It’s all about affirming life... from the ground up

Wednesday June 13 2018

Tanzania's deputy minister for Environment January Makamba. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Tanzania's deputy minister for Environment January Makamba. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

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You know, sometimes people make you catch dreams.

I was minding my business, going about the daily work of being a professionally dissatisfied critic of everything. And can I just reclaim that word: Critic and critical are good positive impulses. They are the fire that boils the water in which our communal ugali is cooked.

When we eat communally, we need the wags to joke and remind those with big hands not to take such large handfuls that the children must sleep hungry afterwards. Mhhh.

So anyways there I was being professionally dissatisfied when I stumbled across our deputy minister January Makamba doing an event for the World Environment Week that has just ended. Deeply crusted with cynical disregard, it actually took me two tries to even watch this green marketing effort but then I did. And it hit hard. 

I am a resource... not quite nationalist but perhaps Africanist. And all this endless talk by Powerful Men Who Will Not Retire bores me on a regional level. Everything beautiful ends up being shoved into the ghetto of exploitation.

On the one hand, we sing to cattle and on the other we overgraze. We love our wildlife but then we hunt them to extinction.

On the one hand, we are pristine and on the other we want to build up Stiegler’s Gorge to alleviate the energy demands that fill Dar es Salaam air with the pollution of several million charcoal cooking stoves.

This is not the future I signed up for and there is no reason to hide that from my elders. But there was Makamba holding up a kid to emphasise that while he is his 40s now, the job he has is to make sure she grows up to something worth living in. 

It made me think of all the good stories I come across that I have been lax in promoting. Like the vegan athletes, and interesting tech happenings in rural areas ranging from pneumonia sniffing rats to local electric cars. You know, sometimes people make you catch dreams? 

So what if this was not the future I signed up for? We are all and always borrowing from two sources: This earth of ours and our children’s future. There was nothing remarkable about a politician using a child and a photo op to emphasise his commitment to his country except for that one reminder to all of us. 

So this kid has a good 20 years ahead of her, if the Gods are kind, to build her life and pass it on. What will she find when she gets there? This is not the future that I signed up for but... maybe it is worth signing up for hers.

It is easy to brand and pay lip service to the very many days we observe. Pick a disease, a cause, a social injustice. But I can’t help the thought that at the end of the day it comes down to affirming life... from literally the ground up. 

I know we are a rapidly growing country. I know we need more of everything. But if we do it rapidly, cynically, and imperiously, we will not have enough left over to breed pneumonia rats and homegrown engineers.

I just have a girl in mind who will definitely forget the day she and her environment minister inspired someone to grind on because the future is always worth saving. Especially when it isn’t the one you signed up for. 

Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]