Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tanzanian Unspoken Double-Standard

There are happenings in life that just can't stop driving one's mind crazy. As hard as one tries to evade thinking about them, the mind seems to have a "mind" of its own. For it keeps lingering on such issues for what seems like forever. I must be excused, for the Darwin's Nightmare documentary is one such issue that has caused my to never stop racing. The problem is that my mind is not wandering about the documentary itself, but the reaction from some of my fellow countrymen.

Through other events, I have come to conclude that we seriously need critical thinking abilities in Tanzania, if we have to make any meaningful and faster economic and social progress. I am convinced of that because at the current rate, it does not appear like we are going to make it, given the general level of mental and intellectual capabilities that we have demonstrated. I know there brilliant individuals out there, but just remember that I am being general here.

The most troubling thing, in my opinion, that the whole Nightmare's saga has brought about is the unspoken double standard or hypocrisy from the African or poor countries, Tanzania included. Let's get some facts straight, before someone shoots me for being mzushi. This is the real deal, specifically for Tanzania: our budgets is 40% dependent on donor countries, and when talk about donor countries, we are primarily talking about Western countries, of which we pretend to hate so much! I understand that there are dirty games that the Western world play, but let's be honest, they "own" us.

So isn't it hypocrisy to be all up and arms against Mr. Sauper for being a Westerner who told us the truth, while as a tax-payer in France, his government has just dished a whole lot of dough to finance the Tanzanian budget in 2006? Isn’t it hypocrisy when we sing songs of condemning the Western media for mud slinging us, while we call for them to come and invest in local corporations, such as Tanzania Railway Corporation, that we have failed to run? Do we think that they will come to run these corporations merely because they are of Caucasian race or because they are able to think and execute?

Isn’t it hypocrisy to call the white folks all kinds of names, while we still think that we Negroes in Tanzania can’t collect Tanesco’s debts but Westerners can? Isn’t it hypocrisy for us to be against the Western thinking, while we have repeatedly failed to produce enough food in our country, only to be rescued through food aids from the same white “adversaries”? Isn’t it hypocrisy to think negatively about the white folks while more than 50% of our Ministers got educated by the same people? Isn’t it hypocrisy to talk about them while we still dress on suits made by them?

See, I am not advocating for the Western countries, but I am calling for our people to be objective and realistic. I am calling for my folks to stop exercising double standards. We should stop pretend hating the Westerners on a political front, while we love and depend on their money. The Western world advanced and got where they are because they are applied their minds. We should listen and learn a thing or two instead of pretending that we know it all. After all, in a grand scheme of the world, what does a farmer in Mwanza really know? See, these are the folks who need knowledge, but they have allowed themselves to be shortsighted.

We should put up or shut up. Pride without anything to show up for it is stupidity.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stupidity Is Not Equivalent to Patriotism

I love Tanzania. I do have respect for those in the leadership position. Nonetheless, respecting leaders and loving one's country does not have to be expressed through agreeing with everything our leaders say. Being patriotic does not necessarily mean defending even unwise decisions or positions that our leaders take. Loving the country does not mean being up and arms against everybody and everything that the President does not agree with.

It appears that Mr. Sauper and his infamous documentary Darwin's Nightmare touched some sensitive nerves in Tanzania. From the President's reaction, subsequent demonstrations in Mwanza and eventual official statement of the Parliament, it appears that the majority of our leaders have decided in one accord to deem Mr. Sauper a villain. After watching the documentary myself, it is clear that either the President and his supporters didn't watch the documentary, or they took the film out of context.

It is the President's prerogative to have his own opinion, just like I have mine. Nevertheless, what is sad about this whole fiasco is how the majority of Bongolanders have failed to have their own voice. Even worse, is the fact that those affected have jumped on a supporting bandwagon in favor of the President, without taking a critical look at what the documentary highlighted.

Despite all that, what really ticked me off is the fact some in Bongoland do not agree with the fact that all Tanzanians have the right to their opinions. It is wrong to label such folks as part of a western propaganda as the editor of Daily News writes " the way Darwin’s Nightmare is being defended by a section of the local media indicates that this could be part of a calculated mud slinging campaign against Tanzania and her leading position in the Great Lakes region". You can read the entire commentary here . Is that stupid or what? Simply because some folks are not educated enough or are incapable of critically thinking does not mean the rest of us should follow suite.

Stupidity is not equivalent to patriotism.

As ridiculous as the Daily News Editor's comments are, what topped my list of shortsightedness (in the name of patriotism) is what a religious group, Good News for All, planned to do. Based on the story published by Alasiri, these folks planned to have an all night prayer vigil. Among other things, this group intended to join a parade of condemning the Darwin's Nightmare documentary.

Again, as any Tanzanians, these folks have a right to their opinions. Nonetheless, when such an opinion comes under a religious ambrella, serious questions must be raised. My questions to Bishop Charles Gadi, who appears to the spokesperson for Good News for All are these: Isn't it hypocricy to be vocal when in support of the President and silent when the system is full corruption and irresponsibility? Isn't this misplaced priorities, given the fact homelessness and prostitution are highlighted in the documentary? Shouldn't it be the church's priority to deal with these issues instead of wholesomely joining the entire nation in condemning the documentary? How can the church deal with these issues if it doesn't view them a serious problem caused by a broken system and that Mr. Sauper only helped to bring them to our attention?

See, this is what my Bible reads in Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...". Furthermore, my Bibles also reads in Matthew 5:14: "You are the light of the world.." What does those verses mean? They mean that a person of Bishop Gadi calibre, being a man of God, should have adequate Godly knowledge and wisdom to see what the rest of world does not see. But I guess I am too spiritual, because my Bishop just opted to join the rest of Tanzania. Is this true patriotism? I don't think so. In my world this is stupidity. You can't act in a certain way simply because the rest of the world is acting that way. Where is the power to think for one's self?

