So the results of Tanzania’s 2019 local elections, such as they were, are in. Our ruling party won by the kind of landslide you can only achieve if you have done everything to get rid of the opposition.
To be honest I am keeping away from the “official” “facts” and “figures” because what if I look at them and confirm: Tanzania is not so exceptional after all. Banana republic.
Years ago I would have said there is so much hope in the world! Look at South Africa, oh ye beacon of hope! Now I confine myself to their rugby team wins because if we talk about the xenophobia there will be no coming back.
And then, because that’s just how it is, part of my job has been to observe what’s happening in the US for...learning purposes. One should always know who has enough nyukular (no, this is not a typo) power to kill the entire planet for reasons known only to themselves.
But it is 2019 and I ended up learning a poetic term that describes so much of the political situation of the world right now: Dumpster fire. It’s like when you burn your trash—including fish-head bones—in an abandoned oil drum, except much worse. Everywhere is aflame and stinking, with some countries taking the saying that “chaos is a ladder” just a little bit too much to heart.
So I came back home, where the heart is. We voted this past week. Ha! Just kidding. Of course we didn’t.
I overheard two people loudly congratulate each other on the fact that their party had won without challenge. It was cute.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that Tanzania is the Garden of Eden of Peace we like to portray for tourist dollar purposes. There is some hair-raising business going down in various parts of the country. But I will say this much: our will to live, and live together, is still alive.
Another idea that is commonly bandied about is that young people are naturally socialist, and as you grow older you become conservative.
I am happy to say my generation is showing signs of being the first that will probably not go down that route. I have heard talk that it is lazy of us Tanzanians not to go out on the streets and spill blood over ideals that we hold dear.
I say that we might be at the forefront of practicing a radicalism that is emerging in these trying times. I say that we don’t find it a badge of honour to bury sons or daughters of the land. That’s not what we are here for.
I am not going to bore you with the Utu thing but more than ever these past few weeks I have been reminded how this fragile thread that holds us together against all odds proves stronger than expected when times are tough.
Of course, we would like multiparty democracy to thrive, but not at the expense of the neighbours I break bread with. And I suspect that this attitude, more than anything else, may end up yielding the future we want.
Roads, planes: they will come. As long as the people come first.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]