International Literacy Day: A Time to Reflect on Tanzania’s Education System

By Priyanka Varma

Today, September 8th, marks International Literacy Day, a day when we not only celebrate Tanzania’s accomplishments in achieving an 87 percent youth literacy rate[1], but when we also recognize and seek to address the barriers that Tanzania’s education system continues to face. Notable, amongst these challenges, is the fact that only three out of five Tanzanian adolescents, or 52 percent of the eligible school population, are enrolled in lower secondary school, with even fewer actually completing their secondary education.[2] While many factors can be attributed to limited secondary school participation amongst Tanzanian youth, language of instruction plays a large role in discouraging students from continuing their academic studies beyond primary school.


To elaborate, Kiswahili is widely used in East Africa and serves as the main form of communication in Tanzania. As such, Kiswahili is the language of instruction in primary government schools, with English serving as a supplemental language course for primary level students. Yet by secondary school, Tanzania’s language of instruction abruptly switches to English. Students, in turn, enter secondary school with low-levels of English knowledge and are then expected to learn fundamental subjects, such as mathematics, science, and social science, in their non-native language.[3] Without receiving the proper guidance necessary to help ease this linguistic transition, students are oftentimes forced to drop out of school, either before entering secondary school or once enrolled in secondary school, due to difficulties in learning.


This summer, as a volunteer with the Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI), I began observing this challenge while working with students at two secondary schools in the Ubungo District of Dar Es Salaam. I found that students, despite being immersed in an all-English secondary curriculum, struggled to converse with me and my teammates in basic English. Furthermore, despite “English Only” signs posted around both schools, teachers too oftentimes hesitated to speak in English with our team and naturally deferred to Kiswahili instead. These observations, in turn, caused me and my teammates to call into question the actual extent of English teaching and learning taking place in these secondary school classrooms.


Upon further research, we quickly realized that the reason that students in particular struggled with English spawned from their primary school days, when English was taught as a single course using limited vocabulary, and that too only from standard three onwards. Without the depth and breadth of English preparation in primary school, students entered secondary school with limited knowledge of the English language. In order to help address this issue, my teammates and I recognized our inability to actually change Tanzanian policy and practice, but we still sought to at least make a small-scale dent in local children’s schooling experiences. As such, this summer, our team piloted an English Club for a group of 40 standard five and six students at a local primary school in Dar’s Ubungo District. Using music, games, and activities, we taught students thematically-focused English vocabulary in a fun and interactive manner, with the intention of making English more appealing to the primary school children while also providing students with the vocabulary needed for succeeding in secondary school.


After positive feedback from both students and teachers on our initial English Club pilot, our team has decided to scale up this initiative: Next summer, we plan to design and implement a full English Club program at this primary school, with each session focusing on different academic themes (i.e., geography, chemistry, geometry) to provide students with the vocabulary relevant for their secondary school coursework. In doing so, we recognize that this issue is not an easy fix. However, we hope that our initiative can make a positive impact on local students, with future potential for scaling up across additional schools and sparking a broader movement in setting Tanzanian students up for longer term academic success.


So today, on International Literacy Day, we are reminded of the importance of education, particularly in Tanzania, a country which holds one of the world’s largest young populations.[4] We recognize that while great strides have been made to reach Tanzanian children and youth, much work remains, and our team of CDI volunteers hopes that we can make a positive difference in the lives of local students, whether it be in the form of English Clubs or other initiatives, this summer and in the summers to come.



[1] World Data Atlas (n.d.). United Republic of Tanzania: Youth Literacy Rate. Retrieved from:

[2] Human Rights Watch (2017). I had a dream to finish school. Barriers to secondary education in

Tanzania. ISBN: February 2017. Retrieved from:

[3] Telli, G. (2014). The language of instruction issue in Tanzania: Pertinent determining factors and perceptions of education stakeholders. Journal of Languages and Culture, Vol 5. No. 1, pp. 9-16. Retrieved from: httpt://

[4] Human Rights Watch (2017). I had a dream to finish school. Barriers to secondary education in

Tanzania. ISBN: February 2017. Retrieved from:


WaSH Spotlight: Biogas

Key vocabulary & definitions:

Biodigester: a device or structure in which the digestion of organic waste matter by bacteria takes place with the production of a burnable biogas and a nutrient-rich slurry.

Biogas: gaseous fuel, especially methane, produced by the fermentation of organic matter. Biogas is particularly good as it is a renewable, clean energy source (both in terms of health and environmental impacts), reducing the greenhouse effect and is also capable of producing organic NPK-rich fertiliser as a byproduct of the production process.

Simplified sewerage: sewerage system with conscious efforts made to eliminate unnecessarily conservative design features such as using smaller diameter pipes (see for more information)

The team:

Image from iOS (1)

The biogas team this year is made up of three volunteers; one from Kite DSM and two from CDI. Amon Gracephord is a Kite DSM volunteer; he is a 3rd year student studying Municipal and Industrial Services Engineering. The two CDI volunteers (Micheala Chan and Sam Watson) are both in 3rd year and study Civil & Structural Engineering and Chemical Engineering respectively.


