Monday, July 31, 2006

Why Do I "Reflect"?

Of late I have been receiving varying comments regarding my writing. One common message that the readers of my reflections have been sending out to me is this: we need to start acting. Some of the comments have even indicated that folks like me with some kind of political "expertise" should go home and take the reign.

Well, appreciate those suggestions, very flattering. Nonetheless, I will have to make some issues clear. I do not perceive myself as a career politician, honestly. I have little patience for run-arounds and a whole lot of blah blah. Being so technical as opposed to political, there is a chance that I might disconnect with the wananchi, especially the majority who have been conditioned to accept emotionally charged empty words as "good" politics. I guess my participation in politics is more on the analytical side than on the hotuba nyingi side. I like to see tangible results and I wonder if that can fare well with the Bongoland mentality, honestly.

So why do I write really? I write because I feel it is my calling for now. I write because that's what I can contribute for now. I write because I believe there is power in information. If I can share an insight with someone and put them in a position to be better educated, then I have fulfilled my duty.

See, this is what I believe. Calling Metty to vie for Ubunge simply because he can point out what the current leaders are missing, is equivalent to calling all movie critics to become actors or actresses. I have never met any movie critic, but I convinced that they have some technical knowledge about cinematrography. They can tell when a script is crap or gold. They can tell whether an actor has superbly delivered on the emotions of the scene. They can give a rating and the public tend to agree with them. Nonetheless, I wonder if the same experts can fill Denzel Washington's shoes.

Similarly, there are TV political analysts. Check out Lou Dobbs of CNN for instance. The dude can tell you what President is doing wrong regarding the immigration policy. He can tell you how Senator Hillary Clinton is not worth the presidency of the United States of America. Sometimes he is on point, sometime he is not. Nonetheless, it would not be fair to tell Lou Dobbs to run for presidency simply because he seems to have incredible insight on some political issues.

I believe also that not all super professors of economics are the best economists. Some are just academicians, period. So yanking professors from hospitals (like Prof. Sarungi) and turning them into politicians is not a guarantee that they would yield the expected results. I could be the best writer and thinker, but the worst implementor due to my personality traits. I could be intellectually mkali, but have the worst public relations skills and hence frustrate everybody around me. Consequently, I could end up failing to deliver due to inability to manage my subordinates, even my superiors.

My point is that we have different roles in trying to bring about change in every society. There are those who have decided to run for office. Some have decided to bring about change through activism. Some have decided to voice their dissastisfaction with the "system" through writing poems and literary books. Yet some maintain editorial columns and weekly columns in newspapers to voice their opinions. Some just watch and go along. Some have stoned buildings and set streets on fire, all in the name of contributing to a "change" course.

So in the meantime I just want to reflect, write, and share my thoughts with the rest of the world. Who knows, may be someday I will PM Metty, may be some Waziri Metty, or Kingunge Metty. Life happens, but I just want to write for now.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Cost of Ignorance.. (2)

Life happens. Sometimes in a funny way. I am a man of faith, so the whole "coincidence" thing doesn't work for me. Call me fanatic, but I believe that God ordains our steps. I did not intend to write a sequel to my original post, but I had to. Circumstances forced me. I had to respond given what I perceive as a baseless personal attack that was hurled towards me. I will try to put the excerpts from the "attacker's" comments for more clarity.

"It seems like you are obsessed with finding someone to blame for everything na cha ajabu you are not doing enough to research, argue and produce alternative strategies. I smell "information starvation" hapa cause most of your hojas are vociferous than being problem-solving and result-oriented(refer to mramba and matibabu ya kikwete).

Some of the issues do not require rocket science abilities. As such, I don't have to do any research. I only have to apply my God given common sense. I paid my dues at Shycom Institute, Berea College and Miami University. Do I need to spend more time in the library to interpret what it means for an African president to get his medical check-up overseas while pregnant women can't safely deliver in his own country's hospitals? I will be insulting my previous professors, if you get the point. I don't have to quote books to sound intelligent. I can think on my own.

Had you been paying attention to my arguments, you would have clearly seen that I not only criticize, but also provide an alternative. Let me give you an example, from my previous post regarding the president's treatment overseas. This is what I wrote, and I will quote "If the case is not having sophisticated medical equipment, isn't it the president's responsibility to ensure that the country is on top of the chart as far as medical equipment is concerned? " If you don't see the alternative strategy there, then ...oh well. Or I can help you express that in a simple language: Instead of the president going to get his eyes checked in Germany, import eye testing equipment and install them at Muhimbili. Was that too difficult?

Oh let me give you another one about Mr. Mramba. This is what I wrote, and I quote again: " There should be an infrastructure development master plan or an infrastructure framework known to all, including wabunge. The plan should tell you which roads are given priority, their completion schedule and their economic justification. Short of that we are just kidding ourselves. Short of that we give people like Mr. Mramba a chance to do whatever they want to do". I am assuming my attacker missed that one, so I am going to explain that in a very simple language: Let us draw an infrastructure master plan and stick to it!

See, my conviction is that my friend is the one who need to do a little bit research. Do a little bit of thinking. It is a shame to call someone out in the open, while you don't have any strong, logical arguments. I would have decided to get down personal, but I have outgrown those childish tendencies.

I will continue to reflect. I will continue to write. I will continue to challenge the status quo. I will continue to be honest with you and I. I will continue to share whatever God enables me to see through an uncommon wisdom. I will continue to share my deepest thoughts. It might sound like I am against the system, from which a couple of folks are gearing themselves to gain from, but we have to speak up when needed. Criticizing the system does not equate to having a political ambition. I have my career and I don't intend to become a career politician any time soon. I get paid adequately, so I don't intend to go and "steal" from the unsuspecting poor folks in Bongoland. So if you feel threathened by me, just relax, learn and grow.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Cost of Ignorance..

Have you ever tried to write something and find out that it ain't coming out the way you wanted it? Well, this reflection is going to be one of those. For those who like to write, you can concur that the first sentence or the first paragraph tends to be the indication of how the whole article is going to shape. Hey, but who cares, sometimes we gotta relax and just flow with it..

