Being in touch with the future

Being in touch with young people is being in touch with the future. The Makunduchi delegation was given the opportunity to get information from Sundsvall’s youth coordinator Pia Fjällmo on her work with young people when it comes to engaging in society planning.

In Sweden there is a survey done every three years aiming at knowing what young people are thinking and what they value most. This survey is called LUPP and it has been very important for legislators specially on the education, health, culture and leisure side of planning.

Engaging young people is not easy in any country but if the ambition is there and it is supported by documents such as the Children’s rights act, that Sundsvall municipality signed or the UN goals for global development it makes it into law to involve young people.

Mrs Zainab Fadhil and Mrs. Dunia Haji both members of the Makunduchi Ward and teachers themselves followed this information with great interest as they recognize the situation from home with too many youngsters dropping out of school and thrown into a situation of unemployment as a consequence.

During this visit from Makunduchi much emphasis is being put on visionary work for the development of the Makunduchi community so this morning we followed up with workshops aiming at lifting three issues to pursue. After a this exercise where the whole group was involved we could see that the priorities were defined on Education, Entrepreneurship and Culture. These three legs could well help Makunduchi to leap forward and be a reference for whole Zanzibar.

The group could define a strategy for implementation and dissemination of these goals and mainly the way the workshop progressed impressed me very much.

Mrs Zainab Fadhil during workshop activity.

Stöde and Makunduchi

Visiting Stöde

Surviving in and developing a village out in the countryside are two aspects joining the village of Makunduchi in Zanzibar and the village of Stöde in Sundsvall.

If the delegation now visiting Sundsvall ever came to Stöde it was all due to the initiative and effort of Kerstin Brandell Svensson and her husband Lennart. Apart from receiving the group in her home and cooking a delicious lunch she provided information and visits to local businesses, hopefully providing ideas that can be useful also in Makunduchi.

Stödebröd was established by the grand parents of the present owner and so it has stayed in the Edström family for three generations. The bakery makes thin bread and the product can be found all over Sweden and even in other European countries.

Besides her job as a music teacher Kerstin runs a Bed and breakfast-business Sweden4u and this enterprise rents out a cottage. Her husband Lennart cuts wood into properly sized logs for use in open fires for heating and coziness- Stöde Energi.

Last visit was at a n association of handicraft producers that together run a shop and expose their products for sale. This shop goes under the name of Stöde Form.

Mbanja Makame himself a businessman in Makunduchi commented that these experiences will be useful showing some new solutions and that it is possible to expand business even in a smaller village away from the main economic centers.

Meeting point

This picture shows a well known Swedish meeting point. You will find it at Central Station in Stockholm. It was also here I was supposed to meet up with Zanzibar delegation from the village of Makunduchi.

When I arrived from spending the night with my daughter in the outskirts of Stockholm our guests were already there. My worries about them not having printed out train tickets or that they might have muddled up time since we turned back our time yesterday were in unnecessary.

Tomorrow our program will start, now with everyone equipped with warmer clothing. In the morning we will visit SKL which is the federation of Swedish local authorities and regions. There we look forward to get some information on this organisation’s democracy responsibility towards local governance. Big thanks to Lena Langlet at SKL who could facilitate the visit. On the Zanzibar delegation we also have Mr. Mohamed Salum who is director for the Central District on Zanzibar and also secretary for the corresponding Zanzibar organization to SKL.

This is all for now and I will be reporting on this blog on development of proceedings during next week.

I thought

In S. Sebastian

Before my partial retirement on 1st of January I had the ambition of starting to regularly write on this blog. Well, it didn’t happen. When I tell people that I do not know how I found the time to work it always gets a good laugh, but it has been the truth, honest.

In these six months we have sold our house in Furubergsgatan and bought a flat in Luleåvägen. We went on holiday to Cala Millor- Mallorca and I was also in Makunduchi – Zanzibar in February.

In Cala Millor we were fortunate also to join an international group of other holiday makers whose company we truly enjoyed.

I am writing from the flat in S. Pedro Estoril where we plan to make some improvements. Our trip to Portugal, this time, was made by car. It is a long stretch of 4000 kilometers. We crossed over in Gothenburg and spent a few hours there feeling the pulse of a very pleasant city center. After that we made two more hotel stops and slept two nights in the car.

