Of all the things that I am thankful for is the opportunity to obtain both the Tanzanian (technically sound) and American (critical thinking rich) education. That is a lethal combination. I guess that’s why folks in Tanzania who have never experience this tend to assume that their colleagues educated in the West are just a boastful bunch. I just wish they could listen and learn. I am glad the western education enables me to think “outside the box”. Honestly, I think I was “smart” even before I came to the United States, but I wasn’t able to put issues in their proper context. I wasn’t a critical thinker then.
I believe critical thinking is a struggle among many educated folks in Tanzania. Obviously, they have nailed hardcore, technical stuff down, but once you take them outside that comfort zone, you only get disappointment. A good example is how someone with a doctorate could not give a very good logical rationale for squashing dual citizenship. You know why Dr. Msoka, for instance, made a booboo? There weren’t any chapters to memorize on the dual citizenship thing, just common sense and critical thinking. And he failed on that.
As hard as I try to deny it, I think I am a sports fanatic. May be it is the art involved in sports or just the raw athleticism. I mean what is better than watching a 5’9” tall person like Nate Robinson of New York Knicks block a shot on a super tall player like Yao Ming?. That’s crazy stuff that makes sports fun – at least from my perspective.
I have been away from Tanzania for quite sometimes, but I still follow-up on what Simba and Yanga are doing. I guess that is partly because I was a fan of one of the teams. Or partly because I love sports, period, and I would really love for Tanzania to make meaningful strides.
Not surprisingly then, the news that the recently “hired” Simba’s Brazilian coach – Nielsen Elias – has quit coaching the club , caught my attention. In reading the reasons for his departure, the coach sighted lack of serious and quality leadership in the club. Was it surprising that the coach left? Not to me. The likes of Patrick Phiri and Jamhuri Kiwhelo have seen the wrath of bad management in that club.
See, I am firm believer in that you only accomplish what you have envisioned. I know sometimes we exceed our expectations, but for the most part you can’t pursue goals that are beyond your mental horizon. Bringing that down to Simba and Yanga, it is apparent that the vision that these two clubs have is just overly narrow. It appears that these two clubs – in the minds of their members – exist for a sole purpose of whooping each other. A Simba’s coach, for instance, who manages to make the team the league’s champions but losing to Yanga in both games of the season would likely end up being fired. Success, in the minds of Simba or Yanga fans is to avoid ridicule from the other team. And that is very narrow of a vision, given there are even more lucractive continental tournaments that the clubs should focus on.
I wish the Mwananchi newspaper were keeping prior copies of their stories, I could have linked you to the original story ran by the newspaper on the Brazilian’s departure. In a nutshell, the Brazilian contended that Simba is a bigger club beyond the ability of current leaders to manage.
Did you hear that?
Obviously, the Brazilian didn’t elaborate on what he meant by the “bigness’ of the club. Nonetheless, that does not stop us from presuming that he was making a reference to the club’s size in terms of the number of fans, which equates to popularity. The club’s popularity comes with other potential positives, such as being potentially being a marketing magnet. I have addressed this before.
The problem of leadership, as you might have guessed goes beyond Simba and Yanga.
I really struggle with the core reason for lack of quality leadership in almost every aspect of life in Tanzania. May be the simplest explanation is that the majority of Tanzanians are ignorant. Given that leaders are typically generated from this pool of ignorant members, it is now wonder we end up with less effective leaders. While that could be a very tempting explanation, I will go beyond that and contend that leaders are visionaries who are able to lift societies beyond the minimal expectations. Leadership is about leaving a wonderful legacy and not simply conforming to the status quo. It requires courage to test the uncharted waters.
I can clearly understand the Brazilian’s frustration with the Simba’s leadership. It is rare to find a Tanzanian who is gunning for the next level. The poor guy came in expecting that Simba’s leadership to have a clear understanding of what they wanted to accomplish, only to realize that it is zimamoto and bora liende type of environment. The poor Brazilian found out that Simba’s (just like Yanga’s) leaders are not thinking of building a 21st century club.
Did I tell you that my brother just moved from Tanzania recently? Well, I am learning a lot. Through our conversations, I am learning how the Tanzanian thinking – which is mainly centered on the impossibilities rather than possibilities – is killing Tanzanians. It is like every citizen is paralyzed and none of them is daring to think outside the box. I am also getting a sense that the Tanzania education is not geared towards equipping people with the ability to solve practical things and put issues in their proper context, but centered on theories and “big things” that don’t have practical application. No wonder you have PhD holders who can’t think in practical terms.
It gives you the impresssion that talking in practical terms in Tanzania is not regarded as "intellectual" enough.
As sad as it is, the reality is that we aren’t going anywhere unless we learn how to identify and groom leaders who can formulate and carry out a vision. This Simba case is just a tip of the iceberg. The truth is that we are in deep trouble as a society. And that scares me.