By Godwin Semunyu

Soccer goes down to the roots of Tanzania’s history. It is through the soccer fields in Jangwani and Kariakoo that the late Mwalimu Nyerere and the TANU comrades converged with the locals during the freedom fighting movements.

In Tanzania, whether you are a sports fan or not, you are somehow expected to support one of the two teams of Yanga or Simba. A friend once joked that we are first Tanzanians, then we mention our tribes, followed by our support for either of the two teams. I see no lie. Each club is estimated to enjoy a fan base of between 15-20 million followers. One of the biggest in Africa.

However, with all their mighty brand prowess and lucrative fan bases, Simba and Yanga are still living in the world of financial dependency. Relying heavily on funds from sponsors and “wafadhili,” in exchange for advertising values.

Leveraging on their brands’ equity, they are without a doubt the “adverting heavens” to most local businessmen. Perhaps that is their blessings in disguise. As a result, the clubs have developed a tendency of over-reliance to sponsors and individual benefactors, with minimal revenue alternatives, a recipe

for the rise of a solo voice, with financial muscles, to take the helm.

The downside to this situation, however, is the fact that it lacks a going concern and sustainability. When the dominant voice stumbles, so does the entire institution. Yanga fans learned the hard way when their previous benefactor stepped down abruptly. Within three months, they went from being the richest club in East Africa, to a club pleading for fans’ contributions to pay  salaries.

A few months back, Simba’s main sponsor pressed the panic buttons when he tweeted of his decision to quit the club, following a stint of bad results. All hell broke loose. He reverted his decision afterward, to the fans’ relief. Needless to say, they feared the worse.

Lack of sustainable revenue streams that act as shock absorbers, leaves the clubs vulnerable in case of any mishaps. History has taught that over and over again.

The Government has instructed for the two clubs to embark on the ownership model where shares are distributed into 51% to 49% sets, with the ordinary fans owning  59%  and a mega investor(s) owning the remaining 49%.

This opens up doors for the clubs to start trading shares at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and generate an instant capital to fund operations and growth. Apart from investing in squad and training facilities, it could also be ventured into income-generating tributaries like bonds or short-term fixed plans, to guarantee working capital.

The move will also amplify the fan bases as many will jump at the opportunity to own a part of their beloved clubs. Furthermore,  as a public listed company with mandatory transparency practices, the clubs will win the trust of many supporters to turn them into active members hence garner annual membership fees.

Merchandise, TV rights, and Kit sponsorship are football clubs’ major cash-cows, but with unbalanced books and desperate need for funds, the clubs naturally lose grounds on deal negotiation tables with advertisers. Nevertheless, by becoming financially stable, the clubs will have an upper hand and detect terms.

For instance, the clubs could opt the modern way of kit sponsorship where multiple advertisers are accommodated. Recently, the English club, Arsenal, signed with Rwanda a three years kit sponsorship deal worth USD39 million to have a “Visit Rwanda”  Ad on the sleeves. Mind you, Arsenal already had five years kit deal with Emirates Airline worth £200m (USD 280mmillion) for the front part of the jersey and around £300 million five years deal with Adidas,  for the company’s logo on the top left corner, of the same jersey.

The optimal point is, if our clubs are to make a significant leap forward, financial independence is of the essence. But since mobilizing capital the old way has proved to be a daunting task, floating shares are the only light at the end of the tunnel.

Send your comments to gsemunyu@epicpr.co.tz

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By Godwin Semunyu

Tanzania is entering eight weeks of intense political campaigns towards the October 28th General election. This is the time that politics become the most dominant subject. From the corporate offices to worshiping houses to the Bars, no one is spared of the political heat. Friends turn to nemesis; couples argue over a candidate. The youths lose their minds. The law-enforcers are on high time alert, the anti-Corruption fellas know no nights of sleep.

Jenerali Ulimwengu, one of my all-time favorite authors, calls this period; “Poll madness”. Indeed, it is.

With days and nights of political driven media coverage, long hours of campaign rallies, and impulsive generosity from the fellas you hardly know, brace yourself for a long bumpy ride. Get ready for “perfect strangers” who will take the Santa role offering “gifts” of t-shirts, khanga, caps, and badges. Contrary to the real Santa though, these particular gifts will be carrying one dominant message; “Vote for me”.

