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The official unveiling of Mzigo Usiyoyamkinika – a WSPA story anthology written to help school-age children learn about animal welfare – took place in a blaze of publicity as the Hon Mrs Salma Kikwete, first lady of Tanzania, was joined by 200 enthusiastic young readers.
First published in English in 2006 as The Unlikely Burden, this book has already been successfully used in humane education classes in neighboring Kenya.
The new version, translated into Swahili, will reach a wider audience in East and some parts of Central Africa.
Tanzania’s first lady, an advocate of child education initiatives, was joined by ministers, vets and the local director of the Jane Goodall Foundation (which works closely with WSPA in Tanzania) to welcome young readers to the book launch and talk to them about animal welfare and conservation.
The children arrived led by a brass band and carrying banners with animal welfare messages, then took part in the day’s activities: performing in skits on the importance of wild animals and a play discouraging poaching, drawing animals, and reading excerpts from the book.
Children from the Jangwani Primary School attended the book launch, bearing banners with animal welfare messages
Having worked closely with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, WSPA was pleased to welcome a ministry representative to the launch.
He described how WSPA’s Africa office has contributed to public information work on the importance of animal welfare, and explained that the ministry is now in the final stages of presenting the Animal Welfare Bill to the Tanzanian parliament.
In her speech, the Hon Mrs Salma Kikwete focused on what the story book can achieve. She said: “There is a very thin line between animal cruelty and cruelty to other human beings”, and added that the anthology will not only be beneficial to the children but to the community as a whole. She then signed copies for the children.
WSPA donated 150 copies of Mzigo Usiyoyamkinika to the office of the first lady for distribution.
The book launch was covered extensively in national press and television media, raising the profile of the anthology, of humane education in Africa, and introducing WSPA’s animal welfare education aims to a broad audience.
Building on this success, WSPA’s Africa office will be pushing forward with the Animals Matter campaign, calling for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.