THINK I have just heard it all; those stories of lavish, almost heavenly life styles, some people led just as Dr John Pombe Magufuli took office.
The places where you hear such stories are either on a commuter bus or a commuter train. Both these places are more often than not crowded with people from all walks of life. The commuter train that runs from the city westward was on December 22 warmer with talks of President Magufuli’s achievements than the other trips I had travelled previously.
Of course the day was pregnant with a festive mood because the Noel anniversary was just in the air. Perhaps it was excitement for that festival that was rocking the cockles of people within the train. I had thought I knew how people sabotaged the good works of the government.
I remembered how some people had lived just too well. Now, however, I was literally shocked. There were some sports enthusiasts and here I mean football lovers particularly, at list one of the fans in Dar es Salaam. To this guy watching the gunners play on TV was not enough. Simply, doing so merely wetted his appetite for seeing them in action more.
He wanted to hear them talk. He wanted to see them in their plain cloth out of the pitch. He wanted to see the young gunners gun their expensive cars into action either single in the cabin of their cars or with their girlfriends or wives.
To do this the guy must fly to the UK. He was awash with money and could pay for a trip to the moon. What of flying to London to watch the gunners in the flesh play a match against a rival, an aleck who breathed money, talked money, slept on a mattress stuffed with money?
He flew to the UK every time Arsenal or the gunners had a match. So was the financial might he wheald! That was what he had – bagfuls of it. He breathed dough, smelt of notes and his eyeballs radiated cash. An air ticket from Dar es Salaam to London costs lots of money.
The speaker did not tell us what class the Arsenal fan flew to London. Without asking, such a rich man would no doubt travel first class because he had money and the problem was how to spend it, which was what he wanted. He could pay for 14-star hotel for as long as he would be watching Arsenal matches, but there were no such hotel and he could make do with cheap ones they called 6-star. No doubt he felt disappointed that the metropolis did not have even a twelve-star hotel he would put up at.
Back home in Dar some young men were wreaking havoc and painting the city red. A young man of about 26 seated opposite me was telling the story. He told us how some youths dangled the world by the tail in Dar.
“Brother, we are somewhere here in the city creating life. If you are bringing us honey, please do not come,” the young man told us the youths had said. How audacious! They call soda honey and preferred beer to honey!
That was life before Dr Magufuli took over office. We had countless millionaires and many billionaires. Today millionaires are becoming paupers and billionaires are seeing a red light. That is how the year is ending.
But I am helluva happy that the central railway will soon have a standard gauge and a trip up north to my village will be a matter of hours and not one of days by train as it is today. People who had cars, but are now parking them for lack of money to run them should blame themselves for relying on dishonest income.
What shock me are stories of how much money people had. They are stories which on the surface are just incredible. Houses in construction have stopped growing taller at the window height. Cars are being sold at a fast rate. Bars I visited have a noticeably number of customers. A friend of mine tells me trips to brothels too have decreased. I would care less if they died all together.
The number of people contacting HIV daily or monthly would correspondingly decrease or die out completely too. However, my biggest worry is that life will be a lot merrier if the business of pork is negatively affected.
I have become so accustomed to eating this meat and have developed such sweet tooth for it that life without it will be really dull. Many people I have come across hope things will improve. People will learn that they earned their livelihood the wrong way and need to work hard for a merrier and sure life of joy.
What the change is teaching almost everybody is that we have to be diligent and honest. “Mzee!” one tells me, “life can’t be like this. No money!” What no money means is ambiguous. If they want money to fly to the UK to watch the gunners in action, there is not money of course.
From such remarks I learned one important thing. We need wisdom to use money we earn. However, that wisdom won’t come if we have millions of dishonest money. “Ill gotten, ill spent,” an adage goes. Of course when we have plenty of it the case becomes a matter of, “A pound foolish, a penny wise.” But with hard work – industry - things will improve.