneficiaries:, www.lakevictoria














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