Monday, August 31, 2009

Re: 'Why is the African Continent poor - Is it because it hasn't produced world class philosophers?'

What an appalling and a ridiculous question, "'Why is the African Continent poor - Is it because it hasn't produced world class philosophers?'"

What is the definition of a philosopher and in whose terms should we define this when we go for benchmarking? Where on earth do people get these kinds of questions from and where do these people live? Are they writing simply to make a buck or two or perhaps they write such question 2 o'clock in the morning after some booze?

Liberation of any form or shape, and for that matter genuine liberation starts from self, from within. Once you have conquered and reconciled the inner injustices and the fears, then only one can stand tall and bold and face any others outside self.

The tendency to address serious subjects in generalization always ends up with significant prejudices, misinformation, assumptions and mostly misleading and the eventual outcome will certainly be an output for efforts that have avoided the real underlying questions.

Rather than getting into the bandwagon of apportioning blames amongst us (as if there weren't enough to go around), our generation should embark on and actively embrace self-liberation and helping each other to progress and liberate one another, as people. That is important. The psychological and impact and burden imposed in Africa and on Africans, is not to be underestimated.

For example, I am equally appalled when I read or hear from some of our people and some of our so called leaders, vigorously embracing the very structures that destroyed the African fabric many, many years ago, such as the 1885 Berlin Conference and vehemently spitting at our very own small innovative survival unities and strategies such as the Tanzanian Union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika.

"Pwani ya Tanganyika na Zanzibar ya sasa zilikuwa Pamoja kwa muda mrefu sana kabla ya kutengwa na Wakoloni Waingereza na Wajerumani. Kama zingebaki zimetengana, kwa 'wazalendo' hao hiyo ingekuwa ni halali, maana zilitengwa kwa hila na mitutu ya bunduki za Mabwana. Lakini uamuzi wa Tanganyika huru na Zanzibar huru kuungana, na hivyo kuwaunganisha tena ndugu waliokuwa wametengwa na Mabeberu, tendo hilo kuna viongozi wetu wanaosema halikuwa halali. Hatukufuata maoni ya watu kwa njia ya demokrasia wanaoijua wao. Wajerumani na Waingereza walitafuta maoni ya wazee wetu kwa mtutu wa bunduki! Hiyo ilikuwa halali. Nchi walizoziunda kwa njia hizo zilikuwa halali. Tunatakiwa tujivunie Utanganyika na Uzanzibari uliopatikana kwa njia hizo;lakini tuuonee haya Utanzania, tunda la uhuru wetu wenyewe. Sikuamini kuwa wakoloni walifauli kiasi hiki katika kuzinywesha kasumba na kuzitawala akili za baadhi yetu" - JK Nyerere, Uongozi Wetu na Hatima Ya Tanzania, Ukurasa 58

Further more, when I read from our learned Africans using terminologies like "Black" Africans (as in the attached video clips), knowingly or unknowingly the reference is always to the equation or comparison of or with "White" or Europe, as if it were some kind of a benchmark! What we fail to understand is that, in the context of accepting and buying into the so called "Black" or "White", the ground for any serious discussion is already intrinsically lost, favourably to the Architects who enjoys the status quo, as one of the main historical Black and White injustices. Remember to the eyes of the Architects of these kinds of segregations and politics, anything "Black" is assumed or rather by default expected to justify or defend the existence of literally anything therein or connected to;

While I am conscious that fundamental questions have to be asked and solutions sought without digressing, I still believe, fundamentally we as Africans, we ourselves must always rejects any connotations that places us in pigeon boxes. Our words and deeds must match. When we preach Unity, we must be working towards that UNITY, when we express our abhorrence on racism and linked injustices, we must refuse to call ourselves "Blacks" as there is no such thing as a "Black" person and so there is no such a thing as "Black" History. These references were created to place our societies in a particular ranked place within the politics of the world! These are labels and cages and we still use them in our very own researches, education, writings, and findings etc, effectively deeply ingrained in us!!

My rant is over (for now..)! You may read more on my views here:

Back to the core subject today, based on a provocative question by the author within the topic/discussion thread "Why is the African Continent poor?":

If you read or perhaps for some if you reflect (more so for those who have experienced directly), you will agree that, the colonies did not develop their colonies with the aim of developing the people for the people. When our first generations of leaders post Independence came to the realms of political power for home rule, the likes of Julius Kambarage Nyerere, their first aim was to allow people development. Excellent intentions and very good ground was laid down, and I dare say for a country like Tanzania, those foundations and the wisdom used in those days is what still sustains us as a nation to where we are today, albeit existing and ongoing challenges.

With consequent Tanzania governments, BIG mistakes were done to abolish MIIKO YA VIONGOZI (IMHO, in terms of genuine National interests, this was one of the most foolish and most stupid mistake committed I may add – and we as people allowed it to go ahead), and from those changes, from those moments, we have seen the trend and the outcome, I need not dwell into this, we all know what is going on in the country right now with all the endless scandals and no concrete punitive example setting redress or resolution to-date! Leaders are now openly keen to enrich themselves with riches they will never, I mean NEVER be able to FULLY & LEGALLY account for – to the standards that will be accepted in the public eye, and this is all done at the expense of the interests of the Public Office, where a leader/representative/public servant has been entrusted by the population to only be their keeper & or captain!

Sadly, all these corrupts practices are generally accepted in daylight and obviously known all over as everything is in the public domain! What we say is not what we do! Annoyingly, the rest of the significant part of the elite with interest in future leadership, all they do whiles out of power is plotting and plodding in the direction for an opportunity for their turn to do like their predecessors EVEN 10 or 100 times as BAD! While this is going on, in the streets and in various evening discussions at the bars, in buses, in stations, in the kitchen table, living rooms, online public forums etc, it is not unusual to hear credits given to those who managed to squander significant sums and dubious wealth within the shortest period while in the Public Office!

