“This country has no religion! But its people subscribe freely to religions of their choice…” Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Father of the Tanzanian nation
IN the intervening period, President Magufuli has held meetings, most remarkable in recent memory -with leaders of all religious sects of the two major religions in this country- Christianity and Islam.
Besides this meeting, there was yet another remarkable one– he met with small-scale miners in this mineral-rich country. Both meetings were nationally significant.
Since the major thrust of this perspective is the importance of deepening of our very admirable culture of national unity in diversity, it is most important to hail the President’s initiative to have a parley with all leaders of all religious sects of the major two religions prevalent in this country.
Those watching the news event on their TV sets were impressed by the cross section of the leaders from practically all religious sects of the two major religions of this country who were invited to attend the meeting.
Listening to the President, his objective was to deepen even further our national culture of harmonious religious and tribal diversity.
In the course of the meeting with religious leaders this time around, the President asked them to freely express their viewpoints on any issue they thought worth commenting upon.
Watching it on television, the meeting went on very well. For it was within the culture of all Tanzanians of all religious faiths who presently live together in peace and harmony since the founding of this nation and even preceding colonialism.
For both Muslims and Christians in this country join together to celebrate or even quietly nod in approval at their neighbors of a different religion celebrating their respective religious holidays, it be Eid El Fitri or Christmas.
This trend is almost a permanent feature across this country. Both followers of the two major faiths in this country invite one another to celebrate, it be Xmas or any other celebratory day belonging to either religion.
Equally, this country, which is inhabited by a hundred plus tribes, is united in harmony as one nation, with no tribe claiming superiority or uniqueness whatsoever; true to the country’s national motto embodied in the national emblem: Uhuru na Umoja (Freedom & Unity).
Furthermore, there are inter-tribal marriages as there are inter-religion marriages across the country.
Comparatively speaking, this places this country in an admirable position as a textbook for other countries in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world where the situation is not as peaceful and as amicable.
As seen in the quotation at the launch of this perspective by founder President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, this achievement of a Tanzania at peace with itself in an admirable culture of unity in diversity has not been realized easily, just as is luck choosy to someone!
It has been worked out, complete with a foundation stone, although that stone cannot be identified physically!
Looking at the evolution of this country over half a century of its national independence, there have been constant efforts at evolving the people to live together as one nation and one people with Kiswahili as their national language.
Even after running the country as founder President for 23 years, Mwalimu Nyerere took it upon himself to consolidate the foundation stone of national unity in diversity.
As he made those remarks at the launch of this perspective one day in his characteristic humor, he quipped that this country has no religion but the people belong to religions of their choice.
Although he had long retired from office as he made those remarks, Mwalimu Nyerere decided he still had a role to consolidate that foundation stone of national unity in diversity.
Said he: “Someday I was invited to a gathering of sheikhs and I said to myself: this is the right place to make this remark: “this country has no religion, but the people subscribe to religions of their choice…”
This quip was greeted by a hearty chuckle by those who were listening to him!
Now the message one gets from Mwalimu’s quips and many others still in memory is that any country’s foundation stone - that makes it what it is-at peace with itself should be revisited from time to time, for the good reason of sustaining a country’s very life– sustainable peace and stability.
Most importantly, all leaders both in religious circles, the civil society and political life should be conscience of the need to respect and sustain our country’s admirable culture of unity in diversity we have evolved over the years from national independence.
And in this foundation stone we have in place of sustaining our culture of national unity in diversity, this foundation has better be taken heed by our political leaders in competitive politics.
For both leaders, in the ruling party and the opposition had better take note of the fact that they are be better off in a country in one piece than that one torn apart.
And the spirit shown by President Magufuli to have a parley with leaders of all religious in this country without leaving out anyone should be taken in the same spirit of deepening our national culture of national unity in diversity.
All of us citizens of this country should live by this culture that we are one people irrespective of which house of worship we belong consistent with the foundation stone of our nation.
On the other hand, one should also applaud President Magufuli’s meeting with small-scale miners, which was a subtle message that his government stands in their support.
But isn’t it high time for our government to think of working towards equity shares with the large-scale mining multinationals in this country-reaping our minerals– leaving us with “royalties” only or “bakshishi” as the word would go in Kiswahili?
Isn’t ‘Equity Shares’ more beneficial than “royalties” in a clear situation where both the land and minerals belong to us and not foreigners?