Epistle to Afrophobic South Africa

Epistle to Afrophobic South Africa

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Retired leaders need to emulate Mzee Msekwa

            When one of my friends saw the list of my books, he wrote me “congrats my brother on writing such many books. For many have lived and died without even lettering a single article in the newspaper.” In responding, I told this friend that not all can write though it’s important to. Reading the books or views by the retired speaker, Mzee Pius C. Msekwa in weekly column in the Daily News has enriched me, and possibly many from far and wide countrywide as well. I must declare my interest to avoid the conflict of interests. Mzee Msekwa is one of my mentors and role model so to speak. This aside, I must admit that his contribution to the running of our country is superb. At his age, he’d have decided to retire and enjoy his emoluments in his cozy home in Ukerewe or elsewhere. But to the contrary, being selfless, Mzee Msekwa has unconditionally decided to offer his expertise on governance as his contribution to his country and the current regime under president Dr John Pombe Magufuli. I am sure the role he’s playing through his column is helpful to the current regime.  Looking at the issues Mzee Msekwa explores and tackles, if you like, I get many answers to the questions nobody could answer, especially retired leaders due to the fact that it is not easy to get them.
            I understand that president Magufuli has unconditionally offered his precious time to meet with retired leaders to gain their expertise and wisdom. I try to imagine how will we be enriched if the retired stalwarts like Hon. Benjamin Mkapa, Jakaya Kikwete and others would contribute weekly or as they deem fit as their time allows. When I consider Mzee Mkapa as an intellectual, orator and retired leader, his contribution will be constructively healthy.
            When retired leaders write, they incredibly help the new generation to scoop from their rich experience and intellect in resolving the problems their countries face. The first and former Nigeria’s president Nnamdi Azikiwe used to write before and after becoming the head of state. In the home stretch, the late father of the nation, Julius Nyerere wrote extensively before and after his presidency. Mzee Nelson Mandela, the first South African indigene  wrote a book before becoming president. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) Amilcar Cabral (Cape Verde) Leopold Sedar Senghor (Senegal) Jomo Kenyatta, (Kenya), all first presidents too did whereas the Gambia’s first president, Sir Dawda Jawara wrote a 500-page tome in 2010 . Apart from this crop of the first leaders and now Mzee Msekwa who is now writing a book or a column? Another leader that writes, though sporadically, is Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. Whenever anything itchy happens as it involves him, he’ll pen something to air his views. What went wrong?
            Former US President Barack Obama became the first sitting President to write a scholarly article. Due to the centrality of writing, the Independent(July 15, 2016) wrote that Obama wrote an article titled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps” that’s published by theAmerican Medical Association (known as JAMA) on July 11. As a sitting president, Obama had paid spin-doctors and public relations officers who popularised his policies and views. Yet, he wanted his views to go beyond politics and cover academia with the aim of helping future presidents on the matter. By setting this precedent, Obama didn’t only inspire other presidents but also politicians to write regardless they’re in power or not. If this article were written by a professor in a field or just any academic, it’d not have become a big deal for a famous newspaper like the Independent. But when the sitting president wrote, the paper found it to be an important issue to report due to the impacts it might have on the general public and academia. Another sitting president who’s recently started writing a weekly column is Zimbabwean Emerson Mnangagwa who writes in the Daily Mail.
            I recently got it from Mzee Msekwa himself that he is in the course of publishing two books on the history of Tanzania. I am sure; he’ll forgive me for divulging such personal information. Msekwa’s contribution is constructively huge and desirable. Drawing from his selfless and wisdom, I must note here. When I approached him asking him to write a foreword for my book Kudos to President Magufuli that was recently launched by the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe whom I hugely thank, he selfless and unconditionally offered to do it within a single day. Why are the contributions of our retired leaders effectively key to the wellbeing of our country? Firstly, it is an opportunity for them to show us what they see after retiring. Secondly, it is the opportunity that will help them to rectify all things they did or took wrongly, thus, the time for them to put records straight. Thirdly, by writing, apart from inspiring others to write and express their views on how things should be, they will be able to participate in running the country intellectually. Mzee Msekwa has done this competently and hugely. For example, Mzee Msekwa has written extensively on how to run the parliament as a retired speaker not to mention on the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar which has always put the two cohorts at loggerheads to need some expertise from those who know it firsthand.
            In a nutshell, we need our retired leaders to share their experiences and views with our people through either writing articles or books. This way, it is hugely important for our retired leaders to emulate my friend Mzee Pius C. Msekwa who has never lied down and rolled over when it comes to writing.
Source: Citizen, today.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The world needs to be clear and sincere on gay rights