Those who play by the book or are keen to do so or perhaps likely to defend that position, are usually deemed as unworthy or unfit (wamelemaa, hawana mpango, hawafi kuwa viongozi n.k) or allegedly do not know how politics (with a small p) works; that they are naive and not realistic, and that if and when they get into the office, they will simply do the same or even worse!! Such statements and thinking shows what is on ones mind, and there goes no surprise what gets achieved when such a thinking gets into a position to influence progressive change!

Some of the major reasons our country and at large our Africa is poorly managed (as we are certainly not poor), is because:

1. Individually many have not taken our own personal responsibilities to the fullest capacity - this includes but by all means not exhaustive: appreciating, owning and promoting our very own and original version of our own culture, sense of identity as Africans, our activism and participation in decisions that affects our daily lives as Individuals or collectively. I once saw a TV show, so-called expert teaching British audience ladies how to run their families for example. To me all the teachings were things that we in Africa have known for years and do them naturally, though some are these days busy killing them in the name of modernity! This again reminds me of those who feel it is great to shop for vegetables from a supermarket (processed food) as opposed to buying fresh from the market! Small things but there is a telling…

2. Individually and collectively, continuously and progressively, we've easily and readily embrace what others subscribe/impose/describes us as Africans, and this to me shows to what extent we have allowed & continue to allow the robbery – consciously and or subconsciously.

3. Where we have tried, we have not managed to get the organizing to effectively achieve the initial aims of the coming together or have failed to strategically plan for eventual sustained achievement for the benefit of many; instead, we've mostly collaborate in better terms with people from far lands at the expense of own brothers and sisters – our own neighbours. This was true 300 years ago and is true today! Whether 300 years ago gold was traded for guns to oppress own people or the new word of new God or today when we sign dubious contracts with our modern day "civilized" modern government or when we allow planes carrying weapons which end up to the bandits in the Congo! It is the same concept, exactly the same just done differently and in a different era!

Until Individuals within our societies starts

- To take personal responsibilities to the fullest (or even aim for) with appropriate suitable actions, and then

- Effectively organizing at the grass roots level and follow through all the way to the national level or African regional level

We will continue to put in our public offices our own leaders, in the majority of whom are a reflective of our communities in terms of what we allow or tend to allow, with "some understanding" and "tolerance" - giving ways to petty and grand corruption and accepting so called "town boy or girl mission" .

We must strive to achieve zero tolerance to all that we already know are bad things for us individually and collectively – excellent example corruption of any shape or form – grand or petty! Stop looking for excuses to pay traffic police those silly petty cash bribes; the same applies to medical personnel, ministry personnel when looking for your files, when getting your building permit, in courts, when chasing for your tenders, when applying for jobs, when applying for a business loan etc. We don't need to complicate the subject, we simply need to do what we know is right and acceptable, and strive to make the trend in that direction as a normality and not an exception.

And to that end, what we need as Africans is no more lectures and studies, but implementing the right and suitable actions, which we all know what is required. Actions that will yield strong Public Institutions that can stand the test of time and suitability. Strong Public Institutions and NOT personal efforts within weak Public Institutions geared towards forging to create unsubstantiated or non existent public benefits such as (to name a few) RADAR project, EPA, hiring helicopters for political campaigns – yote haya ni viini macho, nothing else!!

Institutions with people development as the main agenda, not just thinking of leaders and or leading!

Until when we genuinely put people first and ask ourselves the right or suitable appropriate questions, we will certainly get the right or suitable appropriate answers and the right or suitable appropriate actions and outcomes. Otherwise all we keep doing is allowing and creating a platform for breeding African rulers with their own elite agenda, in place of colonist or dictators who also had their own agenda – none includes people for people's benefit, and then we will keep asking why Africa is Poor!

Irrespective of who is the original author or architect of the question, charity starts at home. The home is self. Africa is indeed not poor but it is indeed poorly managed.

The question should have therefore been, why is Africa badly managed?

TEMU, ABS © 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Loliondogate II: Eviction Exposed!

Read the statement on the shocking Forced Removals of Maasai Pastoralists in Loliondo, Tanzania as well as spontaneous and moving preliminary reflections from a member of a fact-finding mission to Loliondo at

In the latter text you will read the following revelation:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What do you know about your Africa?

Dear Prodigal Son of the Soil, as painful as it might be to be African in a world whereby there is historical erasure and amnesia in regard to Africa, it is not that helpful to deliberately partake - by way of denialism - in writing off that history as if you fully know it. There are a number of documentations on how there has been a systematic distortion and erasure of what Africa has and is contributing to the world. Have you consulted all of them? Or you have just ended with the Egyptologists you are questioning? As I said to someone else in my earlier response to 'Africa has not produced world-class philosophers', not knowing is not an excuse. Don't tell me you have exhausted the history of Africa because if you had done so you wouldn't have said what you have said without even referring to any of the Africans/Africanists you are arguing against and disputing the evidence they have provided. You can quote and agree with Hegel because you have taken time to engage with him as if he is an authority on Africa's history. But have you taken time to deal with Africa's archives?

