I know some people will chew me for repeating this, but it is true. The primary and fundamental problem with African countries, particularly Tanzania, is the wrong mindset. We have just got our minds set on wrong things. One of the things that really irks me is this constant whining about how our problems are caused by colonialism blah blah blah…Don’t get me wrong, I know we have inherited some of the colonial mentalities that put leaders above ordinary citizens, like the colonial masters used to be, but it has been an average of four decades since the white folks got done with Africa. So let’s skip the whining, would you Africa?
I had a chance to visit Bongoland in late 2004. There is no way I could be in Tanzania and never visit my hometown – Shirati. True story: I know folks who would go home from the States, only to end up staying at Kilimanjaro Hotel and such. They would arrange for their parents to come and meet them in Dar. If you ask the core of it all, is that they have a western, civilized spouse, who can’t stand flies in villages. Talking about loss of identity and inferiority complex? There you go!
Man, I would go anywhere. As a matter of fact, I would board the daladalas with everybody. I know of some sophisticates fellas who would not want their American t-shirts to get dirty. Obviously, I have to adjust to the fact that the majority will not have deodorant in the bus. But who cares? I used to do the same. I would spray cologne in the direction of my armpits. Guess what happens when the Bongoland heat hits you? It is one cool stench! But that’s what I knew, so I would definitely cut my people some slack.
I think I just lost my trend of thoughts…well; I was talking about my visit to Tanzania in 2004. I came across a cousin of mine. His business proposal when we met? I send him a tractor, since I was in the land of opportunities. I was afraid to ask if he had sent the same proposal to a bank - him a retired civil servant and all. I didn’t want to offend. You know how folks tend to be sensitive in Bongoland. I didn’t want to bring up logical questions, for such questions never receive a logical response. The only you will end up getting a bad rap for being disrespectful. Age, feelings and emotions always take center stage in discussions back home. And old lady would not tell you that she needs money, but the virtue of visiting your home at 6:30 am before everybody fully wakes up and her emotional story of how she has been sick of late should tell you the message.
Now, let’s go back to my cousin’s story. That is a typical Tanzania mentality. Nobody would go to a bank for a loan. They would rather ask from a relative. And you know very well what happens in case of default. You could never recover your monies. The ukoo vikaos will condemn you for being such a capitalist, if you press for recovery. That’s the predominant culture and regardless of how much I blog about it, it will never go away easily.
The message the culture sends, however, is that it is OK to be beggars. It never puts every member of society to task with regards to his or her personal responsibilities. I understand that there are people who are victims of circumstances. Those should definitely be helped. Nevertheless, what about folks who decided that they would never use their brains, but sit around waiting for this cousin or that nephew in America, for instance?
You know what stinks? The begging mentality has spread so bad that even the president would consider it a success to beg and eventually secure foreign aid. The worst is this: we don’t use donor funds with respect. Donors used to send us money and money alone. Later they discovered we weren’t using the money as planned, so they decided to send the money and the personnel to oversee the use of the money. Nobody seemed to care though, because this wasn’t our hard earned money in the first place.
As I highlighted above, beggars do not like the idea of personal responsibility. As a matter of fact, I believe begging starts when someone feels that their success or breakthrough is dependent on someone else’s hands. So recently, the Auditor General’s report came out. Guess what? There has been rampant squandering of public funds in all directions.
We are certainly a joke, as a nation and collectively. I don’t see a sense of urgency or seriousness. Not from the president. Not from the PM. Not from the cabinet. Not from the MPs. Occasionally, you will see some flames of seriousness. For the most part, the folks we call leaders are a bunch of clowns. Serious folks would consider it a serious offense to squander the little resources we have. Try tipping over a food plate of a hungry man and see.
See, what makes me conclude that the president JK, like his predecessors, is a joke is because he is not viewing misappropriation of public funds as a serious matter. I mean, you deal with misappropriation in terms of billions by issuing a warning statement? I mean, how many times have we heard such songs before? What about prosecution of the offenders? But I guess the prosecution of the offenders would not occur. If you read the Auditor General’s report, some of the offenses occurred under the president’s own watch when he was a minister. So there you go folks, who ties his own hands?
See, the president can do whatever he wants to do as long as he is producing progress for Tanzanians. I really don’t have a problem with that. But isn’t it stupid to go out and beg and put all your “water” in a leaky bucket?