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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Safarini Kigali!

Ndugu Wadadisi wa blogu hii kesho naelekea Kigali na Butare, Rwanda kwenda kujumuika, kuhuishwa na kudadisi. Kwa muda mrefu nimekuwa sana na hamu ya kuiona nchi hii ambayo ilijikita kwenye fikra zetu kwa namna ya pekee katikati ya miaka ya 90. Ni matumaini yangu kuwa nitapata mengi ya kusimulia kwenye blogu hii nikiwa huko au, Inshallah, nitakaporejea kutoka huko. Jalia na awabariki na kuwavusha salama salimini kuelekea mwaka mpya. Amen!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kulikoni kizazi cha MMEM/PEDP?

Matokeo ya darasa la 7 ya wale wanafunzi waliojiunga na darasa la kwanza mwaka ambao MMEM/PEDP ilianza rasmi, yaani 2001, yametolewa rasmi jana. Vyombo vya habari vimemkariri Waziri wa Elimu na Mafunzo ya Ufundi akitoa takwimu za matokeo hayo. Kwa kweli zinasikitisha. 54.18% ya wanafunzi 419,198 waliofanya mtihani ndio 'wamefaulu'. Inasemekana kuwa kiwango hiki kimeshuka kwa 16.3% kutoka kwenye kiwango cha 70.4% kilichorekodiwa mwaka jana.

Bila shaka wadadisi wa masuala ya elimu wameshaanza kugonganisha vichwa vyao kuhusu matokeo haya. Itakumbukwa kuwa kwa kipindi kirefu wadau wa Elimu kama vile TEN/MET na HAKIELIMU wamekuwa wakilivalia njuga suala la kuhakikisha kuwa 'Wingi wa wanafunzi'(Quantity)unaendana na 'Ubora wa Elimu '(Quality). Ni dhahiri kuwa matokeo haya ni uthibitisho tosha kuwa 'Elimu bora' ni muhimu kuliko 'Bora Elimu'.

Kwa uchambuzi wa changamoto/uwiano/ukinzani wa 'wingi na ubora' kwenye nyanja ya elimu soma makala ya 'Shall we address Mwalimu Nyerere's unanswered question' kwenye hifadhi ya blogu hii.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Utawitinesi kesi dhidi ya kiingereza kortini?

Kizazi kipya kinazidi kuingia deep katika kumuvuzisha maneno ya Kiingereza kwenye Kiswahili bila kujali kanuni za kutohoa. Ni dhahiri kuwa hali hii ndio 'imepelekea' ticha mmoja mdadisi aamue kutinga kortini kuinusuru jeneresheni hii ya bongo flava. Kwa mujibu wa gazeti la The Citizen la Jumatatu hii, mwalimu huyo ataishtaki Wizara ya Elimu na Mafunzo ya Ufundi kwa kukataa kwa makusudi kutumia lugha ya Kiswahili kufundishia katika ngazi zote za elimu nchini Tanzania. Amenukuliwa akisema kuwa watoto wetu na taifa 'limesafa sana' kutokana na hilo.

Inasemekana mwalimu huyu amefanya risechi mbalimbali na kuhojiana na wadau mbalimbali kupruvu athari zilizosababishwa na kufosi madenti wafundishwe kwa lugha ya Inglishi. Pia amefanya dibeti nyingi na madenti ambao wengi wao wamekiri kuwa wanapasi pepa kwa kuwa wanakremu. Ticha huyu aliyeritaya kufundisha sekondari anasisitiza kuwa ana sapoti ya nguvu kutoka kwa Baraza la Kiswahili (BAKITA).

Aironikali, gazeti la leo la The Citizen linaripoti kuwa Jaji mkuu wa Zanzibar ameishauri Serikali ikifanye Kiswahili kuwa lugha ya mawasiliano katika korti za Visiwani. Jaji huyo amekiri kuwa waendesha mashitaka wengi 'hawako vizuri' katika Kiingereza. Inasemekana kuwa advaisi yake iko paraleli na vyuz za Jaji mkuu wa Tanzania. Hakika chenchezi hizi zikitokea basi 'zitamwezesha' ticha kuishtaki vizuri Wizara husika kuhusu suala la lugha ya kufundishia. Mdadisi anauliza, je tutakwenda kuwa witinesi kwenye kesi hiyo au tutabakia kudadisi tu?