The Flexigester

Image from iOS

In 2015, CDI formed a partnership with SOWTech, a Cambridge-based company working on innovative solutions in the field of sanitation and waste management. In August 2015, a V40 biodigester (with a volume of 40 m3) was purchased from SOWTech and was installed in Vingunguti at the outflow of Route 4. It is made of butyl rubber, a flexible material, which allows it to stretch slightly with gas production.

The site lies next to the Spenco Waste Stabilisation Ponds. These ponds are large, man-made water bodies into which household and industrial waste flows. These ponds are used for the treatment of wastewater around the world and are especially appropriate for rural communities.


How does this fit in with the rest of WaSH?

The biodigester is an important part of the business model proposed by CDI. By creating a business model based around simplified sewerage and the biogas generator, the potential for the propagation of sanitation solutions is incentivised for businesses and is driven by the economy, rather than government funding.

In this model, a biodigester is installed at the end of a simplified sewerage network. The sewage from the network flows into the bio-digester, which digests the material and produces biogas. The plan is to sell this biogas as a sustainable, clean energy source to members of the local community. The funds generated are intended to recuperate the original investment, although this is expected to take a few years of continuous biogas production. The funds will also provide future funding for scaling the simplified sewerage networks.

The biodigester facilitates the expansion of simplified sewerage, not just financially, but also geographically. By fully digesting the sewage, the biodigester could make simplified sewerage applicable in areas with no sewage treatment ponds.


The plan for this year:


The decision had been made in the last year to decommission the Flexigester as it was found that the unique environmental and weather conditions in Vingunguti made this particular model of digestor unsuitable for constant biogas production. The team will be carrying out this decommissioning in the next few weeks. A decommissioning report is being compiled to analyse lessons learned and how best to move forward with biogas in the future. This will be done in collaboration with the WaSH Monitoring & Evaluation team, who will advise on how to make the long-term vision achievable.


The New Digester

The biogas team has been in discussions regarding a new biodigester to install once decommissioning is finished. Although the decision has ultimately been made not to install this year (so that the business model can be thoroughly examined first), the team is taking steps to ensure the smoothest transition into the next biogas team, so that they can get into installation and testing as quickly as possible next summer. These steps involve checking the technical proposal suggested by the supplier and negotiating a maintenance contract, which is important as the aim is for the biodigester to be a reliable year-round source of biogas while CDI and Kite only operate on site during the summer.


The biogas team will be working on grant applications towards the end of this summer in order to raise funds for the future installation of digesters. This is a crucial activity, and it is important to ensure that fundraising is a continual year-round exercise, to ensure the sustainability and long-term success of the WaSH Project.


The biogas team will be taking a look at the direction in which the biogas project is headed and discussing future plans and how it fits into the WaSH project model. In this area, the team will be looking into the business plan and filling in gaps by speaking to suppliers and experts, both of biodigesters and biogas stoves, amongst other things. A survey will also be undertaken in an analogous community to Vingunguti to gauge community interest and parameters for the financial modelling and business model.


The biogas team will be working to ensure smooth handover with as little loss of knowledge as possible. This will enable teams to make informed decisions based on actions previously carried out, knowing the context of historic decisions.

The future:

In the future, it is hoped that a successful pilot of the biodigester-simplified sewerage model can be carried out. This will rely on the correct installation of a biodigester at the end of Route 4. Once gas has been continuously produced and profitability and technical feasibility have been proven, the plan is that a channel for local entrepreneurs to roll out their own simplified sewerage networks and biodigesters can be created to spread the CDI model of sustainable, scalable, community-led solutions to sanitation.

Education in Tanzania: The Challenges

By Sophie Wilson

Welcome to the first of a two-part post, in which I will be looking at the current state of Education in Tanzania. As volunteers, re-visiting this topic helps us to ensure our initiatives are relevant, well-targeted and addressing a genuine need.


In Part I, I will be asking:-

What are the challenges currently faced within Tanzania’s Education sector?


Whilst my question for Part II will be:-

Which trends present future opportunities for Tanzania’s Education sector?  


In 2007, Tanzania edged ever closer to the goal of achieving universal access to primary education. Moreover, in order to reflect its growing population, the government increased its spending commitment on Education by 55% between 2011 and 2016, as per 2015 recommendations by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [1].


Primary education enrolment rates peaked in 2009, but had dropped by ~20% by 2012. This was reflected in primary education completion rates. In a similar pattern, enrolment and completion rates for lower secondary education peaked in 2012 – at around 40% for both – before decreasing for a few consecutive years. However, projections for the future are positive [2].


Yet, despite these trajectories, there remain significant challenges within the Education sector in Tanzania, from ensuring equity and quality education to equipping students for entry into a rapidly-changing job market.


