Let’s come to Tan­za­nia’s aid

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/feature - Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu Opin­ion

ASTRONG earth­quake re­cently rocked a Tan­za­nian re­gion in which is the Lake Vic­to­rian town of Bukoba, and the his­tor­i­cally fa­mous Kagera Sec­tor where the Tan­za­nian-Ugan­dan war of the late 1970s started, re­sult­ing in the ig­no­min­ious de­feat of the uni­ver­sally dis­cred­ited Gen­eral Idi Amin “Dada’’. Although Bukoba was not mas­sively de­stroyed by the shak­ing ge­o­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non, it dam­aged quite a large part of the re­gion and killed at least 13 peo­ple, in­jur­ing an un­known num­ber, and caused as yet an un­quan­ti­fied dam­age to houses and other prop­er­ties.

Earth­quakes can be de­fined as con­vul­sions of the earth’s su­per­fi­cial parts and are caused by the re­lease of ac­cu­mu­lated stress. They are cre­ated by the struc­tural faults of vol­canic ac­tion. Some earth’s re­gions are more prone to earth­quakes than oth­ers. That is be­cause they are struc­turally un­sta­ble, and lie along what stu­dents of the move­ment of the earth’s crust (seis­mol­o­gists) call the “seis­mic belts”.

The word “seis­mic” is de­rived from the Greek word seis­mos which means move­ment.

Seis­mic belts stretch north­wards along the west Amer­i­can coast from the south­ern tip of Chile past San Fran­cisco right up to the town of White­horse in north­west­ern Canada.

Inland along that belt we find ac­tive vol­ca­noes such as Chimb­o­razo, Co­topaxi, Popocat­apetyl and sev­eral oth­ers that are less well known. Earth­quakes and vol­ca­noes tend to oc­cur in the same re­gion.

The seis­mic belt oc­curs also in the Pa­cific Ocean, sev­eral hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres to the west of the Amer­i­can coast. In the At­lantic Ocean, it runs half-way through that ocean right up to the Arc­tic re­gion in the frigid north.

In the south­ern hemi­sphere, it is sev­eral thou­sands of kilo­me­tres south of Cape Agul­has, South Africa, but it turns east­wards and passes between the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent and Mada­gas­car.

It then turns to the Per­sian Gulf, en­ters the Gulf of Eden and fol­lows the Red Sea and en­ters the Mediter­ranean with some of its arms spread­ing into the Maghreb states of North Africa, then into the Ibe­rian Peru­vian Penin­sula, France, parts of western Europe, and then east­wards into China, Ja­pan and other coun­tries of the Far East.

It does not oc­cur in Aus­tralia, how­ever, but passes through New Zealand.

In Africa, it creeps into the east African re­gion but peters out to­wards Lake Malawi. In the west-African re­gion, there are dor­mant vol­canic lo­cal­i­ties in coun­tries such as Cameroon.

Uganda lies within a re­gion frac­tured by earth­quakes mil­lions of years ago, and one of its ranges, the Virunga Moun­tains, is vol­canic. Between it and its south­ern south­west­ern and south­east­ern neigh­bour, Tan­za­nia, is Lake Vic­to­ria, an ob­vi­ous cre­ation of the earth’s move­ments in an­cient times.

Bukoba is on the shores of Lake Vic­to­ria in Tan­za­nia’s north­west­ern dis­tricts in a re­gion that is a part of the ge­o­graph­i­cally fa­mous Great Rift Val­ley, with this par­tic­u­lar area be­ing in the western part of that re­gion.

The re­gion is char­ac­terised by a num­ber of lakes, and is re­ferred to as the Great Lakes re­gion. Like Lake Vic­to­ria, the lakes are with­out doubt cre­ations of the earth’s move­ments in some his­tor­i­cally dis­tant past. We can thus rea­son­ably con­clude that the re­cent quake was a typ­i­cal ge­o­graph­i­cal phe­nom­e­non of that re­gion in ge­o­mor­pho­log­i­cal terms.

How­ever, what­ever its cause, and, how­ever, it oc­curred, what should con­cern us all in this part of Africa is how best to as­sist Tan­za­nia to re­cover from the tragedy.

That would be an op­por­tu­nity to show prac­ti­cally the mean­ing of our na­tional phi­los­o­phy of ubuntu, a value that is de­scribed by the bib­li­cal quo­ta­tion: “Do unto oth­ers as you would them do unto you.” That quo­ta­tion is be­lieved to have been orig­i­nally used by the Hin­dus from whom the He­brews adopted it.

To us, the peo­ple of Zim­babwe, Tan­za­nia is a spe­cial coun­try be­cause of the in­com­pa­ra­ble sac­ri­fices they made to free Zim­babwe from colo­nial­ism.

They of­fered their ter­ri­to­ries to free­dom fight­ers to en­able them to re­ceive aid from var­i­ous pro­gres­sive na­tions.

Not only that, they of­fered the free­dom fight­ers their ground for mil­i­tary train­ing, and some of their, by then, few ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties to free­dom fight­ers to train as civil ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Tan­za­nia stood solidly shoul­der-to-shoul­der with free­dom fight­ers from Zim­babwe, Mozam­bique, Namibia, An­gola, Guinea Bis­sau, the Co­moros and South Africa. Its leader, Dr Julius Kam­barage “Mwal­imu” Ny­erere was a Pan-African­ist who stood for the lib­er­a­tion of the en­tire African con­ti­nent what­ever the cost, as were all Tan­za­ni­ans.

Tan­za­nia is not rich, not by any stan­dard, re­gional, con­ti­nen­tal or univer­sal. Now that it is fac­ing this nat­u­ral calamity, may all those coun­tries whose lib­er­a­tion was made pos­si­ble by its self­less­ness come to its aid.

That would be a good ex­am­ple of the prover­bial say­ing “a good turn de­serves an­other”.

If each, or even some, of the now free coun­tries were to give that truly African na­tion a mil­lion or so dol­lars it can re­build the houses and what­ever else was de­stroyed by the earth­quake.

Gov­ern­ment-spon­sored na­tional fundrais­ing cam­paigns can be launched in Mozam­bique, Zim­babwe, An­gola, Namibia, South Africa and Guinea Bis­sau and the Co­moros, and what­ever is raised in a month or so can be handed over by the re­spec­tive coun­tries’ for­eign min­istry of­fi­cials to the ac­cred­ited Tan­za­nian diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a re­tired, Bu­l­away­obased jour­nal­ist. He can be con­tacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email sg­wakuba@gmail.com

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