OPINION: Happy birthday, Tanganyika!

Sunday December 16 2018

Tanganyika is 57 years old. As far as nation-states are concerned it is relatively “young”. As far as Africa is concerned, it is relatively “old”, as it is among the first countries to gain her political independence.

Since then, it has been a long journey from the attempts to form an East African union, to a union with Zanzibar. To the current efforts of making the new East African Community work after the first attempt at regional integration ended with disappointments.

The current efforts on that front are stuck with a country that once rarely made any headlines in the region making the most waves as of recent.

It has been a long journey, from the heady days of supporting liberation movements in Africa and standing with those who were oppressed across the world.

It has been a long journey of men and women of this country contributing all that they can, including their lives to such noble causes to liberate those who were still held by the yokes of colonialism or apartheid.

Those were the days of the world being dominated by the then two superpowers and Tanzania had little room to move around but managed to punch way above its weight in global affairs courtesy of the leadership it provided at the time and the principles it stood for.

It is a bygone era causing nostalgia to some while dreaded by others. While there are still places which are struggling to liberate themselves like Palestine or Western Sahara, much of the efforts on the liberation front are about the economy these days.

Political ideologies which dominated the airwaves in those days have the back foot on the current scheme of things on the global calendar.

It has been a long journey from that night of December 9, 1961 when part of this vast country attained her political independence through peaceful means. At the time, her political world was dominated by multipartyism.

Then after a few years of that experiment, like many other African countries, the country opted for another experiment that of a one-party state for the sake of increasing the pace of development.

After less than three decades on that path, and the changing nature of the global structure, coupled with the increasing dominance of the victors of the Cold War, we were back to multipartism again. And that has been a torturous journey ever since.

The rules in place have never offered a field that is equally the same to all the teams and players on the pitch. The voters’ mindset has never fully embraced political pluralism in a way that its advocates had hoped.

It has been a long journey from the days of embracing state-controlled economy where much of everything was centrally planned.

The state made many attempts at reorganising the economy but things did not work out as planned with some efforts leaving disastrous effects along the road.

But all that was back when those who were in charge had little else on their minds but the betterment of the country as a whole and its people who were (and are still) very poor.

It has been a long journey from those days of having to go to war with a neighbor to protect colonial borders after the first project of rewriting colonial borders through regional initiatives collapsed.

It has been a long journey from the days of leaders who were committed to serving the rest of the country with a clear political philosophy which underlined exactly where they wanted the country to go after attaining her political independence. Since then, it has been a matter of trials and errors.

There has been no political philosophy to underline what we want to achieve as a country.

The efforts have been towards re-inventing the days of Ujamaa naKujitegemea, and repackage them for the current reality.

It has been a long journey for the country from the days of very few intellectuals and professionals to the countless number we have today.

It has been a long journey from those days where those who went through our education system were taught to value service, and that it was expected of them to go back to their societies and help their country prosper to the current reality where despite the numbers of those who are coming out of our universities and increased school enrolment year after year, the end results have been disappointing.

At least through it all we have remained a united country.

Happy Birthday Tanganyika!