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.

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