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Monday, December 29, 2008

What a Happy 2009 New Year Card!

Wishing you a most productive 2009….and may all your calculus [is it?] problems be easier than this one….!

Calculus Copied Card Courtesy Of Family Friends

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mwaka unaishia tumejifunza ujasiri au ubwege?

Mwaka 2008 ndio huo unazidi kututupa mkono. Maandalizi ya kuuaga mwaka yameshaanza kwa kishindo. Pilikapilika za kufunga haraka mahesabu ya mwaka nazo zinaendelea kwa kasi mpya.

Kabla shamrashamra za kuukaribisha mwaka 2009 hazijaanza ni vyema tukajikumbusha yale yaliyojiri mwaka huu. Na si kujikumbusha tu bali pia kutathmini ni nini hasa tumejifunza katika kipindi hiki. Katika kufanya hivyo tuzingatie kuwa maarifa ni yale mafunzo tunayoyakumbuka.

Tuanzie Bungeni. Pengine funzo kubwa kuliko yote tulilolipata ni kuwa sisi Watanzania sio mabwege tena. Funzo hili linatokana na kauli ya aliyekuwa Mwenyekiti wa Kamati Teule ya Bunge ya Kuchunguza Sakata la Richmond, Mheshimiwa Dakta Harrison Mwakyembe (MB).

Kwa mbwembwe nyingi, Mbunge huyo wa Kyela aliisoma ripoti hiyo mbele ya halaiki iliyojumuisha wabunge na wananchi tuliokuwa tukimsikiliza kupitia runinga na redio. Siku hiyo vilabu vya pombe viligeuka kumbi za kusikiliza Bunge. Inasemekana hata kipindi maarufu cha Ze Komedi kilishuka chati kwa jinsi Watanzania tulivyopania kujua sababu hasa ya kuwa gizani.

Hakika ripoti hiyo ilitutoa matongotongo. Kwa mara ya kwanza tulijiona sote tuko nyuma ya mapazia tukishuhudia tulivyoingizwa mjini. Tukaambiwa huo tuliousikia ndio ujasiri wa kifisadi.

Aliyekuwa Waziri Mkuu akalazimika kujiuzulu. Nchi ikatikisika. Rais wetu akalazimika kulivunja baraza lake la mawaziri kwa mujibu wa katiba ya nchi yetu. Kimya kikakataa kutanda.

Mjadala mkali ukazuka kuhusu kilichojiri. Wapo waliosema kuwa wizi wa Richmond ulikuwa ni wa kitoto. Alaa kumbe kuna wizi wa kikubwa! Wapo pia waliosema kuwa huo wizi ni wa Kidato cha Nne. Lo kumbe wizi wa mitihani ndio kiwango cha chini kabisa cha utaalamu wa kifisadi!

Tukajadili hadi tukagundua kuwa tulijiachia sana mpaka mafisadi wakawa na ujasiri wa kufanya wizi ambao haujaenda shule. Kwa kuwa hakukuwa na wa kumfunga paka kengele basi mafisadi waliweza kuingia mpaka jikoni na kufanya wanachotaka bila kizuizi chochote. Kumbe upole na ubwege ulitukolea wee mpaka mafisadi wakawa hawaogopi kuvunja sheria zetu kirahisirahisi tu.

Kwa ujasiri wa kizalendo, tukaungana na wanakamati wateule kuapa kuwa hakutatokea tena skendo ya kifisadi kama ya Richmond. Tukasubiria kwa hamu sana utekelezaji wa mapendekezo ya kamati. Kwa utulivu,Waziri Mkuu mpya akatuelezea Bungeni kuhusu utekelezaji ulipofikia.

Wapo walioridhika na jinsi ripoti yake ilivyoonesha jinsi utekelezaji unavyokwenda hatua kwa hatua. Lakini wapo walioiona kuwa ni kiinimacho tu cha kuvuta muda. Pia wapo walioona kuwa utekelezaji huo ni sehemu tu ya utamaduni wa kulindana, kutowajibika na kutupiana majukumu.
Pamoja na kuwa na maoni tofauti, kwa ujumla tunaendelea kusubiri mpaka tuone hatma ya utekelezaji wa mapendekezo ya kamati hiyo ya aina yake. Tumejiaminisha kuwa sisi Watanzania sio mabwege tena japo bado tu wavumilivu. Ndio maana safari hii tumeshtukia mapema dili la kutaka kununua mitambo ya umeme ya yule aliyekuwa mrithi wa Richmond, yaani, Dowans.

Naam tunajiaminisha kuwa sisi Watanzania sio mabwege tena ndio maana tumezuia dili la kutorosha mitambo ya umeme ya Aggreko ambayo inasemekana haijatulipa kodi ya shilingi bilioni 10. Hakika tunaamini tumeupa talaka uvumilivu wa kibwege ndio maana tunahoji huyu Kagoda huyu hivi ni mnyama gani na sasa tunaanza kupata majibu kutoka hapa, pale na kule.

Lakini mazoea hujenga tabia. Na tabia za muda mrefu hazifi kirahisi. Hivyo, bado chembechembe za woga wa kibwege bado zinatusongasonga Watanzania. Bado tuna uwili wa popo. Tuna ujasiri wa kuhoji kilichofanyika ila bado tuna ubwege wa kutohoji kinachofanyika.

Tuna ujasiri wa kuhoji kwa nini imechukua miaka mingi kuchunguza matumizi mabaya ya madaraka na ubadhirifu ili kufungua mashtaka fulani. Lakini tuna ubwege wa kutohakikisha kuwa taarifa za Mkaguzi wa Hesabu za Serikali kuhusiana na udhibiti wa matumizi hayahaya mabaya ya madaraka na ubadhirifu zinafanyiwa kazi vilivyo leo, kesho na keshokutwa.

Ndio, tuna ujasiri wa kuhoji kama fedha ilizochota Kagoda kwenye EPA pale BOT kweli zilitumiwa na chama fulani cha kisiasa. Lakini tuna ubwege wa kutohakikisha kuwa maagizo ya taarifa za Mkaguzi wa Hesabu za Serikali kuhusu Msajili wa Vyama vya Siasa inayojumuisha rekodi za vyama hivyo yanatekelezwa mwaka huu, mwaka kesho na mwaka keshokutwa.

Undumilakuwili huu wa kuchanganya ujasiri na ubwege ndio unatufanya tusite kufanya mabadiliko ya sheria ya vyama vya siasa na sheria zinazohusu uhuru wa habari. Uwili huo popo ndio unatufanya tusuesue kuleta mabadiliko ya kikatiba. Tunaogopa sana. Hatuogopi kidogo.

Kwaheri mwaka 2008. Asante kwa kutufundisha a be che de za ujasiri wa kibwege. Karibu mwaka 2009. Njoo utufunde a b c za ubwege wa kijasiri.

Mwandishi: Chambi Chachage
Chanzo: Mwananchi 23/12/08

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Becoming Samia Nkrumah

We, in Africa as in elsewhere, indeed need to to move away from 'politics by association'. But in our quest to do so let us not forget that actually some associations are legacies of our movements against 'politics by association' dictated by the 'imperial/global status quo'. Within the context of Obamamania and the quest for a post-racial world, we only need to re-read how Nkrumah's marriage was a huge political statement to a (then?) highly polarized world that pitted Pan-Africanism against Pan-Arabism, Blacks against Whites, Women against Men, the West against the Rest/East and the "I" against the "We".

The private/personal, feminists remind us, is political. Yet, to the apoliticized individual self, marriage is supposed to be a personal/private matter. But in this case the marriage was more of a public/political matter - it intended to show that Pan-Humanism is possible even in the so-called binary world. That is why the rise of Samia Nkrumah could and can be seen as a symbolic move toward the realization of an inclusive humanity - the one Frantz Fanon cried for when he, in effect, said that the dehumanized humans only want it to be possible for them to discover and to love humans wherever they may be!

"When Kwame Nkrumah married his Egyptian bride, Miss Fathia Halen Ritzk, in a surprise wedding," notes the New African of February 2006, "British and American authorities were sent into a panic as they feverishly sought to determine what the political implications were". On that issue, the New African columnist, Carina Ray, unearth a lot of political exchanges from the archives to prove that it was indeed The marriage that sent the West into panic. For instance, she observe that the then British High Commissioner in Accra, Sir Ian Maclennan, informed the Commonwealth Relations Officer (CRO) "that there were 'no doubt' that Prime Minister Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt hoped to 'build something on the foundation of the marriage.'"

"To support that claim", Carina Ray further notes, "Maclennan reported that shortly after the wedding, Nasser had 'sent a special emissary to Accra to invest Nkrumah with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Nile." In that archived exchange, Maclennan thus accused Nkrumah of hypocricy for accepting Nasser's tribute: "It is ...amusing that [Nkrumah] should himself become the first exception to the rule which he laid down after independence that Ghanaians were not to accept foreign orders and decorations". In the context of Nkrumah's vision of a United States of Africa, one wonders if he indeed saw Egypt as a foreign country - the very Egypt whose grand ancient civilization Africa was working so hard to reclaim from Europe as its very own!

The 'omnipresent-wannabe' CIA was also not left behind. Carina Ray notes that the US State Department and the CIA sought verification from British officials in Washington of what it referred to as a rumor that "Dr Nkrumah felt he was getting too tied up with Israel and as a balancing measure indented on Cairo for 'one bride, sight unseen'". But a picture of the couple in Kente is a 'sight seen'. Indeed the discourse of the veil predates US' 'war on terror'.

Interestingly, Carina Ray's Tales from the Archives, notes that the former governor of the then Gold Coast as Ghana was once known, Sir Arden-Clarke, told the CRO that he believed the marriage was the "bright idea" of George Padmore. By the way, this long-term friend and adviser of Nkrumah from his revolutionary days in London, UK, was the one who wrote that famous book on Pan-Africanism or Communism? after being frustrated by the way the Marxist movement he worked so hard to organize in Europe was paying lip service to the 'class-cum-racial' plight of Africans in the continent and its diaspora. "Padmore", observes Carina Ray, "was believed to have 'suggested to [Nkrumah] that a symbolic marriage of this type with an Egyptian girl would be an indication of a unity of interests between East and West Africa, etc.'" Of course the etcetera means and the rest of what Nkrumah called 'Balkanized Africa'!

