<a class=”twitter-timeline” href=”https://twitter.com/aikande?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>Tweets by aikande</a> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Of late we have seen democracies being put under threat in various parts of the world. Even the USA, which has been considered the “guardian of democracy”, is facing a similar problem with the 2016 elections results.
The Cold War in early 1990s brought about high hopes on liberal ideals including the spread of Democracy. With much excitement that blurred his long distance vision, Francis Fukuyama declared the “end of history”. Like a contagious virus, countries in the Global South including African countries amended their constitutions to allow multi party and other liberal policies. My country, Tanzania, is one example Continue reading
In her concluding chapter, Stambach reminds us that reading an ethnography is a matter of engaging one’s “self” in a cultural “other”. Throughout the book, however, I was engaging myself in a cultural “me”. I think this is more difficult than engaging in the cultural “other”. The book is an ethnography about my own culture and people. Through reading it, I have not only learnt a whole lot about my culture but also reflected and questioned myself on my life realities as I constantly interpret the world around me- which is, as I’ve realized based on the values from my own culture.
Through observations and participation across many months in Machame – on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Stambach presents different stories that collectively make a complex yet beautiful tapestry of cultural meanings and interpretations that occur in the daily lives of the people in Machame. Most of the setting in the book is in classrooms of secondary schools in Machame, whereby the world – from family/home (expectations, values), community (Chagga culture), national (policy), and the international world (modernity, wishes/desires, expectations)- is manifested as viewed and interpreted by the teachers, students, parents, elders and religious leaders- in a mutual way. “Schooling”, Stambach argues, “has provided school-goers the language for objectifying social practices and for contrasting seemingly different life-ways with one another”. In light of that, the book focuses on how that played out in terms of gender and generation.
The book, thus, examines how gender is reflected in different practices from policy (education policy and curriculum), pedagogy, family expectations of education as interpreted through cultural lenses, students’ social interactions and various relational spaces including religion, education, and family. In reading the book, one gets to learn not only about gender and generation realities as played in schools but also gains an understanding of the cultural dynamics and features of the Chagga traditions including the meanings given to furrows, banana grove and mbege (traditional banana alcohol). Moreover, the book describes how modernity is perceived and interpreted through these features thus showing the mutual constitution of traditional and modernity. There is constant negotiations and interpretations through practices of the two – tradition and modernity. This is how Stambach’s argument critiques literature that narrows schooling as an abstract means through which external (and mostly Western) influence passes through to students hence impacting their society in the same direction.
In reading the book, I kept reflecting on the current education policy and dynamics in Tanzania. I realized that much has not changed. The pedagogical style is the same in our schools as Stambach observed 20 years ago, the underlying policy assumptions and interpretations are the same. Interesting, Stambach explained the meanings of adults vs. youth and how those are manifested through schoolings with an example of how pregnant girls are not allowed to continue with schools. These similar issues are still persistent in our schools with the recent Presidential ban for pregnant girls to go back to school. Gender dynamics are still manifested through politicians’ directives, practices in schools and various references including those from the curriculum. Reflections on this show – as Stambach rightly put- “…there are fundamental disjunctures between policy and practice”.
Before getting into the last chapter of the book, I kept wondering what would be the implication on the analyses in the book from the current context whereby there is proliferation of secondary schools in Machame and more access to information through internet and mobile phones? I am confident to say that the dynamics would be the same- i.e. continuous constant interpretations and meanings given to the culture and the surrounding world- which leads to a mutual construction of the world view without much erosions of the fundamental ideals of the Chagga culture. The banana grove, mbege, and the meanings as well as expectations from schooling including the realities of the after schooling are the same. Issues of unemployment, compromises (‘education is my husband’ vs.the ultimate desire for marriage and family), respect to cultural values amidst complex world view including religious beliefs, society expectations of an educated girls, desires to conquer the world and see places as an outcome of being educated, etc are still playing out in the lives of Machame people and girls – me being one!
The 1979 Iranian Revolution strongly reminded the world that religion and politics cannot be separated. It was political revolution that was led by a religious leader- Grand Ayatollah Khomeini. Up until then with a fallacy from the enlightenment era and the confusion on the meaning of Westphalian Sovereignty (separation of church and state – mind you this did not mean separation of religion and politics ), political scientists were comfortable with the idea of considering religion a matter outside politics. Even politicians and political scientists who are Christian had put a blind eye on Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus Christ that “The Government will be upon his shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6). Politics of Cold War and the relative stable world in the same era had also played a part in ignoring the force and power of religion in politics.
Even without complicating matters with academic outlook, let’s be practical. With a very simple language- Religion is about ‘followership’ – it is an institution made of people who are sharing similar beliefs of a supernatural being / power. As an institution, religion has become very strong due to resources, transnational character (crosses beyond country borders), loyalty, and unmeasurable convincing power mixed with faith. We know politics is about controlling and distribution of resources. Religion has all these qualities of politics. Moreover, its controlling power is through soft means- belief- , which is more powerful than coercion. The powers of religion can be exemplified by its ability to mobilise for good things ( development activities, reconciliation, revolutions to oust authoritarian leaders, and for demanding democratic and self-determination rights-such as the work of the Catholic Church in Latin America) and for bad things such as crusade wars, slavery, colonialism and recently terrorism.
“Human Beings are political animals” – how do you then say an institution of people (religion) can be separated from politics while it is an association of the very same people the politicians are “leading” or rather “ruling”?
