Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Negroid and Tanzanian = Failure and Disrespect?

I’m back. I am still emotionally wobbling, but I am back. After “uguzaring” my son, seven nights of sleeping on a hard couch-cum-bed, hearing all sorts of hospital equipment sounds, I am relieved that I am getting my sanity back. The best part of all is that the little man is getting better.

I wanted to come out with a light reflection, something to cheer all of us up. But what else could possibly be happening (almost all the time) in Tanzania other than depressing news? As much as I hate that, it seems like there is no hope for Tanzanians. I know the situation will not stay the same forever, but man; the wait is killing me. This is seriously bugging me because, from my point of view, we have no strong reasons to be where we are.

It is seems our current President, Mr. JMK, has hope for Africa, Tanzania included. Well, I am not sure if the hope that Mr. JMK, has is based on his attempt to sound politically correct or whether he knows something that we don’t know, but the truth and the perception of the matter in Tanzania seems to point in the opposite direction.

If you think I am just full of crap, revisit what the MP for Musoma Rural constituency and a prominent lawyer, Mr. Nimrod Mkono, thinks of the fate of indigenous Tanzanians, unfortunately, in their own country. I would just like to quote what This Day published:

…if you are black, it is very difficult to succeed in this country. Sometimes you have to partner with light-skinned people just to get things done”.

I grew up in a poor family. Well, that was mainly due to the fact that my father died when I was three years old. The story goes, and I have seen memorabilia such as photographs to prove it, that my father was doing fine. Unfortunately, my mom was a housewife and when my father passed on, the roof started to crumble. So I grew up in the family’s “dry season”. Kind of the Swahili saying “Mla mla leo…” I didn’t see the feast on the dinner table.

Despite all that, I never felt inferior to anybody simply because my family was poor. I had always held my head up. It could be that God endowed with me intellectual capabilities that were admired by rich kids. Trust me, I have had rich kids “bribe” me to assist them with their homework. I guess those experiences, unknowingly, boosted my ego.

I have held the same attitude of equality, regardless of race, gender or color. It could have been easier for me to adjust my outlook once I landed on the USA soil, given the constant reminder of racial struggles, but I couldn’t find a good reason for making such an adjustment. May be because I recognize that life is full of obstacles. I don’t think simply because someone is white in the United States of America, then life is just a breeze. I have seen plenty of trailer parks full of white folks, while there are plenty of black millionaires in the same country!

Despite my positive outlook on race as a factor in individual progress, I would be so naïve to overlook the message that Nimrod Mkono is trying to send out. For one, I am assuming that Nimrod is an intelligent, educated Tanzanian. His resume speaks for itself. Secondly, I respect his experience, both as a businessperson, lawyer and a politician. Given Nimrod’s position, I am presuming that he knows what he is talking about when he speaks of a Negroid Tanzanian in terms of opportunities for socioeconomic progress.

We could discuss whether Nimrod took the right path, by choosing the “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy, given his position as a legislator and hence having a social and moral obligation to fight for the underprivileged. Nonetheless, that is a topic of its own.

I have come across depressing news from Tanzania many a time, but I believe that this is probably the worst. I don’t about you, but this really makes feel like choking someone. I mean, can I seriously call myself a free Tanzanian? I was convinced that Tanzania gained independence from the British so that every Tanzanian of Negroid, Caucasian, Asian and whatever origin could freely enjoy the opportunity to economically progress. I believed that. It is in the constitution. Nevertheless, I never envisioned a day that it could be perceived or factually true, that a Negroid Tanzanian can never succeed in their own land, unless they team up with a light-skinned individual.

That is insulting. Or may be there are realities that Tanzanians have to acknowledge, before any meaningful change can take place.

I am optimistic, but I am sure a day is coming when poor Tanzanians will break out of their stupidity and all hell will break out. I have been accused of being a Western sell out when I try to challenge my fellow Tanzanians to think better, if not think outside the box. I can I understand that, because for so many years ordinary Tanzanians have been and are continuing to be abused and used in their own land. They have come to the point of accepting the status quo, despite the fact that they could opt for the alternative. Yet those bold enough to question, probe and provide an alternative thinking are viewed as traitors.

