Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Sneak: Taking Peace for Granted

Wasn't the end of this last Bunge session exciting. Seriously, who was expecting that anyone would employ a Motion of No Confidence to push the government off-balance. Our brand of politics has favored more direct forms of confrontation over those offered by the tools of public administration, so this is a step in the right direction.

Of course there was no way, no matter how swiftly the political activists moved on this one, that the Prime Minister was going to go down like that. If CCM hadn't found a reasonable technical loophole to escape this attack, they would have created one. And if all else fails, the President still has overwhelming powers to create law out of thin air by making a declaration. So truly, I don't think there was any particular danger other than hurt feelings and such.

For us regular citizens, politics is interesting because we need the products of improved governance: roads, schools, etc. The tangible stuff. But in order to get that, the crucial role played by long stretches of peace through successive administrations cannot be ignored- after all it is the foundation on which we have been able to build the state in the first place. So as long as we keep substituting legal, symbolic, democratic and administrative conflict for real physical conflict and civil unrest- we're doing great.

There's been a lot of huff and puff in the media about this being Africa's Century*. The only thing that would give this ideal any real legs, to me, is if this generation achieves its mission of creating a majority of states in which residents can take peace for granted. Kind of the way we take post-colonialism for granted now. And that starts with intelligent, pacific statecraft. This is hardly a new theme with me, but some things bear repeating. Coming to an East African near you:

"So much of our public dialogue these days has become consumed with questions of leadership, fighting corruption and getting the kind of governance we think we want. Most of the time, we frame our collective dissatisfaction with calls for great change, explicit change, explosive change if necessary. I wonder if we are all just a bit tired of living in a state of extended anxiety over the financial pinch, and anticipation that things will improve because surely they can't get any worse. But who is to say change will come all at once, and from the expected corners anyways? It would be fantastic if increasingly better governance and sensible politics could sneak up on us one concession at a time."

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Weekly Sneak: Namechecking Trevor Manuel

Alright, so how many of you reading this know what the Bretton Woods Institutions are, why they exist and how they operate? Because I have to confess, if it hadn't been for the news about the World Bank Chief selection process I would have continued to blissfully ignore them as peripheral to my life, hey. But it's a big story, and why not talk about some of the never-mentioned geopolitical, gendered and racially-tinged power dynamics behind some of our most visible international institutions? Coming to an East African near you:
"It does make one consider: two Finance Ministers from countries with experience in poverty and its economics were turned down in favor of a public health expert in HIV and Tuberculosis. Apparently, there is a “silent” agreement whereby Europe gets to head the IMF and America gets the World Bank. Considering this “silent” arrangement is an open secret, I supposed it was only a matter of time before countries most heavily subjected to these organizations' activities got restless about the institutions' governance, transparency and democratic selection processes."
I have heard it being bandied about, the notion that this is Africa's century et cetera. I am adopting an optimistic wait-and-see approach to this, but it doesn't mean I won't stick my oar into discussion of power from time to time. It's not my most politically-correct article, I must admit. Also, I had to find a way to work in Trevor Manuel. Because.

Speaking of getting rudely honest about things, last week's article about Steven Kanumba was a major throw of the dice. It is one thing to throw barbs at politicians however beloved they are, this is a time-honored tradition. It is another thing entirely to "attack" popular Tanzanians. I experienced the same dilemma around the time of Kikombe Cha Babu- bell the cat, or stay quiet and be a "good" Tanzanian? I had no choice in the end, I would have lost the respect of my inner activist if I hadn't said anything in defense of Lulu, Kanumba's underage "friend" and alleged murderer. Turns out this generated more responses than any article has in months. Peace.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yes, But Have You Considered Stew?

I had a long post drafted about stew. This was for several reasons- in part to get the blog restarted after too long in hiatus, and also in response to some emails suggesting that I go back to more lifestyle content to lighten things up. And to have fun: writing about Important Stuff is all well and good but there is joy in the world in for me one of its important manifestations is through cuisine. I dream of tasting uni and collecting cookware the way some people dream about owning mansions or achieving fame.

But it was not to be. The computer managed to lose a soulful contemplation of the pleasures of stew that took me hours to draft. It is irretrievable from both the machine and my memory, sadly. Unlike writers of yore, those of us who depend on computers for our craft are clearly at risk of losing important piece of work at the blink of Tanesco or a hiccup from Sasatel. And boy do they blink and hiccup a lot. So this re-post is really in honor of Anonymous who alerted me to the fact that the first post was a dud. Here goes:

"there is no text."- Sorry, dog ate my homework.

"Is this an experiment?" No, but thanks for the idea...

"Well, hope you pay me, if it is."... you don't happen to be from Nairobi do you?

"And, yes, i have." Good for you. The contemplation of stew is a philosophical exercise everyone should attempt at least once. I would be interested in hearing your conclusions on the matter.



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Update: The Mikocheni Report is Still Reporting from Mikocheni

Whew. I apologize for the ridiculous silence. What happened was that in the first quarter of 2012, it was looking as though the Mikocheni Report might turn into the Kijitonyama Report, or the Masaki Report, due to some...er...housing market instabilities combined with inflation and the obligatory evil landlady. Let's just say that transience/squatting had a depressing effect on my productivity and leave it at that.

The good news: by one of those ridiculous serendipities (and some hustling and unexpected boons) that only seem to happen in Dar, I totally got hooked up with a new hen pen...roughly 300 meters from the old hen pen. Heya! In fact, perhaps even a Hallelujah!

So the Mikocheni Report stays the Mikocheni Report. And she's back online. Thanks for your patience.

A little birdie told me...

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