A Cup Half Full

A Cup Half Full

As the curtain is about to close on 2014, the drama on stage is far from over. From blackout in Uganda soon after Miss Uganda was announced, to Sitti Mtemvu ongoing performance of Aaliyah’s song, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number”. And despite of Lundenga bravely singing the background vocal, without the auto-tune, nobody has been impressed by the effort.

But as we wait to see if BASATA is going to do a Kanye West driveby on Ms. Mtemvu’s crown, or if they’re going to cosign, there are still few things that we can learn from this Olivia Pope-less Scandal episode.

First, contrary to the popular belief, Tanzanians we’re actually very passionate and far from being passive. The questions that were asked during the Miss Tanzania press conference are evident of that. The questions were on point and the follow-up questions were even better. The questions were so good, even Sitti Mtemvu forgot her Bill Clinton line, “I did not have sex with that woman”. Well, in her case the script must have read, I did not forge that birth certificate. Unfortunately for her, she forgot to marinate that line with her French, perhaps it would have helped to slim down the elephant in the room to a pig in a blanket.

The collective investigation work done by the wananchi was also impressive. People did do their research, without forgetting the critical analysis. For a minute, I nearly caught myself screaming from joy, shule za ukata oyeeee. Since then however, there have been some criticisms and here is one. While the public have managed to unearth the evidence against Sitti Mtemvu – quite fast, the same public has yet to read the newly proposed constitution. A valid argument, something that has probably already made Mwalimu Nyerere turn in his grave.

A poem called ‘I Am A Fighter‘ by Dr. Jwani Mwaikusa may shed some light to this bizarre show of nationalism. The discussion about the new constitution has been turned into a bar brawl by some, while others (no confirmed stats), in protest, have decided not to take part in this fight, instead become spectators of the “Fighter”. Fortunately, we have to move forward nonetheless. The decision to either add more mirrors or break them into pieces is ours to make. But until then, the real question should be, where is the official booklet of the rasimu ya katiba for the people? or should we insert, my dog ate the homework excuse?

Thirdly, is the lesson on Open Government. Advocacy for government transparency has been ongoing. But I’m skeptical if most of us understand what this mean or could mean, let alone its importance. When Sitti Mtemvu was announced the winner, immediately a red card was shown by the public. How was this possible? Simple, the information that helped put Mutombo’s finger wag on Sitti Mtemvus face – for now at least – was accessible to the public. Thus, if the government becomes transparent, all of its operations and dealings will no longer be synonymous with jando & unyago rituals. Accountability, and the possibility of making citizen arrests of unethical leaders, could be at our finger tips, even though for now is nothing more than my I have a dream moment. The wishful thinking mpaka udenda, just thinking about the endless possibilities and opportunities true democracy can bring.

Then its our mixed priorities as wananchi. It seems like, the Miss Tanzania fiasco has drawn in more audience than the majadiliano ya rasimu ya katiba mpya. This is a problem, but also lack of creativity is partly to blame. For example, kamati ya Miss Tanzania this year should have had every contestant pick different issue(s) from the muswada wa katiba mpya. During the Q&A session, the contestants would have read their specific article from the rasimu and asked about it. There are so many ways of getting people to read this muswada wa katiba which is probably a size of a harry potter book. Have it on audio, with Rhi Rhi’s Caribbean accent reading each article, and see if mkito website wont crash from all the downloads.

But beside all the kasheshe, we cannot deny Sitti Mtemvu is a beautiful girl. Not only that, but the mystery about her age adds the coco to the coco puffs. Today shes a young high school girl fantasy, tomorrow she’ll be old enough to be your cougar and its just the beginning of the week. Who knows what will happen on wed, thur, frid, sat and sun. Anything could happen, I mean anything. The only problem is, if one morning she wakes up and her new age is under 18. That will be statutory rape on you buddy.

In the end, regardless of what your feelings are towards Sitti Mtemvu, she has been a blessing in disguise. Even if BASATA find her guilty of forgery and lying about her age, we can still let her have the new certificate as a honorary birth certificate, after all YOLO. So lets be grateful, because things could have been worse. The worst though, will be someone else making the decision on your behalf like how it nearly happened to these women in the salon and in the taxi. So lets participate fully in this mchakato wa rasimu ya katiba. And for Uganda, they can be thankful that its bleach (mkorogo) that they may need to whiteout their so called problem and not quarantine.

Further readings:

Bahati was born and raised in Tanzania, and then moved to California to pursue his college education. He graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a minor in Sociology. Bahati expects to be doing his Masters in African Studies in the near future. He is currently working on starting a t-shirt business and a possible publication of some of his writings. One thing that Bahati cannot live without is music, specifically Hip Hop & Bongoflava which he argues are both the voice of the youth today, and is excited to look into how Bongoflava can be a source of further entrepreneurship among the youth in Tanzania. Bahati believes that Bongoflava can help to reduce poverty in Tanzania, as can a more collective effort among key players.


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