Special days…are they cost effective…or even effective?

03Oct 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Special days…are they cost effective…or even effective?

Jambo, and greetings as we enter October and the approach of winter in Britain, which I’m looking forward too, whilst complaining about increasing heat here, as locals say it’s cold, so seasonal diversity makes life interesting.

The never ending horror of road carnage in Tanzania. Such are the number of fatalities, that people are no longer shocked at photos of flattened buses, and maimed bodies, and in the last three years, at least 11,230 people have been killed, and over 44,000 injured. But it seems that the annual measures via Road Safety Week to provide solutions, have not done so.

Whilst it surely represents diversity, how many people here knew or cared that last week, September the 27th, was World Tourism Day, set aside and celebrated in the United Nations calender every year, to “foster awareness among the international community on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value, ” as one media report stated.

While these are laudable aims, the word ‘celebrate’ is a little over the top, as it doesn’t really get the blood racing does it! Similarly, some years ago in India they were celebrating “world toilet day”…or whatever, and ‘celebration’ in that context was surely inappropriate, particularly for the great ‘toiletless’ majority!

Some days to be marked or acknowledge, aren’t government instigated, but imposed by market forces, and I recall being irritated to see a so called ‘Fathers day” article in the local press. One paper said it was to ‘celebrate’ the paternal bonds, and involved family activities and gift giving”. But the real reason for the day, was in the last two words of ‘gift giving, ’ as the only thing being celebrated was the profits from the bogus promotion.

Such commercially driven events exploit the gullible by appealing to their sentimentality, and everything to do with the sales aspect is widely advertised in Britain, where decades ago, there was a low key event called ‘mothering Sunday, when prayers were said in churches to mark the occasion…and that was all.

But re branded as “Mothers Day’, it became the gross spending excess it now is, and then the marketing industry cleverly invented ‘Fathers day’ to match, and profits multiplied.

It’s a mystery why any educated Tanzanians should fall for such bogusly contrived nonsense, with Valentines Day being another example. But their western counterparts have capitulated wholesale to such exploitative marketing strategies, contented it seems to be permanently brainwashed, can locals avoid the same fate?

Also in Britain and elsewhere, shopping malls have long been described as the ‘new cathedrals, and seven days a week the ‘shopping religion’ takes precedence over everything else. Corporate interests promote this as a positive activity, urging customers to ‘shop till they drop’, and with each purchase, especially motor cars, fridges etc., destroying the planet in the process.

Labelled ‘development’ or ‘progress’, it’s what third world countries are told to aspire too…but as this then adds to global warming and environmental degradation, etc., sins which the west have massively committed, and now discourage these nations from copying…it’s a contradictory message!

But back to the subject, how did I lose it? Some years ago, the government were proposing a disaster preparedness programme in schools, to increase public awareness of their vulnerability and possible catastrophes.

Though then as now, the entire country can be described as a possible disaster area, through the knock on effects of power cuts, water shortages, droughts, floods, and recently earthquakes, plus an army of ‘machingas’ walking the streets with their anger and empty bellies, and other social problems.

Given this scenario, it’s a fair bet the long suffering wananchi don’t need reminding of their susceptability to disaster, but might be conscious of it 24 hours a day.

But then again, perhaps diverting disaster is just as legitimate a goal as attempting to reduce poverty, but with the same limited chance of success. Nevertheless, it could attract donor money, running neck to neck in the cash collecting causes, like good governance/promoting democracy/anti corruption/poverty alleviation/diverting disaster…you see, it sounds plausible doesn’t it?

Well, joking apart, I don’t actually know whether this programme happened or not, and whether it had a commemorative day to go with it, but I’d have loved the opportunity to go around saying Happy Disaster Day! It also would have marked the only cause that had the goods so to speak, i.e. disasters aplenty!

What other special days or weeks have there been, well we’ve had a National Book Week, though sadly of course many people can’t afford them, most schools don’t have any, and some leaders don’t even know where the National Library is.

Then there’s the long standing Water Week celebrations…a strange event to remind many citizens that they lack this precious liquid. We’ve also had World Standards Day which makes sense, because in the absence of good standards, people need to know that there should be.

Then there’s International Drugs Day on the 22nd June, and I really hope there’s progress being made on this terrible problem, globally and in Tanzania.

Anyway, there’s too many such days to mention, but maybe they’re necessary to keep up the pretence of successful future action.

This certainly applies to Road Safety Week, with its decades of failed initiatives, its bland and ineffective slogans, as the carnage increases to epidemic proportions, and humans are daily squashed like dudus on the nations highways. But maintaining the event, at least shows they’re still trying to find the answers! .

This years’ week’, which ended Saturday 1st October, started off under a cloud of public concern over this lack of any workable solutions to improve things, and it will be interesting to know, if road safety actually increased during Road Safety Week, or is that an expectation too far?

Anyway, time to close on the depressing thought that some Tanzanian ‘special days’, might offer little in the way of effective or remedial assistance…so let’s think big and globally…what we need is a WORLD TRY HARDER DAY...Yeah, I’ll seek funding next week…let’s see…the UN…UNDP…the World Bank…etc ., etc!

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