Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Poor Inattentive Bongolanders…

I don’t want to be thought of as a senseless critic. And talking of that, can you have a senseless critic? I think so. To me, a senseless critic is the one who likes to criticize for no good reason other than getting a thrill from shooting everything down. I think a senseless critic is the type that cannot provide an alternative or a good rationale for their criticism.

As much as I have spent much of this blog aiming my guns at those at the top, I also believe the guns should be aimed at an ordinary Tanzania. The reason for it is very simple – leaders are elected among Tanzanians. As such, whatever crazy things leaders do, without serious consequences, should be a reflection of the Tanzanian society in totality.

Just to bring balance into this, I am not suggesting that there are no Tanzanians who know and desire better, but are just stuck in a situation where they feel powerless. I can guarantee you, there are plenty of those. My belief, however, is that the general population has not really been able to define what they want out of Tanzania, and then impose those desires on the leaders.

That is very ideal. However, how can a general population come to that point, if they don’t pay attention to what is happening around them? Come with me.

I picked this story up from Issa Michuzi’s blog. You can read for your own self.

In a nutshell, the story is about an invitation extended by the Tanzanians’ society leader in Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Mfinanga, for people to have an audience with a young Tanzania MP, Mr. Zitto Kabwe. I mean, there was nothing to the story. So I thought.

I really like to read comments dropped by blog readers, just for kicks. That’s where I found the juice. What caught my attention is a series of comments that were dropped by various readers. One of the themes that emerged the criticism and defense of Mr. Mfinanga’s choice of English (whether “broken” or “straight”), as opposed to the “national” language.


At the core of those comments is a sense of patriotism. And to be honest, I applaud my fellow Tanzanians who are pushing for a distinct national identity, the Swahili language being one of unique Tanzanian identifiers. Nonetheless, patriotism does not mean rigidity in thinking. To me, patriotism is about protection of national interests, while finding a rational balance in handling global and natural pressures. Sometimes, hard items handle pressure well, and at times flexible items handle pressure well. We have to pick our battle and to know which approach works well. Not only that, but being flexible and ready to change over and over again as the world changes.

So why I am gunning down those who are up and arms against Mr. Mfinanga’s use of English? For one, it is his prerogative to use whatever language he chooses. Being a Tanzanian does not compel you use English. Isn’t Daily News, an English daily newspaper, owned (through their government) by the very people who are shooting down Mr. Mfinanga? The biggest reason for my “anger” is this: while folks are shouting at Mr. Mfinanga, their own government is talking about making English the official teaching language in Tanzania!

Go ahead, read the story.

So at the end of the day, who is stupid?
Photo Credit: Mjengwa