As I said before, it is difficult to discuss the Tanzanian experience without being drawn into throwing Nyerere into the mix. My personal belief is that in order for Tanzania to progress, some of the foundational philosophies have to be thrown out of the window, if not debunked so that we can all see their weaknesses.
We can’t build a strong structure if the foundation is weak, can we? And that’s the point.
In setting the stage for his vision, Mwalimu Nyerere once asserted that in order for Tanzania to progress, the country needs four key elements – People, Land, Good Leadership and Good Policies.
The Mwalimu tried, but boy, how “great” his idea was.
My personal conviction is that all those elements are not equal, and in reality, some of the elements are just a subset of a primary element. Let me break that down...
Let’s take land for instance. Where in the world did Nyerere come up with land as a key element for development? The reality is this – every country, be it on an island or otherwise – is founded on some piece of land. Can you have a country without a piece of land? If Nyerere meant a larger or fertile piece of land, then there is no empirical evidence to prove that the size of land is correlated to the degree of progress in any one country.
What people do with their land or other resources is a question of the people's "quality", that is their ingenuity, resourcefulness, attitude, etc. I give Nyerere credit for identifying "people" as a key element for progress, but equating people to land on the degree of importance was crazy or shortsighted of him. See, the truth is this – human capital (that is, people) – trumps all elements. History has proven that great human capital generates great ideas. Look around, do you think Switzerland is ahead of Tanzania because the Swiss have a huge piece of land? Even further, what is size of land do you think Bill Gates needed to be a billionaire?
You get the idea.
After all that yapping I have done, may I propose to you that lack of quality people, not land, good policies, or good leadership is the main reason for lack of progress in Tanzania?
I’m not an expert on how the Tanzanian society could start producing quality people, but I know the right type of education would do the trick. Can I also suggest that a major paradigm shift is needed in Tanzania, as attitudes, mindset and cultural tendencies are major propellers or hindrances towards progress? All that could work if Tanzanian society is willing to make a change.
And that’s up to my fellow Bongolanders.