Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leadership: Is Nyerere The Ultimate Standard?

I don’t contribute much to this not because I have little to muse about. Life has just handed me a heavy dose of responsibilities. Sometimes, fighting against the tide ain’t the wisest thing to do. As such, I have just decided to go with the flow.

Maybe it is eccentric of me to see life through different lenses. I’m just trying to be like the rest of Bongolanders when it comes to upholding and cherishing Nyerere, but I struggle a little bit with the idea of holding the man as some kind of an idol.

Just read this article and tell me what you think.

Seriously, I think it is sickness to suggest that Nyerere’s ideas should be “…rubbed on by all—students, workers, farmers, politicians, academicians, journalists, business people, bureaucrats—everybody”.

I have no social science credentials to claim a deeper understanding of why most folks in Tanzania views Nyerere as a mythical figure, but I can make a guess – Nyerere succeeded in infecting (or rather blinded) Tanzanians’ minds with his ideals to the extent that some cannot view life without him! That is fixation. That is a psychological sickness!

I must give it to Nyerere. The dude did well. I mean, great leaders tend to have a great influence on their followers, regardless of whether such an influence is positive or negative. That is charisma that walking down some academic hallways would not provide. Great leader, truly, touches his or her generation greatly.

Despite Nyerere’s greatness, I would be bold enough to contend that such greatness was confined to an era. Besides, we don’t know how Nyerere could have performed in an era of free press, information overload and somewhat a “democratic” Tanzania. We really don’t know. I grew up in an era where there were only three major sources of information – Daily News, Uhuru and Radio Tanzania – all supporting and glorifying Nyerere’s ideals. I didn’t grow up in an era where the press and the society could express opposing views. We know what happened to Kambona when he opposed Nyerere, don’t we?

Let’s visit the Bible a little bit. In the book of Acts 13:36, it is written that “David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died…”. The key point there being “serving or influencing one’s own generation”. That’s what Tanzania needs. A leader who would come along and take the current Tanzanian generation to a higher level.

I seriously don’t want to be soaking all over in Nyerere’s ideals. I mean would you? I honestly think that folks who call for Nyerere’s glorification are missing the fact every generation must produce its own great leader, a leader who is bold enough to take the society to bold new world. For Tanzania, we both know that Benjamin William Mkapa wasn’t that leader. Likewise, we know that Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has also proven himself to be a weakling. That, however, does not justify crying ourselves to sleep for Nyerere’s comeback.

My call, for all Bongolanders, is for the society to define where it wants to go and search for a leader that could take the country there. Societies grow and die out of ideas. I am yet to see any empirical evidence that the Tanzanian society was greater during Nyerere’s time compared to the present. That being the case, we need fresh ideas in 2009 that are great, not making a U-turn to 1961!

Seriously, you mean to tell me that a society of over 30 million human beings can’t find one good leader, to the extent of crying for a dead one?

I’m nostalgic of some things, but Nyerere ain’t one of them.
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