Mzungu: Greetings from Tanzania !!

Karibu to the Mzungu blog !


Mzungu is meant to be less about research in development economics and more about a white male’s observations on how development takes place in practice in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. My family and I left Canada a year ago and we now reside in Tanzania. We are “wazungu”, which is the plural for mzungu, a Swahili term that is used to describe a white person. We live in Dar es Salaam and are part of the expatriate community there. We live on the Msasani peninsula and our children go to school there and we are enjoying living in Africa.


Tanzania is a fascinating place. It has enjoyed a relatively large growth rate for the last ten years, but many issues (poverty, lack of infrastructure, governance issues, role of extractive industries, etc.) still remain. For those of you wanting to know more about the country, Tanzania offers this governmental portal for an overview of the government activities.  For economists, one quick way to learn about the economic situation is to consult Tanzania’s National Bureau of Statistics site and check the World Bank page and its blog on Tanzania. There are also the IMF resident in Tanzania’s page , the UNDP’s page, UNICEF’s site, and finally Canada’s DFATD page on development programming in Tanzania.


Tanzania just had a national election. After two mandates, Tanzanian President Kikwete followed the constitution by stepping down. There was a national election and for the first time since independence, there was competition for the President’s post: the candidate of the party currently in power (CCM) faced opposition from a former CCM Prime Minister who defected to the opposition after CCM turned him down as their presidential candidate. After a long election period (it made the Canadian one a short one), Tanzanians chose John Magufuli, the CCM candidate, with 58% of the vote against Edward Lowassa who officially received 40%. Elections were deemed “fair” by observers, though there were some issues with counting the votes. Mr. Lowassa is on the record as saying he will contest the results. And the elections in Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous archipelago off the mainland of Tanzania were annulled after some “irregularities”… So stay tuned….no doubt there will be more news!


In the meantime, as a Canadian mzungu, let me assure you that Canada is still envied in Africa. Indeed, I recently picked up a bottle of “Canadian Pure” water in our recently opened Food’s Lovers (a store from South Africa) store:


Look at the label: beautiful background of the Niagara Falls, heart shape, wazungu family, etc.. all calling on consumers to enjoy “pure Canadian water”. The only small issue is that the water comes from Tanzania: produced by reverse osmosis, it is bottled here by an African manufacturer, with headquarters in Congo according the website:!


Looks like Canadian Beverages is not the only company trying to bank on the image Africans may have of Canada. For instance, there is the “Canadian Harvest” food company selling ketchup and tomato cans made from the United Arab Emirates. So, see, Canada still has some reputation overseas…


October 30, 2015 in Blog

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