So, for the last 3 weeks I have been “managing” my mom’s various informal businesses including a farm with dairy cattle, chickens (layers), crops (bananas and vegetables), and hay fields. She has a manager and 4 staff helping in the farm. The time my mom puts on the farm is 2 hours of morning before she goes to her “full time” business in town. She is also an active member of women’s group in church and various forum that help women and the society in general. So as a board member of a Women’s Centre (Angaza), she has had to go to Germany for 3 weeks. This is the longest time she has been away from home for a long time. Everyone missed her presence. Usually, when she travels, she only takes a week or two maximum. I think, she was more confident this time because my brother and I could stay home for all of the three weeks supervising her various activities. My dad is usually very busy and always fully occupied.
So well, for 20 days since May 1st, I’ve been busy managing the farm in particular the distribution and delivery of dairy products (fresh milk, yoghurt, crème and butter), eggs, and soy milk and soy yoghurt. We’ve constant orders but we also receive other orders from different people. At the beginning, I did not know how much work and follow up is needed because I thought the manager does everything. Little did I know that I would have to be even following up on the feeding and ensure there is always enough animal feed and dry hay for the cows. The amount of hours and efforts I put did not allow me to concentrate more than 4 hours a day in my regular office work including my writing. Every evening, I get back home so tired. I told my brother, I do not even want to pick up the phone anymore… in short, I had to deal with the manager and staff who require what I call “maximum supervision”. My brother said, I now understand why human resource experts love the phrase “someone who requires minimal supervision”.
Why, am I giving the above personal example? Somebody might be asking…it’s because I think many Tanzanians who have businesses or are managing people face similar issue- the issue of the need to do “maximum supervision”. It is almost like you are doing everything on your own. My brother and I spoke about this issue every morning and evening while driving to and from work. The questions remain, why can’t people decide? Why can’t they be innovative? why can’t they think by themselves? and he keeps telling me that the issue is “education”. He says we need to remember education is an important input in everything. Thus, the government, policy makers and each Tanzanian need to have a serious thought about our education. In general we need to revisit our education strategy.
So this morning, while we were talking, we remembered that Mwl. Nyerere said, we’ve 3 enemies…ignorance, diseases, and poverty…and I commented to my brother…you know Nyerere was talking about what IR scholars call ‘human security’, which is the core argument of the nascent ‘new security agenda’ theory. Lack of education or poor quality education nurtures ignorance, which is a security threat. Get it. Well, our discussion continued till we got to the office. When I got to the office, I was determined to write substantial amount of words to one of my ongoing writing projects. But my dad had been explaining to me about the lack of power in Tanzania’s local government regardless of the decentralization policies upon the reform in early 1990s. This has challenged my thinking and I wanted to understand further. I think it was the Holy Spirit who directed me into reading a certain academic paper on China. Little did I know that it would include an academic ‘theory’ on the same issue my dad has been explaining to me. The paper talks about Chinese government. In explaining its operating style, a concept known as Neoliberal Governmentality came across…this theory can be traced to what Foucault called Gouvernementalite. Anyways, so I was very happy and almost forgot about my new farm-managing role stresses.
As if that was not enough joy, few more paragraphs of the paper brought me to another revelation of a Chinese concept known as #Jiaohua – this means “transforming the society by teaching or by education”. Chinese have been putting this concept in practice, and according to the research and also the paper, the capacity to learn, is one of most powerful explanatory factors to 35 years of Chinese economic success. Thus, as much as we develop close relationships with China and Chinese people, what, we, Tanzanians, need to learn more from them is the way of transforming our society by education.
I think Tanzania can follow UK’s education model whereby every one is getting a chance to get a college / university education through National vacational training. People get training on the job and get to do formal education training for one year in their field of studies, Ministry of education needs to revisit its policy. Our laziness culture contributes to every aspect of our lives , such as our working style and aiming for low and not high. We always think about today’s meal and not tomorrow.