In Summary

Well, we may start with the hard ones. In a space of just one week, Tanzania has lost two of its high profile politicians. These are Mzee Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru and Richard Tambwe Hizza.

There is so much that is happening in our country and East African region. Some happenings are tough, some negative and of course we do have positive ones as well.

Well, we may start with the hard ones. In a space of just one week, Tanzania has lost two of its high profile politicians. These are Mzee Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru and Richard Tambwe Hizza.

Their passing away has served as a reminder that we all live in one country—Tanzania. We’re Tanzanians first before being members of our political outfits. This was clearly demonstrated by how people, regardless of their political affiliations, came together to mourn the two.

In a way, their deaths united the nation—by bringing together those in the ruling party and those in Opposition. From a theological point of view, there is always a very thin line between life and death. Theologians tell us that what matters is not so much about death but the condition in which death finds us.

Do we die being ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’? And, even this simple categorization is relative. But, there is a simplified way of looking at it—at the time of our death, do we die standing for the truth? For justice? For fairness? For equality and equity? For inclusiveness?

Again, when we refer to ‘truth’, truth according to whom? Justice according to whom? All in all, there is a Kiswahili saying that goes, ‘Palipo na ukweli, uongo hujitenga’, roughly translated as ‘Where there is truth, a lie sets itself apart’.

As we pay our tributes to the two fallen giants in the Tanzanian politics, it’s time to cherish the positive contributions they made to our nation. The latest contribution being that of bringing the nation together—even in their death. This is a call to each and every one of us—even as we hold different political ideologies; we hold different faiths; are of different origins; come from different social and economic strata—we remain united through our being Tanzanians. And, the nation must come first.

In neighbouring Kenya, we are witnessing the ugly face of division. It is sad that alliances based on tribal lines have always dominated the political and economic life in our northern neighbours. The urge for separatism keeps growing—you either align with President Uhuru’s side or that of ‘President of the People’ Raila.

As matters stand, your alliance to either of the two sides will very much depend on your origin in that country. Of course, there are exceptions, there are a few brave souls who have freed themselves from the chains of tribalism and believe in what is just.

So, these few provide the nation with a solution. Negotiation. Dialogue. Whatever the results of the previous two elections, it is time Kenyans thought of a government of national unity. The kind of government that will help heal the nation and bridge the political and tribal divide.

The country successfully did so in post-violence period of 2008. They can do it again. It will be recalled that the East Africa’s number one economy did make huge economic strides during the government of national unity era than at any other time. The current unfortunate developments in Kenya may have been contained had the government of national unity and reconciliation continued.

And, in East Africa, we need a free press. The media landscape as it stands now appears at its lowest. The recent Democracy Index 2017 report is clear testimony that civil liberties are suffering in the entire region. Such a situation is poisonous to development.

Free the press to unlock development!

Deo Simba is a senior sub-editor with The Citizen