The first stop was in Cologne with its impressive cathedral. Even there there was a very pleasant atmosphere of eating and drinking. The mind boggles when we think how utterly destroyed this city was left after bombing in the Second World War. Something for present and coming generations to think about as populism and nationalism grow again in our midst.

I put our stop in S. Sebastian at the top of the line. It is indeed a beautiful city with an atmosphere that just makes you feel dizzy which I will admit was helped by the Tapas dinner at the Baztan in the old town. Highly recommended as far as I am concerned.

Yesterday was crowned by meeting my new cousin Pedro Magalhães and his wife Teresa. More about this on coming texts.

Kuwakaribisha marafiki zangu kwa Sundsvall

Welcome to Sundsvall, Makunduchi friends. Next Sunday you are expected to arrive after a long and tiring trip. From the sunshine of Zanzibar to a Sundsvall profoundly immersed in the November cold and darkness. A dramatic contrast, but we will do what we can to ease up for you. I want to take the opportunity to fill you in on the events here since your last visit.

We have had a general election which means that Swedish voters chose their representatives on all three levels of government. As far as the national level is concerned there is a situation unique in Swedish modern history and after 10 weeks since the election there is still no government. What has mainly upset Sweden’s democratic set up has been the growing support for the Sweden Democrats a party with immigration issues at the center but where many experts widen the explanation to insecurity on some parts of the population about undefined future, brought about by modern technology, globalization and desertification of rural areas. We could safely say that this party thrives on people’s worries and fear. Somehow it has shifted Swedish  political map and we are experiencing now three main ideological fields, Conservative Nationalism, Liberalism and Democratic Socialism. The Green Party was practically wiped out despite awareness of climate change and pollution issues.

As far as the local Sundsvall government is concerned we are continuing with same partners, (Social Democrats, Center party and Left party).

On Monday Mohamed and I will give our local parliament a short presentation of our cooperation so far. I will share it here for your benefit.

I am leaving the chairmanship of the School Board but carry on with focus on Culture and Sport plus an elected seat on our Municipal Parliament.

I look forward to seeing you Mbanja Makame, Mohamed Muombwa, Suleiman Selele and Zainab Fadhil on Sunday, when we will try to start the “Friends of Makunduchi association” that I already have mentioned before.

I also expect that you will share with us the main questions affecting your beautiful island of Unguja with challenges facing Zanzibar and ideas to solve them.

Note: Swahili texts are also welcome here!

Why friends of Makunduchi?

It’s Friday. When I write something on my blog it generally happens on Fridays. The reason for that is that we generally have fewer meetings booked on Fridays. As I partially retire after the New Year I will probably write more often on my blogs. Promise or threat? You decide!

Today I am sharing thoughts about the reason to start in Sundsvall an association for friendship with the community of Makunduchi, southeast area of Zanzibar.

For three years now, the municipality of Sundsvall has been carrying out a project financed by ICLD ( International Center for Local Democracy) together with Makunduchi leaders. During this time and even before, people from Sundsvall have visited Makunduchi and many contacts have been established.

My experience is that when a project finishes the contacts generally die out. We would like to avoid that. What is then the purpose of the association?

Anyone that has been to Zanzibar and left the all-inclusive closed up hotels by the Indian Ocean can understand that the standard of living for people is low. The purpose of the ICLD project is the exchange of views and experiences aiming at developing democracy at local level. Even though we do not come with cash to make improvements our friends in Makunduchi have valued this cooperation and stuck to it. This is for me a sign of strength about the understanding that development happens when we put the effort and seldom does it end well if the aim is charity. Charity is the opposite of what our association should be about.

Most of us in the Sundsvall community are not mildly aware of the real deep issues that face Zanzibarians. It’s my hope that we can reach a better understanding of these issues. At the local level, we can see things happening in Makunduchi with the support of local elected people and other representatives. The needs for better education, healthcare, sanitation, jobs, electricity, running water are evident going into any village.

The purpose of our association, if it finds legs to walk, that is to say if there is a sufficient interest, is to find ways to support these needs without falling into the trap of charity. I am confident that with the help of this association a contribution can be made to create better conditions for development in Makunduchi.

