Tourism to Tanzania may be headed into a nosedive as major media organizations around the world widely report the national crackdown started this week against the LGBT community.
EWT received multiple “special offers” and “discounts” from various Tanzanian safari companies just this week. One can only assume the publicity on the LGBT crackdown is having an immediate effect.
Yesterday Amnesty International issued a critical warning that Tanzania was headed down a “dangerous path” as the country moved into full gear to roundup, imprison and place on trial LGBT citizens, and to deport all non-citizens who promote LGBT causes.
“Give me their names,” Paul Makonda, the governor of Dar-es-Salaam, the country’s huge urban area, demanded Monday. “My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday.”
He was speaking as much to foreigners and tourists as Tanzanian citizens.
The policy was announced without warning Monday although the current Tanzanian administration has a history of increasing LGBT suppression. The justification being used is an old British colonial law prohibiting same-sex relationships.
I can’t recall one other incidence of current Tanzanian policy based on the otherwise despised colonial era. It’s interesting that a number of African countries — not only Tanzania — sometimes show such difficulty shaking these cultural colonial trappings.
The half-religious, half-20th Century British arrogance that promulgated laws against nontraditional sexual behaviors has little basis in African traditions.
The rhetoric this week got specially ugly.
By Tuesday Makonda claimed to have received more than 5,000 names then announced a 17-member commission that sounds as if it will act as a kangaroo court in determining the “gayness” of those accused.
“Every gay person is living in fear,” a Tanzanian gay activist told London’s Guardian newspaper.
Immigration in the United States, gender inequity in Tanzania and through much of Africa – it’s all the same. A deep discontent has surfaced in your average Joe who has given up tolerating that little promised him is delivered.
Incapable of blaming himself, of questioning his support of extreme leaders, Joe lashes out, grows hateful, and takes desperate moves to find someone to blame.
All it takes is one opportunistic leader to offer him the red bait of someone presumed so different.
If the Tanzanian safari business is really going to take a hit, it probably won’t be any more significant than the economic hits that are bound to pummel the whole world awfully soon.
Amnesty charged the Tanzanians with “torturing” LGBT suspects rounded up in October. Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International Director for East Africa, demanded that the Tanzanian government abandon its commission:
“The idea of this taskforce must be immediately abandoned as it only serves to incite hatred among members of the public.”
It’s unlikely the government will heed the advice.
It’s unlikely Trump will abort the troop movement to the border.
There are “dangerous paths” being pursued by governments all over the world. There’s a big difference between the U.S. and Tanzania with regards to altering these “dangerous paths.” But I just don’t know if America has it in itself to use this privilege.
We’ll see in four days.