Tired of Unity and Peace? Who Bewitched Tanzania?

Mwalimu Nyerere
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For scripture regulars, Paul’s letters to young churches usually speak with love and praise, but his letter to Galatians is full of exasperation, disappointment, and even anger. My article today falls in the latter. Just like this man of God, I am also thwarted by fellow Tanzanians.

At the peak of his anger Paul writes, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

Paul isn’t simply upset because he feels that he has been let down by his protégés, but is despairing because this act of turning away from God, of turning back to ritualistic practices, has severe spiritual consequences, and he wants to protect the Galatians from straying too far.

I am dropping the word ‘foolish’ in my plea to Tanzanian brothers and sisters not because it’s irrelevant, and it’s only that mine, unlike Paul’s, is not an authoritative voice.  I can bet my little finger that Mwalimu Nyerere wouldn’t have hesitated to use the term ‘wapumbavu’ given our current trends towards peace and unity of Mama Tanzania.

Reflecting on Tanzania’s National Values and Legacy

So I am politely asking, “Dear Tanzanians, who hath bewitched you that you no longer value or even care about the pride of your nation, unity, and peace? Is what you are doing today the right way to honor the sweat and effort of our founding fathers to forge unity and tranquility? Are you tired of living together in peace and harmony to this extent?

Of the remarkable achievements of Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy is to mold the freed massive piece of land called Tanganyika, with geographic boundaries drawn by our colonial masters, into a nation.

In his farewell speech to the Parliament of Tanzania on July 27th, 1985 Mwalimu reminded the Member of Parliament and wananchi that the most critical task for him and for the people of the then Tanganyika was that of building a united nation on the basis of human equality and dignity. This was a reference of what he set as a main nation agenda on his inaugural address in 1962. The theme of unity was again his central agenda when addressed the parliament on April, 25th, 1964  asking for the ratification of the agreement to unite the then two independent countries, Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

And on that July day, 1985, when bidding farewell to the member of parliament after his decision to retire, he looked back satisfied with the achievement of the most critical mission he assigned himself and his government. He said, “I believe I can say, without hesitation, that, in this most basic of all our objectives, we have a great reason for pride after less than 25 years. We do have a Nation – a united Nation. We do have a Nation based on principles of human equality. And we have made great progress towards making that equality a reality.”

It’s my hope that we can all recall with clarity that 10 years down the lane, towards the first multiparty general elections of 1995, Mwalimu Nyerere warned of the famous four cracks that were keeping our beloved nation on the verge of breaking. He named them religiosity, tribalism, corruption, and narrow nationalism towards utangayika and uzanzibari. Majority of us were of the same opinion that these threatening cracks unfolding in our unity must be fought fiercely from all costs, for they are of no public interest except for cheap politicians who use these strings for their own ends.

Mwalimu Nyerere never ceased to remind us that we were a people divided by race and religion at independence. The independent Tanganyika inherited a legal and customary discrimination of race and religion. In the attempt to unify the country with more than 120 tribes into one nation, purposeful and momentous measures were taken to set the direction of the newly born country struggling to build a nation. To safeguard the visualized unity, Tanganyika and later Tanzania was made a secular state by constitutions of the nation and the ruling party and, most importantly, by firm and consistent practices.

Individual wananchi have their religious beliefs, which are fully respected, but the state has no religion. Individuals elected or assigned to public offices continue in their duties regardless of their personal religious beliefs, for they were elected or chosen on the basis of their qualifications and commitment to serving the people and the nation. This was the Tanzania we knew, the one we were proud of, and even our neighbors envied us for that.

This means that the unity we are enjoying in our nation is not the result of endless effort and firm practices that were employed and accepted by the people. This united nation, which Mwalimu Nyerere asked us to be proud of, did not emerge from thin air and won’t last forever if measures to save it from harm are not consistently implemented.

The current generation of Tanzania seems to have borrowed a leaf from a kid who cried for a razor blade, and fate wouldn’t hesitate to give it to this stubborn child. We give the impression that we are tired of our nation’s current peaceful situation and unity. We look as if we are envying the countries engulfed in conflicts and how sweet and pleasant it would be to live in a quarreling country.

The Bandari saga has shaken us to the core; we gladly pollinate our division. We no longer allow different opinions amidst us. Whoever holds a different point of view is branded as either an enemy of the state or a puppet of the government.

We forget that debates, discussions, and differing opinions are integral to the democracy we are trying to build.  If a Christian offers an opinion that contradicts the other, we judge him/her through his religious brief. If we differ in opinion with a Muslim, we judge him/her by binocular of the belief they confess. If it happens that we belong to the same religious belief, the goalposts are shifted to the origin of the person. Is this person from Zanzibar or Tanganyika? Then we judge his argument through utangayika or uzanzibari.

I want to learn from you who fuels this divisive debate. What is that you get that is more valuable than the unity and peace of Mama Tanzania?  Why attack personalities instead of discussing issues? What do we want to suggest? That our mental and thinking capacity has dwindled down? At 60-plus years old as a nation, aren’t we ashamed to fuelling religiosity, tribalism, and place of origin?

Suppose some of the elites of the society, journalists, lawyers, intellectuals, decision-makers, and people from all walks of the working class are all mamzi ga nyanza. In that case, they are as divisive as everybody else. Who is going to save this nation from the road of destruction we are destined to?

Who is bewitching us so we knowingly or unknowingly long for our destruction?  Is it positions or money, or it’s about prestige? How satisfied will you be if you get all these at the cost of destroying our only nation?

No, guys, I say big NO. Let’s go back to our senses. Tomorrow’s generation needs a united and peaceful Tanzania like we inherited from our founding fathers. These practices we are entertaining of moving astray from our nation’s founding principles neither will nor pass without consequences. The effort we are employing to take us back to customary discrimination will spare none of us.

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