Many conjectures abound on why Nkrumah married Fathia. But of "all the various theories concocted about the marriage", concludes Carina Ray, "it would seem that the British authorities, despite their denial, believed the union was a political weapon that could be used against them". No wonder, as her Tales from the Archives reveals, Maclennan sent a confidential telegram to the CRO noting that "in normal circumstance presumably [the British] prime minister and secretary of state would send messages of congratulations to a Commonwealth prime minister on the occassion of his marriage" but the "hole and corner way in which [the] wedding has been arranged" and "the Egyptian nationality of the bride" would discourage them from conveying their congratulations to Nkrumah. Yet the secretary conveyed his "good wishes" to Nkrumah, albeit, through Maclennan, thus avoiding contacting him directly.

If the prospective union between Ghana and Egypt was such a threat to the then dying British Empire, what more could we say of the then prospective union between all countries of Africa - the very vision Nkrumah symbolized? What can we say of the power that symbol still wields? Regardless of whether Samia Nkrumah is 'her father's daughter' or 'her own woman' let us not forget about the symbolic power of her 'Africa Must Unite' becoming.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Huu ndio uhuru kamili?

Picha za kumbukumbu ya uhuru huleta aina fulani ya msisimko wa kizalendo. Msisimko huo, kama zilivyo picha zenyewe, ni kielelezo tu cha jinsi tulivyojisikia tulipopata uhuru.

Hakika picha ya Kapteni Alexendar Nyirenda akisimika Mwenge wa Uhuru kwenye kilele kimojawapo cha Mlima Kilimanjaro ina mguso wa aina yake. Lakini, je, inaweza kuelezea hisia za watoto fulani waliojikusanya katika kilele fulani cha milima ya Upare kushuhudia tukio hilo? Je, inaweza kunasa hisia za mtoto mmojawapo aliyeamua kujiaminisha kuwa aliuona ukiwaka?

Msisimko ni hisia muhimu kwa mwanadamu. Lakini una ubaya na uzuri wake. Uzuri wake ni kwamba unaweza kuleta ari na nguvu mpya. Na ubaya wake ni kwamba unaweza kuleta matumaini hewa au kiini macho.

Kwa upande mmoja, watu wanaweza kusisimuliwa na tukio fulani la kisiasa au kihistoria na kudiriki kusema “ndio, twaweza” na kweli wakaweza kuleta mabadiliko. Lakini kwa upande mwingine, msisimko huo unaweza kufifia na watu wakakata tamaa kuwa kweli “inawezekana.”

Kuna picha ya kumbukizi ya uhuru ambayo inaonesha pande hizi mbili za msisimko. Picha hii inamuonesha Mwalimu Julius Nyerere akiwa amebebwa na wananchi. Uso wake umejaa tabasamu. Shingo yake imepambwa na mashada. Mikono yake imenyanyua juu bango zuri jeupe.

Bango hilo limenakshiwa na maneno fulani. Hatuna budi kusema ni maneno fulani kwa sababu kama mtu huijui lugha ya Malkia, yaani Kiingereza, huwezi kuyaelewa kwa undani. Utahitaji mtafsiri tu maana yanasema hivi: “COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE 1961.”

Shamrashamra za uhuru zilitusisimua sana mpaka tukanyanyua mabango hayo meupe yenye maandishi meusi yanayodai tumepata uhuru kamili. Tulifanya hivyo japo Malkia wa Uingereza aliendelea kuwa mtawala wa nchi yetu huku Mwalimu Nyerere akiwa chini yake kama Waziri Mkuu aliyechukua nafasi ya Gavana aliyekuwa akimwakilisha Malkia. Bado hatukuwa na Rais.

Nderemo, hoihoi na vifijo vya uhuru vilitugusa sana mpaka tukaendelea kuitukuza injili ya “tafuteni kwanza ufalme wa kisiasa na mengine yote mtaongezewa.” Tulifanya hivyo japo mhubiri wa injili hiyo, Osagefyo Kwame Nkrumah, alishaikana baada ya kuona athari za uhuru wa bendera na ukoloni mamboleo. Alishaanza kutuhubiri tuutafute kwanza ufalme wa kiuchumi.

Ni kweli kabisa msisimko huo wa uhuru ulileta mwamko mpya. Ni jambo lisilopingika kuwa kaulimbiu ya Mwalimu Nyerere ya “inawezekana wajibika kwa nafasi yako” ilitufanya tuwe na moyo wa kujenga taifa letu. Hakika kaulimbiu za “Uhuru na Umoja”, “Uhuru na Maendeleo”, “Uhuru na Ujamaa” na “Uhuru na Kazi” zilichochea nia ya kuleta mabadiliko chanya ya kijamii.

Lakini mfumo haubadilishwi na hisia au msisimko tu. Ndio maana mara baada ya huo uhuru ambao tulidhani ni uhuru kamili wananchi wengi tulianza kuyalilia matunda ya uhuru. Tulijiuliza kwa nini wakulima wanalima sana lakini bado nchi haina chakula cha kutosha. Tulishangaa kwa nini wafanyakazi wanafanya kazi sana lakini bado nchi haina tija ya kutosha.

Ilipofika mwaka 1967 hatimaye tukauona mwanga wa ile injili ya “tafuteni kwanza ufalme wa kiuchumi”. Tukalitangaza Azimio la Arusha. Tukatembea kutoka kila pembe ya nchi kuliunga mkono. Tukatoa Mwongozo wa kuziba mianya ya ubadhirifu. Serikali ikataifisha na kushika njia kuu za uchumi. Mafisadi wakaghafilika. Mabepari wakatahayari. Mabeberu wakataharuki.

Cherekochereko hizi za Azimio zilitusisimua sana mpaka tukatunga mashairi, majigambo na ngonjera za kudai kuwa tunatimua makupe na mabwanyenye wote na kukata mirija yote ya unyonyaji na ukandamizaji. Tulifanya hivyo japo tuliendelea kuwaachia waliokuwa makaburu wa kampuni ya Debeers waendelee kuchimba na kufaidika na madini yetu ya almasi za Mwadui.

Sherehe hizi za Azimio zilitugusa sana mpaka tukaendelea kuienzi miradi na misaada yenye masharti tuliyojiaminisha kuwa ni nafuu kutoka katika mashirika makubwa ya nchi za kibeberu. Tulifanya hivyo japo baadhi ya miradi hii ilisababisha tutumie nguvu za dola kuwanyang’anya wafugaji wetu ardhi yao ya malisho na hata kuwafanya wawe wakimbizi ndani ya nchi yao.

Haukupita muda mrefu tukaanza kuyalilia matunda ya Azimio. Tukawa na mijadala mikali kuhusu mafanikio na madhara yake. Mijadala hii ilimfanya Mwalimu Nyerere atuandikie kitabu cha ‘Azimio la Arusha Baada ya Miaka Kumi’ mnamo mwaka 1977. Muasisi wa Azimio akakiri kuwa ngoma ni nzito. Mafisadi wakapumua. Mabepari wakachekelea. Mabeberu wakashangilia.

Tukaupoteza ufalme wa uchumi kabla hata hatujautafuta. Eti ‘Muongo Uliopotea Afrika’ ukaanza 1980. Uchumi ukaporomoka. Uhujumu uchumi ukafanywa ajira. Uchumi bubu ukawa mfumo wa maisha. Benki ya Dunia na Fuko la Fedha la Kimataifa likatubana. Ule wimbo wetu wa “kama unataka mali utaipata shambani” ukageuka kuwa ‘kama unataka mali utaipata fukoni’.

Ila njia pekee ya kuingia huko fukoni ikawa ni kuzipa hizo taasisi beberu uhuru wa kutuamulia sera na mipango ya kitaifa. Zikatuletea ‘Programu ya Mageuzi ya Kimfumo’. Tukabadili mfumo wa Serikali kutoa huduma ya elimu na afya kwa umma bure. Tukakubali kila mtu aubebe mzigo wake mwenyewe. Walalaheri wakaweza. Walalahai wakajitutumia. Walalahoi wakazidiwa.

Watalaam kutoka nje wakaja na ‘TX’ kutufundisha namna ya kuwa na miradi bila kuitegemea Serikali. Ila miradi mingi ikafa. Muongo uliopotezwa ulipoisha hao wakaenda zao. Baada ya muda wakarudi na ‘DFP’ huku wakiwa na injili mpya isemayo kuwa ili mradi usife lazima uwe endelevu, yaani, ili mradi usife lazima uishi. Na ili uwe endelevu shurti tuwezeshwe kuumiliki.

Leo ni miaka 47 toka tupate uhuru baada ya kudai tunaweza kujitawala na kujiendeleza. Lakini bado tunawezeshwa kufanya hivyo. Eti tunawezeshwa kwa kuwa tunadai hatujiwezi. Na hata tunapodai twaweza tunasema hivyo ili tupate ufadhili wa kutujengea uwezo wa kuwezeshana.

Je, huu ndio uhuru kamili tulioubebea bango tarehe 9 Disemba 1961?

© Chambi Chachage - Mwananchi 10/12/2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sad Tale of Two Ex-Ministers

Last week Tanzania witnessed the bringing before a Dar es Salaam resident magistrate’s court of two ex-ministers charged with the crime of misusing public office. The tale of the two ex-ministers being arraigned before a court for 13 counts of alleged abuse of public office resulting in the state allegedly loosing TSh 11.7 billion has become the subject of most people’s small talk.

These are ex-ministers of finance as well as of minerals and energy, which are powerful government posts that carry with them the possibility of making friends as well as many enemies. Presumably, their being brought to court resulted from a just process of crime investigation and they will be given a fair trial.

It is sad, however, that the ex-ministers are being subjected to trial by media and mob censure. Their trial reminds me of the usual sad scenes in poor neighbourhoods in Dar es Salaam such as Kariakoo, Manzese and Buguruni where it is not uncommon to see a mob whose membership includes a significant number of well known pickpockets descending on an hapless mugger who had had the misfortune of being caught red handed. Often, if a Good Samaritan or conscientious police constable does not happen to be passing by and quickly intervenes, the poor mugger is dead by the winkle of an eye, through mob (in)justice.

The death of the bad thief, at the hands of equally bad fellow thieves, causes the mob to disperse laughing with exaggerated glee, not realizing that acts of violent mugging are symptoms and not the essence of the failed socio-economic system called capitalism, which concentrates wealth in the hands of the few, leaving the majority abysmally poor, even if they have worked hard.

In the tale of the two ex-ministers one notices that the scene containing their being brought before the court seems to have been choreographed to take place just when the public was increasing its clamour for the state to bring to court some of the alleged bigger fish associated with the daylight robbery surrounding the Bank of Tanzania (BOT)’s External Payment Arrears (EPA) account as well as the equally big fish alleged to have engaged in some Richmond saga monkey business whose bill the public was forced to foot.