I am fortunate enough to be educated and exposed to a different world. In the Tanzanian context, I am a millionaire (hey, in case you didn’t know, my little $1,000 saving is a little over TShs 1m/-), so I would have opted to not care. I could continue chasing my own dreams and ambitions in the USA and never take my time to think about my relatives and friends in Tanzania who are not as fortunate as I am. But selfish is not in my character.

As such, my heart goes out the poor folks in every corner of Tanzania. At the core of my heart, I can feel a sparkle of anger in me. I feel like choking the breath out of somebody. I mean, why? What’s wrong with us? Sooner than later, we have to declare salvation for the oppressed and real freedom for Tanzanians. What we currently have is just depressing me. I don’t know about you.

Photo Credit: Mjengwa


Anonymous said...

"What is wrong with us?"

You hit the nail on the head. That is the question Tanzanians really need to ask themselves. Why is it a country like Korea that 40 years ago was as poor if not poorer than us is now in the worlds top 10 economies? Are we stupid? are we lazy, is it corruption, is it incompetence, is it poor leadership? My vote goes to the last three.

It is very depressing when you look at our country and all the natural wealth we have and yet each year we have to go begging. Yet when you add up all the money wasted from corruption and incompetence we could probably finance our own budget 100%.

Has anybody been held responsible for anything? BoT, Timber exports, Richmond fiasco, IPTL, Tanzanite, mining deals etc. In all these scandals has a single person been fired, has anybody even been held accountable?

Now we hear that black Tanzanians are being treated like second class citizens in our own country. As usual not a peek from our so called leaders. depressing is putting it mildly. Disgusting and sickening might be more appropriate.

It pretty obvious now that JK is not the saviour he was annointed to be by the press. Unless Tanzanians wake up and demand justice and accountability we are doomed.

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anony 3:30PM
Honestly, I believe that Nimrod knows what he is talking about. And that couldn't be more depressing, because it is true that Mengi wanted to build an IPP tower, buy out Kilimanjaro Hotel. The later was given to some "light-skinned" folks and Mengi openly cried foul play.

Could it be that's why there is a constant struggle between Mengi and Manji, because Mengi is sticking out for the Negroid Tanzanians?

Definitely, Nimrod knows something and he has tried to give an account for it. Mtikila didn't have the right approach in popularizing the uzawa concept, but I can now understand his frustrations.

Boy, this is more than depressing..

ned said...

Many many salams from Bongo… Just got re-connected online and saw that your little angle was sick. I am so sorry that you guys had to go thru that – it is definitely the hardest time for a parent. We are so very glad that he is doing much better and that he is now home – where he belongs.

Metty, I followed the link to Mr. Mkono' s remarks in “This day’s newspaper. Regardless of one’s opinion of Mr. Mkono (as a politician or whatever), one has to applaud him for his tenacity as a businessperson. It is truly an achievement, and some of us wish more and more indigenous would achieve the same. Mr. Mkono is in partnership with 5 other people (I am assuming Tanzanians of Asian ancestry) with 6.5bn/- in combined capital. As I was reading the story, I couldn't help asking myself... What was the real issue behind his earlier failures – if you can call them failures (since it is said…there are no true failures in life, only learning experiences (???)
But seriously, were the failure attributed to their race as “black Tanzanians” or his and his partners credit worthiness? Reading the article, I couldn’t help noticing that of the 6 shareholders, 4 of them have a clear, direct and proven record in banking. Did he have the same mix of monies and experiences in his previous attempts?
In my opinion... the more serious issue that could have been picked from the article is the reality that, most of us (indigenous) ARE NOT in a position to take advantage of available opportunities. I just relocated here, and I can assure you opportunities are here… and in fact – lots of them. But indigenous are in such a dire situation that there is a real danger of being left behind. In my humble opinion, the bigger question is… what are we doing… or rather what is the game plan to level the plain field for indigenous?

Jaduong Metty said...

Mzee, habari za Bongo? I'm glad to hear from you. God allows us to go through certain experiences so that we can learn more about his goodness. Definitely, the little man's sickness afforded me an opportunity to grow a little more, both spiritually and as a father.

About Nimrod: I understand exactly where you are coming from. I could have taken that angle – and that’s why I hinted that we could have an entirely new topic on whether Nimrod took the right path by downplaying the ability of Negroid Tanzanians succeeding on their own. Nevertheless, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he is more informed than an average Tanzanian.