I have done alot of musing on what is happening in Bongoland and what it means in a logical world. Nonetheless, I feel that taking about a larger community without doing a little introspection on a subset of that larger community could be an injustice. I mean, a larger community is always made up of smaller community, right? As such, I am justified to say that that the Tanzanian community in Columbus, Ohio forms a subset of Tanzania. So I am going to slam me and you - that is, a Bongolander in Columbus. Don't raise your marungu yet. Just think.

I would be 98% correct by making an argument that we all boarded a plane, across deep oceans to this land called the United States of America to pursue economic opportunities. I know some of you would start to argue that you came for education, but I am convinced that the majority of us go to school to earn more money. So let's talk about the money part. Let's dig into it.

I know have shot some hard punches at our viongozi for their inability to critically think and make decisions. I have provided reasons for my punches, so I am clean on that. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that wazee in Bongoland are no worse than us at times, because we have also failed to fully utilize all the opportunities we have around us. If you think I am kidding, just go with me numerically ( can't help it man, as an accountant numbers bring me joy). I think I have share this theory before, but I will try to bring it up again.

It is estimated that there are 400 Tanzanians in Columbus, Ohio. I have no done any verification on this number, so I will just use this estimate for argument purposes. It in deed there are 400 of us here in Columbus, and our average budget for rent is $500 on a monthly basis, that translates into a whopping $200,000 a month! Oh better yet, that translates into a staggering $2,400,000 a year!

Think about that.

Think about the dollars we spend on non-Tanzanian apartment owners and West African stores. Think about the amount of dollars you have spent on Sean Paul and Timberland. Thing about the dollars you have dished to Heineken and Budwiser. Think about the potential $2,400,000 that could make us into self-made millionaires that we "waste" . Just think about that. Just think about apartment complexes that we could have been rightful owners of...think about other investment opportunities we could have pursued. Think about that.

See, my conviction is that ignorance is costly. As a matter of fact, the general rule is that the most successful people in life are those with the best information. The problem, however, is that we tend to think that the best information is hidden somewhere far, or such information is for the lucky folks. I am here to tell you that we have the best information just at our fingertips. Sometimes, in order to tap into that information we have to apply uncommon wisdom. You have to think outside the box.

And I believe we have enough thinkers in this Tanzanian community. We have enough educated people. The problem is our attitude. We set ourselve for failure all the time, although we think we are making it. So my challenge is this, do we really want to seize and fully utilize all the opportunities that we have, or we just want to go our separate ways? Do we want to prove to each other how we have "made it" without anybody's help? See, the American way of life is tougher sometimes because of the individualistic attitudes. Fortunately for you and I, we have this ujamaa legacy in us. If that is our strength, then let us use it to beat the American system. Let us use it to make ourselves better economically.

The question of the day is: Do we want to be millionaires or we want to continue with our vichaa, distribution and call center jobs?

Think about that.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tanesco's Story: A Sad Tale of Inferiority Complex

News stories from Tanzania cover all sorts of happenings. Some of them inspiring, while some of them saddening. Some of them bring hope, while some of them bring a cloud over our heads. That is life and life happens everyday. My reactions to those stories vary, based on what I perceive. In some instances, my response ranges from disbelief to anger. Sometimes, I feel like kicking the butts of those wazee we call leaders, honestly.

The following story elicited one of those anger responses in me. The story goes that Tanzanian government will, once again, hand over Tanesco to foreigners ( I am assuming some wazungu) to run the company. If you think I am making stuff up, check out the original story here.

See, what makes me mad is the fact that in justification for hiring of another wazungu group, the government contends that paying of Tanesco bills by "sensitive" governmental departments will not be done if Tanesco is led by wazalendo. Let me be honest with you, that is the most ridiculous if not stupid reason that a government, led by "educated" folks, PhD holders from universities can come up with. Can I be honest with you again? For all y'all folks that have been counting on CCM, under Mr. JK's leadership, to turn things around, poleni sana.

The Tanesco story, in my view, signals two major troubling notions. First, the government is incompetent. Second, the government is telling all of us - that is the indigenous, negroid, educated me and you - that we are incapable of running Tanesco. And even if we did, they won't respect us enough. Wheeu! Feel like smacking somebody on the face uh?

In every society, there are rules and regulations that must be followed. There are penalties for not following those rules. One of those rules is paying up for utilizing goods and services that another entity has provided. In the Tanesco's case, it is saddening to know that a few departments, dubbed "sensitive" have deliberately resorted to not paying up electric bills, despite budgetary allocations for that particular purpose. The saddest of all, is the fact that the government has been forced to bail Tanesco out on the other hand through grants. What does this really mean? It means that the government had embraced financial indiscipline, incompetence and gross negligence. It means that the government is toothless and unable to penalize irresponsible department heads. It means the Tanzanian government is clueless, kind of bora liende.

I understand that the theme of government's incompetence is a recurring one, so I can relax a little bit on that. Nonetheless, the second notion, that I take very hard and negatively, is the insulting gesture that the Tanzanian government has hurled at educated, competent indigenous Tanzanians. To tell the whole world that the government departments will only pay up their electric bills when a whiteman shows up is the worst of the inferiority complex signs.

In a wider perspective of things, the Tanesco's story is a sad reminder that things won't improve in Tanzania in the near future. It is sad reminder that pain and suffering is the order of the day as long as CCM is in power. I am yet to be proven wrong on that. I am convinced of that because we have not fully embrance our capabilities, or even try to build our capabilities. It is sad story of welcoming colonial mentalities and white supremacy notions over our own social status. It is sad story simply because in 2006, almost 45 years after independence, we still think that it would take only a white man to accomplish the simplest of tasks such as debt collection.

As I said it before, I will repeat it again. We have "educated" folks in the leadership rank in the Tanzanian government who can't critically think. The Tanesco's saga, as it is, is another good example of how the government is led by folks who are clueless. Even worse, we are led by folks who feel inferior to the white race. Kind of want to make me cry, knowing that I am technically competent than many of the white collegues I have come across. Kind of make me furious knowing that there is a negro in Dar-es-Salaam who thinks that due to my blackness I am nothing, in my own country.

