ULIMWENGU: Our civic elections are a no-brainer, but expect DJ Khaled to keep rapping

Sunday November 17 2019

A supporter of the opposition Chadema party

A supporter of the opposition Chadema party carries a large flag as he walks down Morogoro Street in Dar es Salaam on October 24, 2015. PHOTO | DANIEL HAYDUK | AFP 

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For me, the term ‘no-brainer’ was invented by DJ Khaled, the rapper, with his motley crooning crew including Justin Bieber. Soon it became a favourite catchword for grandees in the American empire-making business such as Dick Cheney.

‘No-brainer’ is supposed to denote something that is so obvious one doesn’t have to expend an iota of brainpower to figure it out, like saying that if Monday is the 7th then Tuesday would be the 8th; I mean, something that the darnedest dunce would know.

On one occasion a famous (for gaffes) vice-president of the US stated that the 40th president came after the 39th, a no-brainer par excellence.

Tanzania has joined the chase to mass-produce no-brainers of our own, only our breed is different in that it is something whose author must have used no brain at all in thinking up.

Like when some senior cop was teaching a group of recruits what he called basic arithmetic by stating that if the police force belongs to the government and the government belongs to the ruling party, therefore the police force belongs to the ruling party, QED.

Some of these inanities could have made for nice club-room jokes, but they are becoming dangerous in their application, especially at the times we engage in dangerous games we still call elections.


I have often spoken of the madness that grips our society during election time and pushes us to the brink of self-destruction, only pulling us back in extremis before we take the plunge into the abyss. I said it about Kenya in 2007/2008 too.

I also said that there will come a time when from the brink we will take one giant stride forward, and that will be it. There is no pact we signed with the divine powers that allows us to do all sorts of silly things that indicate we want to self-destruct, and the heavens will always intervene to save us from ourselves.

We recently learned that in the imminent civic elections, more than 90 per cent of aspiring candidates from the opposition had been disqualified because of faulty entries in their forms, while the ruling party’s candidates had been almost totally accepted.

This would be speaking to the unacceptable levels of illiteracy in the opposition, which must proceed from the wrong schools they attend, different from those attended by ruling party kids?

This would have been good enough as a no-brainer if the minister responsible for local government elections had not waded in with his personalised no-brainer, saying that those whose candidacy had been rejected could now stand as independent candidates. This got me thinking that you don’t need to be mad to be a minister in this government, but it sure helps.

Look, if the forms that a would-be candidate filled in as a party-sponsored aspirant were defective, how do they become magically cleansed to allow him or her to contest as an independent?

And where did the blessed minister draw his singular visionary wisdom from since he should be expected to know that his government has all along rejected the idea of independent candidates, even when this was allowed by courts of law, both domestic and regional?

Did this minister seriously believe that Tanzanians and all who are following what is happening in this country would take him seriously? Incidentally, this is the same minister who from time to time makes statements that sound like they contradict other officials from his government.

The bottom line is, he is trying to have his proverbial cake and eat it too, but such snacks can cause serious indigestion for amateurs who are not well-versed in the art of Orwellian double-speak, which requires a well-practised forked tongue at the service of a hardened system determined to turn all its people into ignoramuses.

This whole saga took me back to my good friend, the late Professor Chachage Seithy Chachage, who warned us against the encroaching “collective imbecilisation” practised on us by those who rule over us.

Now, the opposition has pulled out of this month’s civic elections because they say there will be no election worth the name, but those in power are still going around making statements that illustrate their cluelessness about the dangerous path down which they are taking this country.

They may not even know that they are not the ones who will be writing the history of what is happening at their behest and on their watch. So rap on, DJ Khaled, rap on.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]