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How many are we?

It must have been a tiring trip for Joseph and Mary who were expecting their first child. To make matters worse finding accommodation proved difficult as Bethlehem was filled with visitors. In the end Baby Jesus was born in humble surroundings and do I hope he was included in the census that year.

It goes to show what serious administrators the Romans were taking into consideration they wanted to know how many people they were ruling over 2000 years ago or was it more to do with how much taxes they could collect? This last week we had our census and it was a relief that the numerators were the ones doing the foot work otherwise it would have meant a whole lot of Tanzanians would have had to travel in order to be counted.

So this year when you celebrate Christmas take a minute or two and remember that Jesus was born during a census. Personally for me I learnt more about the importance of a census during demography classes at the university. It was one of those rare classes whereby you actually looked forward to the next lecture.

With a mixture of social sciences and a dose of statistics we learnt of the various formulas for calculating how many people are on the planet and to some extent how fast the population was growing in different countries. We learnt that at the time of birth there are a slightly more baby boys than baby girls but for some reason or the other the girls turn out to be better survivors. Yes! We are not the weaker sex.

Then we were taught that at a certain age on average there will be five times more women than men in the same age bracket. You see that is why it is important to count people because we women make up the numbers. We were also taught that demographically speaking if a woman gives birth to a girl she has replaced herself and kudos to all the women who have daughters you have replaced yourselves on this planet.

This is one census I can proudly say I was very sure I was counted and I am hoping I will be around for the next one. It’s good to think positively. I pray that the in the next census the publicity starts much earlier with more comprehensive messages on why people should be happy they will be counted. Large billboards with hardly any messages and a footnote asking people to get themselves to the nearest regional office for more information were rather off the cuff.

Let there be a theme and creative messages can revolve around that theme but timing matters. We need to remember much as a census is about numbers it has a lot to do with people.

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Author: NATASHA K’OKUTANGILIRA

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