Church burning pic courtsey of Francis Brady....
The latest chain of events in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam raised widespread concerns overseas. Listen to some random views around London early this week.
“Things are not right, back home. Where are we heading to?”
“It’s been a roller coaster year. Doctors’ leader beaten up. Journalist brutally killed. His intestines dismembered for the world to see. Mwanza police chief shot. Zanzibar policeman shot. Now this...”
“Former President Mkapa did the right thing in 1998. Remember Mwembechai killings? He did not let rioters play games. He stamped things right away. Why is the present leadership letting things slip into a nightmare?”
And on the internet it was more explicit.
The late Rashid Kawawa with President Kikwete. Pic courtesy of Ayoub Mzee Blog
“The late Rashid Kawawa, lion of war would never have let this happen!”
“Tanzania will not remain peaceful with stuff like this.”
“Arrest all religious leaders and lock them up! They will name those who are threatening the peace of the nation!”
“Muslims are filled with hatred... this would have never happened during Nyerere’s times.”
“These people behave as if there is nothing to do. You leave your wife without foods then go out to demonstrate because- and this is so ridiculous- your leader has been arrested...this Uamshothing is really stupid.”
Question number one. Are the recent events really about Muslims and religion or symptoms of something deeper and more sinister?
One may argue that events in other distant places are inspiring hidden agendas. What goes on in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and so on has been indirectly blamed on religion. But is it just religion? Aren’t people dissatisfied with economics, democracy and political corruption?
What is religion, anyway?
Privately each of us follows a system of beliefs- astrology, wealth, education, sex, booze, luck, witchcraft, family, spirits or fear of demons- we all store emotional beliefs like a purse of cash. This is what religion and the psychology of conscience is all about. Your life, its significance, purpose and what you have done here on earth has an ultimate, divine and conclusive chapter. Some of us even believe we should be rewarded for unlawful killing; while others have faith in forgiveness and seeking truths. Bottom line is, we all believe in something.
And so the second question is why are bad guys being given such special treatment and extra media limelight?
When the Norwegian Massacre happened in July last year, we expected a monster to be severely punished. Alas, the suspect was arrested, charged and treated with utmost respect. Unlike the indignity this killer (of children) had offered us, he was given a lawyer, armed guards, psychologists plus a pathetic 21 years sentence. If he ever comes out he will still be in his 50’s...he can even continue with his rubbish goals. It is similar to you giving me a handshake and I spit on it. During each court session, this esteemed killer showered us Nazi salutes and an arrogant smirk on his I don’t give a damn face. I don’t know how I would have felt had I been one of the victims’ relatives.
Laws are supposed to teach us that we live in an organised and sane world. Organised? Do you like that word, dear reader?
So we condemn mass murderers yet offer them the right to lawyers and fair trial. We give them publicity and in turn inflate their egos. You know what that does to those watching, those with similar motives? Hidden in their secret rooms, they get inspired. If I was planning to carry out a massacre (such as the one carried in Norway) and was in doubt, just checking out the man in a clean suit and cynical, devilish salutes would have been empowering. Does the law think about that?
Meanwhile, we are happy when small time thieves are stoned and burnt to death on our African streets. We turn a blind eye to big wigs stealing millions from the people and public institutions.
It is indeed, an insane world. Tell me the meaning of organisation and fair trials...
To let people who are inciting religious hatred get away with civil treatment at the expense of future chaos is dangerous. Our leaders need to show that they care for the peace and reputation of beloved Tanzania. If they let these spoiled brats continue we will be speaking a very different language and might not even see 2015 elections. It may be the end of our infant, twenty year old democratic phase.