East Africa Rising: Tanzania at 50

“We, the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where there was before only humiliation.” – Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, 22 October 1959 (before independence), addressing the Tanganyika Legislative Assembly.

Julius Kambarage Nyerere was just 39 years old when he led Tanganyika to independence on 9 December 1961. Today, Tanzania celebrates 50 years of independence! East Africa’s gentle giant, whose size covers the same area as Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy combined, with 123 ethnic groups, continues to be a shinning example of the African spirit of communalism and a beacon of hope for the process of nation-building and economic awakening in the region.

Focussed leadership in maximising Tanzania’s immense, untapped potential is what many argue, will be the difference in realising the country’s Vision 2025 and if the present GDP growth remains the same, the land of Kilimanjaro could well over take Kenya as the region’s largest economy by 2030. For Tanzania to do so, it is argued that the government must focus on three main sectors: agriculture, mining and energy.

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Enlightened Self-Interest: Towards An East African Federation

“Integration is more than five presidents meeting in Arusha and patting their backs on an illusionary integration” – Ahmednasir Abdullahi Anonymous

As we speak there is an East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Symposium taking place in Arusha, Tanzania themed: “A Decade of Service towards a Political Federation”.

Now, I may not have been born in the Seventies, but I’ve heard stories of how things were especially between my country and its neighbours. The most vivid accounts were of the icy relations between Kenya and Tanzania. Relations hit their lowest ebb in the mid 1970s. At one time, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was so frustrated by the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s capitalist economic policies, he angrily described the Kenyan leadership as being made up of “nyang’aus” (‘hyenas’) and the country as a ‘man-eat-man’ society. This description has stuck, the mistrust and mismatch of ideologies and practice has persisted till this very day.

As for our other neighbour Uganda, we have all witnessed the on-going dispute over the Migingo and Ugingo islands. I didn’t know what big of a deal it was until Museveni arrived at our Promulgation ceremony last year and he was pelted with boos and chants of “Migingo is ours!”

That said we were all filled with hope in the EAC, when the Common Market was officially launched around this time last year (remember the google doodle? Awesomeness!). But a political federation is a whole different ball-game. A federation is ofcourse a worthy goal but it calls for a bold and visionary leadership by the five Heads of State to succeed. For, beyond greater economic integration, it requires political will and unity of purpose. That is where the catch lies.

Are the political leaders of the five countries capable of matching their well-intentioned sentiments with concrete action to integrate the five countries politically?

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What a Horrible, Horrible, Horrible Time to be a President

by tripppleO

“When thousands of peoples is riled up to see you
That can arouse ya ego, we got mouths to feed so
Gotta stay true to who you are and where you came from
Coz at the top will be the same place you hang from
No matter how big you can ever be
For whatever fee or publicity, never lose your integrity”

– Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones (aka ‘Nas’)

Long hours on the campaign trail, packed and charged rallies, meetings with campaign donors, countless election strategies and counter strategies all culminating in the announcement of the win and the swearing in ceremony. It’s all usually glamorous and inspiring to most people looking in from the outside. Although the campaign period is extremely stressful and draining on the candidate the really hard work begins once that candidate is sworn into office.

Just ask Barack Obama. After his ‘landslide’ win he embarked on achieving some of his campaign promises and he was successful in some most notably healthcare and Wall street reform. However, there is the big issue that has dominated news in the States these last 6 months (not Osama) have been the budget deficit. Make no mistake, the U.S debt is a serious global issue. While the risk of the U.S defaulting on its debt may be a bit farfetched, given the close linked global economy, it is crucial that they sort out their debt issue. As most economists will confirm the two ways to cut a deficit are either reduce spending or increase taxes. However, both options are politically risky for any American president. (There’s also the increased tax receipts/collections option as a result of economic growth but this is more long term in most cases and highly dependent on economic growth).

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Osama Bin Ading’

I haven’t been on an aeroplane since I was nine years old.

No actually, I have. I spent about twenty minutes on  a Cessna between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam about a year ago.

But other than that domestic flight to Kisum’ City [but do I say!] I haven’t been off the ground except to jump.

So I was fairly excited about my first international flight. To Dar.

Being a writer, I figured an airport would be the perfect place for me. Duty free shopping, lots of accents, and all those strange people to watch. I was sure I’d find fodder for a script, or at least meet some guy who looks like Tom Hanks.

Instead I was claustrophobic and cold, and I realised that ‘duty-free’ Baileys costs less at Mwalimu Wine Agencies in town. It’s offical: I hate airports. Continue reading