Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Meet Gloria Mutahanamilwa and...

...Burning Zeal: a trait that assures Results…

One afternoon in 1983, I recall strolling down the hot, scorching, sunny streets of Dar es Salaam with Kassim Magati, piano player and composer of Sunburst (the first band to have popularised the contagious Kitoto rhythm). We were talking about the hell and rough times of living in the Third World.
“You have to have a burning zeal to keep on going in Africa…”
He quipped suddenly, chuckling, wiping the streaming sweat from his face.
I remember a lot about this guy but I will never forget his key phrase:
Burning Zeal.
I find those words a living formula even after Kassim passed away prematurely in 1994 while working in Botswana. Burning Zeal is a key signature, a rhythm, tempo, insignia that may be applied to any individual lighting the fire to improve lives, better the world, refresh buttons. Just like our blogging guest today; 35 year old, Gloria Mutahanamilwa. This unassuming, articulate, intelligent lady, lives in London where she is in the last stages of her Masters degree in media studies at the East London University.
So then, folks.
Meet Gloria.

A name that means honour, exaltation, worth of praise, adoration, worship, splendour (glory of a king’s reign), radiant beauty, extreme happiness, triumph, pleasure…
Why blog this mother of two? To answer that let us not forget to mention Gloria’s husband, Mr. Bakari Mnkondo. Not many males will “allow” a young wife to leave home in Africa; abandon two boys (aged six and two) and go overseas for a while. Gloria says of the remarkable Bakari: “He lets me rove and be creative…”
Behind every successful man there is a woman; behind every successful woman there is, equally, a good guy. So the saying goes.

For ten years Gloria Mutahanamilwa was nursing a dream.
Having finished her studies (high school, journalism) then compulsory one year national military service; and having worked in various newspaper (and stringed for Voice of America radio), in between winning Woman Sports reporter of the year award (1996); she began travelling worldwide in 1997 and was bothered by one thing.
Where is Tanzania?
“ Every time I introduced myself coming from this huge East African country, people would ask stupidly…Tasmania? Where is this Tasmania? It annoyed me that nobody knew Tanzania…”
But, let us ask ourselves. What is the purpose of publicising countries?
Why go to India? Why China? Great Wall? Why London or Jamaica? Dance to reggae? Cuba? Smoke cigars, listen to Castro? Why Brazil? Watch football, dance to Samba, and experience the carnival? People go to countries they have heard about and eventually fall in love with them. Gloria says Tanzania has so much to offer but is unknown.

Her dream to make Tanzania known burned her continuously for the next decade until she bumped into Jane Hughes (another remarkable lady) organising the Welsh Conwy Food Festival in October 2007.
Creating a vision needs a Burning Zeal…
“We are not USA or Japan. People do not know us. We need to publicise ourselves. Tanzania is not just Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. Not all foreigners want to come to Tanzania to see animals or climb mountains. Some want to eat or buy products. I usually go to Zanzibar to eat at Forodhani. Everyone has differing interests when they go somwhere…”

And how shall this be achieved?
“We need to sell the image of Buy Tanzania. Just like they have the Buy British slogan. We have a lot to show. We cannot rely on charity and begging.”
To win something, however, one has to knock doors…
For months Gloria made calls to ministries, companies, members of parliament, and you know what? No-one offered to help. Only two Tanzanian MP’s responded (Abdulkarim Shah of Mafia region) and Philip Marmo (currently Minister for Good Governance in President’s Office); who showed moral support. The rest never responded or gave positive comments. One Ministry official actually asked Gloria:
“Why not use the money you are spending phoning me up to buy yourself a shirt?”
Gloria responded that she wasn’t interested in a shirt but make Tanzania part of this international festival.
In the end she had to rely on herself, her family and a circle of friends.
Family love is very crucial in lighting these fires…
Gloria says she spent £4,800 which all came from her dear family and a list of friends and well wishers who we shall list below.
Her sister Jessica Mutahanamilwa travelled all the way from the USA a week before the Conwy event to give support. “The festival must happen…she kept encouraging,” Gloria recalls harrowing moments of despair, when she was even considering giving up.
A friend in need, is a friend, indeed…