Gender parity, teenage pregnancy, early marriage and sexual harassment


Tanzania has achieved gender parity in enrolment for primary education. However, whilst girls are more likely to complete primary education, boys are more likely to transition to lower secondary education [2].


The context of this trend is that expectations for early marriage and pregnancy prevent girls from making the transition. In 2014, a quarter of 15-19-year-old Tanzanian girls were pregnant or had given birth, and a third of all girls were married by the age of 18 [3] [1]. In 2016, almost 3,700 girls dropped out of primary and secondary education due to adolescent pregnancy; it is, however, suspected that this is a “vast underestimate” [1] [3].



School attendance for girls in primary school, such as this student at Mlimani Primary School, is high; but drops at the lower secondary school level


This trend is reinforced by compulsory pregnancy tests in schools. Although not required by law, school rules state that students may be expelled for “offences against morality” [3].


These issues also disproportionately affect girls from less advantaged backgrounds, who are twice as likely to be married at an early age than girls from middle- to higher-income homes [1]. Girls from poor families are also less likely to re-enter education through vocational training or private tuition, which most cannot afford [3].


Girls are also vulnerable as they travel to and from school. They are at risk of physical and sexual abuse, which deters school attendance [4]. If the distance between home and school is too far for daily travel, girls are often forced to rent rooms in temporary accommodation, known as the “ghettos”, which further increases their vulnerability to abuse [4].


Equity and access for all


In this way, ingrained cultural and societal prejudices create significant issues of equity and access for Tanzanian girls, particularly at and above the secondary school level.


These issues affect other marginalised groups, too. An estimated two million children aged 7-13 are out-of-school in Tanzania, many of them from poor families. Primary school-aged children from the poorest families are three times less likely to attend school than those from wealthier families [1].


There is also an issue with retaining students after primary education. The majority of youths aged 14-17 years in Tanzania are not enrolled in secondary school at all, whilst only 3.2% enrol for the final two years [1].


Students with a mental or physical impairment also fare badly. Whilst it is estimated that 7.9% of Tanzanians are living with a disability, less than 1% of children in school have one [1]. In Tanzania, there is currently no system for the identification or assessment of children with disabilities, or means of responding to their needs. For those students who do enrol, attendance is irregular. These students also face a higher risk of abuse.


Youth unemployment and skills mismatch


Youth unemployment in Tanzania is estimated at between 10-15% and observers have commentated that universities could do more to adequately prepare students for the demands of the 21st century workplace [5]. There are two common explanations for why students are struggling to succeed in the job market. The first is that “financial, human capital and infrastructure constraints have a negative impact on the range and quality of skills students graduate with” [6]. The second is that there is a disparity between what is taught in schools and universities and the skills now demanded by the job market.



CDI and Kite DSM, in partnership with local NGO Bridge for Change, run a careers support scheme for school leavers called Career Hub


Proactive, skills-based learning techniques should be promoted over outdated practices such as rote-memorisation, at all levels of the Education system. This is because employers are now seeking graduates who are entrepreneurially-minded, have analytical and problem-solving capabilities, and can successfully integrate into rapidly-changing working environments.


In response to the need to teach more soft skills in school curricula, the Tanzania Institute of Education (TEA) has altered the secondary school curriculum to include new subjects such as computer literacy, unified science and social skills [7]. This is a step in the right direction, but there is still a significant gap to close.


Education quality and resource constraints


Whilst soft skills may be difficult to measure, students’ numeracy and literacy skills are somewhat easier to track. Yet, in Tanzania, children who attend school do not achieve satisfactory foundational learning outcomes [1]. These are critical for establishing a positive trajectory of future performance. According to a study of primary school leaving examinations in 2014, only 8% of Grade 2 students could read sufficiently well and only 8% could add and subtract. A mere 0.1% demonstrated high levels of “life skills” such as those referred to above – skills like self-confidence and perseverance, which play a significant role in whether or not a candidate can navigate the job market successfully [1].



Primary school leaving examinations show low performance in the ‘3Rs’


Increasingly in Tanzania, students are graduating from secondary school without mastering the ‘3Rs’ – reading, writing and arithmetic. In 1986, the literacy rate was 90%, whilst in 2017 it had fallen to 68%. For youth aged 15-24, the rate is 76% for males and 73% for females [8]. This indicates that the focus on enrolment as a government priority may have been pursued to the detriment of high quality teaching.


Resource constraint is also a challenge. At the pre-primary level, the pupil-to-qualified-teacher ratio is 131:1. The ratio is skewed by a 24:1 ratio in private schools, however – in the public schools, it is an astonishing 169:1 [1].


But this is a problem that permeates the Education sector right up to the tertiary level; over-recruitment into universities – or the issue of too many students and too little money – is a common state of affairs across the continent [9].


