IN virtually annual cycles, calls on Tanzanians– and by extension, presumably, non-nationals resident in the country– to patronize goods produced or made at home, is a recurrent theme at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) in early July.
Significantly, the calls are made at events hosted at the Mwalimu J K Nyerere grounds, fittingly named after the venerated Founding President. Within, and beyond the borders, in relation to parts of the world where exploitation by capitalistic countries and groupings is rife, well into post-political independence, Mwalimu was a champion of the cause of the disadvantaged.
He urged his compatriots to shake off inferiority complexes, manifested partly by worshipping overseas-made products or commodities, as well as adoring foreign social and cultural tastes. There are echoes in sentiments voiced at the annual DITF, then, of Mwalimu’s.
He did, however, acknowledge that we are not an isolated enclave, but part of what is today fancifully known as a global village. Inter-connections in fields that include trade, are mutually beneficial, but must be anchored on fair play.
So,Tanzanians must strike a judicious balance between patronizing locallymanufactured stuff, and overseas-sourced ones. It is one of the mediums through which patriotism can be fostered. It is a tricky balance, but not on a scale of an impossible-to-pass test.
Some home-made products are good, and even excellent, which we should patronize and urge others to, as well. To dismiss them off-hand over the sheer assumption that ‘Made in Tanzania’ is synonymous with poor quality or mediocrity, and to consider the ‘made elsewhere’ variety superior, is socially reckless, as the reverse may be the case.
For the sake of variety and avoiding monotony, it is understandable for a customer to vary the use or consumption of commodities, good or products, irrespective of what or who the producers or manufacturers are. But good quality–the crux of sentiments made by high-profile commentators at the latest fair–is the magnet that attracts customers, the way it does to iron filings.
‘Buying Tanzanian for patriotism’s sake’ doesn’t wash. We do, by extension, count on the much orchestrated industrial economy agenda to notch our country’s fame a a step or so so higher, and neutralize such embarrassments as buying secondhand clothing items that include socks and brassieres !