Welsh band at the festival poses with Abu Faraji and Jessica (Gloria's sister). Pic by Gloria.
There were people with a heart. Like the Othman family. Saidi Yakubu Othman, blogged Gloria’s efforts long before the task was even known, going there, taking photos, and highlighting it.
Saidi Othman, designed her website, free of charge. It took a month, but it was worth it. One of the key phrases in the Gloria’s website is this statement about Tanzanian tradition:

Uli Kyusa leads a traditional South Tanzanian dance (Tunogele) played by Sam Mbogo drummers. Behind her, Justina Ngolle struts her thing while Gloria (far back waves a flag). (Pic by Jessica Mutahanamilwa).
And the Group of Twenty Five. These great 25 darlings travelled with Gloria to Conwy on October 27th and 28th. They helped with transport (Kora the unselfish driver), rent, logistics but most important, making food.
Zainab Makasala; Uli Kyusa from London, Justina Ngolle from High Wycombe, all cooked; while Sam Mbogo Troupe provided traditional drumming (ngoma) music.
Mrs. Rahma Rajab Nzeri spoke of Tanzania’s food etiquette at the festival. Plus others who helped in miscellaneous ways: Aunt Aggy,Ciddy Kikenya and Beatrice.
Not forgeting : Mwanaidi Mlolwa (of Tanzania Fisheries),Mr. Sumari and Asia Kizza- Mtambalike who travelled to Tanzania for resources.
Abu Faraji of TZUK.NETwas present throughout, including highlighting the festival on his website. According to Gloria two distinct individuals Abu Faraji and Mrs Rahma Rajab-Nzeri, gave a very important contribution that ensured the Tanzania Food and Culture 2007 happening.
Sylvester Chacha was a handy man; available for any DIY stuff.
Doctor Khoza from Hastings did not attend but offered some very unique advice…
Success stories.
Every consistent effort brings Rewards.
Gloria says they had only 20 Tanzanian flags to give away. Many people including children were keen to have those flags but were disappointed by their unavailability. So next time, give more flags to Gloria, Tanzanian Government.
There was the interesting story of the MBUZI.

Literally, mbuzi, (check picture above of Justina Ngolle with two eager fans); means, goat. But in Swahili, mbuzi, is not just an animal but also a gadget used to grate the coconut in so many tropical recipes. This act of grating coconut (to extract the milk) attracted the attention of many festival attendees.
IT was a success...
Gloria says they have been invited again next year( the festival will be on 25th and 26th Oct, 2008) ; hopefully there will be more support from higher quarters and sponsors.
Speaking about Gloria Mutahanamilwa, events organiser, Jane Hughes who has been living in Wales for three decades, says:
“Gloria is wonderful, dynamic, and enthusiastic. She is just the kind of person I was looking for…”
The said festival, by the way, won the Best Welsh Community Events Award this year.

Gloria being interviewed by a UK television crew.
(Pic by Jessica Mutahanamilwa)..


ndesanjo said...

Safi sana kutupa habari za Gloria. Leo nashinda mtandaoni maana nimepitwa na mengi. Habari hii imenifanya nisijisikie vibaya, tena naichapa niisome pembeni vizuri. MSalimie ukiwasiliana naye. Vizuri sana tukitumia blogu zetu kujenga watu wanaoendeleza vya kwetu.

For non swahili speakers: i am basically expressing my joy for reading this article about Gloria. Congrats both Freddy and Gloria.

Anonymous said...

I came to read the article about Gloria in our local newspaper Mwananchi on sunday,25.11.2007.As far as I know Gloria I did not get suprised about her dream and I am sure she will make happen.I know her back to the late 1980s when I was at Dar Es Salaam Technical College and she was at Zanaki Sec.School then we were together at Makutupora JKT for compulsory national service 1992/93,she is a among women I admire o lot.

Big up Freddy and Gloria

Damascene Katundabwile