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Saturday, August 01, 2009

TweetThis! My Aunt reflects on Tanzania via Obama's speech in Ghana, 2009

This is what my aunt has written (in short) of her thoughts about Tanzania and what she thinks needs to happen for this country to at least set a foot on the right direction in the positive development journey. The other day when I told her that she and Kingunge are just age mates, (well according to the typo in the Bunge website) she nearly fainted and then she heaid, 'nlishakwambia siku nyingi. Kwani nchi inaelekea wapi? si inakwenda nyuma? kwa hivyo kama ana miaka sawa na mimi, ni sawa sawa ina-prove usemi wangu kuwa tunaelekea nyuma ndo maana na umri wake Kingunge na wengine umeandikwa unaelekea nyuma. Was that hard for you to figure out?'.... I said, no auntie, you have been right all this time, I just didn't pay enough attention to what you were saying (wish I were as half intelligent as she is, no wonder I couldn't understand her).
I think this sums up all we have talked about our country and what need to be done to effect any viable change. How do you invest or even do business in a country with no effective laws?? “…I think that the new president, President Mills, has shown himself committed to the rule of law, to the kinds of democratic commitments that ensure stability in a country. And I think that there is a direct correlation between governance and prosperity. Countries that are governed well, that are stable, where the leadership recognizes that they are accountable to the people and that institutions are stronger than any one person have a track record of producing results for the people”.  Unless this happens, I don’t see any success whatsoever. If Ghana can do it, why can’t other countries do the same? “But we have seen progress in democracy and transparency and rule of law, in the protection of property rights, in anti-corruption efforts. We have seen progress over the last several years; in some cases, though, we're also seeing some backsliding”. I would say that this is true about Tanzania. I can’t remember correctly, was it Switzerland (no, it was The Netherlands auntie) that pulled a plug about aids to Tanzania because apparently the business was ruined and there are no laws to protect foreign investments?  How can we operate like that and expect to succeed?  As I always say, until we start anything and show that we really mean business and have anything to show when asking for help, I don’t think cash is an answer to our problems.“Well, part of it is lifting up successful models”.

I was listening to a lady by the name Moyo (CNN coverage) from the southern part of Africa I can’t remember the country correctly. (it's Dambisa Moyo and she is from Zambia auntie).  What strikes me was the correct analysis on the help we African countries get from donors. If you come to the country and give us mosquito nets, first you are killing our industries which means killing jobs that would have been created if the factory was doing the work right there at our country. So according to her, what we need is help in making sure that those industries are performing well for the benefit of the country in term of creating jobs and providing for the country. I couldn’t agree more with her. And Obama has the same feeling.  “It seems to me that what we should be doing is trying to minimize our footprint and maximize the degree to which we're training people to do for themselves”.

Another point is that, when our national leaders go to foreign countries, all they ask is help which is injected where it doesn’t belong. Ok, here we are, asking for computers while we have no classrooms to put them, no electricity to make sure they operate fully. We have to move with priority and slowly we will get where we want to be. We cannot keep on trying to be like developed countries while our infrastructure is that of 15th century. As Obama said, “We don't need fancy computers to solve those problems; we need tried and true agricultural methods and technologies that are cheap and are efficient but could have a huge impact in terms of people's day-to-day well-being”. This is what we need right now. Those computers will come late as I don’t see how the computer is going to survive in a mud hut classroom with no chairs and desks to begin with. These leaders need to be realistic and spend time maybe reading about developed countries policies and find out what makes them tick so they can start doing their part (even ¼ of what developed countries are doing is more than enough)

You’re not going to get investment without good governance”. African countries are going backward instead of forward. “…I think that when my father left Kenya and traveled to the United States back in the early '60s, the GDP of Kenya and South Korea weren't equivalent - Kenya's was actually higher. What's happened over that 50-year period?” we pretended to chase away the whites and took over but what did we do? So blaming colonialism and neo- colonialism is just a lame excuse. We are responsible for our failure and showing no signs of learning anything. 

“But ultimately I'm a big believer that Africans are responsible for Africa. I think part of what's hampered advancement in Africa is that for many years we've made excuses about corruption or poor governance; that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism. I'm not a believer in excuses. And yet the fact is we're in 2009. The West and the United States has not been responsible for what's happened to Zimbabwe's economy over the last 15 or 20 years. It hasn't been responsible for some of the disastrous policies that we've seen elsewhere in Africa. I think that it's very important for African leadership to take responsibility and be held accountable”. The problem here is that, who is going to make sure that they take full responsibility now?? It is a sad situation. And don’t tell me that what am I doing to make a change(ha ha ha) as I have tried my best  with good intentions to help only to be frustrated and left to just think of my life and my loved ones. As tom cruise said in Toby Maguire, “help me help you”. If somebody comes and tell me their idea and what they have done so far and where they are headed, I can’t think of helping out. And mind you, my help doesn’t have to be financial. It can be a simple consultancy.

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