Enrolment rates in lower secondary education have improved dramatically since 2005, although they lag behind those for primary education [2]. This could be due to the fact that instruction shifts from Swahili to English as students transition into secondary school. This presents a challenge for students with low exposure to English in their early years or insufficient teaching during primary school. One of the Cambridge Development Initiative’s (CDI) pilot projects this year on the Education Team is to introduce an English Club for primary school students, so that they can improve their level of English in preparation for the Primary School Leaving Examination, which determines their entrance into secondary school.



CDI and Kite DSM’s 2018 English Club pilot at Mlimani Primary School, Dar es Salaam


Embracing technological change and new teaching styles


The quality and effectiveness of Education in Tanzania must also adapt to rapid technological advancement. With ‘DIY’, free-to-use teaching mechanisms becoming increasingly available online and via mobile, conventional teaching must adapt to remain relevant and, better still, integrate fully with these new tools so that students can access the benefits of e-learning. There will be more about e-learning in Part II of this blog post.


In the words of Stavros Yiannouka, the CEO of the World Innovation Summit for Education, the “traditional industrial model of education” in Tanzania resembles a “standardized batch process… in terms of cohorts, years, process [and] standardised curriculum” [10]. Traditional conservatism must give way to new models of learning and attitudes amongst teachers which embrace change.


Student welfare, emotional wellbeing and corporal punishment


This year, CDI Education have piloted a new initiative with the Health team and Aga Khan University, to conduct research and address emotional wellbeing amongst secondary school students in Dar es Salaam. Mental health is under-serviced in Tanzania and remains a largely neglected and taboo topic. It poses a socio-economic challenge for Development, and is an important component of any individual’s well-being [11]. There is lack of sufficient recourse for psychological distress for sufferers in Tanzania, who turn to traditional healers and faith healers 80% of the time [12]. Adolescents and youth are at higher risk of mental health-related issues and failure to address them can result in poor academic achievement [13].



Adolescents are at higher risk of suffering from mental health-related issues


Visits to secondary schools in Dar es Salaam by the Education Team have also revealed the ubiquity of corporal punishment in schools, which is not prohibited in Tanzania. Students are caned or beaten for many different reasons, such as failure to answer questions correctly or for being late to school. Incorrectly spoken English is also punished, which discourages children from developing proficiency in the language. Corporal punishment in Tanzania also regularly exceeds stipulated guidelines – a 2014 study by the African Child Policy Forum concluded that the “frequency of abuse by teachers… is alarmingly high” and, indeed, personal experience of witnessing long lines of students waiting outside the staff room to receive punishment testifies to this [14].


Corporal punishment is detrimental to students’ physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and also significantly impacts their behaviour, ability to learn and self-confidence. These are critical factors in determining whether a student will stay in school and thrive, or drop out altogether.


This year, the CDI Education Team have designed initiatives intended to address a diverse range of issues, from emotional wellbeing amongst 16-18 year olds, to primary school students’ need to learn English; from low computer literacy rates amongst out-of-school girls to the absent soft-skills and entrepreneurial training that older students require to thrive in the job market.


We hope that our work with CDI will make a small impact towards improving the issues currently faced by the Education system in Tanzania. You can find out more about our 2018 initiatives by visiting the CDI Education website.


I hope you will join me for Part II of this post, where I consider what trends are shaping the Education sector and how these might present opportunities for students in the future.



Primary school students during break-time at Mlimani Primary School




[1] UNICEF Tanzania. 2018. Education: The Situation.

[2] Education Policy and Data Centre. 2018. EPDC Education Trends and Projections 2000-2025.

[3] Editorial. 2018. The War on Conception: In Tanzania, getting impregnated also means getting expelled from school. The Economist.

[4] David Baines. 2013. Education for a Better Future in Tanzania. African Initiatives.

[5] Amy Fallon. 2017. East Africa’s teeming youth are in a race to acquire skills for a job market that’s left many behind. Quartz Africa.

[6] Seth Trudeau. 2017. Africa’s universities are not preparing graduates for the 21st century workplace. Quartz Africa.

[7] Esther Kibakaya. 2017. When your skills are not relevant in the job market. The Citizen.

[8] Mwesiga Baregu. 2017. Worrying trends of education in Tanzania as illiteracy expands. The Citizen.

[9] Editorial. 2017. More can be less: African universities recruit too many students. The Economist.

[10] Christin Roby. 2018. 5 ways to Innovate Education in Africa. Devex.

[11] Anu Molarius et. al. 2009. Mental health symptoms in relation to socio-economic conditions and lifestyle factors – a population-based study in Sweden. BMC Public Health. 9:302.

[12] The United Republic of Tanzania, & Ministry of Health, Community, Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. 2017. The National Health Policy 2017.

[13] WHO. 2017. Adolescents and mental health.

[14]  African Child Policy Forum. 2014. The African Report on Violence Against Children.