Some will promise you a supersonic trip to the land of milk and honey. “You deserve to live like Kings and Queens” they will tell you, “Vote for me and progress” they will swiftly remind you. No stone will be left unturned.

You have heard of these same stories before and told yourself never again you will fall into the trap. But they will come again and you will listen. With their brilliance oratory prowess, persuasion, and sudden generosity will make you doubt yourself for doubting them.

Not long ago, one popular politician promised to bring about rainmaking technology, to help out during the drought seasons. In vain. Such is life!

However, after all the dust has finally settled and the last cow is home safe, three things will abound; A cheerful winner, a sore loser, and You.

As a schoolboy in Morogoro, I had my first stint of the wrath of a political campaign gone bad. Somehow, I ended up in bandwagon of pushing around town the vehicle carrying an opposition candidate. The men in uniforms were not particularly pleased. The attempts to stop us fell into deaf ears. We were to hyped to care. Well, a lot happened that evening. Luckily, I left unscathed.

However, not many people got lucky. The panic caused by the unleashed tear- gas bombs led to a stampede, and as a result, many were injured while a handful ended up with permanent disabilities. Meanwhile, the candidate had mysteriously vanished from the scene. That’s another story altogether. Fast forward, he has since joined the same party that he “hated” so much. The party that he persuaded people to risk it all, to oust.

Africa has experienced enough Post-election mayhem; it has become a norm. While it is true that some of the confusions are sectorial. A fair share is also caused by sore losing politicians. From Zimbabwe (2008), Nigeria (2007), Lesotho (2007), the Democratic Republic of Congo (2006), Togo (2005), and Guinea Bissau (2008), It has been detailed that more than half of all elections in Africa experience some form of violence or intimidation either before or after election day.

In East Africa, neighboring country of Kenya went into turmoil in 2007 and 2017 over disputed election results. Zanzibar was into unrest after-2005 election. Earlier this year, Malawi narrowly dodged a bullet, thanks to a candid Electoral Court that was honest enough to call a spade a spade by overturning the grieved election results.

The scars that are brought by all this madness trickles-down to individuals and households. The politician you idolize, to the extent of despising your next-door neighbors, will soon be gone. But the next-door neighbor will remain your next-door neighbor. It will be the same next-door house that your kids go to play.

Let’s practice modesty. We don’t have to get physical or lose empathy just to prove a point. “Argue, don’t shout” Mwalimu Nyerere once said.

Let’s agree to disagree. As the great Chinua Achebe once said; “He who holds his brother down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” If you believe that being an opposing follower is a sin, at least keep it to yourself. Similarly, if you think supporting the ruling party is a sin, don’t rub it on their faces.

It is important to remember that after October 28th, there will still be life to be lived. Let your vote be louder than your disruptive online comments and hate speeches. The Internet never forgets! Let your vote do the talking.

For comments: gsemunyu@epicpr.co.tz

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By Godwin Semunyu

A few days back, my colleague was blessed with a baby girl, when I called to congratulate him, he had this to say; “Man, I need to buy more dogs to protect my beautiful princess.”  Though the phrase is a common cliché, the statement says so much from a guy who also has a three-year-old son. “Protect the girls, the boys will be fine”.

The history of the world is masculine from a go, God the father, created Adam the man, then gave him an “assistant’ in Eve, straight from his (Adam’s) ribs. Then followed by all-male disciples. Male dominance is so big that big nations like the USA (Democratic they say)  has had 47 presidents, all-male. Catholic Church has had 266 Popes, Ofcourse, male.

The fact that the holy books teach that Eve came from Adam’s ribs favors the male ego, yet again. Talk about the story of hunting favoring the hunters.

Then Human rights advocates came with a plan; protect,  defend  and elevate the woman and the girl child. It has worked. Rightly, we have witnessed a rise in the number of confident all-round women coming up and taking up  leadership positions. The “traditional” careers that were male-dominated have now been embraced by women. This is commendable progress, and it deserves a standing ovation.

