Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's in the news?

So what has been happening in Uganda while we've been sunning ourselves on a Zanzibar beach?  Quite a lot actually. We came back to some interesting news stories, so here's a selection of what we read about last week.

Firstly, Kizza Besigye seems to have given the police the slip, so Saturday's Daily Monitor reports. You may recall the long-running conflict and personal antipathy between Besigye of the opposition FDC and President Museveni, which poisoned the election and then erupted onto the streets. Well, the walk-to-work appears to be over. We also had a ride-and-hoot (bang your saucepan, blow your whistle) protest which appeared to drive the authorities frantic - so much so that the police have been attempting to track down every single car which is believed to have honked its horn at 5pm. In a surreal move, they published lists of the registration numbers of some of the guilty cars (62) and motorcycles (72) in New Vision. We were even told that they had arrested a man for laughing while the honking was going on; however we haven't checked whether that story was true. I wonder if the police tape-recorded culprits hooting, which the New Vision says they would need to do if they are to arrest them under the National Environment (Noise Standards and Control) regulations of 2003. If so, how do you distinguish between one horn and another? Quite important to know this as the maximum penalty is reported to be Shs18 million (roughly US $4,500) or 18 months in jail.

Besigye himself was put under 'preventive' house arrest, under the Criminal Procedure Code, a law which The Independent said was originally made by the British to suppress Ugandans agitating for independence. People living in the vicinity of his house have been suffering as well: roads have been blocked with spiked strips and the police have been camping out in every spare corner, even, we are told, in people's private compounds. To no avail: Besigye outwitted them on more than one occasion and, the Daily Monitor reports, finally managed to get as far as the airport and board a flight to America, for 'medical treatment'. The Independent reported that earlier, on May 16, police mistook his wife Winnie for Besigye himself and towed her car (with her in it) to the police station, only to discover she was on her (separate) way to the airport  to board the flight taking her back to the USA to resume her job at the UN. Somewhat embarrassedly they claimed that this action was part of a routine check on third party car insurance.

As a result of what appear to be perceived by the authorities as police failures, both New Vision and the Monitor report that a number of officers have been suspended from duty - basically for showing too little enthusiasm during the ride-and-hoot campaign. Well, they don't seem to have been photographed 'caning' anyone for the last few days and the death toll remains at 10 (though with hundreds injured or behind bars, of course). Oh, and before I forget, the police commander who was in charge of the arrest of Besigye (you remember: pepper spray, beating, being dragged face down down and squashed into a police pick up - that arrest) is apparently being recommended for promotion. The last time this police officer reached public attention, according to John Kazoora, a member of FDC writing in the Monitor, was when he was recommended for prosecution for corruption and abuse of office in 1999.

So, Besigye's out of the way, but not before the government made what some newspapers interpreted as serious attempts to bring in detention without trial: a proposal that the Constitution be amended to remove the right to bail for violent crimes (rape, murder, treason, that sort of thing) .... and also the misdemeanour of 'economic sabotage' (a term often used as a synonym for 'protest', also called 'rioting'). The implications of this amendment were that anyone deemed by their activity of walking-to-work to be discouraging people from trading, could be slapped into jail for six months with no right to ask for bail. The amendment was opposed by the Uganda Law Reform Commission, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Solicitor General.  Even MPs felt uncomfortable about it as it goes against the presumption of innocence. The amendment was eventually rejected by Parliament, so the Sunday Monitor reports. The general view expressed by columnists in The Independent and Daily Monitor, reporting statements made by MPs during the debate, was that it was not very fair for the civil rights of the population as a whole to be affected by what was seen as a clumsy attempt to get Besigye and his mates behind bars. As the MP for Kawempe South put it, 'Innocent people cannot suffer because President Museveni has problems with Dr Besigye. The President should not use the Constitution to fight personal wars.'