For instance, have you taken time to go through Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his colleague's collections such as Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. In regard to pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial institutions of higher learning in Africa have you ever consulted Prof. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza's A Historical Accounting of African Universities: Beyond Afropessimism? Before you wrote off Egypt from Africa as if it is the only civilization Africa could - and should not - boast of did you consider the new archeological evidence presented by our very own Prof. Felix A. Chami in his book The Unity of African Ancient History: 3000 BC to AD 500 . Concerning who write history for whom and why, have you paid as much attention to Jacques Depelchin's Silences in African History: Between the Syndromes of Discovery and Abolition especially its section on 'Is Western Europe the birthplace of civilization?' What about the classics such as The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and Ibn Batuta's travelogues?

One can go on and on referencing but thats not the point. The main issue here is that we need to do away with this intellectual arrogance of presuming we know all that is supposed to be known about this Africa in relation to Euro-America while most of what we know or think we know is part and parcel of the Euro-American canon that belongs to what Edward Said aptly termed Orientalism. Why spend so much time with Hegel who never even set foot in Africa instead of doing what has been referred to as Exorcising Hegel's Ghost by studying about Africa - its past, present and future - in its own terms? Is it too hard for us to search for the unsung heroes/heroines of Africa and engage with what they said and/or wrote? Can't we go to Lake Turkana and study about one Sin Akuru Kuku Lubanga who lived around 2348 BCE and whom, it is said, "Emperor Urnamu of Ur in Mesopotamia sent Emissaries to consult him on matters relating to ethics, metaphysics and astronomy as these related to the perennial problems of human origins, security, survival and destiny" (Quoted from Gilbert E. M Ogutu's African Renaissance: A Third Millenium Challenge to Thought and Practice in African Philosophy)?

Once again let me invoke the spirit of Why I love-hate Euro-America as I end my response by juxtaposing a passage from a Professor of Psychiatry, who was also attempting to respond to that claim that Africa has not produced world class philosophers, with Chinua Achebe's 'Literary-Psychoanalysis':

"If you have lived in the West you know how passionate many people are to show that Africans are not up to it. I have often wondered why. I think that is the question. It is not due to ignorance, they would not be so passionate. What is it that they fear or envy? That would be more like it. The history of mankind is the rise of one people and their decline followed by other people. Where are the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Greek and Romans of yesteryears? Africa day of glory has been and will come again! There was a time the Romans were not thought highly by the Greek, and the Romans in turn thought the British were unteachable" - Prof. Gad P. Kilonzo

"Travelers with closed minds can tell us little except about themselves. But even those not blinkered, like Conrad with xenophobia, can be astonishing blind. Let me digress a little here. One of the greatest and most intrepid travelers of all time, Marco Polo, journeyed to the Far East from the Mediterranean in the thirteenth century and spent twenty years in the court of Kublai Khan in China. On his return to Venice he set down in his book entitled Description of the World his impressions of the peoples and places and customs he had seen. But there were at least two extraordinary omissions in his account. He said nothing about the art of printing, unknown as yet in Europe but in full flower in China. He either did not notice it at all or if he did, failed to see what use Europe could possibly have for it. Whatever the reason, Europe had to wait another hundred years for Gutenberg. But even more spectacular was Marco Polo's omission of any reference to the Great Wall of China nearly 4,000 miles long and already more than 1,000 years old at the time of his visit. Again, he may not have seen it; but the Great Wall of China is the only structure built by man which is visible from the moon! Indeed travelers can be blind. As I said earlier Conrad did not originate the image of Africa which we find in his book. It was and is the dominant image of Africa in the Western imagination and Conrad merely brought the peculiar gifts of his own mind to bear on it. For reasons which can certainly use close psychological inquiry the West seems to suffer deep anxieties about the precariousness of its civilization and to have a need for constant reassurance by comparison with Africa. If Europe, advancing in civilization, could cast a backward glance periodically at Africa trapped in primordial barbarity it could say with faith and feeling: There go I but for the grace of God. Africa is to Europe as the picture is to Dorian Gray -- a carrier onto whom the master unloads his physical and moral deformities so that he may go forward, erect and immaculate. Consequently Africa is something to be avoided just as the picture has to be hidden away to safeguard the man's jeopardous integrity. Keep away from Africa, or else!" - Chinua Achebe

No wonder Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) exclaimed 'Ex Africa aliquid novi', that is, 'Out of Africa there is always something new'!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kutoka Moyoni: Kwa nini Natetea Kujifunza na Kufundisha kwa Kiswahili ilhali Najua Kiingereza

Mara kwa mara watu mbalimbali wamekuwa wanahoji dhamira ya wanaharakati wanaotetea matumizi ya Kiswahili kama Lugha ya Kufundishia kwenye shule na vyuo vyetu. Hivi karibuni nilikumbana tena na hoja ya aina hiyo. Ifuatayo ni sehemu ya maelezo yangu kuhusu kwa nini mimi binafsi natetea ufundishaji huo. Maelezo hayo yanatokana na jibu nililolitoa kuhusu swali hili: Utetezi wa Kujifunza kwa Kiswahili: Uzalendo au Unafiki wa Wajuao Kiingereza?

Sijawahi kupinga Kiingereza na wala sitakipinga ndio maana, kama inavyodaiwa, nakitumia sana. Nachosisitiza ni upatikanaji wa maarifa/ufahamu ulio sanjari/sambamba na ujuaji wa lugha husika. Hili linawezekana kunapokuwa na ufundishaji mzuri wa lugha husika pamoja na ufundishaji bora kwa kutumia lugha ambayo wanafunzi wanaielewa na kuitumia zaidi kwenye mazingira yao ya kila siku ili wahusianishe kile walichojifunza na mazingira wanayopambana nayo kila siku hatimaye waweze kuyabadili ili kuleta maendeleo yanayoendana na muktadha wa jamii yao .