However, as we have progressed in addressing the fight for women’s rights, we have taken a back seat in ensuring that both genders are equally progressive. The Boy child  is now at the periphery of the development sphere. The girl child is now free, confident, independent pursuing her dreams, and is no longer the weaker gender. Evidently, the boy child is now slowly becoming  the weaker  and an endangered species.

Boys are now are becoming less competitive, demotivated, and losing a will to work hard as they are expected to. For some reasons, nowadays  most boys want it “easy”,  they seem to enjoy opting shortcuts and the easy way out. Partying, betting, drinking, over socializing, and doing drugs is the “thing”. Many will go straight into driving Tuktuk “Bajaj”, Bodaboda or street hawking and rest the case.

What has become of the Boy child?

Time has caught up with the Boy child. The society has a fair share of blames too. Boys are pampered to the extent of turning out to be irresponsible beings. Mothers worship their sons while fathers  are hardly around, when they are, they  shower them with a sense of  pride for being heirs to the thrones. The result is complacency. All this is happening while the girl child is pushed to the core.

While the girl child is pushed at home and school, the Boy child is a master at home who is exempted from almost all chores, which have been labeled “kazi za kike”. Society is teaching girls to be responsible: “Utanitia aibu ukiolewa hujui kupika” . The same society is encouraging boys to be irresponsible; “Mpe dada nguo akufulie”.

At school, the  girl child is  pushed to the limit. No wonder, in recent years, girls have visibly dominated the education performance in the country. The girls only schools like St. Francis, Feza Girls, Canossa and Anwarite  are dominating the top ten charts. In year 2019 Form Four results, seven of the top ten performers, were girls!

Girls are also well prepared to be women, more than  how the boys are prepared to be men. A girl child will go straight into house chores soon as she gets home. They are all-rounders. They  are  also exposed to avenues such as  the “Kitchen parties” that prepare them for roles as wives. I am told they get enough manuals while in there. The modern girls are indeed a complete package.

Meanwhile, boys are exempted from most, if not all, home chores  and  spends most time after school playing with friends or video games. Boys have little  clues on basic home chores such as cooking and cleaning. Boys are brought up and are prepared to be “masters” of the households, but with no proper skills. “Be a man” “man up” ‘Wewe ni mwanaume” are the phrases they get,  but with no fitting blueprints  on how to be one. Boys are not encouraged to show emotions. Boys can’t cry, it is a “sissy” thing to do.

Furthermore,  no one really feels compelled to help boys grow into men. The old fashioned “Jando’ is now too primitive to many. As a result, most boys walk into marriages unprepared whereas sexual education  is a myth that most boys  solve via porn sites (yes, I said it)—sad truth. When they finally tie the knots, boys expect their spouses to be a wife and a  mother,  they want to be pampered even though most of them  tend to evade their responsibilities as providers and bread winners. The strong and independent young lady will not be intimidated by a boy who acts like a King while ducking responsibilities. Eventually, the two will clash—another broken family.

As  the  girl child rises, the Boy child plummets. Their downward spiral  has a significant impact to the  society;  irresponsible fathers, drug and alcohol abusers, broken homes, and  outlawed crime gangs like ‘’Panya Road” and “Mbwa Mwitu.”

Why is it important to strike the balance?

As a society, we are obliged to elevate both boys and girls. There is a need to empower both men and women as the lack of focus on male empowerment leaves a gap and leads us with empowered women who do not have male counterparts who are equally as empowered.

The Boy child is most likely to take a leadership role. This  might sound a bit absurd, but looking at African politics landscape, it is a scary thought  to look at when we have leaders who are not empowered as they may look at any form of criticism as an attack.

To avoid a situation where we are left to pick up the pieces, it is important that in our efforts to empower the girl child, we ensure that the Boy child is equally empowered and, in a position, to compete on the same level. Without that, we cannot fully claim to have successfully advocated for gender equality and succeeded.

 

Striking an empowerment balance – having genders that are equally empowered speeds up the process in the fight for affirmative actions  as no gender feels threatened.

Send your comments to: gsemunyu@epicprtz.co.tz

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By Godwin Semunyu.

The world is slowly adjusting to the new normality of living with the Coronavirus. After months of lockdown, life had to go on, schools had open, and production had to restart.