I would like to hear what the pro-CCM folks are saying, but this is betray to the core.

Monday, July 24, 2006

When the President Gets Regular Checkup "Majuu"..

I am back after a weekend's layoff just to relax and hangout with family and friends. The heat finally cooled off around the United States and that was something to enjoy, despite the fact that I had to mow my lawn ..ugh!

Just like most of all y'all, I do check my email and go over news highlights before starting my day officially ( I know someone sent out an email explaining that this is plain ghetto. But hey, why front?). Anyways, as far as Bongoland is concern, what caught my attention is that the Mr. JK is currently in Germany, where among other things, he is due for his regular health check-up. Bang! it hit me. (Read On )

I have no problem with anybody across the world choosing wherever and however they want to get their healthcare services, provided they have enough dough to cover those costs. Nonetheless, I am of a strong opinion that when a President goes overseas to get his regular check-up (I mean, not even an urgent, complicated case ), then we must ask alot of questions.

See, what bothers me personally is this notion - mainly from African presidents - that it is cool to be treated overseas. While it might something to brag about among African presidents during the AU meetings, it sends a message to the whole world that we, as Africans, are idiots. And I can explain that.

All presidents (except for dictators) are elected and mandated to ensure that all social services in a country are developed and taken care of, including health care. So when a president goes abroad to just get regular blood pressure, dental, vision, and urinal tests, it sends a loud message that he or she does not trust the health care system in his own country. It sends a message to the rest of us that he or she ain't going to bother with the health care system, as long as he or she is assured of a "superior" health care "majuu".

What does really mean in a wider perspective of things? It means that Mr. JK is also suffering from a deeper inferiority complex that has engulfed most African president for ions. It is a mental outlook that tells the whole world that as Africans, we still feel inferior to the western world. We still hold them higher than us. I mean, don't we have doctors in Tanzania as qualified as those in Germany to do a regular health check up? If the case is not having sophisticated medical equipment, isn't it the president's responsibility to ensure that the country is on top of the chart as far as medical equipment is concerned? Why go throw a bunch of foreign currencies in Germany?

If the presidents is serious about improving health care in Tanzania, then let him get his blood tested at Temeke Hospital or Muhimbili, where he can really get a taste of what wananchi are really going through. Otherwise, we are just kidding ourselves. But wananchi are really to blame, they have allowed themselves to be treated as third class citizens, while viongozi are living in a world of their own. If that's the case, why wouldn't I be enticed to dish out takrima here and there to enjoy the honey and milk of the land?

But the deeper I go, I just can't stop and wonder, what's wrong with the black skin? What's really wrong with Africans? I mean, why do we keep on acting, collectively, like pathetic idiots? When was the last time you heard President Bush going to Canada to get his blood checked? There must be something, genetically or otherwise, that is really wrong with us...but whatever it is, it sucks.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Beggar's Mentality: Time to Change? (2)

Wandugu, here is what his excellency Dr. Hingi once wrote regarding poverty. I ain't changing a thing, except add a few experiences to reiterate his points:

Wazee wenzangu hamjambo???
Vijana na watoto Marhabaaa!!!

Hapa kuna burudani ya mtu na akili yake, kila mmoja kivyake. Umasikini ni hali inayozaliwa ndani ya akili zetu inayo fanya kazi usiku na mchana kututenganisha na rasilimali zote.Ndiyo maana watu wanaofikiri katika upeo wa juu kabisa na kutumia uwezo wote waliopewa na Mungu, wanauona umasikini katika umbo la Roho angamizi. Katika hatua ya mwisho kabisa umasikini unajitokeza katika hali ambayo kila mtu anaitambua, mtu anakuwa mhitaji wa kila kitu hofu na mashaka vinatawala.

Kwa sababu umasikini ni hali inayozaliwa katikati ya mawazo yetu si rahisi kutambua kwamba mtaji ulio nao unakuangamiza. Hata ukitambua kwamba mambo unayofanya yanakuangamiza, "peer pressure", wapambe,marafiki wanafiki, inakufanya urekebishe hali yako kwa kuanzisha uharibifu mpya. Kwa mfano najua hali yangu ya kifedha ni mbaya na vile vile sipendi watu wajue hasa (mademu/njemba). Kurekebisha nakufa kisabuni. Naenda kukopa kwa dhamana ya kapay check kangu.Naendeleza ratiba yangu baada ya muda wa wiki moja wanaanza kunidai kutatua sipokei simu.Ungejua kwamba hupendwi kwa sababu ya pochi tu usingefanya yote hayo nini kinakutuma, Roho ya umasikini.

Njia ya awali ya kuanza kupambana na hii nguvu ya umasikini ni kurejea sauti ya wazazi/mzazi wako tangu ulipo pata akili ya kutambua kwamba wewe ni mtu hadi siku ulipo agana nao na kupanda pipa kuja majuu,tulia sikiliza zi/inavyokukanya. Rejea imani yako. Watanzania wegi tuna imani juu ya Mungu tunatofautiana namna ya kuabudu tu, kama wewe si mmoja wetu basi uko kwenye kundi la wachache. Jiulize wewe ni nani na unataka nini hapa duniani. Visualize una miaka 65 unayaona maisha yako? hali yako ikoje?

Ni rahisi sana kupambana na mambo amabayo chanzo chake ni nje ya mawazo yako kuliko mambo ambayo asili yake ni mawazo yako. Si rahisi kupambana na Hasira, Tamaa mbaya, Choyo,Wizi,Uvivu, Uasherati na Uzinzi. Hivi vyote chimbuko lake ni akili na fikra zetu. Lakini, ni rahisi kupambana na Homa iliyosababishwa na plasmodium kwa sababu haina asili ya mawazo yetu.

Wengi tunafikiri umasikini tumekutana nao tunapo pita huko majiani, la hasha. Tumeujenga taratibu vichwani mwetu. Kimaoni na kimtizamo mtu anaweza kusema huyu mjinga kachanganyikiwa. Ni kweli kwa kipimo cha huyu msemaji nimechanganyikiwa maana kipimo chake cha umasikini ni kiwango cha fedha aliyo nayo, au asiyokuwa nayo. Mambo mengine hayaingii na wala hayana uhusiano.