Now, given you are currently in Bongoland, is there validity to Nimrod’s comments? Do you feel that his comments were based on the fact that wandengereko wenzetu are less empowered (which has been Idd Simba and Mtikila’s song), primarily in terms of true education and business skills and as such being outplayed and outsmarted in their own land? Do you see a sense of urgency from the government to prepare the ordinary Tanzanian for what is coming? (I know bringing the government into the picture is also debatable, given that individuals should take personal responsibility first)

kifimbocheza said...

Welcome back! A friend's child is in hospital in the States now, and I have a sense of what you felt.

Firstly, we need to put Nimrod Mkono's remarks in context. The context is the connection between M Bank and the BoT scandal and former President Mkapa. What better way to deflect things than to play the asian card? Something his colleague Idd Simba tried too when vying for the CCM nomination.

The second bit of context is historical. The British and the Germans ran Tanganyika on racist lines. Dar was divided into Zones I, II and III. The first was for whites, around the area of Ikulu and later stretching up to the peninsula. Zone III was around Kariakoo and was for black africans. Zone II was the city centre, Uhindini, reserved for Asians for residential and commercial use. This all reflects the head start that Asians were given by the colonial powers.

Next up, Uhuru. Ikulu becomes the president's house, rather than the governor's. This reflects the handover of the levers of bureaucratic power to 'indigenous' Tanzanians. Since then, consecutive TANU and CCM governments have done little to challenge the inherited balance of power. Those who now have power, 'indigenous' Tanzanians, elected by over 80 percent of the nation last time round, do not to me appear to be particularly interested in challenging these structures. Rather, they would prefer to use them. For instance, why keep giving agent deals to Silesh Vithani (the man behind the radar deal)?Nobody is forcing anyone to do so? Why is that choice made?

Nimrod Mkono's CV speaks for itself, and also speaks of the wider issue. It gives the impression of someone who through rising through states structures and state related structures (parliament, Nyerere Foundation, TDFL, the courts) has parlayed that into a position where he can find 1.3billion shillings for the M Bank investment. Check out the other CVs in his firm. How many are 'indigenous' Tanzanians? I've no doubt he employs the best people he can find. Why can't he find more 'indigenous' Tanzanians? How long has his party been running this country?

On the subject of parlaying position for economic power, check out This Day today http://www.thisday.co.tz/News/2469.html

We need more people like Mengi - entrepreneurial and successful. We need fewer public officials using their position to control the economic heights of the economy.

Jaduong Metty said...

Please review my previous response to Ned. As I hinted, Nimrod’s actions and philosophical orientation by itself could be a topic of discussion (as you and Ned pointed out, there are plenty that could be said about Nimrod), but I decided to focus on his claims on the racial bias in Tanzania. As I alluded, Nimrod is intelligent and educated enough for me to be naïve to the extent of completely ignoring what he is communicating as purely political (though you have provided evidence to that fact).

As such, I am posing this question to you and everybody else who knows the current issues in Tanzania better: is there validity to Nimrod’s claims? (The racial bias being the center of this current topic)

Maricha said...

Metty, that was a nice piece of reflection, most contributors to the article seem to be aware of the whole situation. Africa and Tanzania for that matter is NOT running short of people who are pretty good at seeing and identifying problems that are plaguing all of Africa. Neither are we lazy enough not to pin blames for our problems to other parties.

What is Africa lacking is visionaries who can get Africa/Tanzania out of misery. To that end I would like to challenge Metty (the owner of this blog) and contributors to this blog to come up with what they think would be a solution or an alternative for every shortfall they identify and write about.

ned said...

