Patriotism in Tanzania: Love, Loyalty, or Liability?

Patriotism in Tanzania -
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I found myself on a Twitter-scrolling marathon the other day. Yep, still calling it “Twitter.” Some of you tech hipsters might call it X, Y, or who-knows-what-next, but bear with me. Delving into political tweets is like digging into a bag of assorted chips – some you savor, some are stale, and some make you wish you’d checked the expiry date.

Then, bam! I stumbled upon a tweet from LHRC. On August 15, 2023, the champions of our civil liberties – Legal and Human Rights Centre, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Tanganyika Law Society, and Tanzania Constitution Forum – were waving red flags about the arrest of Dr. Wilbroad Slaa, Advocate Boniface Mwabukusi, and Mpaluka Said Nyagali. And, as if the universe (or maybe just Elon’s algorithm) wanted to give me a balanced diet, a few scrolls down was a tweet from Hon Nape Nnauye, our esteemed Minister of Information, Communication, and Information Technology, about “some organizations – local and international – issuing statements with factual inaccuracies and a gross misrepresentation of facts about the recent arrests of three individuals in Tanzania alleged to be involved in criminal conduct”.

Now, I’m a sucker for a good comment section; sometimes, I think the whole internet was invented for comments. So naturally, I lost a few hours of my life reading reactions to both of these tweets. And let me tell you, it was like watching a high-stakes ping pong match. Left, right, left, right! Every digital warrior was equipped with their version of the “Patriotism in Tanzania” shield, ready to defend their turf. It’s like each tweet had its own little army, each soldier chanting, “No, we are the real patriots!”

This digital tug-of-war got my gears turning: In this never-ending game of “Capture the Patriotic Flag,” who’s really scoring points? And who’s just running around the field without a clue?

Patriotism in Tanzania: The What, The Why, and The Historical Hoo-Ha

When we talk about patriotism, what is it about? At its most basic level, patriotism is like having a major crush on your country. It’s loving where you come from, wanting the best for it, and maybe wearing a flag tie every now and then – *Wink to Mwigulu and Lugola*.

Historically speaking, patriotism isn’t some new-fangled concept that popped up when social media became a thing. No, siree. This idea of national pride has been around for centuries. Imagine ancient warriors with tattoos of their tribes, knights jousting for their kingdom’s honor, or even poets penning down verses singing praises of their homelands. That’s all, in essence, patriotism.

But here’s where it gets a bit tricky. You see, while everyone thinks their version of Patriotism in Tanzania is the “gold standard,” history tells us it’s more like a pot of different-colored paints. Take our very own Tanzania, for instance. Our ancestors weren’t just thinking about territory when they felt patriotic. They were thinking about culture, shared stories, traditions, and the dreamy idea of freedom. Remember: Graveyards are filled by Patriots killed by other patriots.

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Patriots or Pawns?

Zooming back to a very significant chapter in our history: the struggle for Tanzanian independence. At the center of this whirlwind were our very own heroes, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Abdulwahid Sykes, Bibi Titi Mohamed, Paul Bomani, Rashidi Mfaume Kawawa, Oscar Kambona, James Chunya and others in Tanganyika. For Zanzibar, we had Abeid Amani Karume, Sheikh Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu, Sheikh Thabit Kombo, and many more.

These were the embodiment of “Patriotism in Tanzania.” Why? Because they had a dream – a dream where Tanzanians weren’t just ‘subjects’ but proud and free citizens of their own nation. They weren’t fighting for fame, fortune, or a blue verification tick next to their names. No, they were in it for the love of the homeland. However, within themselves, there were various versions of Patriotism, leading to exiles and court hearings.

But here’s where the plot thickens. On the flip side of the coin, in Tanganyika, we had the British. Now, if you ever asked them while sipping some tea, they’d probably say, “We’re just trying to help these folks out, civilize them a bit, and oh, serve the Queen while we’re at it!”

In their minds, they were the unsung heroes of their country, the patriots risking their lives serving their country by spreading their version of ‘civilization’ to far-off lands. And let’s be honest, and they truly believed that colonizing places like Tanganyika was a good thing. It was their version of patriotism, serving the Crown, extending their empire, and maybe, just maybe, having a few more places where they could enjoy their tea.

So, who was the ‘real’ patriot here?