The Makunduchi papers 2017 (2)

The Sundsvall delegation arrived in Zanzibar on Friday afternoon the 6th of October and left on Thursday evening the 12th October. On such a short visit it was important to see and experience as much as possible on the spot. For the trip to Makunduchi from the airport we were assisted by motorcycle police which helped us regain some of the time lost on our way down.

We were pleased to be received by most of our friends including coordinator Mr. Mohamed Muombwa and senior citizen Mr. Hafith Ameir.

Makunduchians are proud of what they are doing to develop their region in south Zanzibar at the same time showing a fantastic hospitality. At the entrance of the hotel a considerable number of villagers were there to greet and welcome us.

I lift two main subjects during our visit1) The development of dialogue and participation aiming at improving school results and 2) Enterprising initiatives to develop the local economy.

In this set of mind I would like to refer to the workshops and study visits starting immediately at arrival during the weekend. We were shown several projects and I would like to lift the initiatives of agricultural production taking place in various parts of Makunduchi. Mr. Suleiman Selele could, with his experience in health care, fill us in on different aspects concerning nutrition and health. These production units engaged mainly unemployed women. All could witness on lack of water being the main setback for these units. We visited also productive agricultural units where there was availability of water.

Another important development already mentioned was the Swahili house under the wings and supervision of Mr. Mwita Masemo.

The education workshops gathered headmasters and school board members and some of the themes discussed were the role of headmasters in the school system, the role of parents, communication towards the central government and challenges of teaching and learning in the English language, foreign to both teachers and students.

 

Discussions took place among and between delegations in a spirit of hope and commitment. For my part I am proud to have led the steering committee on behalf of Sundsvall’s Municipality.

 

 

The Makunduchi papers 2017 (1)

Sundsvalls Municipality (kommun) cooperates with Makunduchi Wards on a two year project that can be extended for further activities next year. This cooperation is financed by the Swedish State as part of the national cooperation budget and is administered by the association of Swedish Local Authorities (SKL).

We have now established good relations with our partners in Zanzibar and are advancing in what can be described as a dialogue and exchange of experiences concerning Local Power and its responsibilities and duties towards local populations.

I am chairman  of the steering committee in behalf of the municipality of Sundsvall. My experience so far, is that there is progress being made and that our partners are aware that their role needs to be better defined and new responsibilities need to be formalized by Central government.

When we started our work with Makunduchi there was a natural incidence in education issues. What could be done so that more students could reach a higher level of education and how could local politicians contribute to make this happen? In this sense we discovered that we had the same goal in both communities even though there is an enormous gap between what the two communities are achieving today. Local elected members see now that they have a role to play and that this is dependent on gaining support and trust from the populations in order to increase the number of citizens that can support themselves economically, being that education is probably the most important factor of development.

In Makunduchi there are positive developments such as the “Food Festival” aiming at taking up questions of health and hygiene as well as developing the noble art of cooking. The outdoor museum ” Swahili House”, has its aim at showing traditional living as far as housing and daily chores are concerned. Courses are being held to improve leadership and management skills for community leaders. Discussions are progressing on how school boards can claim better results for the students and what the role of parents should be.

On this article I will mention the warm reception we were met with as the Sundsvall delegation came to Zanzibar last week.

At the airport, after an eight hour delay,we were expected and met by the Honorable Mayor of Zanzibar Town Mr. Khatib Abraham Khatib This reception was followed up by new and profitable contacts with central government. A visit to the House of Representatives where all Swedish guests were presented by name to the whole assembly. Later we could have a talk with the honorable speaker of the house Mr. Zubeid Ali Maulid and deputy speaker Mme. Mgeni Hassan Juma. From there we went for a reception at the office of 2nd Vice President of Zanzibar Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi and even present at that meeting was the minister of Education Mme. Riziki Pembe Juma.

I am pleased that the Sundsvall delegation together with our friends could take up important issues concerning the development of Makunduchi and its people.

The delegation of Sundsvall: Mrs. Arianne Sundman, speaker of Sundsvalls municipality, Mr. Hans Zetterkvist, Vice chairman of the Education Committee, Mrs. Maria Åström and Mrs. Linda Strandfjäll members of the Education Committee, Mrs. Christin Strömberg and Mr. Björn Swedén Project coordinators, Mrs. Åsa Jerfsten Technical advisor on Education matters, Mr. Hans Fridholm, Water technical Expert and myself João Pinheiro chairman of Education Committee.