The British haven't been getting a good press here recently, either. Firstly, in one of his widely reported speeches the President included the BBC with the Daily Monitor and Al-Jazeerah in giving too much coverage to the rising fuel and food prices and hence being 'enemies of Uganda's recovery'. The Resident District Commissioner of Arua then accused the UK in the presence of the British High Commissioner and the USA in the absence of theirs, of funding the protests, a contravention of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) which allows foreign envoys to carry out their functions without harassment. The editorial in the Monitor described his outburst as a 'rant'. The British High Commissioner walked out of the meeting, not something that often happens. In an interview with BBC's Network Africa, Henry Bellingham, the UK's Minister for Africa,  requested that President Museveni be 'statesman-like and rise above any moves against the opposition.' According to the Daily Monitor, these comments were dismissed by the Deputy Principal Private Secretary to the President as 'idle' as Mr Museveni 'does not need lectures on governance.' The UK is one of Uganda's key development partners and biggest aid donors.

Anyway, we have a Parliament full of virgin MPs, all licketty-splick and shining new. I said 'full' and I meant 'full'. The last Parliament (the eighth, though only five, I think, have been elected) had 284 elected MPs. The new ninth Parliament has 375, a number which will probably go up to 400 or so once the non-elected MPs are added. The number of Cabinet Ministers has also gone up from 21 to 29 and the number of state ministers from 41 to 47. These numbers matter to taxpayers.

Apparently, according to the Independent, each MP receives  a monthly salary of Shs2.6 m, a subsistence allowance of Shs4.5m, a constituency allowance which varies but is about Shs3.2m, a mileage allowance of Shs3.8m (or Shs5.5m, depending on the source), extra constituency mileage of Shs2.5m, town running of Shs1m (or Shs1.6m), medical allowance on average of Shs200,000 and a gratuity of Shs3.5m. The total comes to about Shs18-21 million per month (approximately US$9000). Multiply these figures by 375 MPs and you get a monthly figure of about Shs8 billion. Similar figures for salaries and allowances are given in other newspapers like The Observer, though the exact amounts they report may differ slightly. The salary quoted does not include payments for the ex-officio MPs or for air tickets, meals, accommodation and various other transport allowances. It also doesn't include the Shs190m which each MP receives for a new vehicle. Vehicles for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker cost Shs419m each.

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention was that the MPs, Opposition as well as NRM, are claiming that with 14% inflation (April), their pay is insufficient and they want a rise of an extra Shs4 million. They also want taxes on their new cars to be removed and a Shs50 million advance. The Observer reports that many MPs are trying to get bank loans 'to settle campaign related financial obligations and maintain a desired standard.' An advance would mean that there was less need for a loan. Actually, no one should know any of this information about MPs' salaries: New Vision and other newspapers report that the journalists were thrown out of Parliament when they were being discussed.

We have been hearing about various Cabinet appointments and replacements, including a new Education Minister about whom we don't know very much yet except that she's young, female and used to be a lieutenant in the army. The new Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Maria Kiwanuka, is already getting a good press. Dr Mulera, a regular columnist for the Monitor, says that she 'is one of the brightest women of our generation with great expertise and extensive experience in local and international business and finance that should stand her in good stead'. She has a major task in getting Uganda's economy back on track. The new Health Minister is Pastor Christine Joyce Dradidi Ondoa, a consultant paediatrician, who is reported by the Daily Monitor as having done some impressive work 'turning around Jinja Referral Hospital.' The Parliament also has a new Speaker, Rebecca Kadega, the first woman to hold this post. So, good to see so many strong women in post. Perhaps unexpectedly, Uganda has a new Vice President Edward Ssekandi, who appears to command cross-party support. The Monitor reports Mike Mukula MP, who nominated him, as saying, 'The new Vice President is a man who has stood the test of time, a man of integrity, a man of ability and above all a man who humbles before God.' Quite a number of Ministers who were implicated in corruption scandals have been dropped, though the new Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi,  still appears to have a few question marks over his name, according to the Monitor.

However, back to the inflation rate which has been bothering the MPs, leading to their demand for higher salaries as compensation. Inflation is a problem right across East Africa, with food and fuel prices affecting every country. Today's BBC Network Africa report on Kenya reported very high price rises for food.  Kenya has, however, reduced fuel tax to try to deal with some of the problems. However, not all countries are affected to the same degree. Uganda is particularly badly hit, with price rises affecting food, fuel and health disproportionately. The image below, taken from Mark Jordhal's blog, while relating to prices back in February still presents some of the issues quite clearly.

