Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hope Is A Good Thing...

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies" The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

For some very weird reasons, that movie is on my favorite list. It ain't something to do with Morgan   Freeman.  Nonetheless, my brief reflection today has nothing to do with The Shawshank Redemption, but on the current political climate in Tanzania.

If you have been a follower of this blog you will definitely know that I have not been a fan of the incumbent. I had hope, just like many Tanzanians when JK took the keys to Ikulu. Remember the Kasi Mpya, Ari Mpya stuff? We all know that none of that stuff materialized. I think I was bold enough to predict on here that JK will go down in history as the worst president Tanzania has ever seen.

But that was just a little blah blah. So let's get to the point about hope.

I know I live miles and miles away from Bongoland, but I have to say that I like what I'm seeing. The biggest change, if you ask me, is that there is hope. And hope my friend, is a very good thing.

We can not marginalize the coming of Dr. Slaa into the scene as a  main contributing factor to the change in political landscape. However, we have to give credit to CCM, they messed up.  Folks are tired. Not only that, abundance of information has also helped to shed light on some of the "old" CCM blah blah.

Just look at the yelling CCM members in this other photo.

That is a sure sign that Tanzania is changing. Folks are changing. My people have come to the point of not accepting the status quo. And that is good thing. Will everyone change? Absolutely not. We ain't created equal. Some are just used to the old ways of thinking and doing things.

I know disappointments will come following October 31, 2010, particularly if Dr. Slaa will not be declared a winner of the presidential election. That is because emotions (and not hope) are riding high. Despite the possibility of a heartbreak, something has definitely happened to Tanzanians.

They have found hope. And to me, hope will take my fellow Tanzanians a long way.
Photo credit:  1) Chadema - 2) CCM -

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kombolela Show July 17, 2010


Here is another recording of a Kombolela Show I hosted on July 17, 2010 focusing on the quality or impact of education in Tanzania. The guest on the show was Aisa Lema Ole Nguyaine.

Aisa is currently a lecturer at the University of Dodoma.

Listen on.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kombolela Show August 14 2010

In my last post, I pointed out that I've embarked on a new challenge, which is hosting a radio program, Kombolela Show.

As I pointed out, I may not have all the answers, but the objective of the Kombolela Show is to educate, inform, and challenge the status quo. My hope is that the information and insights the program provides will empower Tanzanians to see life in a different light.

I have hosted a couple of shows, but I don't have all the shows available for those who missed the live sessions. The technical guys at Radio Mbao ( are working on the best way to archive the programs. Once all the technical issues are resolved, you will have a dose of the programs archived and shared here.

Nonetheless, here is a recorded interview I had with Madaraka Nyerere. Just to ahead and surprise yourself with the following facts:

1. I actually forgot the day (seriously?)

2. Mwalimu's Kifimbo had no magical was for a reason I never thought of...

Let me shut up and let you listen...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Kombolela Show

Dear Reader,

I have not stopped thinking. I have not stopped reflecting. Nonetheless, I have just found myself on a different platform. Yap. A different platform.

I'm now a host of a live radio show, broadcast through the internet at The name of my show is Kombolela, which is aired live every Saturday, 1:00pm EST or 8:00pm East African Time.

So what's up with name of the show?

Kombolela is a popular game with children in Tanzania. The game is a version of hide-and-seek games that are popular with children across the world. The objective of the game is for the player who loses the cast lot to seek other players who go into hiding. In playing, the seeking player yells “kombolela!” when a hiding player is spotted.

Like many developing countries, Tanzania is trying to break out of poverty and into the realms of development. Nevertheless, there are times when marching to that desired destiny – both individually and collectively as a nation – seems impossible. Furthermore, it appears at times that Tanzanians cannot even articulate the reasons for their plight. Given that other countries have succeeded in eradicating abject poverty, we believe achieving progress is therefore possible.

Achieving progress, however, will requires Tanzanians to think and act differently.

