Thursday, October 05, 2006

“Mtaji wa Maskini Nguvu Yake”?

If you are coming from Bongoland, you have at least heard of this saying. In most cases, this saying is meant to “motivate” folks who have found themselves stuck in difficult economic situations. These folks are left without any other option but to apply all means necessary to make ends meet. Manual laborers, such as mikokoteni operators are mostly likely to hold on to such a “slogan”.

I am not going to badmouth working hard as a way of earning a living and even lifting one’s family out of an abject poverty. I think it is a noble thing to do – that is, trying to fight for your family. You know what? Even the Bible prescribes hard work as a means through which we should earn our living.

What has just crossed my mind is whether popularizing such “slogans” is really helping anyone or it is just helping to reinforce bad ideas into the mind of poor Tanzanian men and women, who could have been supplied with the alternatives. I am not sure if I can find the right answers to that, but my conviction is that such slogans and popular sayings have transcended beyond individual lives even into the Bongoland public leadership.

That should not come as a surprise. Individuals make up a nation, thus belief system that each individual is holding is certainly bound to affect the nation’s belief system. A nation made up of ten (10) stupid citizens is surely going to be a stupid nation. Just look at this flood picture and think with me. Isn’t it logical to plan how to handle rainwater on the streets given the same has happened and will happen again? This is what happens when folks fail to apply their minds.


See, my belief is that the utilization of one’s physical strength has serious limitations. There is just so much that our physical bodies can achieve. Given that fact, it is a developmental suicide to cling to the application of one’s strength alone without looking for other alternative, for instance, application of mental capabilities . A nation with majority cart pushers will always be a cart-pushing nation, generally speaking.

The late Nyerere cited watu as a key ingredient for development, but failed to define what kind of watu Tanzania needed. Honestly speaking, we just don’t need warm bodies; we need intellectually charged individuals. The fact that our government has failed to take seriously University education is an indication that we are a cart-pushing nation. The University of Dar-es-Salaam story is just a sad reminder that our leaders are sort of operating on the cart-pushing mentality. Kama watu tu, tunao. As a matter of fact, 38 million of them! The issue has to be the quality of people we have and not the number.

The moral of the story is this: no nation has developed by a mere application of their physical strength. Look around you; every developed nation has gone past the application of the physical muscles. If anything, they are applying their mental muscles. So, the next time a friend of yours tells you that “Mtaji wa maskini nguvu yake”, just give them a very hard look in the eye and tell them: “ Get behind me Satan”. Whoever is trying to limit you into applying your physical strength alone is trying to kill you.

So take this as a fact of life: Tanzania will NEVER get out of poverty unless we start applying our minds as our capital. So, respect the pizza! That doesn’t’ sound right. I guess it goes like this: Respect the mind!

Photo Credits: M. Michuzi

3 comments:

simbadeo said...

Metty,

Thank you for your deep reflexions, however, I beg to differ with the interpretation you have attributed to the saying 'Mtaji wa Maskini ni Nguvu Zake Mwenyewe'. By going through your reflexion, I think you interpreted the saying more literally rather than going into the 'more than just its literal meaning'.
In my opinion, the saying tries to help people build positive attitudes as they approach life and its many challenges. Compare this saying to this one: 'Ng'ombe wa maskini hazai'. If you listen very carefully to the two sayings, the first helps build a positive attitude towards life and wants one to try all means to depend on himself, whereas, the second one leads into one building a negative attitude towards life.
Therefore by using the saying, we can say that even developing countries, like our own, Tanzania, needs to try and depend on her own resources (natural and unnatural) if she really wants to bring about true economic revolution. 'Nguvu' here means a lot: physical strength, intellectual strength, psychological strength, spiritual strength, social strength, natural resources, unnatural resources and many other meanings you can think of. All these meanings can be explained as 'capitals' in their own rights.
So, Metty, these are my ideas and opinions. You don't have to agree with them just like I chose to differ with you on this matter.

Have a nice day.

Ciao!

Jaduong Metty said...

Simbadeo,

Thanks for your comments. My question would be: if "mtaji wa maskini ni nguvu zake mwenyewe" encompasses a host of "resources" as you pointed out, then why is this individual still "maskini"? Does "umaskini" here stands for having untapped resources or lacking resources at all?

Maiki said...

Jaduong! This statement is deep, "Honestly speaking, we just don’t need warm bodies; we need intellectually charged individuals."
I strongly believe that such slogans "mtaji wa maskini nguvu yake" have contributed to the current pathetic nature of our country's economy...I mean what is "nguvu" minus intellect (sound mind)?

Simbadeo, I appreciate your very genuine argument in favor of the slogan. However, I challenge you to take a deep pause and think twice! For the sake of this dialogue, let us assume that resources refers to the total means available for economic and political development, such as mineral wealth, labor force, and armaments, etc... Now, apply this to the current Bongoland situation. What do you get?

I grew up poor, I faced poverty at its highest level, I know what it means to have and to have not...I can boldly testify that history taught me "Akili ni mali." It doesn't matter how strong you're are..kama kichwa kibovu..you're doomed!

Such a slogan might have made sense to our grandparents during the colonial eras..yes they were subjected to manual labor in order to survive...but gone are those days, in this modern world of technological advancements and the like, only the brains work! Correct me if I am wrong.

I can not say it any better than Jaduong, "See, my belief is that the utilization of one’s physical strength has serious limitations. There is just so much that our physical bodies can achieve. Given that fact, it is a developmental suicide to cling to the application of one’s strength alone without looking for other alternative, for instance, application of mental capabilities . A nation with majority cart pushers will always be a cart-pushing nation."

Sasa..unataka Tanzania tuwe taifa la makuli? Maana..mhhhhhhhhh..hali inatisha!