Last night my parents invited me to a dinner that they were having with Mr. Joseph W. Butiku- the Executive Director of Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation and also one of the Commissioners of the Constitutional Review Commission. As you can imagine, I was very happy. It was an opportunity for me to meet this great man- one of our nation’s fathers.
We talked about many things and in particular the Arusha Declaration and the Ujamaa Ideology. I “narrated” my many ideas, ambitions, and wishes for Tanzania. He listened very carefully as he is such a wise man. He then responded so coherently to the point that I felt as if somebody had organized my ideas for me.
Here is part of what constitutes our conversation that I would to share with you: (They will be in Swahili because that’s the language we used):
Nitaeleza kama nilivyomwelewa:
Nilimwambia kuwa nimesikitika kuwa Rasimu imeitoa sentensi ‘Tanzania ni nchi ya kijamaa’, hii sentensi iko kwenye Katiba yetu ya sasa lakini haiko kwenye Rasimu. Mzee Butiku akanieleza sababu vizuri sana na akaniambia ile maana haijaondoka maana bado tumeweka tunu zetu na tumeongelea ‘UTU’ kwenye Katiba. Utu ina maana kubwa sana na ujamaa ni (kwa ujumla) juu ya utu.
Kwa ujumla alisema Katiba mpya itakuwa ni chombo kinachowaletea na kuwaunganisha watanzania wote pamoja bila kujali itakadi zao za vyama au tofauti zao nyingine zozote. Ni chombo kinachotuunganisha wote.
Mzee Butiku alinieleza juu ya maadili yetu kama watanzania na umuhimu wa hayo maadili katika nchi. Alieleza pia juu Uongozi na umuhimu wa kufundisha watu Uongozi na Maadili kama tunavyoelewa na kwa namna ambayo itasaidia nchi yetu.
Tuliongea juu ya Elimu. Elimu yetu inabidi iangaliwe na tufundishwe mambo ambayo tunaweza kutekeleza nchini na itakayomfanya mtanzania awe na nafasi/sauti katika dunia hii yenye ushindani. Lazima watanzania waelewe tunu zetu na kuzishika.
Mzee Butiku aliniambia umuhimu wa kuandika kila kitu haswa mawazo yangu. Alitumia neno ‘THE POWER OF THE PEN’. Hili lilinigusa sana. Aliniambia usiache kuandika mawazo chini na andika kila kitu.
KWA UJUMLA NILIFARIJIKA SANA NA KUJUA KUWA NCHI BADO INAMATUMAINI SANA KAMA KUNA WAZEE KAMA HAWA NA PIA WAKO KAZINI HASWA KWENYE HUU MCHAKATO WA KATIBA.
I learnt a lot of other things but the above is what I want to share in summary and to pose a challenge for us all to think through them.
We, the citizens of Tanzania, need to deeply ponder our national values (tunu). Do we teach those in our primary schools? If you ask a Tanzanian what our national values are? Can he/she mention them without trouble? We need to have these values engraved in our hands and they should guide our minds, thinking, and decisions.
We also need to rethink about what really Ujamaa meant for us…we have to go beyond ‘political mindset’ and think through it’s socio-cultural importance….As I have often written- the genius of Ujumaa ideology was its nature that went beyond political dimensions. My dad explained to me that, one of the problems is that scholars and people tried to analyze and see Ujamaa through the framework of scientific socialism…but Ujamaa could not be easily captured by scientific socialism because it was different- it was ‘familyhood’. The wrong analyses made some to implement Ujamaa policies in somehow ‘brutal ways’ that did not take into consideration people’s contexts etc…and this partly tarnished the image of this brilliant idea. I personally think many of us might have missed what the Great Father of Our Nation (the Conscious of Africa) Mwalimu Julius Nyerere meant. The good thing is that Mwalimu wrote- he used the POWER OF THE PEN. We have his books, speeches, and many other things that he wrote. We may thus revisit his ideas- by carefully and objectively reading his writings and listening to his speeches and try to see what he meant and rethink about our values and ethics as a nation….and of course reapply them in the context of 21st Century.