I may not have all the answers, but the objective of the Kombolela Show is to educate, inform, and challenge the status quo. My hope is that the information and insights the program provides will empower Tanzanians to chart a new course. I also hope that every time key information is passed on and a mentally enslaved Tanzanian is set free, we will all shout “Kombolela!” just like children do on many playgrounds across Tanzania.

Why don't you check me out every Saturday then?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

We Are Not Blind, Progress is Visible

So what's the point of opening up shop and never keeping it operational? Don't answer that, because that's not a question for you, it is for me. I have my reasons, plenty of them, but that's a topic for another day.

What made swing by today is this recurring theme in Bongoland politics – the notion that politicians have to highlight "progress" that whichever "awamu" has made. I have tried to ignore it, but I just felt like musing about it. Please review this article to follow me.

I can understand the temptation that the Makambas and the Kikwetes have, causing them to drum up non-issues as the highlight of the day. That is because from a practical standpoint, these guys aren't doing crap.

Politicians' talk or discussion on issues that are part of their daily responsibilities and which are visible or assessable without explanations, speaks volume about either their intelligence or wananchi's understanding. I would lean, however, on the later, because the Makambas know exactly what they're doing.

And that to me is a sad reality.

Seriously, isn't progress visible? Can't wananchi see for themselves a constructed road, a fully equipped health clinic, or a fully staffed local school without Makamba telling them? Won't they be able to tell if they are employed, have safe and steady water supply, uninterrupted supply of electricity, or responsible cops securing the streets?

So why on earth would I be sit or stand in the scorching sun to listen to an incompetent District Commissioner (DC) rumble about "progress" I can assess for myself?

I guess I'm just seeing things from a weird perspective.

I have said this before, but it wouldn't hurt to do it again. I strongly believe that lack of critical thinking skills is hurting the Tanzanian society a whole lot. I'm convinced that if the led (wananchi) had the capacity to look at the leader's speeches and deeds critically, they would have been able to hold the leaders (mafisadi) accountable.

Don't you think someone with a critical thinking mind would have raised hell for a DC to spend their tax shilling to propagate something that don't need propagating?

Man, I can't wait for the day a Korogwe's DC would get washed in cow dung for saying something stupid or a Mwanza's Regional Commissioner going home smelling like raw tilapia. Seriously. These guys are insane.


Photo credit:

Thursday, May 06, 2010

If I Were Nicholas Mgaya….

I have said this before – the very reason I get discouraged to share my thoughts on this blog is because the country’s issues are fundamentally the same, though coming in various colors.

The most amazing thing this week for me is the fact President Kikwete managed to scare the heck of out The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA), to the extent that the labor union actually folded and ceased calling for a countrywide strike. The scariest part of all is the fact that the President hinted at the possibility of “authorized” human rights abuse by the Tanzanian police force!


That alone, could be a separate topic on its own. Seriously, does it mean that if I am a civil servant in Tanzania and I stop going to work on a strike, the police could actually come at my house and start clobbering me?


Before the President’s speech, it is obvious TUCTA and Mr. Mgaya had a lot going on for them. The speech, obviously, took the wind out of the high-flying balloon and has painted TUCTA in the negative light. That’s a political strategy that I have to commend the President for.

So what would I have done, if I were Mr. Mgaya, following the President’s speech? I would have used the President’s speech against himself.

Let’s go to it folks.

I would have attacked and negatively painted the President’s remark about being ready to “forsake” workers’ votes in the upcoming general elections. I would have done that by focusing on the fact that Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) logo – the famous hammer and a hoe – speaks of CCM as a party of farmers and workers. As such, the “disrespect” shown by the President on the very same foundation he is standing on, is a sign that he is out of touch with his own party’s tradition of respecting workers who are the backbone of the Tanzanian economy.

