Founding President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere put it in very few but telling and instructive words: “Violence is unnecessary and costly. Peace is the only way.”
Former United Nations Secretary General and 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan, whose credentials as a quotable authority on issues relating to peace few would doubt, has meanwhile countless times admitted that there are times when it appears that the culture of peace does not stand a chance against the culture of war, the culture of violence and the cultures of impunity and intolerance.
He says peace may indeed be a complex challenge, dependent on action in many fields and even a bit of luck from time to time, and knows that peace may be “a painfully slow process, and fragile and imperfect when it is achieved”.
The hugely experienced Ghanaian diplomat has refused to belong to the league of those quick to give up, and believes that peace is in the hands of humankind - “and we can do it”.
This was the spirit in which media owners and editors meeting in Dar es Salaam only days ago sought to address the challenges posed by the political situation prevailing in Tanzania, particularly with respect to the handling the constitutional review process.
Delegates to the extraordinary meeting concurred that there was little to beat peace and harmony in terms of importance when it came to a country’s very existence and prosperity because the absence of those “priceless assets” can mean abysmal consequences impossible to mitigate or reverse.
We fully support the delegates’ common stand because we too believe that, unless Tanzanians in their millions champion and cultivate the peace the country has prized and enjoyed for the most part of the fifty years of Independence, most of the gains made will go down the drain. This is because, as they say, destroying is much, much easier than building.
But we should not be so “blinded” by the challenges the quest for peace usually entails as not to bark and bite, so to speak, in the face of injustice, corruption and other forms of crime or unbecoming behaviour or practice regardless of the level at which the vices are to be found.
Peace does not come about or flourish by accident. It is supposed to be cultivated, groomed and consolidated with a lot of care, patriotism and vigilance by all well-meaning members of society.
Costa Rican politician Oscar Arias Sanchez, winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize, has spoken volumes on the need to safeguard and promote peace.
In one of his most memorable sermons on the subject, he says: “Peace is not the product of a victory or a command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions.” We couldn’t agree with him more.
But we also feel compelled to subscribe to one of the remarks made at the Dar es Salaam meeting – that Tanzanians without exception need to preach and practise peace and patriotism “because we are all sailing in the same boat known as Tanzania and shall perish together in the event of a furious storm”.