Nyerere and his comrades, fighting for independence, dreaming of a free Tanzania? Absolutely! But in a twisty, turny, kinda upside-down way, so were the Brits (at least in their own heads). They believed they were doing their patriotic duty for their homeland, even if it meant taking over someone else’s.

This clash of “Patriotism in Tanzania” makes you wonder: Can two opposing sides both be patriotic in their own right? What we see in today’s national debate resonates with this. After all, Patriotism is a bit like your family’s secret recipe; it’s passed down through generations, and everyone thinks theirs is the best, but occasionally, someone adds a questionable ingredient.

And how do we, looking back, draw the line between genuine love for one’s nation and misdirected, manipulated, maybe even harmful, enthusiasm?

It’s a noodle-scratcher, for sure. But as we dig deeper into “Patriotism in Tanzania” and its many shades, I can’t promise you will find some answers in this article; I wouldn’t dream of it. However, at least you will find some food for thought and a few more interesting stories to tweet about!

Hierarchies and the Game of Telephone: Who Really Knows What’s Up?

Allow me to pull back the curtain on the ‘Hierarchies of Information.’ Envision nearly every structure – be it a global corporation or just your family’s weekend chore delegation – as a pyramid. You’ve got a select few chilling at the top, with the masses forming the base.

Need a vivid picture? Think of the Vatican. A handful of Cardinals, many of whom Joe and Jane Catholic haven’t even heard of, convene in secret to pick the Pope for billions of believers. Or bring it closer to home: while the folks at Majembe Auction Marts might be prepping to auction off your beloved abode, Dad and mum are whispering in hushed tones, leaving the kids clueless and probably still fighting over the TV remote.

Now, let’s put the spotlight on our current political drama: The “DP World” debate. On one side of the ring, we’ve got the ‘Patriots’ within government rolling up its sleeves, ready to back the deal. On the other side, there’s a tag team of ‘Patriots’ throwing some serious side-eye at the entire thing. Punches (or rather, tweets and Tiktok videos) are thrown, debates heat up, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an opinion. But here’s the golden question: do we, the spectators, really know the full story?

Think of it as a multi-story building. The folks at the top have a bird’s eye view. They see the whole city, every alley, every rooftop. But as you go down, the view narrows. By the time you hit the ground floor, you’re only seeing the street in front of you.

In our political version of this building, the big-wigs, the head honchos, the ones pulling the strings – they see the bigger picture. They know the behind-the-scenes details of the DP World debate. They’re privy to the whispers in the corridors of power and the secrets tucked away in sealed envelopes. But what about us? Are the average Johns and Janes just trying to make sense of it all? We’re often left piecing together a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing.

This isn’t just about being left out of the gossip loop. It’s about making informed decisions and understanding the true narrative. It’s easy for those at the top to toss around the term “Patriotism in Tanzania” to rally our support. But when information is distorted, manipulated, or just downright withheld, can we truly say we’re acting in our nation’s best interest?

You know that childhood game, ‘telephone,’ where we’d whisper a secret down the line only to chuckle when it morphed into something entirely different at the end? Well, plot twist! Our political bigwigs seem to have been secret fans of the game, but when they play, the giggles are replaced with gasps. Both CCM and the combined force of Human Rights defenders, Chadema & ACT Wazalendo have their die-hard supporters, average members who wear the badge of patriotism with pride. But it’s crucial for every Tanzanian to remember: it’s not about picking sides; it’s about seeking truth. Because, as history loves to remind us, the full story is often more intricate than the headlines let on. Because in grown-up version of a ‘telephone’, a botched message isn’t a laughing matter – it can rewrite history, pivot public sentiment, and, let’s be real, decide the fate of nations.

So, the next time we’re about to retweet, debate, or hoist a banner in support, let’s pause. Let’s question. And let’s make sure we’re not just players in someone else’s game of ‘telephone.’

The Mind’s Games: Psychological Underpinnings of Patriotism and The Dance of Deception

Now I am a scientist at heart, I wouldn’t end this article without throwing some science around. You see, this whole “Patriotism in Tanzania” thing isn’t just about catchy slogans and flag-waving or name calling. Nope, it’s got some deep, brainy roots.