Furthermore, I would bring up the whole Jumuiya ya Wafanyakazi (JUWATA) which was nothing more than a labor union under the CCM’s wings. The existence of JUWATA, I would emphasize, was a sign that the Father of the Nation – Julius K. Nyerere, had a lot of respect for workers than the current chairman of the party who seems to have lost his ways [ thrown in Nyerere in the mix and you got someone’s attention in Tanzania, trust me!]

I would also spin, the possible degree, the fact that the President also “assured” himself of being to on the October ballot. I would made it seems like the President is not respectful of the democratic principles and process instituted in his own party. I would emphasize the fact that anyone desiring to vie for any political position must go through a screening process to ensure qualification. As such, the President’s self assurance of being on the October’s ballot indicates dictatorial tendencies, as that indicates the President does not believe nor respect a democratic process nor the desire of other CCM members to vie for the post.

To add more drama, I will tie the dictatorial tendencies to the fact that the President made threats of a possible police abuse of peaceful workers.

Would all that be effective? Probably. Nevertheless, since Mr. Mgaya has the microphone with the media following up what he says, I would make sure that I cause a strategic havoc at Ikulu.

Besides, all politicians are spin doctors. Why not beat them at their own game?

Photo credit: www.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

TZ Soccer Players: Victims of Culture?

It is been a while since I experienced temperatures in the 60s (that is in Fahrenheit, my Bongoland friends). As such, if I get giddy in here, don’t blame me. It is the Spring fever catching on!

I have to admit, I hardly go through a lot. It is not that I don’t like Mr. Mengi and his outfit, it is just the layout of website is not inviting. Furthermore, articles on the website are not as updated as quickly as, let’s say, Daily News.

Nevertheless, I found myself going through the site today. Guess what I found? It is this hidden column by “Super Coach” himself, Syllersaid Mziray. Read on…

As a coach, I have to respect his analysis, which is based on an extensive experience in Tanzanian soccer. Man, you can’t argue with experience. In a nutshell, Super Coach dispelled some of the “myths” explaining why Tanzanian soccer players can’t go flying to the big leagues and also some other practical things that happen in the Tanzania’s soccer system that are bound to produce zero professional soccer players. One particular observation, however, that caught my attention was the following:

In most clubs, players will go to the training field late and hence fail to cope with the coach’s schedule and during training, they seldom engage seriously in the process

I know some folks think that I am taking this culture thing out of proportion, but …

Oh well.

I’m not a social science expert and therefore I am not really qualified to go into a deep analysis of what culture is or what it is not. The little I know, however, is that culture is just a body of rules governing a society. Those rules govern how one succeeds or fails; what one should say or not say in a particular situation, etc.

In a nutshell, what Super Coach tried to say, but came short of saying is this – the Tanzanian culture, particularly when soccer players fully embrace it – will never produce a player capable or worthy of playing in European leagues, for instance.

See, from my vantage point, culture creates expectations. And I can bet you my house that the highest expectation a soccer player can have in Tanzania is to play for Simba or Yanga. Period. A highest expectation a Simba or Yanga fan have is for their respective teams to win against their archrival and to clinch local trophies. You will never hear fans rioting because Coach Phiri, for instance, won a game against Yanga but got walloped by an Egyptian’s side. It is because the expectation, well, is kind of low in Tanzania.

Remember the clash between former Yanga’s “super star” Gaudence Mwaikimba and his former Serbian coach, Dusan Kondic? Do you really thik the conflict was about talent? All of that was simply a cultural conflict. It was a conflict arising from a huge expectation gap. And that expectation gap, amigo, was rooted in cultural differences.

Let’s think of this for a minute. Coach Kondic comes in, joining a team that he didn’t assemble. In the team, there’s this dude Gaudence Mwaikimba who was a star, with a “guaranteed” starting position regardless of dedication and effort level he shows in training. Don’t you think that conflict was only imminent when Coach Kondic emphasized discipline in training before a player was “guaranteed” any playing time?
On the flip side of better cultural inclination, remember the DRC national, Shabani Nonda who once played for Yanga? How did he manage to secure a team in Europe? Wasn't he playing on the same "ugly" soccer pitchs in Tanzania?