As sit here, I just wonder what really is wrong with the rest of Bongolanders. I mean, why would the country regard Mr. Sauper as an enemy, while what he did was simply show us what we have failed to do? Is there anybody who paid attention to little details, such as the fact that the fish factory owners are Tanzanians of Asian origin while the natives are on the peripherals? [I am not being a bigot, but isn't this the same question that Mr. Iddi Simba raised about empowerment of indigenous folks?]. But those are the questions that the likes of Daily News editor wouldn't ask, because they are too busy being "patriotic".

I will say it again, stupidity is one thing and patriotism is another. The difference is so clear.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Some Are Just Powerful Brands

I was making my usual rounds on the information highway and I happened to bump into one blogsite under the caretaking of an individual called Howard. Apparently, the dude or dudess ( I coined the word "dudess" myself, so don't go checking out Webster and them), is Tanzanian. The only post on that blog questioned the use of language, particularly when one brand name is applied to mean the other.

Well, let me pull my old marketing files from the back of my medulla oblongata ( I have no clue where that is, but I am certain it is part of my brain). I am sure marketing students and professionals will enjoy this. If I missed anything, I am open for critiquing.

In the blog post by Mr. Howard, it is apparent that he was irked by the used of the word "sheli" or Shell to denote a gasoline station. He wondered why Shell could be used to mean BP for instance. Well, Mr. Howard, I got news for you. The use of the word "Shell" to denote a gasoline selling station in Tanzania is more of a marketing concept. It signifies the power that some brand names have acquired over time, and therefore enabling such brand names to transcend beyond their "brand" territories. Such brands become generic to replace the product or service they represent.

It is apparent that Shell company in Tanzania succeed in the becoming such brand name. It acquired such a transcending status to the extent that any gasoline station is synonymous to "sheli". Even Shell company cannot help to change that. There are other examples of such brands. Xerox, for instance, has crossed over the generic side, acquiring a new meaning to signify "making a photocpy". A boss in an American company is most likely to ask you :" Joe, can you xerox this document for me? Our client in Chicago needs this urgently" as opposed to "Joe, can you make a photocopy of this document for me? Our client in Chicago needs this urgently".

Another example of such powerful brands that have crossed over to the generic side is Kleenex. For some reason, this soft tissue brand name has become to mean just that - any soft tissue. So when a collegue at work or a friend with cold and flu asks you to provide them with a "kleenex" to wipe the running nose, they will certainly not be referring to Kleenex as a brand, but ANY soft tissue. I have a friend from Zimbabwe who once told me that Coca-Cola has had the same status in Zimbabwe to the extent and soda drinks are synonymous to Coca-Cola, just the pronounciation and accent changes. So this is not a Tanzanian thing, but a global marketing reality.

Language is a dynamic phenomenon. It is dynamic because it evolves and no one can really put a stop to that evolution process. It is not lie that every generation has attempted to coin and come up with their own expressions and terminologies. Either to confuse the old guards, or just to mix it up and feel a sense of belonging. It is amazing that even in Tanzania, some members of parliament have tried to put a fight in "standardizing" Swahili. Read this. Such an attempt is senseless and will only prove to be futile. Besides, what is the point of having any language aside from communication? So, if two or three folks can understand each other, then the essence of any language has been fulfilled.

So whether someone uses BP to mean a gasoline station, or another uses Dell to mean PCs, it shouldn't be a great deal, given that such brands have earned their generic status or folks communicating understand what is being communicated. Such is a beauty of language. Such is a power of some brands that have come our way to mean the process or products they represent. Such is life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Darwin's Nightmare and Its Core Story

I had a chance to watch the infamous Darwin's Nightmare documentary, thanks to the advancement in the internet technology and the boom in video sharing. The folks at are really doing a wonderful job. So if you want to watch the video for free, just visit the youtube guys and search for Darwin's Nightmare. That will give you an opportunity to be a judge for yourself.

After watching the story, it became clear to me that something is very, very, very amiss in the minds of Tanzanian leaders. I am convinced that Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete could be THE BEST president that Tanzania has ever had, but with regards to the Darwin's Nightmare documentary, he missed the boat. For all his diplomatic abilities, passion, and a natural quick wit that, in my opinion, only Mchonga had, I wonder how he committed such a political suicide. May be he has crappy advisors on his side. May he failed to foresee how this whole ordeal would turn out to be. May be he fell victim of the old political games that do not work in 2006 (remember ex-president Mwinyi once called primary school students to the State House grounds to act as his audience as he addressed UDSM students?).

Here are some of the basic facts that I gathered from the documentary:
  1. Mr. Sauper did not speak, but let the people speak for themselves.
  2. The story about Ukrainian pilots bringing arms through Mwanza was originally published by The East African, Mr. Sauper only wanted to establish the validity of the story. He did not accuse the Tanzanian government.
  3. Tanzanian governement initially denied that there was hunger coming to hit Tanzania (only to beg later for assistance)
But what really is the Darwin's Nightmare documentary all about? From my perspective, the documentary is an insightful look at how globalization has failed to benefit the poor. It is a documentary that probes and asks the effectiveness or lack of policies that Tanzania (and any other developing country that has embraced globalization) has put in place, to ensure that the locals benefit from every ounce of resources that God endowed them with.

This is a story about poor Tanzania boys and girls who have dreams, only to miss a structure through wich such dreams could be realized. It is a story of talented young boys and girls who have falled victim of circumstances. This is not a story about a white documentary director who intends to badmouth our country. It is a story of a white documentary director who utilized his camera lens to open our eyes to the realities that our politicians have very much ignored. This is not a story about shame, but about an opportunity to grow as a country and learn.

