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‘My Tanzanian family is split over coronavirus’



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BBC Tanzania reporter Sammy Awami writes that President John Magufuli’s faith-based approach to coronavirus has caused tension in his family.

Since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Tanzania in March, I have been bombarded with messages and phone calls from colleagues, friends and family members living abroad.

They’ve been wondering: how did a country with some of the most relaxed coronavirus measures in Africa manage to so far escape the kind of crisis which has visited many parts of the world.

It’s a question puzzling even those of us who are living in the country.

President Magufuli was among the few leaders who declined to impose any sort of lockdown and has scorned what he’s termed unnecessary panic in other countries.

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President John Magufuli feared that poverty would worsen if businesses were shut

Yet, despite what many of his critics – and the more anxious among us – feared was a woefully reckless approach, the nation seems to have avoided for now the catastrophic number of deaths that many anticipated.

The most confusing thing about all of this, is that no-one really knows how.

‘Prayers are true healing’

One of the issues is that we don’t have any figures to go on.

President Magufuli chose to put statistics in lockdown rather than people.

As analyst Aidan Eyakuze said: “He officially made the country operate in data darkness.”

Three doctors I spoke to off record said hospitals had not been overwhelmed.

Some would argue that they support the government’s narrative because of fear of possible retaliation if they were to speak out.

The president of the Medical Association of Tanzania, Dr Elisha Osati, has said there has never been a cover up, but he now wants to run for parliament as a candidate for the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi party.

In a situation where the government is not releasing figures and journalists cannot access health facilities to investigate independently, it’s the doctors’ word against their doubters.

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While some government health officials warned the public that the virus posed a real threat and urged them to follow basic hygiene guidelines, the president encouraged people to carry on with their business and pray to God for protection.

As a devout Catholic, he told a congregation of worshippers that prayers are where “true healing” is found, and the disease had been been “eliminated thanks to God”.

The president’s stance made things awkward between me and both my immediate and extended family.

Most of my close relatives are supporters of the president and all of them are die-hard, thoroughly devout Christians.

‘WhatsApp battleground’

From the very start of the outbreak, when daily reports of case numbers started to climb, I became increasingly worried about their safety.

But the creeping politicisation of coronavirus in the country made it hard to convince some of my loved ones that they needed to take precautions.

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Media captionEverything you need to know about the coronavirus – explained in one minute by the BBC’s Laura Foster

The family WhatsApp group became a battleground.

It was flooded with a cocktail of re-shared media supporting the president and pseudo-science urging people to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best.

They were also anxious about the loss of income that could result from a fierce lockdown.

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And as we learnt of the police brutality used in neighbouring countries to enforce such restrictions, this was only compounded.

Take three of my uncles for instance, all of whom are full-time pastors.

For them, the church is not only their core spiritual and social community, it is also their main source of income.

‘I tried to educate older relatives’

My parents run a convenience store in their neighbourhood in the capital, Dodoma.

It’s their sole source of income and a spot where they meet with their neighbours and friends on a daily basis.

Because they are older I was concerned that their daily movements put them at risk.

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Sammy Awami

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Sammy Awami’s parents see their convenience store as a place to catch up with friends

So, I set out to craft WhatsApp messages tailored to older family members to try to educate them about the pandemic, and convince them to stay at home.

Unlike people living in other countries, they do have a choice.

Do they listen to me, stay at home and lose their livelihood? Or follow the president’s advice to carry on their business and pray for the best?

‘Inventing a new enemy’

Of course they believe the virus is deadly. But they also believe in prayers – perhaps even more so when their earnings are on the line.

In a country where almost everyone identifies with one religion or another, and where the majority of people live hand-to-mouth, the president honed in on faith and income to promote his strategy.

The president also made sure to invent a new enemy in the fight against the pandemic – the West.

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In one of his freestyle speeches the president even suggested that the West could plant the virus on imported goods just to hurt Tanzanians”

He consistently refers to powerful Westerners as “mabeberu”, literally “male goats”.

The term was coined during the independence struggle which referred to a colonialist. This resonates well with the older generation, like that of my parents and uncles.

Mr Magufuli alleged that the “mabeberu” and their cronies in the country were keen to use the virus to distract the country from achieving its economic goals.

In one of his freestyle speeches he even suggested that the West could plant the virus on imported goods just to hurt Tanzanians.

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Tanzanians have been told to follow basic hygiene guidelines

The president hearkened back to the era of measles and the early years of HIV/Aids, reminding people of a time when some parents stopped their children from visiting neighbours, for fear that their sons and daughters would be infected.

At this point the government’s policy seems to be: “If people are not dropping dead in the streets, then life should go on.”

It’s a risky strategy, but one that many here are willing to accept, and pray that the government is right.

