Reflections on the crucial peace message from the Idd-El- Fitr celebrations

“PEACE ” was the most dominant theme of this year’s Muslim Idd-el-Fitr celebrations which were held on Wednesday, 5th June, 2019. This crucial message was most aptly presented by a local Kiswahili language Daily, MWANANCHI, in their front page headline the next day, in the following bold capitals: “UJUMBE WA AMANI WATAWALA IDD-EL-FITR”. While on its part, THE ‘DAILY NEWS’ editorial, in part, reminded us that: “Everyone should know, that the peace they are enjoying today, came as a result of the sacrifices made by the founding fathers of this nation. Hence, the best homage the present and future generations can pay them, is to maintain it”. Coincidentally during the same week, perhaps by divine coincidence, the Christians also celebrated the festival of ‘Pentecost’. This is the day on which Christians throughout the world, celebrate the coming of the Holy Ghost; and the only re-appearance on earth of Jesus Christ himself before his Apostles, (after his resurrection from the dead and ascension to Heaven); whereat he delivered to them his divine message of peace in the following words: “Peace be with you”. Thus, fortuitously, it became a week of inter-denominational prayers for peace. But for me personally, the heartbeat of this year’s Pentecost Sunday, which on the 9th day of June, 2019; is that it was also, by the grace of God, my 84th birthdate, yet still soldiering on with my writing endeavors. Thank you God the Almighty, Muweza wa yote. The ‘DAILY NEWS’ editorial referred to above, also quoted some relevant statistics from the 2017 Global Peace index (GPI), which show that Tanzania is one of those countries among nations with the highest state of peace and tranquility in the world; wherein Tanzania is ranked the 54th among the most peaceful nations globally; and the 10th most peaceful in Africa.

This is something which Tanzanians are indeed entitled to be proud of, and to take their hats off to their leaders, whose tireless efforts have produced this satisfactory state of affairs.

And indeed, that is precisely what was said at this year’s Idd-el-Fitr celebrations; when the presenters not only dwelt emphatically on the need for maintaining peace in our country.

But also expressed sincere gratitude to President Magufuli, for having created the requisite ideal conditions for peace and tranquility to continue reigning in our country and nation.

It is this reference to the leader, plus that in THE ‘DAILY NEWS’ editorial reminding us that the peace we are enjoying today, “is a result of sacrifices made by the founding fathers of our nation”.

That quickly brought to my mind, reminiscences of Mwalimu Nyerere’s sterling efforts in laying the firm foundations for the peace that is now reigning in our nation.

And that is when I decided to make it the subject matter of today’s article, in order to share with our readers some reflections on those reminiscences of Mwalimu Nyerere’s contributions in that particular regard, as a small way of paying homage to him.

Reminiscences of Mwalimu Nyerere’s contributions We have referred above, to the 2017 Global Peace Index, which describes Tanzania as “the 10th most peaceful country in Africa”.

Indeed, Tanzania has been peaceful and politically stable for all the years since independence. During most of that period, the country was under the leadership of its founder President, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.

A reading of some of his recorded speeches and other writings, will reveal the basic principles upon which he relied, in his successful management of the country’s peace and stability.

There are two of his speeches which deal directly with this subject. One was his speech to the CCM National Conference, delivered at its ordinary meeting in Dodoma on 22nd October, 1987.

The other was delivered to the same body, at its earlier meeting in Dar es Salaam on 16th August, 1990.

In the Dodoma speech, Mwalimu Nyerere said, among other matters, the following: -“The definition of a just society which Tanzania has adopted for itself, is that which is laid down for a just society in the Arusha Declaration.

Although Tanzania is not yet a just society, its leaders have at least shown that they are honest in trying to move in that direction.

And the people have judged their leaders to be sincere in their words, as well as in their actions, when they declared the goal of creating social justice in their country.

The result has been the stability and peace that we have been enjoying in Tanzania”. His other speech, that was dubbed “The last testament of a Father”, or “Wosia wa Baba” in Kiswahili; was delivered at a meeting of the CCM National Conference held in Dar es Salaam on 16th August, 1990; when he was finally retiring from his remaining leadership position of national Chairman of the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), to become an ordinary retired elder citizen, and decided to settle in his original village of birth, Butiama.

In that speech, Mwalimu Nyerere introduced some additional factors, which he considered to have greatly contributed to making Tanzania a peaceful country, in addition to the Arusha Declaration.

These were: (a) the Kiswahili language; (b) the One-party system, and (c) a patriotic army.

This is precisely what he said in connection therewith: -“Nimewahi kusema, na leo narudia, kwamba kuna vitu vitatu vilivyosaidia Taifa letu kuwa na hali ya utulivu na amani tuliyo nayo.

Vitu hivyo ni Kiswahili; Azimio la Arusha; na mfumo wa chama kimoja. Labda niongeze kitu cha nne, ambacho ni jeshi la kizalendo na la kisiasa.