In what appears to be a carefully scripted public drama, the bail conditions of the ex-ministers were initially made near to impossible to meet. With equal drama, the sad faces of these ministers have been passed in front of mass media cameras for more than once as they went through the legal paces required before their bail application ever got a hearing. In the meantime, sections of the media were daily informing the public that the Fourth Phase Presidency was gaining in popularity ratings on account of having shown no show fear or favour to whoever deserve(d) to be brought before the law.

Critical thinking takes the view that since the ex-ministers have families and friends, as well as political and business competitors, it is important that they continue to be treated with respect. They are innocent till proved guilty by a court of law. Perhaps, the families of these ex-ministers, and they themselves, should from now on be activists in the human rights fight for the treatment of all suspects of all crimes as suspects till proved guilty or otherwise.

The tendency for the police or prison guards to treat suspects in remand prison inhumanely ought to be frown upon by all. Peace in our land demands that we desist from giving succour to perpetrators of mob (in)justice or those who may be persuaded to use fellow human beings as baits in cultivating popular appeal. We should condemn acts of corruption and fraud but still treat fellow human beings, whatever they have been accused of, with respect and dignity.

A comprehensive approach is required in dealing with the issue of abuse of office by senior government officials and leading politicians. It will eventually cause more political harm than good if an impression was allowed to be created to the effect that these ex-ministers are being fingered out as sacrificial lambs to assuage public clamour for the prosecution of all ex-ministers, and even incumbent ones, who have been investigated and found to have cases to answer before courts of law, with regard to allegations of abuse of office, grand corruption and fraud.

Everyone is equal before the law. Our constitution says so. Justice must be seen to take place.

© Dr. Azaveli Feza Lwaitama

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yako wapi mapenzi?

Wazuoni nakuja, jamani nisikizani
Mwaweza kutoa hoja, mnitoe matatani
Wasomi mkidhi haja, ya kunitoa gizani
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Nimeenda kwa nyakanga, suluhu sikubaini
Nikapita kwa waganga, nafuu mie sioni
Kwa wanazuoni natinga, muwe langu tumaini
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Mume wangu mi wa kwanza, nilimpenda moyoni
Maisha tuliyaanza, kwa juhudi na imani
Japo shida zilikaza, tuliishi furahani,
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Wakamjia jirani, kumwambia anifuja
Nae akawaamini, uzee hauna tija
Akaniacha njiani, sikupajua kwa kuja
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Nikampata mi wa pili, tukaishi kifahari
Pilau kwa kachumbali, haikuwa na dhohari
Wageni kila mahali, waliuleta ururi
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Utamu wa raha zake, maumivu mwisho wake
Ikatoka hamu yake, kwa mabaya mambo yake
Nikapa sirudi kwake, nae akaenda zake
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Watatu huyu kiboko, japo anao mvuto
Kaniletea vituko, nyumba ikawaka moto
Watoa huko waliko, nyumba kajaza watoto
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Watoto wakawa nduli, mali wanazitafuna,
Kanambia nikubali, nibembeleze vijana
Nami sikuona dili, ndoa ikawa ndoana
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Huyu wanne ninae, nikajua nimepata
Ni mzuri mfanoe, hakuna anaepata
Nilifurahi namie, bingo nimeikamata
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Kumbe ni dalali hali, aso na utu moyoni
Wazee wangu si mali, awatusi hadharani
Wanangu kwake jabali, kulibeba hatamani
Ya wapi mapenzi?

Rafikize makuwadi, iweje na yeye sie
Wafanya ili mradi, ya kwao wayaendele
Hata tupigwe na radi,ngambo ataenda ye
Yako wapi wapenzi?

Talaka hataki nipa, eti anipenda sana
Upenyo tu mkinipa, wima nami namkana
Ila wapi nitapata, wakunipenda kwa sana
Yako wapi mapenzi?

Jamani niambieni, wapi nilipokosea
Au ni ulimbukeni, nambieni nipate jua
Nini sifa yakini, za mume kumtambua?
Yako wapi mapenzi?

© 2008 Mishy Singano

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kuchukua Hatua Kitu Gani?

Naingia mtandaoni tena kuwadadisi
Naomba mnisikilizeni tena msinidisi
Nijibuni kiuanazuoni wala msinitusi
Niondoeni kizani unitoke wasiwasi

Nawauliza wanazuoni nijibuni basi
Napaswa kufanyani niweze kupasi
Niwaige manyani kupigapiga utosi
Niondoeni kizani unitoke wasiwasi

Nawahoji wakinzani mnaoleta uasi
Niende mahakamani hatua kuiposi
Niwafuate wapinzani kununua kesi
Niondoeni kizani unitoke wasiwasi

Nawadadisi maskini msojali ukwasi
Niingie matatani kuwapigania waasi
Nichukue hatuani kuwapiga mabosi
Niondoeni kizani unitoke wasiwasi

Natoka kilingeni nimejawa utusitusi
Najiona limbukeni aogopaye bisibisi
Niingizeni tanuruni nisiupate uyabisi
Niondoeni kizani unitoke wasiwasi
© Chambi Chachage


Lipi likusumbualo, kalamu kuirukia
Au umekosa mlo, sasa umechukia
Lipi hasa ulonalo, unalolisumbukia
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushapata 61

Amani tulonayo, ni tunu ilotufikia
Usitake mapambano, shimoni tatumbukia
Sijeichokoza leo, kesho hutoifikia,
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushapata 61

Jaribu kujipa moyo, manani takusikia
Kuwa mtu wa maono, lengo utalifikia
Siwachukie vigogo, nchi wameitumikia
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushaupata 61

Siwatafute wanono, waweza kukuchukia
Mwisho wakakutoa roho, bure kwa kujitakia
Ogopa sana vigogo, chini watakufukia
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushaupata 61

Wale uwapiganiao, kesho watakukimbia,
Hawatoshiriki mgomo, Wala kukuimbia,
Tena watakaa kando, huku wakijitambia,
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushaupata 61

We kula ugali wako, ukishiba tajitapikia,
Achana na nia yako, wengine kuhangaikia,
We jali maisha yako, wenye shida wajitakia,
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushaupata 61

Chukua hatua zako, uone utapoangukia,
usitafute maneno, balaa likakufikia,
Mwombe sana Mola wako, 'mana' takushukia,
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushaupata 61

Kama hawapendi jambo, hawawezistahimilia,
Madhari wanapata tango, shida wanavumilia,
Siku wakikabwa shingo, mabosi watasimulia
Kama shida ni uhuru, tushaupata 61

Shida zikiwakaba koo, watajua pa kukimbilia
Tena watafanya soo, mabosi watajililia,
Patakuwa ni padogo, mawe yatasimulia,
Kama shida ni 61, uhuru tushaupata?

© Ayub. R.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Buriani Ben Mtobwa

Nimepokea kwa mshtuko mkubwa taarifa ya kifo cha mwandishi maarufu, Ben Mtobwa ama 'Joram Kiango'. Taifa limepoteza kinara mwingine wa kutumia fasihi andishi kufichua masuala mazito yaliyoigubika jamii yetu. Hivi karibuni nilimwona gwiji Ben pale kwenye Mkahawa wa Vitabu wa Soma akipanga mikakati ya uandishi na uchapishaji.

Nilidhani huo ni mwendelezo wa kumwona mpiganaji huyu akiwa katika harakati za kutumia 'mtutu wa kalamu' kufichua uzandiki na ufisadi katika jamii. Lakini upeo wa mwanadamu una kikomo. Hivyo, sikujua kuwa hiyo ilikuwa mara ya pili na ya mwisho kumwona mwanaharakati huyo ambaye pia alijitosa katika fani ya uhariri wa gazeti la Heko na uchapishaji kupitia kampuni yake ya Heko Publishers.

Nawasihi tumpe mtunzi huyu 'Zawadi ya Ushindi' kwa kusoma kwa undani vitabu vyake ili tutambue ni nini hasa amejaribu kutufunulia 'Nyuma ya Mapazia' ya jamii yetu iliyozingirwa na 'Malaika wa Shetani' na mafisadi wenye 'Roho ya Paka' wanaomsulubisha 'Mhariri Msalabani' na kudiriki kusema 'Najisikia Kuua Tena' kupitia mikataba mibovu wanayoisaini 'Dar-es-Salaam Usiku' pasipo kumwambia mwekezaji uchwara 'Peza Zako Zinanuka' na tena bila kuogopa 'Salamu Kutoka Kuzimu' au kilio chetu cha 'Tutarudi na Roho Zetu?' Buriani Ben Mtobwa!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shambani Hanang Kunani Pale?



Namshukuru sana Jalia,
Kurejea Darisalama;
Arusha mpaka Manyara,
Mtafiti sikukwama.

Nimejawa na bashasha,
Mrejesho kuutuma;
Wanazuoni wa Taifa,
Usikilizeni umma.

Ardhi yao Wadatoga,
Iligeuzwa chauma;
Nafko lo ikajitwalia,
Ngano kuilima.

Barbaig do akacharuka,
Kortini akasimama;
Dola ikajitetea kijanja,
Sheria ikazifuma.

Ikaleta Operesheni Sogeza,
Wananchi kuwasukuma;
Vijijini wakaswekwa kisasa,
Wakache kuhamahama.

Ujima uendeshwao kiusasa,
Kikaazimia chama;
Utumike kujenga Tanzania ,
Maendeleo kupima.

Mwalimu akauita Ujamaa,
Tukaukubali pima;
Ukahubiriwa kwa harara,
Tukatazamia mema.

Tukalima kwa ushirika,
Pato kulichuma;
Ranchini tukafuga pia,
Kujipatia nyama.

Hatamu chama kikashika,
Utawala ukauma;
Nacho kikaihodhi Katiba;
Watu kuwazima.

Wafugaji wao wakaswagwa,
Kama wanyama;
Mpaka leo wanatangatanga,
Kutafuta neema.

Uchumi nao ukayumbayumba,
Shilingi ikazama;
Wakalisaliti Azimio Zanzibara,
Likapata kiyama.

Hatimaye Nafko ikafilisiwa,
Ikaupoteza uzima;
Wafugaji ardhiyo wakaililia,
Msafara wakatuma.

Kwao Wakuu wakafikia,
Risala wakaisoma;
Wakasihi ardhi kupewa,
Iwahifadhi daima.

Baadhi yao mashamba,
Wakuu wakasema;
Tutawapa enyi wazawa;
Mgawane mazima.