Cognitive Dissonance & Confirmation Bias

Ever noticed how once you believe something, you seek out info that backs it up and ignore the rest? That’s confirmation bias. And when you’re faced with something that clashes with your belief, you might feel uneasy. That’s cognitive dissonance. These two work like the Batman and Robin of psychological theories, especially in politics. Side note, Social Networks are very good at enhancing this, their entire business model are made off giving you more of what you like. Creating an information silos or sort.

Let’s connect the dots to our current affairs. Take the DP World debate. If you’re pro-government, you might cherry-pick data that paints the deal in golden hues. On the flip side, if you’re skeptical, you might be spotlighting every tiny glitch. This isn’t just being biased; it’s how our brains are wired.

Groupthink & the Spiral of Silence:

Being part of a group feels good. So good, in fact, that sometimes people agree with the majority even when they secretly disagree, just to avoid being the odd one out. This can spiral into a situation where everyone thinks they’re on the “winning” side, even if it’s not what they genuinely believe.

Relate this to our political scene. Remember when Dr Slaa and others were detained? Many stayed silent, not because they agreed with the detainment but possibly because of fear of isolation or retribution. The Spiral of Silence in action. And those who spoke out, does not necessary care so much about their scenario – others can easily be happy to have found an Agenda to Champion (after all, Human defending is a lucrative business in Tanzania. Houses are built, cars are bought and careers are made off the Umbrella of Defending Human Rights.

The Bandwagon Effect

If everyone’s doing it, it must be right… right? Wrong. But this is a classic trick our minds play on us. We see everyone rallying behind a cause (or a hashtag), and we hop on the bandwagon without giving it a second thought. Our brains do this for survival, if you see a group of people running, it better to run first than asking questions about why are we running?

All these mental gymnastics can be manipulated by those with power and influence. Mix in a sprinkle of patriotism, stir in some emotions, and voila! You’ve got a recipe for mass manipulation.

Now, this isn’t to say that every political move or debate is a puppet show with us as the marionettes. But it does remind us of the importance of awareness, of questioning, of not letting our brains’ quirks lead us down a rabbit hole without our conscious choice. Remember those ill-fated deals the government inked in the past? The ones that morphed from golden opportunities to glaring blunders? It’s a heads-up to double-check the bill of goods we’re being handed. And hey, let’s not give the opposition a free pass either. Flashback to Lowassa, the Ufisadi saga, and that whirlwind Presidential Candidacy? Placing blind trust might just set us up for a plot twist we didn’t see coming.

The next time “Patriotism” is waved in front of us as a flag or a weapon, let’s promise to peek behind the curtain. Not just for our sake, but for the very idea of patriotism and what it stands for in our beloved nation.

A Patriot’s Guide to Moral Responsibility

At the end of the day, after the banners are put away, tweets are sent, and debates quiet down, we’re left with the echoes of our actions and beliefs. And while a zealous spirit can be commendable, it’s essential to remember that just because you believe you’re doing right doesn’t mean you are doing right.

History – that stern teacher we sometimes forget to listen to – is teeming with cautionary tales, from atrocities masked under the banners of nationalism to horrors committed in the name of ideologies or religious fervor. These aren’t just tales; they’re lessons on the importance of moral responsibility.

Here’s a quick handbook for every Tanzanian patriot out there:

  1. Sharpen Your Critical Thinking Skills: Just like you wouldn’t eat everything handed to you (I mean, mystery street food? No thanks!), don’t swallow every piece of information or ideology without a second thought. Question. Debate. Reflect. Remember, a thoughtful patriot is always more impactful than a blind follower.
  2. Walk in Others’ Shoes: I know, it sounds cliché, but hear me out. By genuinely trying to understand someone else’s viewpoint – especially if they’re from a different group or ideology – you not only enrich your perspective but also stand a better chance at finding common ground. And who knows? Maybe you’ll make a friend along the way.
  3. Let’s Talk About It: Let’s foster spaces where open dialogue isn’t just allowed but celebrated. Places where you can voice your opinion without the looming cloud of backlash. Only when we start talking to each other, instead of at each other, can we truly hope to stitch the fabric of unity in our diverse nation?

In wrapping up, let’s remember this: “Patriotism in Tanzania” isn’t just about passion; it’s about purpose. It’s about ensuring our love for our nation is guided by understanding, responsibility, and a genuine desire for progress. So, the next time you raise your voice, whether in song or debate, make sure it resonates with both pride and principle.

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