This is a story about perspectives and intepretations. It is about how Europeans perceive us and how we perceive them. It how the Europeans perceive Africans as lazy, and I quote one of the Ukrainian pilots interviewed by Mr. Sauper: "Black people do not want to work". It was story about how African view their position in the global competition, as Mr. Nkono, one of the Mwanza residents Mr. Sauper interviewed, put it: "There is a scramble for fewer resource..and the stronger survives. That is the law of the jungle. When we say stronger..may be view the Europeans as the stronger.." When Europeans eat the best parts of sangara and the locals end up with mapanki, why would one argue against that? This was a story of what African children get in the African-European trade, as another Ukrainian pilot sadly put it "Children of Africa get guns for Christmas, European children get grapes".

Given the facts and theme of the documentary, the government, and Bunge for that matter, were not justified in overreacting. Which makes me wonder if the president or any of the puppet MPs ever watched the documentary before passing a judgement. That is because Mr. Sauper did not even offer his analysis or a conclusive opinion in the documentary.

It also brings to question the ability of our leaders to put issues in their proper perspective. Furthermore, it brings to question whether our leaders make decisions after collecting all the necessary information and evidence. I am sure that our esteemed president and wabunge did not watch the documentary before making their unfounded arguments. If they watched it, then there must be some serious questions about their intellectual capacity, for they must have wrongly interpreted the documentary and hence causing the unnecessary drama.

So what does it mean for the Mwanza residents whose voices we have heard? Based on what the documentary was all about, the president and wabunge's comments against Mr. Sauper is equivalent to silencing the poor folks in Mwanza who only provided an account of their life experience. Even sadly is the fact that all representatives from Mwanza chose to betray their own people. All for what? Trying to be appointed to a ministerial position by the president? MPs are supposed to be a balancing wheel for the president, and acting as puppets is certainly not going to help at all.

I can only feel sorry for the poor folks in Mwanza who banked on the president and their representatives to help out. I feel sorry for them because noone can deal with a problem they have not accepted. And denying the poor Mwanza residents' plight these leaders have done.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Darwin's Nightmare and Blinded Fools

If it was my choice, I would have been sharing my reflections on a daily basis. Nonetheless, some life realities are hard to avoid. When that happens, it is difficult to flick one's fingers on a computer keyboard regularly. This past Monday my wife had to go through an emergency medical procedure. As a loving husband, it was difficult for me to reflect on anything other than her. So I loved on my wife by sticking by her side. She is getting better and that allowed me to "roam" around the internet and get my blogging juice flowing.

I do not have a fondness for the American media. The reason for it is that I perceive the media in the great US of A to be in love with depressing news. I mean, anything to do with murder, sexual assault, or war is definitely going to be given the first priority. Is that depressing or what? If the story is losing its "juice" they will, by all means, juice it up by bringing some sort of an "expert" to provide a "new" insight on the story. Really?They will bring on an "expert" in Middle East and in this and that, just to depress you and fill the air time. Sometimes, I just have to switch to ESPN Classic to watch Tyson get whopped by Holyfield for the tenth time. I typically know the outcome already in that channel, but it is much better at times to watch hairstyles in the 1970's than a story about a serial rappist in 2006.

I know that was a bunch of blah blah, but what I really wanted to say is, excuse me for being like an American CNN. The Darwin's Nightmare story is old, but the most recent move by the Bongoland government left me with no choice but to "blog" them. Essentially, the Tanzanian government decided to sponsor a link in Google, that will supposedly "refute" Mr. Sauper's "negative" publicity. Read for yourself.

Reading the story from Tanzania Daima, I got the impression that the Tanzanian government "hacked" Mr. Sauper's website, only to realize that they managed (whether legally or illegally, I am not sure) to create a link in Google that will lead a reader to a more "positive" outlook about the whole sangara drama. The step, in general, is nothing new given the fact that the President, the Parliament and even some ignorant Mwanza residents have hit the street in condemnation of this documentary. We can leave it at that, because so many have been said about it those reactions.

I would regard the government's new move as foolish and childish. This is why. Controversy is a powerful commercial tool. Ask Holywood actors. Some of them have "stirred" things up a notch to bring enough attention to propel their movies to the top. I am not a psychologist, but I know that human beings are curious. More interesting is the fact that our curiousity is heightened by not-so-ordinary happenings. Given that fact, the Tanzanian government is actually propelling Mr. Sauper to the artistic pinacle as opposed to bringing him down.

Creating a "positive" website instead of addressing the central theme of Mr. Sauper's documentary does not really help the course or fool the world. Coming up with a general Bunge statement in condemnation of Mr. Sauper's documentary does not change the realities that Mr. Sauper addressed. Applying cheap political tactics that pulled ignorant Mwanza residents to demonstrate against this documentary is certainly not going to work for a London sangara buyer who is objective enough to know the difference. So why the trouble? It is definitely lack of common sense.

See, the reality is this: an artist is always successful when his or her work touches some nerves. Mr. Sauper's work has definitely sent some shockwaves in the Bongoland system. The problem, however, is that he sent a message to folks who are conditioned to refusing and denying realities. Consequently, these folks have decided to wage a war against him, ignoring the fact he has little to lose at this point than to gain. He sent a message to blinded fools who have eventually turned around to benefit him more than being a pain in his butt.

I can understand the government's desire to defend Brand Tanzania. That is a noble notion, for every country ought to defend its image. Nonetheless, it is one thing to defend your image and another to reactively and foolishly fall prey into the hands of your "enemies". Fueling controversy around the Darwin's Nightmare, especially by Tanzanian government itself, is nothing but blind foolishness. At the end of the day, we have made Mr. Sauper a couple of dollars richer through an increase of his documentary sales, while our folks in Mwanza continue to feast on the same old stinky "mapanki". At the end of the day, we will continue to help Mr. Sauper's course than ours.

If that ain't foolishness, I don't know what it is.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Do We Need Intelligent Leaders?

I have no adequate knowledge or expertise in psychology. I have no political science education to be in a position to intelligently conclude that an intelligent leader is the one that can effectively lead a country.

