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Veteran artist John Kitime stirs EA’s culture debate, 50 years on

In his passionate posting on the social network, Kitime further says, an American tune “sounds of silence” was used to escort the military brass bands, artists who were requested to perform are frequently and regularly used(misused) by nations leaders to perform but seldom paid for their artisitic work similar to the fact that the national broadcaster, Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation,  TBC, is the biggest abuser of proprietory rights of the works of art without compensation to the composers.

Mr Kitime’s posting evoked the never ending debate of exactly what Julius Nyerere, Milton Obote and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his compatriots fought for 50-odd years ago when they said the African must be left alone to to design his own destiny of a future that was not foreign imposed. Mr Kitime’s posting was commented on 65 times by such variant opinions including examples of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma who loves to parade in the Zulu traditional dress for such occasions and jump and roll to the Zulu dances spiced with more current Kwaito which was used on a Tanzanian occasion.

Some offered the traditional dress that would have befitted the occasion and others suggested the forum on FB was a great opportunity for the Tanzanian Government to gauge what public opinion was in the nation. If you remove Tanzania from this phenomenon, 2  other East African countries could easily have been and have , in the past, been in similar situation. Kenya and Uganda are the other two countries that are indeed struggling and caught in a cultural identity crisis that leaves a sour taste in the mouth of observers.

It is as if Government leaders feel very much like their erstwhile colonizers that a Gentleman is on qualified as one when bedecked in a three-piece suit complete with a white hand kerchief and possibly a top hart. Very much English dress code, very,  very feudal age and very colonial in memory. This dress code was relevant and still is to the cold climes of the English lands but very punishing in Dar es Salaam or Dodoma, Kampala and Kisumu, Mombasa and Mwanza, even Keneth Kaunda’s Lusaka.

It has become common practice that all Government functions invited guests are advised to dress formal and formal has been translated to mean suit and tie. Ambassador Patrick Lusiano Tsere captured the mood when he was invited to a tree- planting ceremony where the same prevailed although the President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, came dressed in a track suit. What is it about East Africa that identifies East Africans be they Tanzanians or Ugandans as unique if in our national functions we can dress like Englishmen, play guiding music composed by Americans and eat 5 course meals prepared in French cuisine?

Tanzania was celebrating 50 years of independence which Uganda will celebrate this year and Kenya next year. Yet the pace & extent to which these three nations have gone to copy and exceed the excesses of nations that either subjugated them or continue to impose their foreign culture and ideology on us continues to baffle. What is worse, look at Tanzanian films today. Ninety per cent of them are done around the storyline of love, battle over wealth and witch doctors. We have borrowed heavily from Nolly wood and South America.

But instead of weaving together Tanzanian themes, we have gone ahead to perfect cut and paste methods. The result is we are destroying whole generations with content that is far removed from the traditional Tanzanian Society as we have always known it and as we know it ought to be where common good supersedes individual will, where children belong to all and abusers are punished. We are now idolizing wealth, not questioning where it was gotten and how and proceeding to where spotless white Kanzus to Mosques and Church purporting to be  god fearing while our very actions are contrary.

The question is what does 50 years of independence mean to a nation that cannot define its cultural value. A nation that is the mark of contradictions. A nation that is bequeathing nothing but copy pasting what belongs to others to its children. At Tanzania’s, Kenya’s or Ugnada’s 100th anniversary, shall we be playing God save the Queen and dancing to Scotting baggles while wearing skirts? 

*The writer, a Media consultant, is the founder of  Media Development Rights Agenda. This column also appears on http//itineranteastafrican.blogspot.com.   Oyoo.nick@gmail.com

I know I have a very forgetful ...

Author: K’Oyoo Nick

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