Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Suppressed Express

I love Tanzania. Tanzania is the country of my heart and soul. It may seem that much of what is represented about Tanzania is negative. I refute those claims, what is expressed on this blog, or at least what is tried to be expressed is reality. The state of political and corporate affairs in the country baffles me. The greed expressed by our leaders is heart-wrenching.

Daudi Balali, the current governal of the Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT) has recently been purported to have stolen up to half the country's annual budget in his term in office. He has not been alone however, according to the document circulating online that initially made these allegations, Balali is the head of a mafia like network of Busineespeople, Politicians, Lawyers and Foreign Investors. What is so unfortunate is if you ask any Tanzanian, if you delve into the inner workings of the BOT Governor, all the allegations made against him seem highly plausible.

My issue is not Balali, or the individuals who are currently under investigation for the misuse of public funds, my issue is that in the midst of all the unrelenting love I have for Tanzania, my fellow countrymen are looting the nation and the law-abiding, moral majority are suffering in silence.

It is for that reason, through my love I speak for the silent victims of the extortionate theft that occurs in government coffers.

On a recent train trip I took to the Selous Game Reserve, I came across real-life images of the devastation our people, our fellow humans endure. Not only is this abject poverty existent without public outcry, it is encouraged.

As I was on my way to Selous, the train made a short transit before the park, at this stop, my fellow passengers began taunting the many people hovering outside with scraps of food and drink. It was actually as if they were playing fetch with filthy, poverty-stricken mongrels. Throwing out morsels of food and taunting with drinks of enormous commercial image.

A throng of young children reaching a bottle of Coca-cola held out by one of the passengers

A huddle of people, mostly children scavenging for the thrown out scraps of food.

So on that note, I say, I love Tanzania, and we must speak for Tanzania, speak the truth.


Black Shepherd said...

you sure about this? from my journeys on the train i know most kids go after the bottles yelling "naomba chupa, naomba chupa" because they use the glass coke bottles and even plastic water bottles to store mafuta (oil, parrafin, petrol). The second picture shows a kid holding a tray of food which makes him look more like a vendor scrambling for customers than a hungry boy scrambling for food scraps.

hj said...

Alright, I will admit that the picture does look a bit vilifying, and that its authenticity can be questioned. However I was there, and the entire context of what was going on is difficult to represent with the pictures. There were many vendors around hawking there goods, but there was also many children around scavenging for food. Thats why it was especially sad, I cannot say as a fact, but it seemed as though a culture of subservience and requesting alms has been developed and instilled in the people around the train platforms.

wayne said...

samahani, if I may be allowed to offer an insight / thought. As mzungu, I know that we (those who are simply visitors and those of us who have lived in Tanzania for may years) are, un-deliberately, guilty of perpetuating the beggar culture. Many times we do so out of what we believe are good motives - trying to help "the poor little African children" (I apologize for using that phrase, but it illustrates the point). Even we who live and work in Tanzania, because we don't "REALLY" understand the culture at its deep and basic level, make mistakes and we struggle with when is the right time and what is the right way to help and when is it better to not encourage the beggar mind-set - for these many mistakes I ask forgiveness. If I can set aside for a minute the many, many mistakes made by those from the colonial era and the same many mistakes (sometimes on purpose, sometimes not), by foreign investors there are many many of sisi wazungu who hurt in our hearts for the maskini of Tanzania. Please be patient with us who are of pure heart motive and help us to learn - how to help without causing long term damage to the psyche of wananchi - hasa maskini.
Graet blog site - thanks for letting me visit

Black Shepherd said...

wayne, you are right that wazungu do somehow fuel this culture, but its not only a foreigners/locals thing. its a rural/urban issue - and this occurs not just in tz but also overseas (notice the disparity between urban and rural italy, america, australia). Everywhere city dwellers are better off than country dwellers. TZ trains go past some of the poorest most remote areas in tz, and urban indigenous tanzanians can also be seen giving handouts etc. I believe its an issue all nations need to address, with better transport and communication and incentives to reduce rural to urban migration.

hj said...

Firstly, Wayne, I appreciate your positive comments on the blog. Secondly, I do agree with Black Shepard that this is a problem perpetuated by all people regardless of race. Obviously when a mzungu does it, it becomes more of a debating issue. However, it is also seen as taboo by some people when wazungu don't give anything, as they are supposed to be tajiri (rich) and when to not give when you do have is less than just selfish but an insult (as some see it). I can definitely see the dilemma people who come across poverty regularly face(does that sound horrible?). I personally feel that it is different to help someone in need, and perpetuate the begging culture. It is difficult to come to a consensus on the issue, and I urge people to engage in the debate.
Black Shepard, one of the things you said stuck out to me "Everywhere city dwellers are better off than country dwellers." I don't particularly agree with that, and hope that you don't either. In terms of economic potential, amenities and access to goods and services maybe (I know its alot), but I still think there are people who are better off, and would rather be in the country over the city any day, regardless of the lack of various things. And that, at the end of the day, determines if someone is better off or not in my opinion.

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