Human beings are social beings. They can only be locked down for a certain amount of time. After that, all the lines will be crossed. Come what may.

While some countries went for a total lockdown to manage the spread, some countries like Tanzania and Sweden, took a different route altogether.

There is still an ongoing debate as to which of the two alternatives was more effective in managing the spreads, deaths, and protecting the economies. Developing countries suffered significant economic sways, while large economies suffered comparatively more deaths. Albeit, China, Italy, and the USA suffered a more substantial share of both.

One will link large economies’ death tolls to inactive lifestyles, obesity, and underlying diseases. These factors are not so common in underdeveloped economies where lockdown had a significant impact on national and household economies where the majority are hand to mouth workers. South African Economy paid a hefty price to three months of lockdown.

One thing remains clear; Corona Virus and its subsequent COVID-19 disease are real.

Three months after the first victim was diagnosed in Wuhan, China, the virus that surfaced from Chinese seafood and poultry market, has sickened more than eight million people, killing at least 500,000 people, worldwide—leading to the world health body (WHO), declaring the situation as Pandemic.

The WHO would later tell the world to learn to live with Coronavirus, that the virus was here to stay. The new normal includes wearing masks, frequent handwashing, social distancing, and abandoning handshakes and hugs. They said.

The world responded with strict measures, the total lockdown of cities, closed borders and airspaces, closed schools, and sports tournaments, to name the few. Images of the dead surfaced all types of media, social media in abundance.

Countries started a norm of announcing each new victim, each new death, and those who got cured (not sure that’s the right term). Tanzania came up with “Kupiga vyungu,” a local way of nasal inhalation of steam of herbal ingredients boiled to perfection. “Kupiga vyungu” gained the highest compliments; it is touted to be amongst tourists’ attractions when the dust finally settles.

The goal was to low down the curve, lowered it was. However, with the curve finally reduced, countries have also started to lower down restrictions. In many places, the much-anticipated relaxation of restrictions looked a lot like a sign of salvation; people have suddenly grown too incautious. If at all there is a second strike as the experts are saying, one is left wondered.

For instance, in Italy, authorities have warned that loosening of restrictions could be short-lived if citizens didn’t adhere to social-distancing measures. Italy has suffered more death (28,000) than China, where the virus originated, yet people have quickly forgotten. “We will intervene and close the tap,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy has said, warning Italians of the dangers of bringing up the curve of infections that the country had worked so hard to suppress.

The situation is not so different in many African countries, too; things have normalized a little too fast as if Corona is long gone. Is the second strike a myth? Responsible bodies should come out clean. US President Donald Trump, one of the world’s most informed man, has refused to wear the masks regardless of all the scrutiny he went through “it is just not for me,” he once said.

It is of our best interest to remind each other’s that the deadly various is still so much around us. We cannot afford the slip-up. Precaution is the new normal. Let’s stay vigilant and protect one another.

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In spite of the pandemic sweeping the globe this spring, blood donors from across Canada selflessly ventured out to save the life of a five-year-old girl.

Chances are, those donors will never meet Aaliyah Mchopanga, and few, if any, will even discover their connection to her. But they are linked to her, and to each other, by a blood type that’s highly unusual among donors in Canada. And because of their donations, the medical team at BC Children’s Hospital had the crucial blood components they needed to save their patient.

Their generosity also made it possible for Aaliyah to meet a new baby sister — one born on another floor of the same hospital complex where she was fighting for her own life.

Aaliyah Mchopanga with her sisters Naila, left, and baby Mya. Mya was born at the end of March while Aaliyah was in hospital because of health crises related to sickle cell disease.

A shocking diagnosis 

Aaliyah’s father Abdi Mchopanga came to Canada from Tanzania in 2017 to study for an MBA at the University of New Brunswick. In 2018 he and his wife, Aziza Mfaume, settled in Surrey, B.C. with Aaliyah and her sister Naila, who is now eight.

The family was excited to begin a new life in Canada, but “after half a year, everything was upside down,” said Mchopanga.

When they arrived, Aaliyah’s parents had no idea she had sickle cell disease. People with this hereditary disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules. That abnormal hemoglobin causes the usually round red blood cells to distort into a sickle, or crescent, shape which can get stuck in blood vessels. Patients can suffer painful episodes, anemia and organ damage.