Kwa udadisi zaidi soma makala ya 'Can we teach what we don't know?' iliyohifadhiwa katika blogu hii - bado blogu ina changamoto ya kiteknolojia mambo yakiwa supa basi linki za makala hizi n.k. zitakuwa zinasetiwa humu humu ili msomaji uweze kuzibofya izili, yaani, kiurahisi.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wadadisi wa Nyamagana kutinga kortini!

Lile sakata la Nyamagana ambalo lidadisiwa jana katika blogu hii inasemekana limechukua sura mpya. Kwa mujibu wa The Citizen la leo wakazi wapatao 8 wa Mwanza watatinga kortini kesho ili kuzuia ujenzi wa hoteli ya 'nyota tano' inayotaka kujengwa na wawekezaji katika uwanja huu wa umma.

Kama ilivyokuwa enzi za mkoloni wa kale ambapo kwa namna moja au nyingine wananchi walipambana ili kulinda rasilimali zao hasa rasilimali 'mama', yaani ardhi, basi ndivyo ilivyo leo katika enzi za ukoloni mamboleo. Wakati wapo watu wanaoamini kuwa hakuna linalowezekana bado wapo wananchi ambao wanaamini kuwa hakuna lisilowezekana. Imani hii wameijenga kutokana na jinsi ambavyo historia ya kale na ya leo inavyoonesha kuwa inawezekana.

Kwa mfano kundi hili la wakazi wa Mwanza linanunukuliwa likisema kuwa licha ya kwenda kortini pia litatumia 'Nadharia ya Msitu wa Mabira' wakati wa mapambano ya kundi lao linalojiita 'Okoa Uwanja wa Nyamagana'. Kwa wale wafuatiliaji wa harakati za kulinda rasilimali basi watakumbuka kilichotokea mwaka huu huko Uganda ambapo wananchi wenye uchungu na nchi yao walisimama kidete kupinga jaribio la kuuza eneo la msitu wa Mabira kwa mwekezaji wa kigeni.

Wakati huohuo mahakama ya rufaa imeizuia kampuni ya simenti kuzihamisha familia 1,000 kutoka kwenye kijiji cha Chasimba. Hii nayo inathibitisha kuwa mapambano ya haki huzaa matunda. Hakika huu ni wakati wa wadadisi kuudadisi mfumo wa mgawanyo wa madaraka nchini na kupambana ili mahakama iwe na uhuru na nguvu ya kuhakikisha maamuzi yake yanatekelezwa bila kutoingiliwa na zile nguzo zingine' mbili za utawala, yaani 'Bunge' na 'Serikali'!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Heri Mkoloni wa Nyamagana?

Hayawi hayawi sasa tunaambiwa yamekuwa. Kwa mujibu wa gazeti la leo la The Citizen, uamuzi wa kuvunja uwanja wa kihistoria wa Nyamagana uliopo mjini Mwanza ili kuwapisha wawekezaji umekwishafikiwa. Uwanja huo ulisanifiwa enzi za mkoloni na Dokta John Thoburn Williamson wa Williamson Diamonds Limited. Uwanja huo ulijengwa mahsusi kwa ajili ya wakazi wa Mwanza ambao mababu na mabibi zao walipoteza maisha yao kwa ajili ya wakoloni kwenye Vita Kuu ya Pili. Hivyo, kwa kipindi kirefu wakazi wa mji huo, wakiwamo watoto, walikuwa na uhuru wa kuutumia uwanja huu. Je, sasa wataipata fursa hiyo lini, wapi, na vipi?

