THE Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere, used to warn us that, if left unchecked, mutual mistrust and divisiveness based on ethnicity or tribalism, would wreck the nation.
He was deeply upset that a country that had been saluted elsewhere as a beacon of solid cohesiveness across ethnic groups numbering over 120, should host ethnic chauvinists!
It is because he had singularly strived to forge a nation in which Tanzanian-ness was the fundamental identification tag, individual links to particular tribes being incidental. Mwalimu was furthermore pivotal in promoting Kiswahili pepped up the twin-spirit, as it were, of nationhood and patriotism.
The national service scheme, academic and professional training institutions being multi-tribal in composition, and workplaces hosting staff from various ethnicities, were also catalysts in nurturing the concept.
Gradually, as though Satan was lurking somewhere in the shadows, resurfaced and threw the proverbial spanners in the works, national cohesion started loosening up, as ethnicity became the prism through which people viewed– in support or expression of dismay many issues, especially critical ones like appointments to high-profile public service posts.
It is a situation whose sensitivity is so critical that, over the years, appointing authorities have had to grapple with how to strike a judicious balance, under which, irrespective of attributes like patriotic disposition, academic and professional credentials, as well as experience, they wouldn’t be seen to be favouring some tribes above others.
Ethnic blindness, as it were, should be a highly desired, but is on the contrary a very elusive benchmark.
It is something on which more efforts should be put for overcoming. In the recent past, President Magufuli did, in remarks he made after receiving a second report on an assessment of the mining sector in Dar es Salaam last month, point to the ridiculous move by a senior official who sought to use tribal connection to mess things up.
More recently, during a tour of Kagera Region last week, he strongly rebuked the witch-hunt between some members of two ethnic groups–a petty, nonsensical culture that people across the country should dissolve.
Tanzanians should rediscover themselves with a view to investing sentimental attachment to nationhood, and cherishing tribal connections only in terms of positive cultural values.
They shouldn’t use, or, worse, manipulate them as yardsticks to perceive themselves superior to others, or to imagine that they are being short-changed or undermined by compatriots belonging to other tribes.