Some of the first hints of a problem appeared during Aaliyah’s first Canadian winter.

“She was so excited,” said Mchopanga. “I think it was around January and there was snow. She spent most of her time outside, playing in the snow. [But] when she got in, she started crying and touching different parts of her body, complaining it was hurting.”

Cold temperatures are a known trigger for pain crises in sickle cell patients. The family received the devastating diagnosis that same winter.

“That was a very bad moment, knowing that your daughter is going to live with pain from sickle cell [disease],” said Mfaume.

The discovery was a particular shock because Mchopanga had no idea he was a carrier of the genetic mutation that causes the disease. To make matters worse, Aaliyah’s older sister Naila was diagnosed as well, though so far she’s been spared severe symptoms.

Dr. Gwen Clarke is a hematopathologist and the head of Canadian Blood Services’ Rare Blood Program.

The search for blood donors 

Red blood cells from healthy donors are frequently key to health and quality of life for sickle cell patients. But finding donors for Aaliyah is difficult. She needs blood that matches not only her ABO blood group but her unusual combination of antigens — molecules on the surface of every red blood cell in her body.

It’s a common challenge for sickle cell patients in Canada, according to Dr. Gwen Clarke, a hematopathologist and head of the Rare Blood Program at Canadian Blood Services.

“That’s partly because most donors are white, and most sickle cell patients are Black,” said Dr. Clarke. “People of different ethnicities have different antigen combinations.”

To meet the needs of those patients and many others, Canadian Blood Services encourages people from diverse communities to become regular blood donors. It also targets some donations for tests that look beyond what Dr. Clarke calls the “big 11” antigens to help patients who need a more precise match.

If you’ve donated blood more than once and also identified yourself as part of a non-Caucasian ethnic group, your blood is more likely to get the extra scrutiny that could see it directed to patients like Aaliyah.

Dr. John Wu is a clinical hematologist at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C.

Aaliyah’s army 

To survive the spring, Aaliyah required blood from a small army of these thoroughly screened donors.

“She has to be one of the most challenging sickle cell anemia patients I have encountered in my almost 27 years here at the [BC] Children’s Hospital,” says Dr. John Wu, a clinical hematologist who first met Aaliyah in March 2019.

Dr. Wu became aware that Aaliyah’s blood type was unusual even among Black donors after she suffered an immune reaction to her second transfusion in late 2019. Soon after, the Rare Blood Program got involved. Canadian Blood Services staff worked to identify more than 70 donors in multiple provinces who could be contacted to help meet her future needs.

Dr. Wu recommended a program of red cell exchanges to begin in January 2020. Those would replace Aaliyah’s red blood cells with new ones from as many as four donors every few weeks.

Aaliyah Mchopanga, centre, with her father Abdi Mchopanga, right, and registered nurse Kate Douglas. Aaliyah regularly receives healthy red blood cells from donors to replace her own, which are affected by sickle cell disease. 

At the edge of knowledge 

Bringing in so many matching donors is a challenge, but a familiar one for Dr. Clarke and her colleagues at Canadian Blood Services. In cases like Aaliyah’s, “we basically have a group of donors that are almost on a recruitment schedule, where we go back to them and try to make sure they have appointments booked in the two to three weeks leading up to her transfusions,” said Dr. Clarke. “And then we do it all again.”

The effort heavily involves Canadian Blood Services’ National Contact Centre, the centralized service at the end of the 1-888-2-DONATE hotline. Members of the public contact the centre for information and to make appointments to donate, but the team also reaches out to specific donors as needed.

“We have case managers that are working with our National Contact Centre to say, ‘O.K., here’s a list of ten donors. Can you make sure that at least four of them have bookings in the next month?’” said Dr. Clarke.

Aaliyah’s need quickly ballooned, however, when she developed a complication that required additional transfusions as often as once a week. Then in mid-March, she suffered two strokes, the result of a rare syndrome affecting blood vessels in her brain. At one point, Dr. Wu said he reached out to a prominent hematologist who had published extensively on stroke in sickle cell patients. The news was disheartening.