Katika dunia ya leo ya 'utandawazi' ambayo inahubiri kuwa wawekezaji wana wajibu kwa jamii (corporate social responsibility) kunakuwa na utata pale wawekezaji wanapowezeshwa kwa nguvu za dola kutoiwajibikia jamii. Mkoloni mmoja aliwahi kusisitiza kuwa hakuna kitu chochote kinachoweza kumfidia mwafrika aliyenyang'anywa ardhi yake. Kama wakoloni na ubaya wao wote waliweza kufikiria walau kidogo kuhusu wajibu kwa jamii waliyoitawala je tunapata picha gani kuhusu ukoloni mamboleo pale tunaposhuhudia ukikiuka hata misingi ya huduma kwa jamii iliyoachwa na ukoloni wa kale? Je, 'Heri Mkoloni kuliko Mkoloni Mamboleo'?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Imagine!

Imagine you are staying in a green house, imagine all the houses around you are green, and so are all the trees and flowers around. Just keep on imagining. Imagine you are also green and everyone around you is green. Now imagine your name is Green and everyone else is your namesake-no Mr., Mrs., Miss or baby Green, everyone one is just called Green! Come on stretch your literate mind! But dear reader you may ask, ‘what’s the point of this mental exercise?’ After all, what’s the use of imagining the unimaginable? What does this have to do with my life? Just bear with me because I hope at the end of this uncomfortable ‘imagination’ tour we would wake up from our comfortable corners and work hard to make our world a more comfortable place.

You would agree with me that the above ‘green’ world is unrealistic, and even if it would be realistic, then it would be totally chaotic! It would be indeed chaotic because everyone will always be stepping on other people’s toes! Someone once said that we only realize the importance of something when it is no longer there. In other words, we can just take things for granted. Some or most of us take for granted our diversity and some of us even go one step further in abusing this gift of diversity. That’s why I’ve invited you to just sit down for a moment and imagine a world without diversity!

But what exactly is diversity? Is it all about diverting us due to our differences or is it about finding harmony in complementary varieties? While not ignoring or denying the former, I opt for the latter. I strongly believe that diversity is meant to unite us more than divide us. I believe it’s there to bring perfection and not chaos. I don’t know which model of the ‘origin of life’ you subscribe to, but according to the one I subscribe to, i.e. the “Creation model,’ a Master Designer created varieties for the good of humanity. Just imagine all roses being yellow- who would love a date without a red rose? Just imagine all mountains were volcanic-who would tell the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro? Just imagine all humans were adults-who would sing a sweet lullaby to that cute baby? Just imagine a world with men only, just imagine a world with women only-what a monotonous world that would be! Just imagine!

I don’t want to live in that chaotic and monotonous world. I believe it’s the same to you. I guess you don’t even want to think about it, save alone imagine it! But I would like to ask you, aren’t we living in that world? If not, why do we keep on hearing alarming statistics all the time; Children are abused many a times; women are raped day and night; people are racially discriminated everyday; various languages, arts, animals and even plants are getting extinct at an shocking rate! Aren’t we getting more and more selfish, or to be politically correct, more ‘individualistic?’ What is happening to the old adage, “united we stand, divided we fall’? Of course I mean united in a good cause for many a people throughout history have done harm in the name of unity! Are we doing something, and if not, can we do something?

Can something be done? I don’t want to be a mere optimist; neither do I want to sound as a total pessimist here. I only want to be as realistic as possible. I strongly believe that you and I can do something. Note I said ‘something’ and not ‘everything’, that’s what I mean by not being a mere optimist! We can do our part in making use of diversity as a stepping-stone in making our world a better place. This not a time to let the rule of the jungle governs. This is not a time to sit down and say, “what can one person do?” neither is it a time to say, “I, even I, can do everything by myself!” This is the time to stand up as realists and do something-Colonies stood up against colonialism in their time, and something was done; Women right activists stood against disfranchisement in their time, and something was done; yes, it’s a historical fact that, when people stand up for a good cause in their time, something is done-it’s time to stand up in our time and make a difference.