Ila mengine watayawekeza,
Hao wachuma;
Bila ajizi yakabinafsishwa,
Tena himahima.

Wakayanadi pia matirekta,
Navyo vyuma;
Hata maji wakayabinafsisha,
Nao wakachuma.

Wawekezaji yote hawajaweza,
Mashamba kuyalima;
Heri Nafko walivyoyakwatua,
Wanateta wakulima.

Tambua we mwanasiasa,
Unaleta zahama;
Kama kanzu kuichuuza,
Rasilimali mama.

Warudishieni rasilimali wana,
Nao ndama;
Wananchi tuweze kujifugia,
Na kulima.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Harakati za Migomo na Utawala wa Sheria

Kwa wale mnaofuatilia harakati za kudai haki kupitia migomo mtakubaliana nami kuwa sakata la walimu kuwapiga mawe viongozi wao jana baada ya viongozi hao kutoa tamko la kusitisha mgomo ni la aina yake. Tamko hilo la uongozi wa chama cha walimu lilifuatia tamko la mahakama kuzuia mgomo huo uliokuwa uanze leo. Walimu waliokuwa wamepandwa na hasira/jazba walichukua sheria mkononi na kuna kila dalili kuwa kama vyombo vya dola/sheria visingeingilia kati basi hata uhai ungeweza kutolewa. Ikumbukwe kuwa hivi karibuni wafanyakazi wa benki ijulikanayo kama NMB walilazimika kukubali kuwa sheria ni msumeno kwa kusitisha mgomo wao baada ya 'agizo' la mahakama.
Baadhi ya maswali ya kujiuliza katika kipindi hiki ni: Tunapaswa kufanya nini ili kuhakikisha kuwa harakati za kudai na kulinda haki zinafanikiwa bila kuvunja misingi ya utawala wa sheria? Ni kwa namna gani tunaweza kujenga mfumo wa utawala wa sheria usioipa nafasi dola kutumia kijanja mianya ya kisheria kupata 'mazuio' ya mahakama yanayorudisha nyuma harakati? Kama mahakama ndio chombo huru cha kutoa haki sawa tunatakiwa kufanya nini ili kuilinda Ibara ya 13 (1) ya Katiba ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania inayosema "Watu wote ni sawa mbele ya sheria, na wanayo haki, bila ubaguzi wowote, kulindwa na kupata haki sawa mbele ya sheria"?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In search of a Framework for Sustainable Development through Adult Learning and Education (ALE)

In 1969 Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere offered a framework for transformation when he observed:

“People’s lives can only be improved by their own efforts and through their own understanding… this means that adult education of all types is of vital importance for rapid development”.

Perhaps because he was a teacher, Mwalimu believed in the transformatory power of education but he did not just see education as relevant for the youthful population of newly independent Tanzania. Rather Mwalimu believed that Tanzania’s freedom hinged on the ability of the nation to create an enlightened and educated populace.

Accordingly, Adult Education assumed a priority status in the socio-economic development of the country such that the Arusha Declaration of 1967, which set out the blueprint for Tanzania’s development resolve, considered illiteracy, an aspect of lack of education, as one of the major enemies of the nation; the other two being poverty and disease. Consonant with Freirean principles, Adult Education was conceived as having a liberating function for arousing popular consciousness for change.

In 1970 the United Republic of Tanzania made a solemn declaration of enhancing adult education within the context of the universal human right to education as provided by the UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education (1960).

A massive national effort was undertaken to eradicate rampant illiteracy pertaining at independence such that by 1986 (i.e. around the time Tanzania began adopting development prescriptions set by Bretton Woods Institutions) illiteracy for the population aged 13 years and above was systematically reduced to 10%. Alas these impressive gains were short lived as the national development framework changed and by 1997, illiteracy for the population aged 13 years and above rose to 16%.

The latest 2002 census data reveals that of the 22,500,000 adults aged 15 years and above, which is equivalent to 56% of the total population, the literacy rate among age 15 and above is 70% (78% for men and 62% for women). Present estimates put the illiteracy rate above 30%. Overall, about 28.6% of Tanzanians can not read and write in any language. Illiteracy rate is higher among women (36%) compared to men (20.4%).

The increase in illiteracy rates are troubling when we consider that they occur three decades after the adoption and an aggressive application of Universal Primary Education (UPE) on the one hand and adult literacy initiatives on the other whose intent was reaffirmed in the late nineties with the passage of the World Declaration on Education For All (EFA) which recognizes that ‘everyone has the right to education’ especially education that is relevant to one’s basic learning needs.

The adoption of the Education Sector Development Programme (2000-2005) aimed at providing education for all by 2015. Act No. 12 of 1975 mandates the Institute of Adult Education (IAE) to run continuing and non-formal education programmes in Tanzania, with special emphasis to reaching rural communities. The Adult and Non-Formal Education Strategy was developed in 2003 to facilitate the implementation of an alternative education programme for out-of-school children, youth and adults.

In an effort to meet some of the EFA goals the Fourth Phase government began a campaign to build Secondary Schools for each Kata (Ward) to cater for the huge numbers of primary school leavers resulting from the rigorous application of the UPE policy. Sadly the drive appears to be partisan interest than a political commitment to realize EFA goals in a more holistic rather than reactive manner.

Another notable development in Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in the past few years is the Tanzania – Cuba Adult Education Development Programme under the Adult and Non Formal Education Strategy of 2003 – 2008 whereby Cuban literacy experts are to assist the government in literacy development.

In December 2003 the United Nations General Assembly launched the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD). The impetus driving the decade was the association between knowledge and aptitude and thus 'appropriately the UNLD’s slogan read "Literacy as Freedom". But despite these commitments Tanzania and other African countries have very little to show in terms of investments to educational and learning programmes that truly seek to liberate the mature segment of the population in a populist and a practical sense.

This inspection and introspection is appropriate at this juncture as the continent prepares for the International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA), a level two UN Conference that serves to provide a platform for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and education. The Conference takes place approximately every 12 years. Uniquely, CONFINTEA VI will draw attention to the relation and contribution of adult learning and education to sustainable development.

CONFINTEA VI will take place from 19 to 22 May 2009 in Belém, Brazil, under the overall title: “Living and Learning for a Viable Future – The Power of Adult Learning”. This global forum will be preceded by five regional forums. The Regional Preparatory Conference for Africa will take place from 5 to 7 November 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya and is titled, “The Power of Youth and Adult Learning for African Development”.

UNESCO member countries will each produce a national report which will be instrumental in informing the regional synthesis reports to input the CONFINTEA VI working documents and Framework for Action. Most countries have submitted some semblance of national reports which are available on the UNESCO website. Unfortunately, there has been very little discussion about the content of these reports and whether they represent a critical appraisal of the status quo.

The Tanzania National Report on CONFINTEA VI, for example, was hastily put together by education technocrats with very little participation from civil society groups. It is entitled: "The Report on the Development and State of the Art of Adult Learning and Education (ALE), a Decade Report of adult learning and education in Tanzania from April 1997 to April 2008".

After the initial meeting to discuss the Terms of Reference (TOR) for putting together the report there has been no feedback on the status of the draft report which has ended up on the UNESCO website. It is therefore difficult to imagine how the report makes an informed assessment of the achievement of country targets for EFA; Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international development goals are met through adult learning especially vis-à-vis poverty eradication.

ALE is beset with structural, managerial and political challenges which impede further and future progress from being realized. Notably, though rarely visibilized or acknowledged, the sharp change in development policy focus may have stunted the gains made thus far and may continue to impede meaningful gains in the foreseeable future. Indeed, the achievement of EFA for Tanzania rests solely on Universal Primary Education Campaigns.

Indeed the attention of the government especially under the basket fund has rested on primary education not post primary education. Yet, few people have spoken out against this policy blunder. They argue that a country’s human resource capacity, critical to its development, cannot be built solely by investing on the lowest tier of an educational system which also has a zero experience at the skill level.

Moreover, the management of ALE falls under the Ministries of Education and Vocational Education (MoEVT) in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. While it is purported that ALE is an integral part of the education system, the National CONFINTEA VI report acknowledges that there is very little co-ordination among the different providers of Adult Education (AE) inside governmental institutions as well as outside those institutions.

Surely this suggests a lack of systematization of AE in the ‘education system’. In addition ALE is hosted in a ministry that traditionally has dealt with primary education which exclusively focuses on children. All along the National Commission for UNESCO, which coordinates issues related to CONFINTEA and related measures, is housed in the then Ministry concerned with Higher Learning. At the ministerial level higher learning and education were merged in February 2008 following the dissolution of the Cabinet. We are not yet to see the impact of this change on ALE.

The Adult and Non-Formal Education Strategy was developed to facilitate the implementation of an alternative education programme for out-of-school children, youth and adults yet the main focus of major education initiatives purported to focus on adult learning targets youths and not individuals and groups past their youth. Also while the Strategy acknowledges the need to adopt an alternative paradigm to learning, in approach ALE is understood or is confined to literacy.

Where adults are targeted as is in the case with initiatives of continuing education provided under employment packages then the focus tends to be on workers in formal placements leaving the bulk of workers in the informal sector outside a comprehensive adult learning strategy. For instance while COBET (Complimentary Basic Education in Tanzania) is singled out as a successful AE model in Tanzania it largely targets out of school youths, not adults.

The ALE vacuum is palpable since the abandonment of the Arusha Declaration. Literacy classes, once a determining factor in Tanzania’s high literacy rates are currently inexistent in most structured learning settings. In the 70’s ALE programmes, including literacy classes were part of the National Service Programme whereby Secondary, High School and University graduates provided the human resource base to enlighten fellow citizens. To a large extent using local labour to run education initiatives minimized costs and overdependence on outside funds.

Suffice to say that the National Services Programme is yet to be revived and the current focus for graduates in not in nation building but solely in providing cheap labour to the capitalist job market. The education sector is now exclusively donor dependant and more so the provision of Adult Learning and Education.

Financing for ALE also reflects the absence of political will to revamp and revitalize ALE in Tanzania. The National CONFINTEA VI Report claims that some money for AE activities is allocated directly to Local Government Authorities (LGAs). It further states that an Education Circular (No. 3 of 2006) requires every LGA to earmark a budget to finance ALE activities (read not programmes). It further proposes to elevate the existing funding level to at least three per cent (3%) of the budget for education sector. But it is not clear if the percentage being proposed relates to the ministerial budget or the overall national budget.