A Day in the Life of an Entrepreneurship Publicity Volunteer

My name is Trina, and I’m the Publicity Officer on the Entrepreneurship team along with my counterpart John from KITE. I decided to volunteer with CDI after recommendations from a few people I knew who did it and had an amazing time. I had previously done some volunteering abroad, but it seemed unsustainable as it mainly involved fundraising in the UK and then using this money to buy resources to help developing countries. CDI’s approach of collaborating with local communities and building local networks, instead of traditional charity approaches, really appealed to me as it uses empowerment to provide a more sustainable way to help solve development issues in Tanzania. I’m really excited to be working in the Entrepreneurship team, since youth unemployment is a huge issue here and the team aims to reduce this by encouraging young people to set up their own businesses. Despite being a Natsci and not an Economics student (like most of the Entre team), I’m definitely managing to work well in the team and actively get involved in the project – I’d recommend anyone who’s interested in Entrepreneurship to apply whatever subject you’re studying!


8:00 am

Wake up and find something smart to wear. Most days we can wear whatever, but today is a seminar day (so no flip flops! L ) The Entrepreneurship team this year are piloting a new project involving a series of free standalone “Into Business” seminars that aim to teach participants entrepreneurial skills such as business ideation and how to raise capital. Instead of teaching these ourselves, we are contacting speakers and organisations with expertise in each area to run the seminars. Today’s seminar is called “How I Achieved My Dream” and involves a panel of three Tanzanian entrepreneurs talking about their success stories.


8:30 am

Breakfast in the canteen! This is usually a chapati with either a boiled egg, a sausage or on days when I’m craving sugar (like today) Nutella and banana.




9:00 am

Arrive at the venue which the seminars are being held at, which conveniently is in Ardhi University itself. The morning involves setting up for the seminar – moving tables into/out of the room, bringing in the Into Business banner, and sorting out refreshments for the event.




9:30 am

The first attendees start arriving! 5 members of the Entre team stand at various points across the University campus to direct attendees to the venue, whilst some sit at the front desk to register participants as they arrive and some ensure the speakers are all on time and meet them when they arrive. Others welcome participants into the classroom and keep them entertained with games until the seminar is ready to start, and my role as Publicity officer involves the fun job of taking photos and videos throughout the seminar! As people arrive, it’s nice to notice a significant number of returning faces from previous seminars, which reinforces the fact that some people are finding the seminars useful.


10:30 am

With all the speakers and most of the attendees present, the seminar starts. The three speakers today are Japhet Sekenya, Lillian Madeje and Stumai Simba, who are all successful Tanzanian entrepreneurs:


Aina, one of the KITE volunteers, hosts the panel discussion, and the speakers take turns to chat about how they set up their businesses, give entrepreneurial advice and answer questions from the audience. Unlike previous seminars, the one today is a mixture of Swahili and English, and the participants seem in general more engaged.





12:00 pm

After the speakers finish talking, Luca and Patience (our M&E Officers) come in and encourage everyone to fill in a survey about the seminar before they leave. They have the option to do this on their phones with hotspots we provide, or using laptops set up at the back of the room. For the first time so far we got a 100% of participants filling in the survey!


12.30 pm

There’s a brief networking period where participants, speakers and the CDI and KITE teams can all chat outside the venue, and the banner is always the centre of many photos that are taken! I’ve been desperate to get a full group photo of the CDI and KITE Entre team since the first seminar, but as yet we’ve not all been in the same place at once so today I just caved and we had a group photo with everyone except Vince (we can photoshop him in later).





After everyone has left the seminar and the team has tidied up the venue, it’s finally time for lunch! We usually eat lunch in the lower canteen and a typical meal is wali (rice) with either maharage (beans), spinach, kukku (chicken) or occasionally njugu (chickpeas). Today was a spinach and beans day (it tastes much better than it looks!)

During lunch we watched the trailed for Crazy Rich Asians and decided to go see it at the local cinema on Thursday, and also Max discovered his forehead was magnetic…




14.00 pm

After lunch Luca, the CDI M&E Officer, ran the debrief meeting we have after each seminar to discuss what went well and what needs improving next time. We utilise the jazz hands system in these meetings, where people have to do jazz hands whenever they agree to a point being made:


The main points today are that the general running of events is getting smoother, but there needs to be strategies to increase attendance. One idea that has been brought up before and was raised again is the idea of giving certificates to participants who attend at least 5 seminars as an incentive for attendance. We’re thinking of having an event at the last seminar with food and networking at which we can also give out these certificates which would also be a nice way to wrap up the project!

15:00 pm

For the rest of the afternoon, my job as Publicity involves publicising the next seminar, which is The Economics of Growing Your Business. I first make a poster for the event on Canva, and then send that out with more detailed information about the event on Whatsapp (where we have an Into Business group with >200 participants!), Instagram (@in2business – shameless plug) and Facebook. I also start designing advertising materials to promote the fact that after attending 5 seminars participants will receive a certificate, and work on Instagram and Facebook posts giving more detail about the speakers for the next seminar.

