Thursday, April 25, 2013

Answering (or trying to) the Religion Question in Tanzania

Tanzanian politicians are funny. On one hand they would tell religious leaders to stay out of politics when religious leaders speak ill of the government but on the other hand these same political leaders go to churches and mosque and give political speeches. Nobody said anything when members of the clergy called Kikwete "Chaguo la Mungu" but now that the tide has turned they are not to speak of politics?

Well the first paragraph aims at showing the hypocritical relationship between politics and religion but I really want to tackle a very controversial and sensitive issue in Tanzania. Why do some (if not) many Muslims feel that whenever there is a Muslim president they are attacked and conspiracies against them cooked up?

Well I am going to list a few examples I know of that some Muslims cite as proof of this. I can't tackle all but maybe these few examples will serve as a stepping stone to a greater (respectable) debate. I am mostly going to give examples regarding Jakaya Kikwete (JK).

Well I believe Muslims are more sensitive than Christians (not that it's a bad thing). They are very passionate about their religion. You want proof? If you drew an offensive picture of Prophet Mohammad today you are likely to get a stronger reaction that if you drew an offensive picture of Jesus Christ. That is why I believe our Muslim brothers and sisters react more strongly when they feel or a told that someone is being opposed because they are Muslim.

What can cause some Muslims to feel this way? I believe all this starts with the struggle for independence. No doubt that Nyerere is the face of the struggle for independence even though many came before him and many fought alongside him. Muslims have stated that it is Muslims who initiated the struggle and it is them that brought Nyerere to national prominence. They complain that history has forgotten these people and it is all Nyerere's fault.

Well if you look at the history of all nations, it is very few that a remembered for the founding of the nation. Look at America's history. There are only a few notable founding fathers while the rest are forgotten. My point here is that you can't control history. In America the founding fathers who are mostly remembered are the ones who later on became president. The rest are like George Mason are virtually forgotten. Nyerere is remembered not because he pumped himself but because he is the only of the independence fighters to hold the highest office in the country. If others had come to hold the office after him I'm sure they would be remembered too.

Another story I have heard is that Nyerere opposed JK in the CCM party primaries of 1995 and instead endorsed Mkapa. Now we all know what Mkapa came to do later on but that is not the issue. The issue here is did Nyerere oppose JK just because of religion? Considering the fact that he came to endorse a fellow Christian? Well in the same 1995 party primaries Nyerere called another fellow Christian by the name of Edward Lowassa a controversial figure and unfit for office. This to me is proof that Nyerere was really looking at the interest of the country and not a candidate's religion.

Some Muslims are now also citing the Church's criticism of JK and his government saying that they are only doing that because he is Muslim. Are they forgetting that it is the same Church leaders who endorsed JK and called him "Chaguo la Mungu" in 2005? Why would they now have a problem with his religion?

Another complaint of Muslims is that why is JK getting a bad wrap for things that were the fault of the previous administration lead by Mkapa (a Christian). Well Mkapa has been blamed and in fact spoken against in public. Many blame JK not for causing those problem but by failing to take any actions to hold accountable those responsible. JK had a great opportunity to make unprecedented history had he dealt with the fisadis which included both Christians and Muslims. The fact that ones a new government comes into power they carry all the good and the bad of the past administration. That is why today you will not here of the Obama administration blaming the Bush administration for the economy. Whether it was Bush's fault or not the economy is Obama's to fix. No American will buy the "Bush" excuse.

I think political leaders no how sensitive the religion issue is especially to our Muslim brothers and sisters and they use it to their advantage. That is why CUF was labelled a Muslim party and that is why Chadema is now strongly being labelled as a Christian party. They know that that sort of labeling works to our psyches.

Back then there were people who would oppose anything CUF would do or say because they thought there were are Muslim party and today there are people who will oppose Chadema no matter what because they feel it is a Christian party.

I hope that we one day realize that this is not the Muslim Republic of Tanzania nor the Christian Republic of Tanzania. We are the United Republic of Tanzania. Are we going to let religion divide us? I would never oppose any one simply because they are of a different religion of mine nor would I support any one simply because they are the same religion us mine. Fact is a bad health care system, a bad educational system, low salaries and high cost of living affects all of us regardless. So why do Tanzanians easily fall into the religion trap?

This is my opinion based on what I know so far. I am ready to defend my words but even apologize if I am to learn that I have made a clear mistake. It's all written in the spirit of learning from each other.

1 comment:

  1. Politicians are instigating this religous issue..for the better of country,respect among religions is required..