Barua aliyoandika Nyerere kwa mawaziri na viongozi juu ya "Ujiko" a.k.a Pomposity!

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Mzee Mwanakijiji

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Mzee Mwanakijiji

Mzee Mwanakijiji

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On 7th July 1963, the president spoke against pomposity. Few days later (On July 13) he issued the following letter to all ministers and government officials. The letter was released to the press. Considerable improvement followed these instructions.

My Dear Colleague,

On Saba Saba Day I was obliged to speak publicly against something which I have been complaining about for some time; that is the growing tendency within the Government to confuse dignity with what I consider to be sheer pomposity. This is a tendency which must be checked at once if it is not to destroy the very thing it is, presumably, intended to emphasize – the dignity of the Republic and the respect due to the Government of the Republic.

By this letter I am asking every person in a responsible position both in TANU and Government to help in stamping out this disease.

I will give a few examples to illustrate the sort of thing I mean by pomposity. I could give many more. You all know them.

When we became independent, we started by singing the national anthem every time the Prime Minster arrived anywhere, even at supposedly informal dinner parties. This, already, was rather unnecessary; but, as a little over-enthusiasm was fairly understandable just at first, I have hoped that in time we should learn to reserve the anthem for the really ceremonial functions at which its playing is appropriate. It seems I was too hopeful; for now we sing it whenever a Minister, a Parliamentary Secretary, a Regional Commissioner, or an Area Commissioner arrives at a gathering of any kind anywhere in Tanganyika!

Nothing could be more disrespectful to our national anthem than to treat it as a popular song-hit, or a ‘signature-tune’ to be ‘plugged’ the moment any member of the Government appears on the scene. Yet this is exactly what we are doing. We sing the national anthem on the most unsuitable and unlikely occasions; and if some unfortunate passer-by does not happen to notice us, we take very serious offence and start shouting about ‘insults to the Republic! This is not only ridiculous, but very undignified. It is we who must learn to treat our national anthem with more respect. Indeed, if it is true that over-familiarity breeds contempt, then we are ourselves guilty of exposing the anthem to the risk of ridicule.

It is exceedingly unlikely that anybody, whether he is a Tanganyika citizen or a foreigner, would deliberately ignore the playing of the national anthem. After all, it is customary in every country in the world for visiting foreigners, as well as the local public, to show their respect by standing to attention while the anthem is being played. But is not customary in other countries to play or sing their national anthem without any warning, just because some official of the Government happens to have dropped in unexpectedly at a small gathering, or landed at an airstrip on a visit to his mother in law! Supposing we were on holiday in another country, and we happened to overhear a small group of young people burst into song as they greeted some- to us- unknown figure; we should be very startled to find ourselves suddenly accused of insulting behavior because had failed to recognize the tune as their national anthem!

It is the same with police escorts. We managed to get about quite well without them, when we were not in the Government; but I’m told we cannot now do without them altogether. I admit, therefore, that there may be certain ceremonial occasions when it is necessary for the President, o the Vice President, to have a police escort for example, when receiving a State visit or when there is to be a State Opening parliament we have to make sure the roads are clear so that the President arrives punctually at his destination. In a case like that the preliminary clearing of the road from The State House to Karimjee Hall is necessary, and the public can easily appreciate why it is so. But, as with the playing of the national anthem, the intrinsic importance of the occasion must itself be sufficient to warrant the use of a police escort. It is meaningless, in fact is is insulting to the public, if we try and use an escort, or play the national anthem, as a means of embroidering the most ordinary occasion with a sham pomp which it does not merit!

The office of President, in this or any other sovereign republic, carries with it the duties and the responsibilities of the head of State. It does not, or it most certainly should not, oblige its holder to become the greatest public nuisance in the capital city! Yet, as a result of this growing insistence on pomposity and ostentation, the President of Tanganyika is fast becoming the worst public nuisance the city of Dar-es-Salaam has ever had to put up with! Whenever he decides to go out, whether to dinner, a dance, or even to visit some friends, the normal flow of traffic has now to be interfered with. If he has not had time to warn the police well in advance, then other road-users on the route to his destination will suddenly find themselves being cleared out of the way (like so much unsightly rubbish) to leave the road clear for the President’s car. And, acting under orders to get it clear immediately, the unfortunate police outriders have no time for courteous explanations; so that the mere ‘ordinary’ motorist has to be waved off the road with a rude abruptness, and sublime disregard for his own convenience, which can do little to enhance his respect for the cause of it all! If, on the other hand, the police have had sufficient warning to enable them to do their work efficiently, then all traffic within a quarter a mile of the route may be brought to a standstill for anything from half an hour to an hour before the President leaves the State House.