Ndugu yangu hayo mambo mengine unayoyapuuzia ndiyo asili ya vurumai zote, hebu kaa na kujiuliza tena.
Ahsanteni kwa kuniazima fikra zenu.

Ndela-Nzali Hingi

I couldn't have agreed more with Dr. Nzali. I once said that our leaders are educated, but for some reason they act like deer stuck in a flood of light! I believe some of their acts are due to poverty mentality. They can't see the resources we have. As such, they have failed to devise better ways to utilize those resources to lift the country economically. That's why the "chukua chako mapema" mentality is so prevalent in the country. Mentally, most Bongolande leaders have not visualized a prosperous Tanzania. All they see is scarcity.

Let me help you see how the scarcity mentality operates. For some of you who went to government boarding schools (and even some private schools also had the same experiences), you can relate to the way poverty or scarcity mentality works. Imagine when the gudulia la maharagwe was placed down on the table, was there any utaratibu around? Absolutely not! Due to the scarcity mentality, EVERYBODY wanted to get there first. As a result, some of the maharagwe actually got spilled on the floor.

Fellas acted like maharagwe wasn't enough. Contrary to their thinking, the ration provided was weighed and measured to ensure everybody got an adequate portion. The problem, however, was that they never stopped to think. They inherited the same "fight-for-food" mentality from the prior generations. So they went with the same instincts everyday to the dinning room. You could be laughing now, but that's the way it used to be. Some of the fellas who used to fight for maharagwe are now ministers and such. Instead of the "fight-for-food" bandwagon, these fellas are now on a "fight-for-mali ya taifa" mentality. They have never outgrown their dinning hall experiences.

I once said that poverty in Tanzania is not real, it is artificially existing because our leaders have failed to fully utilize their brains. It is also obvious that they don't have a positive mental outlook on Tanzania's economic progress. Until that happens, tuendelee tu kutafuta masaa kwenye hizi inji za watu.

Dr. Nzali, thank you for a wonderful reflection.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Beggar's Mentality: Time to Change?

Most third world countries depend on foreign aid in many forms, either as soft loans or grants. Tanzania, as a developing country is not exempt from the dependency of foreign funds for its own budgetary needs. To put it numerically, the Bongoland budget for the fiscal year 2006/2007 is funded by foreign countries at a whopping 39%, while that of 2005/2006 fiscal year was 41%. We are dependent on foreign funds for an apparent reason - we are poor. Period.

What bothers me the most, however, is not the numbers related to foreign aid that Tanzania receives. I am up and arms against what I will call the "beggars mentality". We are very proud of receiving foreign aids than we are proud of making economic strides to free ourselves of foreign aid. As a matter of fact, we even hold our presidents so high when they succeed in bringing their "collection" of foreign aid for the day.

If you think I am kidding, just pay attention to how our leaders get showered with praise when they come from foreign trips with alot of financial aid promises. Recently, President Kikwete got a whole lot of praises for "collecting" foreign funds when he made his trip to Saudi Arabia, France and the United States of America.

Well, some people argue that foreign aid is necessary to jumpstart the economic progress in the developing world. In addition, others argue that providing foreign aid to suffering brothers and sisters in the jungles of Africa, for instance, is a moral obligation. While I don't see any problem with the aid providers, I am trying to challenge the never-ending foreign aid dependency in a country like Tanzania. Given the fact that increasing foreign aid is regarded as a success story, one must wonder whether we truly want to wean ourselves from the foreign funds addiction. It appears that all we care about is encouraging ourselves "kutembeza bakuli".

The addiction to foreign aid is so deep in our blood that we do not even have strategies to get out. I am making this statement because I am not aware of any strategies in Tanzania to reduce foreign aid dependency. If we truly want to be "independent" (forget the 1961 independence which has not really helped the majority economically), then we must spell out - numerically - the percentage decrease in foreign aid we want to achieve at a specified time frame. Other than that we will continue to be like those fellas from central region, who never want to stop begging in Dar-es-Salaam because there is no incentive to. If you think that we don't have the same beggar's mentality as a country, think again.

It might as well be a time to stop waving our little "bakuli" and get to work. By the way, what's the point of letting wazungu loot us through shaddy contracts then turn around and drop a few coins in our "bakuli"? I am convinced that as long as we keep getting the foreign aid, we will never have any incentive to try harder. Just ask yourself, if those fellas from the central region were not getting anything from begging, why would they bother to try? They keep on coming back to Dar-es-Salaam because they know the funds will keep on coming. Despite that fact, I believe that it is time for Tanzania to stop degrading herself...we have no good reason to be beggars.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Time to Start Fighting? May be Not...

Recently, a fellow Bongolander ( I will call him Mr. T) aired his views on an email group for Bongolanders here in Columbus, Ohio. In summary, the email was throwing a challenge for all us to act in bringing forth a meaningful change in Tanzania, instead of just spending too much of our time criticizing and analyzing. The challenger went further to question our readiness to bring such a change, given the fact that Tanzanian in Columbus, for instance, have failed to form even their own community organization.

While I do agree with Mr. T, I am the opinion talking, analyzing, critiquing and all that is still necessary in our Bongoland situation. We need to "talk" because the majority of the people, even our own leaders, lack adequate education and information pertaining to what the right leadership qualities are and how we can make economic progress. As such, it is my opinion that doing a thorough analysis of the roadblocks that have hampered our progress, is a foundational step in bringing others aboard the "fight" for change and progress.

I am convinced that many leaders in Tanzania believe that they are doing just fine. That is due to the fact that in their mind, being elected reinforces that notion (ignoring the takrima effect, of course). Worse enough, even the so called wasomi in Tanzania have failed to strongly voice their dissatisfaction with the performance of our leaders. I can only guess the reason for such a silence is that the majority of our educated folks do not have a benchmark against which they can make a logical, meaningful comparison. I mean, if a UDSM graduate have never seen a very good road network, how could they demand such a network? If they have never seen a desired work ethic from political leaders, how could they make demands for that?

