Yes, it is My Country First, other issues are incidental


SUFFERING fools gladly, is not a pleasant expression to use; it actually borders on an inexcusable insult. Yet, when occasion demands, one is tempted to invoke it.

It’s because in certain situations, some important messages can be relayed emphatically and register onto the psyche of the intended person, only if they are ‘fortified’ by somewhat crude content. I am veering off-course briefly to chip in Mwalimu Nyerere’s remarks for effect, before I revert to the expression that I was forced to apply to someone who felt offended, but who, after a brief lecture, concurred that he had been reckless in what he had said, and which had provoked me.

At a political rally once, the Father of the Nation angrily remarked that Tanzanians who plundered the nation’s resources in league with foreign exploiters were a shameless, unpatriotic lot who, given a chance, could sell their own mothers!

Those remarks certainly pierced and irritated the ‘addresses’ very deeply, some of whom may have undertaken deep soul-searching and reformed, for a mere hint woven around selling one’s mother is truly disturbing!

A friend, Sam (not real name) stunned me some two months ago, when, upon our meeting, he remarked, a sneer pretty unmistakable in his voice: “ I am surprised to note that you are a CCM fanatic, Wilson.”

Noting my surprise, and apparently wishing to neutralize my confusion and set me at ease, he pointed at the miniature badge of the Tanzanian flag pinned atop the pocket of my shirt. “I am also surprised, Sam,” I responded, upon which he swiftly intervened, and, somewhat agitated, he protested: “But I am not a CCM fanatic like you…”

My response was: “Oh, no; I am actually not surprised, but extremely shocked, Sam, that you are stateless!” He shook his head about four times, in the process of which he was apparently seeking an answer for what was obviously a tricky question masked by my remark.

Noting that he was clueless, I made life easier by asking him to take a close look at the badge, whereupon it registered to him, or rather, re-registered, that, CCM as a political party, and Tanzania, as a nation, were at once separate and inter-related.

“You have defeated me, Wilson,” he remarked in a tone of someone who had voluntarily accepted defeat, and proceeded to explain (a heavy dose of embarrassment evident in his tone) that he wasn’t stateless but very much a Tanzanian, who, moreover, was right here in the country, unlike unfortunate individuals who had sought refuge in other countries as refugees (and loosely rendered stateless) due to conflicts in their own countries.

He confessed that, due to perceiving things juju-juu (loosely), he and some people allied to the Opposition political camp tended to dilute their Tanzanianness, which was socially scandalous ! We thereafter engaged in a healthy discussion, inescapably characterizing a ‘ping-pong’ on aspects related to different party programmes, policies, proposals, strategies, and what-not.

But we concurred on one critical, most important one; that parties may, and do, differ in approach, but they are supposed to ultimately coalesce into something known as NATIONAL INTEREST. The departure from that ideal, where-in patriotism rests, is not only improper, but irrational, if not scandalous.

Many people were stunned, for instance, when, during the heat of the mining sector controversy, some vocal politicians had uttered remarks implying that Tanzanians would be losers. They included those who had been fierce critics of government ineptness at tackling problems that were slowing down national development, including grand corruption.

The recently launched ‘MY COUNTRY FIRST’ campaign, timed with the 56th Uhuru Day anniversary, affords us a good opportunity to conduct soulsearching, focused primarily at rediscovering , restoring, nurturing and consolidating patriotism.

Other aspects, including party affiliation, are incidental, and crude ones of which, like cynically proclaiming anti-Tanzania sentiments as if one belonged elsewhere (as a step citizen of sorts) are absolutely misplaced.

In political party terms, President John Magufuli is a product of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), of which he is the national chairman, and on the ticket of which he contested and won the 2015 Presidential Election. Yet, he frequently emphasizes that what primarily matters to the country is the social welfare of its people, and the nation’s economic development, and that party affiliations are incidental.

Hence moves like taking former ACT-Wazalendo stalwarts Dr Kitila Mkumbo and Ms Anna Mgwira on his governmental board, as, respectively, a principal secretary and regional commissioner, plus, more lately, appointment as ambassador, of Dr Willbrod Slaa, who had distinguished himself as a principled, focused and visionary Opposition camp politician..

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