Nachopinga ni hii dhana 'potofu' kuwa njia nzuri (na ya lazima?) ya kujifunza Kiingereza katika mazingira yetu ni kwa kukitumia kufundishia ilhali hatujui kukitumia vizuri kwa maongezi na maandishi. Je, hivyo ndivyo hao wazazi wetu wanaotumiwa kama mfano walivyojifunza Kiingereza vizuri kabla hatujaleta hii 'sera ndumilakuwili ya lugha'? Tukitaka kuwa kama wao tuandae walimu wanaojua kufundisha Kiingereza kama lugha ya pili ili tuweze kukiongea vizuri na kukiandika. Hivyo ndivyo wao walivyoandaliwa na hakika kuna tofauti kubwa kati ya wale waliosoma kabla ya mabadiliko ya sera na wale waliofuatia.

Pengine inaonekana mimi ni mwandishi mzuri wa Kiingereza kutokana na hizo safu/makala zangu ila, laiti ingejulikana, msingi wangu wa Kiingereza sio mzuri kiasi hicho hivyo huwa napata shida sana kwenye suala la sarufi na tungo. Nilibahatika tu kidogo kukaa ng'ambo kwa mwaka mmoja hivi nikiwa mdogo ndipo hapo walau nilipata kauwezo ka ziada ka kuweza kujua Kiingereza kiasi kwa kutumia uzoefu wa asili ('intuition') lakini bado mpaka leo sentensi zangu hazijanyooka na nakatika sana hata nikiongea hivyo natumia muda mwingi sana kuziweka sawa ninapoandika. Mtu anaweza kuuita utetezi wangu wa Kiswahili unafiki ila mimi naongea kutokana na uzoefu wangu na uhalisia wa maisha niliyoishi hapa Tanzania hasa wakati nasoma Shule ya Msingi Mlimani na ya Sekondari Azania ambazo zote zilikuwa ni za Serikali.

Mfano naopenda kuutumia kuhusu jinsi ambavyo nilimaliza shule bila kujua maana ya spishi ('species'), unadhihirisha kuwa sizungumzii suala hili kwa sababu najua Kiingereza na sitaki wengine wakijue. Kwa kuhitimisha nauweka mfano huo, na tafsiri yake, kutoka kwenye makala yangu ya Kiingereza kuthibitisha kuwa hili ni suala ambalo limeniathiri na kila ninapoenda kwenye shule zetu na naposoma vitu walivyoandika wanafunzi na jinsi wanavyoongea Kiingereza 'kilichovunjika' sana na hivyo kutoeleweka basi huwa najiuliza sana kwa nini tunawafanyia hivi watoto wetu kana kwamba ELIMU = KIINGEREZA = UTANDAWAZI = MAARIFA = MAENDELEO:

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?

Tafsiri/Maelezo: Siku moja Mwalimu wangu aliandika maana ya neno spishi ubaoni. Maana aliyoandika niliinakili kama ilivyo. Siku ya mtihani nikaiandika vivyo hivyo. Nikapata vema. Lakini nilikuwa sijui maana hasa ya spishi japo nilikuwa najua maana ya maneno yote ambayo mwalimu aliyatumia kuelezea maana ya spishi. Nilikuja kugundua miaka mingi baadae kuwa kumbe kuna maneno mawili aliyotumia mwalimu kimakosa maana yalipaswa kuunganishwa na kuwa neno moja. Sina hakika kama mwalimu alilijua hilo na kuwa alikosea kwa bahati mbaya. Ila niligundua kuwa neno alilotumia lilisababisha nipate tafsiri hii ya kimakosa 'Spishi ni kundi la wanyama wanaozalishana na kuzaa rutuba ya majira ya kuchipua' badala ya tafsiri hii sahihi 'Spishi ni kundi la wanyama wenye uwezo wa kuzalishana na hivyo kuzaa watoto ambao na wao wana uwezo wa kuzalishana wakikua.' Cha kusikitisha ni kuwa kipindi nilipokuwa nikifundishwa spishi ndicho kipindi nilipokuwa nafuga samaki na kuna samaki walikuwa kamwe hawazalishani ila sikujua kwa nini. Je, hiyo haikuwa fursa nzuri ya kujifunza kwa vitendo kile kilichofundishwa na Mwalimu wangu wa Biolojia shuleni? Je, sikuipoteza fursa hiyo kwa sababu ya kufundishwa kwa Kiingereza bila kupata ufahamu/maarifa halisi ya kile kilichofundishwa, yaani, spishi? Mpaka leo najiuliza kama kweli Mwalimu wangu alikuwa anajua anachokifundisha kwa Kiingereza. Kufundisha kunahusisha zaidi suala la kutoa maarifa. Unapomfundisha mtu kupika ugali kilicho muhimu ni ajue kupika ugali. Lugha ni chombo tu cha kuwezesha kusambaza maarifa na kubadilishana taarifa. Na chombo kinachofanya kazi hiyo kwa ufanisi ni kile ambacho watumiaji wanakielewa vizuri zaidi. Kuna uwezekano kuwa tunaingiza siasa nyingi kuliko utaalamu husika kwenye hili suala la lugha. Je, tunajaribu sana kujua fani kuliko maudhui yake?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Has Africa Produced 'World Class' Philosophers?

