Saturday, May 29, 2010

Liberty, really.

I've been getting a variety of verbal reactions to some of my written musings on Jay Kay, challenging me to 'declare my politics'. The terminally suspicious jingoists are certain that I must be a puppet speaking on behalf of The Kenyan Invasion to undermine This Great Nation Of Ours. The professional malcontents accuse me of, how to put this, applying my reverently puckered lips to the collective backsides of the President and the Establishment. Truth is, I am doing this for reasons far more selfish than anti-patriotism or sycophancy.

Power interests me. This is part of an ongoing project to learn through experience and reading and conversations what our relationship is to formal authority and how that affects how we govern ourselves and who we choose to lead our public institutions. Natch, these 'governance' or 'political' issues affect how I live my day-to-day life: whom I am "allowed" to love, how much I pay for electricity, who has the right to disconnect my water, what I can wear in public, whether or not I can stand for public office, what I can afford to eat, how long I have to wait in line for a passport, so on so forth.

Since I do all that living in Tanzania, evidently I must study Tanzanian power structures. And since, generally speaking, Tanzania suffers from fantastically crap institutions, all roads lead to the President*. And since we choose to defer so much power to the President, it is in my interest to know what kinda guy or gal the incumbent is.

It suits me just fine, for example, that Jay Kay's technophilia and evident love of all things young, shiny and new makes him more of a friend to eMedia than an enemy (for the most part). As a liberal-slash-blogger-slash-aspiring-writer-slash-feminist-etc, I need a Head of State who is friendly towards freedom of expression and I prefer one who is not paternalistic in his approach to power. Jay Kay kinda-sorta fulfills these requirements (hey, everyone is a work-in-progress).

Just because I like him- and you do too, you know that smile is irresistible- doesn't mean that I agree with everything he does, or think that he is The Second Coming with a slice of foie gras on top. Charm can only get you so far. I suspect he's messing up very badly in certain ways, but I can't exactly walk into his office and have this chat over a cup of coffee. That is just not how the system works. However, I am at liberty to communicate in other ways. A liberty I evidently exploit and am ready to defend along with every other form of liberty I currently enjoy and any future liberties I might acquire.

The non-selfish part? No woman is an island, and these things must be negotiated with the rest of the folks out there. As long as people are willing to defend liberty, we all benefit. Kinda like a social JKT. So, I hope that helps clear up any questions you might have had, dear Tanzanian reader-who-is-likely-to-ambush-me-at-a-bar-or-workshop, about why I write about Jay Kay the way I do. It's imperfect- like him I'm learning on the job and I have certainly committed my share of mistakes. But at heart we both love this country and serve it to the best of our abilities. Thanks for asking. Let's talk. Please use the comments section- its there for you!

*Yeah, I know there's other "important" branches of government. But, like, not really. That's the problem.


  1. Brilliant piece of writing! Your intentions are clearly outlined. I hope that those who are hounding you will read and rest their case.....
    I am a regular reader of this blog but I have not come across anything negative about the presidency unless I am missing something.
    As you have said it in this post, this is the only media you have to express your views, it is in your constitutional rights as long as you do not defame or insult the president....Please continue to keep us informed.....

  2. As a fellow Tanzanian, I am very proud of your work. Your writing is 'gutsy' and conveys quite effortlessly what your fellow Tanzanians are thinking but are either too lazy, afraid or busy! KUDOS!

  3. @ Faustine: Asante bro! You haven't missed anything, its just that peeps would rather pull a side conversation with me than hit the reply button on a blog, so some of these discussions look one-sided when they are not. Working on that tip right now, ili tusonge mbele. Cheers for hitting the comment button.
    @ Sunshine: High Five! Sasa, recruitment: these fellow Tanzanians of whom you speak (like, say, you) must be pushed out to do their thing too jamani. How? Utaniambia kwa muda wako.

  4. Thanks to the good times, ask us who grew up in the 60s,70s and 80s any criticism of the government/president was unpatriotic.
    You are doing a good job in appreciation of the times we live in.

  5. I stumbled upon your blog today, too late I had already been complaining about Tanzanian blogs lacking variety.
    Nitarudi tena. Nitarefer wasomaji pia.



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