Well spoken, Olusegun Obasanjo! Makwaia wa kuhenga Daily News; Friday,June 06, 2008 @08:10 ONE thing remarkable about West Africans is that they are easily identifiable. You can spot a Nigerian immediately upon eye contact. So you can spot a Senegalese. You can spot them most remarkably by the way they dress: the colourful robes and caps. How do you spot a Tanzanian? This is certainly a huge question. In the assembly of several hundred of men and women gathered at the Sullivan Summit -- the summit of our lifetime - - there was one man who was remarkable in his attire. That was no other than the former Nigerian Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo. His colourful long robe and a cap made him remarkable from an assembly of African people who, almost invariably all of them were dressed in welltailored western suits. To me, watching from my TV set the opening of the Sullivan summit in Arusha on Monday this week, the scenario provided a very interesting observation. What one clothes really means nothing. But is it also a reflection of the cultural independence of a given person? This is beside the point. What I wanted really to observe, following the Sullivan conference in Arusha from Dar es Salaam is not exactly what Gen. Obasanjo wore, but what he spoke at the summit -- that is -- something in his head. But before I come to this point, the first impression I got about the Sullivan summit, named after one of the best known African Americans of the United States of America, was that it was a summit of A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n investors -- people with the money who are interested to come and invest in Africa. But from the deliberations of the conference, I came to discover that it was more of a conference of activists and thinkers of African origin in the Diaspora than investors per se. But then if it was a conference of think tanks from the Diaspora having a parley with their kith and ki n in Africa, was it really necessary to have the meeting convened directly by the Tanzanian Government? Isnt this country running equally prestigious non-governmental organizations in the same footing like the Leon Sullivan Foundation? This country has the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Foundation right in place, alive and kicking. It would have appeared natural and appropriate, wouldnt it, for the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Foundation to convene such a conference with the Tanzanian Government, the US Government and others coming in as partners; chipping in terms of financial support to support the logistics of hosting of the conference? This misnomer, which raised eyebrows -- at least mine --, raised them even higher when I noted that only one TV station was franchised to cover the event -- obliging other local stations to be licensed by that favoured local station and at a fee! Why? Why if it was taxpayers money that was deployed to convene and host the conference in the first place? Why the news monopoly? These questions, however not insignificant, are besides the point of the thrust of this perspective today. But they provide food for thought both for the Sullivan Foundation and the relevant authorities in this country; with the former urged to espouse very loftily local NGOs such as the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Foundation. And the reason is simple: practically all delegates from the Diaspora hold dignified and fond memories of the Father of this Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, as does the former Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo who is now retired and doing exactly what Mwalimu was doing in his retirement: Farming. Watching the focus of Gen. Obasanjo as he spoke, I reflected that what he spoke would have been exactly the speech of Mwalimu Nyerere had he been alive: never to forget African real producers of wealth: the peasants of Africa. The focus of General Obasanjos speech was agriculture and how to truly work to make it a worthy occupation for most of African rural people who constitute the majority of the African population. General Obasanjo spoke with intimate passion the place of agriculture in the African economy, speaking in simple language what tilling the land means both for individual families across the world and the African economy in particular. But unfortunately these days in this country, agriculture is not politics as it used to be before in the post independence first government of Dr Julius Nyerere. We are occupied with other things such as minerals, which are just coincidental in our economy and, in essence, owned by external forces. This perspective is joining General Obasanjo in his call to fellow Africans and Tanzanians in particular to take agriculture seriously and to liberate the peasant from the hand hoe. We have to mechanize agriculture to ensure increased production. We have to shift from raindependant agriculture to irrigated farms -- what with our abundant water resource -- the twelve plus major rivers and springs in Tanzania alone. Makwaia wa Kuhenga is a Senior Journalist and TV Host of a Weekly Show, Je, Tutafika? On local Channel Ten. E - m a i l : firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 0754 366520.