Wednesday, March 14, 2007

That's Moving Foward...

As most bloggers and writers would agree, there is a temptation to reflect or write on controversial topics to garner attention. Getting comments or feedback from your readers is certainly a nice way of knowing whether your writing is meaningful or a waste of time. I believe that all human beings like the attention. It is natural, so don’t even try to front that you don’t like it. That is true whether you are just an average Joe or a celebrity. I think the only bad thing would be if you were obsessed with the notion to the extent that you get depressed when you get less or not attention at all.

I like to get the attention. I mean, this is some a personal media if you will. Try to imagine having a newspaper without a readership or a television station without viewers. That would certainly suck. That would stink. I can see some folks starting to question whether I do this for attention (the selfish type of attention) or other ulterior motives. I don’t. I do this to get your positive attention. I want us to go on a journey that would enrich us both.

That being said, I would like to express my appreciation for the comments that I have been getting on this blog and for those who signed by guest book. Honestly, there is nothing more encouraging than that. The more I hear from folks, whether they agree with me or not, the more I get fired up to do this. The most wonderful thing though, is the fact that the more I read, I get a common thread out of it: we both desire for a positive change in Tanzania. May be the only difference is that we differ in the way we want to achieve that. You know what? We see things differently and that should be the case.

The best reward about this whole writing thing for is when I see what I write about being implemented. That is not to say that decision-makers are reading this blog as their source of information, but it is certainly refreshing to see that decision-makers can apply the principles of common sense. Honestly speaking, I don’t think I bring anything new to the table. I have only tried to reflect on issues in Bongoland in connection with what general common sense would contend.

I was happy that Young Africans Sports Club finally got their heads together, given that I had previously blogged on them. So this week I decided to not become like most Tanzanian’s journalists who hardly do their research. Of late, they have been many talks about the media and freedom of information bills to be tabled by the government. I decided to take a personal look at the bill’s draft (the freedom of information) to see the contents. Honestly, I was impressed. Take a look.

As I said before, I am not a genius by any imagination. Nonetheless, I feel pretty good knowing that I blogged on this and it happened. Again, I am not saying the government acted on my blog post, because it is very possible the draft was prepared even before I blogged, but it feels good to know that Tanzania is certainly making positive progress in certain areas.

I will praise when praise is due. If this bill is implemented (and followed to the final dot), then we should expect things to change. The truth is that corruption is bred when only a few individuals have access or hold public information. I am sure this bill will put a dent into certain corrupt schemes. Would this help eradicate grand corruption? Probably not, but it would certainly help with nuisances of petty corruption that bugs wananchi on a regular basis. I know the majority still don’t even know their basic legal and constitutional rights, hence raising question of the effectiveness of the bill, but we can appreciate the conception and (hopefully) the eventual implementation of the bill for now.

This bill is certainly a good thing. Imagine this: You apply for a passport and the guys at the Immigration office are giving you a painful run around. Guess what? Under this new Act, you will be able to file for the release of the information pertaining to your passport application so that you can see the stage of your application. If some government office mess you up some 25 years ago, guess what? You can retrieve all the information and know what transpired. Isn’t that cool?

And that is moving forward.

Note: I understand that some folks visiting this blog have been questioning and wondering about the impact of our mindset on everything that we do. Well, courtesy of one of the esteeemed readers of this blog, Mbwana, I am hereby posting a link to another blogger who's "preaching" on the mindset issue. Go here and enjoy!

Photo: Mpoki

15 comments:

Maiki said...

Jaduong! Based on my little knowledge of how the POWERS in our motherland operate, I will remain skeptical of any tabulated bills. "Action speaks louder than words!" Africa has had problems with its leaders, a majority of whom were elected into power through popular revolution; but found no checks and balances for the misuse of power in place. Competent leadership is vital for successful economic reform and most African leaders manage their economies by threats of the minority, decrees and orders. Corporate revitalization is successful only by facilitating creative approaches to doing business. This philosophy must take root in our government and must be spread to all governing levels through learning, transfer and promotion of new managers who are committed to change. Leadership is the cornerstone of all processes of revitalization. Leaders are in short supply and must be revitalized and produced. The unavailability of “good leaders” has led the African continent to develop slowly and languish in the primitive agricultural labour phase. Revitalization is not an event, but a process that requires many committed divisions and effective communication. Success will depend on the ability to develop change-oriented leaders.
Effective revitalization at all levels requires a vision of the future. A vision that aligns new patterns of management to do core tasks. Leaders need to be convinced if their employees have to commit themselves to change emotionally and become passionate to the idea. Many African leaders provide examples of leaders who have lost the total system of their institution. The recycling of old guards and political allies is a sign of their inability to revitalize the political institution. Experience is a great teacher and has proved that it can surpass academic and technical training. Many leaders in industry house this self-revealing experience. In order for effective organisations to be developed, organisations need to develop effective leaders by creating an organisational context that encourages the development of leadership skills in its members. However our society faces a dilemma, as current leaders are part of the process/context that needs to be changed. How can political leaders who have not leant new attitudes and behavior themselves develop a new corporate context in Tanzania?