UGprices Inflation in Uganda
Image from

How is inflation affecting ordinary citizens? (The figure for May is  16%, with the food inflation figure  about 39%.) Well, in particular, they are finding it difficult to pay school fees as their modest incomes have to cover significant increases in fuel and food (the trigger for the walk-to-work protests). Schools (especially boarding schools, of which there are many), are understandably also raising their fees to cover the huge increase in the price of food. Some basic foods are said to have nearly tripled in price since the new year. Rises in school fees are being implemented despite instructions from the government to the contrary, though obviously private schools have more flexibility in this than government schools (though the latter often also have boarding costs to consider). The school fees story received a lot of coverage in all the newspapers, New Vision, Daily Monitor and so on, a couple of weeks ago when term started, probably because it affects so many families. What everyone is concerned about is the potential impact on enrolment and attendance. The first stories about some children not returning to school are just beginning to trickle through to the press. Remember, about a third of Ugandans exist on less than $1.2 a day. That is less than $32 a month. Compare that with the $9000 earned by MPs.

Oh, and one more story which may or may not have anything to do with inflation. According to the Daily Monitor, the Centre for Governance and Economic Development has reported that children in Terego County - in Arua in the north, where education is receiving particular attention because of poor PLE and UCE results -  are boycotting classes to hunt rats.  Apparently they taste good.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Zanzibar: Life's a Beach Slideshow & Video

Zanzibar: Life's a Beach Slideshow & Video:

Nungwi, a little corner of paradise

When we looked out of the bedroom windows it did rather seem as if the old cliché about dying and going to heaven had actually come true.

View from hotel, over the beach towards Nungwi village.
The north coast of Zanzibar is a paradise of silvery white sand, long beaches, wide horizons, tall gangly coconut palms, and low fishermen’s houses. You may not be aware of it but Nungwi is the dhow-building capital of the Indian Ocean and boats built on these shores are bought and sailed by Kenyans and Somalis – and quite possibly by pirates, I suppose. Young westerners also flock here for the snorkelling and diving for the greeny-blue seas are beautifully clear and contain lots of wonderful sea life, or so we are told. Too old and lazy for that, we just alternated between swimming and the loungers.

Sheltered from the sun, using an adze to hollow out a new boat.
Dhow being punted along the seashore.
Small dugouts, with outriders for stability.
Well, not quite ‘just’, we did go for a walk along the beach one day. The shoreline took us to Nungwi village. Still dependent on fishing and dhow-building, the village folk are trying to protect their most valuable resources as well as seeking other sources of income.

Pulled up above the high tide mark, Nungwi lighthouse in the distance.
Village boys playing by the anchored fishing fleet, as the sun goes down.
Realising that Zanzibar’s green turtles are under threat, not least because they are considered a great culinary delicacy, the locals have decided to turn a small lagoon into a turtle conservation area. Here they hatch, breed and protect young turtles before letting them loose into the ocean. By giving tours of the site they also hope to educate visitors and provide their project with much-needed financial support.

Green turtles in the lagoon.
Another of the community’s activities is to offer guided walks around their village. It is very easy if, like us, you are staying in a comfortable hotel with all facilities on site, to remain almost oblivious of the local people and their way of life. I do worry how much money really does trickle through to the local community.  The latest figures we have found for Zanzibar indicates that at least two thirds of the fresh produce used by hotels is brought in from outside the island. However, we hope the hotel buys its fish locally and we know the fishermen give trips in their boats. Some villagers no doubt get jobs as cleaners and gardeners, but the hotel chains such as the Hilton where we were staying will often bring their own trained hospitality staff with them when they set up a development. So, offering an accompanied village walk encourages visitors to step out of their bubble and learn about the local culture without any of the voyeurism associated with camera-flashing go-it-alone approaches. It also ensures that money goes direct into community coffers.

A typical old village house built of coral.
Our guide was a young man who, having completed S4, went on to do a tourism course set up locally by the government. He had lived in the village all his life and so was able to chat to his friends and neighbours and ask permission for us to take photos. Usually it was granted and when it was refused we at least felt that we weren’t encroaching on people’s privacy in this traditional Muslim culture. We were able to watch people go about their normal daily tasks without feeling that a special show was being put on for us.