I think you get my point.

I have said this and I will say it again. Tanzania’s problems are not rooted in lack of experts, talents, resources or whatever you want to throw in the mix. Yeah, those play a part, but the worst enemy the country is facing is its own cultural inclination. The scary part, as I said about Hasheem Thabeet last time, the people are not even aware of it.

So go ahead and have your Vision 2025. However, without a cultural transformation to back that up, I can only say this quitely and nicely, good luck.
Photo credit: Michuzi

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

HT to D-League: Lack of Skills or Cultural Disorientation?

Hasheem Thabeet’s draft to the NBA is one of those things that has not and will not regularly happen to Tanzania. It is for that reason, I was happy for Hasheem and for Tanzania, because this was a history changing event.

However, just less than a year since Hasheem was picked by the Memphis Grizzlies; he made another history by being the first second pick to be send down to the NBA’s Development League. For those who watched Hasheem play at UConn, one thing was clear – the kid was not fully developed in his game.

I would definitely cut Hasheem some slack. The kid had very little basketball experience prior to donning a UConn’s uniform. I would guarantee you that 99% of NBA ballplayers had touched a basketball by the age of 10. Furthermore, Memphis clearly understood that when they drafted him.

It is for that reason I wasn’t surprised when the Grizzlies sent Hasheem to the D-League. He truly needed some playing time to develop his game. What surprised me, however, was Hasheem’s response to his D-League’s trip. You could read Hasheem’s response here...

The comment that irked folks the most is about the kid’s paycheck being the same despite being sent to the D-League. I am not surprised he made such comments.

In many ways, I could relate to Hasheem’s comment about paycheck, haters, and so on. Part of it is immaturity, but largely cultural. When I started my career with KPMG after graduation from college, I had a lot of trouble initially because I came to KPMG hung up on my college academic achievements. Bad enough, in that lake of stupidity, I was basking in the glow of what my paycheck could accomplish in Bongoland. Boy, I was wrong.

See, after some painful experiences I came to learn – the hard way – that it was imperative for me to make a quick transition from having Tanzania as my yardstick to seeing things from an American perspective. And I think making that transition is where Hasheem is currently struggling.

I cannot blame Hasheem for having the I-have-made-it kind of mentality. Truthfully, he has made it. A very little percentage of folks in Tanzania or even Tanzanians in the United States will ever make $4.5 million in their lifetime - legally or illegally. Furthermore, a very small percentage of Tanzanians living abroad will ever have the privilege of hanging out with the President and having a “national” reception when you land at JKN International Airport.

Nonetheless, the biggest question is this – would Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, or LeBron James regard $4.5 million in the bank, but with lack of strong basketball skills and playing time a success? Hardly.

See, going back to my KPMG experience, I came on board with a purely Tanzanian mentality. I placed very little value in the desire to get ahead (Ujamaa mentality anyone?), seeking career advice through mentorship, hard work, etc. At the end of the day, despite my academic achievements (potential), I ended up frustrated and frustrating my employer. That is because I didn’t fully understand the culture around me and what was expected of me.

Playing ball in the NBA, whether Hasheem understands it or not, is just like any other career, ignoring the obvious differences. And as far as I know the American corporate culture, each employee tries to be their best without even the employer prompting them to. It is for that very reason, true “professionals” like Michael Jordan worked hard despite having more talent that the majority of their peers. Ask Kobe. Ask Carmelo. Ask LeBron. They would tell you that they have something to work on. You will never hear them talk about their paycheck first.

Going beyond the NBA, the American culture, somehow expects more. Yesterday’s technology is not good enough. Yesterday’s methodology is not good enough. The American society sort of expects improvement and not mediocrity. What Hasheem did in college is simply history. Honestly, with all the “accomplishments” Hasheem has had, getting the fact that American society expects a little bit more could be a struggle for the kid to comprehend.

