President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania.
I should start by declaring that two of my family members were directly appointees of Jakaya in his first term of presidency. To that end, I have indirectly become a benefactor of his presidency, and this fact might persuade some readers to delegitimize the contents of this document. Also, I have spent not more than 90 days in Tanzania throughout his presidency; education and work assignments have kept me outside of my homeland for a long time. I might not be the best judge of his performance. But as every other African will tell you, Tanzanians love their country—and I have been keeping tabs of the state of our politics throughout my adulthood.
We have had 4 presidents so far in our infant country, and these gentlemen brought different style of leadership. But Jakaya is probably the most criticized for rather deserving or undeserving reasons. You see, we Tanzanians are luckly. Nyerere presided a nation with a clear vision to empower and create independent thinkers out of Tanzanians. He pushed education in its empowering version—not to accumulate knowledge, but to become the means of livelihoods. This foundation had enabled our transition towards democracy much easier and more meaningful. Democracy is useless, and can be an authoritative tool if the mass is misinformed. However, during Benjamin’s (who I regard as an intellectual) presidency he did treat Tanzanians as children. There was a free press that was fearful of the state and you can say that Benjamin was not comfortable enough to be ripped (or his government) in the press daily. This had resulted into fewer leaks and fewer scandals being presented to the press. It doesn’t mean that there were no scandals.
Jakaya is massively criticized because Tanzanians are being aware of how the government is functioning, and we do have an awful ineffective bureaucracy (this is not new). Contrary to Benjamin, Jakaya truly believe that Tanzanians deserve to know everything. He is comfortable enough to be ridiculed in the press because he understands that is how a democratic system should work.Nowadays, we complain about the press being too free that they write upuuzi. From Tanzania Daima, MwanaHalisi, Raia Mwema, to name few dailies and weeklies that make a living ripping this government. To me this is one of his biggest achievements, trusting the people to know everything, and make their decisions on the ballot accordingly. He has had his disappointments (umeme & corruption), and his triumphs (hardcore part of education and infrastructure) but I do commend him for allowing us to talk sh!t about him freely.
Moving forward, Tanzania is on the cusp of taking off. We have this great foundation in place, we just need a reformer and visionary at helm to steer us the right way. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is our generation challenge. Anybody who was alive during independence shall not attempt to run for presidency in 2015. You have the wrong mentality. We are free already. We just need a leader who is blind of 1961 euphoria, who understand the global dynamics and can negotiate with global leaders without feeling inferior to them. In mean time, let us scrutinize these politicians regardless of their party affiliations—and question the authenticity of the dubious journalism, because the well-being of our republic depends on an informed citizen. At our inner core, Tanzanians are independent and moderate, it is the way we have been engineered. We cannot afford to lose this trait now, as the future has never been so bright.