Reading more than what news headlines represent

Makwaia Wa Kuhenga

THE hot news in the last fortnight has been dominated by a series of armed attacks, which have certainly disturbed the consciences of many a Tanzanians as utterly “un-Tanzanian” - given our peaceful culture as a people.

Of course attacks happen anywhere, mostly of a criminal nature, but where you have someone being rained by bullets as one approaches one’s residence, then there are more questions than answers.

The attack on one politician, who is a Member of Parliament from the Opposition, has brought about a highly charged political atmosphere inimically divisive in a country building a culture of unity in diversity – that we are one people in one country, although we belong to a variety of political parties.

What could possibly be the motive of these attacks? This and other related questions are the ones most likely under the investigations by the country’s security organizations.

These attacks have come in the heels of attacks, not very long ago, when there were reported attacks on one of our country’s largest regions, Mwanza, preceded by a wave of intermittent attacks earlier in the Coast Region’s districts of Kibiti, Mkuranga and Rufiji where 37 persons were reportedly killed including 13 policemen.

That time, according to police reports then, the gang that the police reported to have committed the mur ders had even uniforms at its disposal, an indicator of organized crime bordering to terrorism.

In my perspective on these developments earlier, I had consciously avoided the deployment of the word “terrorism” or terrorists to describe the gangsters that had been engaged in those killings.

And this is for a good reason of not sounding alarmist or harping up a word that has a variety of global connotations. But where there has been a report that a foreign hand could have been behind the coastal killings starting May last year and repeated again and again; there is a strong possibility that this country was being targeted by the same forces behind armed conflicts in a number of countries both in Africa and the Middle East.

According to a mainstream English language daily newspaper in place here in the ranks of the print media dated July 6 this year, the headline rang: THERE IS A FOREIGN HAND IN COAST KILLINGS, quoting the Inspector General of Police here.

“Without naming a specific foreign force behind the spate of killings that have alarmed the nation, IGP Sirro has promised to unmask the enemy in due time,” elaborated the newspaper’s banner headline.

According to the police commander, the main mission of the foreign force is to instigate civil strife in the country, adding that the gov ernment was aware of such a plot and is determined to nip it in the bud.

“They thought that they could antagonize us easily, like they have done in other countries,” said the Inspector-General. He added: “They are bound to fail because we have a strong foundation of national unity.” Now in the intervening period in the last fortnight, there have been reports of attacks on two persons - in circumstances, one of which attacks had reportedly been an attempted robbery.

Since these incidents are bound to be in a court of law once investigations are complete, this opinion is just to think aloud that such attacks may be a continuation of earlier ones, aimed at bringing about conditions for instability to our country.

As those reading these lines know only too well, developments in this country are forgotten as quickly as they happen! It is therefore important for those in the media in particular to harp from time to time on where we stand, where we come from and the way forward.

Although basically ours is an agricultural economy, depending solely on exports of sisal, cotton and coffee, we are now mineral rich, with gas close to our noses just like those countries in the Middle East, not to forget neighboring Congo, (DRC). But what is happening in these countries, starting with the DRC? Wars are raging, isn’t it? But the major and most fundamental question is: while these countries are still in a state of war, who is reaping away those countries’ natural resources as immense as what Tanzania is worth today? C

ertainly, these questions provide food for thought of all of us, Tanzanians. So what has happened in the last fortnight could be the continuation of those attacks along our costal belt the other day, just to create conditions for civil strife.

And by the way, we should also not forget not all interested parties outside this mutual world we share are happy with our recent move to recapture our mineral resources, which were being shipped out of the country as if blind people inhabited this country!

Reading of the news and interpretation of the news by individuals who are nationals of this country may vary, but what is most important is for all of us is to appreciate our national unity in diversity and that the government of the day is for the security of all the people of this country irrespective of their political party affiliation.

On the other hand, the national leadership from time to time, while building a culture of national unity in diversity should endeavor to educate and enlighten nationals of this country on what is at stake in so far as the natural resources of this country are concerned.

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