Well Metty,
Man! Huna cha mgeni siku ya kwanza? – Given that I have been here for barely 3 months – those are really hard Qs Metty.
Validity to Nimrod’s comments? Often is not like one is totally off the mark – especially when the speaker is a seasoned politician like Nimrod. He is not pulling a pie from the sky! There is some truth to what he said – Only that, I do not believe things are the way they are for the reasons he gave (race). Looking around, almost all of the big (and meaningful) investments are either owned or “managed” by “wageni”. Very few of “wazawa” are entrusted with anything of significance (in fact I do not know of a single one – may be it is because I am very new here – what do I know?) Now do I think it is because they are “black” No. I really do not think that is the case. In his case, I assume the dude failed because he and his team did not qualify based on published and open standards. Mzee Nimrod is a lawyer – and a good one at that! More ever he seem to have specialized in commercial banking. Believe me… IF there was ANY evidence that anything but “qualifications” were used to bring him down - he would had a field day! Believe me - He is that good! And so, for a person of his caliber to throw in a “race card” – after the fact… I find it a little too cheap.
Are “wazawa” being outsmarted in their own land? Metty, are you kidding? Of course they are! But they are not outsmarted because they are black! You know how I know it is more than the “black” thingy? Because it is all over the world, and everywhere you go there is a segment of that society that is left out! The truth friend is - You try to play the game you are not familiar with – YOU WILL LOSE! NO uchawi no nothing! It is that simple. I bet if you analyze the attributes related to those left out, I bet you will find the reason to be more than their color. Of course there is a systematic racism - which can be tricky to identify...but Metty, You and I lived in US for a very long time... I bet you and I can smell racism! - No, I do not think our "pips" are outsmarted because they are black… Rather I think it is because most of us “wazawa” are still ignorant when it comes to “playing this game” – the global economy. It is a simple equation… those who know (and are prepared) to play the game – wins and move on. Those who are clueless they lose and complain. Even in the US – the “first” world; - there are “wazawa” who have been outsmarted by some of “wakuja”. Proportions in US may differ from that of Tz - but discrepancies are there.
The truth is while we are “In the game” (willingly or not); most of us are still clueless. I may sound a little harsh… but really – you look at how people leads their lives, and it is like high school kid trying to compete with the major league guys – the way I see it the likelihood of getting hurt is almost 100% - that is if we will not adjust our game plan quick enough. Now, that little scenario is played out in every level (yes to the village level). And so, the Problem ignorance of our pips – and not race as mheshimiwa wanted us to believe.
And so my friend, I think the meat is on your last Q: on whether there is a sense of urgency in making sure the indigenous are not left out. My answer… I am still not very sure. I see some movements; I hear some rhetoric, but still I do not get it. By the way, who should empower whom? The govt? private sector? NGO? Who? I happen to believe in a division of responsibilities in the society. I do believe the government’s job is to govern (making sure it builds conducive environment for fair and just treatment of its citizens). I believe given the right environment… it should be the job of a private sector to take advantage of the environment and help empower the “wazawa” – And so the question may be “…has the government done enough to encourage such a situation?” – that my friend is a question worth 38.5 million people.
*Sorry to blog in your blog (smile)

kifimbocheza said...


Yes, there is some validity to Mkono's claims. The lack of economic empowerment of black Tanzanians is a blot. But I'd also like to see people like Mkono, Mtikila and Idd Simba coming up with numbers to back up their claims or even coming up with alternatives. As it is, their emotional populist response creates tension and could lead to what we saw earlier this year in Uganda - out of control racist mobs.

The topic you raise is controversial, but should not be avoided because of that. The only step taken to address this was Nyerere's nationalisation of assets, a total failure. So what do we do? There needs to be some intelligent intervention, focusing on access to credit, training and support for Tanzanian entrepreneurs of all colours, with a focus on the emerging ones. There needs to be an end to the parasitic relationship between public servants and wealthy, often but not exclusively, Asian business interests. There needs to be change so that MPs such as Mkono really serve their constituents. How much attention do you think he pays to Musoma, compared to the effort in running the law firm, setting up a bank and lord knows what else?

The government needs to consider standing up to donors and other interests and making decisions in the best interests of its people. It can be done. Look at Ethiopia. They don't consistently roll over and do what donors insist on. How many foreign banks operate in Ethiopia? None, despite great pressure from the IMF in the 90s to let them in. The government decided it was in Ethiopia's interest to develop their own financial sector first. Mind you, in the final analysis, I'd rather be living under CCM than the brutal TPLF.....

Is there racial bias? yes and no. Who controls issuance of land plots that Mengi may have been interested in? Ardhi and the land office in Ilala District. How many Asians there? How many Asians in the government body that didn't award the Kili privatisation to Mengi? How many Asians in NSSF when they gave the loan to Manji to build Quality Plaza? The answers will probably all be the same - zero. But some public servants are happy to do these deals that ulimately screw their brothers and sisters.

