Mama Samia needs rainmakers, not a choir of fake praise singers

Saturday November 19 2022
A man drinking water

A man drinking water. The human body, we all know, will endure a longer period of time without food than it can without water. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG


I am still on water and here shall I remain till something gives. I remain stagnant in that because this is so important that I can hardly understand what our bureaucrats want to happen before they start to understand that they are treading on dangerously slippery terrain.

I wrote in an earlier piece of this series that water cannot be treated as if it were some minor issue that we can ignore because we have something more urgent to do. For government, there is simply nothing more urgent to do than making water available for the population.

When I said that water is at the basis of every governance system ever devised by human societies I was only stating the obvious. No society ever to emerge on the face of our planet could have done so without having enough water to sustain life.

The human body, we all know, will endure a longer period of time without food than it can without water – up to three months without food, only seven days without water. I suggest that the corollary to water management being central to governmental efficacy has to be that erosion in our capacity to manage our water resources speaks to the erosion of government.

Changed the country

I know and believe that President Samia Suluhu Hassan has done a lot to change our country from what it was when she took over, which was a very bad place. She has altered the psychology of the country with her conciliatory overtures to people her predecessor did not know how to handle except by jailing and killing. She has made her intentions known to right the wrongs her former boss occasioned, including creating a new political atmosphere, freeing people unjustly held; compensating others for their unjustifiable losses, and so on and so forth.


But, while all these are laudable achievements, and while I have not in any way held back in my praise of her when it was due, I think there is a worrisome trend taking over all around Samia that she needs to be wary of, lest it drag her down and cause her to lose focus.

I will state it straightforward: There is an obvious impression transmitted to us citizens that she loves hearing herself being praised by the people she has appointed to different subaltern positions. There is just too much praise of the president, in her presence, for me not to believe she is encouraging this behaviour.

Praise choir

Soon after Independence, TANU people were fond of doing the same thing, raining all manner of praises on Julius Nyerere for the most ridiculous thing he was supposed to have done, until he got tired and told them, “ If you have nothing useful to say, sit down, don’t waste my time.” After some time, most of them stopped, although it is not possible to eradicate this type of creature.

This is because the praise choir offers a wanted service that those in authority seem to need, one of them being people who can sing lullabies for them to go to sleep when matters are tough. They are liars, and they are shameless. Any serious leader who wants to keep his/her head on his/her shoulders should be wary of them.

They will not deliver the most urgent messages doing the rounds of society to the president if they believe she does not want to hear these and instead would rather hear praises praising her for doing things she herself knows she has not done.

I saw a clip of her coterie of officials lauding her efforts to bring water to water-stressed Dar, ending with the announcement that the problem had been solved! In the meantime, residents were cancelling visits to their relatives because they suspected their stomachs were not sufficiently stable and did not want to seriously soil their relatives’ bathrooms if perchance the necessary happened.

But that may be the least of the evils to fear. We could perhaps bear with it and obey our bowel movements with minimal sanitation, in which case we are enjoined to do some kind of dry cleaning on our bodies and hold our noses, and avoid coming too close to friends and colleagues.

But when matters go beyond simple hygiene and get into the existential centrality of water, these same unwashed urbanites, forced by their filthy conditions to keep their distance, will now engage in close, bloody confrontation where everything will be permitted in the mortal struggle for a few life-sustaining drops of water to keep body and soul together.

Before we get there, long before we do, our president would do well to heed this piece of advice: Get rid of the praise choir and tell them to find a church, for she does not anyone to sing her praises — her actions will sing for her.

In the meantime, she ought to watch out that her citizens with smelly bodies do not morph into thirsty savages looking for a drop to quench parched throats.