I AM on an excursion trip to Bujora Sukuma Museum. This is after a very successful 3rd Eastern Africa Research and Innovation Management Association (EARIMA) conference held at Malaika Beach Resort in Mwanza from 28th – 30th August 2017.
Sitting next to me is a Kenyan lady responsible for human resources at one of the reputable universities in Kenya. As the journey continues we reach at one of the town centres and what we see is a crowd of marketers.
In a very humble submission, this lady tells me that since she came to Tanzania a few days ago what she notices among these and other people is a clear sense of individual and group’s self-respect and selfworth.
She says Tanzanians respects each other. On a similar note she added; in this group, she can see people have a rich physical and psychological integrity and empowerment. I knew she was talking about the level of human dignity compared to other African countries but unfortunately I was pessimistic and thought that she was not necessarily right.
In my view we are not there yet! But for the sake of my country I masked my pessimism! I was encouraged though simply because my fellow Kenyan passenger wanted me to know that something is happening in my country.
From what she observed, I brought into my pessimism an academic observation on human dignity. Let’s talk about this. So out of this reflection, I concurred, still with reservations; despite all the challenges my country is facing, it sounds and looks like having a clear sense of a political vision for its citizens.
I harmonised with her as she admitted that equality which is supposed to be a foundation of this political vision can easily be noticed as she looked at my fellow Tanzanian marketers. On a similar annotation, this political state of ours is doing fairly well in protecting rights, promoting the general welfare of its citizens and in insuring public order.
She may also have something in mind, and that is, the state is not interfering in matters of faith. Anyway, this is my personal interpretation. I am sorry, you must remember that my doubt is still alive and kicking!
Wanting to know more about her suggestion, she said look here, your country is very different from most African countries. What makes you unique is the way wananchi deal with each other peacefully and they do so with the sense of awe.
Well, it is good to hear that, but the recent shooting of Tundu Lissu has distracted our good track record. We need to do more. We may have made a comparative progress but harnessing human dignity remains crucial today than ever before.
This we say because the tone of our leaders of the fifth government, and especially JPM’s constant call for change in ways we do our business, shows that there are still gaps to be filled before we can successfully crave a well-ordered and productive Tanzanian society.
Indeed, we still have a long way to go. Yes, a lengthy way because there is still quite a lot that continues to insult human dignity and poison our Tanzanian society.
No one can, for example, deny the fact that we have fellow citizens who still live subhuman living conditions, we hear people who have made prostitution a way of life, and of recent some back doors industries have been discovered employing wananchi in disgraceful working conditions.
With this situation, it seems as if some investors seem to be happy when wananchi are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons. And although decent work may sum up the aspirations of wananchi for their working lives, yet still there are massive cracks to be filled.
When other people are commending our progress when compared to other countries, what goes on in my mind is different from their perception. And I am right to be in this position because despite the progress, we should not sit back and relax.
The pain on our people is still a reality. Here you talk about gross economic and social inequality as an enduring reality of our time, limited or no safe drinking water necessary for a life with dignity. Shockingly enough, in the midst of plenty, many are still unable to access even minimum levels of food, education, health care and housing.
We all know of violence against women and girls as well as men and boys who are still suffering horrendous atrocities, such as sexual and gender-based violence and domestic abuse. A friend of mine tells me that even human trafficking is a problem in our society even though it is not talked about very much.
The list of manipulations goes on. I hunger for Tanzania, a country where all persons, no matter what race, religion or nationality, can live a fully human life, freed from servitude imposed on them by other people.
My heartfelt desire is to have a country whereby even with natural forces like the last year’s earthquake in Bukoba, these people shall still have suffi cient control. I yearn to have Tanzania where freedom is not an empty word.
I am longing for a Tanzania coloured with a full realization of economic, social and cultural rights –including rights to food, housing, health, education and work. So, a Kenyan lady may be right when she said she can see among Tanzanians a sense of individual and group’s self-respect and selfworth, but more needs to be done.
In fact a vision of the common good and protection of human dignity could demand structural changes. I am glad that JPM is taking that direction. There can be no higher priority than the right to live with dignity.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor is right when she says; “when it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises”, and Theodore Roosevelt’s wisdom is timely here: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.