29 Aug 2011

The Joy of Six: Highlights from Wikileaks' release of Tz cables

Last week's release by Wikileaks of the US Diplomatic Cables on Tanzania was not the "smoking gun" on the corruption scandals to have struck Tanzania in the last 5 years that some people were hoping for. But nor does it make for entirely comfortable reading for those in government who are subject to some unusually undiplomatic criticisms from the US diplomats.

There are around 500 cables with the tag "Tz" now publicly available, a number that means a review can either be quick or thorough, but not both. Quick is all I have time for, I'm afraid, aided by various Twitterers and Jamii Forums in the process. So if you want to dig deeper, you'll have to do it yourself.

22 Aug 2011

It's time to take sexual abuse of children in Tanzania seriously

UNICEF's report into violence against children in Tanzania, published earlier this month, should be a wake up call for Tanzania. Based on an extensive survey in 2009, it finds that almost three in ten girls in Tanzania are sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years of age. The same is true for one in seven boys. These are pretty shocking findings. But perhaps not very surprising to anyone familiar with the Tanzanian education system.

In Daraja's Kwanza Jamii Njombe local newspaper, we have had several stories relating to the sexual abuse of children, particularly by their teachers. I can't say whether this is a growing problem, but it's certainly a hot issue in the minds of students and parents in Njombe. Many, many cases have come to our attention since we started our paper, on top of those (also numerous) we had come across previously.

8 Aug 2011

So how did they do? The #DarHackathon results show

The judging panel waits while participants
prepare to present. Photo from @simplyluca
Two days ago, an enthusiastic bunch of young Tanzanians set off in teams on a 48-hour software development marathon. Or rather a sprint, since it would usually takes weeks or months to develop the kind of applications they were putting together. After a couple of largely sleepless nights (judging by the kind of chatter on twitter overnight and the conversations going on at COSTECH this morning), the 48 hours were up, and it was time for the teams to show us what they had managed to do.

So how did they do?

7 Aug 2011

Day 1 at the #DarHackathon

Innocent at work, photo by @tahajiwaji
I turned up a little early, finding the large room only sparsely filled, mostly with the organisers wondering whether the turnout would meet their expectations. They needn't have worried as within half an hour the room was nearly full of sharply dressed young Tanzanian software developers itching to get started. Laptops covered every table and a spaghetti network of adaptors and extension cables spread out over the floor.

Thus began the Dar Developers' Dash, also known as the Dar Hackathon (or #DarHackathon on twitter), which kicked off this morning at COSTECH. It follows up on last month's popular BarCampDar event, but with a more particular focus on software developers.