Poverty and The Press
Dar es Salaam
For the vast majority of Tanzanians, it is the radio
that reigns supreme in providing their news. For 35 years, they
have been listening to the government-owned Radio Tanzania and getting
a steady diet of mostly government propaganda and anti-apartheid
coming of economic liberalization has brought the liberalization
of the press, which has resulted in dozens of FM stations, 350 registered
newspapers, and a dozen TV stations.
only four stations have a national reach: Radio Tanzania, privately
owned Radio One and Radio Free Africa, and Radio Uhuru, which are
known to be sympathetic to the ruling CCM party.
you are talking about here is how the majority of desperately poor
Tanzanians in the rural areas get their news. The word of mouth
is the main source of information,” says Anthony Hokororo, an official
in the government department of information.
publications are all the rage in urban areas. They are in bitter
competition with FM radio stations. It is a cutthroat fight for
though the prices of print publications are coming down, people
still find them too high. At 25 U.S. cents, they are simply too
expensive in a country where half the inhabitants live on less than
a dollar a day. It is not uncommon to see people huddled in many
newspaper vendors’ corners to read the front pages of newspapers
need at least $1.50 to buy six good publications a day. Many people
would rather have a decent meal with that money, “ Hokororo says.
The situation is worse outside Dar es Salaam, where money is even
and radio are middle-class playthings. TV is full of ancient American
soap operas or dancing Congolese musicians. The urban youth are
absorbing it with gusto, from dress to Western hairstyles. In urban
areas, TV is for the tiny minority with bits of money.
the vast majority of Tanzanians are completely out of the
picture. In the general elections last October, some rural
folk were asked to register to vote for president and members
of parliament. “I know who the president is,” said a peasant.
“It is Nyerere, of course!” he said, meaning Tanzania’s former
president, who died the year before but had retired from the
presidency in 1985.