(Spot the codeword we do for intellectual breaks from work)


16:00 pm

Norah, the KITE Deputy Project Director, leads a meeting with the whole team on advertising strategy, and new ideas were put forward including doing Instagram lives during the seminars and taking pictures of participants with the banner at the end of each seminar and encouraging them to post it on their social media with the #IntoBusinessSeminars hashtag.


18:30 pm

After finishing work and reading some of my book outside to wind down, it’s time for dinner yay! We usually go down the road to pick up some street food to eat back at the canteen. There’s loads of choice, including chapatis, samosas (with a full boiled egg inside them) and other fried foods, but today we went for chapati with octopus!


20.45 pm

Karaoke time! A group of us went for a drink at a bar down the road, and discovered it was their karaoke night! Despite some questionable song choices (Itchin – Lil Wayne) it was good fun and Sophie from the Education team sang an amazing rendition of Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.


22.30 pm

On returning from the bar we watched the first half of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in the canteen before bed. Today has been a productive but exhausting day – days with seminars are generally more hectic than others, but seeing participants enjoying themselves and saying “See you next time” when they leave is really rewarding. Most days involve a lot of designing posters and using social media which is fun, but the Entre team work closely together and there’s always a variety of other things to do if you feel bored, which keeps things interesting. As well as the seminar series, in our free time we’re researching potential new initiatives that can be piloted in future years, and ways to improve the current seminars in terms of increasing their impact. I’d really recommend applying to the Entrepreneurship team if you want an interesting and rewarding summer, and I’m excited to see how the rest of the seminars this year progress!


Tunes in Tanzania

By Max Goodall

Music is a massive part of life in any country and Tanzania is no different. Within the urban sprawl of Dar es Salaam, music seems to come at you from all angles; sounds are crammed together as closely as the many small buildings and street vendors themselves. Moreover, although this is generally characteristic of urban city life the world over, Dar also has its own distinct, identifiable identity and this is what you hear as you walk through its streets. The CDI 2018 volunteers are having a great time exploring the tunes of Tanzania and as a music student, I thought it’d be interesting to draw together what we’ve learned about music in Tanzania so far.

Whenever you read or hear about Tanzanian music, the genre you always hear about is Bongo Flava. The genre is undoubtedly dominant in the Tanzanian music scene and is only growing in popularity; artists such as Muzungu Kichaa (listen to ‘Wajanja’) and ALIKIBA (listen to ‘Mvuma Wa Radi’ and ‘Seduce Me’), already ubiquitous throughout Dar es Salaam, are steadily growing their international profile. The most successful exponent of Bongo Flava, however, is undoubtedly Diamond Platnumz. His recent album ‘A Boy From Tandale’ included massive American artists such as Rick Ross and Ne-Yo, the latter track (‘Marry You’) gaining 24 million views on YouTube. I don’t think there’s been a day when a haven’t heard his newest single ‘Jibebe’ since we got here (it’s quality). However, definitions of this hugely successful genre differ wildly and people have consistently failed to agree on what the title actually refers to. In the early-mid 00s Bongo Flava was interpreted both by Tanzanians and Westerners as including a variety of styles such as Zouk, hip-hop, R&B, Reggae, Takeu and Bongo Bangra. However, since the late-00s, the term has generally referred to a more specific body of pop music, not including particularly Tanzanian Rap which is now generally seen as entirely separate.[1] This distinction seems appropriate to much of the Bongo Flava we’ve heard while we’re here. The tunes which constantly flow out of shops as you walk by, as well as out of endless Bhajaji drivers’ radios, have an aural appearance of contemporary R&B and Latin-American influenced pop. However, as with Western music, particularly in the United States, the line of distinction between popular and hip-hop genres is incredibly blurred.


Diamond Platnumz’ album cover, A Boy from Thandale

The apparent Western influence in Bongo Flava is a product of the influx of Western cultural images following the abandonment of socialism and complete self-reliance as Tanzania’s ideological model in 1991.[2] However, although Bongo Flava includes influence from Western styles and is successfully crossing over into the international mainstream, it remains peculiarly Tanzanian. The genre’s roots are particularly identifiable through its utilisation of highly syncopated (off-beat) repeating drum patterns, something common to much modern African music (although It should be noted that the notion of African music’s basis to a greater extent on rhythmic considerations compared to European music has been highly criticised, see for example Kofi Agawu’s article ‘The Invention of “African Rhythm”’[3]). These patterns push the music on, creating a deep sense of excitement and energy; a massive part of what makes the music enjoyable, particularly to dance to (as we found at the club ‘Next Door’ on the first weekend of the trip). Beyond their aesthetic qualities, however, elements such as this can be seen as part of a strategy of the localization of cosmopolitan international styles. The inclusion of elements signifying a sense of African identity within music in this way allows the artists to construct African cultural authenticity and pride, performing Tanzanian identity.