Building a dhow.
Internal ribs of mangrove wood and external planks of mahogany.
Good progress on this dhow.
The encouraging aspect of this bit of local enterprise was that it had been generated by members of the community themselves. In Uganda, we are surrounded everywhere we go by people working for donor agencies and NGOs like our own. So much of the development work seems to have originated outside Uganda itself and, while it is undoubtedly well intentioned and focused on addressing real and pressing needs, we do sometimes feel uncomfortable about the dependency culture which has built up over the years. Despite the warmth and friendliness of our Ugandan friends and colleagues, outside our immediate circle, in the community at large, we get the sense that westerners are often seen simply as sources of money. However, what was so refreshing in Zanzibar was the relative invisibility of the aid agencies. Here in Nungwi, it was the people themselves who had decided how they were going to go about improving their lives.

Sticks for sale, but we can't remember what for.
Fish for sale.
Blacksmith with tools for sale.
Doors for sale.
Nungwi village has no source of water – so not quite paradise. The authorities bring in drinking water. One or two houses have rainwater tanks for bathing and washing. The village grows few crops, which leads to a healthy trade with inland villages.

Rainwater tank.
Mending nets.
We also met the women of the village,  though we didn’t photograph them, except for the busy lady here who showed us how to grind millet, make rope out of coconut fibre and weave raffia.

Grinding millet.

Visitors are always interesting.
The village has a health centre, built with the help of local hotels. Unfortunately, we were told, it has no drugs.

The health centre.
It also has a private nursery. The children each had a pencil and were drawing pictures and learning to write. We didn’t see any other resources except outside, where an organisation had donated play equipment.

Early writing in the nursery.
Nursery playground.
When we drove around Zanzibar we saw far  more evidence of children attending school than we are used to in Uganda, where we see too many children hanging around the compound or the streets, looking after siblings and doing real work like digging the fields. However, the Nungwi primary school was as bereft of teachers actually teaching as Ugandan schools. The teachers were sitting around the office and the children milling about. It was Friday, a half day, and they would shortly be going to the mosque. As in Uganda, learning resources appeared to be minimal, with many classrooms without any desks at all. Blackboards contained screeds of notes for copying down.

Now write this.
However, there was a very good building for secondary pupils (by African standards), which was only a year or two old and had been built with money from one of the hotels. It had been operating without desks, but these were now being put together.

Almost brand new secondary school.
Newly assembled desks.  No doubt chairs will also appear.
The campus also had a computer room, donated in memory of a young western teacher who had died during her time in Nungwi.

The school's computer room.
Then it was back to the hotel, and our comfortable holiday way of life.  Sundowners and an excellent meal looking over the sea at the boats coming in. We were a bit uncomfortable about the Masai dancing display which the hotel laid on, however. Zanzibar is a long way from Masai land, though the young Masai men come over to the island to earn hard cash. I did feel it was a bit exploitative, though it was an impressive display.

Masai dancing, long hair swinging as they jump high into the air.
However, the highlight of the holiday had to be the dhows, whether the whole fleet sailing out in search of fish, or the  one or two stragglers when the sun finally left the sky. If Nungwi isn’t quite paradise, it’s as near to being a little corner of it that we know.

Getting ready to leave.
The first dhow on its way.

Rain in the distance, but all's clear in Nungwi.
The first boats in the fleet present a majestic sight.
Back home, and time to rest.
Back home for us, too, but, unfortunately, by plane not dhow.

Ready to fly, Zanzibar airport.

You may also find the following posts interesting:

Nungwi: Life's a Beach slideshow

Making connections, changing lives: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Zanzibar: Out and about in Stone Town

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Zanzibar: Out And About in Stone Town Slideshow & Video

Zanzibar: Out And About in Stone Town Slideshow & Video:

Making connections, changing lives: Stone Town, Zanzibar

What is the connection between Scotland, Uganda and Zanzibar?

Dr Livingstone, you may presume.  And you will be right – well, almost.

David Livingstone, born in Blantyre in Scotland, began and ended many of his expeditions in Zanzibar, including his attempts to find the source of the Nile – which is, of course, in Uganda, though he spent much of his time searching in the area between Lake Nyasa (now Lake Malawi) and Lake Tanganyika (in what is now Tanzania).  The good doctor never actually visited Uganda, as far as I know (though I am not a Livingstone expert) but he jolly well should have, which is a good enough connection for me.
David Livingstone House built in 1860 for Sultan Majid
and used by Livingstone and other explorers.

