Was it not only yesterday that we couldn't open our mouths without endangering our lives? I recall vividly my life as a liberal, beer-drinking undergraduate who would be lovingly cautioned by relatives not to talk in town as I did on campus, as that would be dangerous! The status quo then was that what came from the mouth could lead to serious bodily harm. You could be arrested for a crime called "kuongea hovyo". It was such a bad crime that it was not possible to find an English word for it. Oh, what a difference a few years can make in the life of a nation! Now as you can see on JF and elsewhere, we seem to be free to say what we want. That is as it should be. And, as you may have observed, we do indeed have things to say. But this freedom seems to bother a few law enforcement officers. I hear that they recently arrested Mtikila and accused him of saying uncomplimentary things about the President. It should never be a criminal offence to say anything about anybody. There could be civil matters in it, but not a criminal offence. If the Laws of Tanzania criminalize the making of derogatory comments about leaders, then they are incompatible with our newfound freedom. They must be changed. Kenyatta used to say that Kenya "grabbed Independence". In Tanzania we say we "got Independence". Sometimes, we make it worse by saying we were "given Independence". How did we lose our Independence in the first place? Did we "give" it, or did others just "grab" or "rob" us of it? It is astoundingly meek to say that we were "given", or even we "got" independence in 1961. We grabbed, or should have grabbed it. It remains for us to fully "grab" our freedom from the new rulers. They are from us but are often not for us. We need our full freedom, including the freedom to choose them and say what we think about them. The courts, and not the Police, should deal with any claims of defamation. No arrests should made in such matters because they are not criminal offences. Civil suits do not allow prior arrests. We have nothing to fear from complete democracy. Let party leaders be chosen by party members. It is a mockery to have the Chairman appoint party executives and have the members approve them. I am, as you may have noticed, thinking about the just ended CCM elections. Every party member should have had the right to be nominated and voted for. It is my considered opinion that if that had happened, then JK would still have emerged Chairman, but the rest of the top party leadership would almost certainly have come out differently. The biggest loser in Dodoma was democracy.