On December 9th, 2006 Tanzanians celebrated their 45th anniversary of independence from colonial rule by the British. Tanzania consists of former sovereign states, namely Tanganyika (who gained independence on December 9, 1961) and two offshore islands, Zanzibar and Pemba which forged a political unity with Tanganyika in 1964 to give birth to the United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzanian nationals living in Minnesota gathered at a recreational center in Anoka County to dance the night away in celebrations to mark the great milestone. With the national flag displayed prominently at the meeting venue, Tanzanians under the auspices of Umoja Society, sang out their national anthem with intense patriotic feelings to remember their Uhuru (Freedom) Day. They joyfully danced to nostalgic patriotic tunes of the sixties that brought back sweet memories and triggered participants to put on their dancing shoes in a flamboyant display of the gracious Tanzanian dance-steps.
Umoja Society, the association of Tanzanians living in Minnesota, had gone to great lengths to assemble delicious Tanzanian dishes much to the delight of its guests who kept serving themselves a bite of that extra-special andazi or samosa. The Tanzanian total package cuisine consisted of a mix of food that that was beautifully crowned by the universal finale of a wittingly prepared cake so delicious that it simply brought appetites to an epic climax! It was a boogie night to remember for most attendees.
The same event was the occasion for Umoja Society to elect a new Board of Directors in which a professional finance expert Ms Jackie Abebe was elected chairperson to replace out-going Tanzanian physician, Dr Crispin Semakula. The Umoja Society is a 501© (3) non-profit organization registered with the Secretary of State in Minnesota whose mission is to enrich the quality of life and strengthen unity among its members and the Swahili-speaking community at large.
The Umoja Society provides a forum for information-sharing, enrichment of language and other Tanzanian cultural values and provides a forum for networking and social interaction that includes a joint effort to handle costs of laying to rest a member or their immediate family in the event of death.The name of the organization Umoja Society has borrowed the Swahili word umoja which translated into English means “unity”. The society’s motto is the East African Swahili proverb “Umoja Ni Nguvu” whose literal translation is “Unity Is Strength”, or as the Americans say it, “United We Stand”.
Other members elected to the new Board of Directors include: Bona Seu (Vice Chair); Lynn Owino (Secretary), Jeff Ndossa (Treasurer), Philip Kibira, Soga Mbilima, Dr Ghasper Kitange, Blandina Donald, Honest Tesha, Anna Sirikwa, Nguzo Kida, Riwa Obel, Felix Mayo, Aika Kihunwa and Linder Ringo.
The Umoja Society Board of Directors is the highest policy making organ that oversees the management of Umoja resources and ensures that society by-laws are implemented to the letter as well as conforming to Minnesota state laws and those of the Federal Government.
Membership of Umoja Society is open to all Tanzanians, friends of Tanzania and Swahili-speaking persons as well as people of those categories residing in the neighboring states of Wisconsin, and Iowa. Members of Umoja Society who may move to other states outside the afore mentioned will also retain their membership as stipulated in its constitution.
Contact information for Umoja Society is as follows: P.O. Box 14631, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414. Tel: 651-207-7753, Fax: 866-598-0348. Website: www.umojasociety.org.
About Swallehe Msuya
Swallehe Msuya was a senior staff writer at Mshale with extensive media experience in his native Tanzania. He was a general assignments writer. Investigative stories that Mshale undertook were normally his responsibility. Swallehe passed away in Sept. 2009 at the age of 61. Mshale will forever miss his tenacity and wisdom.
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