Friday, 16 September 2011


Monument symbol of the historical declaration in Arusha 1967 that changed  Tanzanian course for many decades...

Prior to the 1967 Arusha Declaration it was common for the new African political elite to party and enjoy. An expression that evolved in Kenya via then President Jomo Kenyatta applauded greed.
Enjoy the fruits of Uhuru” the late Mzee Kenyatta is quoted to have said.
The late Jomo Kenyatta, first President of Kenya, he died in 1978.

 Political critics coined the word “Wabenzi” to describe the African ruling class because of their preference to the luxurious German Mercedes-Benz. Mwalimu Nyerere had written in his 1962 book on
Ujamaa that after winning Uhuru we cannot accept a society of “haves and have-nots.”

Mwalimu was rare, noted Zanzibar Minister, Abdulrahman Babu, in post script to Walter Rodney’s book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” (published in 1972).
Mwalimu Nyerere grets Chairman Mao Tse Tung in 1965...
 “When Asia and Latin America produce giants like Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara who inspire and excite the imagination not only of their compatriots ...but of the rest of the world, Africa has produced only one Nyerere and maintained him in power while we have murdered Lumumba and have locked up or exiled leaders like Ben Bella and Nkrumah...”
Ironically, Babu too, was exiled in London where he died in 1996.
Zanzibar's Abdulrahman Babu chatting with Malcolm X...

 Babu hailed from Zanzibar where the boat accident killed hundreds last week. A sad and shocking incident caused by allegedly over loading MV Spicer with twice the number of required passengers and cargo, Nungwi remains a classic story of greed.
President Kikwete visiting and seeing the dead mostly children. Photo courtsey of ForoBaraza Zanzibar
Before free economy reigned in Tanzania greed was fuelled by ignorance. I used to rent a place somewhere in Dar es Salaam and my landlord bore two children with his own daughter. The little ones (technically, his grand kids) were always sick and no-one knew why. Unlike today, the word “genetics” was not so widely used in our day to day 1970’s vocabulary. The rumour was that the incestuous individual had been counselled by a Juju man that having babies with his girl would assure success and riches.
 “Greed is good” was a motto popularised by Gordon Gekko a character from the 1987 Hollywood film “Wall Street”, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Michael Douglas. “Wall Street” summed up the attitude in Uzunguland in the 1980’s...the era of Republican Ronald Reagan and Tory, Margaret Thatcher. The “get rich quick” culture culminated in breaking up of communism in 1989, symbolised through the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Forbes magazine has calculated fictional Gekko to be worth 8.5 billion dollars.

Commenting on the mess created by the recent bank crisis in October 2008, then Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd blamed those involved for being “children of Gordon Gekko” in the sense that “we did not learn lessons of greed –is- good- ideology.”
In poverty stricken environment “greed is good” philosophy fares worse because it is coupled with ignorance and reckless desperation. The Swahili word is “Ulimbukeni” which Mwalimu Nyerere once explained through the ”kukoga” (flaunt) tale of a poor fellow with no money wearing imported Italian stiletto shoes and showing off to his mates although he can hardly  feed his own family.
During the past 20 years, fast making schemes, dodgy deals (“dili” in Swahili slang) and cheating has climaxed into the Fisadis political ideology. This culture of greed can be seen in almost every facet of our lives and nothing offers a better scenario than the travel industry. Statistically, in poor economies, over packed buses, planes, trains and boats are causing accidents almost monthly. While MV Spicer was overturning at Nungwi last Friday, a few hours earlier a boat spilled out of control in Ghana’s Lake Volta killing 92 passengers.
In May, two separate boat accidents killed at least 150 in the Kivu province of Congo. August last year, 18 school children perished after a boat capsized due to overfilling and bad storms near Lukumbi village on Lake Victoria.

Relatives searching for victims after the Nungwi accident. AP photo
In May 2009  six people died in another Zanzibar boat accident. Soon after Zanzibar’s Minister of Communication and Transport, Mr Machano Othman Said, appointed a four man enquiry team which concluded that lessons learnt should be “quicker rescue operations” due to the slow nature of saving lives during the fatality.
However, those lessons did not assist in stopping the deaths of hundreds at Nungwi. It is a tragic case that exposes very serious problems in our society. Writing in Michuzi Blog, MP Zitto Kabwe lamented how the media especially television was slow to report the calamity but instead beamed “women gyrating hips and traditional drums.” The down to earth MP is punching his sensitive fists on the sign and pulse of our times: greed and gluttony.

Published in Citizen Tanzania 15th Sept, 2011:


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