Kwani kama tungeendelea kujenga jeshi la maamuma na la watazamaji tu kisiasa, mimi sidhani kama tungeweza kudumisha hali ya umoja tuliyo nayo katika nchi yetu”.

But even more instructively, Mwalimu Nyerere also added the following: - “The foundation of peace is justice; Either justice actually exists, or there is genuine hope and belief, that justice is being built.

Where there is neither justice, nor a belief and hope of seeing justice being built, peace and political stability will be impossible to achieve. Soon or later there will be disorder, division and struggle.

In our own case, it is not because we have succeeded in building justice that we now have unity and peace in our country. It is because the people of Tanzania continue to believe, and to have genuine hope, that we will succeed in building a just and equal society.

They have understood and accepted, that they themselves, the ruling party, and the Government, are all working together to build a just society, that is one in which all the people can live better, more healthy, and more secure lives.

Our people have come to regard the party as their party, and the Government as their Government; thus enabling them to feel free and able to appeal to either or both of them, for guidance about the best way to make progress; or for the rectification of injustices done to them, or for help in times of trouble”.

Learning from Mwalimu Nyerere’s principles The principal lesson that needs to be learnt from Mwalimu Nyerere’s statements quoted above, is, obviously, that ‘peace and stability’ is an objective which must be worked for in order to be achieved. As the Kiswahili saying aptly puts it: “Ukiona vyaelea, vimeundwa”.

His contentions have, however, been challenged by some of his critics. For example, the Arusha Declaration was severely attacked by its critics right from the beginning, who described it as “a prescription for permanent poverty, and perhaps the seed of future instability”.

But, unfortunately, such criticisms appear to have been based entirely on the strict ‘leadership code’ that the Arusha Declaration had imposed, which forbade leaders from engaging themselves in any ‘capitalist’ activities; some of which were specified therein.

These critics deliberately overlooked the more positive contents of the Arusha Declaration, specifically, the commitment to prevent exploitation in order to promote the concept of ‘equality between human beings’.

The One-party system For some thirty long years, the ‘Single-Party’ system did, indeed, generate distinctly observable unity among the people of Tanzania.

Progressively, this single ruling party came to be recognized and accepted, as the peoples’ trusted institution for solving their everyday problems.

This is evidenced by the practice which emerged country- wide, of individual persons willingly going to their party leaders to seek redress for their grievances.

This was more clearly demonstrated in the village areas where the majority of the people lived; wherein the Party Chairman, the Party Secretary, but more so, the Balozi wa nyumba kumi, became the most popular source of relief for the aggrieved persons.

As a result, the traditional actors, namely the organs of Government, were generally bypassed, but were obliged to respond to the directives of the party. It thus became inevitable, in the early the 1970s, for the concept of “party supremacy’ to be enshrined in the country’s Constitution; which was promptly done.

Thus in 1974, President Nyerere himself said the following, in one of his regular speeches: “Under our One- Party Constitution, TANU is supreme.

It has the power to give directions to the Government about the general policies which must be adopted for national development, and to give specific instructions about the priorities to be followed in any aspect of our national life”.

However, now that we have effectively ‘given the boot’ to the said One-Party system, all that is mere history, as it is wholly inapplicable under the present circumstances of multi-party politics.

What then, are the factors that have enabled us to maintain peace and political stability under the present political landscape, thus enabling us to remain in the top-ten positions of the “most peaceful countries in Africa” quoted above?

That, is the pertinent question. In search of answers to that question There should be no doubt that Kiswahili has made a major contribution with regard to uniting our nation.

But has it really made the same contribution in respect of maintaining the country’s peace and stability? Botswana is placed among the top-ten most peaceful countries in Africa.

But the factor of Kiswahili is totally absent there. Indeed, with the exception only of Tanzania, the Kiswahili factor is practically absent in all the other countries in that group.

It is therefore my humble submission, that there are certain other factors which have facilitated the maintenance of peace and stability in Tanzania, which should be recognized and appreciated. In my considered opinion, these are, first and foremost, the implicit acceptance, at the basement level of society, of the Arusha Declaration doctrine of ‘human equality’ (Binadamu wote ni sawa).

This is what introduced, among the majority of our people of widely diverse cultures and beliefs; the kind of ‘sanity’ that has enabled the continued maintenance of peace, stability and serene tranquility, in our great nation.

Secondly, we should also recognize and appreciate, the inherent ‘strength’ of our governance system, which is evidenced by the fact that it has NOT faltered, even under the changing stewardship of five different Heads of State.

Weaker systems would surely have been forced to bend under the devastating winds of the traditional governance system’s major weaknesses, namely: High level corruption; the lack of leadership ethics among leaders; the lack of patriotism; and the culture of impunity. But here we are, still going strong. God bless Tanzania.

piomsekwa@gmail.com 0754767576.

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Author: Pius Msekwa

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