It is, however, difficult to ascertain the basis on which budget estimates are made when the same report acknowledges that the budget allocated for ALE activities by government institutions is not known due to lack of co-ordination mechanism between the parent ministry and other institutions providing ALE. Nor is the total amount of bilateral/multilateral donor financing for ALE or the contribution made by non state actors to the sector known.

Moreover, for some time now AE allocation in the budget of the Ministry responsible for Education hardly features in budget speeches or in the annual reports issued by the Ministry responsible for Planning. Yet, in spite of our history with AE most legislators, even those with an AE background, have remained mum over this anomaly. Similarly civil society has not reacted against the invisible status AE has assumed among the priorities that inform the country’s development framework.

Sadly, the financing issue related to the ALE sector is mostly represented to be one for posho (allowance) for facilitators and not so much for upgrading learning centres say with Information Communication Technologies (ICTs); or enabling learners in learning contexts like Nane Nane (Farmers Fair) or the International Literacy Week; or else in enabling older learners to interact with younger learners such that there is a mutual appreciation of the strengths each segment of the population brings.

In my own experience working with the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) and specifically in the Gender and Education Office (GEO) has given me tremendous advocacy experience. I and my colleagues learn from women who are much older than us but who have an unfaltering commitment to ensuring that the right to education becomes a lived reality. Having being part of the education movement, some for over four or five decades, they help us see the political content in the discourses, something some of us who have grown up in a generation where we may take most of the Human Rights guarantees for granted and thus fail to see beyond simple rhetoric offered for the sake of political expedience to envision the types of outcomes that will make education a reality for all segments of the population.

Significantly, our feminist engagement with education challenges the traditional concept of education not only in its content and organization but also in its ideology in so far as reproducing disempowering ideologies against those who have historically been marginalized. It is, therefore, troubling to see that the government’s approach to AE is still limited: largely it views education only in an institutional sense happening in a structured formal classroom setting. The concept of learning inherent in ALE seems missing as it is reduced to initiatives synonymous with rote methods that seek to instruct superficially without building a base in the culture of pedagogy or its ultimate purpose.

Most examples used in the Tanzania National Report indicate this. For instance, COBET attempts to reintegrate youths in the formal curriculum while it is not clear what type of achievements the Mainland’s Integrated Community Based Adult Education (ICBAE) programme has achieved more so when one considers that at least three of the four pilot areas i.e. Morogoro, Lushoto, Sengerema and Moshi districts have historically had high literacy levels because of the existence of a reasonable to good education infrastructure inherited from colonial times.

Also they had a reasonable coverage of ALE via extension programmes and at least Morogoro is one place with a strong base for Folk Development Colleges (FDC) modeled after Scandinavian Folk Development Colleges. Interestingly FDCs remain part of the Ministry in charge of Community Development but deprived of operational funds they have been forced to liberalize their curriculum and operations. Consequently they are attracting a younger male population and not so much farmers or artisans seeking to improve production methods.

As someone who avidly preaches and implements the doctrine of ALE, I do not wish that CONFINTEA VI becomes another conference where our government participates physically but not in spirit. I see no point in our government signing onto commitments but at the end of the day fails to respect her commitments with the requisite political will. Rather, I feel strongly that the process towards CONFINTEA VI is an opportunity for Tanzania to evolve an ALE agenda for the present time.

Nonetheless, the ALE agenda of the future cannot be monopolized only by the state in terms of its articulation and its participants. Instead it has to be informed by all those who actively engage with ALE as an intervention that is process and well as content driven comprising a holistic approach to learning initiatives, not just educational programmes, throughout life.

For ALE to be a way of living in Tanzania and in Africa as a whole, we must appreciate the central role of learning in our lives and demand that this right is guaranteed to each citizen through life. Our governments have compromised this right in present development frameworks. Returning ALE back to the national development agenda is critical for our sustainability as we seek to negotiate with the onslaught of globalization.

Our governments and representative bodies must be put to task to realize this right. Doing so means we must exercise vigilance to safeguard the right to education across ages. Importantly it demands that we must act and show interest in what goes on at the policy front in order that we may register our concerns more proactively. Surely, this is a struggle at the heart of human freedoms. Africans cannot afford to remain on the sidelines as this global dialogue unfolds.

We can individually and collectively register our views and support to the numerous official and civil society initiatives towards CONFINTEA VI. Please contact Diarra Mahmadou at diarra_sama@yahoo.fr for the civil society perspective and Salma Maoulidi of Sahiba Sisters Foundation at sahiba.sisters@gmail.com and Sara Longwe of Femnet at sararoy@zamtel.zm for a PanAfrican and a feminist perspective on ALE.

Knowing is wisdom. Learning is affirmation. Taking action is freedom.

© Salma Maoulidi, September 2008.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reintroducing 'Wanazuoni-Tanzanian Intellectuals' to the Public

'Wanazuoni - Tanzanian Intellectuals' is "an informal network that connects ‘young Tanzanian intellectuals’ from different disciplines and professions. The network is a space for exchanging ideas and knowledge/information on and about the intellectual, cultural, social, political, and economical development of Tanzania, Africa and the World at large."

Vision: Wanazuoni's vision is of a Tanzania where citizens produce, use and share information in ways that bring positive social change in all aspects of life.

Mission: Wanazuoni networks to initiate positive social change in Tanzania by sharing useful information, debating key issues and taking constructive actions.

Wanazuoni has over 100 members, most of them being activists working in civil society organisations, journalists based in various media houses and scholars/students in various academic institutions within and without Tanzania. We network through a yahoo group while those who are based in Dar-es-Salaam meet to organize and/or participate in various intellectually stimulating events such as public lectures, youth forums and study groups.Together with 'Study Group - Tanzania', Wanazuoni runs a column known as Tafakuri Tunduizi i.e. 'Critical Thinking' in the Mwananchi newspaper every Tuesday.

Membership is open to all 'young' Tanzanian intellectuals and true 'friends' of Tanzania through subcription to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wanazuoni/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mdahalo wa Zahama za Chakula na Mafuta


Wachochea Mada
Prof. Haji Semboja -
Taasisi ya Utafiti wa Uchumi, UDSM
Prof. Aida Isinika - Oxfam/Chuo Kikuu cha Kilimo cha Sokoine (SUA)
Bi. Siham Ahmed - Shirikisho la Vyama vya Wafanyakazi (TUCTA)
Dk. Khoti Kamanga - Kitivo cha Sheria, UDSM
Dk. Adolf Mkenda -
Idara ya Uchumi, UDSM
Dk. Ng'wanza Kamata -
Idara ya Sayansi ya Siasa, UDSM

Washiriki
Wananchi na Wageni Wanakaribishwa

Mahali
Ukumbi wa Nkrumah - UDSM

Tarehe
Ijumaa, 10 Oktoba 2008

Muda
Saa 10 Alasiri - Saa 12 Jioni

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Nyerere vs Nkrumah on Pan-Africanism


I would argue, President Nyerere realized what the challenge was then, but I think President Nkrumah's approach would have been better.

The world superpowers were not going to allow the "investment" they had to disappear just like that (as that would have happened from true and genuine unity). Not sure whether it was stupidity or ignorance of some of the African leaders of the time, but really the struggle was not genuinely for the people, as if it were, it did not need a rocket scientist to figure out that unity was a must just as freedom was, in fact at the very same level. Evidently Nyerere was trying to balance all these factors as the countries already had "flag independence". The ideal situation would have been freedom to united countries.

Nyerere was right when he said we inherited deep divisions. What was overlooked was the fact that even lack of freedom and unity was equally inherited and needed the same level of struggle and strategy to get rid of and create a united Africa.

It was true then, it is even true now. Sacrifices are needed to secure the true unity, freedom and prosperity of future African generations.

When various leaders steer fears during debates on creating federations and a united Africa, the rift between African people is taken even further - especially amongst those not in the know, and we all know so well what that means in terms of where we end up standing in the politics of the 21st century world.

We either unite or perish as we keep getting fake pats in the back that we are doing so well, heading in the so called right direction!

Regards,
Temu, ABS

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chambi Chachage
Date: 2008/9/5
Subject: Nyerere vs Nkrumah on Pan-Africanism

The following quotations are extracted from an excerpt from the discussions between Bill Sutherland (BS) na Julius K. Nyerere (JKN) that took place sometime in the 1990s - they can be accessed from a book entitled 'Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan African Insight on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation in Africa' that was/is edited by Bill Sutherland & Matt Meyer and published by Africa World Press, Inc of Asmara, Eritrea in 2000:

JKN: ...My differences with Kwame were that Kwame thought there was somehow a shortcut, and I was saying that there was no shortcut. This is what we have inherited, and we'll have to proceed within the limitations that that inheritence has imposed on us. Kwame thought that somehow you could say, "Let there be a United States of Africa" and it would happen. I kept saying , "Kwame, it's a slow process." He had tremendous contempt for a large number of leaders of Africa and I said, "Fine, but they are there. What are you going to do with them? They don't believe as you do - as you and I do - in the need for the unity of Africa. BUT WHAT DO YOU DO? THEY ARE THERE, AND WE HAVE TO PROCEED ALONG WITH EVERYBODY!" And I said to him in so many words that we're not going to have an African Napoleon, who is going to conquer the continent and put it under one flag. It is not possible. At the OAU conference in 1963, I was actually trying to defend Kwame. I was the last to speak and Kwame had said this charter has not gone far enough because he thought he would leave Addis with a United States of Africa. I told him that this was absurd; that it can't happen. This is what we have been able to achieve. No builder, after putting the foundation down, complains that the building is not yet finished. You have to go on building and building until you finish; but he was impatient because he saw the stupidity of the others.
...

BS: ...You said that you and Nkrumah had one objective, but you differed on how to achieve it. When you thought about a united Africa, did you think that the present nation-states would emerge?

JKN: When I clashed with Kwame, it was when we were very close to a federation of East African states and Kwame was completely opposed to the idea. He said that regionalization - that's what he called it - was Balkanization on a larger scale. I said "Look, Kwame, this is absurd." I thought that historically there were grounds for different groupings of countries trying to come together. West Africans at one one time -under the British - had a common currency. Basically, the French had two huge colonies - French Equatorial Africa and French West Africa. I thought it was possible to move towards unity by putting those areas together. But even that didn't happen. I thought that these groups could come together naturally, within the OAU. Then there could be propaganda, an incentive, and the push for greater unity. Kwame thought that we all could just sit down together and come out as a United States of Africa. I think that Kwame was perhaps over-influenced by the way the US and the Soviet Union came together. You know the way the thirteen colonies came together, drafted a charter, and then declared the United States of America? I never thought it would work this way, because these African countries had become independent and the mistake was evident in East Africa. If we wanted to come together, we should have come together before independence, because if you wait until after independence it cannot be done. With four presidents, four flags, four national anthems, four seats at the UN - ahh! It's extremely difficult!
....

