I HEARD Uncle Jack give a speech earlier this week and for the first time, I agreed with everything he said. It was shocking, even for me.
I had to take a minute to reflect and make sure that it had nothing to do with the spicy food I had just eaten. Speaking in Temeke at the launch of a housing project for youth put up by the Christian Youth Union, Uncle Jack applauded the project guys and encouraged them to do more for Tanzanian youth.
Then, came the big bang. He said, and I quote, “Tanzanians who have not been able to make anything of themselves find refuge in talking ill of Tanzania.
They like to talk bad of their country and encourage others to talk bad of their country. If they hear anyone speak highly of Tanzania, they are the first to turn words around and discourage that person.
Tanzanians speak ill of their country as if it is beneficial to them.” There we have it. I was caught on and there was no going back. I was amazed. You mean to tell me, Uncle Jack knows of this? Meaning that this information, along with everything else, is delivered to him in the State House? Amazing.
I was following what he was saying until he went on flash-back mode. You know, when an older person starts talking about their good old days and how it was for them back in the day. At that point, I had to quickly note down what he was saying and ask someone for further clarification.
You see, as an 80s baby, I know little of sugar rationing and the other examples he gave. As he put it, in the old days, there wasn’t much in Tanzania. There were certain days of the week when sugar was distributed, another day for rice and another for soap.
And sometimes on that particular day would come and there wouldn’t be any soap or sugar so you would have to wait till the following week. Here, I remembered my mom and aunties telling me how they used to get candy from abroad and use it to sweeten tea.
Uncle Jack spoke of women ordering khangas from Mombasa. Khangas back home were so rough they would bruise them but the women wore them with pride as they had nothing else. He spoke of him and other university lads having to contribute the little shillings they had so as to get trousers from Mombasa.
The trousers that were available here were made from material comprising of plastic. If you stood under the sun for too long, the trousers would heat up and along with other complications. He spoke of Usafiri Dar es Salaam (UDA) and how transport was such a big problem.
How there would be one or maybe two buses for several routes in Dar and people would always be late for work. However, despite all this and how scarce things were, if anybody talked bad of Tanzania, that person would be turned against by the wananchi. Nobody could talk bad of Tanzania and walk away scot free.
The sense of patriotism was at marvelous high. Fast forward 2013. What are the youth of today doing to exhibit their patriotism, I asked myself. Well with regards to trousers, the struggle for trousers has long ended. These days there are trousers in abundance from everywhere in the world.
The youth wear their trousers somewhere between under their buttocks and knee caps. Special days of the week for distribution of rice, soap and other basic needs are also a thing of the past. We have a minimal of two fully packed kiosks in every neighbourhood and the youth go to these kiosks bare chested at any point of the day. Khangas?
Well, we have those in abundance too. So many of them, we make clothes out of them. Skirts, trousers and even for the fashion forward, one button khanga blazers. The youth are creative with how they use these very many khangas. Transport? The youth these days have cars with large rims and loud music for anyone in proximity to hear.
It is hard for the youth of today to picture what the older folks went through to get us here today but we surely can learn from their impenetrable patriotism. Viva Tanzania.