In my recent "journey" through the information super highway, I stumbled into a piece aired by MSNBC. You can view the piece below:

I know the piece is primarily on President Bush, but to me this is an intriguing piece of a video. Primarily because it question raised in this video clip, trascends beyond the American political arena. The primary question asked here focuses on intelligence as one of the universal ingredients of leadership. I believe we can ask the very same question about Tanzanian leaders, if we do not want to be way too Pan-African and extend this into a continental question.

I know for sure that there have been a number of political figures in Tanzania who have been on the receiving end for their lack of (or a perceived lack of) intellectual powers. One of them is our beloved Rashid Mfaume Kawawa. Rumours have it that Mchonga loved the likes of Mr. Kawawa because it afforded him an opportunity to be a lone shining star in the game. Likewise, it is also rumoured that Mr. BWM followed the footsteps of his mentor by sticking to a less intellectual Mr. Sumaye in order to have the same stardom status.

Whether these rumours or perceptions are true, I would like to get my readers's opinion:
  • Is intelligence that important in making one a good leader?
  • Given the fact that most true intellectuals are typically sidelined in politics, could our lack of development in Bongoland be attributed to sideling intellectual capacity from politics and policymaking?
  • What would one say about someone like Zimbabwe's Mugabe? Is it insanity or lack of intellectual capacity that is his plight?
Let me hear your mind.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Missing the Simple Things..

I sometimes look at images like the one provided here (photo by M.I. Michuzi) and reminisce on the good old days, when was life was "good" and simple in the skies of Bongoland.

It would be a typical hot day in Dar-es-Salaam. Assuming it is a Saturday, you would wake up, grab your two ndoos or karais to do your laundry (not with a Kenmore or Whirlpool in your basement, but your good old God-given two hands. If your family had a housegirl or houseboy, then just ignore the rest of the story). If you are lucky enough to be living in a neighborhood with an abundance of water flow, you will manage to thoroughly rinse your clothes before hanging them on a string for them to dry.

If no water is abundantly flowing in your neighborhood, you would carefully use your scarce resource through "recycling" of your water. I mean, the water you use for your final rinse of will not be wasted. Instead it would be used for pre-rinsing of another load, or initial soaking of a whole new load. White clothes would definitely get a special treat from a "blue" magic, remember that? Depending on the neighborhood where you live, you would not dare leave your clothes without a security guard, because in doing so, you would end up buying your own clothes in Kariakoo, if you know what I mean. If you had a few shillings in your pocket, you would drop your clothes at a "laundrymat" or at the dobi's.

I know some of y'all folks stayed at home with dad and mom, but I am giving you my own version as a person who had my own "ghetto", if you know what I mean. After doing your laundry, would definitely want to catch breakfast before you head to Kariakoo for some serious mitumba shopping. The easiest way, for a single man in Dar-es-Salaam, was to have a jiko la mchina, a sufuria, a half kilogram of sugar, and Green Lebel. Of course, if you couldn't run to Mangi's shop around the corner for a loaf of bread and Blue Band, there were always Mama Masumbuko and them selling vitumbua and maandazi on the roadside, just outside your baba mwenye nyumba's property.

After getting your breakfast, you would take a quick shower after sweeping the yard (if it was your ratiba for the day). You will head to the daladala station to catch your ride to Kariakoo. Assuming your "ghetto" is half a mile from the official station, you will definitely ask for "msaada" somewhere. Who wants their Kiwi to be covered by dust before the end of the day anyway? On your way to Kariakoo, if you are coming from the Kinondoni area, you will not stop but wonder, why are jeans being sold at Magomeni Mapipa are always shining and looking brand new? These fellas must be dying these things man, haiwezekani bwana.

In Kariakoo, you will make your normal rounds through Congo street, trying to avoid being duped into buying empty boxes instead of raba mtoni and such. You will allow your ears to be hammered by constant voices calling "ya reo! ya reo! ya reo! bei poa!", not to mention machingas trying to sell you shoe strings you don't need and ashikilimu sellers who want to quench your thirst. What about the abuse your nose will take from the mixture of pure body ordor and strong cologne from your fellow shoppers? After getting the type of clothes you want, you will make your rounds through electronic shops to drool over new stereo systems and TVs that you can't afford for now given your Bongoland salary. Through the experience, you will have your "naangalia tu" answer ready to be dropped when needed.

By this time you will be sweating and hungry. If you were "prepared" you will have your lunch mjini from one of the "hotels". We don't have restaurants in Tanzania, even if you don't have bed and breakfast or sell only ugali and samaki, according to our standard in Bongoland any establishment (given they are not mama ntilies) that sells food is a hotel. The term restaurant is rare, it is a foreign notion to us. If you can't afford to have lunch, you will have to drop by at your aunt's in Magomeni on your way back. Who calls in Dar-es-Salaam to announce that they are stopping by for lunch? On your way to the daladala station, you will either stop by one of the kiosks to buy soda or get a fresh madafu or miwa juice. Kipindupindu is for other people, not you.

Oh did I mention that during your shopping you met this high school classmate of yours who just got back from London for summer break? If not that, you will meet this fast-talking ordinary level classmate of yours talking about South African mipangos. Those "success" stories used to sting, knowing that you couldn't even pick up that tiny TV from that shop owned by this fella of an Asian origin. Deep down, you will always console yourself that "wan dei yesi".

Please look at the picture man! Who cares about sanitizing their hands before they hand you an organic pumpkin in Tanzania? Who cares that the pumpkin seller could have utilized a mobile selling stand instead of putting the pumpkins on the ground? I can guarantee you that the dude does not have even a tax identification number. TRA does not even recognize him. But who cares? Who cares that the sugarcane juice you just had in Kariakoo does not meet FDA ( we have such a thing in Tanzania? may be..) standards? Who cares that the daladala driver on your way home would probably violate five traffic regulations? I know for sure your response to a "mambo vipi?" question from any mshikaji who would board a daladala with you would be "poa" . That is because for some part, life is really poa in Dar-es-Salaam.

