ORDINARILY, fond memories are the ones that an individual enjoys to recall. The person retrieves them from one’s memory bank and they surely cheer him or her up.
In my case, one of the fondest was a ‘gigantic’ tea-mandazi party held at a relatively expansive piece of land at the trading centre of my home village.
It was one of those ‘no-miss’ events that most people attended. Typical of such events, they also avail to long-disconnected acquaintances a chance to connect.
The only earlier party to which I could assign relative comparison was the Independence Day fete on December 9, 1961, some four years earlier. First, a bit about Uhuru Day.
We, the ‘kids’, were among the major attractions, as, first, we wore super-clean uniforms. A stern warning had been sounded, that whoever wouldn’t comply wouldn’t take part and can become a spectator instead.
This was for the logical reason that, shabbiness would be a huge disgrace to the special day when the country was literally being reborn, after shaking off the disgraceful yoke of colonialism.
No-one dared defy the order, since enforcement was supervised by parents. None of them would risk being finger-pointed as an irresponsible adult who hadn’t programmed one’s child to at least behave properly on the auspicious occasion that wouldn’t be replicated in future.
Besides the clean uniforms, we proudly marched to the rhythm of the school band, proudly waving miniature flags of the new Tanganyika nation. Four years later, the party alluded to earlier was for congratulating those of us who had passed the Standard Four exams, something to which I once hinted.
Promotion from Standard Four to Standard Five in a boarding school a bit far away would imply that we had matured. Unfortunately, we sometimes cast even matters revolving around simple logic out through the window.
An example was when we destroyed aluminum bowls in which porridge was served, in protest over the stuff being sugar-less for three days in a row.
Explanations by the administration that the problem had been caused by delays in securing funds from the regional education sector authorities fell on deaf ears.
The administration imposed a three-day ‘drink-sugarless porridge-or-none’ punishment to teach us a lesson. We softened because sugarless porridge was far preferable to ‘zero porridge’.
We softened farther when, during encounters with higher-level students, we noted that some of them behaved positively, not being intoxicated by their being in secondary, high school, as well as colleges and universities. Subsequently, we realized that the higher we climbed the academic ladder, the more level-headed we became.
The level-headedness was (should be) manifested by, among other approaches, engaging soberly in debates on important issues. That, sadly, isn’t roundly the case, soccer and politics being spheres in which the anomaly is most manifest. In soccer, for instance, overzealous fanatics ‘freeze’ logic by disputing even clearly scored goals.
There are, in the multi-party dimension of the political system, elements that literally send logic on leave. The major problem appears to be failure or refusal to distinguish between patriotism and sheer party fanaticism.
On matters of national interest, Tanzanians ought to act as a cohesive family. Regrettably, the disposition of some compatriots sets others wondering what they are up to.
They trash even the glaringly visible achievements of which they are also beneficiaries. Plus, well-intentioned compatriots who speak or write in praise of the achievements are branded opportunists seeking to be appointed to positions such as district commissioners.
Some character assassins are well-educated individuals who should be pace setters for less academically well-endowed compatriots. The particularly worrisome trend is of mudslinging political allies who praise the government justifiably, branding them sell-outs. Strangely, it’s even on fixing problems they had previously been vehemently criticizing the government for not fixing.
At a tender age, people tend to act foolishly, as my schoolmates and I did way back then and memories of which are still embarrassing and I don’t cherish.
It is distressing and virtually unbelievable that adults perceived to be wiser and should act as positive opinion shapers do the opposite!
JUST IN PASSING
Mwinyi appeal on elders’ safety vital Peaceful transition from one presidential tenure to another is one of the factors on which Tanzania’s pride in the estimation of many people in much of the rest of the world rests.
That aside, the top VIP retirees are also repositories of wisdom, onto which younger generation leaders, plus their compatriots at large, tap. Speaking at the latest International Day of Older Persons on October 1, second Phase President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who belongs to that category, laid emphasis on protecting elderly ‘wananchi’ against perils like being killed over suspicions that they are witches and wizards.
That voice of reason should be heeded!