TFF’s Decisions Create Gaps: Tanzanian Football Still Need Haji Manara, and What About the Welfare of Albinism?

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The Contributions of Haji Manara to advocacy against albino stigma may not have been widely appreciated, and it is this perception in mind this article has been jotted down.

Before we decipher this gigantic man behind the mirror, there is an urgent need to recap the plight of albinism in Tanzania, a narrative devoid of a silver lining, we humbly acknowledge.

For years, we have been deceived that sorcerers and witches associated albinism with the dens of demons. Demons linked to mammonism: an uncompromising pursuit of carnal riches and wealth.

So, it is a small wonder that the persecution and executions of people with albinism were ascendant for many years as goons listened to the advice from traditional spiritualists. To be filthy rich, the deception boldly thundered, treasure hunters must bring to witch doctors body parts from the people with albinism who were falsely alluded to possess wealth-creating demons!

Once those parts were made available to the traditionalists at a considerable cost to the people with albinism, the invocation of demons took place, and those demons were claimed to be directed to be subservient to the new body of non-albino. This fool parts with vast sums of money to this conman masquerading as a witch doctor!

Nobody in this bloodletting, get-rich scam bothers to ask themselves serious questions like why people with albinism lead everyday lives devoid of that insane wealth if really demons responsible for wealth creation dwell in them? Or investigating simple questions like why the witch doctors wallow in poverty if demonic invocation can lead to rich rewards?

Or why do the spiritualists demand prepaid cash before their victims see the value of their vacuous chimaeras? And, of damning significance, is whether human life is worthless for the purposes and intents of self-enrichment, presuming what is promised was real!

It is with such insights we came to the terms of the horrors our brothers and sisters accosted in the outrageous lies that hacking the limbs of people with albinism would reward their attackers. Before we knew it, the number of limbless or dead albinos kept growing with no slowdown.

Read Simba Vs Yanga: More Than Just a Game, It’s a Billion-Shilling Business Through Azam TV.

However, recently, we have seen a sudden drop in new cases of people with albinism facing unfettered bodily assaults. We can apportion that feat to many parameters: societal education could be the primary reason that has helped to slow down the tempo of witch doctors descending upon our innocence, the growth of vigilante groups has also assisted in flushing out harmful elements in the society, police enforcement has been a boon to the people with albinism’s safety.

One variable that has not been given due respect is the positive role of people with albinism in improving their image in society. And Haji Manara, the scion of soccer maestro Sunday Manara, who plied his trade both locally and in Europe, demands our collective recognition and a standing ovation ensconced with plaudits.

Haji Manara made a name for himself from his CCM activism despite having intermittent clashes with the law for reasons which go beyond the scope of this discourse, and as a result, we shall delete those parts from this discussion.

Haji Manara later moved to sports administration, and us who knew his daddy was once the Yanga’s most prolific goal-scoring machine that had thrice left Simba nursing massive wounds had wondered what Simba Sports Club saw in Haji Manara to seek his services. We did not need to wait long for that explanation.

No sooner than Simba appointed him as their chief spokesperson, we instinctively knew Haji Manara was born for this job. He was an inspirational figure, giving hope even in circumstances where even the strain of our eyes could not discern it. During Haji Manara’s tenure as Simba’s mouthpiece, we witnessed Simba climbing the heights, and their formidable nemesis Yanga was on the receiving end.

For reasons which have struck us, personality clashes more than anything else between the Simba chiefs and Haji Manara, which had everything to do with his unique utterances Haji Manara was shown the exit door.

And, before we took a deep breath, digesting his options, Yanga came calling, and he was back to the microphone in his steady hand, doubling what Haji Manara loves to do, inspiring us to overcome our fears, real or imaginary and scale the heights. Whoever does not love him must be a very insecure person. l, and very jealous of Haji Manara’s diverse talents.

At Yanga, where his daddy earned lifetime accolades for himself, we saw a new Haji Manara doing what very few could emulate: sharing with the general public tidbits of Yanga few were even aware of. In his short stint, he promoted Yanga more than anyone we know.

Many Netizens would like to focus on Haji’s relationship escapades which are pragmatic and eyebrow raiser but even there. He showed the world that albinism is not what witch doctors would like us to believe: the people with albinism are everyday and ordinary people starved of keratin pigmentation. It is a skin disability, and like any disability, it has no evil within it needing exorcism or mining of its potential wealth.

All of Haji Manara’s interactions in society have been positive in reassuring all and sundry that albinism is normal and natural and should be embraced as it is without afflicting it with hate or greed.

TFF chiefs, for reasons best known to themselves, imposed the harshest penalties of indefinitely relieving him of his job at Yanga. We shall not inquire on the wisdom of subjecting him to lifetime joblessness, which is not permitted under most decisions we know of within the cycles of the commonwealth community. Every penalty must be laced with mercy, and that mercy attaches mitigation to all negativity associated with imposed sentences.

We highly recommend it is now high time for compassion and reinstating Haji Manara, back to Yanga, in promoting not only soccer but the welfare of albinism. We need him now more than ever, and the TFF bosses should have known better.

We need his smiles back. We need him to gift us with joy and the exhilaration of the game, and far more critically, we want him to eke out his living lest the TFF be accused of discrimination against people with albinism, an accusation TFF shall find hard to shrug off because nobody has been persecuted bt TFF more than Haji Manara!

Our niggling question remains, is Haji Manara being unfairly tormented because of his pigmentation? And why should he be deprived of his capability to make a living? We do not beam malice or spite from the TFF leadership. Still, we glean a lack of empathy against the predicaments accosting albinism, which in itself justifies dumping TFF leadership as it is currently constituted.

We are missing his passion for the game, his insights, which he shared willfully and his mercurial personality that has unglued the mystic behind albinism.

Also read Sports and Politics in Tanzania: Interdependent Allies or Distant Relations?

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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