OPINION: Highway events and moral values

Thursday August 22 2019

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

A few years back, I was travelling from Tanga to Dar. About five kilometers from Chalinze, I saw a saloon car skid and overturn a number of times.

This happened at around noon, and what I witnessed shocked me. Gangs of youths gathered around the scene of the accident and stole things from the car, emptying the pockets of the injured instead of helping them.

On another occasion, I had a flat tyre just outside Mikese towards Morogoro and, while trying to change the tyre, a group of youths appeared and demanded money. Luckily, one of us had a firearm and when he took it out, they just disappeared. This is the reality on our highways throughout the country.

In any urban centre, when a motorist has a minor accident with a ‘bodaboda’ motorcyclist, several other ‘bodabodas’ will gather around and - irrespective of the age or gender of the motorist - there will be a tirade of abuses and threats hurled at the motorist, even if the cause of the accident was the bodaboda!

Mostly, the culprits are youths in their twenties. This is the moral decay we are facing as a nation. But, the decay is not one hundred per cent - YET! There are people who will go beyond the call of duty to help others when in need; but they’re few.

My heart bleeds that some 100 people died in the Morogoro tanker fire accident.


I pray for the deceased’s loved ones for strength after this tragic loss. This was indeed untimely, and the accident should not have happened.

An increase in the juvenile crime rate, pregnancy in adolescents, embezzlement, abuse and self-annihilation are the result of a degradation of moral values among the new generation.

Children are a parent’s most-valuable asset and every parent dreams of grooming their children into responsible, amazing people. Besides giving good education, imparting moral values upon one’s offspring is extremely important. The need of the hour is to acknowledge the magnitude of imparting good values upon children so that they can differentiate between right and wrong.

It is the responsibility of parents to teach moral values to their children by being their role models. To make your children responsible society members, teach them moral values like honesty, loyalty, respect, self-reliance, self-discipline, patience, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, personal responsibility and courtesy.

These values help in developing a strong personality for your child - and this minimizes the possibility of having them go astray. It is said that, from the age of 5-6 years, children start differentiating between right and wrong - and the first lesson comes from their parents. They see their parents as role models, and try to follow in their footsteps.

Set an example by following examples that you want your children to follow. Be honest yourself, if you want them to be honest.

As they grow, the children’s power to grasp abstract concepts also grows.

Therefore, their understanding of moral values increases as well. They become keen observers and do more or less exactly what their parents do. So be careful in every act of your behavior while maintaining social and personal relationships.

Another important facet to this piece is our education system. Most of these youths were in primary schools just two or three years ago. It seems there was no moral influence in the school environment. Teachers have a major role to play as role models which school children can, and should, follow.

It is time to debate about introducing a subject called ‘moral science’ so that moral teachings can be disseminated and learned in schools. Inculcating a sound moral base is becoming a tougher challenge day by day.

Religious institutions also have an obligation to preach about moral conduct, ethics, good and right principles of life, truthfulness, honesty, charity, hospitality, tolerance, love, kindness and sympathy.

With rapid urbanization and modernization, the moral values of people are degrading day by day.

They are not able to trust anyone - be they their relatives or friends. Trust, integrity, love, brotherhood and similar feelings are fading away with time. It is the moral values only that taught us sharing and making new friends at school; but, today, this is a thing to question.

Children are taught not to trust anyone - and make fewer friends.

Let us not forget our roots. It is the responsibility of every parent to pass on the invaluable treasure of moral values to their children so that they can also pass these on to the next generation.

This continuous process will give our society honest, trustworthy, patriotic, faithful, lovable and good human beings - and that will be the realization of our dreams.

This is the present scenario, and it has to undergo a change as the country’s future depends on its children.

Zulfiqarali Premji is a retired MUHAS professor. His career spans over 40 years in academia, research and public health