The 2011 was also the when the East African the highest casualties and deaths if we are to go by just few accidents witnessed, 200 people lost their lives from MV Spice Island wreckage and fire caused by gas explosion in the slums of Nairobi claimed more than hundred lives.
The famine at the horn of Africa was severe with food protectionist policy reigning in Tanzania. Food security has been a good deal for politicians in the region and Tanzania in particular during elections. This isn’t a mere story taking into consideration what has been happening during party primaries be it CCM, CHADEMA or CUF, or during by-elections and general elections.
There have been claims of food portioning to electorates so that certain aspirant to win nomination votes or election votes to be a representative. These things aren’t accidental but well planned taking into consideration what a leader ought to be. In his book Art of Leadership Banerje, A.K, on principles of leadership is, ‘know your people and look out for their well being’ and as per Tanzania politicians with silent food insecurity they use food portioning to lure votes.
Such incidences have been very common in rural settings where getting a day’s meal have been always a problem, posing the question of food security. The Bottom Billion of Paul Collier are the billion people worldwide suffering from hunger and starvation which Zitto Kabwe’s paraphrasing it into Rural Bottom 30m. The phrases used by both of these people with different profiles, level of understanding and calibers must have make us as a nation raise a red flag to signal danger of famine and starvation related problems, poor school performance, poor ability in thinking and creativity among citizens, increased suffering of citizens from preventable diseases that are caused by poor nutrition.
I bet you that if you want see the face of real Tanzanians go rural! I mean visit some strange villages where you have not been, where you know nobody, where you feel free to ask any question, where you will be saved pieces of prejudices, where you will be seen like a messiah of hope, where you are the only smart guy, the only one wearing clothes with colors that can be identified from far, where you are the only one who knows what piped water or even bottled water is, the only person from the City, preferably Dar es Salaam, maybe the only person who can give little description of what what is the city life is like but especially where Magogoni, statehouse is and how reach to there.
During elections we blame wananchi of being ignorant to the extent of being lured into voting our opponents just by being offered plates of spiced- rice (pilau) or even T-shirts that they are being given. I think we don’t understand the major problems people have in the rural settings, their problems are beyond the leaders they want but it is more of what Ngugi wa Thiongo called one his play This Time Tomorrow where a woman by the name Wanjiku like many independent Kenyan women and men who fought for independence were being evicted from the houses most of which were made of tins, one the earliest mama ntilies living by selling soup.
These voters of which in most cases are rural residences, they are the ones who votes overwhelmingly compared to their urban counterparts who in most cases are vocal and vote less! The people who determine the leadership of most African countries Tanzania inclusive are those in the rural. But those who are taken change from time to time like chameleons are the urban dwellers that are always urbane in their ways of leaving, thinking and deciding you can’t count on them, when you want people walk in the streets because of urban life frustrations, there they are!
Does someone out there understand all these are the issues which need to be addressed for a country to change and move forward? Making reference to the political transformation form one party state to multiparty state in 1992 which was smooth in Tanzania compared to Kenya in 1992, Uganda in 2006 and even Zimbabwe it is because the bottom millions of rural remained loyal to the ruling party. The rural populace was not well acquainted with what was happening in the urbane world of towns.
It is very depressing to see how many people suffer from hunger neither because of the prolonged dry spell or drought, nor because the country can’t feed its populace but because the roads, rail infrastructure and the National Strategic Grain Reserve aren’t well equipped and enabled to rescue the situation. It is within the Tanzanian borders where people live by one meal a day, it is at the same magnitude that we find citizens especially the bottom millions of the rural are highly lured to vote for the most expedient leaders who have no plans and aren’t able to articulate and defend their electorates against corrupt leaders instead they are voted in to eat, if I were to use Swahili “wanapigiwa kula,food vs kura,vote”. May be to use Michel Wrong’s book to describe the situation after elections is ‘It is Our Time to Eat.’
The solution to the problems of the bottom billions and rural millions is to ensure investments in food security, infrastructure that will enable distribution and redistribution of basic human needs especially food with the long effects healthy nation, healthy brain, active and creative nation.