Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tanzania: No Hope for the Future?

Did I ever tell you that my job requires “professional skepticism” as one of the pillars? Well, maybe I have demonstrated that level of skepticism in my writing, who knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if you readers have noticed that. That is because sometimes your professional life influences your personal life to the extent that the two ends up intertwined.

Am I allowed to crack jokes at my own line of work? I think I am. Well, the key word there is “skepticism”. The word “professional” is attached to it so that we won’t spook ordinary citizens. In a nutshell, “skepticism” requires me not to take anything at face value. You have to throw me some proof, otherwise I will just give you a look that will rush you into producing (or doctoring) your supporting details. You have to convince me. I guess that’s why I laugh when someone like Mr. JK goes around announcing a new push for a fight against majambazi . Dude, what happened to the last push, which resulted in formation of a special security unit?

Stuff like that doesn’t make sense to me. My natural response, therefore, is to become cynical. I truly desire to believe, but man, these Bongo politicians are full of crap. Surprisingly though, you will find poor wananchi clapping. Clapping for what? What has this smiley face done for you lately? Hasn’t the talk always been “serikali ina mpango wa blah…blah…blah.”? In my thirty-something years, the Tanzanian government has always been about planning and very shallow on doing.

Don’t get me started.

Well, I had a point about the whole skepticism thing. My job, due to the required level of skepticism, prompts me to look for little detail, the small prints. So I was going through this article publish by Washington Post and my mind couldn’t just help, but to zoom on the following line from the author, Anne Applebaum:

The more hope you have for the future, the more frustrating it is to be badly governed

The main thrust of the article, obviously, was the Kenyan election fiasco. Nevertheless, I could stop my mind from reflecting on my fellow Tanzanians. The biggest question that came to mind is this: Are many Tanzanian really hopeful for the future? If so, how is wananchi’s frustration on bad governance reflected? I mean, really, do you have to be a genius to see that Tanzanian government, when it comes down to good governance, is a joke?

Maybe, again, it is just I just see things in a totally different way.

I stand to be corrected, but my assessment is that the majority of Tanzanians have little hope for the future. That is evidenced by lack of courage to call for a new political direction. There is no real courage to even vote for the alternative. While lack of the opposition’s strength in Tanzania is self-made, I strongly believe that the opposition cannot do much, if wananchi prefer clinging to CCM despite the party’s evident lack of true leadership in this current generation. My argument, however, should be regarded as unfounded if the recent EL’s resignation could be regarded as a major political shift in Tanzania.

But let just wait and see.

You know what? I think the Kenyan experience has clearly brought to life that pathetic state in Tanganyika, and that is the fact that majority of Tanzanians are not educated enough to see their potential. Quite naturally, you can’t hope for what you don’t know or can’t visualize. I am not pulling these arguments out of thin air, trust me. Statistics prove the difference between the post secondary education level in Kenya and Tanzania.

According to statistics I found on the International Network for Higher Education in Africa (INHEA) online resource, in 2000, the number of enrollment in higher education institutions in Kenya was approximately 49,000 compared to 37,000 in Tanzania. If you take those figures as a percentage of the entire population (even ignoring the fact that capitalist economy had forced many Kenyans be aggressive in the pursuit of opportunities for years), Tanzania is obviously a country full of Maimunas.

In a nutshell, Kenyans have been able to make political changes (though it hasn’t been smoothly) simply because the majority of the population is well-informed.

On the flip-side, the Tanzanian population, which is bit ignorant compared to that of Kenya, has been swallowing political rhetoric from CCM like peanuts without a critical look at the performance of those in power. That notion, again, is just not pigments of my imagination. According to recent polls conducted by the Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania (REDET), which I had blogged on, there is a higher correlation between the approval of the CCM’s performance and the education level of the general Tanzanian population. In a nutshell, the less educated a Tanzanian is, the happier they are with CCM’s governance and vice versa.