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OPINION: Leave Katikkiro Alone Until the Person Who Appointed Him Thinks Otherwise




By Dr Roy Mayega

One of the ‘Prima Facie’ principles of Medical Ethics is ‘Autonomy’. Autonomy includes confidentiality and privacy. Confidentiality means non-disclosure unless permitted by the patient.

Privacy means “having control over the extent, timing and circumstances of sharing oneself with others.” You cannot for instance, as a practitioner, order the patient to immediately dress down in the public area and to bend over so that you stick your fingers up their rectum when everyone is watching.

You need to give them ample time to organize themselves; to do the necessary ‘local’ preparations before they feel comfortable to be undressed; and to get a sufficiently private space.

One of the biggest dilemmas faced by a person who has received a diagnosis of a chronic disease is when, how much, and to whom to disclose. It’s not a simple pedestrian matter: It’s a real hassle – the publics always stigmatize everyone with a chronic disease however moderate it is.

The time it takes for people to process their medical situation and to decide to expose themselves varies widely between individuals and is based on the type of disease, their personality, sensitivities, the medical information they have, their values, their prognosis, and the desire to protect others close to them. Some people want to ‘wait and see’.

Being ‘Prima Facie’, ethical principles are inherently binding, unless they clash with another ethical principle in which case there is an ethical dilemma to be re-solved. There is no ethical dilemma here! Ethics is not freaking morals – leave your self-righteousness to yourself. Ethics is not freaking gut feelings; and neither is ethics about culture. Beliefs and morals die, ethics doesn’t.

I have seen many social media idlers blaming the Katikkiro for ‘not taking the pedestal several months ago to describe what was wrong with the Kabaka.

The Katikkiro cannot unilaterally issue a communique without the freaking permission of his boss! And none of the idlers has any evidence to show that his boss told him to announce and he categorically refused – don’t be publicly silly.

Secondly, people have no right to deny a diagnosis of ‘Allergies’ on the basis of pedestrian medicine. Patients are not examined in videos and diagnoses are not validated by rumors. Doctors are much more sophisticated than that.

Let his physicians be the ones to dissent, or let the Kabaka’s wife declare that what was said was wrong.

Severe allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases can be severe enough to cause anything, independently in their own right, without having to collaborate with social media witchery.

It’s so funny how social media has suddenly caused an upshot in ‘male rumor-mongers’ and ‘cyber-sorcerers’.

Leave the Katikkiro alone, until the person who appointed him thinks otherwise. The person who appointed him has never been devoid of grey-matter.

Good thing is that all of you will one day grow older and experience your own chronic diseases – then we will see if you can willingly stick out your private ‘parts’ in public whenever the publics demand so. Some of you cannot even tolerate a routine prostate exam and you are here asking others to undress?

Read: Questions Abound About Kabaka Mutebi’s Health

The post OPINION: Leave Katikkiro Alone Until the Person Who Appointed Him Thinks Otherwise first appeared on ChimpReports.

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India Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan dies of COVID-19 | India News




Ninety-six-year-old Khan, who authored more than 200 books including a two-volume commentary on the Holy Quran, died on Tuesday.

Indian Islamic scholar and peace activist Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has died in the capital New Delhi after contracting novel coronavirus, his family members announced on Tuesday.

Ninety-six-year-old Khan was recently admitted to a hospital in New Delhi after testing positive for COVID-19.

“The great Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan breathed his last, late this evening. Doctors failed to revive his sinking heart. Pray for his maghfirat [penitence] and high station in Paradise. Amin,” Zafarul Islam, Khan’s eldest son, tweeted on Tuesday.

The author of more than 200 books, Khan has been honoured with several awards. This year, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour.

Born in Azamgarh, India, in 1925, Khan has been internationally recognised for his contributions to world peace.

In 2009, Georgetown University in Washington, DC’s list of 500 Most Influential Muslims of 2009 named him “Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world”.

In 2001, he established the Centre for Peace and Spirituality to promote and reinforce a culture of peace. Khan went on a 15-day Shanti Yatra (peace march) through the western Maharashtra state in the wake of the demolition of the 16th-century Babri Mosque by Hindu hardliners in the state of Uttar Pradesh in 1992.

He also wrote a two-volume commentary on the Holy Quran.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “saddened” by the news of Khan’s loss.

“He will be remembered for his insightful knowledge on matters of theology and spirituality. He was also passionate about community service and social empowerment. Condolences to his family and countless well-wishers. RIP,” Modi wrote on Twitter.

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said he was “deeply grieved” by the demise of Khan, saying: “Maulana Wahiduddin made significant contributions to peace, harmony and reforms in the society. My deepest condolences to his family and well-wishers.”

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Brahim Bouhlel and Zbarbooking jailed in Morocco over video




Actor Brahim Bouhlel and influencer Zbarbooking are seen swearing at children in a viral clip.

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