Are we using our talents for our country Tanzania?

Tony Zakaria

AM again borrowing from the gospel of Mathew in the good book. I am as yet not sure how I will pay back all the borrowing I have done in the past.

Perhaps the bible is not copyright protected, which might explain why it is the most widely read book of all time. The good believers of the two great faiths namely Islam and Christianity do believe in the enjil - or gospel teachings. Mind you, Christians and Muslims make up half of living humans on planet Earth.

I digress. In the gospel of Mathew we learn of prophet Issa bin Maryam telling his followers the story of a boss and his servants. You see, this boss wanted to travel for a long period so he decided to entrust his wealth to his faithful workers.

We are told he gave five talents to one, two to another and a single talent to a third, in accordance with their abilities. This I would like to call work assignment. Then he travelled.

The first servant wanted to please his boss so he took the five talents, invested them in production and in time was able to double the value. The one with two talents emulated the example of the first servant and also managed to make two more talents.

The worker given just one talent was something else kabisa. He did nothing with it. Anyway, eventually the boss came back from his travels and immediately summoned his workforce for a progress report. This I would call supervision and monitoring. The first worker stepped forward and gave his report.

Upon hearing of the good work done by the man, the boss praised him and promised to give him more responsibilities. He did the same with the second employee for doubling the wealth entrusted to him.

I will call this positive feedback and encouragement. You probably know a teacher, manager, husband or preacher who, no matter how well you perform your duties, s/he never has a kind word or even acknowledge your contribution in public or privately. Anyways, by this time we would have expected the single-talent man to be nervous and fidgety.

But no, when his time came to report, he stepped forward and confidently said, boss I know you like taking profit where you have not invested. I was scared I might lose your money so I hid it in the ground.

Here it is, the same coin you gave to me. The boss was angry and you can imagine why. You lazy bones, if you knew I harvest where I do not plant, why did you take my money? Mjinga kabisa.

You could have deposited my talent with money lenders and at least I would have received interest. Throw him out of here, somewhere far where he cannot do any damage. And take the one talent and give it to the one who has ten.

Prophet Issa, peace be upon him, told his disciples that the boss also said to his workers that for everyone who has, more will be given and the ones with nothing, even the little they have will be taken away.

I tell you this parable of Jesus about talents has often been misinterpreted, deliberately so by friends and colleagues over the years. When they would use unconventional means to get something, they would justify by saying they are using their talents.

In the same way some male workmates occasionally accuse hardworking women who advance on the corporate ladder of using their feminine talents to leapfrog others more deserving. At least the hardworking women are using their two talents. I have no issues with those who use their talents to multiply their assets and thus put real bread and natural butter on the family table. That is the essence of the parable of Jesus.

Tanzania does not have a shortage of talents. God has been generous. Use your God-given talents to do good to community and country.

If you are good at singing, start a local singing group, make people happy and perhaps make some money from it. If you are a scientist, burn the midnight oil in a quest to discover new ways of doing things to make life better for community and country.

If you are an information technology specialist, come up with new IT applications that can revolutionise or simplify how we teach mathematics and English in Tanzanian schools. If you are a strong public speaker, do not waste your talents playing politics of the day.

Teach and motivate other Tanzanians to become agents of positive change in their communities, for example protecting the environment, fighting crime and applying efficient cash crop production methods. There are those with a gift for healing others.

Or helping those in need without a possibility of payback. Do not listen to naysayers bent on discouraging you from doing what you like simply because they themselves are stingy. Charitable works are sometimes equated with prayer because when you help others, their prayers are answered through you.

Are you one of those who are so good at lying you have started believing in your own lies? Be ashamed of yourself before we banish you to the plains of the Serengeti where you will wail and grind your teeth in fear of lions and hyenas. Some people can lie with a straight face even to their moms.

We Tanzanians love our moms and some of us justify lying to protect mom’s feelings. Where am I going with this? Our greatest talent is loving one another regardless of differences in religion and tribe.

Yes, this talent is being eroded by wealth differentials and political affiliations. But the day we lose this love, we are doomed to become like other African nations that are frequently mired in civil unrest. Perish the thought. Let our motto be, let love lead.

To paraphrase the biblical landlord, those with much love, more will be entrusted. Our challenge will be how to love our neighbours as we love Tanzania.

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