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.


yongjin kim said...

I cannot agree with you more. Paul reminded people of Jesus' saying that it is more blessed to give than to receive in Acts 20. I am Korean-American living in Malawi making every effort to turn Malawian to become the giver rather than the taker in order to be the blessed and the blessings to others. I have started this in the prison setting, where inmates work in the farm so that they can benefit others including orphans, patients, and other inmates. My name is Yongjin Kim. Please respond. Let's share more.

yongjin kim said...

I cannot agree with you more. Thanks. I am a Korean-American Ph. D in Criminal Justice working in the Malawi prison system to turn these people from the taker to the giver. These people have passed the stage of beggar mentality to be takers even with force. They are working in the prison farm in order to benefit other needy members of the country including orphans, hospital patients and starving fellow inmates. My name is Yongjin Kim, my email address is yjkim@pfi.org. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Let me comment on the general phenomenon of 'asking'.

I think to give is VERY GOOD, but being dependent is NOT. Those who supported Paul's ministry also WORKED, not ASKED all the time.
It is better to enable people to earn by themselves rather then letting them only to have the mentality to ask, ask, and ask. The gift of work is the gift of life.

If people set their minds on asking, asking, and asking, later on they will demand if their needs are not met, then threaten, then plunder. They will soon sacrifice their dignity as a gifted person created for a noble purpose and set their minds to depend their lives on other people's leftovers. Is THIS good???

Anonymous said...

Kim, there is absolutely NO RELEVANCE of what you're telling us, about your background, your PhD, whatever. What is being discussed here is about the persistence of beggar mentality. Do you wish on this to keep occurring?