One President once told the youth of his nation not to ask what their nation can do for them but to ask what they can do for their nation. I believe this injunction is still valid to us today, but in a bigger context: what can we do for humanity? What can we do to help our sick world? Is there anything good we can do to break the stereotypes we have internalized as defense mechanisms for shutting out those we consider not of our kind from us? I have to admit that I also don’t know which model you use to describe our “human nature,” but according to the model I subscribe to, we as humans are fallen and thus not self-sufficient in this business of doing something good for humanity and being unconditionally good to humanity. We often do good things with wrong motives. That’s why we don’t only need

Author: Chambi Chachage
Source: Miscellaneous Student Magazines, 2002-2005
Acknowledgement: I owe this title to the late John Lennon

Whither African Universities?

Ranking universities has become a universal yearly ritual. This is particularly true in a highly globalizing world that promotes competitiveness. Almost everything, from beauty to mediocrity, is comparatively paraded in global stages.

Thus, we had to be treated with another list of the world’s top universities lest we celebrate a new year without putting our universities in their proper place. This time Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) stole the show. Its fourth edition of ‘World University Rankings’ “confirms the message of earlier editions: the world’s top universities, on a number of measures, are in the English-speaking world.”

The phrase ‘English-speaking world’ could tempt you to think the list has a number of universities from ‘Anglophone Africa.’ But, alas, when you scroll down the list of the top 100 university you won’t encounter such a university. You will have to consult an expanded list of top 200 universities. Even this one will keep you scrolling down until you reach the end. There you will find the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Interestingly, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of UCT asserts that “international rankings are becoming increasingly important in a global education market". He believes that the rating bears out UCT’s “mission to be an African university of international repute.” His Deputy Vice-Chancellor is equally jubilant. To her, the ranking reflects UCT’s “international reputation for academic excellence.”

I can hardly tell if there was a moment of critical reflection on this ranking with respect to the state of African universities. Here I am not referring to a complex critique of its universalistic methodology. Neither am I referring to a convoluted critique of its global theoretical viewpoint. I am simply referring to a reflection on why, relatively, many African countries are not investing heavily on university education.

Interestingly, THES give us one of the keys to success. “Although heavily dependent on state funding”, its editorial declares, the world’s top “university are independent of governments”. Herein lie obscured the paradox of neo-liberal reforms of education in Africa. Ironically, our critical scholars did their homework of unmasking this obscurity while we were contemplating reforms. But did we hearken to them?

In the 1980s these scholars argued against reforms that aimed at reducing the role of the state in providing social services such as education. They foresaw that cost-sharing would transform education from an accessible public right to an exclusive private accessory. Hence they questioned studies that called for a restructuring of education according to the dictates of International Financial Institutions. One notable critic reminds us that these studies included World Bank ones such as ‘Issues Related to Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa’ and ‘Financing Education in Developing Countries’.

As they rummaged through these studies, the critics discovered that the “World Bank envisioned a stage whereby ‘programs or centres of excellence’ would replace the present university systems.” No wonder, Mwalimu Nyerere lamented that “they do not allow their firms to die out so why should they wish that ours collapse!” One can only imagine what went on the critics’ minds as they observed donors pumping in money to set up think tank institutions as prototypes of such centres. I wonder how they felt when their fellow academicians flocked to these technocratic centres in search of greener pastures.

The cyclic crises in Tanzanian universities are tied to that tragic historical legacy of ignoring our critical African scholars. You can see it through this official response regarding the issue of Ardhi University students who boycotted classes to demands for project allowances: “the allowance issue should have been directed to the Higher Education Loans Board” (The Citizen 28/11/2007).

The legacy is at work when a deputy vice chancellor attributes poor examination results to the admission of science students with poor qualification: “We have problems with science teachers in the country, so even when enrolling students in the faculty of science we consider that aspect” (The Citizen 24/08/2007)

You can also see this legacy through the concern of a respected legislator who told the parliament that he “was shocked too see in the prospectus of one of our universities half of its senior lecturers with degree qualifications from suspect online institutions” (The Citizen 19/04/2007).