Ozodi Thomas Osuji's INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSPHY is an interesting initiative, albeit heavily laden with intellectual arrogance. I find this line from that 'Free' "Philosophy 101" particularly problematic: "Africa has not produced world class philosophers, at any rate, I do not know of any to review". Not knowing them is not an excuse. Unless 'world = west'. If this is not so and if that is not the truncated Africa of Hegel then one can start with Ibn Khaldun at Then you can move to Hegel's so-called 'Africa' proper by looking at Anton-Wilhelm Almo. This is how he is described by two renowned (African) philosophers:

"Antony Wilhelm was originally a black Ghanaian. But he lived in and studied in Germany from the age of 4 until the age of about 50 where he lectured and wrote his philosophical texts some years before Emmanuel Kant was known." - H. Odera Oruka on 'Claude Sumner as an African Philosopher' in Claude Sumner's 'Living Springs of Wisdom and Philosophy - Volume 1: Problematics of an African Philosophy'

"Amo's philosophical career took place principally in Germany, where he received a training that he in turn was destined to dispense as a teacher in the universities of Halle, Wittenberg and Jena between the years 1730 and 1740, before returning to his home country where he died. His work is almost entirely written in Latin. These are the main titles: Dissertatio inauguralis de jure Maurorum in Europa (The Rights of Africans in Europe), 1729 (this text is lost) [Ask yourself why?]; Dissertatio de humanae mentis apatheia (On the impassivity of the Human Mind), 1734, Tractatus de arte sobrie et accurate philosophandi (On the Art of Philosophizing with Sobriety and Accuracy), 1738 (this is Amo's most important text and runs to 208 pages). An English translation of these works was published in 1968 by the English Department of the Martin Luther University of Halle, under the title Antonius Gulielmus Amo Afer of Axim in Ghana, Translation of his Works " - Paulin J. Hountondji on 'African Philosophy: Myth and Reality'

When you are done with Amo you can move to Cheick Anta Diop at Of course one may not agree that he is 'world class' if to him/her the 'world' is defined by Western/Euro-American standards. Indeed those are the very standards that questioned his doctoral thesis, nay, theses. Now I know one might argue that these were historians, not philosophers. But, then, isn't Hegel's 'Philosophy of History' philosophy?

Laiti Tungejifunza Kwa Lugha Zetu

Je, unakumbuka neno hili ‘Tujifunze Lugha Yetu’? Hilo ndilo lililokuwa jina la vitabu vya kiada tulivyovitumia kujifunza Kiswahili enzi za Ujamaa. Kwa hakika lilikuwa andiko la kizalendo.

Siku hizi kuna msisitizo mkubwa wa kujifunza kwa lugha ya kigeni. Na si kujifunza tu kwa lugha hiyo, bali pia kuitumia kufundishia. Lo, shule za Kiingereza imekuwa biashara nono mno!

Wataalamu wa ‘nadharia ya baada ya ukoloni’, au ‘postcolonial theory’ kama wanavyoiita kwa Kiingereza, wanadai lugha ya kikoloni si ya kigeni tena. Eti sasa ni lugha yetu maana tumechangia kwa kiasi kikubwa kuibadili na kuikuza. Hata maneno ya Kiswahili kama ‘Safari’ na ‘Uhuru’ leo yapo kwenye Kamusi ya Kiingereza. Eti nayo yamekuwa maneno ya Kiingereza.

Naam ni kweli kabisa tumechangia - kwa lazima au hiari - kukiendeleza Kiingereza. Tena Afrika inajivunia kuwa na waandishi mahiri wa lugha hiyo. Wapo Wole Soyinka, John Cortzee na Nardine Gordimer waliopata mpaka Tuzo ya Nobeli ya Fasihi kutokana na maandishi yao kwa Kiingereza. Pia kuna kina Chinua Achebe na Ngugi wa Thiong’o wavumao katika medani hiyo.

Kwa nini basi, wanahoji waumini wa Kiingereza, tusitumie lugha hiyo ya kitandawazi kufundishia kwenye ngazi zote za elimu nchini? Kwa nini tung’ang’anie kutumia Kiswahili na hata tudai kitumike kabisa kuanzia Chekechea hadi Chuo Kikuu? Hatuoni kuwa tutapoteza fursa ya kutumia lugha inayotambulika zaidi duniani? Au hatutambui kuwa Kiingereza ndio lugha ya soko huria - chombo cha mawasiliano kwenye uchumi na biashara ya ushindani ulimwenguni?

Wakati mjadala huu mkali ukiendelea, juma lililopita tulibahatika kupata ujio wa mmoja wa waandishi waliotajwa hapo juu. Ngugi alikuja kwenye ‘Kongamano la 6 la Umajumui wa Afrika la Usomaji kwa Wote’. Kaulimbiu ya Kongamano hilo lililofanyika Chuo Kikuu cha Dar-es-Salaam lilikuwa ‘Usomaji kwa ajili ya Kuleta Mageuzi na Maendeleo ya Kijamii na Kiuchumi.’

Mwandishi huyu alitumia fursa hii kutukumbusha umuhimu wa kutumia lugha zetu kutunza kumbukumbu na kukuza maarifa ya jamii zetu. Katika mhadhara mkuu wa Kongamano hilo alioupa kichwa kinachoweza kutafsiriwa kama ‘Dhidi ya Ukabaila wa Lugha na Udarwini: Mazingira ya Kujenga Utamaduni wa Kusoma’, Ngugi alisisitiza umuhimu wa uelewa/kuelewa.

Hakika huwezi kuleta maendeleo ya kijamii bila kuvirithisha uelewa wa kisiasa, kiutamaduni na kiuchumi wa jamii hiyo vizazi vyake. ‘Je umeelewa?’ Hilo ndilo swali ambalo mama yake Ngugi alikuwa akimuuliza kila baada ya maelekezo aliyokuwa akimpa kila alipokuwa akimtuma kwa ndugu zake enzi za utoto wake. ‘Yule mzazi asiyewajibika tu’, anatukumbusha Ngugi, ‘ndiye anaweza kutoa maelekezo kwa kutumia maneno na lugha ambayo mtoto wake haielewi.’

