A kinder, gentler Tanzania? Will we need thumbscrews?

Thursday October 11 2018

An avid supporter of Tanzania's ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

An avid supporter of Tanzania's ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. Tanzanians are “free” to belong to any party we wish, or not to belong to any at all. But if you declare yourself uninterested in being part of the Grand Old Party, well you are painted as opposition. PHOTO | AFP 

By ELSIE EYAKUZE
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In this newspaper last week, Jenerali Ulimwengu used the example of Galileo Galilee’s eventual triumph over the Roman Catholic Church’s geocentric views when they failed to suppress the science that proved that we are in fact living on a planet that is part of a heliocentric system.

All of which was a build-up to question why, in this Age of Reason, the Church is still resisting the reckoning it must face for centuries of paedophilia and hebephilia.

Great challenge, considering the Church is currently headed by a Jesuit (a Jesuit!) with the most progressive social politics since, oh, probably the time Rome gave up and stopped feeding Christians to the lions.

The answer is right there in his article: Galileo may have been right and respectfully diplomatic about how he presented his facts, but he still died in custody of the Church for his “heretical” views.

Institutions of great power and privilege that have controlled the lives of adherents for a long time don’t just change because they have been presented with common sense. Oh dear lord, no. That’s just not how it works.

Over the years the Church has survived shift after paradigm shift and remained extremely powerful. And throughout history, it has either directly committed or silently condoned every form of human-rights violation you can imagine, and probably some you can’t.

There’s a reason the Vatican Library isn’t a public resource. Spend a little time looking up torture methods used during the Inquisition; it is… eye-opening.

Despite all this here we are in 2018 and Pope Francis’s pastoral style is proving that yes, even the Church can get with the times. To be fair, do you think it would have lasted this long if it were too dumb an institution to change?

That’s how I think of being Tanzanian sometimes. It’s like being raised Catholic: You can change religion all you want but good luck forgetting the exact moments to kneel and stand during Mass.

Likewise, Tanzanians are “free” to belong to any party we wish, or not to belong to any at all. If you declare yourself uninterested in being part of the Grand Old Party, well you are painted as opposition.

Opposing what? CCM? Sigh. The victor always controls the narrative, eh?

Some of us just aren’t joiners, we don’t do well with groupthink, we don’t want to drink nobody’s Kool-Aid. But underneath it all we are kind of Tanu/ASP/Nyerere-flavoured if you stick a drinking straw below the surface.

Mother Church made it to Vatican II and with Francis around, a Vatican III reform may be in the realm of possibility. That’s why I remain optimistic even during periods of recidivism.

My government goes through episodes too, and it will stop resisting history and reform too. It will be kinder to women, the poor, young men. It will be more tolerant of differences in opinion and perhaps even willing to experiment with non-socialist suits.

But admitting fault is not what governing institutions do, and those who speak truth to power will continue to suffer the consequences like Galileo did. And yet, the Earth continues to revolve around the Sun.

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