Anonymous said...

Kifimbocheza and others who may not know what Mkono is doing to his jimbo I wold like to say I heard he is doing alot better than may be any MP. He did 2 things that most people in his Jimbo were dying for. He built at least one dispensary and one Kisima per every village he's representing. I have no idea where he got the money to do that, I do not know if it was his own cash, Gov. program or some kind of sponsorship from donors. the bottom line is he's done it!

Those things may seem to be minor for me and you but it is a major head ache to the those people.

Hiza said...

This quote from Kifimbocheza is very interesting “But some public servants are happy to do these deals that ultimately screw their brothers and sisters” I found it very true. There are lots of mifano in which mzungus or Mhindi have been given a chance and wazawas were not.

Look at Upangas- See views area- lots of wahindi are moving in. It is wazawa who are eagerly selling those apartments to get extra monies. Mind you – Wahindi are just buying lease- and they will still continues to make monthly payment to NHC. To buy lease might cost about 20 to 30 millions. That kind of money is very hard to rebuff. Nothing to do with race! May be it is our lack of monies that put us down and ignorant as Ned mentioned from his comments

I don’t think race was the reason brought him (Mkono) down. May be CCM - PUT HIM DOWN.

Jaduong Metty said...

I do blog on various, seemingly isolated issues, but I believe they are all rooted in one fundamental problem – a culture that does not promote development. In a nutshell, the solution is to make a paradigm shift and embrace the attitude that is pro-progress. I know that sounds too general but trust me; our problems are cultural than strategic. If you want to prove my point, just review the MKUKUTA and MKURABITA strategies. From my standpoint, those are great strategies, but we are lack the culture to bring those ideas into reality.

I think lack of urgency, as you have pointed out, is a cultural thing (Maricha, you can pick this as a good cultural example). That being the case, wazawa are probably not going anywhere, unless some miracles happen.

But that also begs the question: how could ignorant wazawa get motivated to identify, capture and utilize their opportunities, while the elected political leaders, who are responsible to lead the change, come from the same ignorant society (generally speaking)?

@Kifimbocheza & Hiza
We can blame the public servants (mostly in various ministries and departments) for playing foul against their brothers and sisters by collaborating the “powerful” Asian community, but isn’t the culture rotten from Ikulu? Given what we are learning about Mkapa’s involvement in the Kiwira power issue, it appears that corruption has its root in higher places.

As long as we have a president who’s cutting deals while at Ikulu, the powerful and the wealthy will always continue to hijack the country. And I guess that’s where Mkono is coming from, that the poor mzawa with no resources to bribe their way (compared to his or her Asian counterparts) will never succeed in the current environment.

And I think this is what Hiza is talking about. That as long as the Asian community has resources, they will not only buy their way to Ikulu, they will directly buy out regular mzawa.

How to reverse the situation is probably the toughest question.

@Anonymous 8:46AM
How much really does it take to construct a well? MPs receive $100 sitting allowance on a daily basis. That is not counting their monthly salaries and other perks. How much does it take to construct a well? Are the dispensaries fully functional with quality doctors, nurses, and adequate medicine? I think those are the key questions. But if he did those things, while other MPs don’t even try to do that, then we can applaud him.

But isn’t it the same person who hands over computers and buses to the Minister of Education, Mama Sitta, just to be handed over back for his own school projects in Musoma Rural?


kifimbocheza said...

Metty, what a great link into Mkono's site. Donating vehicles to Min of Ed to be used in his own constituency!!! Well spotted.

On the other hand, it is interesting to see this link http://www.musomarural.org which appears to be Mkono's. On the one hand I'd be happier to see it being described up front as the MPs site, and indicating party affiliation etc. On the other hand, I'm happy to see an MP getting it together to get a site up.

It is unfortunate that Mh Mkono has been the subject of much of this discussion. I know little about the man. But it is all symptomatic of bigger things.


Its so depressing!I was just talking to my friend who wanted to start some business in TZ only to realize that his angle without certain Light skin guys on his side, who control the printing business, he actually needs more than double the capital he has to fight off deliberate attacks from these guys who have formed in TZ cartel kind of thing in business. There are certain niches which are so difficult to squeeze in right now in Tanzania for a negroid Tanzanian just because certain people who consider themselves non negroid make sure no one enters who hasnt got nothing to do with them.