Lakini hivyo ndivyo tunavyofanya kwa kuanza ghafla kufundishia kwa Kiingereza baada ya kufundishia kwa Kiswahili shuleni. Tunafanya hivyo japo tunajua fika kuwa hatuna walimu wa kutosha wanaojua hata kufundisha Kiingereza kama lugha ya pili licha ya kukifundishia. Mfano wa kuaibisha kuhusu mkanganyiko huu ulitolewa hivi karibuni Bungeni na Gertrude Lwakatare.

Mbunge huyo alisema: “Mheshimiwa Mwenyekiti, mimi mwenyewe ni shuhuda, nilienda kule kwetu, nilikuwa napita nikasikia Mwalimu anasema “this is a kinife” anamaanisha knife. Nikaingia darasani, kuingia darasani, nikamsaidia nikamwambia hii inatwa knife (“naifu”), usiseme “kinife”. Au mtoto wa Form Six anakwambia “my phone is crying”. Your phone is not crying, is ringing! Ni kwa sababu ya vitu vidogo, kwa sababu hatuko fluent, tujitahidi, tusione aibu.” Wabunge wakacheka. Na kupiga makofi. Mjadala ukaisha. Sera ya lugha ikabaki vilevile.

Hili ni suala zito la kisera. Si jambo la kulifanyia mzaha. Wala kulichekea. Limetugharimu sana kama nchi. Na linatupoteza kama jamii. Ni kitu cha kustaajabisha. Tena hakifanyiki katika nchi zingine. Eti kuwafundishia watoto kwa lugha wanayoielewa kwa miaka saba bila kuwafundisha vizuri lugha wasiyoielewa. Kisha kuanza ghafla kuwafundishia kwa lugha hiyo wasiyoielewa!

Laiti tungeweka pembeni kasumba na kutambua kuwa suala hili si suala la uzalendo tu. Ni suala la ubinadamu. Unapomnyima mtu fursa ya kujifunza kwa lugha yake anayoitumia na kuielewa zaidi unamnyanganya utu wake. Tena unamuibia uhuru wake wa kufikiri, kuhoji na kuvumbua katika muktadha wa mazingira ya jamii yake. Unamfanya mtumwa katika nchi yake mwenyewe.
Ndio maana kuna umuhimu wa kuzitafakari kwa makini hoja alizozitoa Ngugi katika huo mhadhara wake. Na kuna hitaji la kuzingatia hoja kuu ya kitabu chake kipya cha ‘Re-membering Africa’. Jina la kitabu hicho lina maana ya kuwa Afrika imevunjwavunjwa kwa ukoloni na ubeberu wa lugha za kigeni na inahitaji kuungwa tena kwa kutumia kumbukumbu za lugha zetu.

Tukitaka kuendeleza maarifa na kujiletea maendeleo yetu wenyewe tuenzi lugha zetu. Tujifunze lugha zetu. Tufundishe kwa lugha zetu. Tutafiti kwa lugha zetu. Tuvumbue kwa lugha zetu zote.

Kama anavyoghani Malenga ‘Issa Bin Mariam’:

Amkeni, Waafrika.
Uafrika ni Umajumui wa Afrika.
Oteni ndoto, Kizaramo,
Fikra, Kiswahili; mawazo Kigikuyu.

© Chambi Chachage - Mwananchi (25 Agosti 2009)
* Picha ya Mtoto kwa hisani ya Adam Lingson - Blogu ya Upole

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blogu zinachochea au zinafifisha uandishi?

Hizi ni ‘Zama za Utandawazi.’ Hivyo ndivyo wasomi fulani wanavyotuambia. Hakika mtandao wa mawasiliano umepanuka. Hata mizunguko imeongezeka na wanamtandao wamekuwa wengi.

Hali hii ya kuongezeka kwa mwingiliano na kukua kwa mawasiliano ulimwenguni inajulikana kama kutandawaa. Huko kusambaa kumeikuza kwa kasi Teknolojia ya Habari na Mawasiliano ambayo sasa inajulikana kwa kifupi kama Teknohama. Hata hivyo, Utandawazi – ambao wanaharakati na wanamapinduzi fulani wanauona kuwa ni Ubeberu uliojigeuza jina tu –haujaifanya Teknohama iwafikie watu wa nasaba na matabaka yote duniani kwa usawa.

Blogu ni aina mojawapo ya Teknohama ambazo zimeibuka hivi karibuni kutokana na kutandawaa huku. Kama lilivyo gazeti, redio au runinga/televisheni, Blogu ni chombo cha habari kinachotumika kufikisha taarifa au habari fulani kwa kutumia maandishi, maneno, picha na kadhalika. Hata hivyo, chombo hiki cha habari kinatumia kinakilishi/kompyuta au simu iliyounganishwa kwenye mtandao maalumu wa mawasiliano ili kufikisha ujumbe.

Baadhi ya Blogu maarufu zinazohusu Tanzania ni ‘Blogu ya Jamii’ inayomilikiwa na Muhiddin Issa Michuzi, Swahili Time’ inayoendeshwa na Chemi Che Mponda, ‘Nukta77’ inayosimamiwa na Subi Sabato, na BongoCelebrity’ inayohaririwa na Jeff Msangi.

Japokuwa Blogu ni aina ya chombo cha habari ambacho bado hakijatimiza mwongo mmoja – yaani miaka kumi – hapa Tanzania, hivi sasa kuna wanablogu wengi sana. Utitiri huu wa Blogu unatokana na ukweli kuwa kwa kiasi fulani hiki ni chombo huria ambacho mtu yoyote mwenye fursa au uwezo wa kutumia mtandao anaweza kukimiliki bila gharama zozote mbali na zile za kulipia mtandao wenyewe na kompyuta au simu. Hivi sasa kuna tafiti zinaendelea kuhusu wingi wa Blogu nchini na matumizi yake.