Jaduong Metty said...

@Maiki,
I agree with you. We can never downplay the importance of good and quality leadership. We need that. The influence and the impact of leadership in any society are just too huge to ignore.

Given what we know about the political culture and lack of commitment in upholding certain values - such a justice and morality in Tanzania, you are justified to doubt whether all these changes mean anything. I am also setting my eyes wide open to see whether the government will seriously implement this.

The only hope I have is this: whether the current leadership or any leadership in the next 10 years carry out the Act or any other Acts that were drafted with good intentions in mind, I am certain of one thing, we are building a good foundation.

Such a foundation is crucial. Take Rev. Mtikila, for instance. He is just using the current constitutional and legal framework to “force” the leadership into bending. I am not sure if the current Tanzanian society understands the future impact of the precedent that this guy is setting, but that should give us an indication of what will transpire, once the entire society is sensitized not only to understand but to exercise their constitutional and legal rights.

This is my take. Even if we don’t see any changes in the next two years, at least we have a legal sword that we can draw against a corrupt system in the future once the entire society is educated enough.

Mbwana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mbwana said...

You should check out this review on a book released coming out of my school's Pyschology department by one of the professors. It highlighs how attitudes relate to success. It endorses your notion at least on the individual level, I'm not so convinced on a national level- I think leaders have a huge influence and should have this attitute, but nationally it is hard to expect this from a whole nation, maybe a mass of influentials in Tanzania is enough to effect real positive change- I am more convinced and hope you blog more about great insights and analysis rather than labor the point on attitude so much- you might want to refer this book on the front of your blog to remind those doubters!
Link is here:

http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/03/the_effort_effe.html

Jaduong Metty said...

@Mbwana
Thanks for your input again. I agree that it is very difficult to transform a “nation”. The change we are talking about must happen at a personal level. Besides, what is a nation if not tons of human beings clustered into a geo-political boundary? So when we talk about transforming Tanzania, I’m essentially talking about each individual Tanzanian. Will that happen with just a single shot? You bet that’s a mammoth task, because we see things differently.

It is true and I totally agree with you that leaders have influence over people and societies. That’s exactly why they are called leaders. Nonetheless, on the other side of the coin, leaders are a part of a larger society. Mr. Kikwete, for instance, didn’t make himself. He is a reflection of the type of a president Tanzanians want. Thus his failures are just what the Tanzanians expected.

Given that leaders are produced from the society, they are obligated to fulfill the society’s expectations. The only difference in great leaders is that they go beyond the call of duty and take their societies to greater heights. As such, leaders are a reflection of what the society expects. If the society at large were not into corruption, a corrupt leader would definitely find no room.

That being said, the attitude change must happen both at the top and at the bottom. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that such a change must happen first at the bottom, because that is where leaders are bred. You can’t do things at the top that you didn’t learn at the bottom. That’s my conviction.

Anonymous said...

Gentleman,

You have spending a lot of time talking about internal factors causing poverty catastrophe in Tanzania. However, I have not heard any one point a finger to the external factors (e.g. World fair trade policy, IMF and World Bank). It is undeniable that there has been poor governance, corruption and mismanagement in Africa. However, the legacy of colonialism, the support of the G8 for repressive regimes in the cold war, the creation of the debt trap, the massive failure of structural adjustment programmes imposed by the IMF and World Bank, and the deeply unfair rules on international trade. Create the condition for Africa’s crisis, and that fact can not be denied. The western world must end the unjust policies that inhibiting Africa’s development.

Maiki said...

Mbwana, thanks for sharing that link - very simple and straight to the point! I also want to point out that I understand your worry concerning the monotony of the attitude debate. However, I am one of those who is very much convinced that an attiude change is inevitable for a prosperous Tanzania. We may choose to sugar-coat the reality but it won't do us any good if we fail to tackle the problem from the roots - "lazima kukata mizizi ya fikira potofu."