When the Dar es Salaam boss, Paul Makonda, came up with the idea of identifying and hunting down people violating Tanzania’s morals, he touched on an untouchable hot button, homosexuality and disremembered that there are things an African country can’t do without the consent of the West such as the recent legalisation of Marijuana implies. Were African countries consulted in reaching this decision? Again, why? I think we need to agree; the international system’s still colonial and fickle in nature and practices.  If the West legalises cocaine today, it’ll be legal despite what. Thus, such a norm makes those whose views are excluded think that whatever comes from the West is holy and legal and what opposes it is illegal. This is where the hypothesis of colonialism emanates. There’s no way different cultures can share the same truth, especially when it comes to cultural matters such as sexual orientation.   
Let’s have derring-do as a human community; and address whatever differences we’ve. When dealing with some subtle issues such as homosexuality, the West forgets that it’s the same that came with written edicts that illegalised what it’s now forcing down the throats of its ever faithful converts. For such people such as Africans, going contrary to what they’re taught to be godly isn’t only ungodly but also turning God into a kook of sort. To grasp my point, try to imagine a Christian who grew up being oft-taught that sodomy’s aberrant and unforgivable as per the edicts of God.  Arguably, it’ll take many centuries for Africans to accept something they believed to be unthinkable let alone being taught about its impiety by major foreign religions. For example, the bible says “if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13), thus the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Despite expressly demonising and illegalising this new human right, the bible’s categorically brutal and open. Interestingly, nobody seeks recantation or amendment simply because it’s the word of God. If the bible’s the right to permanently deprecate sodomy, why doesn’t the same apply to African cultures despite being flawless about the same? In the Middle East, homophobia is open, governments are impenitent and the West, especially the US, doesn’t do anything (ABC, May 25, 2009). Another important fact to accentuate is; in individualistic society, life revolves around an individual whereas in collectivistic one, life revolves around the person and the society; and the two are intimate in many spaces and scopes.
For example, there’s an assumption that the government of Tanzania has no religion; thus, it untenable for it to justify any move against gays based on morality. Nonetheless, under the drive of preserving national culture, customs, mores and norms that form the part of the law of the land–however hard they’re to define–the government can legally justify its move. 
To see the colonial mentality, holier than thou and two-facedness of the international community, consider the following stances taken by some governments either headed by explicitly anti-gay leaders from the West and elsewhere.
The Huffington Post (August 27, 2015) quotes US President, Donald Trump as saying “I have been against [same-sex marriage] from the standpoint of the Bible, from the standpoint of my teachings as growing up and going to Sunday school and going to church, and I’ve been opposed to it, and we’ll just see how it all comes out. But, you know, if I was ever in that position I’d just have to explain it.”
Further, the Bloomberg (October 8, 2018) quotes Jair Bolsonaro, newly-elected Brazilian president as saying “I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son. I won’t be a hypocrite: I prefer a son to die in an accident than show up with a mustachioed guy. He’d be dead to me anyway.”
According to the CNN (October 10, 2018), Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said religious schools in Australia are already legally allowed to deny students a place based on their sexual orientation.
Furthermore, the Daily Mail (August 23, 2018) reports that “Austria rejects 'gay' asylum seeker's claim because he acted too 'girlish'... just days after rejecting another man's claim because he didn't 'walk, talk or dress like a homosexual.'” What’d have been the reactions had such actions committed by an African country or president? Due to the cacophony of the issue revolving around homosexuality, I’ve gathered some scenarios to back my bottom line.
  When gay rights or lives are threatened in Africa, it becomes big international stuff. But when the same happens in Europe or America, nothing so big is made out of it. Why?  The West has a clout of helping Africa almost in everything thinkable and unthinkable which is bad and undesirable. Being a Western Book, the bible still exists and is still exulted. Had it been an African idea or book, it’d have been history.
What’d be done? Methinks there must be an international convention or mechanism involving all countries to openly discuss this issue without necessarily any holier than thou or superimposition. All stakeholders must equally deliberate the matter by asking and answering crucial questions revolving around the rationale of legalising or illegalising the matter and reach a consensus.  As I said, I’m not of the view that we’d judge or legalise anything based on holier than thou and superimposition. Instead, we need to come up with logical reasons of reaching whatever verdict without necessarily superimposing anything on others or denying others anything. 
Source: Citizen, Today.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Waziri Mwakyembe Azindua Kitabu Changu

Jana Waziri  wa Habari, Sanaa, Michezo na Utamaduni Dkt Harrison Mwakyembe alizindua kitabu changu cha Kudos to President Magufuli mjini Dodoma. Katika ufunguzi huo ambao uliambatana na kuanza uuzaji wa kitabu, Mwakyembe aliwahimiza wananchi kukinunua na kuona mambo mengi makubwa na mazuri aliyokwishatenda rais John Pombe Magufuli. Kwa habari zaidi BONYEZA HAPA.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