A great thinker observed that “no prophet is accepted in his country”. Perhaps we take this statement as a credo and ignore prophetic critiques of our reforms. It could be that in doing so we forget that the thinker did not imply that we should not accept prophets from our countries.

As far as African universities are concerned our critics as still offering us evidence-based prophecies. Two volumes entitled ‘African Universities in the Twenty-First Century’ subtitled ‘Liberalisation and Internationalisation’ and ‘Knowledge and Society’ respectively attest to this. We don’t have to be like the king who did not want to listen to a prophet just because his prophecies were not too good to be true.

Let us fulfill this prophecy from ‘Beyond Afropessimism: Historical Accounting of African Universities’: “The challenges facing African universities are serious and disquieting, but higher education in Africa has a long history and will have a long future. And the onus for ensuring that such a future is a healthy and productive one lies primarily with African leaders, educators, and scholars, who cannot afford the morbid indulgence of Afropessimism.”

Author: Chambi Chachage
Source: The Citizen 30/11/07

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shall we address Mwalimu Nyerere's unanswered question?

14 October 2007 marks the eighth Nyerere Day. Once again we commemorate the life and times of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the founding President of Tanzania. It is an opportunity for our society to reflect on the thoughts of one of its key social thinkers.

This week we rethink Nyerere’s passion. One of the things that Nyerere, fondly called Mwalimu i.e. Teacher, had a lifelong passion for was primary education. He endlessly thought about it, talked about it, wrote about it and probably dreamt about it. It is not surprising then that two volumes of ‘Nyerere on Education’ are attributed to him.

Mwalimu raised significant questions about primary education. He also attempted to provide answers or at least chart out solutions. His mind particularly wrestled with that old problem that has assailed educationalists since independence. That is, the problem of balancing quantity and quality in primary education.

How does a country with limited educational resources provide education services in large quantity without compromising the quality of the services? Quantity or quality, which one do you choose when it seems you cannot have both? The question has proved to be stably divisive.

There are those who, in line with one World Bank representative, would rather wrestle with the issue of quality when school-aged children are in schools and not out of schools. Thus, one does not have to put on hold the large ‘quantity’ of school-aged children who need to be enrolled in schools until the provision of quality education is assured.

Then there are those who, as Mwalimu said, would argue that “when public resources are scant, it is absurd for a government to continue wasting money on pretence of educating everyone and thus being unable to give a good education to anyone.”

To do away with this absurdity, the argument continues, we should mainly focus on quality. Quantitatively, it means providing education to a reasonable number of children. Qualitatively, this translates to minimizing student-teacher ratios, increasing student-book ratios and improving other qualitative aspects. And all this at the expense of ensuring that primary education, whether of good quality or not, is available to every child.

How do we balance these contending views and get a win-win situation? While we celebrate our quantitative strides toward achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE), we better ask ourselves: How do we ensure that the Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP) is not only about numbers of classrooms built and children enrolled? How can we make PEDP pays equal, or even more, attention to the provision of adequate quality books, qualified teachers and teaching equipment?

‘What has been Achieved in Primary Education? Key Findings from Government Review October 2007’ reveals they way we address Nyerere’s concern. One disturbing revelation is the wide variation in the percent of PEDP funds released from the approved budget amounts in the financial year 2005/2006 for its various strategic components. This is particularly disturbing because only 89.4 percent of the approved funds were released.

When it comes to the personnel emolument component of PEDP, 100 percent of Tsh 237,377,962,000 was released. In terms of percent, this is not very far from the 98. 9 percent of Tsh 33,370,210,800 released for other charges/admin. However, for quality improvement only 60.5 percent of Tsh 95,023,895,400 was released. This percent is a far cry from the 96.5 percent of Tsh 33, 616, 453, 970 released for enrolment expansion.

To add quantity of salt to the injury of quality we are told that a government report stated that the funding gap “was due to non fulfillment of commitments made by Development Partners.” So much for shelving Mwalimu’s policy of ‘Education for Self-Reliance’!