The process of localization in music is usually then utilized by artists to resist social marginalization. The term Bongo Flava literally means ‘flavour of the brains’ and originally referred to the cunning needed to live in a city like Dar es Salaam (which also used to be known by the term Bongo).[4] The genre was therefore innately connected to the modern metropolitan experience of being a young person in Dar es Salaam. Youth in Tanzania, just as elsewhere in the world are frequently stigmatized as associated with qualities such as laziness and vagrancy. In its original incarnation, the genre was used to refute these stereotypes of youth identity, as well as highlighting societal issues encountered by this marginalized group.


American hip-hop group Migos advertise on the back of a bhajaji

However, this characteristic is one of the issues which has led to the current description of Tanzanian hip-hop and Bongo Flava as mutually exclusive. Many Tanzanian ‘pure’ hip-hop artists self-exclude themselves from the category Bongo Flava on the grounds that hip-hop is supposedly still committed to social critique, while Bongo Flava represents a commercialized version of the original style.[5] This separate style is identifiable not only by its lyrical content but also by its aural similarities to traditional hip-hop, particularly 90s West-Coast tracks – check out, for example, one of the fathers of Tanzanian hip-hop Professor Jay (listen to ‘Zali la Mentali ft. Juma Nature’). Interestingly, therefore, although both are clear examples of negotiations of postcolonial identity and the influence of globalization, from what I’ve heard so far, generally Tanzanian hip-hop fails to aurally localize itself in Tanzania, and Dar specifically, to the same extent as Bongo Flava. Despite this, however, arguably the hip-hop produced throughout Dar remains more concerned with the expression of youth identity within the city, and the refutation of the local stereotypes applied to it than the expression of a broader national identity. Moreover, through their lyrical agility and generic choice of hip-hop, a genre steeped in narratives of Pan-Africanism and urban struggle, Tanzania’s hip-hop artists successfully construct themselves as cultural producers embodying both urban authenticity and sophistication. What should be noted also, is that both Bongo Flava and Tanzania’s hip-hop are absolutely sick.

Luckily so far on the trip, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to hear some quality music. At clubs such as ‘Next Door’ we were delivered a massive variety of tunes, from American R&B to tracks from all over Africa (such as Angola’s Yuri Da Cunha – check out ‘Atchu Tchutcha’). The volunteers have been doing some amazing singing in the newly formed CDI and Kite DSM choir, and some slightly less amazing singing at karaoke nights. Likely due to the advent of the internet and general trends of globalization, there is a massive amount of Western music prevalent throughout Dar, particularly Ed Sheeran (in our first week we were subjected to six consecutive versions of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ at Karaoke). However, the city retains its distinct cultural identity and has some great Tanzanian tunes to show for it.

[1] Sanga, Imani. ‘Muzungu Kichaa and the Figuring of Identity in “Bongo Fleva” Music in Tanzania’ International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 42, No. 1. (2011). pp. 190.

[2] Suriano, Maria. ‘Hip-Hop and Bongo Flavour Music Contemporary Tanzania: Youths’ Experiences, Agency, Aspirations and Contradictions’ Africa Development, Vol. 36, No. 3/4. (2011). pp. 115-6.

[3] Agawu, Kofi. ‘The Invention of “African Rhythm”’ Journal of the American Musicological Society Vol. 48, No. 3. (1995). pp. 380-395.

[4] Stroken, Koen. ‘Immunizing Strategies: Hip-Hop and Critique in Tanzania’ Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 75, No. 4. (2005). pp. 488.

[5] Suriano. (2011). pp. 115.

Meet the Entrepreneurship Team!

Hi, we are the Entrepreneurship Team of 2018!

As we are six weeks into the project now and already knee deep in work, we think an introduction to our team is long overdue.


Olivia – Project Director 

Current Studies: MPhil Development Studies Graduate

What you need to know: Her nickname is Lucy

Highlight of the project so far: Seeing the team grow together



Neema – Project Director

Current Studies: Law Graduate

What you need to know: She doesn’t like cheese (who knew people like that existed?!)

Highlight of the project so far: Seeing everyone work together and overcome obstacles



Issy – Research Team

Current Studies: First Year Land Economy

What you need to know: She is the cat woman of Dar es Salaam (she is constantly surrounded by the entire population of Ardhi’s many cats)

Highlight of the project so far: Sunny team meetings at the beach



Yumo – Research Team 

Current Studies: Urban Planning Graduate

What you need to know: Do not play the card game ‘President’ with her, she will quickly turn into a controlling dictator

Highlight of the project so far: Giving out fliers in the local universities



Seni – Research Team 

Current Studies: Finance Graduate

What you need to know: He likes to find new things

Highlight of the project so far: Meeting so many new people



Norah – Deputy Project Director

Current Studies: Law Graduate

What you need to know: She sleeps with her legs in the air

Highlight of the project so far: Team meetings at Grano (that are usually accompanied by yummy cake!)