The bottom line is that we need to educate our folks. I believe that through information, our people will start looking at issues not only from a face value, but a little bit deeper. Any formation of a struggle or fight starts when people are educated enough. Such a fight starts when folks realize that what they have been getting is not enough. Such a struggle starts when folks have formulated a conceptual destination to which they want to end. So discussing and analyzing issues is an essential part of starting a fight. The question (may be) should be, have we done enough "talking"? Are people in Bongo really ready for a new direction? If not, then we should continue with our "education".

See, what we are struggling in Bongoland is a deeper cultural issue that will be a long and hard battle to uproot. Folks, even some of us who came to the United States, for instance, still do not know what really constitutes good leadership. We still think at very low levels, comparatively, to the extent that we fail even distinguish ideas from personalities. Let me break that down for you. In Tanzania, ideas are generally not respected for their own sake, but are respected based on who provides them.

To be more specific, an idea is typically respected based on socio-economic status and age of the person providing such ideas. For instance, a brilliant idea provided by a 15 years old boy could be easily ignored, while embracing a stupid idea provided by a 61 years old man. The reason would be as ridiculous as "huyu mtoto anajua nini?". Or worse yet, an idea provided by a tajiri uchwara in a community, regardless of its merit, would be given a higher regard to a brilliant idea provided by a person regarded as hohehahe simply because "kwani huyu naye ana nini?".

Fast forward to Columbus, Ohio. We have failed to form a community organization due to the same cultural reasons. Regardless of our exposure to the American way of life, where people are interested more in your brilliant ideas more than the car you drive, some of the Bongolanders here still portray the same low level attitudes. There are folks who truly believes that leadership is their God given right, based on their socio-economic background or biological connections in Tanzania. These folks would never let anyone of "unknown" background, regardless of how brilliant their ideas are, take the leadership reigns. See, I believe that some Bongoland folks in Columbus are still in the same cultural position as their brothers and sisters in Arumeru. No difference. Nada.

So what does that mean? We still need to educate ourselves. We still need to "clean" and "disinfect" our minds from the wrong cultural inclination before we can make any change. And we can only accomplish that through a deeper analysis and a closer look at ourselves. That could take a while, for it is not easy. So as we continue to change and grow, I think I can continue to blog in an attempt to highlight some of our roadblocks. But as Mr. T desires, we need to pick the fight at some point. It is my opinion that we can only pick the fight when we have been educated enough. Less of that, we will only end frustrutating each other, as we are still far from being on the same thinking level collectively as a society.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Philosophy on Teen Pregnancies: A Bad Judgment?

I recent past, there were stories about the government's point of view on young girls getting pregnant while still in school. In a nutshell, through the Deputy Minister of Education, Hon. Mwantumu Mahiza, the Bongoland government regards the issue of teen pregnancy as a matter of discipline [ Read the original story here]. Specifically, if I am not mistaken, the government's verdict and judgment on a young girl who gets pregnant is "hana adabu". Period.

I do understand that there are cases where vijibaba who "violates" our young sisters have been pursued by the government. Nonetheless, Hon. Mwantumu's comments, gives the impression that the government does not equally deal with the violators of young girls so severely.

In my opinion, this just a very simplistic view to a complex social problem. I understand that from our Bongoland perspective, a girl is supposed to "watch" herself, present herself worthy of marriage, keep herself chaste and all that. As such, a girl who gets pregnant at the age of 15, for instance, is regarded as "loose", overly promiscuous, and tons of other social stigmas. While that could be true, I am of the opinion that there are so many psychological, social, and economical factors that do play into our behavior.

Making a policy statement without adequately taking all possible factors into account is just a bad jugdment and essentially being shortsighted. Making a policy statement that solely blames a "child" and not other adults involved is just plain wrong. I mean, where do the parents come into the equation? Where does the government itself come into the game? Where is the policy to tame sugar daddies who prey on young girls? See, my conviction is that a 15 or 17 years old girl is still a child. As such, we should not expect them to make the best of judgments in the world. Given that fact, it is the responsibility of a "responsible" government to do all it can to protect that "child", before shooting blames on her.

I believe that we all can agree that teenage or the period of adolescence is the most turbulent time in our experience. That is a widely known social and psychological fact. I know that for a fact because I went through it. I believe you went through it also. This is a reality that the "experts" at the Ministry of Education should know. As such our legal and educational approach should be set in a way that it ensures (without compromising discipline) that our teenagers transition well into adulthood. That objective should be accomplished through a legal framework and well designed educational and social programs.

For you in the United States can agree that the US system has done a good job of protecting children from sexual predetors. In the United States of America for instance, having a sexual relationship with a minor is illegal, whether the "child" constented or not. The objective is to ensure that despite the teenagers' bad judgment, adults cannot take advantage of "children". Why can't we do that in Tanzania?

As I have pointed out earlier, Tanzania seriously suffers from a leadership deficiency. We have leaders who do not critically think before making decisions or policy comments. As such, we have so many policies that drafted out of "mila za Kiafrika" while ignoring scientific realities. Consequently, we end up viewing anything scientific as "uzungu". If that is the case, what's the use of our leaders going to school? Si tungewafufua tu akina Chifu Mirambo ambao hawakuwa na madigrii kuongoza nchi?

If our philosophy is to blame a young girl who has been raped for her pregnancy instead of protecting her, then something must be very wrong with our thinking. But unfortunately, that is the reality in Bongo. That is what our educated leaders' philosophy is.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

When the Wicked Rule...(2)

In my previous post, I made a reference to a Biblical verse (Proverbs 29:2) that explains the main reason for our social and economic condition in Tanzania. The basic concept conveyed by that Biblical verse is that when the wicked rule, we are surely guaranteed to mourn. Tanzanians in general do suffer, and there are so many examples we can give to conclude that our leaders are indeed wicked.

Wickedness, as it is, is a serious spiritual matter. And for that reason, when we address wickedness of our political leaders, we have to bring into the equation our spiritual leaders. As such, the question I am posing today is: Have the spiritual leaders in Tanzania done enough to address leadership deficiencies in the land?