Mwalimu did not claim to have answers to the quality vis-à-vis quantity problematic. He attempted to address it again in ‘Education and Development in Africa’. But, alas, he ended putting it in more dilemmatic terms:

“And in Africa if every child does not go to school those to be left out will be mostly the girls. Yet primary education for all, at least in Africa, requires full commitment from the state. The fact remain, however, it is possible for government to choose only between evils. A pretence of universal education – whether it be primary or secondary – is itself evil: is it any better than finding some way of giving a modern education to a few through some system of selection?”

Mwalimu’s question remains unanswered. The search for answers, he insisted, will have to continue. And to plan is to choose, he kept reminding us. As we rethink PEDP and our ‘Education and Training Policy’ we ought to keep in mind the urgent need to balance quantity and quality in education.

Author: Chambi Chachage
Source: The Citizen 12/10/07

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Are we taught to know or ignore?

The language debate has gained new momentum. However, its main theme is the same: the usage of Kiswahili as a medium of instruction in our entire education system. Its key players are also the same: politicians and professionals.

It is one thing to gain new momentum. It is another thing to get new direction. This ought to be our concern as we join another round of the seemingly never-ending debate. We need to be clear about the ground that has been covered and pitfalls that remain to be filled.

The parliamentary debate in the August assembly gives us a glimpse. The deputy leader of the opposition camp asked if the Ministry of Information, Sports and Culture had a timeframe for switching to Kiswahili as a medium of instruction in the education system. Echoing the clarification given by the Minister of Education and Vocational Training in April, the deputy minister of the former ministry affirmed that the government has not yet decided.

It was reported that the deputy minister went on to stress that deciding to use Kiswahili is a complex issue. As such, it involves a number of stakeholders. Hence his ministry was in the process of communicating with other ministries so as to reach a collective decision. However, he cautioned that the change would be expensive and take time.

What is particularly striking is that the debate seems to depart from its traditional deadlock. Here I am referring to the Kiswahili versus English argumentation which has bedeviled it for quite some time. It appears as if the debate is no longer stuck on whether we should either stick to English or switch to Kiswahili. Hence it is tempting to conclude that it is heading toward the direction of how and when - rather than why - should we effect the change.

To the optimist advocates of the use of a language that can easily be understood and hence transfer knowledge readily, the change of direction could be a promising restart. However, for pessimist advocates of the same course, this could be another doomed false start.

Optimists may assert that yielding to Kiswahili is an outcome of research influence. These include pioneering studies under the aegis of Baraza la Kiswahili Tanzania (BAKITA) and relatively new ones under the Language of Instruction in Tanzania and South Africa (LOITASA) project. All have consistently shown that there is little, if any, knowledge transfer between most teachers and students due to mutual limited English proficiency.

Pessimists might argue that we have been there before. As an example, they could cite the 1983 controversial policy revert to English at the eleventh hour. English still reigns, they may add, even though this is the tenth year since the 1997 Cultural Policy stated that a “special plan to enable the use of Kiswahili as a medium of instruction in education and training at all levels shall be designed and implemented.”

It is quite possible that politicians and policymakers are overwhelmed with the weight of evidence regarding the importance of switching to Kiswahili. Most of them have gone through the same Babel and can therefore relate to its reality. If I was one of them I wouldn’t need any more evidence than my own experience to be convinced.

One day my teacher wrote this definition on the blackboard: “Species are groups of organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile of spring.” I knew the meanings of fertile and spring. But I couldn’t figure out how they fit in. Anyway, I memorized and reproduced it in the examination. As you can guess, I got it right.

It was only later, much later, when I came to know what species are. Actually, they produce fertile offspring. I don’t know whether it was my teacher’s fault or mine. What I know is that as a boy I frustratingly tried to breed fish. But, alas, they produced infertile offspring! I didn’t know why. What a missed opportunity to relate what I was taught with what I practiced! I wonder if my teacher taught what she knew.

