Africa

Tanzanian guide arrested for 'fake translation' of tourist's remark

  • 10 February 2017
  • From the section Africa
Tourist looks at tour guide Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Lost in translation: A video of the pair has been widely shared on social media

A tour guide at a Tanzanian game park has been arrested after wrongly translating a tourist's comments about the country and its people.

In a widely circulated video clip, the guide says in Swahili that the tourist wants Tanzanians to stop "complaining" about hunger.

The woman, in fact, says Tanzanians are "fabulously wonderful".

The guide was arrested on the tourism minister's order for casting the ministry in a "bad light", police said.

Tanzania markets itself as The Soul of Africa, and is popular with tourists because of its wildlife and spectacular scenery.

The unnamed guide, from the state-run Serengeti National Park in the north, has not been charged with any offence.

Regional police commander Jaffari Mohammed told the BBC that he had "misled" the tourist, and police were investigating whether he had circulated the video on social media in violation of cybercrime legislation.

The controversial law allows for a minimum fine of about $1,300 (£1,000) and a minimum jail term of three months for publishing false, deceptive or misleading information on a computer system.

The law was introduced in 2015, despite complaints by politicians, social media experts and human rights activists that it gave the police "too much power" without adequate oversight.

The BBC's Lizzy Masinga in the main city, Dar es Salaam, says some of the guide's words were similar to those used by President John Magufuli, when he called on people at a rally last month to stop complaining about hunger.

In excerpts of the video published by a Kenyan newspaper, the conversation goes:

Tourist: "Hi. My visit to Tanzania has been beautiful, gorgeous. The people are fabulously wonderful and friendly. Greetings are always jambo [the Swahili equivalent of Hello]. Happy to be here. The land is beautiful, beautiful. The animals are wonderful."

Guide (translating): "You Tanzanians complain/cry a lot about hunger. Everyday you cry about hunger when you have flowers at home. Why don't you boil the flowers and drink [them]. It is not good to cry/complain about hunger."

Tourist: "The variety of animals and people you see is incredible, unlike anywhere else. It is just fabulous."

Guide: "You are asking your president to cook for you. Do you think your president is a cook? Can you get busy, even boil your clothing and eat."

Tourist: "It will be an experience to savour for all of your life. It is fantastic and beautiful and incredible and just unremarkable.

Guide: "Get busy in every corner of the country. The president can't leave State House to cook for you. You have to cook for yourselves.

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