We can still get a new constitution without burning taxpayers’ money

See the source image
          When recently asked if he intends to usher in a new Constitution, decidedly and openly President Dr John Pombe Magufuli matter-of-factly retorted “we should not send money to the Parliament where people will receive per diem allowance, we want that money to be spent on meeting SDGs, constructing railway, improving agriculture; and this why there are big countries whose Constitutions were enacted many years ago, this is not the right time.” Though Magufuli’s argument scares the daylights out of those seeking the new Constitution, it makes sense, especially if we consider what we need to prioritise as a nation. Magufuli’s refused to be politically correct or tell lies. However, telling truth to the people used to be told lies is a sin that creates many animosities and enemies. For example, for over fifty years of independence we’ve had Constitutions but not a single SGR not to mention failing to meet our SDGs for a long time.
Seemingly, Magufuli’s response peeved many; and I’m sure; it’s very welcome and unwelcome in some quarters. However, there are things we need to consider before passing any judgment. We need to ask ourselves about what we need first and most.
Firstly, there’s no doubt that Tanzania, indeed, needs a new Constitution. This is because, a) the current Constitution is a wee bit archaic; and needs replacement or amendments. b) The people verily need a new constitution. This is why they didn’t object the commencement of the process that aimed at enacting one. c) Any Constitution’s to serve the people according to the needs of the time. Therefore, those agitating for and opposing to having a new constitution have legit claims. Importantly, as a country, we need to get our priorities right premised on what is the most important thing that the nation needs between the new Constitution and new developmental projects. I can say we need both however at different times. Pius Msekwa in his column (Daily News, April 6, 2017) raises two important questions that can guide us in this issue. He queries “is it really proper to ignore President Magufuli’s clearly stated position, namely that the matter of enacting a new Constitution of the United Republic is not one of his urgent priorities?” He goes on “is the ‘new push’ really necessary?” This informs us of two important things namely the position of the current government and its priorities.
Nonetheless, the two opposing forces in regards to the drive or push for the new Constitution have different importance depending on what we’ll decide to tackle first. To get a solution for this looming situation, we need to embark on constructive, healthy and open dialogue knowing that we all share this country equally. Thus, it is upon our people based on vox-populi rationale to decide what they want first between development and the new Constitution. Again, how’ll this be attained without necessarily burning taxpayers’ money or being seen as one section of the population is bulldozing, ignoring or stymieing another? For example, if we consider what the priorities of the majority Tanzanians who live in rural areas are, we’ll be able to know what is needed first. For many rural dwellers, development is second to none. I don’t think that the rice farmer in rural areas cares more about the new constitution than the SGR that assures him or her market for his or her produces not to mention making his or her mobility faster, easier and possible cheaper than it has been since independence.  The Sangara fisherman or trader in Mwanza cares less about the new Constitution compared to the SGR that is to cut the time he or she used to travel to and from Dar es Salaam tremendously so as to enable him or her make more trips; and thus more money.  For such a person the first priority is an open secret.
I’d argue that provided the process of ushering in the new Constitution started and partially was finalised during the forth-phase government, we can pick from where it was left or say butchered putting in mind that we need both the new Constitution and development premised on saving money for both.
            Secondly, to avoid burning money pointlessly on the process that the taxpayers’ have already bankrolled, there are some things we can consider and put in place such as agreeing or disagreeing about commuting our national parliament to the Constitutional Parliament so that the MPs can vote on the new draft Constitution already in place provided that it has already received the Wananchi’s inputs. So, too, we can shelve one of the two and finish the other first depending on our priorities and needs currently.
            There’s an assumption that Western Democracy, apart from being imperfect is always expensive. Thus, those embarking on it should bear the pangs and twangs of this borrowed concept of running the state as the major source and guidance of Citizenry’s Liberties and rights.
Magufuli started a new dialogue based on logical pitches that’d generate dialogue for the way forward.
           In sum, before knowing the way forward or condemning, we need to revisit the history of our Country though briefly in regards to the efforts to enact a new Constitution. Try to analyse and judge Magufuli’s three predecessors namely Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete then pass your judgement. Mwinyi and Mkapa didn’t even whitewash or play and ping pong in regards to the new Constitution while Kikwete dillydallied by initiating the process that he ended up butchering and burn poor taxpayers’ money. Who’s better among the four; the ones who didn’t do anything, the one who burnt public monies or the one who says openly that he’s neither going to burn public monies nor ushering the new Constitution? I’d argue that if we can’t enact the new Constitution now, we better amend the current one to accommodate important matters such as the code of ethics and others.
Source; Citizen, today.