BS: Didn't you note, about the preamble of the OAU, that it says "We the heads of state" - it doesn't even say " We the People?"[sic]
JKN: No, what I said was that the UN Charter has its better: it says "We the People of the world," whereas the OAU Charter says " We the heads of state."

BS: Did you not, at a certain time, just shake your head and say that there must be a devil in Africa?

JKN: I said that there is a devil in Africa. I went to Addis and it was an incredible meeting. Here is this continent of young nations coming from colonialism and so forth and the debate is awful, and really what provoked me was the French-speaking counties [sic] you know. With all their French culture, training in rationalization - you can't really argue with those fellows. And I discovered some of these fellows have their visas - THEIR VISAS - signed by the French ambassadors in their own countries! And I said, "Oh, but I thought you were fighting for freedom?" I had given up PAFMECA [Pan-African Movement of East and Central Africa]. PAFMECA was 1962, and in '63 the North African and the West African countries had divided themselves between the Casablanca group and the Monrovia group, the radicals and conservatives - really absurd! So I welcomed the idea that we could all be together, rather than have a continent divided along ideological lines. After the OAU was established in 1963, I allowed PAFMECA to die out. I'm still quietly complaining, because PAFMECA was a movement of people. It was an organization of the liberation movements, and therefore could be a movement of people. "We the heads of state!" When I hear the African heads of state talking like a bunch of colonials sent by France, of course I get livid! That's why I said there is a devil in Africa, and that devil is still around. We are still fighting that blessed devil!
...

The choices are still the same today: Nyerere's evolutionary way or Nkrumah's revolutionary way?

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My mission is to acquire, produce and disseminate knowledge on and about humanity as well as divinity, especially as it relates to Africa, in a constructive and liberating manner to people wherever they may be.
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Whither Timely Access to Public Information/I Wapi Fursa ya Kupata Taarifa za Umma kwa Wakati?

The photos below were taken in the beautiful school above on 8 August 2008 in Gonja Maore - Picha hizo hapo chini zilipigwa katika shule hii nzuri mnamo 8 Agosti 2008 huko Gonja Maore

Read between the lines - Soma kwa Makini

Corporate Social Responsiblity for Students?

Thanks to the booming cellphone (free) market, the Inquisitive Blogger can now access three cellphone networks even in his grandma's village of Gonja Maore. Just besides (or is it within?) the village school there are huge cellphone towers! Interestingly, the school noticeboard has something to say about what it means to be 'corporate social responsible' for schoolchildren! This is particularly telling now in the wake of the National Environment Management Council's (NEMC) call for suspension of ongoing construction of telecommunication towers which lack in-depth research on health risks they pose to people and the environment"!


Kujifunza Kiingereza au Kasumba ya Kikoloni?

Ni jambo ka kupendeza tena la kuvutia sana kuona shule ya Msingi hii katika Kijiji cha Maore huko Gonja katika Wilaya ya Same Mkoani Kilimanjaro ikiwa na michoro ya wazi yenye kutoa elimu kwa wanafunzi na jamii kwa ujumla. Mdadisi wetu anajiuliza inakuwaje ujumbe ulio katika michoro hiyo unakuwa kwa lugha, historia na hata majina ya kigeni? Je, mtoto aliyezaliwa na kukulia katika kijiji ambacho shule hiyo ipo anawezaje kuoanisha kwa urahisi historia ya familia yake na historia ya familia ya 'Dakta Siagiuwanja' na mkewe 'WaridiMaria'?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kicheko cha JK funzo la uvumilivu!


Hakika vichekesho na vicheko vinahitajika sana katika jamii. Huleta furaha na faraja. Pia hupunguza makali na masaibu ya maisha.

Hata wanasaikolojia wamedhihirisha kuwa hali ya kufurahishwa hutusaidia tuwe na mzunguko mzuri wa damu. Pia husaidia kuzalisha chachu ya kuchochea bongo zetu. Hali hii hutufanya tuweze kuwa wepesi wa kufikiri, kukumbuka na kutenda.

Hali kadhalika misahafu mbalimbali husisitiza umuhimu wa kufurahi na kufurahishana. Kwa mfano msahafu wa Kikristo unanena waziwazi kuwa “moyo uliochangamka ni dawa nzuri; bali roho iliyopondeka huikausha mifupa.” Pia unatuhimiza tuwape cha kuwafurahisha wale walio na uchungu nafsini ili wausahau umaskini wao na taabu yao.

Hivyo, basi, hatuna budi kumshukuru Jalia kwa kutupatia Rais mwenye uwezo wa kucheka na kutuchekesha. Naam si viongozi wetu wa dini wametuhakikishia kuwa Rais wetu ni chagua la Mungu. Tena na msahafu mmojawapo unasisitiza kuwa kila mamlaka hutoka kwa Maulana.

Hotuba ya Rais aliyoitoa Bungeni hivi karibuni imezua mjadala mkali. Wapo waliokerwa sana na kile ambacho Rais alikisema au kutokisema. Hawa hawakucheka hata kidogo wakati wote wa hotuba. Pia wapo waliofurahishwa sana. Hawa wamelazimika kuandamana kumpongeza Rais.

Hapo katikati tupo tuliocheka huku tunalia. Sisi ndio wale ambao ule msahafu unatusema kuwa hata “ wakati wa kucheka moyo huwa na huzuni; na mwisho wa furaha ni uzito wa moyo.” Hisia zetu ni tete tena ni tata. Ni vigumu kwetu kucheka bila kulia hata tunapotazama Ze Komedi.

Hulka na haiba ya Rais wetu hakika imefanya awe na umaarufu wa ajabu. Umaarufu wake umefanya watu wambatize majina kedekede, likiwamo la JK. Yeye mwenyewe, kwa utani uliotuchekesha wenye vicheko vilivyo karibu, ameongeza orodha ya majina yake pale aliposema ‘Mabilioni ya Bwana Fulani’, akimaanisha ‘Mabilioni ya JK’, wakati wa hotuba yake.

Hapa alikuwa anaongelea zile fedha – ama tuziite vijisenti – ambazo zinatolewa kwa kila mkoa kwa ajili ya kuwawezesha wakazi wa mikoa hiyo. Ilibidi Bwana Fulani atenge dakika kadhaa kutoka kwenye takribani dakika 180 za hotuba yake ili azungumzie fedha hizi ambazo zimekuwa gumzo hasa miongoni mwa wale wanaoamini kuwa vifisadi vimezigeuza kuwa vijisenti vyao.

Huyu ndiye Rais tuliye naye. Ni Rais mwenye ujasiri wa kutuchekesha kuhusu masuala mazito yanayoikabili nchi yetu ili kutupunguzia mzigo tulio nao. ‘Usione majentlomeni wametinga tai mtaani hali yao ngumu’ na ‘liwa ule’ ni ‘sharbati’ aliyotuonjesha ili kutuliza kiu yetu ya haki.

Hasira hasara. Ndivyo walivyonena wahenga. Naye Rais ametilia sana maanani wosia huu tena kama ulivyo. Ndio maana amesisitiza kuwa ‘tukienda kichwakichwa’ na kuwakamata mafisadi (au ni watuhumiwa tu?) basi Serikali inaweza kuishia kupelekwa mahakamani na kupoteza mamilioni ya fedha. Hasira za mkizi furaha ya mvuvi. Je, hasira za mvuvi furaha ya mkizi?

Huko zamani tuliambiwa Serikali inakwenda hatua kwa hatua. Hata leo bado Serikali inakwenda hatua kwa hatua. Kwetu sisi wenye ‘haraka kuliko upesi’ ni vigumu sana kuwa wavumilivu.

Hebu tutafakari upya ombi alilolitoa JK ‘Tanga Kunani Pale!’ Alituomba tuwe wavumilivu tunapopitia wakati huu mgumu. Lakini uvumilivu hauji hivi hivi tu. Ndio maana vichekesho vya Rais vinajaribu kutuwezesha sisi wananchi tucheke na hivyo kuvumilia ugumu wa wakati huu.

Huu ni wakati ambapo kuna upungufu mkubwa wa chakula duniani. Ni wakati wa bei ya mafuta kupanda hovyo. Naam ni wakati ambapo hata Mkakati wa Kukuza Uchumi na Kupunguza Umaskini Tanzania (Mkukuta) unakiri kuwa wananchi wengi wanaona kuwa hali yao ni mbaya kuliko Mkukuta ulipoanza 2005 – mwaka wa ule uliokuwa utatu mpya! ‘Choka mbaya’ au sio?

Hizi ni zama za ujasiri wa kifisadi. Lakini hizi pia ni zama za ubwege wa kifisadi. Ni zama ambazo hata kicheko cha fisi mla mizoga kinaweza kumtetemesha simba mla nyama mpaka atapike mzoga. Naam ni zama za kuucheka ufisadi na si kuwachekelea mafisadi.

Hatuna budi kukaza mikanda yetu. Kweli tumelizwa sana na mafisadi. Tukiendelea kulia na kulalama tu hatutaweza kufanya lolote. Tuungane na JK kuchekesha, kucheka na kujichekesha.

Heko JK! Hakika vichekesho vyako vinatufunza mengi. Inahitaji uvumilivu kujicheka. Hahaa!
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Excellent Message from Ex Tanzania Premier on Graft in EA

What if the campaigns were geared to give real autonomy and authority to the PCBs of East Africa?

Good call there from the Premier on how really effective are these probing commissions. The public tends to get excited (as if it were a football game) and completely forgets the mission and reasons for investigation in a first place - as if we were hypnotized as it were

What is happening now to the Tanzania Richmonds, Kiwiras, EPAs etc?? - am sure the commission members of the likes of Mwakyembes and Zitto will indeed be doing their jobs or have done as per remit and scope given (TOR) , but how effective are these commissions, really?

No one has appeared to any court of the land in relation to these now seemingly "supposedly alleged" allegations! Why there are no charges and perhaps there ever will be any convictions? How much money do these commissions cost? Are all the people in our countries ignorant or can be fooled or taken for granted this far? Or perhaps get "disturbed" as it were when these questions are asked? What any good does it serve us as a whole when one lives in a Mansionate and there are no drainage systems to ones place or your next door neighbor struggles to afford one meal a day or their 2 year old child dies as they could not afford health care costs? What good does that serve anyone in the society in the long run? Perhaps it the time the activism was geared towards strengthening and giving real authority and autonomy (in theory and practice) to chosen public institutions. The grassroot could perhaps effect the change to the top via this route.

