In the recent two dialogues at the University of Dar es Salaam, two things came out. One, when you were once at the Hill it was obvious that you are first revolutionist, the eloquence of Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga, Prof Thandika Mkandawire and other international dons was at its best unearthing the role Cheche played some years back this was evident with Pan-Africanism dialogue with its precepts well based in the African socialism (Ujamaa: Binadamu wote ni sawa)
Two, with the education crisis in the country it was expected that the first group of people to either question the government and relevant authorities were young, energetic and free thinking Tanzanians at the Hill, students from all faculties of knowledge, this has not been the case instead we say they are more civilized than they were some years back where they were vibrant, at least they were called either philosophical sycophants.
It can be easily said that The Hill is behaving itself nowadays. That is a different story if you look at the way things look from inside. I mean giving it a long short observation that captures what generation is being born out of this yes boss class.
Behaving itself means, keeping quiet when all is not well. Save for the Union of University of Dar es Salaam Staff (UDASSA) which maybe because of being intellectual body and also it is affected by the aftermath of examination fiasco prepared a national dialogue on that.
Students are nowadays known not to rise above their lecturers’ conventional thoughts, that is, they need to be a replicate of them. Behaving as free and new breed of intellectuals is a crime which is no longer tolerated at least if you are a student at the Hill.
Today Tanzania is proud of some of the students who were stubborn at the Hill in 1960s/70s but we don’t want any more people who are stubborn because of their thoughts we only need those who make us go into deep sleep and start dreaming how we can swim or at least heckle at politicians in our classrooms.
Some of the actions that have created such clique of followers are; Creating rules that change the titles of students’ union leaders, 2009 starting from the Tanzania’s cradle of tertiary Education, the University of Dar es Salaam, the then minister for Education Prof Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe, circulated a guide on what Students’ governance should be like, stating the titling, and roles. The motive behind was to reduce the powers and influence of the students leaders, second was to trim the power of these organizations by making more of rubber stamping of decisions of the University management at the expenses of the students interests and needs. The students’ leaders and organizations need to reclaim their space once more.
Right to association and assembly, in 1970s magazine at the Hill ‘Cheche’ with most of the liberation thoughts and competing thoughts at the Hill. Its main contributors were mainly students and lecturers. Today even assembling at the Hill is illegal and you may face the full force of university by-laws. Do we have such forums ones again at the Hill? Do we have Revolution Square? Do we have students who can stand up for their rights? Do we have such ideological and intellectual discussions that can shape the country’s future?
Changing the rules of the game in the students’ politics, building active civil society is something which is not done overnight or at the age of voting. Civic engagement is done by doing not by theorizing, memorizing and maintaining the status quo just to be seen as disciplined student which does not result to award as it was in secondary education. Thanks for scrapping well behaved wards at the universities and at least it is not a requirement for success!
When the intellectuals, the degree holders keep quiet in the face of oppression what will the villager do? In a village with a professor who is always dead in his classroom and books and not seen as engaging people in serious discussions what will someone from Namtumbo who has nothing to loss but his poverty talk about?
HESLB Syndrome, another elephant in the house is the classification and grading students on how much they should be loaned based on where they studied, who their parents, or sometimes based on what studies they are pursuing. This has not only killed the spirit of unitary struggle among students but has also created the ‘THEY’ the rich and ‘WE’ the poor, the foundations of the nations are threatened from colleges to mosques and churches. So even if they have common interests what comes into their minds is the betrayal of one class against the other, their differences not their similarities as the citizens of this nation and second as students. Looking at their differences wipes the possibility of learning from their diversity to create common identity.
Naming and hanging, it happens that if a group of students plot to protest either decision made by their chancellors, lecturers or authorities outside the university like HELSB, they are named politicians, they are used to cause mayhem and disrupt studies, and they are suspended for studies, charged and sometimes convicted and expelled. This has become a monster killing the active society starting from its brains, the intellectuals.
For those who attended the dialogues might attest what I have just said that we are doomed if we think we are safe with sleeping minds at the Hill and other colleges in the country.