The Arusha Times

Issue 00427

July 8 - 14, 2006

issn 0856 - 9135 

Local News

Arusha finds 'Geneva of Africa' tag too heavy
By Arusha Times Reporters

The Arusha Municipality seems to be already tired or ashamed of carrying the 'Geneva of Africa' tag.

The words 'Geneva of Africa,' were previously painted on the upper part of the entrance to the Municipal Council's headquarters' building, along Boma Road and above the front lobby which leads to both the Kilimanjaro and Serengeti buildings, at the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC) complex.

The decision was followed with an uproar from critics who opposed the idea of using an imported catch-phrase to describe Arusha town which is already too famous in its own right, without the need to call it Geneva.

Recently however, these words disappeared from both premises. When asked if the council was ditching the 'Geneva of Africa' tag, the Municipal Director was non-committal but explained that the words probably 'disappeared' when the council re-painted the address banner at the entrance.

"We needed to re-write the address because the previous one was written 'Arusha City Council' but since the 'city status' is now an issue which is being reviewed, we removed that and restored the previous 'Municipal Council' Address," explained Mwaikuka.

The supplementary, 'Geneva of Africa' title became a 'popular' yet a controversial catch-phrase, after the former US president, William (Bill) J. Clinton compared Arusha with Switzerland's city, which also hosts the United Nations' offices among other various International organizations.

Clinton made the remark when he visited Arusha in August 2000 to witness the Burundi peace signing agreement, which was preceded by the former South African President, Nelson Mandela. The former US president had apparently discovered that in addition to hosting the peace accord previously chaired by the late Mwalimu Nyerere, Arusha was home to various international organizations as well.

Later in 2002 both the Arusha Municipal Council and the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC) held a special meeting through which they both struck a pact agreeing to start working together in making the 'Geneva of Africa,' status symbol a reality. Then the two institutions went ahead and painted the catch-phrase at the buildings.

Arusha, whose first town building (now the Boma Museum) was constructed in 1902, became a township 46 years later in 1948. The urban center was named a 'city' in July 1. 2005 but this status was later revoked and the issued tabled for review.

Also snubbed was the Arumeru District Council which became a 'Municipal Council' on the same date only to have the decision nullified early this year on grounds that the vast precinct was undeveloped.

The State Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, in charge of Regional Administration and Local Governments, Mizengo Pinda, stated recently that the Arumeru District is now set to be zoned into two councils namely, Arumeru Rural and Meru District, according to the Minister a committee should be formed to evaluate the current district properties and how they should be divided equally among the two proposed new councils.




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