Zac – Deputy Project Director

Current Studies: Management Graduate

What you need to know: He’s one of Scotland’s top grime artists (in his head) and has an irrational fear of cats jumping out of bins

Highlight of the project so far: Being a guest DJ at the local club



Vincent – Communications  

Current Studies: Economics and Management Graduate

What you need to know: He has drawn CDI’s Deputy Director, Billy, over 50 times

Highlight of the project so far: Visiting a local market and being challenged to a rap battle by a local



Rashid – Communications 

Current Studies: Economics

What you need to know: He’s fab at volleyball

Highlight of the project so far: Having face to face meetings with some of the most influential business men and women in Dar



Josi – Communication

Current Studies: Geomatics Graduate

What you need to know: Has the most amazing business dress (a future editor of vogue?)

Highlight of the project so far: Getting to meet and form relationships with some of the biggest business tycoons in Tanzania



Trina – Publicity 

Current Studies: Chemistry Graduate

What you need to know: Her room at university had over 100 different toy penguins

Highlight of the project so far: Winning the CDI scavenger hunt by bringing back a live chicken and a CD copy of Zac’s favourite Tanzanian song



John – Publicity  

Current Studies: Finance

What you need to know: He loves to rap!

Highlight of the project so far: Seeing the seminars improve each time


Aina – Events Coordinator 

Current Studies:  Geoinformatics Graduate

What you need to know: She loves to dance!

Highlight of project so far: When we held a photo shoot for our publicity shots



Luca – M&E Officer  

Current Studies: Economics

What you need to know: He is currently attempting to bring back the backwards baseball cap

Highlight of project so far: Starting the IntoBusiness boy band



Patience – M&E Officer 

Current Studies: Economics

What you need to know: He can stay awake all night listening to music and won’t be tired in the morning

Highlight of project so far: Meeting new people from all over the world



Megan – Events Coordinator   

Current Studies: Economics

What you need to know: She carries a jar of Nutella on her at all times

Highlight of project so far: Being invited to Rashid’s house to celebrate Eid with the rest of the team!


So that’s us!
These six weeks really have flown by. As Entrepreneurship is a pilot project this year we have had many learning curves to deal with. This, alongside trying to get our heads around the ins and outs of Tanzanian culture has made our days a little hectic and challenging at times. But with the guidance of our brilliant counterparts and being able to work outside in the Tanzanian sun, we have taken it all in our stride.

The evenings are filled with visits to the local karaoke bar, hunting down new street food finds (yellow balls are by far the best), crowding around one laptop to watch the latest instalment of Love Island and stuffing our faces with Chowpatty (the best Indian you will ever find). So, it’s easy to see how three weeks can quickly slip by without any of us realising.

Although we have already learned and accomplished so much in these weeks, there is still a lot we wish to achieve as a team:

  • First up is for us CDI volunteers to improve our somewhat abysmal Kiswahili. Most of us have quickly learned the names of our favourite foods and no longer make the mistake of ordering goat instead of baked beans. However, knowing little Kiswahili other than our lunch order is getting slightly embarrassing, so some vocab practise is well in need.
  • Next, we want to focus on widening the impact of project in Dar. Whilst we have quickly put together a professional seminar series, we want to work on who we are helping and ways we can reach those that previous projects have been unable to. Here we have set ourselves a considerable challenge, however we are confident that with inputs from both CDI and Kite we will find a solution.
  • Finally, to make the most of the pilot project, we also hope to explore new project streams that are yet to be investigated by previous entrepreneurship teams.

Hopefully, when we next check in we will have made progress on these goals, but for now…



It’s Time to Think Big!

By Jackline Christopher (KITE Dar es Salaam) and Sophie Wilson (CDI), Heads of Publicity and Stakeholder Engagement for the Education Project.


Students at the ‘Think Big Challenge’ Launch Event on 25th August at Ardhi University

On Saturday 25th September the ‘Think Big Challenge’ was formally launched, giving rise to the start of an exciting competition, which challenges students to create, plan, develop and implement initiatives to tackle problems within their schools and communities. Approximately 60-70 students from five secondary schools (Kisutu, Azania, Gerezani, Jangwani and Dar es Salaam Secondary School) will attend weekly Saturday workshops at Ardhi University to help them develop their ideas.

At the launch of the Challenge, we were delighted to hear from guest speakers Ocheck Msuva, Director of Bridge for Change, Cleopa David Msuya, Vice Chancellor of Ardhi University, and David Leonce Ndika and Glory Adrian Nyengella, Director and Deputy Director respectively of KITE Dar es Salaam. These speakers spoke on topics intended to inspire the youth participants.


Scenes from the Launch

Last year’s winners, ‘The Genius Group’, who are now ‘Think Big Challenge’ Alumni were also present as speakers. They shared their experiences and the issues they faced when they were participating in the challenge. They encouraged the students not to give up and to build on their personal strengths.

Also in attendance were papers Mwanachi and The Citizen, who wrote about the ‘Career Network Support’ scheme in print editions on 28th August 2018.

Immediately after the launch came the first workshop, which was filled with numerous playful ‘ice-breakers’ to kick-off the competition, which will run until the ‘Dream Sharing Event’ on 15th September 2018.