Don't you miss those simple things in the Dar-es-Salaam's? I know I do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MPs as Ministers: An Ingredient for Ineffectiveness

The President's appointment of ministers from a pool of elected or appointed members of parliament is a constitutional matter and has been a tradition as long as I can remember. I am not sure as to why the appointment of ministers have been set up this way, but I can only speculate that whoever made the decision - most likely JKN - wanted to ensure that ministers are "accepted" by the wananchi. That is, JNK's thinking, folks who have been elected as MPs are seemingly "approved", as such "suitable" for the ministerial positions. Mh..

While that may sound like a grand rationale, I would beg to differ. Appointing ministers from a pool of elected MPs has been more harmful than it is beneficial. I can come up with a tons of reasons for that. One of those reasons is that the practice encourages abuse of power to ensure re-election. It is a given that most ministers who fail to defend their sits are almost automatically booted from their ministerial positions. I wonder why, if I was a minister, wouldn't do all I can to ensure that I continue with my tenure as a minister? There have been so many complaints from the opposition parties, even within CCM party itself, that wakubwa always bully their way through re-election, be it through the use of a takrima or even use of their sub-ordinates.

My second reason for being against the appointment of ministers from the House is that it violates the principle of separation of the legislative from the executive branches. I mean, let's be serious. Why would we expect one minister to seriously defend the interest of his or her constituents against poor government policies while he or she is part of the same government? We all know the famous "collective responsibility" umbrella that the Tanzanian ministers tend to cover themselves under. Why would Mr. Mramba, for instance, criticize or question Mr. Wassira on water policies? I guess the answer to that is "never". So in essence, an MP who get appointed to be a minister is automatically sacrificing his constituent, while furthering the interest of the executive branch. Unless otherwise, that minister is able to do the "unethicals", which we can talk about further.

While it might appear that the MP appointed to be a minister can potentially toss his or her constituent out of the window, the opposite can and has happened. The recent saga involving both Mr. Mramba and Mr. Wassira can be a good example of how MPs appointed as minister can sacrifice the interest of the nation (the majority) for the interest of his or her constituent (the minority). Given the fact that we have had such an experience, the biggest question is: how can we expect MPs who become ministers to be balanced and fair in fulfilling their obligations? My opinion is that striking a balance will never be achieved, because huwezi kuwatumikia mabwana wawili. Experience has proved that. I guess the failure to strike a good balance between the legislative and executive obligations is a splendid reason in itself to strike off this practice.

Given that all wabunge are midomo wazi waiting for that glorious day to be appointed to the ministerial positions, it is very difficult to find an effective House. In other words, the appointment of minister among the MPs leads to an ineffective House. The current incident where the House "unanimously" agreed to join Mr. JK's hands in condeming the Darwin's Nightmare documentary is a good example. I mean, don't we have MPs who can independently think? I seriously think that we do, but the fact that every MP is looking out to be on the good side of the President is betraying the effectiveness of the House. I know that party politics also play a part, but ufisi that is brought about by the current system of ministerial appointments plays a bigger role.

I am firm believer that the legislative, executive and judicial branches of leadership in the country should always stay separate. Such separation should be maintained in order to ensure a proper level of balance in fully serving wananchi. I am not aware of any other country in the world that intermingles the legislative and executive branches, but we ought to make a change in Bongoland in order to bring effectiveness. Appointed ministers cannot claim to objective and effective in both their representation of wananchi and serving the interest of the President. Such will be a lie, for they have failed to be objective, not only in appearance but also in fact. If you think I am out of my mind, please review the Mr. Mramba and Mr. Wassira's saga.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thank You Mr. Speaker

I know this blog for the most part has been dealing with Bongoland issues primarily from a "negative" side. I say "negative" because my reflection has been, for the main part, pointing out things that the government has missed. I am convinced that criticizing is not a bad thing, as long as the spirit behind is to bring some positive change.

Besides my criticism, which "hit" Mr. Speaker on his "kazana" comments, I am always willing to give some praise when praise is deserved. I had a chance to have a conversation with one esteemed gentleman over the weekend and in our conversation one of the issues that came up was the "good news" that Mr. Speaker has finally "educated" MPs on their status as far as the law of the land is concerned. The Speakers message to the members of parliament was very simple, they ain't above the law! [Read here].

It would be ridiculous not to commend Mr. Speaker for his stand. Personally, I was delighted. I was delighted because finally we are starting to see positive signs of change. To be more specific, a philosophical change. See, the central agenda for my blogging (and others who blog or share their ideas through newspaper columns) is not just to shoot some steam for nothing, but to highlight some key ideological, philosophical, and attitudinal problems that have been acting as roadblocks towards meaningful economic and social progress in Tanzania. One of those key problems has been lack of a clear understanding of what the roles and obligations of MPs are. Those roles are stipulated, but is apparent that our MPs have been working blindly, if you will.

It is apparent, from Mr. Speaker's comments, that the majority of our MPs are soooooo ignorant. That has been evidenced through their misunderstanding or misconception of the extent to which the Tanzanian constitution, and thus the law, provides them "immunity". It is also highlights even a more troubling realization, that wabunge do not have a clear understanding of the contitution and the laws that they have passed! (Talking about ukihiyo wa katiba na sheria!!). But why should we be surprised? Some of these fellas are Form IV certificate holders.

I am also delighted about Mr. Speaker's comments because he has set a wonderful precendent. See, given that that human beings are creatures of habit, our MPs (some of which have been in the House almost all their life) were used to old filthy habits. They were used to being rubber stamps, making stupid unsubstantiated comments, or just embracing wrong notions about their position. All of that, without any serious challenge or consequences. As such, our MPs grew into believing that they were some kind of semi-gods to be worshipped. No wonder everybody wanted to get in the House at all costs.

