Tuesday, November 08, 2016

East Africa: Myths, Facts About Tanzania-Kenya Ties
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Tanzania's John Pombe Magufuli at State house Nairobi on.

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

Regular readers of popular blogs and those who keep tabs on social media in both Tanzania and Kenya would sometimes be forgiven for thinking the two countries are about to be the epicentre of the next world war.

Hashtags on twitter such as #SomeonetellTanzania, #KickTanzaniaoutofIG have only been bested by the one trend that went viral - #WhatWouldMagufuliDo.

Embers of fire between rival dogs of war occasionally prompted either government to offer a statement of reassurance that the two countries were not on the brink of war.

Welcome to the world of country sibling rivalries that somehow have engulfed even the most level-headed at the best of times and resulted in name-calling that cannot be shared in a respected family newspaper.

To go into the genesis of the rivalry would need a book. Suffice it to say that the independence governments of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere differed on the paths the two countries were to follow to achieve their dreams.

More precisely and significantly, if Jomo Kenyatta had been persuaded enough to accept Mwalimu's school of thought of one united nation, the course of history would have been changed forever. Whether that course would have resulted in one country called Tangakenya or Jamhuri ya Afrika Mashariki we shall never know.

What we know is that exasperated with Mzee Kenyatta's prevarication of the idea of a united Africa, Mwalimu turned to Zanzibar, which had just emerged from a revolution.

Today plenty is said about the union, but that it came off the original idea of unity with Kenya has conveniently been pushed to the back burner. Observers would say that was the genesis of distrust was fuelled by Kenya's decision to embrace capitalism, which Mwalimu felt had an inhuman face. But it was not just Mwalimu and Tanganyika that felt betrayed.

Two families have defined and bestrode Kenyan politics like a colossus since the pre-independence days - the family of Jomo Kenyatta and that of Mzee Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Mzee Odinga, father of former prime Minister Raila Odinga, practised and stood up for policies which were in conformity with the ideology favoured by Mwalimu.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was a pan Africanist, and there is no denying that he was betrayed by Jomo Kenyatta. Hence, Jomo betrays Jaramogi and then Mwalimu and, by extension, betrays Kenya's dreams of a socially inclusive nation and Tanzania's hopes of a united and potentially prosperous East Africa. Events since then have somewhat vindicated Mwalimu. Old Jomo wanted and ran a fiefdom that has turned Kenya into one of the most unequal, ruthless and heartless nations wracked by tribalism.

The twitter and Instgram generation would, of course, not know all that. If they did, it would come between the fun of trading anti-Tanzania and Kenya insults. But politicians, well known for their love for microphones and crowds on both sides of the divide, have similarly been stoking the fires of damnation.

According to this line of thinking, Kenya is responsible for all the ills that Tanzania faces because of its trickery, thievery and robber-baron nature. Likewise, the Kenyan nincompoop brigade thinks all Tanzanians are lazy people who sleep under a coconut or mango tree and wait for the fruit to drop and then accuse those who want to harvest the same of being greedy.

By reeling off figures during his two-day state visit to Kenya, President John Magufuli made it clear that the neighbouring country was a leading investor that has created 56,000 jobs for Tanzanians and, indirectly, trashed disinformation painting Kenyans as wanyonyaji (leeches) and Tanzania as a not-so-attractive investment destination.

Unlike his predecessor, Dr Magufuli means what he says and says what he means, and that confirms that the siblings' relationship can only be deepened with the Malindi-Bagamoyo and Migori-Mwanza highways. There is more to be gained in unity than useless demagoguery. At the end of the day, #MagufuliinKenya trended with exhortations to teach Uhuru Kenyatta how to fight corruption.

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