If Tanzanian basketball and culture was the standard, I would not ask Hasheem to change anything. That is because most successful folks in Tanzania didn’t get there through hard work, but through dubious means. I would not ask Hasheem to mend his attitude and improve on his work ethic because in Tanzania, generally speaking, having a little more (or not having it bad) than your neighbor is good enough.

What is telling of Hasheem’s cultural orientation is this US Today's article. So the kid truly thought Coach Calhoun was picking on him for requiring hard work? That also begs the question, how much has he learned since UConn days?

At the end of the day, however, it is not all doom and gloom for Hasheem. I think the kid will learn, improve and make Tanzania proud.

Nonetheless, right about now the kid does not need criticism, but some serious mentoring to help him shift from a Tanzanian mentality to an American cultural orientation. Once he gets it, taking a vacation while his offensive game stinks wouldn’t be on his to-do list this summer. Furthermore, the “haters” would disappear, for he will realize that his NBA dream is not hinged on some blog comments, but on his own work ethic.

My struggle at KPMG was not because of the color of my skin. It was mainly because of my cultural “disorientation”. I know Hasheem is going through it right now, but he will get it eventually. Trust me on that one.
Photo credit:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Electronic and Postal Communications Bill: Welcome to 1967?

I know that we as human beings we like progress. We love to see things change around us. It is not like change is good all the time, but we like to see change nonetheless. Some changes are introduces out of necessity, but some changes are out of sheer creativity juices that flow through our veins as human species.

I think it is in same spirit that someone in Bongoland had an epiphany to introduce the Electronic and Postal Communication Bill of 2009. I have not read the bill, but I would trust that Leonard Mwakalebela of Daily News did a good job in summarizing some of the key stipulations of the bill, which include the following: sharing of infrastructure among mobile phone operators in Tanzania, mandatory listing of mobile operators’ stocks in Dar Stock Exchange and slapping a fine on unregistered sim card owners.

Please see the Daily News article here…

Honestly, the rationale given by the government for requiring mobile operators to share infrastructure are creative and acceptable, if the goal is cut down on the prices and protect the environment. Nonetheless, the two other stipulations of the bill are shaky if you ask me.

A practical solution for unregistered sim card, as pointed out by Hon. Arfi is for the mobile companies to turn off the darn line. Is that hard to do?

Now let’s see the mother of all booboos – requiring foreign mobile operators to cross-list at the DSE.

I am not going to argue against the notion that other countries also require cross-listing. That is because I will need to scour through laws and requirements of a plethora of countries. That ain’t easy. Nonetheless, the argument given, especially by a few legislators such Hon. Nyami that listing at the DSE will bring transparency to the mobile company’s financial statements is stupid.

The truth of the matter is this, if TRA wanted to know how much Zain generated in revenue, they could do that from a computer screen. From the comfort of my couch, I was able to tell that Zain generated $327.8 million in revenue in financial year 2008 from their operations in Tanzania. Unabisha? Just select any financial report for any year you want right here..

You know, some folks don’t like my choice of words, especially when I brazenly come out to say that some things are stupid. Forcing companies such as Vodacom, Zain, and so on to cross-list because Tanzanians want financial transparency is just plain stupid. If a dude like me could access Zain’s financial records openly and easily, how come TRA can’t?

Let me just remind our ignorant MPs of this fact – countries don’t invite foreign direct investment primarily to boost corporate tax revenues. Countries invite foreign direct investment to derive other indirect benefits that are larger than corporate taxes.

The other second reason given to require listing is to allow wazalendo also to participate in the economy. If wazalendo have that money in their pockets to invest, why didn’t they band together to form a new telecom company instead of waiting to “nationalize” other successful companies? Furthermore, why didn’t Tanzania formulate proactive policies that require joint ventures with wazalendo before any foreign investors commence operations?

We can argue and kill each other about the merits of the bill, but what the Tanzanian government did in spirit is to nationalize telecom companies. Period. That is essentially reversing to 1967.

