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This is WE Tanzanians............

Discussion in 'Tech, Gadgets & Science Forum' started by Adili, Apr 23, 2011.

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    Adili JF-Expert Member

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    Tanzania: Reflections on the Rush to Loliondo

    Ramadhani Kupaza
    19 March 2011
    column

    The rush to Loliondo for the "magic cure" that Babu provides can be viewed as a reflection of professionalism or lack of it in Tanzania. Loliondo is a remote area near Lake Natron in Arusha Region where tourists can observe scores of birds called flamingos.
    Consider sensitivity to issues as an aspect of professionalism in Tanzania. A Forester contacted some senior foresters working for the Tanzania Association of Foresters (TAF) to know the scientific or common name of the plant or plants which Babu of Loliondo uses to make the concoction that he uses to treat his patients. The Foresters did not know the name of the plant. Worse, the officials did not seem to be interested to identify the plant. Therefore, they did not offer to find out the name even though TAF has an office in Arusha City which is relatively close to Loliondo.
    TAF officials who were contacted expressed a sense of insensitivity to the status of the plant even more when they said that "Let people get cured first" then we shall know what to do about the survival of the plant which Babu harvests to make the medicine. The officials were responding to the question as to what TAF was doing to ensure that the survival of the plant is guaranteed if for the purpose of making sure that Babu provides the medicine to treat people on a sustainable basis. Foresters can identify characteristics of the plant and help to propagate it if Babu has to continue to serve his patients into the future. Reports inform that Babu serves the medicine to 3,000 people per day on average. It is an enormous volume of medicine that corresponds to extensive tree harvest which foresters as well as conservationists should be concerned.

    On his part, the Arusha and Manyara Catchment Forest Manager mentioned that the officials from the Tanzania Forest Research Institute (TAFORI) have requested him to visit Loliondo and identify the plant for conservation purposes. The manager is personally convinced that it is necessary to take measures to conserve the plant. But he is yet to visit Loliondo. Presumably, the Arusha Catchment Forest Manager is healthy. Otherwise, he would have taken the early bus to Loliondo. The government would have paid expenses for his travel to the area.

    But it is not uncommon for professionals in Tanzania to be insensitive to issues. Local professionals in wildlife conservation are quiet about the public road through the Serengeti National Park which the government intends to construct. Only foreign professionals in wildlife conservation appear to be contributing ideas to ensure that the proposed road does not destroy the Serengeti ecosystem and natural beauty. Local professionals in wildlife conservation can make at least a statement even if they support construction of the proposed road through the Park. It is time for professionals in Tanzania to become sensitive and to own national problems and solutions. Let the international community come in only as a helping hand where necessary.
    Apart from insensitivity, the rush to Loliondo reminds that professionals in Tanzania have developed a culture of doing jobs or assignments without completing them. Refer to the Herbal Medical Research Institutes in the country in this case. The institutions have never been able to complete assignments in the sense of producing credible medicines from herbs to treat even minor diseases. On the other hand, Babu has managed to develop herbal medicine that many people accept. Now herbal medical institutions have a motivation to compete against Babu if there was no adequate motivation previously.
    Meanwhile, there is talk that officials working for herbal medical research institutions will analyze Babu's magic cure to verify its effectiveness as a treatment. Almost certainly the officials will try to determine the after effect of the medicine on individuals in the short, medium and long term. But you wonder whether officials working for the herbal medical research institutions have started to design or carry out studies to monitor the health of those who have been treated by Babu at least from scientific perspectives.
    One might say that the Food and Drug Administration in Tanzania (TFDA) is responsible for setting standards for medicines in the country. But TFDA appears to be irrelevant in the case of Babu's medicine because the medicine is said to constitute a spiritual component. Yet, TFDA has no capacity to set standards based on spiritual aspects of drugs. So, TFDA cannot complete the assignment to verify effects of the Babu's drug timely.
    What about the TFDA as a government agency making an official statement on the way forward in the wake of Babu's medicine? Tanzanians do not expect a conclusive official government position on the matter because it is difficult to tell what constitutes official and unofficial government statements in this country these days. Government officials, particularly Ministers, can announce what they announce only for another Minister to announce exactly the opposite at a later point. As a result, many members of the public no longer respect official government statements. Someone has to guide officials in the government to learn when to speak for government and for themselves.
    The rush to Loliondo can be considered to reflect ways of marketing products and services for Tanzania. Business people can learn from Babu how to price goods and services right in order to attract the most number of customers thereby making big profit margins in the end. For example, Babu charges TShs 500 for a doze of his medicine which is taken only once. So, almost everybody in Tanzania can afford to be treated, save for the exorbitant fare to Loliondo. As a result, Babu could make TShs 1.5 million per day since he serves 3,000 people per day on average. Note that Babu makes sure that the cost of producing the medicine is minimal. He has made minimum investment in the business. The main investment is in the form of storage drums, pots and plastic cups. Cutting costs makes good business always.
    For the big picture, the rush to Loliondo reflects that professionally designed marketing and promotion strategies can attract Tanzanians to buy locally produced goods and services in order to improve the country's economy. Marketing professionals can use the theme "Buy Tanzania" to organize campaigns to convince Tanzanians to rush to buy locally produced goods and services at shops or pharmacies rather than at Babu's home in Loliondo.



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