The Speaker's comments has changed all that. He has managed to communite to the MPs that they are nothing more than "servants" of the people, entrusted folks with a duty to fulfill. I love the Speaker's comments because it sent a message to the MPs that they ain't glorious folks to be worshipped. Given the love of accolades that Bongoland leaders have, I am sure that Mr. Speaker's comments have put a serious dent into the MPs' ego. It is a wonderful dent for wananchi, because it has brought the MPs down to earth. Why shouldn't we thank Mr. Speaker for that?

See, I believe societies can only develop as far as their minds can take them. I am convinced that Bongoland is as poor as it is, because we are fulfilling someone's vision. I would be bold enough to say that we are fulfilling CCM's vision, given that they are in power. What we have in Tanzania is as far as CCM has seen (You can urgue otherwise, but you have clothes you have now because that's your vision of how you want folks to see you today). Given that fact, in order for someone to progress, they have change their mind and attitude. Given the role of the Bunge in pushing for economic and social development, it is imperative that the MPs have the right "mind" and attitude. The right "mind" includes that ability to critically think and put issues in their proper context/place.

It is sad that our MPs have failed to raise to the occasion. Nevertheless, I am glad that we have a Speaker, who at least for once, stood his ground and rised above the crowd of incapable MPs. Standing for the right interpretion and application of the constitution and law in Bongoland is a rare thing to see. By doing what is right, the Speaker demonstrated how noble he is. And that, my friend, deserves a standing ovation.

Waa! Waa! Waaa! Waaa!Waaa! Waaa!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Darwin's Nightmare & JK: The Response


This is not my original thought, but it came from one of my closest buddies. I will post it in its entirety. Very interesting perspective from my point of view, but you be the judge.

Rais wa Tanzania ni mtu mkubwa sana. Na tena anawakilisha 'the whole institution of the presidency'. Kwa yeye kujiingiza kwenye malumbano na mtu binafsi tu, tena raia wa nchi nyingine, haileti picha nzuri. Kuna namna nyingi za kuweza kupinga yale yaliyosemwa na kuonyeshwa kwenye filamu hiyo ya Darwin's Nightmare. Rais Kikwete amefanya 'tactical errors' kubwa mbili hapa.

Ya kwanza inahusu hiyo 'confrontation' na mtengenezaji wa filamu huko Paris, France wakati wa ziara yake huko na kudai kuwa apewe 'evidence' kuhusu madai hayo yaliyoko kwenye filamu. Yaani rais mzima wa nchi anakosa kazi na kuanza kuwafuatilia private citizens wa nchi nyingine? Kulikuwa na umuhimu gani wa rais kukutana na huyu jamaa huko Paris? Isitoshe, filamu za mtindo wa 'documentary' kwa kiasi kikubwa ni maoni binafsi ya mtengenezaji. Kwa hiyo mtengenezaji atavutia zaidi kwake na kupiga picha zile zinazounga mkono mtizamo wake. Kwa mfano kwa walioko Marekani mtakumbuka kuwa kuna jamaa mmoja alitengeneza filamu ya Farenheit 9/11. Filamu hii ilikuwa inamwandama Rais George W Bush. Lakini hata siku moja sikumsikia Rais Bush akilumbana na bwana Moore kuhusu hiyo filamu.

Ya pili inahusu hoja alizotoa mheshimiwa Rais Kikwete wakati wa mkutano wake na wazee wa mkoa wa Mwanza. Hata kama tukichukulia kuwa alikuwa anaongea na 'a partisan crowd', na kuwa chochote atakachosema basi kitashangiliwa kwa nderemo na vigelegele. Kuna msemo kuwa maji ukiyavulia nguo huna budi kuyaoga, kwa maantiki hayo rais wetu angepaswa kujibu mapigo yote ya kwenye filamu hiyo hoja kwa hoja na sio vinginevyo. Ni kweli kuwa kuna ukahaba wa hali ya juu huko Ufaransa, na kuwa watu wanakata leseni ya kuwa makahaba. Lakini 'that was not the central issue' kwenye filamu hiyo, na wote tunajua hivyo. Juhudi zozote za kufanya 'deflection' kutoka kwenye ujumbe wa filamu hiyo 'is not a good rebuttal strategy'.

Nilipata bahati ya kusikia interview ya huyu Hubert Sauper kwenye National Public Radio (NPR). Bonyeza tovuti hii hapa chini ili uweze kusikia hayo mahojiano. Kwa maneno yake mwenyewe bwana Hubert anaongelea sababu zilizomfanya atengeneze hiyo filamu.

Kwa hiyo hili sio suala la kuwa wazungu fulani wanataka kuendelea kutunyanyasa sisi waafrika kwa kutengeneza filamu mbaya kuhusu maisha yetu. Sidhani kama maoni mengine kwenye suala hili zima yamekita kwenye uchambuzi yakinifu wa filamu hii.

Source: Seppy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ours is a Snoozing Government, Seriously. (2)

I love it when I get different perspectives on issues I reflect on. I believe that it is through listening and absorbing other point of views that one can grow. So Mr. Ned, this is post is dedicated to your comments, which obviously differed from my original thought.

Despite your majibu mazuri mheshimiwa, I would like to clarify some things. I have posted some of my clarification points in your blog site. I stand to be corrected if I am wrong, but what I gleaned from your message is that we shouldn't blame the government for the fall in agricultural output or other issues for that matter. I agree with your point of view, particularly on each Bongoland responsibility in making economic strides.

While it could be enticing to jump on that band wagon, because truly kila mtu anastahili kubeba mzigo wake mwenyewe, we ought to remember the fact that our political leaders vied for these positions with a promise to make Tanzania better. We are obligated to question, critique and challenge when our leaders are not delivering. It is our civic right.

But the most compelling reason of all is the fact that, and I quote Ned's own blog post "the government creates the environment & the infrastructure that will support production....". I am glad that Mr. Ned has acknowledged that, because that is the basis for my argument. Given Mr. Ned's own acknowledgement as to the government's responsibility, the question of the day is: has the Tanzanian government done enough to ensure that there is an environment and infrastructure that will support not only production, but aggressiveness in trade? My conviction is that has not happened. The Tanzanian government has not done enough.

