Friday, December 10, 2010


Why is Tanzania exceptional?


Our county is celebrating 49 years of its independence, it is a great deal to all of us, especially if we look backward to see where we came from as a nation and of course the road ahead which is always precious and hopeful. Winston Churchill once said the farther backward you can look the further forward your likely to see. On this Independence Day it is good to take a pause and look backward to see where we came from as a nation. There is no doubt that the resilience of our ancestors and generations before us played a big role to the foundation of our nation and the shaping of our values. Our society has been in existence for over 1000 years old, a bumpy road with so many hurdles, we were counted off so many times before, but time and time again we defy the convention wisdom and bounced back, and we always came back strong as before.

As society we overcame many obstacles, we lived through many misery and horrors. For every misery we endured there are scars of tolerance and for every horror we lived through there are marks of courage left on, that’s why we are unique. We lived through the agony of slave trade, 200 years of nightmares, darkest time of our life. A stranger came over to our county to conduct immoral trade, capturing and selling our peoples. Families were destroyed, wives lost husbands, husbands lost wives, and children lost figure heads. Our society was torn apart, people lived in fear, desolation and uncertain. We were turned upside-down, but we held up, we were bent, but did not break. We as society persevered.

We lived through the rough edges of colonialism, a stranger came back with different mechanism of exploitation, intended to acquire and dominate our country. We resisted, our heroes fought back, Mkwawa, Mtemi Mirambo, Kinjeketile and others didn’t let it happen, they put up a fight. Stranger prevailed, as result our sovereign was suffocated, our economy was smothered, our dignity was buried, and our society was paralyzed. We were weakened, we were plunged, but did not sink. We as society emerged.

Post colonial period was happiest moment in our nation, and difficult one, the wounds of colonialism ware deeper than we thought. Strangers had instigated the tactics of divide and conquer to disintegrate our society. Our state was in disarray, we were divided. Our leaders had to make decisions somewhat painful, but necessary to transform our society and keep us back on track, in the end Swahili became our unified language and tribalism was eliminated. In 1964 the article of Umoja got even stronger when Mwalimu Nyerere and president Karume shook hands to form our new nation of Tanzania. We were subdued but retrieved. We as society triumphed.

We lived through war, in 1978 our national security was put into a challenge, our country was invaded by a dictator. We were provoked into a war with neighboring country. We sent our troops to the war with clear mission and explicit exit strategy; depose the dictator and stabilize the country. Our brave soldiers executed the mission in a matter of months and came home with dignity they deserved. We were tested but we prevailed, we as society reigned.

In the aftermath of the war things got very rough, the war was detrimental, our economy took a hit, our money value dropped, unemployment rate skyrocketed, food, petrol, electricity were scarce. We had to make sacrifices, we tightened our belts to get through the hardship, we rationed the little food and resources we had for every family to get by. We were shaken but we stood up strong, we were faltered. We as society strived.

Persevered, emerged, triumphed reigned and strived is our backbone under the article of Umoja. Article of Umoja has made us exceptional because we care for our neighbors, we resolve our disagreements and disputes in the court or on the ballots not on the streets, we embrace our diversity, we don’t discriminate one another. We might not be rich in cash but we surely wealth in kind. I met Hannah, a young white American student at Georgetown University. Hannah visited Tanzania twice on the public health mission. Hannah was touched by the peoples of Ilula, she was invited for lunch by a poor family, she was asked if she want to eat anything special, she told them a plate of rice, came to find out her hosts had killed a pig and prepared a special meal for her, the whole family celebrated with her and it was so special to her. I told Hannah that what we do, we take extra miles to make our visitors feel home. Hannah is studying to become midwife so that she can go back to Iringa to help delivering babies.

We were there during Hutu and Tutsi conflict in 1993, we brought the two conflicting parties to Arusha and stroke a deal that resolved the conflict and end the genocide. We were there during Congo conflict, we opened our borders to welcome their refugees and shared the little resources we have. We stood shoulder to shoulder with South Africans during their struggle against apartheid, we were there in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Uganda

On December 9 let’s take a moment to pay the deepest tributes to our heroes for their unwavering willingness to sacrifice all for the article of Umoja, The article we embrace with the highest proud and provided us with the great insights. We are not perfect, but we are exceptional because the article we look up to has never, plebiscites, drafted, ratified, amended, legislated, adjudicated or mandated, its just there, inside of us, we can feel it, and is there to stay.


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