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Tanzania at 62nd Independence Anniversary: How Pathetic We Are!

Tanzanian prime minister designate Julius Kambarage Nyerere is carried on supporters' shoulders from Government House in Dar es Salaam during celebrations to mark Tanganyika's forthcoming independence (from December 1961). (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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Suppose my O-level biology taught me anything meaningful. In that case, it is the understanding that there are organisms that live in or on an organism of another species, its host, and benefit by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense. This, coupled with my knowledge of history and civics, has caused the term parasite to acquire a broader scope of meaning in all walks of life than the biological one defined above.

As we mark the 62nd anniversary of the independence of our beloved motherland, it is worth examining the life of Mama Tanzania, for they say the unexamined life is not worth living. If the method of historical materialism is to understand your present, you must look at the past and get a clue about your future. You must critically examine your past and present, which is something to go by. Then, we as a nation are doomed to fail.

Just as Chinua Achebe’s character in Things fall apart, Okwonko wondered, “Where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies” I am in the same dilemma. The reality of the globalized world demands that every society must prepare its young generation to deal with the challenges of the future; nations that mean business are modelling their youth to become creative, especially in the Information technology aspect, because that is the only way to go.

At the same time, the globalized nature of the world and the rapid development of science and technology are pushing societies that don’t use their brain properly into the barbed corner and rendering them mere spectators in the global economy. Unfortunately, we belong to this latter group.

We prioritize politics because it has become a vast and booming business. Anybody with a dream to succeed and become a respected community member has to venture into politics regardless of leadership qualities.

Given that thinking has never been easy and because success calls for planning and strategizing that involve thinking, our youth have been creative in their own way. They are now making it through life without crossing the tedious procedure of planning and re-planning or an in-depth reflection on the failures and regrouping for another attempt.

Ours have invented a new shortcut to success, power and influence, where you get all these without necessarily involving your brain meaningfully, singing praises to the ruling elites.

Time has never ceased to be impressive in how it gets issues twisted. To put it mildly, it’s equally remarkable how the once Mecca of African liberation is losing focus on what it ought and aspired to be.

Our history isn’t adding anything to make us better today than yesterday and offers no hope for a better tomorrow. During the early days of independence till the late 90s, towards the dawning of the new millennia, Tanzania was Tanzania in almost every aspect of a nation’s life, from commanding diplomatic respect to grooming her youth to be better leaders of the country’s tomorrow.

The then CCM was respected at home and abroad for organization and better succession plans of leaders. During the one-party system, TANU Youth League and later UVCCM were spring beds for grooming youths who were intellectually competent, ideologically clear and politically committed. These were the ones who were prepared to take the nation up against emerging challenges of the future.

Universities were homes of heated debate on the nation’s future and the continent. Debates demand that you know your subject and can defend your position on an issue. It is a terrific learning tool as it illustrates the debaters’ knowledge and weaknesses, which can be remedied by further studying the subject. Debate also grows self-confidence, courage, and a quick-thinking attitude. Debate cultivates open-mindedness, the ability to consider multiple perspectives, and fundamental attributes in academia, politics, and public discourse.

Regrettably, this is not the case with most of our elite class. They prefer unchallenging success, and they have come up with Project Chawa, a Swahili term for lice referring to a tiny wingless parasitic insect that lives on the skin of mammals and birds.

As it’s with the characteristics of the insect, they purely live on the ‘skin’ of politicians, singing praises to make their living. Politicians probably long for appraisal at any cost, even if they don’t deserve it, so the Chawa movement sits well with them.

The chawa’s dream is not limited to tokens and changes they receive from their host. They even reverie political appointments. Yes, they long for political posts, and some succeed and become leaders of the people. Imagine what kind of leadership the likes of Chawa provided.

Not long ago, all parasitic behaviour was taboo in Tanzania. Immediately after independence, with the vision of building a self-reliant nation, Mwalimu Nyerere knew the cost of chawa behaviour for the young country. Thus, the famous adage usiwe kupe translating don’t be a parasite. When a human being with a sound mind agrees to be a parasite, he deprives himself of human dignity.

Unfortunately, we have people, not a few, and elite community members who pride themselves on being parasites (chawa). Sad enough, these are among the youth we wish to take this nation to the next step of development in the future. The blessings and fame the Chawa movement keeps receiving from political big shots leave us, the old school, wondering whether Tanzania?

Happy Independence Day, Tanzania!

Indeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this is the case for any severe nation intending to liberate itself from economic bondage. With each passing day, something was done to make it move forward,¬† like enacting a wall. The process requires putting walls upon each other in an organizational pattern until one gets the desired height.

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