By Marie Binti Shaba
President Samia Suluhu Hassan gave a very resourceful speech to the nation when addressing women in Dodoma on June 8, 2021. I was personally touched by the metaphor she used to explain what makes a woman and a man two sides of the same coin
She elaborated skilfully that the Almighty Creator gave masculinity and femininity different capabilities and capacities with equal weight. A man can carry heavy loads, build imposing infrastructures, and make destructive decisions like going to war.
A woman can make tough decisions like getting pregnancy and be a nurturer, and has the gift of persuasion, conviction and inspiration using her tongue. She approaches issues with feminine grace and patience, not violence. A man has the valuable task of being the custodian and treasurer of the sacred seeds, and the woman is the field where those seeds will be planted and turned into a workshop where The Creator will continue to create more human beings and sustain them with ready-made nourishment for the first six months and more.
However, a woman’s strength is not tangible. That’s why she is considered weak. Just like a seed buried under the earth, nobody values it until it produces fruits. Dad invests in building a house, and mum looks after the welfare of the workers and family, including that of her husband. Whatever mum earns is spent on everyday needs of the family.
Tanzania earlier this year witnessed with great shock the death in office of a head of state before he could fulfil his dreams! He was silenced by fate before he could explain why he did what he did, and apologise where he went wrong!
That said, I believe we needed JPM in 2015 in the context of the metaphor presented by President Hassan. We needed JPM’s leadership style to shake off our apathy. JPM exerted authority and confidence. We were spanked and cried bitterly, but that’s the sweet and sour of any transformation process.
JPM was a man of action, and proudly told the world that Africa was not poor, but had been impoverished by exploitative neo-liberal policies. Through his toughness, we realised what a responsible government could do to develop the nation even without a political party. The role of the political party is to watchdog the government’s response to the needs and aspirations of the people.
Paying tribute to JPM, Retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi said, “Magufuli has overseen achievements in five years that we couldn’t in 55 years.” That is a confession of a person who knows and fears God. There were those who chose to ridicule him, saying, “Are we going to give our children bridges and Bombardier airplanes to eat?” Anyway, after we cried and said our goodbyes to JPM, we came down to earth and appreciated the house he built, but which he never lived in.
It was prophetic that we had Ms Hassan, also affectionately known as “Mama Samia”, who worked tirelessly with JPM as Tanzania’s first female vice president from 2015 until March 19, 2021 when she succeeded JPM as President and Commander-in-Chief in line with the Constitution. I’m convinced that she understood that JPM gave priority to infrastructure in order for other services to prosper and enable Tanzania to shake off the “least developed country” tag, and pave the way for further economic emancipation, thus her “kazi iendelee” (the work should continue) mantra. If she didn’t share the vision, she would have stepped down.
According to her metaphor, men are hardware and women software! The house has been built, and now it’s time to make it a home. President Hassan has tightened her waistband with feminine patience, doing her thing and facing bravely all kinds of spooks and mischievous people who tend to pop up whenever you happen to be in the hot seat. The “children” are praying for “mama” to maintain the legacy, and the resources they in invested together. Will ghosts plunder the resources? Time will tell!
2025 is the year of reckoning. Are we going to choose ujamaa and self-reliance, or individualism and dependence? This time, the people shall write the manifesto and politicians will have to explain how they will implement it. No time to parade party ideology. It just confuses us, the voters! We want peace and justice, equitable progress and prosperity.