“He said, ‘You have to tell the father that you’re at the edge of knowledge. Nobody knows what to do,’” Dr. Wu said.

Aaliyah’s condition soon led Dr. Wu to recommend the removal of her spleen. This high-risk procedure would require a supply of even more blood from donors.

She was still recovering from that operation when a bleeding ulcer caused her to lose the equivalent of her entire blood volume in a single day.

Louise Ringuette is a case manager with Canadian Blood Services’ Rare Blood Program.

Helping through a pandemic 

It took massive transfusion to get Aaliyah through that last dangerous episode. Dr. Wu described her six-week hospital stay as “a very harrowing time for [her] mom and dad.”

The pandemic made it even more difficult, as Mchopanga worried about its potential impact on the supply of blood for his daughter.

“My question was, ‘What’s going to happen when people are not supposed to go out? That will include donors, right?’” Mchopanga said.

At the same time, Aaliyah’s plight was also weighing heavily on the minds of staff at Canadian Blood Services. Crisis after crisis forced Aaliyah’s doctors to continually draw down the small bank of matched blood. At the same time, the pandemic was forcing mobile donor centres to close, curtailing options for all donors, including Aaliyah’s matches.

Across the country in New Brunswick, Aaliyah’s case manager in the Rare Blood Program also shared Mchopanga’s fear that donors for Aaliyah would be too afraid to leave their homes.

“Every morning I would come in and wonder, ‘What’s happened with my case? Did they get any more donors?’ I’m getting worried,” said Louise Ringuette, a medical laboratory technologist. “When is she going for surgery? How is she doing?”

“It was very emotional, even just sitting behind a screen.”

A team united behind patients

In the end, Canadian Blood Services met Aaliyah’s need through national teamwork. Throughout her hospital stay, Ringuette kept in frequent contact with Rare Blood Program colleagues as well as Canadian Blood Services’ distribution centre in Vancouver. There, a technical specialist was keeping a close eye on the supply of matching blood across the country.

Blood can be shipped from any location in Canada, but staff also worked hard to recruit donors in Aaliyah’s geographic area to minimize any risk of shipping delays. They also froze some units of red blood cells, so Aaliyah could have those if fresher ones were in short supply. She needed some of those units this spring.

Sometimes helping a patient also takes a human touch. At one point, Ringuette and a colleague made the decision to share a few details of Aaliyah’s case with those who were calling prospective donors.

“We decided together that we should let National Contact Centre staff know that these efforts were for a young child, and because of COVID going on, to really stress the fact that she is in desperate need of these units,” said Ringuette. “I think that really helped with getting donors coming in at such a strange time.”

Aaliyah Mchopanga receives regular red cell exchanges to manage sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder.   

Donors are a big part of the reason Aaliyah is now back home with her family, including a new sibling.

Aaliyah was asleep when her mother, who was visiting her in the hospital, realized she was in labour. Mfaume was admitted to BC Women’s hospital — which is part of the same hospital complex as BC Children’s — and delivered Aaliyah’s sister Mya on Mar. 29.

While Aaliyah gets to know her new sister, she is also going through rehabilitation to help her recover from the strokes she experienced. She also returns to the hospital every few weeks for more red cell exchanges. Her father praises the “wonderful people” on the hospital’s apheresis team, who are helping her adapt to the four-hour procedure.

“For a five-year-old who likes to play with dolls, it is difficult. She has to sit still the entire time,” he said.

Dr. Wu says he’s “very optimistic” about Aaliyah’s future with the disease. He said regular red cell exchanges have the potential to keep her in good health, and in the future, he’s hopeful a stem cell transplant or gene therapy could one day provide a cure.

‘An opportunity to dream’ for one young woman with sickle cell disease

The amazing journey of donated blood

Meantime, Aaliyah’s parents are so grateful for the care she has already received, including the gifts of blood donors.

“They are wonderful people, and we appreciate all that they do,” said Mfaume.

“I wish we could know them in person,” said Mchopanga. “The specific Canadian Blood Services team, our donors.

“But I know it’s a collective effort, and we can only say, thank you so much.”

SOURCE: CANADIAN BLOOD SERVICES

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