Well, this brief entry is my brief contribution to the reactions on the recent statement given by Bishops of the Lutheran Church in Tanzania as well as the previous statement by the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Tanzania – on the political situation in the country among other issues. One of the popular reactions against these statements is that the church should not interfere in politics. I find this to be such a feeble statement.
In Tanzania, religious groups must and have to interfere in politics because when politics go bad its the religious groups that first and foremost bear the burden. Religious groups are faith-based civil society. Bad politics directly affect not only the followers of religions but also their very mission in the country. The Lutheran and Catholics churches in Tanzania provide significant health and education services. Although I do not have statistics with me here, in hindsight it is almost safe to argue that the combined healthcare service provision by these two churches is more than the one provided by the government. The churches own referral hospitals , district hospitals (most districts are served by church owned hospital- some of them in partnership with the government), and hundreds and hundreds of health centres and dispensaries. Most secondary schools and a number of big universities with campuses across the country are owned by these two churches. How then can you tell them to not interfere with politics, while the government itself depends, hugely, on them to provide public services to the very people it collects taxes from? How can you tell them to stop talking while they are the ones to take care of suffering people when the country’s economic situations go bad out of bad politics?
If you are a poor government (in terms of GDP and all other standard economic indications), it is best to embrace religious institutions and respect them because they bail you out. Developing countries, such as Tanzania, are (even if unconsciously) at the mercy of religious organisation for their survival.
So lets fix our situation and stop blaming responsible religious leaders who are there to serve people. In whatever case, from time immemorial, religion has never and can never be separated from politics.
I have, finally, watched #BlackPanther. Thought I was so late to watch it until I saw how full the cinema theatre was.
The characters are marvellous. The three ladies (Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri) who were the main characters are so beautiful. Wow, #AfricanBeauties indeed…and so are the two men (T’Challa and T’Jadaka) – super super handsome. I also loved how well they acted- in terms of performance. Each of the main character was my favourite. Shuri was especially super sweet and cool. 🙂
Well, there are a number of excellent reviews on #BlackPanther, and so I do not need to do another one- neither can I try since am not a student of films neither good at reviewing aesthetic.
Nevertheless, I’ve a few observations to make – and a brief conclusion. Here we go:
Africa has lots of resources and brain powers but there are so many factors that fail us from properly using them. These resources have remained “potentials” and also our “identity”. Wakanda was not known for anything else (its people, culture etc…neither its advanced scientific lab) but for Vibranium. Africa is always identified by its natural resources- never so much its people, culture, talents,etc… Continue reading
The space was created. Created to please foreigners. It was loved. Loved as an image more than what it was. The image contributed to the “darling” title. Ironic. The same space was perceived as an obstruction in the inside. So beautiful image outside yet “ugly obstruction” inside. The space was, above all, an address. It held the many among the King’s subjects. It was, also, an address that Kings could always refer to. Good times and in bad times. At one time, a new King was enthroned. Just like the way the new Pharaoh did not know about the history neither the importance of the Israelites, so was the lack of discernment on the side of the new King. He hated the space. He only focused on the perceived “obstruction”. He fought the space. Forgot about the image. Nor did he remember of the address. He removed the space. Chaos. When reconciliation was needed, the new King had no address to send letters of reconciliation to. The new chaotic space had no address. The end was doomed. Didn’t we knew that the King’s survival was also dependent on the space? So the King fell down.
Reflections on the Kingdom had , on the increase, brought sadness. The King was turning evil. Everyday. Like the former morning star he likened himself to God. Wanting more authority even beyond the earth. Boasting of his future positions in heaven. The King’s advisors kept lying to him. With praises, they misinterpreted Machiavelli’s “better to be feared than to be loved” to him. Ooh the King expanded his muscles. The muscles responded. They widened and hardened to the point of breaking all codes. Written and unwritten. What a critical juncture! A critical juncture that became a window of opportunity for another more powerful juncture. The juncture that opened the door for a Saviour. Like Moses, she had a stutter. Like Rahab, she was described as prostitute. Like Mary-the Mother of Christ, she was a single mother in a young age. Like those characters she became a saviour. Even with enormous Bible examples, she was still a Bohemian Saviour.
Yesterday I was passing at the Public Library in Moshi and my mind started a marathon! I thought, why is this not one of the main centers in my beautiful town? It looked boring. Old fashion. Unattractive. I thought where do secondary students hang out on Saturdays and /or evening these days? In my teenage years as well as school holidays, I spent lots of in the Moshi library. I loved it. It was a social place. I remember my sister, Alilya, making many friends there.
So yesterday, I got very disturbed. Continue reading
“O, ye of little faith” – Jesus rebuked his disciples!!!
I need this rebuke right now- Continue reading
A good friend of mine, who is a billionaire – in all senses- worthy several millions of US dollars, usually gives me several pieces of advice including on health, fashion, beauty, fitness, etc & career (I often wonder why am I not yet a billionaire like him). He does not have a university education, he tells me. And it has been hard to believe it but because I know and trust his honesty and confidence, I know he doesn’t lie and so he didn’t lie. However, he has learnt much more than many people, who I know, with university certificates. His skills- in particular cognitive are of highest levels. The soft skills are a challenge- depending on how you define them- but if you consider confidence and presentation skills – his are unbeatable. If there’s one person who has defined “Disruption” for me, it’s him. He always reminds me to remove the “Oxford” thinking and let my brain operates properly outside the academic structured thinking framework. Continue reading