Chabuyabuya bana ba mulembe

Chabuyabuya bana ba mulembe, bana ba ingo. Chabuyabuya nyasae ave nanyi

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Tanzania needs to decolonise and detoxify our land and symbols

          Tanzania, just like any post-colonial African country, still has some colonial baggage. In today’s bottom line, I’ll delve into the concept of decolonisation and detoxification that, for a while now, has defined me academically.  Despite the fact that Tanzania, theoretically, regards itself; and is regarded as a free country, practically, it still isn’t. To grasp what I mean, let’s explore and interrogate some aspects of our nation.
            Arguably, since we got our independence, over fifty years ago, there are some crucial things we overlooked, trivialised or failed to accentuate such as the importance of identity either for our people or our land which are naturally interwove. We’re called or referred to as Tanzanians because of our land, Tanzania. Thus, we’re the creatures of our land from and around which our national identity evolves and revolves. Hence, our identity isn’t only significant but also makes us who we’re and crucially and uniquely distinguishes us from others.
            After underscoring the centrality of our identity and its connection to our land, we need to ask ourselves if it’s decolonised.  Admittedly, when I look at some symbols of our nation such as icons, mountains, national parks, lakes and whatnot, I find that we’ve a lot to do in regards to decolonise them as the means of decolonising ourselves. For, without totally decolonising ourselves and our land, -first, we’ll traumatise and dwarf ourselves that are bad, especially when such incongruity’s committed nationally,
-secondly, will continually lead into misleading ourselves, particularly the new and coming generations,
-and thirdly, we’ll be promoting our former colonial monsters pointlessly by giving them too much game not to forget deifying them and colonialism in general.  However, they’re things that we can’t avoid but negotiate such as the use of colonial languages. I’ll address this next time.
In the attempts to decolonise and detoxify our country, land, nation and people, there are things that are currently flouted or trivialised such as allowing some of our areas or asserts to be named after either our colonisers or their agents. For example, the city of Dar es Salaam, the largest one in the country still bears an Arabic name as if it is in the Middle East. Historically, the so-called Dar es Salaam was known as Mzizima (healthy town). What’s wrong with rejuvenating its natural African name? Is it because some of our people are at home with colonial and foreign and unrelatable names gotten through religion? Is Tanzania such poor in regards to its own names? Ponder about that.
Apart from Dar es Salaam, one of our famous Game reserves, Selous still bears a colonial name after being named after Federick Courteney Selous. Why Selous not Mkwawa, Nyerere, Kingu or whatever that isn’t colonial and toxic? Furthermore, the iconic rock in the shore of Lake Nyanza in Mwanza is named after former German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck notoriously known to have convened the Berlin Conference 1884-1885 that divided and partition Africa paving the way for its fully colonisation. Don’t we’ve heroes after whom we can name such iconic features? Call it Nkwazi Mhango.
Currently, Tanzania’s become known internationally after President John Pombe Magufuli revived the construction of the dam at Stiegler’s gorge. Who is this Stiegler; and what importance does he have to our country? Further, even the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro aka the roof of Africa still bears colonial stamps. Its glacier is known as Rebmann after Johann Rebmann simple because he was the first white man to explore the mountain. Here the natives who helped and showed him the way are not commemorated by what’s referred to as their own country. Again, there are some answers as to why many African landmarks and hallmarks have European names while, to the contrary, European ones do not have. Factsforkids.com, for example writes on its website that “Karl Klaus von der Decken and R. Thornton were probably the first persons who attempted to climb Kibo in August 1861.” To any xenophobe, Africans are nonhumans or subhuman.
Atypically, thanks to colonial education and systems that have always governed the post-colonial Africa and toxic education, Africans still subscribe to such dehumanisation either consciously or unconsciously. To show how small we sometimes make ourselves, we still treasure colonial dregs such as the Livingstone Museum in Ujiji commemorating a colonial agent who penetrated Africa and paved the way for colonisation. What’s its significance? It is simple. We are unfailingly keeping such garbage in order to enable white tourists come and pay us a few dollars and get away with the pride of informing their kids how superior they are as opposed to how inferior we’re. Further, under the toxicity of attracting tourism for a few dollars, apart from furthering and internalising colonial mentality to our people, we are allowing ourselves to be treated like automatons, cyborgs and yahoos that can’t think creatively and independently. 
In sum, I am not trying to be a smart alec, in my meek opinion, to do away with such colonial carryovers and garbage under whatever pretexts economic, political or social, Africa needs to decolonise itself by starting with  its land and identity among others. Africa needs to ask itself some painful and provocative questions such as: why’d Africans carry Arabic or European names but paradoxically Arabs and Europeans can’t replicate the same? Why’s Africa idolised and treasured colonial orts so as to mentally traumatise itself? Why’s Africa allowed itself to live medievally while it fought for its independence? Indeed, there are many more questions for Africa to ask and ponder on as it seeks answers, right answers timely and urgently shall it aspires to be respected, taken seriously and move forward. Also, Africa needs to cultivate the culture of upholding its own ways of life, symbols and everything instead of sheepishly devouring and worshiping everything alien.
Source: Citizen, today.