Hiza said...

@ Metty, If Mr. Nkone is talking about corruption- he should verbalize loud and clear for everyone to understand. But throwing a race card is very improper. He should know better to spell out the real issue. I don’t want even to mention his CV

The Kiwira project and the involvement by Mkapa and his entourage is over the top. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Rushwa imekuwa kubwa mno- How can you battle corruption if you are part of it? At the end of the day mzawa anapandishiwa umeme and Mkapa and his family are smiling!

Anonymous said...

It does not cost "alot" to construct a well but how many people are doing it? It does not cost alot to do lots of things in Tanzania either to do little things that could eventually push us forward.

Think about it this way, if all those kids are not going to walk miles to fetch some water, how much time would they save so they can work on their homework? How much will they save for not drinking contaminated water I mean for not getting sick because of the water they drink.

Ooh yes, it is cheap but how many of us (educated and have some little US $ in our pockets) have constructed wells in our respective villages - hoods?

Most of the time we like to blame our leaders or other people who are in positions of power, what we forget is we too are in a very good position to brig about change. We have got to do something in our individual capacities, we have to. We can not afford to sit back and wait for Mkono and the likes to do "things" for us.

My little theory goes like this....if am unable to do something now in my individual capacity to advance Tanzania’s development, I will not be able to do anything when I become an MP or Minister. You see most leaders are the sample of the population they live in. They are the reflection of us, they are one of us, and we are like them. The bottom line is we all need to change!

wayne said...

meet the new wahindi (or if you prefer, the new neo-colonial power emerging in the world:
I suspect there will be little to NO benefit from this flowing either directly or indirectly to wazawa

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anony 12:55PM
I was just trying to point out the fact that given the amount of money the MPs get compared to regualar folks, it doesn't take much to accomplish what Mr Mkono accomplished. Furthermore, I acknowledged the fact that if he's doing good for his constituency while other MPs are just chilling and enjoying infidelity and plenty of beer, then Mr. Mkono deserves to be applauded. Please reread my previous response.

It appears we have trouble coming from all corners. One thing about Chinese is that they are ruthlessly patient. With the new soccer stadium accredited to their "goodness", TAZARA and everything else, wazawa are in for a very nice treat...let's keep our eyes and ears open, but trouble is definitely brewing.

wayne said...

There are definitely pluses and minuses with inviting the Chinese into an economy. The Chinese NEED raw natural resources to continue to drive their aggressive economy. They are investing heavily into much of Africa to get those resources. As a part of that, they then will trade natural resources for finished products - so far, so good. The big appeal that the Chinese have for African leadership is the fact that they usually attach no strings to these trade /investment deals. There are normally no environmental concerns attached, no appeal to protect workers rights (salaries, worker safety, ethical treatment of workers, etc...)They also have no qualms about sliding whatever amount of money under the table to make their investments happen. If I were an African leader, the Chinese modus operandi has the greatest appeal to me - because I have (selfishly) much more to gain than say, investments from the west which typically carry environmental concerns, workers rights, etc... strings attached. The investors from the west (as opposed to the "east" - read: China) also have to be much more careful (or at least sneaky) about the whole bribery / corruption issue. Doesn't mean they don't participate in it - they certainly are - , but they are sneakier about it. The bottom line is this: no one (China, Japan, India, UK, USA, SA) gives something for nothing - it just doesn't happen, whether it is from private or public funds, therefore the issue to watch is; 1)what is any particular investment after, 2) what "price" will be paid by the recipient country (in this case Tanzania), and/or wananchi of that country.
China is not willing to invest in hydro-electric generation capacity or build a stadium out of the goodness of their heart - no more so than General Tire (a US company) was by building in Arusha.
EVERYONE has a motive. It is imperative that the leadership of Tanzania look very carefully at that those motives and determine if it is still in the best interest of wananchi to go forward with allowing that to happen. Since governments (all, not just African) tend to not have a very good track record of looking out for the best interest of wananchi, it then falls on people like you and your readers and others to look out for the welfare of the nation. Watch, study and when necessary cry "foul"