If I were not myself the President, I should by now have taken to ringing up The State House before ever attempting to fix any appointment with a friend; for it is rapidly becoming impossible for anybody in Dar-es-Salaam to guess how long it will take him to drive from point A to point B without first finding out whether the President also intends to go out on that particular day!

And it is not only the public who suffer, but the police themselves. It is difficult, to say the least, for them to live up to the repeated injunctions of TANU and the Government to ‘treat the public with consideration and courtesy’, and tat the same time to carry out sudden orders to clear bewildered motorists from the public thoroughfares in a matter of minutes!

Once we even had a serious accident as a direct result of this insistence on the very maximum pomp. I was going to Morogoro. Two police cars had been proved as escort, but at the last moment it was decided that this was not impressive enough, so a motorcycle outrider was ordered to go ahead of the police cars. As he was hurrying to obey this order something happened, and his motorcycle overturned. He was severely injured, and lost for his teeth- all in cause of enhancing the Presidential Pomp.

Then, too, there is the question of The State House grounds. It is much more difficult to enter the State House grounds now than it was under Colonial Rule. There have been several occasions when I have wanted passers-by to be allowed into the grounds to enjoy a ngoma that was going on there. But it has proved impossible for me or anybody else to the Gate opened. Presumably this could only be authorized by means of a Cabinet Directive! I, myself, cannot leave The State House grounds without the Guard at the Gate being called to announce to the whole city- by a fanfare of trumpets – that the president is going out!

Hitherto, whenever I have questioned the value of all this very undemocratic pomposity, I have been assured that ‘the people like it’. But this is highly doubtful. Do the people really like being refused permission to join the ngomas which they can see going on, on the other side of the State House barriers? Do they really love being shouted at to get off the road because President, or a Minister, or a Regional Commissioner, is taking an afternoon drive? Do they really feel a surge of pride and patriotism every time they are expected to stop what they are doing and stand to attention just because some newly appointed official, whom they may not even have seen before, is being ‘serenaded’ buy his friends with the national anthem?

We should stop deceiving ourselves. This sort of pomposity has nothing to do with the people, for it is the very reverse of democracy. We must stop it. We must begin to treat pomposity with the scorn it deserves. Dignity does not need pomposity to uphold it; and pomposity in all its forms is a wrong. Even if it were proved that the people really did enjoy it – which I very much doubt – it would still be a wrong; and as such it would still be our duty to put a stop to it, and to tell the people that what they had learned to enjoy was wrong.

Yours Sincerely.


From: Freedom and Unity, Pg. 223 (digital transcription by MM).



My Take:
Have we fallen back to this ill attitude of pomposity? like buying a 258 million car for Minister? Do you think the current president has the audacity to issue similar or even stronger worded letter than Nyerere's?
 
Companero

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Mkuu mechi ya jana ya Kili Stars nani alikuwa mgeni rasmi?
 
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Ndahani

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If you buy ten of those cars, then we have all reasons why ther is such a huge deficit in our budget this year. It could be impossible to build roads and other infrastructures. As we are speaking, some contractors and suppliers are crying to get paid for the services they have delivered to the government.
Yes, without vision, people perish!!
 
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ndani ya serikali hawana muda wa kupitia vitu kama hivi pengine vingekuwa vikiwakumbusha kurudi kwenye mstari pindi wakipotoka
 
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It is true that our current breed of leaders want to be treated like royalty. They have come to expect that it is their right as holders of certain positions to be given this sought of respect. A respect which is superficial because it is not earned but rather forced. Our leaders have developed this elitist mentality and an attitude of entitlement.

Last week I was surprised to learn that the motorcade for the U.S. president obeys all traffic rules during non official trips. Meaning that the road is not cleared up because Mr. President is going to visit a friend or taking the first lady out to dinner etc. In fact the U.S. president actually pays for his own meals when not on official state business. All these little things and much more.

I bet you in Tanzania if the president wants to have a birthday dinner for mamaa it is tax payer money being used. If the president wants to buy his wife an anniversary git it is the tax payers money. Every personal expense if footed by tax payers even though the president and most of his subordinates are paid handsomely.

Personally I think we suffer from "umasikini" mentality. Our leaders don't feel like they are leaders without putting themselves above the rest. They see it as unleader-like to be like the common mwananchi. This is the problem with most successful Tanzanians and not just government leaders. They are not humble and do not remember where they came from.

But here I think JK Nyerere made a crucial mistake. Instead of merely complaining about it as the most powerful president we ever had he should have done something about it. He should have spear headed legislation that would have limited some of these act. It could have been placed into law that police escort would only be provided for such and such occasions etc.

I'm one of those people who believe that a new constitution is a must and a new code of conduct for government officials should be kept in place. If our leaders do not have the moral conscience to know when enough is enough let's do it for them by placing those limitations in law.
 
