I CANNOT pretend to be the closest friend to Marin Hassan Marin nor can I attest to have known him better than anybody especially in the media fraternity.
Nevertheless, I have some memorable attributes that will remain to be treasured in my life and an essence that brought me and Marin Hassan Marin closer.
I can confidently say that Marin Hassan’s world view and few moments we shared in a recent past signified one thing, that he and I had common goals and aspirations in the pursuit for professional excellence. In August 2003 while at Kikwajuni Wailes in Zanzibar, I met him at Television Zanzibar (TVZ) where he was working as a news anchor and pioneer of several TV programmes.
I am not saying this was the first time to meet him, but the kind of meeting I had with him opened a door for long time relationship with him for many years later.
By then I was working in Zanzibar as the Bureau Chief of ‘Daily News’ and ‘Sunday news’ in the Isles while he was working with TVZ, particularly manning a sports programme and a popular current affairs programme called Mawio.
He later on came to establish another TV programme by the name ‘TV DR’ and an English language TV programme which came to be known as ‘After 24’. He had two issues with me, one being to express his admiration for my column in ‘Daily News’ under the name “Letter from Zanzibar” in which I used to write analysis on a number of topical issues in Zanzibar.
In Marin’s words he was particularly impressed with the article I wrote about challenges and a need to bridge communication gaps that existed between the media and the Zanzibar government.
In that article in form of a column, I mentioned shortcomings that were facing communication officers in Zanzibar as they were unable to communicate effectively to members of the public about basic government policy reforms and development projects.
I mentioned in that article an example of two elegant water tanks under construction then at Kibanda Maiti, adjacent to the popular grounds where political parties especially CUF and CCM used to hold rallies.
I highlighted why the opposition was challenging the government for failing to provide tap water while the tanks had been set up, but no public communicator had come forward to refute the claims and show the opposition the tanks that had been constructed.
I raised a concern after government communication officers in Zanzibar failed to refute opposition claims that the government had failed to provide tap water while water tanks had been already set up. The article impressed Marin to an extent that he wanted me to appear in his new English language programme by the name ‘After 24 hours’.
That marked the first moment to come closer to Marin and from that time on, we have had lots of contacts in Zanzibar even after him moving to Dar es Salaam. Towards the end of 2005 Marin Hassan left TVZ. He was one of the staff at TVZ who had innovative ideas and an exceptional way of packaging news and whatever programme he embarked on.
I went to meet the then Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office the Chief Minister, who was then in charge of the Information portfolio, Mr Said Shaaban, on the issue. He then joined TBC1 where he was able to work for the rest of his life. In between 2007 and 2017, I appeared on many current affairs TBC1 programmes, including Jambo.
We had regular contacts especially in four years I was able to serve in the TBC Board of Directors. Marin Hassan was one of the least educated, but he was an exceptional news anchor and a unique talent of packaging news. If there is any news anchor and commentator who knows well how to make a news presentation then Marin Hassan would certainly be one of them.
He had a particular accent and personality that could not be compared to any one when it came to a news presentation and provided a lot of motivation for his interviewing panelists to speak with easiness. The world would stand to be my witness to note that Marin Hassan added a lot of value on the Union Government policy’s decision to move to Dodoma.
The choices of music, the shots and panoramic view of the new Dodoma capital made an exciting venture that attracted most of us to watch. The last time I talked to him by phone in Dodoma he looked a settled man and alarmed me that he would be more than happy to receive me as his guest in the new capital Dodoma, where he said he was happily settled.
When a news flush first came about Marin’s untimely death it came as great shock in a manner that I cannot explain. It first came as an April Fools’ Day joke that most of the people thought it was part of April Fools’ Day schema. It, however, never took long when we had to come to terms with the hard and difficult reality.
I refuse to say I have lost comrade Marin Hassan Marin nor can I accept the fact that he is not with us because we saw him manning a TV programme just the previous night.
Marin you may not have made a lot of people you would call friends, but your work and deeds brought you closer to the people. You have gone too soon. Adios amigo comrade. The author is a former Bureau Chief of ‘Daily News’ in Zanzibar and Chief Government Spokesman.