Teaching is primarily about imparting knowledge. When you teach someone to cook ugali what matters mostly is that s/he ends up knowing how to cook ugali. Language is only a medium to facilitate knowledge exchange. And the efficient medium is the one that knowledge users know reasonably well.

Could it be that we have politicized language at the expense of professionalizing it. Are we trying too hard to know the form to the extent that we ignore the content?

Author: Chambi Chachage
Source: The Citizen 17/08/07

Monday, November 12, 2007

What makes you more Tanzanian?

As soon as Miss Tanzania 2007 was announced on Saturday night two phone messages woke me up: “Gosh the new Miss Tanzania is Indian!”; “Wow I can’t believe it, a new Tanzania is possible!” They reminded me of the nagging question of what it means to be Tanzanian.

The question is subtly insinuated in many occasions as if its answer is a given and questioning it is a taboo. This is at work when someone, seeing people with stereotypical Asian features celebrate fervently the triumph of our national soccer team, exclaims “and these too!” It also operates when some employers with these features asserts that employees judge them as being overbearing simply on the basis of their color.

These examples suggest that a question mark over our national identity is a norm rather than an exception. If racial identification is on the rise, as some members of minority groups assert, then it is important to unpack this Pandora’s box of fragmented identities in constructive ways. But, you may ask, where do we start?

When Tanzania was formed in 1964 it was a mosaic of cultures, communities and colours. National building, as it was patriotically called then, was a priority. In Tanganyika race was the primary criterion for determining social, political and economic status since the turn of the 20th century. Before independence, as the author of ‘Who are Indigenous Tanzanians? Competing Conception of Tanzanian Citizenship in the Business Community’ notes, Tanganyika was segregated into three distinct groups.

The first group, which was primarily European, enjoyed full privileges of British citizenship. Most Asians comprised the second group and were treated as second-class citizens i.e. British-protected persons. The last group, the natives or Africans, were more subjects than citizens. Needless to say, this preferential treatment fermented resentment.

In 1961 the division was so deep to the extent that the Citizenship Bill was considerably opposed in the legislature. The Prime Minister spoke emotionally against opponents who sought to base citizenship on colour rather than loyalty to our country. He warned that “because of the situation we have inherited in this country, where economic classes are also identical with race, that we live on dynamite, that it might explode any day, unless we do something about it.” We indeed did something. But was/is it enough?

The dynamite tend to explode periodically, albeit partially. In 1993 it was loud enough to make one student write a first class dissertation. He dubbed it ‘The Resurgence of Racial Tensions in Tanganyika 1991-1994: The Gabacholi Phenomenon.” It took one racially charged speech, he observed, to spark the stoning of some cars. And one act of removing street vendors from Kariakoo ignited a rampage in which some shops were plundered. In both cases mobs targeted properties of people with stereotypical Asian features.

Bitter quarrels over the victory of Miss Tanzania might be yet another warning tip of our racial iceberg. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then it can help us detect remaining racialist landmines. When we wish these racist explosives away we overlook that any Tanzanian has multiple identities. Hence we run the risk of detonation. If we do not honestly deactivate them then one day they may fully explode.

I am not a beauty pageant fan as far as cultural imperialism is concerned. Perhaps that is why I was asleep during the contest. But I believe in matriotism/patriotism with respect to our national welfare. Hence I find these statements from someone who plans to support people in hardship and orphans highly patriotic/matriotic: “I am a Tanzanian”; “My colour is not a problem”; “I call on all Tanzanians to join hands in my social activities”; “I am taking the crown with a strong determination to promote my country.” What more are we asking from her?

I once alluded to an advert that appeared in a highly race conscious country. It flashes a question, ‘what makes you African?’ Then it shows an African albino and asks, ‘is it the colour of your skin?’ It goes on to show Africans with blond hairs, blue eyes and other stereotypical European features. I argued that this highlights how we can take certain definitions for granted and makes us rethink such complex identities.