Jambo la kuzingatia hapa ni kuwa kuna aina nyingi za Blogu zinazohusu Tanzania na kwa namna moja au nyingine zinahusiana na fani ya uandishi. Maswali muhimu ya kujiuliza kuhusiana na suala hilo ni: Je, hizi Blogu zinachochea au kufifisha fani uandishi na usomaji? Ni kwa namna gani Blogu zinakuza au kudumaza sanaa na stadi za uandishi na usomaji?

Tuanze na Blogu ya Jamii ambayo pengine ndiyo maarufu kuliko zote hapa nchini. Ukiitembelea utaona kuwa inajaribu kukidhi mahitaji ya makundi mbalimbali kama vile: wanaopenda burudani hasa za picha, vikaragosi na video; wanaopenda taarifa mbalimbali za kisiasa, kijamii, kiutamaduni na kiuchumi; na wale ambao wanapenda mijadala, midahalo na maswali.

Tukiutafsiri uandishi kama aina yoyote ya matumizi ya maandishi kufikisha ujumbe, hakika Blogu ya Jamii inauchochea na kuukuza. Ukiifuatilia Blogu hii utaona jinsi ambavyo waandishi mbalimbali wanatuma maandishi yao humo na jinsi wasomaji mbalimbali wanavyotoa maoni yao kuhusu maandishi hayo humo humo kwenye Blogu. Kuna baadhi ya maandishi yanapata maoni kutoka kwa watu hata zaidi ya mia moja kwa siku!

Lakini tukiamua kuutafsiri uandishi kama fani inayozingatia misingi fulani ya kisanii, kiufundi na kitaaluma basi kuna uwezekano mkubwa kuwa Blogu ya Jamii haichangii sana katika kukuza fani hii. Hii inatokana na ukweli kuwa maandishi mengi yanayowekwa humo yamejikita zaidi katika kufikisha ujumbe mfupi na kwa haraka ambapo nia kuu inakuwa ni kupasha habari, kuuliza maswali, kujibu hoja au kutoa burudani. Mara moja moja kunakuwa na maandishi ya kisanii kama vile mashairi, ya kiufundi kama vile insha, na ya kitaaluma kama vila ripoti ila kwa ujumla uandishi katika Blogu hii unazingatia zaidi maudhui kuliko fani.

Licha ya hayo Blogu ya Jamii inachochea fani ya picha/taswira pengine kwa sababu mmiliki wake ni mpiga picha mahiri na mzoefu. Blogu hii pia imeunganishwa na Blogu zingine zikiwamo zile ambazo zimejikita zaidi katika uandishi kama fani (yenye maudhui). Mojawapo ya Blogu hizo ni ile ya mwandishi maarufu Majjid Mjengwa.

Mjengwa kwa kiasi kikubwa amekuwa akiitumia Blogu yake kama chombo cha kusambaza makala zake alizokuwa akiziandika katika magazeti mbalimbali kabla ya kuanzisha jarida la Kwanza Jamii. Japokuwa makala hizo zimejikita zaidi katika uchambuzi wa kisiasa, uandishi wake unajaribu kuwa na vionjo vyenye uwiano wa kisanii na kiufundi. Mizania hii inajidhihirisha hasa pale mwandishi anapotumia riwaya na hekaya mbalimbali katika uchambuzi wa matukio halisi.

Mwanablogu mwingine anayetumia Blogu kwa namna hii ni Mwandishi wa Habari na Mtunzi Mkongwe, Ndimara Tegambwage. Blogu yake inajitambulisha kwa Kauli Mbiu: ‘Uhuru Hauna Kikomo. Kikomo Kinawekwa na Maadui wa Uhuru.’ Maandishi mengi yaliyomo humo yanatokana na safu yake ya ‘Sitaki’ katika gazeti la Tanzania Daima.

Dondoo hii kutoka katika Blogu ya Tegambwage inaonesha mfano wa matumizi ya fani ya uandishi yenye usanii unaowiana na ufundi: “Kwa hiyo, kwa kusoma ndani ya ‘habari chakupewa,’ mwandishi mzuri huweza kuanza kufuatilia habari yenyewe, isiyovalishwa vilemba au vitenge; isiyopakwa mafuta na kupuliziwa pafyumu. Isiyolenga kusifia na kutukuza watawala, bali yenye nguvu ya kutoa ujumbe sahihi kwa watawala na wataliwa”!

Dalili zinaonesha kuwa watu wengi wataendelea kuanzisha Blogu zao ilhali wanablogu wengi watashindwa kuendesha Blogu zao. Tayari kuna Blogu nyingi ambazo hazijatumika kwa muda mrefu kutokana na wanablogu wake kukosa muda au kutopata cha kuandika. Pia inaonekana kuwa Blogu zinazowavutia wengi ni zenye maandishi machache, picha nyingi na vichekesho vingi.

Inaonekana kuwa, kwa sasa kuna ushindani mkubwa, wa kupata wasomaji, kati ya Blogu mbalimbali ambapo zile za burudani na wasifu zinaelekea kupata wachangiaji wengi zaidi, zikifuatiwa kwa mbali kiasi na zile za siasa na harakati. Inaonekana pia kuwa Blogu na Teknohama kwa ujumla zinafifisha utamaduni wa kuandika na kujisomea vitabu. Katika Jimbo moja huko Marekani inasemekana kuwa maandishi yaliyowekwa mtandaoni yataanza kutumika kufundishia mashuleni badala ya vitabu vya kiada. Je, Blogu zitatokomeza vitabu?

