[TABLE="width: 100%, align: left"] [TR] [TD="class: kaziBody, align: left"]Tuesday December 27, 2011[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD="class: theTopicHead, align: left"][/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD="class: redFont, align: left"][/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] By TONY ZAKARIA, 8th October 2011 @ 16:00, ONCE upon a time, there was this cheeky chap who asked Prophet Issa bin Maryam what he should do to obtain a ticket to Heaven. The good teacher told him to love God wholeheartedly and his neighbour like he loved himself. Been there, done that so what else? And by the way who is my neighbour? For him neighbour meant a fellow tribesman living next door. Prophet Issa, peace be upon him, narrated a story similar to the following. A Mtanzania of Indian origin was travelling from Ubungo to Upanga. Somewhere in Manzese bad guys attacked him, beat him up, took his belongings and left him for dead on the side of Morogoro road. A priest and a sheikh passed by. Not wanting to be attacked by thieves who could still be around, they went their separate ways. Party officials of CCM and Chadema drove by in splendid 4WD vehicles. Each team stopped to ask if the robbery victim was a bona fide member of their respective parties. No one knew so they did mathematics and left pi as pi. A Kenyan travelling on holiday from Nai-robbery with his Nissan Uhuru also passed through Manzese and saw the man lying on the ground. He stopped his car, took the victim to Magomeni dispensary for first aid, then to Hakuna Matata guest house in Kariakoo. As if that was not enough, the good-hearted Kenyan deposited 100,000/- so the housekeeper would provide feed and house the injured man at his expense. Who was the real neighbour of the Upanga man? The religious and political officials who abandoned him or the stranger from neighbouring country who helped him? If a modern day Mtanzania was the one listening to this story those many years ago, he would have asked the prophet how a Kenyan can become a neighbour for a total stranger from Upanga without moving his Kileleshwa mansion in Nairobi to Maweni street in Dar es Salaam. They say a friend in need is a friend indeed but this was no friend but a stranger from the north. There are many friends who only come knocking when they need you. The rest of the time they kind of ignore your existence or barely tolerate your presence. A new maxim ought to be, a stranger in need is a true neighbour indeed. More than two thousand years after the death of Jesus, the world has yet to learn that lesson. And Tanzania is no exception to such ignorance. Nothing could be more illustrative than the just ended by-election in Igunga constituency, where tolerance and civility seemed to have flown out of the window. A vehicle belonging to the women's wing of the ruling party was extensively damaged by youths gone amok because they did not agree with the election results. Gender activists kept mum when the district commissioner was harassed by opposition party officials for holding a meeting at a location where the said party was conducting a campaign meeting. Members of Chadema and CCM in their party colours had to be ''rescued'' from attack by angry supporters of just because they were in location that was a stronghold of the opposite party. Was it worth the name calling and mudslinging? They say if you throw enough mud at someone's wall, some is likely to stick. After the mudslinging, all political parties look bad in the eyes of the electorate. Now what? A dirty wall can be whitewashed but do you clean a political party's reputation? It is easy for people to believe what they hear, especially if it is reported by the media. There is a Kiswahili saying that a witch is better than a rumour monger. Party rank and file did their share of damage, but the media cannot escape responsibility. The damaged party reputations of especially the three main political parties in particular and the nation in general here at home and also abroad may take a while to reverse. Thanks to the technological revolution brought about by the likes of Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs, anything that lands on the internet spreads like wildfire and before you know it, lovers and friends from Tokyo to Los Angeles are exchanging Facebook messages about anticipated victory of a democracy-licious party. Now the world believes Tanzania is an insecure destination for tourists. A local election in a small district 500 miles from Dar es Salaam is enough to scare American visitors from coming to climb the Kilimanjaro. Why? Singular incidences of violence are extensively reported by local media and foreign media just echo the vibes. Mwalimu taught us to believe we are Tanzanians regardless of colour or creed. He showed the way right from independence by appointing a multiracial cabinet from 1961. He repeated that feat almost until he left office. If that is magic then Nyerere was a political magician. None of the presidents after him have had a semblance of a multi-racial cabinet. Why not when if they chose to, they could have appointed to Bunge any qualified Tanzanian of Mzungu or Mhindi origin and then made him or her minister? Nyerere taught us Watanganyika and later Watanzania that Africa was one big brotherhood. The recent pronouncements that Zanzibar is nchi could be treason. Do some Zanzibaris mean Africa is one but Tanzania is two countries? Now is the right time for well-meaning Tanzanians to condemn in the strongest terms the emerging negative trends amongst some leaders of some political parties and some radical elements of Tanzanian society. Religious and political leaders must speak with one voice. Our peace and unity is non-negotiable with or without a brand new constitution.