The "victim" or "blame mentality" so prevalent in Tanzania has quickly degenerated into inferiority complexes, destroying the people's ability to seek solutions for themselves. If someone else is to blame for Tanzania’s problems, why should Tanzanians do anything about it themselves? Our political leaders have a tendency to perpetuating this myth to divert attention from their poor performances. We must not underestimate the damage that top leaders have caused to the psyche of our people when they continually blame the past for their current problems. It gives the impression that our current state is occasioned by "someone" else and therefore we cannot do anything for ourselves until the "accused" fixes the problem.

Limited education and ignorance in Tanzania are barriers to limiting government as they result in limited understanding regarding such issues as democracy, press freedom, separation of powers, checks and balances. Without freedom of the press, politicians and bureaucrats are not held accountable or responsible for their actions and consequently do as they please. Democracy is a process that matures over time in the minds of informed peoples. In our current system, those who offer different or alternative views are labelled "unpatriotic" and suppressed – how then can the people know better?

Like someone once said, "A free and independent people do not look to government for their sustenance. They see government not as a fountain of 'free' goodies but rather a protector of their liberties, confined to certain minimal functions that revolve around peacekeeping, maximising everyone's opportunities and otherwise leaving them alone."

The beginning of the solution lies first in admitting that most of Tanzania's problems lie in Tanzania and are caused by Tanzanians. We can no longer live in denial. We must take responsibility for what has happened to our country since independence. Leaders that display honesty and integrity, and are resolutely committed to reform for for the benefit of the people are what we need in Bongoland today.

The "blame mentality" should be eliminated. Blaming racism, tribalism, colonialism, apartheid and reactionaries many years after independence will not help. The power of this "victim mentality" is an important contributor to the state of affairs on our continent which must change if conditions are to improve. Politicians should stop being the most important people in Tanzania, giving way to the "common mwananchi."

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anonymous 4:45PM
No one is denying that external factors played and play a role in prohibiting Tanzania and most developing world from “getting there”. Nonetheless, a closer look will reveal that internal factors that you have mentioned – poor governance, corruption and mismanagement – are our biggest enemies that than IMF and WB policies or other external factors.

This is my position, which you don’t have to agree with: Let’s take care of those internal factors you have mentioned first. If we don’t get anywhere, then we can start looking outwards. But I strongly believe that poor governance is killing Tanzanians than policies changes proposed by IMF or world trade policies. Besides, why would we wait for IMF to suggest structural changes? Don’t we have internal experts that can propose changes? It goes back to poor governance and lack of innovation, commitment and vision. We should start owning our problems first. I know this does not make sense in the African political context, because we are so used to blaming others other than taking responsibility first.

I would seriously like to hear you opinion on this: how did Malaysia, for instance, manage to make progress despite being at the same level as Ghana in 1957?

We can blame world trade imbalances, but the reality is this: free market is cruel and is not for wimps. The problem is this; Ujamaa conditioned us not to compete. We want to bring shoddy products to the market. How many local contractors that do poor jobs in Tanzania and nobody is even raising their voices? We want to carry the same attitude to the world market and as result we yield lower prices. Just ask Americans about the impact of not producing quality products. The Japanese cars are flying high while the Fords are struggling. That’s the reality of free market. You don’t compete, you die. GM and Ford are on a deathbed right now and I don’t hear any American crying foul. That is because they know the essence of free market – nothing comes your way easily. You have to fight for it.

For some reasons, Africans expect development to be handed over to them by the Western world. Honestly, I think the western world has tried to help – 40% of the Tanzanian budget is funded by them. You know where the money ends up? It ends up being misappropriated. Which brings us back to poor governance again.

Anonymous said...

Metty,

Here is a story about how Malaysia managed to make progress despite being at the same level as Ghana in1957. Until August 1957, Britain’s specific colonial interest was in Hong Kong and Malaysia. The economic strength of the whole region was vital to the welfare of British business interest there. Hence, her Majesty’s Government had a crucial role to play in generating a good economical climate in Malaysia. There was a plan, first introduced at the commonwealth conference at Colombo in January 1950. The plan was branded as the Colombo plan. The plan became the first international, inter-government, mutual assistance programme for aid in Malaysia. Britain’s commonwealth ties with the country to gave a unique perspective on the developments in finance and industries that were taking place. In summary, creation of a strong Malaysian economy was an important political issue in the early days of independence from Britain.

Maiki said...

Jaduong and Anonymous @ 9:12 a.m!
I came across an article that discusses the two countries - Malaysia and Ghana. This is a good read and I hope you all find it useful in furthering this discussion. According to the article:

"Ghana and Malaysia had much in common four decades ago. They are both former colonies of the British Empire and they attained independence from Britain in the same year, 1957. Both independent countries began with a rich mix of resources, significant gold and foreign-currency reserves, strong British legal and political institutions, and similar educational systems. Malaysia had a GNP per capita of about US$200 and Ghana had a GNP per capita of US$170 in 1958.

