The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

19 September 2008

Tanzania: Sex And the Exploitation of Children

opinion

When I was in High School at Mzumbe Secondary, Morogoro, I read a very exciting book, Soul on Ice, by African American author, Eldridge Cleaver. Back then in 1974, we in Africa always seem to be inspired by African Americans.

Ironically, these guys are supposed to have suffered more than us. Their ancestors were taken to far away lands to become slaves. During those times the music of James Brown, boxing of Muhammad Ali and the back to Africa movement inspired everyone. Today the tradition is almost the same. Hip-hop and rap music is inspiring fashion amongst the young across Africa.

Those dangling homosexual trousers that leave the backside exposed, coupled with a lazy slouching walking manner, sulking face and hooded coats is the haute couture of 2008. And the climax is the Obama factor. Who in Africa is not dreaming of seeing Barrack becoming President of the richest and most powerful nation in the world? So strong is the wish that some are scared (and whispering): "They are going to kill him!" The fear that they shall not let such an intelligent, positive handsome black man lead this war mongering world, is real.

But then I was reading, Soul on Ice.

In Africa we rarely see ice. Yes, we eat ice cream; the only really ice used to exist at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. There is no more snow on Mount Kilimanjaro. It has vanished. Shredded by the vultures of global warming. Soul On Ice is a very angry book. When I read it I was only 18. It became one of the books that inspired me to be a serious writer. All around Tanzania were African Americans fleeing the monster that had lynched them for hundreds of years. With South Africans. This lot were everywhere in Bongoland. The refugees. We called them: Wazungu Weusi, Wasoweto.

Soweto became famous around 1976 when the riots began, nonstop ad infinitum, till the freedom of Chief Mandela in 1990. In between we witnessed the senseless murder of Steve Biko. The only way those who were not present can understand who Biko was (or what he meant) is by watching, Cry Freedom, a film portraying his slaying, starring Denzel Washington.

South Africans. Lately they have been chasing Africans (who helped them during their struggles against Apartheid) out of South Africa. The problems of Africans have historically, always spilled to other countries. We are, said the great Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, one nation. That is why when the old goat Mugabe was signing a joint agreement with Morgan Tsvangarai this Monday, a South African could be heard chanting a poem in Swahili, Zulu, Portuguese, English, Ndebele, Shona

Anyway, I was talking of Soul On Ice. The author, Eldridge Cleaver went to prison because of raping white women. It was his way of avenging the racists. But he soon realised that violent sex was not the solution. Sex is a pleasure not a gun.

Last week, London's black weekly paper, The Voice, exposed the sex savagery of white tourists in certain parts of Africa. Sex criminals are preying on young children in Asia and Africa. However, because the media has gone after them in Asia (Thailand and Cambodia) they are now resorting to Africa, the sleeping giant.

The alarming Voice piece was written by journalist Trina John-Charles and quoted a children welfare official estimating up to 30,000 girls in Kenya aged 12 to 14 being lured into tourist hotels to be sexually abused. One female told the UN that girls were being forced to perform acts with dogs "mainly by Italian clientele."

In 2003, the BBC exposed trafficking of girls from Cameroon to Europe sold to work as prostitutes. Molo Songolo a South African organisation said children as young as four were shopped to locals and foreigners for sex.

These western sex tourists exploit three things. The slack rules of African governments who do not want to lose the tourist business since the issue gives a bad name; the less strict, stringent rules of our dear governments; and our general poverty.

That is why I remembered, Soul On Ice. To Eldridge Cleaver, raping white women was a away of fighting, but he soon repented and joined the Black Panther party.

So then what are the exact reasons of the white tourist sexually exploiting African children? And why are our African governments closing their eyes?

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