Makunduchi & Sundsvall 

CIMG0663

I am on the train from the Stockholm airport after 6 days in Zanzibar, Tanzania. These days were the kick off of a two year project, meant to bring the two communities closer to each other. Appropriate to make a short reflection over impressions so far.

Makunduchi. The leaders of Makunduchi are eager to help their villages develop. Some of these leaders work in the capital and are no longer residents. But they want to contribute and have moved to increase foreign presence. The Makundushi area has not benefitted from tourism as other areas have. The standard of living, due to lack of jobs and lower education is lower.  The levels of education have to improve so that Makunduchians can get jobs. Interest and commitment from such people as Mr.Mohammed Muombwa and Mr. Abdella Ali Kombo are important. Participation from former minister for Zanzibar Mr. Shamsi Vuai Nahodha  might show itself  valuable being someone that moves on highest circles of political power in the country. The people of Zanzibar have a long history to relate to. The will from central government to deliver solutions transforms itself into new challenges when resources are not applied. The friendly and hospitable Zanzibarians need to see to it that their schools have toilets, running water and enough competent teachers for the many learners.

Sundsvall. With this project the municipality of Sundsvall takes part on the generous cooperation budget, that the Swedish State puts aside, to have a positive voice in the world. Why it became Zanzibar is more connected to coincidence, as contacts were established by teachers and Swedish students before we could formalise the cooperation. In order to participate on this type of project Swedish authorities require that a steering committee is elected to supervise and lead. This committee is to be formed by politicians. Local parliament (Kommunfullmäktige) chose the education committee to form this group with me as chairman.

Mr. Hans Zetterkvist, Mrs. Ina Skandevall and myself went to Zanzibar as a first delegation. We did our best to represent our Community. We saw our task not as telling our friends what to do, but rather tried to find applicable  examples on how we solve political questions at home. Important in this context is history, as our people in Sweden have also been poor. This is what interchange is all about. All political parties except Sverigedemokraterna, approved our participation. Sweden Democrat’s no to this project is in itself a paradox, considering they always say that we should not allow people to come to Sweden and instead help them in their own countries. But from populist parties like this one, nothing surprises any longer. It is worse when Elin Nilsson (Moderates) herself member of the steering committee for the project, suddenly changes foot. I understand that some people think that Sundsvall politicians should not leave the municipality.When we choose to get involved in politics is beacuse we have an interest for human beings and to help get ourselves a better and fairer World. This is what first motivated me to become a member of the Social Democratic party of Sweden. And it still is.

It is my hope to engage people from the civil society of Sundsvall that aim at contributing to the same goals by helping to  solve some of the vital and basic needs in the field of education in Makunduchi,  such as putting a new roof in a school, help to build a toilet or drill for water.

CIMG0676

 

Freddie and I


Well, here I am in Stone Town Zanzibar. This city stands in the center of a long historical trading period with the drama of slavery  included. A certain Dr. Livingstone played an valuable part in abolishing slavery here. I was shown the appalling conditions created to keep men and women as prisoners before being auctioned out.

I am posing in front of the house where Freddie Mercury (Farough Bulsar) opened his eyes for the first time. Freddie’s  father was a British Civil servant who came to the island from India. The Bursars belonged to an ancient minority that left Persia when it became Muslim, keeping their Zoroastrian traditions and religion through centuries during their India exile. Events to overthrow the Sultan from the island in 1964 sent the Bursars to London where they first settled in the Heathrow airport area where Mr. Bursar took up employment.

Queen’s music is the favorite in my home and Freddie Mercury’s voice and creative musical genius has had a strong standing throughout my life.

My mind boggles a little extra,  when I consider that I might very well have crossed a young Freddie in any of the streets around West Kensington where we both lived in the beginning of the seventies.

I wonder if any of those eccentric looking guys standing on underground platforms would not be the upcoming world artist oblivious of a famed future and destiny.

Curiously I do reflect on the fact that the most famous Zanzibari was not a real native the same way as Portugal’s most famous personality in the sixties – soccer player Eusebio- was an African arriving in Lisbon as a teenager to play for Benfica.

Immigration is not something you can ignore. It is instead a goldmine for development of the human race, provided immigrants are given opportunity to develop their skills.