Other connections?  The Ritchies’ May holiday, of course. 

It was some journey.  Leaving Entebbe on the westernmost shore of Lake Victoria, we flew right over the lake towards the east, gazing down at low green islands which reminded me of Islay and Coll.  The lake seemed never ending.  Then, eventually, we saw land and began travelling across the huge land mass which is Tanzania.  We looked down over the Serengeti  - mile after mile of savannah – and the Rift Valley and then more miles of savannah.  All of a sudden, a magical sight appeared on our left: Mount Kilimanjaro, the summit at eye level, wreathed in clouds.  

Mount Kilimanjaro from the aircraft.
The plane dipped down for, amazingly, there is actually an airport called Kilimanjaro.  A quick turnaround and then off again for Dar es Salaam, a dash through passport control, a quick purchase of a visa, then - oh, the relief of it, we made the connection - on again to the Spice Islands.  Romantic names, all of them, but none more so than that of our final destination: Zanzibar.

Looking across to the Sultan's Palace and Ferry Port
from the Beit al ajaib (House of Wonders)
Spice plantation north of Stone Town.
What comes to mind when you think about Zanzibar?  Spices, sultans and, yes …. slavery: all connected, of course.  And the connections stretch back all the way we had come, back across mainland Africa, deep into the countries which are now called Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.  The African chiefs sold their defeated enemies, and, indeed, their own people, to the Arab slave traders, in particular to Tippu Tipp who had a house in Zanzibar.  The slave traders marched their captives in chains to the eastern shore.  There they loaded them into dhows, offloaded them in Zanzibar and sold them to the Sultan and his fellow Omani Arabs, who then either sent them further north to the Horn of Africa and Arabia or put them to work in their own spice plantations. Connections between places made by a trade in people that changed lives for ever.

If you look closely, you will see that most of these slaves are children.
Zanzibari slaves were, apparently, relatively well treated compared with those who were shipped to the West Indies and Americas from West Africa.  They were often given plots of land to work.  Mothers were rarely separated from their children. Many slaves gained their freedom, becoming gardeners and farmers.  Ironically, some even became leaders of slave caravans or masters of slave ships.  None of this, however, compensates in any way whatsoever for the loss of family, roots, culture, language or home.

Moving modern sculpture, with actual chains used for slaves.

Modern dhow hugging the coastline
And how did this terrible trade come to an end?  Through the work of David Livingstone, of course.  He gave a passionate speech about slavery  to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  The universities set up an organisation, Universities Mission in Central Africa (UMCA), to fight slavery.  The UMCA set up its headquarters in Zanzibar after so many of its missionaries died of disease on the mainland.  It persuaded the Sultan to set the slaves free and sell them the land on which the slave market was built.  The UMCA erected the Anglican cathedral on the site of the market, a school next door, and a hospital on the site of the holding cells.  Making connections – Scotland, Oxford, Zanzibar - changing lives, for ever.  The slaves once freed, however, had lost their own connections to their native lands and could never go back, even if they had managed to find the way.

Basement holding cell for 85 women and children,
sanitation provided by a central channel washed out by the tide.
Anglican Cathedral built on the site of the slave market.
Site of the whipping post in front of the high altar,
used to test the strength and stamina of newly arrived slaves.
Another Scot, Dr John Kirk a son of the manse in the small town of Barry in Angus in north east Scotland was instrumental in bringing out about the end of the trade within Zanzibar itself. Kirk was a medical man attached to the British consulate in Zanzibar, with strong links with the sultan and his family.

And what is Zanzibar like now?  Well, we stayed in Stone Town, the old part of Zanzibar Town and a World Heritage site.  It’s a warren of narrow winding streets with tall old buildings built of coral from the reef which encloses the island.  It’s really quite dilapidated now, with many of the structures quite literally falling down.

Once grand buildings face inwards into courtyards and entry is through heavy wooden doors, many of them intricately carved.  Indian traders came here as well; in fact, one of the most famous sons of Zanzibar is Freddie Mercury.  Indian doors had heavy brass studs, ostensibly to protect them from elephants, and Indian womenfolk were able to survey the streets from beautifully carved wooden balconies.  Arab doors are often inset with verses from the Koran.

