The following is a message which appeared on the Notice board at lunchtime today,
Don’t Go into Town : Riots and Tear Gas!
Certainly nothing I would ever have expected to see on in the Staff Room in Thame or in Milton Keynes.
We had heard the shots go off in the lesson before lunch, unaware what it was at the time.
This sounds quite alarming – and it was at the time. In a sense it’s all part and parcel of living in a developing country. To put your minds at rest the disturbance was miles from the school which is sighted in Isamilo (a suburb of Mwanza). Furthermore it turned out to be quite localised. A colleague returning from town had been unaware of any issues taking place at all.
My main concern was Anita who had been due to be in town today – it turns out she saw nothing and only heard about it on her return to the compound from Gold Crest (thankfully in a Taxi).
The events in question occurred on streets near some of the shops close to the Traffic Lights, where police were evicting the unlicensed street traders from their ‘pitches’. This was due to complaints by the shops over lost trade and an enforcement order by the council. The eviction prompted protests by those affected and this was dispersed by tear gas. I am sure for those affected this was not a pleasant experience and we were right to be warned but it was not on the scale of the London Riots of a few years back.
Personally I have some sympathy with the traders – poor people trying to earn a crust by some means. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
In spite of this I am not worried about going into town. We are well warned when these things happen, the grapevine tends to do its job well. Mwanza and Tanzania remain relatively safe places to be with suitable precautions.