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Osale Otango: Was he a freedom fighter or a criminal in the then Tanganyika?

The thrust of the argument was, let our people, those involved in the war write the history in its true perception rather than leaving it to be written by revisionists who might have their own private agendas. Tanzania as a country has its own history well documented particularly, the early wars of liberation, the Maji Maji rebellion and others, even tribal wars!

Though there are some disputes that not all has been written and perhaps there might be some distortions but at least we are in agreement and that is why it is being taught in our schools as part of our history. I remember in one of the State Visits of former President Benjamin Mkapa to Namibia, one of the questioners asked him as to why his grandfather, one Mzee Mwangosi is nowhere in the Tanzania history while in Mbeya he was locally known for his contribution in the struggle for independence of this country?

This could be a genuine complaint, however history is always in the making and that people should record and document for the future writing of our history. Are we convinced that what has been written is the right history of our country? Some are alleging that the history of this country has been written to please the status quo as they are still alive and have the authority of editing whatever is there.

History is a factual happening that cannot be tampered with. You cannot deny Oscar Kambona’s place in the history of this country regardless of what happened. We saw recently during the fifty years anniversary of independence, a score of people were awarded with medals for their contribution to this nation. This was done on Presidential pleasure as he has the prerogative of doing so but could have sent a wrong message for those who have an assignment of recording history of this country.

Journalists have a task of keeping record and history of this country through the media. It is already in record that these people who by importance of celebrating golden jubilee of our country were awarded those medals have carved a niche of prestige over others.

By the mere fact of receiving those medals they are already eminent people of this country over these fifty years! We have traversed different difficult phases in our fifty years of independence. We remember the period of cold war with its polemics of upebari and ujamaa where we were a soft target to imperialistic media in East Africa. By using their surrogates our press went to war with that press where the words like society of man eat man, manya’gau and, ubepari ni unyama came in.

Is it not part of our history when we had heroic fighters in the press who stood firm to tilt the balance of arguments in favour of Ujamaa? At least if not individuals but the ‘Radio Tanzania’ and the ‘Daily News’ deserved to have received these medals. I could not believe my eyes and ears recently when I was watching a programme in the TBC1 on a popular programme known as Zamadamu.

Since time immemorial before the avalanche of newspapers and radio stations came to our country, we used to believe that whatever you hear from TBC was authoritative and true up to now. There was coverage of Amboni caves, a small town on the outskirts of Tanga. Amboni is interesting place because it has about seventy caves with underground outlets to Mombasa and Pongwe near Tanga.

Also Amboni is known for its hot springs. According to the broadcaster, there was a cave alleged to have been used as a hideout of Osale Otango and Paul Hamisi. What disgusted me most was the statement that Osale Otango and Paul Hamisi were freedom fighters that time agitating for independence of this country.

God forbid! This was during the period of 1952 to 1956 and thank God, I was old enough to see what was going on in my country and could follow up the story at that time as I grew up in this region of Tanga. Osale Otango and Paul Hamisi were criminals and took advantage of the political agitation for the independence struggle at that time. They used to hide in these caves in Amboni and terrorized all the constellating sisal plantations around Tanga region where the white farmers owned these plantations.

They were merely interested in banditry and as long as at that time, the rich to be robbed from, were the whites. Also they would go to Anglican Missionary schools where there were White Missionaries and would rob them. Invariably all the white settlers and farmers had to sleep in Tanga for their safety until when these criminals were killed in another hideout in Lushoto. Paul Hamisi hailed from Lustoto while Osale was from Kenya. There used to be such criminals at that time and mostly came from Kenya.

Another habitual criminal was Alphose Odongo who used the same tricks like Osale Otango. Alphonse had his permanent cell at Isanga prison in Dodoma. These criminals were believed to have been using witchcraft for their deadly missions as they would appear elusive on a point of arrest.

I strongly believe that the statement given by TBC1 in this programme was not factual and should have been edited in the first place lest it may mislead the people. Very fortunately I have not come across any literature in our archives indicating Osale Otango and Paul Hamisi as freedom fighters of this country.

jnyoka@live.com +255754342711 Senior Citizen

THE month of September 2020 is on its ...

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Author: Kiangiosekazi wa-Nyoka

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