Strong and accountable institutions, with real teeth is what could help us get to the bottom of these grand corruption practices. This is a huge cultural problem!

Regards,
Temu, ABS

Have a read on @ http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/-/1066/461224/-/149j5q1z/-/

Ex-Tanzania premier tells of graft in EA

By ZEPHANIA UBWANI, NATION Correspondent


Posted Wednesday, August 20 2008 at 19:46

In Summary

* Despite political rhetoric by leaders, efforts to fight corruption in the region have not succeeded
* There should be less of commissions and task forces and more work by the anti-corruption agencies
* EA anti-corruption bodies are autonomous by law, but in practice they are heavily influenced by the executive.

ARUSHA, Wednesday - Former Tanzanian prime minister Joseph Warioba warned here today that corruption was rife in East Africa and that it poses a serious governance problem.

He said despite the political rhetoric by leaders, efforts to fight corruption in the region have not succeeded while the chances of doing better are not clear because of interference by the executive.

He suggested that instead of forming commissions and task forces to find cures to corruption, the EA governments should strengthen their anti-corruption agencies to make them more effective.

Mr Warioba, who was giving a key note address at a Regional Workshop on Strengthening Public Accountability in EA, said commissions formed to investigate corruption cases have done little.

He noted that the commissions of enquiry were normally established as a result of activism in parliament and pressure from the media, describing parliamentary activism as simply power play.

The former PM added that MPs normally become vocal on the vice not because they want to eradicate corruption but because they want to change the leadership so that they in turn occupy the government.

"Sometimes those who used corrupt means to get elected become the ones most vocal and whey they gain power they become very corrupt" he pointed out. Mr Warioba, who himself headed the famous Warioba Commission established by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa upon taking over power in 1995, said commissions formed to investigate corrupt cases in the region consumed a lot of public money.

He told a workshop organised by the Kampala-based Kituo cha Katiba that the war on high profile corruption should be intensified by strengthening the anti-corruption agencies with more independence and autonomy.

There should be less of commissions and task forces and more work by the anti-corruption agencies. It is possible a strong anti-corruption agency would have done much better in the Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing cases in Kenya" he said. Similarly, he said, a good Inspector General of Government in Uganda would have done much better in the Global Fund case in which $ 148 million were misused than a commission.

"In Tanzania, a strong Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau (PCCB) would certainly do a better job than a task force" the former PM and respected lawyer suggested.

Moral authority

Mr Warioba, who served as Prime Minister from 1985 to 1990 and Attorney General 1975 to 1985, said the anti-corruption rhetoric often made by political leaders in EA lacked moral authority. "In most cases it is intended to achieve something like regime change. A political party will campaign on an anti-corruption platform using corrupt means in order to stay in power or defeat their political opponents.

"Once in power, corruption continues or even increases" he told officials of the civil society organisations, anti-graft agencies and academic institutions in the region at an Arusha hotel.

He further noted that although the anti-corruption bodies in EA were autonomous by law, in practice they are heavily influenced by the executive. "They are small in size and they are supposed to concentrate on grand corruption or what is defined as corruption.''

Monday, August 4, 2008

Public Lecture by Professor Mahmood Mamdani


Darfur: The Problem and the Way Forward





On

Tuesday 19 August 2008 (4:00 – 6: 00 pm)

At

Organize by

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mwamko wa Kizazi Kipya!

Wakati kizazi cha zamani kikizidi kutopea katika usingizi mzito wa usahaulifu wa historia, kizazi kipya kinazidi kupata mwamko wa kifikra wa hali ya juu kuhusu historia ya mapambano ya kudai haki na usawa. Kizazi hiki kinachojulikana kama kizazi cha 'doti komu' kina fursa ya kupata ufahamu na taarifa kwa kasi ya ajabu kutoka katika vyanzo mbalimbali. Wadadisi wa mambo wanaamini kuwa hiki ndicho kizazi kitakachotuletea ukombozi wa tatu kama alivyopenda kuuita Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. Kwenye picha ni baadhi wa watoto na vijana wa kizazi hiki walioandamana jana kupinga kupanda kwa nauli ya wanafunzi kwenye vidaladala kwa 100%.

Kulikoni? Lo! Ule msemo wa 'asili huchukia ombwe' sasa unadhihirika waziwazi! Ombwe la madaraka ndio hili linaanza kuzibwa na utashi wa asili wa mwanadamu aliyesongwa na kuchoshwa na hali iliyopo! Tuikumbuke Sharpeville! Ole wetu tusipozisoma nyakati hizi za wakati! Mungu ibariki Tanzania! Wabariki na watoto wake!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

THINGS FALL APART AT 50

It is 50 years since Chinua Achebe published Things Fall Apart. The novel came out a year after Ghana's independence, an event that significantly changed the face of Africa. What was to be famously termed the Wind of Change in 1960 - the celebrated year of African independence - was already blowing accross our continent. Since then the 'masterpiece' has inspired the African imagination in its quest for self-expression in relation to self-determination. As various forums revisit this illustrious moment in the history of African literature, I am moved to share what I once wrote as a university student. This essay is an abridged version of a longer essay entitled 'The African Writer's Burden: A Description and Critique of the Polemic Significance of the Works of Achebe and Ngugi'.

Retelling The African Writer's Story

“His [The African Writer] story had been told for him and he had found the telling quite unsatisfactory’”- Chinua Achebe

In his literary critique on The African Imagination, Abiola Irele devotes an entire chapter on the Dimensions of African Discourse where he presents what he considers to be the most striking aspect of this discourse, that is, its character as a movement of contestation. A movement that had and is still adversely contending with European representation(s) of Africa and Africans, and has thus, in his own words, assumed a polemical significance. Moreover, he deduce that the “point that emerges from this aspect of African discourse is its strongly articulated sense of historical grievance” (Irele, 2001, p.69). In a significant way this grievance is what has been articulated by Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

It is important to bear in mind that these writers were born during the colonial phase of African history and in African countries which were under the rule of the British Empire. While Chinua Achebe was born in the Eastern part of Nigeria (West Africa) in 1930, Ngugi wa Thiong'o was born James Ngugi in Limuru, Kenya (East Africa) in 1938.

Like many other intellectuals of their generations, they were both educated in primary schools run by Christian missionaries and therefore had an early encounter with the Christian and European discourses of civilization. While Achebe later moved to a government college, Ngugi had an opportunity to study in a Kikuyu independent school before moving to a government Alliance High School. As undergraduates they both attended prestigious African colleges which had been established by the then ruling colonial administrations: Achebe went to University College, Ibadan in 1948 while Ngugi went to Makerere University College in 1959.

Achebe and Ngugi as writers share a lot in common. Both use their African imagination to retell the stories of Africa and Africans in contrast to the way they have been told earlier by some European writers. Thus, they are all centrally engaged with the same dominant issue which, according to Irele (2001), constitutes the imaginative and ideological forms of African expression in European languages i.e. “our historic encounter with and the continuing relationship to the west and the varied implications of our modern experience as it has been determined by this historic encounter” (Irele, 2001, p.68). However, they differ in some of their perspectives and approaches, especially in relation to the use of what has been sometimes referred to as the ‘language of the oppressor or the colonizer’ i.e. English in the context of the British Empire.

Neither Achebe nor Ngugi lived or wrote during the pre-colonial phase of Africa. But both writers had an opportunity to learn about pre-colonial Africa’s history and culture from their elders, relatives, parents etc. These lessons were mainly learnt through what Irele (2000) identify as representing the basic intertext of the African imagination i.e. ‘oral literature’.

For instance, in his 1998’s McMillan-Stewart Lectures at Harvard University entitled My Home Under Imperial Fire, Achebe states categorically that it “was from the conversation and disagreements in these rooms [His father’s piazza and his mother’s parlor]…that I learned much of what I know and have come to value about my history and culture…. I heard, for example, that one of Ogidi’s neighboring towns had migrated into its present location a long time ago and made a request to Ogidi to settle there. In those days there was plenty of land to go round and Ogidi people welcomed the newcomers, who then made a second and more surprising request –to be shown how to worship the gods of Ogidi” (Achebe, 2000, p.11).

Likewise, in Writers in Politics: A Re-Engagement with Issues of Literature & Society, Ngugi nostalgically recalls how he got involved in what he calls a dreadful indulgence of fiction: “It began in my childhood in my mother’s house where people would gather to tell stories and to compete in unraveling riddles. I myself was not good at telling stories but I was a very good listener. I could not hear enough of these stories. These characters, human, animal, ogres, all seemed dangerously but excitingly real to me. They dwelt in a world which was near and far, real and unreal, or shall I say marvelously real. The forest and the mountains and the regions in which they dwelt were truly enchanted, magically true, recognizably close to, but at the same time very different from, the Limuru that I knew ” (Ngugi, 1997, p. 87).

But these memoirs were not the stories they read when they went to school or church. There they read about civilized Europe and Europeans or about Africa and Africans who had no history, language, culture or religion. Little did they know then that they were located as ‘colonizable objects’ in a larger body of a European discourse that encompassed discourses such as those of ‘scientific racism’ and ‘civilization’ disguised under the innocent garb of Christianity.

For instance, the following is Achebe’s recollection - cited in African Literature as Restoration of Celebration - of his first naïve encounters with these writings: “One of the earliest short stories I wrote was called ‘Chike’s School Days’, and it ended like this: The first sentences in his New Method Reader were simple enough and yet they filled him with a vague exultation: ‘Once there was a wizard. He lived in Africa. He went to China to get a lamp…. That boy [Chike] was me [Achebe]…I did not see myself as an African to begin with. I took sides with the white men against the savages” (Achebe, 1991, p. 7).

And this is what Ngugi could recall: “At Ma-nguu and Kinyogoori primary schools, one of my teachers, Samuel Kibicho, introduced me to stories in books such as Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Dickens’ Oliver Twist and my happiness knew no bounds…. And then in 1954 I went to Alliance High School where I was introduced to a house full of these magic pages… I read voraciously; anything from detective novels to Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Tolstoy’s Childhood, Boyhood and Youth” (Ngugi, 1997, p. 87). It is interesting to note the affinity this list of books has with the following list of what fascinated Achebe in is school years: “ Treasure Island, Mutiny of the Bounty, Gulliver’s Travel, Ivanhoe, School for Scandal” (Achebe, 2000, p. 20).