Obviously, education and information are key elements in enlightening someone about not only themselves and their environment, but also what they can achieve. My conspiracy theory is that CCM has deliberately put a system in place to undermine education. One can argue otherwise, but I don’t think the Lowassas and Nchimbis are that dumb to create an environment where their influence, power and position in society will be eradicated through provision of quality education to the “other class” of Tanzanians.

I strongly believe that things are changing in Tanzania. And they must. There are signs that wananchi are starting to demand accountability from their leaders. Nonetheless, the level at which wananchi are displaying their discontent is not significant enough. As change happens, I can’t just wait for the day when wananchi would demonstrate their frustration with the CCM clowns through their votes or hijacking the streets, whichever works. All in all, I don’t think that the majority of Tanzanians are that hopeful for a better future. If they do, it doesn’t show.

But what can we say about hope though? “Hope is a good thing, may the best of things…”.

That quote, amigos, is from one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. May be Dr. Mwakyembe knows something about hope.
Photo Credit: Mjengwa


Anonymous said...

I used to love this blog, but I think clearly, it has becomes increasingly irrelevant.

1. Compare Kenya and Tanzania is like comparing apple and oranges.

2. There is nothing admirable about Kenya political situation. Cutting each other up with machettes does not show political maturity, its ignorant of the highest order.

3.What has just happen in Tanzania, is one of the most gratifying democratic moment in the world. Compare that to Nixon resignation. Am proud of my country. Am So proud of the Tanzanians.

4. Majority of Tanzania might not be highly educated, but they know right from wrong. When the moment came, they stood up and raised up peacefully, and did not resort to some common lowest denominator. Their counterpart Kenyans, when the moment came, they also spoke loudly, but were ignored, resorting to animalistic behaviour. Its unfortunate, but they had a choice, think "orange revolution" protest.

5. Violence is practiced by the most fearful, ignorant, uneducated among us. I wonder who is really among Kenyans and Tanzania!!

Most people have an infinite capacity to take things for granted. Yap, and after all you don't know what you have, till you have lost it

"What would it benefit a man, if he gains the world and lose his soul"...Mateo 16.26


Heriki Sali, NY

Jaduong Metty said...

I am glad you paid a visit to an “irrelevant” blog again.

Putting that jab aside, I can understand which angle you are alluding to, but the aspect of comparison between Kenya and Tanzania you decided to magnify, wasn’t a part of my reflection.

Let me just to bring us back to the main focus. Given the theory that those who are hopeful get frustrated when they are badly governed, my reflection was whether Tanzanians are truly hopeful, given that they exhibit very little frustration with bad governance.

It was my expectation that you would have provided evidence, in your rebuttal of my arguments, that Tanzanians, more than Kenyans are demonstrating their frustrations with bad governance. You didn’t.

It would be insane of me to promote the craziness that is currently happening in Kenya. Nevertheless, my comparison between Kenya and Tanzania stands. The Kenyan story I was making reference to is not chaos, but the courage to make changes. Where is KANU today? How did KANU “disappear” from the picture? Such a political change is what I am talking about.

We all can agree that what is happening in Kenya right now is pathetic, but it is not about lack of courage of ordinary people to make changes. The tragedy is a result of a few corrupt people resisting the courage of many. And I think that is obvious to the rest of the world.

We can definitely talk about corruption and tribalism in Kenya in isolation, but that is not what I was calling for Tanzanians to do.

So my comparison between Kenya and Tanzania, if taken into a proper context, is not really about apples and oranges, but of oranges and oranges. I am just sorry that you brought apples into the picture, where the talk really was about oranges.

But in the end, the thrust of my post was this: are Tanzanians hopeful? If they are, how are they demonstrating their frustration s with bad governance?

I don’t have to be relevant, as a writer, by writing what everybody agree with. Heck, even my wife does not agree with everything I say. And that’s what makes us human beings.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Metty for clarifying the article. I began to wonder where did the zesty go that you had when you started the Blog? I guess I misunderstood your intentions with this last article. I was about to kick your blog on the curb but I think I will keep paying a visit often.
Keep it up pal; you are doing a great job...