In an unprecedented move, leaders from all sectors of society are speaking out about growing assaults on freedoms and political violence.On 16 February, Akwinlina Akwiline was on her way to university in Dar es Salaam. She was reportedly heading to the National Institute of Transport, where she was a student, in order to hand in a letter that would allow her to shortly begin her field work. She boarded a bus.
Akwiline, however, never made it to her destination. The 22-year-old student was killed after being hit by a bullet fired by police officers attempting to disperse an opposition rally.
The news of Akwiline’s death was far from the first politically-related tragedy that Tanzanians have endured in recent months. In September 2017, for example, the senior opposition lawmaker and government critic Tundu Lissu only narrowly survived after being shot several times in Dodoma. Meanwhile, just days before Akwiline’s killing, opposition official Daniel John had been found dead with machete wounds in Dar es Salaam.
In a manner unlike after those incidents, however, the death of the innocent student seemed to galvanise public opinion. A wide variety of organisations expressed their frustration at the situation in Tanzania in a rare show of outspokenness.