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Solo Athumani Solo

Abstract and Keywords

Solo Athumani Solo (1959–2004) was an influential social work practitioner and educator in Tanzania. His professional life was dedicated to the advocacy of children’s rights and the empowerment of marginalized and vulnerable population groups.

Keywords: Africa, children’s rights, community development, street children, Tanzania

Solo Athumani Solo (1959–2004) was born in Igunga, one of the six districts in the Tabora Region of Mainland Tanzania. He obtained academic qualifications in Co-operative and Rural Development at Kizumbi Co-operative College in Shinyanga; in Social Work at the former Social Welfare Training Institute in Dar es Salaam (now the Institute of Social Work); and in Regional Planning at the Institute of Rural Development Planning in Dodoma. Solo had a passion for teaching; for the period of 1988–1995, he taught at the Community Development Training Institute in Buhare, where he also provided field supervision for students in practical training.

As a social work practitioner, he served in various fields of social work, including social services for vulnerable children and families, counseling, and community development. He also engaged as a children’s rights advocate. From 1996–1998, he served as coordinator for the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) in Dar es Salaam. In 1999, he took over the role of coordinator for Community and Social Services at “Child in the Sun,” an organization working with street children in Dar es Salaam.

Solo was involved in many research projects as both an individual and as a team researcher. From 1996 to 1997, he was part of research projects on alcohol and drug abuse in Dar es Salaam and Pemba (Zanzibar). In 2001, he participated in a research project of the International Labour Organization on the worst forms of child labor in Tanzania.

Being proficient in English, the East African lingua franca Swahili, and indigenous Tanzanian languages such as Kurya, Ha, Nyiha, Nyakyusa, Jita, Ikizu, and Zanaki, Solo managed to reach out to the people, to understand their cultural context, and to provide them means of empowerment. His dedication was mainly targeted toward people living in extremely difficult circumstances and in situations of chronic poverty or, in his own words, toward the “Lumpenproletariat” (using the terminology of Karl Marx).

Solo A. Solo was a social worker with heart and soul who dedicated his career to marginalized and vulnerable population groups in Tanzania. In 2004, he was on a promotional tour in Austria and Germany, where he gave a number of lectures and presentations (for example, at the Alpen-Adria University at Klagenfurt), thus inspiring hundreds of students and ordinary people alike. He died at the age of 44 and left four children and a wife, also a social worker. His untimely death must be blamed on poor road conditions and health care systems in Africa.

In a Tanzanian context, Solo Athumani Solo can truly be called “Mzee Solo”—the Swahili word Mzee indicating a high level of respect shown to a man or woman.