Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Weekly Sneak: In Touch With His Inner Mother

It's been a while since I tugged on Jakaya Kikwete's sparse chin hairs. I am constantly getting into trouble with all kinds of people about being fond of the man and his suits in the first place. Defending his free speech policy has put me beyond the pale.  But it has been a few years since I called my President a cake in a bakery window amongst other things and I am still not in jail. Columnists tend to remember that kind of deliberate ignorance on the part of She State. We also get tempted to push the envelope because... well, tweaking big things is mesmerizing, otherwise who would bother with elephants and whales.

So I got a bit playful this week. Threw in a little gender bending, because why not? I believe that Tanzania and her Presidents have always had a very feminine kind of vibe, to our advantage:
"When the threat is identifiably external we have no problems rising to the occasion. But that is what the armed forces are for. They have already earned our confidence that should any problem arise, they'll lace up their combat boots right quick and proceed to plant them firmly in the face of whoever made us cry in the playground. This leaves the President free to focus on the area in which we actually crave his attention: internal peace and stability and welfare. We've been spoiled by decades of highly interactive exchanges with our leaders, we do expect them to listen to our troubles and mediate all domestic altercations without showing favoritism. When disasters happen, His Excellency has to come kiss the ouchies away and make it all better. When the economy is ailing we expect him to find a way to put enough food on the table to feed a growing nation. A large part of a Tanzanian President's job is to be Mom."
Come to think of it, this might not be unique to Tanzania. There's something about the way we revere Heads of State and expect them to be all things to all people that has a bit of a maternal fixation to it, neh? Might as well vote in a few women from time to time. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Anxiety Attacks

Midweek is deadline day for the East African and I tackled the subject of last week's Mbagala riots, thinking that perhaps it had blown over enough to comment on. Which is the problem with having a deadline that's several days removed from publication. The situation has evolved and now there are synergies with Zanzibar's current problems. Reuters is using the word 'Islamist.' Sigh.

I still don't think that this is a religious fight, per se, because denial is a river in Egypt. Still, the tide turned when the Police arrested Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda in connection with last week's riots. Ah, the heavy hand of the state security organs. Meanwhile in Zanzibar, policeman Said Abdulrahman was executed by a mob on his way home in the disturbances that followed the disappearance of another cleric, Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed.

Woke up this morning to a woeful text message. Apparently an ultimatum has been issued to the police: if Sheikh Ponda is not released by noon today, protesters will "not be responsible for what happens." Perhaps they hoping that somehow the rule of law as practiced by our oh-so-gentle police will not apply to them? 

I approve of a good hearty protest, but only in the peaceful sense. Having the city threatened with violence is a whole different ball game. Seriously tedious for the remaining four million and change of us to be so inconvenienced by a fight we just don't want. I am hoping that the police will get off its testosterone crack pipe and just send the cleric home to defuse the situation. They can afford to handle this matter with more finesse than they have so far and I hope they do. Put my tax shillings to good use, people, and by good use I don't mean teargas. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Weekly Sneak: For God's Sake

Eh. So My Lady of the Faithful Smiles likes to tell this story about how back in the 20th Century, when I was preparing for some Catholic Rite of Passage or other, I gave the sistren instructing me some grief. They were nice brides of Christ, from Mother Teresa's order: none of that crazy Catholic, pinchy, child-(expletive deleted) psychosis going on here. Apparently I asked them why I had never seen the Big Guy, Mister Number One, even though I used to watch out for Him whenever I took a plane ride.They warned M'lady that her child might be trouble.

Kids are awesome that way. They are natural scientists, which is why so many traditionalists believe in beating the thought out of them. Oh wait, I mean beating the obedience into them. Whatever. So to my delight my nieces have been secure enough to show intellect and doubt. The one asked me on a long ago busride why she hadn't seen God when flying. Another recently quizzed her daddy about how much water it would take to extinguish the sun? Ha! The clarity of the problem statement, the tentative hypothesis, the sheer amount of thought behind these queries!

So now, this kid in Tanzania a couple days ago was in an argument with his mate. Mate said: if you piss on this holy book, you're going to turn into a snake or something slimy and cold. Kid's like: no way. Mate: way. Kid: no, dude. Mate: try it. Kid:... alright. Result?:
"FFU water trucks were called out onto the streets in a bid to disperse a furious mob. Churches were burned. My goodness, we went there."
I don't know how folks are raising their kids these days, but peeing on books is simply unacceptable. More importantly, thinking that a 14 year old boy intended to insult the religion of Islam by accepting his Muslim friend's dare is ridiculous. Did I mention: Muslim friend, dare, 14 year old boys? Because it has to be said that there were two idiots involved in this crime. Let's not forget the one minor was arrested and taken for questioning- questioning!- after the incident. What are we putting in Mbagala's drinking water, heavy metals? For * sake, people. Show some sense. At least more than those dick-witted children.

A little birdie told me...

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