Today, these two member-countries of the Commonwealth have very little in common. In 2000, Malaysia had a GNP per capita of $3,884, about 13 times that of Ghana's GNP per capita of $285. In recent years, Malaysia has an average adult illiteracy rate of 13 percent while Ghana, with about 30 percent adult illiteracy rate, has more than twice Malaysia’s [World Bank, WDR, 2002, 232]. Ghana has an infant mortality rate 65 per 1,000 live births, while Malaysia's rate is 8 per 1,000 live births. Ghana has remained largely an agricultural country, with the agricultural sector contributing about 36 percent to its gross domestic output. Malaysia has become highly industrialized, with the agricultural sector contributing only 14 percent to its gross domestic output. Ghana is among the poorest nations while Malaysia is a fast developing country, joining the rank of middle-income group of nations....."
Here is the big question - Why has Ghana's development experience been so different from that of Malaysia since their independence? Please, take time to read the article in its entirety. It is not surprising to note that the rate of change that Malaysia experiences has been an internal effort! At the end of the day, you will realise that the people of Malaysia have demonstrated the desire to change for a better society.

http://www.westafricareview.com/issue5/asare-wong.htm

Anonymous said...

anonymous@7:04am


By reading your malicious comment, it is obvious you are a very (lets be charitable) ignorant person. I just want you to remember, that every human being regardless of gender or race is entitled to voice his/her opinion openly without fear. By the way, who do you think you are to stop bloggers debating the policy or problems facing their country? If you believe Tanzania is owned by few minorities because of your greediness or selfishness, then you must be deluded. Tanzania is for Tanzanians, it is absurd claim that Tanzanians who livings abroad are lesser than those living in Tanzania. You have constantly attacked bloggers here without any valid justification. Now listen to me! Who told you, that you have to be superior to advise what your country shall do or not do to improve people lives? I think you have a problem, and your problem is you are a very insecure person. You are insecure, because people’s eyes are open now. I think you will realise sooner or later, that you can no longer manipulate Tanzania people. My advise to you is don’t be insecure and pull yourself together, and be civilised enough to constructively contribute your opinion in this blog.

Now let me educate you, radical is a label that always applied to people who endeavoured to get freedom. Jesus Christ was the greatest radical the world ever saw. He came and saw a world of sin and his programme was to inspire it with spiritual feelings. He was therefore a radical. Furthermore, George Washington was dubbed a radical when he took up his sword to fight his way to liberty in America one hundred and forty years ago. In short, all men who call themselves reformers are perforce radicals. They can not be anything else, because they are revolting against the conditions that exist. I am, therefore, satisfied to be the same kind of radical, if through radicalism I can free my fellow Tanzanians.

Another issue, it seems people trouble you when they criticise your beloved government. Remember, government is not infallible. It is only an executive control, a centralized authority for the purpose of expressing the will of the people. Hence, before you have a government you must have the people, without the people there can be no government. The government must be, therefore, an expression of the will of the people. We are the people, debates about various issues concerning our government in order to pinpoint the will of people to your beloved government. What’s wrong with that?????Don’t be silly

Anonymous said...

The truth shall prevail, I don`t I care if liars think it is ignorant to tell them the truth.

Anonymous said...

I think you’re a joker, the truth shall prevail! (What’s truth?). I will be more than happy if you telling me what the truth is. Remember, the ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself, but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you even into eternity. For your insecurity, this is just an advice.

Anonymous said...

If you choose to reflect on TZ you should do so in a respectful manner. Lack of compentent leaders is everywhere, even in Washington people don`t know how to make good decsions. Even in Columbus leaders don`t know how to make good decisions. Go tell those people to change thier mindset and see what they`ll tell you. I haven`t seen a concrete agenda, I think you all tend to believe you have a superior ideas but if you look at what you saying nothing makes sense at all.

Jaduong Metty said...

@All
This is what escapes my mind: Why would someone who thinks this blog is a waste of time and full of crap keep on visiting it?

I am starting to conclude the ticked-off Anonymous has some serious psychological issues. For one, the name of this blog is self-explanatory - my focus is Tanzania. Secondly, I am a Tanzania. Why in the world would I bother with American issues that are not my primary focus?

To my friend The Famous Anonymous -it is obvious you have mental and intellectual growing to do. As you do that, your comments (unless you understand the spirit of discussions here) will NEVER, NEVER, EVER appear on this blog.