We might not all have a unanimous "yes", but my conviction is that the church and the mosques have greatly contributed to the decline of integrity and an increase of wickedness among the leaders. Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting that spiritual leaders in Tanzania have gone all out in endorsing or encouraging wickedness. Nonetheless, my position is that they have not done enough in addressing and rebuking leadership deficiencies. They have kept their mouths shut while their congregants are suffering.

I understand that most religious leaders in Tanzania feel that they should stay out of politics as much as they can. However, that is not the correct stance in my point of view. From a Biblical perspective, in 2 Timothy 3: 16, we gather that: " All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness". If the spiritual leaders are given spiritual books inspired by God, if such books are the basis for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteosness, then our spiritual leaders are mandated to speak out about the wickedness of our leaders.

It is very wrong for a spiritual leader to pretend that their main focus is just the spiritual aspect of their congregation. As a Christian, I can only draw so many examples to prove my argument. It is accounted in the Bible how Jesus fed the multitude. If his attitude was just to take care of "spiritual" needs, then he could have just preached the audience to death and leave them in hunger. When he healed the sick, he was attending to their physical needs. Or, did you know that he even paid taxes for his disciples? My point is that our spiritual leaders in Tanzania cannot claim that "spiritual" needs of the people is their only focus. From a scriptural perspective, their responsibility goes beyond that.

From a Biblical outlook, spiritual leaders in Tanzania are mandated to rebuke and speak loudly against takrima, stupid contracts that only hurt the country, election irregularities, beating of journalists, child labor, lack of leadership integrity, and all sort of issues that are a clear indication of wickedness. But the question is, have they properly played their role? The answer to that is a huge "No". I could only assume three reasons for their silence on rampant leadership wickedness in Tanzania : 1) they do not know their place in society 2) they are absolutely and positively cowards 3) they are as corrupt as the rest of political leaders (Read here for constant squabbles in the Lutheran Church, for instance).

If you think I am just full of blah blah..let's revisit the 2004 presidential election held in the United States. The Church certainly "determined" the outcome of who got elected. I believe the same clout is possesed by our spiritual leaders in Tanzania through their Friday, Saturday and Sunday platforms. The only difference between the spiritual leaders in Tanzania and their counterparts in the USA is that the later understand its power and role in society. The religious circles in Tanzania can certainly set the standards and see to it that only leaders meeting those standards get elected, but they have not done that.

So next time you visit the Magomeni KKKT church or Kwa Mtoro mosque, ask yourself: Has this dude spitting on the microphone at the pulpit, titled a pastor or a sheikh, done enough to address the wickedness of political leaders in Tanzania despite his power to do so?

Friday, July 07, 2006

When the Wicked Rule...

For all y'all who think I am this dude who is just immersed in politics, think again. Above everything else, God rules in my life. I am born-again brother. Yes, the grace of God flows through me to the core. Nonetheless, I recognize the fact that God had endowed me with an ability to read and write. And I think I do a good job writing (That is subjective, so you are certainly allowed to argue otherwise).

So today I want to reflect on Tanzania from a spiritual, or rather spefically, Biblical perspective. See, my belief is that the word of God is full of wisdom and it encompases all areas of our lives, including the consequences of a political climate in a country.

One of the verses in the Bible that clearly depicts a political condition in any given country is Proverbs 29:2. This Biblical verse reads, from a Kings James Version, that: " When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn".

We have talked so much about how bad the situation is in Bongoland. We have critically analyzed the situation and come up with the educated or scientific reasons for our condition. We have blamed CCM and its machinery for our pathetic economic situation. All of that is good, but I want to explore a spiritual reasons our situation.

The truth of the matter is, we have and still are complaining about the leadership in Tanzania. And I can 100% attest that our complaints are justified. There are so many issues that support our dissatisfaction. And from a Biblical verse I just quoted, our complaints are equated to "mourning". The last time I checked the Webster's dictionary, mourning is synonymous to "feeling or expressing sorrow or grief". And that we do.

But the question is, why do we mourn? Why do we complain about the situation in Tanzania? I can only tell, from my side of things, that it is because of the type of leadership we have in place. It is the type of leadership that has failed to deliver, while they grow fatter on a daily basis. It is due to type of leadership that comes to power through corruption (call it takrima if you like, but that is just a colorful word for corruption). It is because of leaders who lie and deceive the people (if kilimo was truly uti wa mgongo wa taifa, why do we still have hunger in 2006?). It is because of leadership that does not have a vision. It is because of the leadership that has gone bad.

I know I have explained the issue in too many words, but the Bible does a better job. We complain about Tanzania because our leaders are wicked. I know that sounds too harsh and too blatant, but that is a Biblical truth. I know there are a few of the leaders who stand for integrity and righteousness. Nonetheless, a popular Swahili saying that goes "samaki mmoja akioza, wote wameoza" implicates all our leaders.

Webster defines wickedness as being "morally very bad".

And it is my convinction that we have leaders with questionable moral standards. For instance, you can't allow corruption and tell me you are morally good. You can't receive your 10% and allow a stupid contract to be signed and convinced me that I should shout hallelujah for you. Mr. JKN talked about uongozi bora as a prerequisitive for development, but unfortunately he did not specifically define what constitutes uongozi bora. It is my strong belief that having a good moral standing is a must for any leader. Very unfortunate for bongolanders, we have an acute shortage of morally strong leaders.

So what does that mean for us?, It means that as long as we have wicked leaders in power, we should expect one thing and one thing only - mourning, complaints, poverty. And if you ask me, "Metty how do you know that for sure?" Well, I believe in the word of God and it happens to justify my conclusion. Our poverty and complaints will continue because it is a Biblical truth. The situation can only change with the reign of righteous people in power. Alternatively, our situation can only change through God's own grace.

Lakini kwa mtaji tulio nao sasa, tuhesabu maumivu tu mpaka neema ya uongozi bora ishuke.

