THE results for the National Population Census which was done earlier last year are out. In quite the dramatic fashion, the numbers were announced on the last day of the year 2012.
The results are not pretty. I think this was for us to reflect on the numbers as we enter 2013. A look-at-what-we-have-become and let’s-see-what-we-can-do sort of thing. Whichever way, the announced numbers do indeed call for a what-can we- do moment of reflection. A rather long moment actually. As it stands we are 44.9 million Tanzanians. Yes, we are many.
“Ndugu zangu, kwa kasi hii ya ongezeko la watu, mwaka 2016 Tanzania itakua na watu milioni 51.” Those were Uncle Jack’s words as he launched the 2012 National Population Census. He seemed extremely concerned at the rate of the population growth and rightly so.
We are currently at 44.9 million people. Approximately 45 million people all fighting to survive with a shortage of almost every social basic need – water, electricity, transport, you name it. Uncle Jack pleaded with the general public but especially men to consider birth control.
I can imagine his advisors came very close to asking him to say the word ‘vasectomy’. This would have been the beginning and the end of his speech. No thoroughbred African man wants to hear that word. Hear it or let alone imagine that his [perceived] God-given right to have children would be infringed upon by for the greater good. We are governed by culture that states that children are a source of pride and for many, a show of true manliness.
A man isn’t a man if he hasn’t father a few children by a few women spread across Tanzania and beyond. No, if you want to tackle exponential population growth, the solution may not be to politely ask Tanzanian men to not have many children. We are privileged to be living in the urban areas where there is more than one source of entertainment.
People in the rural area are less fortunate, depending on each other to be entertained. Ahem. In addition to what Uncle Jack said, I blame Tanesco. I know, we blame Tanesco for a lot of things but this they are fully to blame. Tanesco has been causing countless candle-lit dinners in millions of households throughout the country.
Candle-lit dinners that lead to candle-lit activities that has led to our population growth. We could sue Tanesco for damages but I don’t think we’d get very far but worth a try. Some would argue that population growth is good for the economy using China and India as examples to spread these half-truths. I call them half-truths because population growth is only good if there is proper infrastructure to support the growth.
In Tanzania we do not have the infrastructure to support the current population, let alone the expected potential growth. Putting aside the more fortunate and looking at the common ‘mwananchi,’ the struggle for basic social needs is immense considering the limited resources.
For example, it is already a nightmare to get a daladala ride, can you imagine what will happen with more people? Forget hanging on the door as it stands now, people will have to ride on the roof of the bus to get home. This issue could need a page in the constitution where for the greater good of our nation, as a man you are only permitted to have 3 children. Ever. Not 3 children per woman.
I think it could work. Looking at cultural beliefs that defend ‘dume la mbegu’ behaviour and curbing candle- lit activities with a page or the very least a paragraph on limiting the number of children per person might just save us. Save us and take us to a better Tanzania with ‘maisha bora’ for everyone.