The Sultan and his family and followers brought their faith with them from Oman.    Although in 1964 the Sultan and the dominant Arab community were overthrown during a bloody uprising shortly after independence from Britain, Islam has remained the faith of almost all of the largely African local population: about 95%.  Many of the Zanzibari women are far more heavily veiled than we have seen elsewhere in Africa, though many are also resplendent in brilliant scarlet and turquoise. Strangely enough, the leader of Zanzibar's revolution was a Ugandan, John Okello, who had been living in Pemba, the nearby island. During the revolt it is said that more than 17,000 Arabs and Indians were killed in one night (though some sources give a much lower figure). 

Touches of intricate embroidery relieve
the all-encompassing black of the over-dresses
Bright scarves for the adults and bright dresses for the school girls.
Bright cotton kenzo, a wraparound garment for women
Kenzo celebrating independence, uhuru,  from Britain, 1961.
And even one celebrating Christmas!
We were fortunate enough to stay in a beautiful old building, Tembo Hotel in the heart of Stone Town, which had been sensitively renovated and tastefully furnished in the old Indian/Arabic style.  It looks right over the sea, towards the mainland, and from our balcony we could see the dhows weaving in and out between the modern ferries and container ships.  Every morning we ate our breakfast on the terrace: pawpaws, pineapple, water melon, bananas, Zanzibar coffee spiced with cardamon and black pepper, fresh coconut milk drunk straight from green coconuts, little eastern pastries.  And the service was excellent – we can thoroughly recommend the Tembo Hotel.

Terrace, looking out over the sea.

A corner of the Tembo Hotel.
Stairs with traditional coloured glass windows.
Zanzibar retains its connections with the past – the best of it, that is.  The worst is gradually crumbling away.  The dhows we watched look just the same as they did in Livingstone’s time.  The food is as much Arabic as African: delicious freshly caught fish flavoured with delicately spiced sauces.   The Taarab music for which Zanzibar is famous brings the two main influences together.  Even the language – Swahili – is an amalgam, of Arabic, local African languages and even some Portuguese, from the merchants who were in Zanzibar before the Arabs arrived.  And the people, of course, the Zanzibaris, are very different from other Tanzanians, with their mixed Arab and African ancestry, their connections stretching back into the mainland and over to Arabia and even across the Indian Ocean to India itself.

The Sultan, like other wealthy Arabs of the time, had many concubines as well as wives.  While in Zanzibar, I read a fascinating autobiography by Princess Salme, who was born in 1840, daughter of Sultan Said the Great by a Circassian (Russian) slave, one of his thirty-six concubines.  Other concubines came from mainland Tanzania and elsewhere in southern and eastern Africa, including some from Abyssinia, modern Ethiopia.  The children of these concubines were accepted as legitimate heirs, lived a comfortable privileged life like the one described by Salme, and, through their own children and grandchildren, added to the racial mix of Zanzibar.  Lives changed irrevocably over just a generation or so.  Salme herself eloped with a German who lived in the house next door to the Sultan’s palace, much to the fury of her brother, the Sultan Barschad, changing her life forever.   Sadly widowed within three years, she remained stranded in cold colourless Europe, eventually writing her memoir to give her children some idea of their connections with her warm, exotic and much-loved native land.

Ruins of the concubines' bath houses.
Modern Zanzibar is proud of its complex history and identity.  Having only become part of Tanzania in 1964, many islanders now think that it is time to snap what to them is just a very recent connection and break free from the mainland.  They feel that their small group of islands with its distinctive culture has become lost and devalued within the larger whole.  Reminds us of another small nation uncomfortable with the domination of a bigger neighbour next door.  Perhaps Zanzibar's connections with Scotland are stronger than it realises.

Zanzibar's future
PS.  If you can get hold of it, do read Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar by Emily Ruete, Princess Salme of Zanzibar and Oman.

The Last Slave Market by Alastair Hazell is a fascinating account of the slave trade across East Africa, its hub in Zanzibar and the way its tentacles spread right across Arabia. The book follows the efforts of Dr John Kirk in recording and bringing an end to the slave market in Zanzibar itself.