So when we talk about "environment" in this specific case what are really talking about? We are talking about a plathora of things. We are talking about setting up a legal framework that will create a business environment conducive for walalahoi (try getting your business licence in Tanzania and tell me if you can achieve that easily) , business educational programs to educate the mass, loan guarantees, etc.

Let's get real. The majority of folks in Tanzania do not have adequate education. May be we have forgotten the fact that even enrollment in secondary schools shot up less than five years ago. So why would one think that a Form IV certificate holder is equipped enough to understand the complexities of international markets? I don't think so. We shouldn't also forget that the majority of our folks live in rural areas. Some of these folks (farmers) do not know even how to read and write. We are talking about folks who think that Dar-es-Salaam is the best City they have ever been to. So try to imagine if such a person has enough skills to penetrate the international market. As such, it is the government's responsibility to step in and educate wananchi. That is called empowerment. That's what they are elected for.

It is due to wananchi's lack of education that folks who have been "educated" (the South Africans and some other wazungu) can easily identify opportunities in Tanzania, while our own kind cannot. It is a given fact that folks with the best information succeed most of the time. One could disagree with me, but it is the responsibility of the government to provide an environment where the majority will be educated and exposed to opportunities they have. It is not fair to ask the wananchi do to what they don't know. It is unfair to ask the wanachi to pursue markets they don't know exist.

Contrary to what the Tanzanian government is doing, other government plays a bigger role in creating an environment for the private enterprise to flourish. The Small Business Administration in the United States of America (, is set up to ensure that small businesses thrive. In addition to providing education, SBA also guarantees loans to small business borrowers, conducts seminars and training sessions on best business practices. Given these examples, I don't think it is wrong to challenge the Tanzanian government to do the same. The government is ought to fill in where individuals, on their own, are limited. That is called empowerment.

Even each individual state in America is serious about helping businesses in their states to thrive. The State of Ohio, for instance, has set up an Internation Trade Department, which is mandated to " promotes the export of Ohio products and services to strengthen Ohio's economy and advance its leadership position in the global marketplace" ( And the way the Ohio IDT accomplishes that is not by blah blah, they have set up offices in various places, including South Africa. Only a serious government would do that. And these are the little things that we demand our Tanzanian government to do. And that's why they collect taxes, not for their fancy rides. I wonder if our ambassador Mr. Daraja in Washington, DC regards his office as an economic embassy, in addition to everything else.

It is disgusting to even mention the word infrastructure when it comes to Tanzania. We all know the condition of roads in Tanzania. Even worse, we know what Mr. Mramba, who is incharge of that area, recently did. The Mramba's saga only proves that fact we need to slam the serikali. We know the importance of realiable infrastructure in production and trade growth, so I am not going to dwell on that. But the question of the days is whether the government has done enough in setting up appropriate strategies and plans in place to ensure that production and trade grows in the country. The answer to that is obviously a big "NO". And that's why we hold the government accountable.

This is my take. Leaders are elected to take the ordinary folks somewhere. They lead towards a certain destination, be it social or economic. When folks are not motivated or lack certain skills, it is the responsibility of leaders to motivate and to empower wananchi. It the responsibility of the government to draft policies and laws, create educational programs, charge appropriate tax rates, build roads, and provide other tools that put wananchi in a position to succeed. Unless that is done, it wouldn't be fair to blame wananchi. And you and I know for sure that the Tanzanian government has not done enough, given the level of education and exposure of the majority. Let the government provide a good envoronment first, then we can change our "songs". But the way things are currently, let us be real - it ain't happenin'.

An update to my post:
According to Daily News (, the government is set to do the following in 2006/2007 fiscal year with regards to what we have been discussing:

  • Wrap up a policy and strategy on local crop markets in addition to improving collection, sorting and distribution of market information to stakeholders
  • Publish a list of crop buyers and processors. It would also enlighten stakeholders on how to to exploit EAC, SADC and European Union (EU) markets [Metty's notes: enlighten is a key leadership word there]
  • Looking for honey and wax markets in Oman and the Emirates (villages in Singida and Tabora regions have been mobilised to exploit the market) [Metty's notes: mobilize is a key leadership word there]
  • Tanzania envisages opening further business frontiers to enable the private sector to grow
I have to commend the government for doing exactly what we have been desiring.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ours is a Snoozing Government, Seriously.

A certain gentleman recently forwarded a few of us a link to the goverment's economic report for the fiscal year 2005. I can attest that there are positive things within the report, but looking at the report in detail, I came to conclude that there are a whole lot left to be desired. Check out the entire report here if you will.

Tanzania has this famous slogan regarding its focus on agriculture, which is kilimo ni uti wa mgongo wa taifa. For all y'all non-Swahili speakers, this simply means that agriculture is the backbone of the nation. In essense, the country views agriculture as its main economic activity. That being established, you would expect that the government would pay more attention to agriculture, given the fact that current labor statistics indicate that the agricultural sector employs more than 75% of the country's labor force. But that ain't happening, the government has hit the snooze button on agriculture. The fellas in Ikulu are busy with selling land to foreign gold miners.

Am I just making this up? Absolutely not! The governments own report would prove that. If you go the government's economic report, particularly on page 155 of 267, you will see how cashew production has dropped over the years. For instance, cashew production in 2004 was 100,000, compared to 90,000 in 2005. Phew!

If you think that is bad, compare that to what other external organizations are saying about Tanzania's situation:

"While in the 1970s Mozambique and Tanzania were the main global producers, they have since been edged out of the top positions by India, Vietnam and Brazil, whose respective processing capacities are 750,000 tonnes, 300,000 tonnes and 300,000 tonnes. Besides Mozambique and Tanzania, other notable African producers are Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Benin, Togo and Nigeria. Industry officials say whereas world cashew production has increased, Africa's share has decreased over the years. The continent's current output of 300,000 tonnes is less than half its potential of 700,000 tonnes. "

What I am deducing from the Technoserve's report is that were not serious. It is apparent that Tanzania was on top as far as cashew production in the 1970's, but over the years has hit the snooze button. Thank you very much Baba wa Taifa ( I don't care what songs you want to sing about the late Nyerere, but my conviction is that this dude messed up the country economically, period.. And the saddest part is that we are still suffering from the residues of his thinking).

