Saturday, July 25, 2009

Police Mentality and Professor Gates' Arrest

The debate is still raging on about Professor's Gates arrest in his own home. This is what I picked up from a CNN's commentary by Maria Herbefeld, a professor of Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NY City:

"Police work is about sub-cultural contexts, about war stories, about suspicion, about unpredictability, about danger and fear for one's life. Police officers make their decisions based not just on a given situation but also based on their prior experience, the experience of those they have worked with and the stories they have heard about incidents that happened in the past."

I'm just wondering - given the above observation, isn't it safe to assume that some of those police "prior experiences" leads to some racial biasness, going as far as assuming that any black man is dangerous?

I'm posing that question because if a police officer is not making a judgment based on facts at hand but some prior experiences and stories they hear, what's preventing them from excercising racial biasness or any other form of biasness?
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kingunge Versus RC Church: Fear of Righteousness?

Like death, change is one of those things that we can’t avoid. Nonetheless, resisting change is also a human thing. It would be ignorant of me to assert that the Tanzanian society is not changing, for the country is truly changing - both in the positive and negative directions.

It is obviously that the Tanzanian society is increasingly experiencing a serious shortage of great leaders. That is a negative change.

It is for that reason I am encouraged by the step taken by Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania to prepare a pastoral document providing guidelines on electing political leaders. I don’t know what the document said, but a guideline is always what it is – a guideline. Once can elect to ignore a guideline. If that is the case, then why is Mzee Kingunge getting up in arms against the document?

I believe it is because the document demands righteousness from elected officials, not rights.

In recent days, the Islamic community in Tanzania has been in a tug of war with the CCM party, demanding the formation of a Kadhi court. I’m not even sure if the Kadhi court is constitutional, but given the fact that my Islamic friends were promised the court – their demands are essentially a quest for some “rights”. Given that rights are hardly afforded in Tanzania, the demand thereof must be less threatening to CCM.

The difference between what the RC church is doing in Tanzania and the demands set forth by the Islamic community is that the RC church is not asking for any “favors”, but giving information and empowering. We all know educated and empowered folks are difficult to manipulate. As such, empowering the powerless, it appears, is more threatening to Mzee Kingunge, CCM and those who have devoured the powerless for quite a while.

If I quote The Citizen’s article, part of the RC document says the country is experiencing “serious leadership problems”. To me that is just short of blatantly saying the country is stinking of corrupt and evil leaders. And who could that possibly implicate? You know the answer. No wonder CCM MPs, including Mzee Kingunge, are running wild.

When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. I think that the RC church is in a better position to gauge that, since the church and all other non-governmental organizations in Tanzania provide services to communities that were supposed to, in the first place, responsibility of the government. The church and other religious organizations are not blind to the fact that the government allegedly lacks capacity, but they also understands that the said lack of capacity is mainly attributed to corruption and lack of accountability.

It would then be ridiculous to ask the RC leadership, or any other religious organization for that matter, to stand on the sidelines simply because someone like Mzee Kingunge stands on the “during the era of Nyerere” crap. If experience has shown that the church and other religious organizations have taken a meaningful and positive leadership role in the lives of Tanzanians beyond preaching, then politicians should only regain their influence by performing better beyond what the church and other religious organizations have done, not spewing criticism laden with fear at religious bodies.

Given the fact that recently a thorny issue for CCM has been rampant corruption, Mzee Kingunge’s phobia - and the entire CCM party as well - is the fact that the RC document is setting the stage for the demand of accountability and righteousness from the elected officials. That is because, if I quote The Citizen’s article, the document “highlights major areas voters should get convincing explanations from individuals seeking public leadership positions”.

Seriously, what’s wrong with the electorate seeking more information from politicians? Even more, how is that divisive?

I have not read the document myself, but I don’t think any of the “major areas” specifically require that an elected leader be a member of the RC church or of a specific faith. If that is true, then Mzee Kingunge must be afraid of one thing that political leaders in Tanzania have failed to be, and that is righteous.

And for that I can only say this: shame on you Mzee Kingunge.
Photo credit:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If It Ain't Your Forte...(2)

I occasionally come across stuff from Bongoland that makes me happy. Likewise, I come across things that outright make me go crazy. Come with me.

I recently came across an interview posted on Issa Michuzi’s blog, where Michuzi had an opportunity to interview Anna Kahama Rupia of Seacom regarding the fiber optic project that is soon to be operational in Tanzania.

So the following is an excerpt of the interview:

Michuzi: For ordinary Tanzanians, what should they expect out of the fiber optic services?

Anna: They should expect reliability in communication. They speed is faster as well. Because now we are not relying on satellite, it is all fiber optics. So now you can down big files. Imagine downloading a 3 hours movie in a matter of seconds. That’s what they should be expecting.
And then reduction in costs as well, because right now all the carriers are paying about $3,000 to $5,000 per megabyte per month per capacity. With our costs, they will be paying under $100. So there is a reduction in cost.

Michuzi: Now, is that not a threat to our ISP or cell phone companies?

Anna: No. We are a complement to their business. We’re reducing their costs. They were paying more, now they are paying less…

Michuzi: I’m talking about their business…

Check out the entire interview for yourself right here…

Given that I’m not a journalist by profession, I’m disqualified from discussing some deep technical stuff connected to the art of journalism. Nonetheless, as a consumer of journalistic products, I can tell a good journalistic product from a lemon.

I think one of the key ingredients of good journalism/interviewing is listening. Maybe I am missing something, but it appears Michuzi didn’t do a good job at listening or comprehending what the interviewee was saying. As a result, he ended up asking ridiculous follow-up questions that were meaningless in the general business context and the strategic reasons for the Seacom’s project.

And then some folks (see the comments at the Michuzi’s blog) still wondered why the lady was sheepishly smiling? I’m sure she was just playing nice.

I also believe that a good journalist must be technically good at the subject matter. Folks who watch the NBA and other sports programs in the United States can relate to my argument, as most TV analysts are former players or coaches in the particular game they analyze. Michuzi is definitely a great photographer, but I am not sure if he is technically good to indepthly cover IT and business matters. And the interview with Anna Kahama Rupia showed that.

This is really not a knock on Michuzi, because lack of polished communication skills is a general problem in Tanzania. Furthermore, what is reflected in the Michuzi’s interview is something that tells a story about the quality of journalism in Tanzania. If this is the best we can get, then I can’t really get mad at some politicians who have a few nice things to say about journalists in Tanzania.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CD Release....

A musical labor of love and faith that’s been a long time coming is completed and you’re invited to the celebration.
A California based artist and minister, Dennis Massawe who is a native of Tanzania, has put his inspirational message of faith into songs and you’re invited to celebrate the release of his CD No More Limbo. His message transcends all faiths and his uplifting rhythms that combine gospel, reggae and soul will move you to get into the spirit of love.
His journey has not been easy but he believes all things are possible when you follow the path you were called to walk on. From childhood to teenage, Dennis grew up in the slums of Nairobi Kenya. He later moved to his native country Tanzania with his father where he started his family at the age of twenty five.
Massawe and his family were lead from Dar-es-salaam Tanzania to Southern California and when you hear his music you too will be inspired, motivated and encouraged to go from your journey of challenges and desperation to one filled with hope and purpose.
For more information go to:
For a copy of your CD go to: