On Friday, our country was tested and found to be vulnerable, beyond reasonable speculation when angry people believed to be Muslims staged demonstrations in Dar es Salaam’s Mbagala area.
It’s not our intention to judge who is right or wrong; only that we feel obliged, and honoured, to say that Tanzania is facing real danger of being torn apart by those who have some fishy and hidden agenda.
It’s easy to forget that Tanzania has remained united for the past 50 years in a country with a mosaic of 120 tribes plus 168 dialects. In a continent where tribalism was one of the sources of deadly civil wars, Tanzania stood strongly beyond tribes.
While our neighbours in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia descended into deadly wars that cost millions of souls because of tribalism, Tanzania overcame that situation; we overcame the deadly politics of tribalism because the founders of this nation laid down a strong foundation on which all of us regardless of our tribes, faith, gender, race or vernaculars remained equal and united.
The founders of this country led by the late Julius K Nyerere understood that the forces that unite us together are stronger than the ones that would like to divide us.
So we united by our national language—Kiswahili among other things, and the values that we share as a nation after the achievement of independence in 1961.
These values made us believe that beyond our individual religious faiths, tribes or race, we are one nation called United Republic of Tanzania. These values blossomed the love of wisdom, which cemented our peace -- and unity as a nation for the past five decades.
As a young nation, Tanzania chose not to be a religious nation, but allowed freedom of worship. But, still, this freedom of worship didn’t make our country a cradle of chaos and abhorrence.
Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and the pagans learnt to live together as brothers under the peaceful umbrella called United Republic of Tanzania. But, rapidly, Tanzania is facing a very serious danger, made real from religious zealotry.
We fully believe that nobody has the right to insult anybody’s religion.
However, whenever there’s a situation that tends to test our faith or insult what we believe in, we shouldn’t take that opportunity to talk violence.
It takes years to build a peaceful nation; it costs a mere blink of an eye to destroy it.
We were Tanzanians before we chose what we should worship. Before the spread of Christianity and Islam, there was a nation called Tanganyika, which in 1964 was baptised and became the United Republic of Tanzania.
If there’s anything that will soon destroy Tanzania, it’s blind religious affinity. While our neighbours were destroyed by, among other things, tribalism, unlike them Tanzania will suffer – and get ruined -- by religious conflicts.
Today, in some places, we vote according to our faith, not on a political party’s manifesto or ideology. Even at some work places, we decide basing on our religion, not merit.
Woe unto you Tanzania, you may soon became a chaotic nation. It’s time to stand above the obstacles that want to destroy our peace, love and unity.