Speaker's Drama: It Is Beyond Perversion

Picture this: Mheshimiwa Nyamranga is given the floor by the House Speaker to air his views on development programs in Butiama. He urges the government to increase the budgetary appropriations for infrastructure improvement. He utters, in Swahili: "Jamani, naiomba serikali ikazane kuongeza juhudi za kuimarisha barabara kwenye Kanda ya Ziwa, hasa Wilaya ya Butiama".

In the old good days, Mr Nyamranga's speech would have been just perfect. But it isn't now. Because the Speaker's mind races. He is not listening to what the mbunge is saying. He is focusing on just one word - kazana. His mind races to a sexual activity. The Speaker is not paying attention to the context in which Mr. Nyamranga used the word. He is so focused on the sexual connotation of the word only. Finally, the Speaker wakes up from his "bad dream". He makes the decision that this word has to go out of the Bunge...just like that. Next word in agenda is "tia", may be for the next Bunge session.

The bottom line is, this is perversion. Period. That is sickness. How could you let the inappropriate or "streets" use of the word influence the esteemed Bunge? Not in America!...oh excuse me, we are talking about Bongo here, so that is possible.

See, had it been in the United States of America, I can guarantee you that Mr. Sitta could have been referred to a shrink, suitably Dr. Phil. But the problem really, in my mind, goes beyond perversion that Mr. Sitta has publicly displayed. It is a critical thinking problem that afflicts most of our public leaders.

The problem is, Mr. Sitta did not take his time to critically analyze his decision. He just acted on an "automatic drive" mentality that most of the Bongolanders have. Most leaders hardly take time to think, or consult. They go with their gut feelings, and hope that everybody else will understand them. The worst part for our leaders, is the fact they know that there are absolutely no penalties for their mental errors. Remember Mr. Msekwa's "wivu wa kike" comments? Now add that to what the current Speaker has unnecessarily done. You can only conclude that we have a serious leadership skills deficiency in Tanzania.

In an ideal situation, the Speaker should have consulted the Baraza la Kiswahili la Taifa (BAKITA) to seek their expertise. See, Mr. Sitta is mandated to oversee the Bunge activities, which he should do, but he is not a Swahili expert. The BAKITA guys, however, are mandated to "regulate" the Swahili language. They eat, shower, and sleep with this language 24/7. But because critical thinking is not part of the equation, Mr. Sitta went beyond his "jurisdiction". He thought he could just simply ban a perfect Swahili word for no apparent justifiable reasons.

See, the problem is that most of our leaders are highly educated, but they have an "inadequate" type of education. Most of them are very technical, but their education lacks critical thinking elements. Unfortunately, most people who went to school in Tanzania are suffering from the same fate.

I specialized in commercial subjects at the age of 17 (17? what?). Both of my O and A level classes did not include critical thinking elements. I guess we didn't have time to think, just cram that stuff and pass the examinations. The teachers were not taught critical thinking skills either, for they were victims of the same educational system. I wonder if UDSM, CBE, IFM, or Mzumbe teach critical thinking skills through liberal arts kind of education. All I know is that there are tons of "educated" folks in Tanzania who can't critically think. The only thing they can boast of is a very good Kiswanglish. But not critical thinking. They hardly take a critical look at their decision-making processes. The decisions are made on an "auto drive" type of way.

So if you want to slam Mr. Speaker for his perversion, that is fine. Nonetheless, the problem is larger than that. We are facing an epidemic of leaders who can't critically think. I believe a critical thinker should be able to weigh the appropriateness of their decisions and the consequences of those decisions. It is clear that Mr. Speaker didn't do that. So here I go, nikijaribu kukazana hapa kazini kulijenga taifa...ooops.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It Hurts...

As a citizen who loves his country, sometimes I just wish that things would have been a little bit better. Sometimes it aches to the core when I see other countries succeeding in achieving their social and economic goals. It really hurts when I know for sure that some of those countries are not endowed with so much of resources like we do. It hurts to know that repeatedly there are stories of corruption and lack of accountability.

It hurts to know that there are folks we have entrusted with the country, only to loot it and steal from it. It hurts to see innocent folks still living in slums and huts, while the folks entrusted with the country are living large in their big old shangingiz. It hurts to see them let the wazunguz treat us like trash in our own country. It hurts to see them let wazunguz come and loot our country. But what hurts the most, is that these folks in power are no dummies, from an academic standpoint. These folks are learned. These folks are even educated in the whiteman's land. These folks boast of PhDs and advanced degrees. These folks attended some of the best institutions in the world such as Harvard University.

Upon graduation, these folks were supposed to take their education and go back to Bongoland and apply it. These folks were supposed to develop the country post colonial days. These folks, being our own people, were supposed to look after us - their hommies, their peeps, their blood, their grandpas and grandmas. It has not turned out to be that way, has it?. What went amiss then? What went wrong?

See, you could have made an argument that these fellas have not seen what the rest of the world is doing. But that argument does not hold water. Some of these folks have spent a good chunk of their years overseas. Some of these fellas have even returned their greencards to the US Embassy with such a fanfare. But why aren't they delivering? Why aren't they measuring up?

May be because they are incompetent. May be because they just don't want to. May be because wananchi have accepted their poverty. It hurts because none of us in the diaspora would tell you that we are happy being exiled ughaibuni. Most of us are discouraged by a broken system. I am disheartened by a repeated lies and deception. I am tired of political blah blah that have been around since December 9, 1961. I am tired of those catch phrases and slogans such as "Fagio la Chuma" that didn't sweep anything. That's why I am here...slaving for Wal-Mart, sweating off at a home care facility...etc. I mean, if someone like Amina Chifupa is a law maker, why would I be encouraged to go back to Tanzania? It hurts.

It just just stings knowing that we could do better.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mramba's Saga: Exactly What's Wrong With CCM

Y'all heard the news, Mr. Mramba, in his minister's budget, dished out a whole lot of dough (TShs 17b/- ) to construct roads in his own constiuency [Read the story here]. The problem though, is that he apportioned just a kiduchu amount to other important areas. I term his move a Msuya tactic. The timing for Mr. Mramba, however, wasn't perfect due the fact that he did it when the majority are "awake".

