Joseph Warungu

Name ID 756

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Extract Author: Joseph Warungu
Extract Date: 2000 October 16

Arusha

BBC Online

Arusha has played an important role in Tanzania's history

The town forms a crossroads at the heart of the East African region

Arusha may not be the capital of Tanzania, but it jostles with Dar es Salaam for world recognition.

The International Tribunal on Rwanda is based in Arusha - as is the born-again regional baby known as the East African Community.

And if that's not reason enough for many to take off their hats to this cool, northern town, then historical reasoning comes to play.

It was here, in 1967, that the late Founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere set out his ideas of African socialism or Ujamaa - and later tried but failed to bring peace to neighbouring Burundi, through a process of dialogue that continues to date.

But this is not why political heavyweights have made a date with Arusha before polling day.

Last week, the UDP Presidential candidate John Cheo was here to woo the voters - followed on Tuesday by Professor Ibrahim Lipumba of the CUF-Chadema coalition.

The next day, the Tanzania Labour Party's Augustine Mrema took to the podium in search of votes.

President Benjamin Mkapa himself will also be in the area to explain to the people why five years is hardly time enough for anyone to drive Tanzania to the destination of peace and prosperity.

Much is at stake here. For years this region tended to go the opposition way, and now the ruling CCM is fighting tooth and nail to see if this time it can capture the heart and soul of northern Tanzania.

For the opposition, it is time to prove that the few bruising political battles that went the CCM way are a thing of the past.

As for the voters, they have a lot on their minds without worrying about the slanging matches going on around them.

This agricultural area has recently seen more sunshine rather than rainfall to water the crops.

Another issue has been the frequent fatal battles for Tanzanite mining rights in the Mererani area.

And hard economic times have been hitting the entire country.

With these concerns on their minds, many will only give a passing glimpse and a distracted ear to the numerous party flags and the poster-covered pick-up trucks that crawl across the town with huge loud speakers blaring the message 'kura kwangu' - vote for me.

Extract ID: 1537
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