Apparently, there are no efforts from the government to help cashew farmers in Bongoland to tap into this industry, which has a potential of producing millions and millions of dollars on an annual basis. Currently, the only thing that cashew farmers in Tanzania are facing is frustrations. Think I am kidding? Read for yourself the following story:

My conviction is that the government's ignorance and lack of seriousness has been very costly. Furthermore, they have never been any serious strategic steps taken to ensure that we fully utilize every opportunity we have. Like refining of gold which is done overseas, raw cashew is currently being shipped to India for processing. The effect of that, is the loss of about 30,000 jobs to our Indian counterparts. See what Technoserve says:

"Analysts say a viable processing industry in the country could create 30,000 direct jobs and generate $40 million in incremental processing revenues annually."

In a nutshell, we are not only losing potential 30,000 jobs for our vijana, were throwing away $40 million in incremental processing revenues annually by exporting raw cashew to be processed in India! Are idiots or what? You know that means in madafu currency? That is a whopping TSh 40 billion that we throw away to India! Whether it is in USD or madafu terms, $40 million is surely enough to transform somebody's life in Bongoland, not counting tax revenues to the government's coffers.

So are you convinced about the kilimo ni uti wa mgongo wa taifa slogan or it is just a bunch of blah blah that we have heard before? Whatever the case, we are a sorry bunch, Tanzanians that is.

Kama ningekuwa na uwezo, ningetembeza bakora tangu Ikulu hadi Bungeni..siriazli.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gender Separation in Education Necessary?

Recently, a story surfaced on that the revolutionary government in Zenji is contempleting an education system where girls and boys will be separated. If you think I am kidding, check out the story for yourself here.

The Zenji government's thinking is that the separation of female students from male students will enhance or improve moral standards and academic performance among female students. Rings a bell anyone? That sounds like a typical African thinking. To be more precise, a Bongoland thinking. And to be honest with you, that kind of thinking sucks.

This line of thinking is problematic and regressive (as opposed to progressive) because it is based on purely cultural norms that, in my opinion, do not fit in our current state of the world. Furthermore, the decision lacks any scientific merit. I am not aware of any scientific studies that have made a definite conclusion that females performs better when separated from boys. Contrary to the Zenji government's point of view, I believe that girls are better off academically when paired with boys. In my opinion, this decision smells more of politics than anything else, bound to hurt our children than help them.

Both male and female students are bound to be hurt by this decision because school is a place to learn not only academic stuff, but it is a place to learn social skills. It is a place for both boys and girls to develop some social coping mechanisms. I can guess rationale behind the morality argument, but is a shortsighted thinking, as students participate in society at large after school. If the government is afraid that girls will be sexually active because they are mixed with boys, that is a myopic view. The reality is that there are sugar daddies and other older folks who prey on girls more than the boy classmates. Haven't they heard of stories where a 15 years old girl is forced to marry a 70 years old man? Ensuring that both boys and girls maintain some kind of sexual morality will not be achieved through some sort of governmental decisions. I strongly believe that parental guidance and spiritual leadership can do that.

From a political side of things, this decision is nothing more than sexist. I mean, this is 2006. Do we still have to draw policies along gender lines? I think females have proven themselves enough to be regarded equally, at least in the academic realms. Don't we have female ministers in Tanzania who are PhD holders? Can we justify and conclude that these women were able to achieve these academic accolades because they studied in isolation from male counterparts?

The worse part is the fact many higher learning institutions are co-ed. Given that fact, the government should create an education environment in the elementary and secondary level that is preparing the future university and college students of social realities. Such realities include the fact that almost all work places are of mixed gender. I am not aware of private and government offices which are separated for males and females only.

I will say it again. It appears that there is an epidemic of shortsightedness in our political leadership in Tanzania. Some of the decisions that the government makes have no "kichwa wala miguu", and I wonder why we are confident of achieving the Vision 2025. The decision to have separate classes for male and female students is among those stupid mistakes that the government has or will make.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Great Physicians Die Too

This is very interesting.

In May 2006, Lee Jong-wook died at the age of 61. He passed away a few hours after suffering a stroke, then undergoing emergency surgery that failed to remove a blood clot from his brain.

Who was Lee Jong-wook? One of the world's leading physicians -- an expert on tuberculosis pathology and, on the day of his death, director general of the World Health Organization.

Where did he die? At Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, one of top health care institutions of any nation. So the head of the World Health Organization died young after receiving the best possible care. Memento mori: in Latin, "Remember that you too will die." The knock on your life's door could come at any hour. If it comes today, will your heart [spirit] be ready?

Source: ESPN.

Just think about that. We take life for granted sometimes. Simply because you are healthy and wealthy today does not mean that you will stay the same. We think that only those that are careless or old are the ones who die. Not me. Not today. That tends to be our thinking.

So as you go about your life today, take time to reflect about your priorities. Is God part of the equation? Is leading a life of holiness part of the deal? I am not suggesting that temptations and "spiritual" hardships won't come your way. Nonetheless, you can take a very hard look at your spiritual life. You can make a change.

We talk about politics and all that, but at the end of the day it is all about the higher authority. See, I learnt one important lesson about leadership: You cannot lead others if you can't lead yourself. We have established that when the wicked rule, folks do cry. If you and I want to bring about change in Bongoland, we have to check our moral standing. Otherwise we will turn out to be as corrupt as those folks in power right now. One place I know that one can start maintaining good moral standards is through a right relationship with God. You are allowed to urgue otherwise, but that's my personal conviction and belief.

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death [Proverbs 14:27]