As Hon. Arfi put it, the bill is also fundamentally discriminatory as it targets a single industry. The spirit of majority’s participation in their own economy shouldn’t be narrowly confined to a single industry. The message it sends to the world is this – Tanzanians are incapable of creating successful companies, they only wait to snatch successful companies from their owners.

Please read my lips ( typing fingers) this bill will haunt Tanzania for many years to come.

As it has been clearly claimed by telecom companies in Tanzania, it is not the government’s duty to play board members of any given company. The decision to list on any stock exchange is up to the board members of those companies. Just for the information of our ignorant MPs, the main reason companies go public is because they want an easy access to capital, though it spreads ownership in turn.

Ask yourself this – if a company wants to raise $10 billion at the DSE today, would they be able to that in a heartbeat? I doubt that. That’s why companies go to robust exchanges like London or New York. Not because they want to stash cash away from Dar-es-Salaam, but because they can raise the needed capital there.

I rest my case.
Photo credit:

Friday, January 15, 2010

JK Is Cool With Opposition, So What?

I have no idea what is going on with me, but I think have lost my writing mojo or it is just I am bored with the same old crap. It is kind of hard to talk about the same thing over and over again, you know? For instance, did you hear about Minister Ngeleja’s crazy stuff?

Now, stuff like that makes realize how crazy the Tanzanian society, generally speaking, is. Some of that craziness makes you realize that it would take more than my blog to change the course.

So what really got me out of a self-imposed hiatus? It is this piece of opinion posted by my fellow Bongolander, Professor Mbele (Hi Professor!). Read on…

Now, what’s the general idea that Professor is professing? It is that Jakaya Kikwete should be elected for another 5-year term simply because he is mature politically as evidenced by him being “buddy-buddy” with opposition parties.

I hope the professor is just kidding. Otherwise, that is the craziest endorsement I have ever come across.

To see my point, let ask ourselves this fundamental question: why was Kikwete elected in the first place? Wasn't it because he convinced Tanzanians that he was capable of delivering on his promises? I think we can go back to the 2005 CCM’s election manifesto to see exactly what JK promised to do. For instance, remember the promise to bring Tanzania into the hari mpya, kasi mpya world? Well, you be the judge.

I have to agree with Professor Mbele that this was all his opinion. Nonetheless, I would just like to add that opinions don’t come out of blues. They are typically rooted in our belief and value system, past experiences, personalities, and other factors. As such, what I am reading from Professor Mbele is that he is putting more value on JK’s social tendencies than delivered tangible and measureable results for the benefits of Tanzanians.

And that is crazy if you ask me.

Personally, I don’t care if JK is able to kiss and hold hands with Professor Lipumba or Zitto Kabwe than his predecessors. What I care about is that my mom in Shirati has running water, Tanzanians can go for 365 days without power interruption, and folks like Ngeleja get booted out of power, just to name a few things that I believe most Tanzanians care about.

If making out with the opposition is truly an important factor for reelecting JK – how come then, under JK’s watch, the Muafaka thing between CUF and CCM is going around in circles? Isn’t telling so much about JK’s true resolve to hug and embrace the opposition?

The existence of the multiparty system in Tanzania, regardless of how well or bad it has functioned, is not a question of some favor from CCM. It is a Constitutional right. It is a legal matter. As such, respecting those that hold a different political view shouldn’t be an exception, but a norm. If respecting the Constitution is the main reason Kikwete should be re-elected, then we have more than 1 million Tanzanians who are qualified for the office of presidency, me included.

Furthermore, calling for Kikwete’s re-election on the basis of “political maturity” is just plain lowering the expectation of Tanzanians. And that is insulting. And that is also disappointing, especially when such a call is coming from someone like Professor Mbele who has lived and worked in the United States, where expectations typically go higher.

Seriously, what about endorsing JK for improving educational system, economic progress, reduction of graft, for instance?

Well, we know he didn’t do well on those areas, don’t we?
Photo credit: Mjengwa