Reasoning With My Uncle: Don’t Kick The Frog

Dear Uncle,

Welcome back! I mean welcome back to Mzizima. You must be exhausted. I saw how you were dangling on top of the vehicles. I saw how you spoke. You spoke with passion with sweat dripping off your face.

I know you usually rant and rave when something displeases you. This time, however, you were running high Uncle. You said a lot and talked rather rapidly. Do you believe all that you said or some of them are just politics?

At some point, I got worried you may lose your voice or worse. You reminded me of the days on the campaign trail. Yeah, when you lost your voice. But I guess now you have too many people around you who can take care of “the voice”. That must be comforting. You’re now riding the gravy train Uncle. Good for you.

How’s grandma? She must be excited to see you. How are our people handling the incoming of the entourage? Are they scared of the security detail that follows you everywhere?

How’s the airport building in our hometown coming along? By the way, Uncle, whose idea was that? Yours? I find it to be a bit silly though. But anyway, do you remember when I was young I wanted to become a pilot when I grow up? If I could turn back the hands of time, may be one day I could fly grandma right from there. The good thing is; never said never. The dream is still alive. I may.

The other day I sat somewhere day-dreaming how it’d feel to be “on tour” with you. It sounds like a great experience with the adrenalin rush. I still enjoy life on a fast lane. Being on the go is still my thing. The only difference is I am no longer running around with my goats.

Every time I hear you’re on tour, I can’t stop imagining how you feel when greeted by thousands of people who are obviously hungry with no idea about where their next meal is going to come from. The way I know you, the sight of poverty-stricken people whenever you go, must be torturous and humiliating, right?

I am saying that because I know you. You care tremendously about your people, our people. Somebody told me that all those people coming to see you in the campaign like rallies are jobless. They run to see you with the hope that you can change things. I sincerely hope you will be able to lift them up.

I hope and pray every day that you will be able to inspire them enough to work harder. Hard work is the key. But so are good policies, better management of resources and accountability from everyone and those in particular decision-making positions.

Uncle, I heard they arrested that MP who is poised to challenge you in 2020. A friend of mine told me, “He was arrested under your Uncle’s order”. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t. I know you like challenges. You wouldn’t care if someone called you a monkey. I defended you the best way I could. I know my Uncle.

However, if there is any truth to the “order” narratives, I should caution you. Human curiosity is something amazing. The more he is mentioned, the more his message will spread. People like to support the “underdogs”. They want to see them win. It’s because most people are underdogs anyway.

Before grandpa passed away, he told me a story about a man who lost a race to a frog. A frog? I was shocked. How can a man lose a race to a frog? Grandpa said, “Because he kept kicking the frog to the front. The frog got there before him”. I will never forget that story.

Then the other day I got a call from some comrades at Amnesty International. They wanted an interview with me about you. They say you violate human rights. You jail your opponents or anyone who disagrees with you. Is it true Uncle? Of course, I turned down their interview request. What was I going to say? I needed to hear from you first whether these allegations are true or not.

One thing I know is that you’re a humble and caring man. No one is going to sit in jail just because they disagreed with you. Unless if you have changed. I remember when I was young you and I did not agree with what subjects I should take in high school. You wanted me to take science subjects like you. I wanted Arts. I wanted to be a writer.

Remember? But you didn’t jail me. You said I was free to choose whatever makes me happy. You didn’t even wither when your friends used to make fun about the shape of your head.

Before I forget, I heard you mentioned a ban on imported clothes? One source that I treat with a pinch of salt told me that. Now Uncle, if you said that, I am worried. Do you want us to go back to the days of “two torches”? That’s the only time I saw your butts by the way. Please think through unless if you tell me it was just politics. To make clothes enough for over 50 million people is not a joke Uncle.

I also wanted to mention something I consider to be important. Everywhere I go, I am bombarded with finger pointing accusations that my Uncle is no longer the same. They say the Uncle that caused the popular social media hashtag is nowhere to be seen. They mention the treatment of those who oppose you as their living and usable examples. They say you treat everyone who disagrees with you as “enemies of state”. Knowing you, I know that’s not true. But…

Here is the thing Uncle; I believe, if you want to become a truly respected leader (and not just feared one), you will have to level the playing field. Talk the talk and walk the walk. I know in some (or even most) cases the fallout comes from your subordinates who have failed to grasp your vision. But you are the leader. You are responsible. Just like when things go right you get the credits, allow yourself to take responsibility when things go wrong. Fix it.

The oppositions are now winning that battle. They have branded you as an “emerging dictator”, and it’s easy to be persuaded by that opinion. I know they could just be trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. But opinions matters. In today’s world, bad news travels even faster.

My advice is; let them handgrip their business like folks in a free world. After all, Tanzania is known to be a cradle of humankind. The city you live in is the haven of peace. Let it be. Concentrate on implementing your campaign promises and nation building initiatives. Wananchi are smart enough to know the difference. You don’t even need to bash them on stages. As grandma likes to say; actions speak louder than words.

I love you, Uncle. I miss you too. What book are you reading now? You instilled in me the love of reading. I value that. A lot. I am now reading “The Origins Of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. I like it so far. I will send you a copy even though I am not sure whether you still like to read or have time. I still remember how you encouraged me to read “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. I still have a copy of that book.

Till next week.

Yours truly, Jeff







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