In my own view, the saga highlights two bigger problems that Mr. Mramba happened to be a "beneficiary" of: 1) A system that is broken 2) Lack of an articulated economic vision.

1) A broken system - The political and leadership system in Tanzania is broken. That is soooo evident. Obviously, Mr. Mramba being quite aware of that, utilized an opportunity to abuse the system where "checks and balances" is a foreign notion (please refer to my post on July 1, 2006 regarding the effectiveness of the parliament). Guess what? After Mr. Mramba being criticized and forced to furnish justification for his budgetary priorities, the CCM machinery went to work. The they formed a CCM committee to ensure that the budget will pass, despite Mr. Mramba's gross mistakes [Read here] .

I am seriously convinced that under CCM, Tanzania will never see any meaningful economic progress. That is due to the fact that Mr. Mramba's story isn't anything new. This has been a long established tradition, where mess-ups are not penalized. CCM has embraced a system where INTEGRITY is not a quality to consider in electing or selecting our leaders. I can guarantee you that Mr. JK will continue to embrace Mr. Mramba. And that is mainly because holding each accountable has never been something that CCM has guts to do. It is that cowardice that will cost us as a country. Even worse is the inability of the people to stand up and declare that enough is enough. And truly, CCM's mess-ups are just enough.

2) Lack of a clear economic vision - Tanzanians are just fumbling their way through, economically that is. Nonetheless the boys in the government will tell you otherwise. They would sweet talk you into believing that Vision 2025 is attainable. However, actions speaks louder than words. Seriously, why would Mr. Mramba apportion TShs. 17b/- to his constituency to the disgust of other representatives? Isn't that a sure sign that we don't have an articulated economic vision?

This is why you should hear me out. A well planned economic vision would clearly outline what needs to be achieved and when to achieve one's vision. Along those lines, key economic strategies are articulated. A well charted economic map would tell which areas are given priorities, both in terms of revenue generation and appropriations. Infrastructure being a key component of economic growth, the articulated economic vision should tell the government's focus. There should be an infrastructure development master plan or an infrastructure framework known to all, including wabunge. The plan should tell you which roads are given priority, their completion schedule and their economic justification. Short of that we are just kidding ourselves. Short of that we give people like Mr. Mramba a chance to do whatever they want to do.

But who I am kidding, Tanzanian leaders would never do that. They would never chart out an economic vision, because that is too cumbersome for them. That is too complicated and westernized. They are used to their old ways. Their unscientific ways. Their zimamoto ways. Bora liende. They would rather see Uganda come and pass us by. They would rather see Botswana achieve economic milestones, but not Bongoland. Jamani, nchi kama imerogwa vile?

In one of my previous posts (on June 15: Why I Hate June Budgeting), I pointed out some of the problems that our annual budgets present. One of them is that wabunge have no clue what the spending priorities are.

See, what buffles me is the fact we have educated people in Tanzania. Most of our wabunge are highly educated and very intelligent. Nonetheless, these people seems to be so overwhelmed with a small country like Tanzania. Some of these issues are not rocket science, rather just an application of common sense. Lini tunafika hapo? May be when CCM is out...may be when we have leaders who seriously know that it would take for Tanzania to make meaningful enocomic strides.

Au naongopa jamani?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

TZ Bunge: Toothless and Powerless?

I am away from Columbus today. As this is the weekend leading to the July 4th holiday, I have decided to go on a country trek, chilling and relaxing in the South - Nashville Tennessee. Nonetheless, I could just not help but continue reflecting on the Bongoland life, particularly on the effectiveness of our esteemed Bunge.

I am of the opinion that our Bunge may be the most ineffective pillar of three branches (executive, judicial and legislative) of leadership in the country. That could be due to historical factors, mainly suffering from the hangover of the single party system. See, in the old system, there was no clear distinction between the roles of the parliament, government and Chama. As such, both the parliament and the government were primarily working for the interest of Chama.

Fast forward 2006. The political climate in Tanzania has changed. Nonetheless, we still have the same mentalities that prevailed in 1980. That is due to the fact that we still have some of the wabunge in 1980 in the Bunge today. These fellas still have the mentality of the 1980 Tanzania. These fellas still view the Bunge as a institution to serve CCM instead of the people [The proof of that reality is the fact that almost all of the ministers are representatives, clouding the line between the legislative and the executive branches].

I do agree that wabunge are the representative of their party's ideology. As such they are mandated and required to stand for what their political party stands for. Nonetheless, when it comes to the relationship between the parliament, government, and the judiciary system, I am of the opinion that there shouldn't be any unnecessary compromise. Each unit should work to bring the ideal "checks and balances". Unfortunately, it appears that our Bunge has been doing alot of comprising - yielding to the political pressures from the government, to the point that the Bunge is seemingly "useless".

To the contrary of the Bunge, the judiary wing in Tanzania seems to understand its role and obligations. In properly interpreting the constitution and hence deciding both against the takrima rule and allowing for private candidates, for instance, the mahakama has really demonstrated its maturity. How I wish the Bunge also could come of age!

Theoritically and politically, wabunge would tell you how effective they are. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that our Tanzanian Bunge has practically demonstrated that it doesn't know its position in the "checks and balances" equation. The proof of that is the fact that the government "refused" to bring forth the details of the contract between itself and the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO) for the review of the esteemed wabunge [Read the story here ]. Guess what? I didn't hear any mbunge vehemently putting up a fight against the government's stand.

As lawmakers and representatives of wananchi, our wabunge should have the right to access any contract entered to for the benefits of the mass. Another example that depicts that lack of power, is the fact that we hardly hear of a bill drafted by the Bunge itself. I mean, why would the government draft and present the bills for the Bunge to rubber stamp? If the Bunge is a legislative wing, shouldn't it have the power to draft and approve bills that it feels are important for the legal and operational matters of the country?

Unless I am misguided, the history and the functioning of the Bunge has made me to conclude that we have the weakest parliament. I have no information to conclude whether the Bunge's weakness is by design or by ignorance, but surely we have a seemingly toothless and powerless Bunge. I am yet to be proven wrong...but waiting.