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So, Jay Kay was just a pretty face after all? Damn!

Discussion in 'Biashara, Uchumi na Ujasiriamali' started by nngu007, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

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    Mar 29, 2011
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    Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete.

    Monday, March 28 2011 at 00:00


    I get teased all the time about my apparent crush on Jakaya Kikwete, our own baby-dandling, good-lookin' Head of State of the United Republicof Tanzania.

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    In my defence, I'm crushing on the Office of the President and not necessarily the individual.


    Doesn't matter how cross-eyed and pigeon-toed a guy might be, as soon as you append "President" to his name he becomes very interesting indeed.

    It is, of course, beyond the pale to comment about presidential looks as a serious journalist.


    Good thing I cannot be accused of being either serious, or a journalist.

    I am, however, man enough to admit it without shame: I happen to actually like my Head of State. He is easy on the eye, and barring the Congolese, I don't think there are any other East African citizens who can say that without irony about their own president.


    Elections aren't the same thing as beauty contests, although that distinction is getting harder and harder to uphold in the age of visual media.


    Besides which, an interest in how heads of state present themselves it is not all superficiality.


    I have had a long-term fascination with political fashions in post-colonial Africa, and I am convinced that there is a strong correlation between the uniqueness of a head of state's fashion statement and the amount of sanity said head of state is likely to display.


    It is a simple formula: The more accessories, the more outlandish the costume, the crazier the leader is. You will be happy to note that Jay Kay has a penchant for ankle boots, which is nothing to write home about.


    "Presidentiality" or "presidentialness" is important, you know. It is integral to a leader's authority.


    I am not a Barack Obama groupie - he's the kind of guy who has more men in his fan club than women for some reason - but I have to give it to him.

    He's got that magical mix of gravitas and playfulness, of authority and accessibility that works for this day and age.


    He's going grey over this Leader of the Free World business but otherwise seems to be perfectly capable of maintaining a picture of health and sanity.

    So yeah: Obama's got it. And Jay Kay? Well, things are getting a bit complicated in his second term.

    Just after the elections that enthroned him in 2005 - remember that ridiculous 80 per cent landslide? - Jay Kay was the toast of the Swahili coast.

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    He was a breath of fresh air in an establishment that seemed to be going down the drain.


    He was dynamic, charming, smiled a heck of a lot more than his predecessor.

    The media couldn't get enough of him and neither could we.

    Sure, some of us heard rumours - about his lack of vision and resolve, his inability to control the party, a certain unfortunate disinterest in the nitty-gritty of governance…


    But he was pretty and he was fun and it was easy to ignore these character defects after the mini boot-camp that Mzee Mkapa had put us through with his disciplinarian ways.


    Fast forward to 2011, and the picture is no longer promising.

    I remember writing a couple of articles last year exhorting my president to live up to his potential and to reward the belief that so many of us had in him.


    I think it is now fair to say that Jay Kay has given me, and the Tanzanian public, his answer.


    These days, the only papers that put Jay Kay on the front page as a matter of course are owned by the establishment.

    Even the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation can no longer be bothered to open their news hour with loving footage of him traipsing around the country, or the globe.


    Jay Kay is looking tired and unfocused. Worse yet, I suspect he is being overshadowed by his prime minister, who projects mature leadership with such confidence it is hard to believe that they are only a year apart in age.

    Our handsome charmer is turning out to be exactly that - a pleasant and largely ceremonial ornament.


    Who has time for disappointment in 2011?

    Not me. Besides, there are other managers around to run the country while our president works on collecting air miles.

    I already know what I'll remember fondly from the Kikwete years: His (mostly) fearless backing of media freedoms through personal example, his accessibility to the common man and his democratic nature.
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    I am hoping he will also leave behind a Constitution review/revision process that will withstand the flatulent winds of our current petty politics.

    Kilimo Kwanza? Jay Kay's Billions? It's too early to say, at least on the first.

    It might seem too early to start talking legacy, but we've run out of time with this regime.


    Everyone is facing forward to 2015 because it has little left to offer us in terms of vibrancy and ideas.

    We've used up our president and everyone is waiting to recharge the political battery or get a new brand.

    And maybe Jay Kay will go home without a grand opus to show for his stint at Ikulu.


    But you know what? At least he was as pretty as a cake in a bakery window.
     
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