Let us rethink multifaceted meanings of being Tanzanian. We can do so by asking why certain citizens with stereotypical European or Asian features are viewed as being more Tanzanians than some of us who claim to be indigenous. Isn’t it because they are more matriotic/patriotic than those who plunder Tanzania at the expense of fellow citizens?

Author: Chambi Chachage
Source: The Citizen 07/09/07

Is outsourcing our government an option?

At last we have come to the close of an eventful month. August has treated us with many surprises. Some passed unnoticed. Others still linger in our minds.

As we were busy disputing a government minister’s role in Buzwagigate, our former Premier added fuel to the fiery debate. In an interview with the Sunday Citizen (26.08.07), he revealed a startling secret. For all those 10 years as a Premier he was blind to the real causes of poverty!

“During my leadership,” he confessed, “I was always wondering why, despite all the efforts we were making in the government plus the support from donor community, we remained a very poor nation with living conditions deteriorating everyday. But today I see clearly what the problem is.”

Ironically, it only took a year at Harvard University to cure his blindness. This is ironic because many Tanzanian thinkers and policy advisors have been educated at Harvard or similar liberal institutions. When the Premier was in power some of them went as far as producing a multi-sectoral analysis of ‘Why is Tanzania still Poor 40 Years after Independence?’ Some even participated in formulating the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (Mkukuta).

In surprising moments likes these it is tempting to think of outrageous ideas. After all in a country with a constitution that advocates freedom of expression, we are free to think. Isn’t that one of the rights we fought for during independence? With this disclaimer, what I have in mind is the often concealed idea of re-colonization. Who said the call for a return to colonialism is only whispered in corridors of diehard colonialists?

I have encountered the re-colonization idea in many guises. The first time was in secondary school. In what was the most vibrant class, our Kiswahili teacher introduced a new text. It instantly sparked a lively debate on the poor condition of Tanzania. To her dismay some students argued that as far as development is concerned it is better to be re-colonized. Then one day I overheard a couple of elderly folks asserting that although colonialists whipped and forced them to work hard, at least they developed the country.

In another instance I reviewed a book with elaborate plans of outsourcing executive and judiciary arms of African states. The author, a Tanzanian, argues that if we do so the foreign administrators who win the bid will run our governments efficiently. This will be based on renewable contracts and our sovereignty would be safeguarded by legislatures.

The re-colonization thesis is usually supported by controversial evidence or rhetorical questions. You go to Kigoma and you are shown remains of German colonialism. Then you are asked to compare them with whatever our government has built since independence. You pass through defective railways in Kilimanjaro and you are told that the last time they were repaired was during British colonialism. Then you are asked how many railways has the independent government built anyway.

What is puzzling about nostalgic feelings for colonialism is their resonance with what is going on. Citizens are invited to Mkukuta meetings and to their surprise they witness foreign poverty advisors presiding as minds of the government while local experts fold their hands silently. Tanzanians attempt to have policy dialogues with the government but to their surprise they first have to engage with foreign policy advisors masquerading as government spokespersons. In these circumstances who wouldn’t wonder whether we have started outsourcing our government?

As the Sunday Citizen notes, the former Premier’s confession has kick started an interesting debate on whether those who are governing are equipped well enough to understand exactly our problems and their solutions. It is important for the debate to be open enough to accommodate outrageous ideas. This way we can be well informed about subtle ideas that might turn into injurious ideologies if they evade us.

The idea of re-colonization is creeping just like the way the idea of colonialism crept. The latter was bolstered by the civilization mission and scientific racism. The former is reinforced by the liberalization mission and technocratic indoctrination. Both intend to change our mindset.

While promoting freedom of thought we ought to be thoughtful enough not to take independence for granted. Let us remember Mwalimu Nyerere’s words: “The British used to say ‘you people can’t be independent because you don’t have this, you don’t have that, you don’t have the other thing.’ I’d say this is rubbish.” As a people we have our collective mind. Surely we can use it independently to govern our country.

Author: Chambi Chachage
Source: The Citizen 31/08/07

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