Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bongo Series: Wrap This Thing Up

I typically have this awful feeling when I have stuff hanging over my head. If it wasn’t for life getting on my way, I would have finished sharing my Bongo experience a long time ago. I will try that today.

So wrapped up my stay in Dodoma and headed out to Dar. Quite naturally, the Scandinavian bus service became a bus of my choice. Folks in Tanzania claim the bus is a bit expensive, but I was not ready to sacrifice safety for cheapness. Bure ghali, they say in Swahili.

I’m typically reserved and more observant when travelling. For one, it is safe that way in Bongoland. Secondly, it gives the opportunity to learn a few things. Bubbling affords the opportunities for others to learn about you. I wasn’t willing to be the focus.

If you are looking for drama in a Scandinavian bus, sorry. My experience has been that most people who board the bus are somewhat dignified. So the ride was really uneventful, or rather boring. Everyone was busy reading their newspapers. I pulled up my MP3 player and was uploading my spiritual songs to my spirit.

I don’t recall saying much to the passenger next to me, until we passed Morogoro.

Scandinavian bus has their own station in Morogoro (another thing I liked), and we had an opportunity to stop there for lunch. I guess the lunch we had at Morogoro did the trick, because the passenger next to me and I started conversing.

I learned the gentleman was actually Kibaha Secondary School’s headmaster. Knowing the dude was in the education sector, I just wanted to know what the former minister of education - Mr. Joseph Mungai – was thinking when revamping Tanzania’s Secondary School educational syllabus. Given the intense criticism that was aimed at Mr. Mungai, I thought this gentleman would echo my preconceived notions. He did not.

What I learned is that Mr. Mungai was right. Mr. Mwalimu next to me educated me to the fact that the Tanzanian education system, especially at the primary and secondary level, is overloaded. Kids learn stuff that has no practical meaning. The objective was to trim the load, so that kids could focus on three main areas – reading, writing, math and other subjects such as civics.

You know what? That made sense to me. That is because I could personally relate. I learned accounting in the ordinary and advanced secondary levels in Tanzania. When I joined college in the US, I started to study the same subjects with kids who have never touched those subjects in middle or high school. At the end of four years, we were on the same level!

That is the argument that Mr. Mungai tried to make. I just wonder why he failed to articulate the objective. I also think such a change should be phased in. The backlash, I guess, was due to the fact Mr. Mungai introduced the change abruptly and suffered from the "forcefulness" culture of Mr. Mkapa's government.

I thought Mr. Mwalimu next to me was pretty good. So I teased him again with another concept – the Majimbo concept. Man, the dude again impressed me.

This is what I learned. According to Mr. Mwalimu, the introduction of the Provincial government in Tanzania, with probably elected governors (to replace Regional Commissioners) is useless. The current system in Tanzania is adequate. Each district has its own council of elected leaders – Madiwani under the leadership of a Mayor or a person charged with a similar role. Madiwanis are charged with the responsibility of not only planning, but also of evaluation and supervision of development programs.

The problem, Mr. Mwalimu told me, is that most madiwanis have no idea of their powers to bring about development in their local areas. According to Mr. Mwalimu, bringing up the Majimbo system would just be elevating the same crappy leadership to a larger scale.

I thought thatt was a pretty good argument.

I learned that Regional Commissioners and District Commissioners have no role whatsoever in local development planning any more. From a Tanzanian political system, RCs and DCs are there simply there to represent the President’s hand (dola), nothing more, nothing less.

Mr. Mwalimu disembarked from the bus at Kibaha. Nonetheless, I was surely glad I got the reason for Moshi and Arusha being sparkling clean, while other cities are swimming in dirt. It boils down to having a quality Halmashauri, comprised of good councilmen and women and a pretty good mayor.

Can we find the same quality in Iramba? I doubt it.

You know what? I am not even going to talk about Dar again, because I think I pretty much covered my experience there in the earlier posts – traffic jams, heat, poor customer service, etc.

I took care of some personal issues in Dar and my days in Tanzania came to an end. I finally caught my plane back to the US, wondering whether I should go back to live in Tanzania or stick it out in the US till I retire. Like many in the Diaspora, I wonder if I will ever settle that decision anytime soon….


Anonymous said...


I am glad you came home and saw it for yourself. However, wonder no more, you should came back home to live when you retire. It is the best place to be before the good Lord calls your name.

ned said...

Whenever practical; it is always good to come bk home every now and then - to check things out. Not only this will help keep you in the loop of what is going on in Bongo (you need to experience some of these things to appreciate, learn or/and being envisioned of what needs to get done); but also position you to appreciate life's little gifts (if you catch my drift:) - Ned

Jaduong Metty said...

@Mashala and Ned
Home is always sweet, no doubt about that. Nonetheless, we are all creatures of habit(assimilation). As such, the thought of ditching the Diaspora always come with the fear of a potential inability to adjust well once one comes home. Especially if you are not at the end of your career.

Ned - I know you've done it and I take your decision as my inspiration.