Ili kuziwezesha Blogu kuwa kichocheo cha uandishi ni lazima kuwe na uwiano kati ya maandishi na taswira. Pia ni muhimu kukuza vipaji vya uandishi wenye mvuto. Kwa mtaji huo, chombo huria kama hiki kikitandawaa sawia na kuwafikia watu wengi kitaondoa urasimu na ukiritimba wa wachapishaji wa magazeti na majarida. Na Blogu zitazalisha vitabu!

© Chambi Chachage - Imechapishwa kwenye Toleo la 3 la Soma

Friday, August 7, 2009


It is indeed a hot seat. They say it was especially set up for someone who never sat, nay, stood, on it. Indeed little did the current Prime Minister know, then, that he will be its first victim.

Of course I am talking of the impromptu questions and answers’ parliamentary sessions with the PM on Thursdays. Many a times the Premier has come out of them unscathed. But there is one particular matter that tends to put him on the spot: ‘The Zanzibar Question.’

Not so long ago the PM ignited a national debate when he seemed to claim that ‘Zanzibar is not a country.’ This time around, in his usual frankness, he has expressed a controversial wish. ‘God willing’, said he, ‘I would like to see Tanzania run by a single government instead of two.’

Expectedly, this statement has sparked yet another national debate on ‘The Union Question’. “Several Zanzibar politicians”, noted The Citizen of 1 August 2009, “denounced Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda’s remark.” One of them even insisted that the PM should withdraw his statement.

In an interview with BBC Africa, Prof. Abdallah Safari observed how reluctant we have been in dealing squarely with genuine grievances particularly in regard to Zanzibar’s identity and autonomy. It is this tendency to beat around the bush that renders ‘Kero the Muungano’, that is, ‘Union Grievances’, a never ending issue. It’s about time now that we take the bull by its horns.

But where do we start? With the vision(s) that informed the founding fathers of the Union, that is, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume? Or, by way of referenda, should we go to the people of the then Tanganyika and Zanzibar, that is, Tanzanians?

If we start with the former then we have to understand what end was justified by the means in which the ‘Articles of Union between the Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar’ were signed in 1964. Surely the quest for African Unity or Pan-Africanism was a motivating factor. But, in an ulterior sense, it was not the primary one.

To Karume, as Prof. B. P. Srivastava notes in ‘The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977–Some Salient Features-Some Riddles’, the Union was mainly “motivated by the instinct of political self-preservation” as it brought strength to Zanzibar and protected them from external enemies of the Revolution.

In the case of Nyerere who had then just survived an army mutiny, the Union was mostly motivated by the need to protect Tanganyika from an impending Communist threat in its doorstep. Way back before independence he was quoted as saying that Zanzibar is “very vulnerable to outside influences” and thus confessed: “I fear it will be a big headache for me.”

Many years later he admitted that the “Act of Union” was “an emergency act.” It is not surprising then that this is the same Nyerere who became a fiery critic of those Members of Parliament, famously known as G55, who came up with a resolution, demanding a government of Tanganyika. What he wrote afterwards can help us move beyond the current Union structure.

In his book on ‘Our Leadership and the Destiny of Tanzania’, Nyerere affirms that we could have adopted a merger with one government or a federation with three governments. “But”, he insists, “we felt unable to do so because of the small size of Zanzibar relative to that of Tanganyika.” The latter setup, he asserts, “would have been too costly for Tanganyika” But why? Because it “would contribute the vast bulk of the costs for running” it on top of its own.

Why then didn’t we opt for what the current PM wish? Nyerere’s answer is as significant today as it was then: “A Union with One Government would give the impression that Tanganyika had swallowed up Zanzibar. We had been fighting for the Independence and Unity of Africa; we did not want it to be thought, even erroneously, that we were introducing a new form of imperialism.”

He thus concludes his answer: “For that reason I opposed a One Government structure.” Surely the PM who happened to be a protégé of Nyerere could have not missed that. Who then inspired his wish for a one government? Ironically, it must be this same mentor of his. To Nyerere, a one government setup remained an option. But a three-government setup was always a nonstarter.

Thus Nyerere’s poetic book ‘Tanzania! Tanzania!’ is primarily a passionate argument about why the Union will collapse if we form a federation with three governments. Therein he insists that if we really have to change it then let us change it to a one government Union. This might have been the ultimate goal that he had in mind all along.

It may be true that “the founder of the Union”, as Dr. Sengondo Mvungi recalls in The Citizen cited above, “had said that the two governments was merely a transitional stage toward a single government.” But why then have we witnessed a lot of high level reservations over the years toward the increase of Union matters in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania?

Indeed those matters have constitutionally doubled from the original 11 in the Articles of Union. To make matters worse, as Prof. Abdul Sherrif and Ismail Jussa observes in their chapter on ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards: The State of Constitutionalism in Zanzibar-2007’, out of the 17 areas covered by the East Africa Community Treaty only 4 are Union matters!

In that regard the other 13 areas fall within the jurisdiction of the revolutionary government. Yet its representation in the fast-tracking of the East African Federation is as ambiguous. No wonder, as the two authors note, “a question that was raised repeatedly by the people of Zanzibar during the Wangwe Commission public hearings was one related to the fact that the Union government had assumed powers that are exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Zanzibar government."

If we don’t deal squarely with these reservations they will surely pile up and explode. Perhaps in the spirit of the Nyalali Commission there is a need to hold a referendum. What do people want?

© Chambi Chachage: Published in The Citizen and Pambazuka News

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