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Was nyerere around when MP's wanted to be saluted by tha army personnel?I remember they wanted at first to be addressed as honorables and later wanted to be saluted as other top officials of do,if he was still alive he must hv cried out loud aise
 
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Rev. Kishoka

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Mwanakijiji,

Mimi nakudai ile ya Frugality!
 
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Nyerere was truly something else. Yani hatuna calibre hii Tanzania tena. Natamani nirudi kwenye msiba wake nilie zaidi. Du.... Lini tutapata mtu kama Julius, pamoja na makosa yake kama binadamu wengine, the man had the highest integrity. Its amazing.
 
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But here I think JK Nyerere made a crucial mistake. Instead of merely complaining about it as the most powerful president we ever had he should have done something about it. He should have spear headed legislation that would have limited some of these act. It could have been placed into law that police escort would only be provided for such and such occasions etc.I'.
Mwanafalsafa, the letter was addressed to the cabinet ministers whom he fondly referred to as Dear Colleague! He was simply asserting his views and I would imagine this must have been followed up by at least a circular. I recall those old days, there was something like 'wabenzi' and the presidential motorcade size was reduced! You also need to be reminded that Nyerere's utterances were indeed law by their own! Nyerere was a true human!
 
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Njilembera

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"...as a result of this growing insistence on pomposity and ostentation, the President of Tanganyika is fast becoming the worst public nuisance the city of Dar-es-Salaam has ever had to put up with! Whenever he decides to go out, whether to dinner, a dance, or even to visit some friends, the normal flow of traffic has now to be interfered with. .."

JK UPO?
 
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Mwanafalsafa, the letter was addressed to the cabinet ministers whom he fondly referred to as Dear Colleague! He was simply asserting his views and I would imagine this must have been followed up by at least a circular. I recall those old days, there was something like 'wabenzi' and the presidential motorcade size was reduced! You also need to be reminded that Nyerere's utterances were indeed law by their own! Nyerere was a true human!
Oh don't get me wrong I admire Nyerere and I appreciate the fact that he spoke out against many evils. Much of what he did say was law but since they were not encrypted into the constitution his laws by word of mouth ceased to exist the minute he left office.

All I am saying is that Nyerere should have gone farther to make sure that some things were written into the law. The reduction of the motorcade was not law. Since most of the precedence he set were not law it was left to the "utashi" of those who followed him to continue them or not and we all know what path his successors chose.
 
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Mwanakijiji,

Mimi nakudai ile ya Frugality!
Mchungaji ipo kwenye Juzuu gani hiyo? Nilidhani ni hii kutoka kwenye Azimio la Arusha:

Lakini kelele zetu bado ni kelele za fedha. Juhudi yetu ya kutafuta fedha inazidi kuongezeka! Sio kwamba tuipunguze, bali, badala ya safari nyingi, ndefu na zenye gharama kubwa za kwenda katika miji mikuu ya mataifa ya kigeni kwenda kutafuta fedha za maendeleo yetu, itafaa kufunga safari kwenda vijijini kuwafahamisha na kuwaongoza wananchi katika kujiletea maendeleo kwa juhudi yao wenyewe. Ndiyo njia ya kweli ya kuleta maendeleo kwa kila mtu.
 
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Tatizo la viongozi wetu wa sasa wanadhani kuwa historia inaweza kufutwa.
 
Expedito Mduda

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Expedito Mduda

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Viongozi wetu wa sasa nafikiri hawajui kama kuna barua kama hii mwalimu alishaiandika maana wanafanya kinyume kabisa!
 
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Mwanakijiji,
This letter shows high intellectual rigour that no one in the current government could do it and think of such an important thoughts for the developing nation like TZ. Today leaders hardly read and are assisted by substandard people in the system.
 
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Ndahani

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Mchungaji ipo kwenye Juzuu gani hiyo? Nilidhani ni hii kutoka kwenye Azimio la Arusha:

Lakini kelele zetu bado ni kelele za fedha. Juhudi yetu ya kutafuta fedha inazidi kuongezeka! Sio kwamba tuipunguze, bali, badala ya safari nyingi, ndefu na zenye gharama kubwa za kwenda katika miji mikuu ya mataifa ya kigeni kwenda kutafuta fedha za maendeleo yetu, itafaa kufunga safari kwenda vijijini kuwafahamisha na kuwaongoza wananchi katika kujiletea maendeleo kwa juhudi yao wenyewe. Ndiyo njia ya kweli ya kuleta maendeleo kwa kila mtu.
Siku hizi maendeleo ni kufunga safari kwenda kukutana na Travota, Boyz II men na baadae kwenda kubembea nje ya nchi
Eti tunawatafuta wawekezaji.Mhhh!!
 

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