Some people cook their ugali soft. Not even sticky because of cassava flour, but tasteless, white, generic flour cooked to the consistency of a pap. And we talk about the “culture and values of all Tanzanians”? Mweh.
What is the point of such diversity in people and nature, such beauty and tragedy all at once if we are going to lie to ourselves and say that we have one point of view, one set of national beliefs? We can’t even cook alike!
I wrote before about the effort to shove us all into some kind of uniform dress code. I live on the coast and have watched the silent battle between the modesty of the Swahili Coast inhabitants and the afrocentric peackockery of those of us who come from the interior. I am an interior girl myself and believe strongly in nature’s wisdom: It is a man’s job to look fly. The two are not incompatible. A man in a fine kanzu is a blessing to behold, as are many fine a man who takes the time and care to primp.
Darkness creeping upon us
It’s one thing to extol the virtues of human intellect, it is another to ignore beauty as an avid beholder. But why am I even bringing up this topic? Because, as we try to go through a stalling sexual revolution, there is a darkness creeping upon us. Our obsession with the “Rainbow Nation” is both important, ill-informed and a bit of a ruse.
There is a lot happening in Tanzania that cannot show up in our media. The pressure of the rising cost of living, if it continues, is going to draw the ire of the people in a way few things can. A child at home who hasn’t eaten enough to sleep through the night has a way of turning public opinion, a child who lives in a country with appalling rates of paedophilia. The elections are too far away, saddling us with a parliament whose credibility wobbles. The Union with Zanzibar remains restless, albeit quietly. We all remember the guns in Stone Town.
The recently released Controller and Auditor-General report shocked us, though I am not sure why. The shock is perhaps tied to the fact that recent CAGs have decided that their oaths of office are somewhat more important than kowtowing to the powers that be, leading Dr Assad to give us the most stylish “I quit” in the history of telling the State to check itself. He left his fancy car, got into a small, red city runabout and drove off himself. Because hidden in there is the aftermath of the seven years we don’t talk about, and the ghost that haunts us.
We’re not a happy people. We have become distracted. Tanzanians were never the kind to make a fuss about private affairs: That was left to gossip, speculation and sheer indifference as it should be. But now people are virtue signalling. We are upping the ante on violence, we talk hard like we came from Florida, not lush valleys and warm beaches and the savannah.
And we are becoming fascists, something that many folks don’t understand is neither a problem of the right nor of the left, but of cancerous “nationalism.” We no longer celebrate our diversity, we denigrate it. And this, my friends, is an actual cultural import for sure: Look to America. But we’ll talk about that more later. For now, fascism tastes far worse than the softly cooked abomination that is pap. But I will defend the right of any Tanzanian to eat it.
Elsie Eyakuze is an independent consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report; Email [email protected]