Geline was my coleague between 2010 and 2012 and remain friend for life as all the CoDe family. She has a very similar way of joking like me and she enjoy life every second and you can see that on her big smiling face. But don’t mess around with her because you will get’it :)):P It was not my case, but she can become serios. She is a very profesional lawyer, involved in Tanzania reforms and she loves hip-hop music. She did an interview for European Commission, and in the interview she reminded how important was for her CoDe Program:
„It taught me how to deal with local issues in an interdisciplinary way – how would the economists think, and what about the lawyers and the politicians? I wouldn’t get this through another course”. You can fiind the interview with her, here on the European Commission website.
In the last weeks she crossed Tanzania, promoting people participation in the process of reviewing the Constitution. I ask her to tell us about this experince and also to share with us what is doing, what are her concerns and what are the objectives and priorities for the future. And she wrote to me:
My interest has always been on working with the community and that is the reason that pulled me to study Human rights laws, humanitarian laws, family laws, land laws as well as local development. I knew it will be a great starting point to learn how to engage in community work. In addition, I knew that there is indeed a great demand of assistance in those areas- since then I have been working in different human rights organizations in Tanzania.
At the moment, I work with Legal and Human Rights Centre . It is a nongovernmental organization non profitable that that strive to promote human rights and good government. With the Centre, I work as a Researcher – Constitutional Database.
Tanzania is in the process of reviewing its Constitution. Since the beginning of the process , I have tried my best to full engage in the process to facilitate, promote peoples participation in the process. At the beginning I was assisting NGOs on the way they can engage as well as other legal assistance they needed to understand the process and how best they can engage. I have assisted NGOs such as Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP), Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) SIKIKA, Tanzania Media Fund (TMF)and Global platform Tanzania. Later on, I saw the need to really work with people themselves because the constitution making process is the democratic process and I wanted to join the effort that promote peoples engagement in the process. I approached Legal and Human Rights centre and asked to join their efforts because I believe in their mission and I knew working with them will give me an opportunity to really work with the community. Luckily, they accepted me and now I have just returned from rural Tanzania where I was facilitating public sessions on constitution making process and the importance of people’s participation in the process. It was indeed a fruitful journey because thousands of people turned to listen to our message and ask so many question on how they can take part as well as on the content of the proposed constitution. I am happy I was able to reach thousands of people in the process.
Challenges I got during the whole process is poor infrastructure to reach people in remote areas. For example we had to travel more than 75 Km rural, roads were very poor and it is a rainy season so from time to time we got stuck but that couldn’t stop the mission. Other challenge is many people still do not know how to read and write. This hinders the whole process because constitution is a legal document so for people who doesn’t know how to read and write said they find it challenging to fully engage in the process. Lastly, there were few copies of proposed draft given to most local authority so many people haven’t got copies of the proposed constitution and still knows a little about the content and process.
Going miles and miles making sure that the only talk is constitution. Here is Nyasa District (Mbambabay and Liuli) the boarder between Tanzania and Malawi on one side and Tanzania and Mozambique in on the other side. Interesting facts about this.
Fact 1: Picture 1. Giving a copy of constitution to one elder. Many people from this district have never seen a constitution before nor understand the meaning of constitution.
Fact 2: Is since independence and before their homes are without electricity.
Fact 3: there is no Tanzanian radio station that reach this place except radio from Malawi which is available at night .
When asked about present and future engagements, my plans are clear:I want to continue engaging in my community. “Now I have the knowledge, the capacity to really engage”, I also want to continue raising awareness on constitution issues as well as promoting people’s participation in the Constitution making process in different parts of rural Tanzania. I have supported a number of NGOs and Media practitioners and their engagement in regards. “At the beginning when constitution reviewing process started many NGOs, were in demand of legal assistance on understanding how best they can engage in the process. I analyzeda number laws that govern the process and advice accordingly” I was also an observer in recent local government elections running a social media crowd spot in the election ICT HUB with the organisation. Nothing makes me happy than knowing i can do something for my community
Geline Fuko is a researcher at Constitution Data Base at Legal and Human Rights Centre. Previously she was legal officer and parliament election watch and advocacy officer. She worked also for United Nation Volunteers. She got the bachelor in Law at University of Dar es Salaam and she graduate the european master program in development CoDE.