Friday, January 1, 2016

Mathematically Minded

Pole sana, dear readers, I have no original content for you guys on this first day of the new year, 2016.  Having been delayed briefly in New York, I am waiting out the next three to four days until my new flight which is scheduled to have me in Kilimanjaro the evening of January 5th.  While I'm delighted to have a bit more time with family, friends, and food delivery, I'm also keenly aware of a now loudly ticking clock.  Must get back to Tanzania!  STAT!!
Until then, have a gander at this article from The Daily News titled "Bidding Farewell to 2015, Mathematically Lucky Year."  Kind of a cute little piece....

A lot of things have been said about mathematics over the years.  Some have found it a difficult subject and have gone to the extent of disliking it.  A number of people have found it useful when they need it to solve different types of problems such as monetary and economic, statistical and research-related, and geological.

Many professionals have seen mathematics as part and parcel of their occupations as engineers, scientists, and surveyors.  Yet there are people who like mathematics because of the joy it provides to them with patterns.  This year, 2015, people are saying something different.

They are seeing it as a special year for mathematics.  Not that the performance of mathematics has improved or deteriorated, but mathematics has produced a president of the country.  And it is a mathematics teacher who has been named President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Dr. John Pombe Magufuli is the first mathematics teacher in Tanzania to become the head of the nation.  It is a very rare occasion for a mathematician to vie for the presidency and win, but Dr. Magufuli has broken the jinx.

While the late professor of mathematics, Leonard Shayo tried and failed miserably, a number of people have seen the new president as man of action with typical characteristics of many mathematicians.

The number of actions he has taken in the short time he has been in office is encouraging.  The Mathematical Association of Tanzania (MAT/CHAHITA) still remembers his prompt response in 2009 when the association invited him to be the guest of honor on Pi Day and he agreed.

The celebration was held at the Tanzania Institute of Education.  Dr. Magufuli expressed his love for mathematics and even told the crowd listening to his speech that he used mathematics to capture illegal fishermen.  By then, he was Minister of Livestock and Fishing.

At the end of the ceremony, journalists surrounded him asking him to disclose the formula but he declined to do so because the case was still in court.  Recently, the chairman of MAT/CHAHITA, Dr. Said Sima expressed his pleasure of Dr. John Magufuli being the fifth-phase president of the nation.

He congratulated the author of this article for involving government officials in Pi Day celebrations.  Apart from Dr. Magufuli, Dr. Sima cited the Hon. Kassim Majaliwa who was the guest of Honor in the 2012 Pi Day celebration held at Jangwani Girls Secondary School.  Hon. Majaliwa was Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office (TAMISEMI), responsible for education.

Another senior government official was Dr. Mohamed Bilal who was invited to the 10th Pi Day celebration held at Jangwani grounds in 2014.

At that time, Dr. Bilal was Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania.  "It has been a lucky year for mathematics," claimed Dr. Sima.

"You have succeeded in inviting the current president and prime minister -- so far so good!  We hope for the best, and praise MAT/CHAHITA, the president, and all his ministers' hard work in making mathematics a subject liked by all.

We also hope that the Minister of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology, and Vocational Training, Prof. Joyce Ndalichako and her Deputy Engineer, Stella Manyanya will support our activities."

This lucky year has also witnessed an increase of participation of primary schools in MAT/CHAHITA activities.  For example, in this year's annual seminar and general meeting (AGM), held in Moshi early in August, more than 80 primary school teachers attended.

This year has also witnessed a very special three-year-old child perform mathematical operations and algebra extraordinarily.  We have also been informed of a girl from the southern part of Tanzania (nicknamed makalkuleta), doing multiplication and division of large numbers quickly and accurately.

This luck has been completed by President John Magufuli appointing Prof. Joyce Ndalichako as Minister of Education, Science, Technology, and Vocational Training.

Prof. Joyce Ndalichako is a mathematics teacher.  She is among very few women mathematicians who have served the nation in various positions including that of Executive Secretary of the National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA).

She has been set to work with Deputy Engineer, Stella Manyanya.  The year 2015 has certainly been a mathematics-lucky year!

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