To Achebe the light dawned when he reached what he calls an appropriate age. Deducing from what Achebe (2000) calls "the gossip in African Literature" once can speculate that the most significant incident in this realization was his experience of a ‘landmark rebellion’ over Joyce Carry’s novel Mister Johnson. This incident was triggered by their fellow student at University College, Ibadan who gathered the courage to tell their English professor point blank that he, the Nigerian student, only enjoyed the moment when Johnson, the Nigerian ‘bumbling idiot and embarrassing nitwit’ hero ,was shot to death by his British master in the novel. Though like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in its inhuman depiction of Africans, what sounded more problematic to Achebe (2000) in this novel relatively to Heart of Darkness of which he is well known as it’s prominent controversial critic, is that it’s author was/is writing or rather claiming to be writing about Nigeria i.e. the home of Achebe which, unlike Congo, was/is well known to Achebe.

This book made Achebe call into question his childhood assumption of the innocence of stories and in the end he began to understand that there is such a thing as absolute power over narrative that render the privileged the security to arrange the stories about others in whatever manner they, the privileged, like. Just like the totalitarian regimes, they ‘could rent a crowd’ for indeed the crowd of the ‘others’ in Mister Johnson reminds one of the crowd in Heart of Darkness.

Thus, when Achebe reached that appropriate age he realized that the European writers he read in school ‘had pulled a fast one on him’ for it indeed it came to light that he was not one of the so-called civilizing agents on Marlow’s boat steaming up the Congo in Conrad’s in/famous novel Heart of Darkness but, rather, he was “one of those strange beings jumping up and down on the river bank, making horrid faces” (Achebe, 1991, p. 7). This is when Achebe (1991) said no and concluded that stories are not innocent for they can locate one in a wrong crowd as in this case were he was put in a crowd of those who came to dispossess him.

However, in its preoccupation with this realization, African discourse has tended, whether deliberately or not, to ignore or pay little attention to the question of gender and patriarchy. And this has courted the attention of some feminist critics. One such critic is Florence Stratton, (1994) whose work How Could Things Fall Apart For Whom They Were Not Together? offers a feminist critique that tries to make Achebe swallow his own critical words on the racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness by arguing that there is sexism in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

According to Stratton (1994), in his attempt to masculinized the Africa that had been 'feminized' by Europe, Achebe ended up silencing the African women and therefore he failed to keep what he proclaimed as the prime duty of an African writer in the few years after independence i.e. the duty of restoring dignity to the past and to show that African people did not hear culture for the first time from Europeans. She argues that while Achebe attempt to ‘restore dignity’ and self-respect to African men, he does not attempt to do so to African women nor does he tell them, as he does to the African men, where “the rain started to beat them.” Thus their African writer's realization is literarily and stereotypicallt gendered in favour of African men at the expense of African women.

Since Ngugi often appear to be wary of telling his earlier experiences directly, I cannot exactly pinpoint when exactly he got to that point of realization. Maybe it was 1954 when an editor of the school magazine decided to frame Ngugi’s (1981) story on magic so that it can fit with the Christian message. Or maybe it was in 1955 when became a devout Christian and then abandoned it due to its relation to colonial discourses. Whatever the case, the main point that emerges here is that this kind of realization - this wake up call - is the basis of the birth of modern African [written] literature as a form of a promising African discourse that was to contest with the European discourse on Africa that was premised on what Edward Said appropriately terms Orientalism.

Achebe illustrates this On-the-road to Damascus type of realization nicely in the following conclusion on the difference between Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Senegalese Hamidou Kane’s novel Ambiguous Adventure: “Conrad portrays a void; Hamidou Kane celebrates a human presence and a heroic struggle. The difference between the two stories is very clear. You might say that difference was the very reason the African writer came into being. His story had been told him and he had found the telling quite unsatisfactory” (Achebe, 1991, pp. 6-7). However, the major mistake which he, Achebe, made in this quote was that he didn’t include ‘she’ and 'her' when referring to an African writer and thus opened doors for feminist critics to attack him in a way that is reminiscence of his very own attack on Conrad.

At this juncture it is worthwhile to recall one of the works that have influenced both writers i.e. the work of Frantz Fanon on The Wretched of the Earth. In its chapter entitled On National Culture, Fanon describes three phases, which characterizes the evolution of a native intellectual, in this case an African writer:

“In the first phase, the native intellectual gives proof that he has assimilated the culture of the occupying power. His writings correspond point by point with those of his opposite numbers in the mother country. His inspiration is European and we can easily link these works with definite trends in the literature of the mother country. This is the period of unqualified assimilation…. In the second phase we find the native is disturbed; he decides to remember what he is. This period of creative work approximately corresponds to that of immersion which we have just described. But since the native is not a part of his people, since he only has exterior relations with his people, he is content to recall their life only. Past happenings of the bygone days of childhood will be brought up out of the depths of his memory; old legends will be reinterpreted in the light of a borrowed aestheticism and of a conception of the world which was discovered under other skies…. Finally, the third phase, which is called the fighting phase, the native, after having tried to lose himself in the people and with people, will on the contrary shake the people. Instead of according the people’s lethargy and honoured place in his esteem, he turns himself into an awakener of the people; hence comes a fighting literature, and a national literature. During this phase a great many men and women who up till then would never have thought of producing a literary work, now that they find themselves in exceptional circumstances – in prison, with the Maquis or on the eve of their execution – feel the need to speak to their nation, to compose the sentence which expresses the heart of the people and to become mouthpiece of a new reality in action” (Fanon, 1963, pp. 178-179).

It is clear that Achebe and Ngugi outgrew the first phase while in school and by the time they started to write and publish their novels they were already in the transitory period between the second and the third phase.

The immediate effect of the transition and hence the realization was that the latter was put vehemently into practice in their first written novels i.e. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, which was published in 1958 – two years before Nigerian independence from Britain; and Ngugi’s The River Between, which, though was the first one be to be written, yet, it was the second to be published in 1965, a year after Weep Not Child was published.

A cursory analysis of the title of Things Fall Apart would lead one to conclude that Achebe was telling, not only the Europeans, but also the Africans that at a certain point of time before the colonizers came to Africa things were somewhat together. And with Christianity appearing as a twin sister/brother of Colonialism in taming, pacifying and conquering Africa(ans), which was a better place to start the polemic contest other than on the sphere of culture, political, and religion?

So the introductory note of my intermediate Heinemann version of Things Fall Apart re-written by John Davey, and of course approved by Achebe himself, reads: “This is the story about life in Africa before the Europeans came, and the destruction of this life by the Europeans…The clan had its own customs, religion and leaders…the people were free” (Davey, 1974 - In Achebe, 1958a, p. ix). And the first chapter of The River Between goes back to the ‘long ago’ as it paints the same type of picture: “These ancient hills and ridges were the heart and soul of the land. Their people rejoiced together, giving one another the blood and warmth of their laughter. Sometimes they fought. But that was amongst themselves and no outsider need ever know” (Ngugi, 1965, p.3).

Contrary to the Africa of Conrad and Joyce, the African societies of Achebe and Ngugi in the opening salvos of above two novels are presented as having a civilization and founders ordained by divine beings. Achebe, for instance introduces in the very first paragraph of the first chapter an old man who tells us that the founder of the town had engaged a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights – a story that reminds one of the Christians stories such that of Jacob who also engaged an angel before he was given a new name which was to be the name of a new nation i.e. Israel (Genesis 32:24-32 KJV). Ngugi is more explicit for he turns upside down the Christian story of creation: “And Murungu [God] had told them [Gikuyu and Mumbi i.e. the Kikuyu’s Adam and Eve]: this land I give to you, O man and woman. It is yours to rule and till, you and your posterity.” The land was fertile. It was the whole of Gikuyu country” (Ngugi, 1965, p. 2).

They thus retell stories about societies which had a God or spirits and,thus, had a religion. And many years later Achebe (2000), after gaining an understanding of the above-mentioned folklore of an Igbo town of Ogidi that was reluctant to foist its religious beliefs and practices on those neighbours even when it was invited to do so, concluded that this African society could not have any notion of the psychology of religious imperialism, and may I add paternalism, that was later to be manifested by European evangelism in Africa.

Moreover, Achebe (1958) tells us that his main character i.e. Okonkwo sat with kings and elders while Ngugi (1965) tell us that leaders rose from the land of many ridges, which simply mean that these pre-colonial societies had organized leadership let alone democracy. Achebe goes as far as telling us that there was a systematic monetary exchange system: “Unoka was, of course, a debtor, and he owed every neighbour some money, from a few cowries to quite substantial amounts” (Achebe, 1958, p. 4).

Yet in the midst of a strong temptation among African writers to romanticize the past, both writers manage to start retelling their stories without unneccessarily idealizing their pre-colonial African societies. For instance they are honest enough to admit that there were some ethnic wars as well as internal disputes. Okonkwo’s pre-colonial life itself is an embodiment of these conflicts: 'he fought and killed five men in tribal wars'; 'he broke the week of peace when he beat his wife, Ojiugo, and Ani, the earth goddess punished him'; 'for the sake of maintaining a fearless masculinity, he went against the warning of the oracle when he killed Ikemefuna; and then 'Okonkwo killed himself' and his suicide was to be a "story” [to be written by a colonial writer and not by a colonized writer] to make an “interesting reading under the title The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of Lower Niger” (Achebe, 1958).

This story of pacification, like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, was to be a guiding Bible to earlier colonialists, such as Captain Winterbottom in Achebe's Arrow of God, who believed they were “called” to bring light to the “heart” of the “African darkness” as this statement of his, reminiscence of Conrad’s fine specimen, imply: “ ‘He is a fine specimen, isn’t he? He’s been with me four years. He was a little boy of about thirteen – by my own calculation, they’ve no idea of years –when I took him on. He was absolutely raw’” (Achebe, 1964, p. 35). This is the kind of a paternalistic discourse that was to be inherited by Mr. Green in Achebe's No Longer at Ease.

Thus, on the eve of of the end of British rule in Nigeria when colonial administrators represented by Mr. Green were busy preparing ‘civil servants’ to take over, Things Fall Apart came out of one of the European publishing houses as an ‘African voice’ showing the damages inflicted on a pre-colonial African society which was organized according to its own suitable type of civilization. This was primarily an African attempt to tell the African story for the sake of Africa and Africans. The onus is on us to keep on rethinking, rewriting and retelling our own African his/herstory to our satisfaction.

Source: Chambi Chachage, CAS UCT 2003
Photo: Courtesy of Mail & Guardian Online

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