#MilikiTanzania

Umiliki huzaa majukumu. Majukumu hayaongezeki na umri kwa sababu tunapata busara zaidi lakini kwa sababu tunamiliki vitu na hali nyingi inayotupelekea kuwa na majukumu nayo. Huanza na unapofuga mnyama ukiwa mtoto, alafu unapopata simu yako ya kwanza ya mkononi (katika enzi hizi za dijitali), unamiliki redio au TV yako ya kwanza, kisha gsari, kisha nyumba na kadhalika.  Na jinsi unavyozidi kumiliki vitu ndivyo mzigo wa majukumu yanavyoongezeka na inabidi uchape kazi zaidi, uvitunze, ufuatilie maendeleo, uvigharamie nk.

Sasa swali linalofuata ni je tunahisi kuwa tunamiliki nchi yetu? Tunahisi kuwa Tanzania ni mali yetu? Je tunaitunza, tunaifuatilia, tunaigharamia, tunafuatilia maendeleo yake? Au tunahisi kuwa sisi tunapita njia tu na tunachotaka ni kipande kidogo na kilichobaki si tatizo letu?

Si ajabu, ukweli wa hili liko hapo katikati na ni jambo hatari zaidi. Wafanyakazi wanapohisi kuwa hawamiliki kampuni wanayoifanyia kazi na hawahusiki katika maamuzi yanayofanyika lakini wanaitegemea kwa ajili ya kupata kipato – hali fulani ya kutojali huanza. Matokeo yake ni kuwa wizi unaanza, na hata wasioiba wanafumbia macho wizi, mtandao wa uhalifu fulani huanza (mf kuiba mafuta ya gari kwa kuleta risit feki), kuandika ripoti bila matokeo ya maana na tabia mbalimbali tunazoona katika mashirika yetu ya umma na hata katika sekta binafsi.

Wawekezaji wa kigeni na wafanyakazi wa kigeni wakifika Tanzania na kutuajiri wanakuta tabia hizi kwa ujumla na hata wawekezaji wa kitanzania hukuta hali hii na hivyo kwa pamoja hutuweka katika kapu moja la wavivu, wezi na wazembe.

Tukichukulia kuwa mtazamo wangu ni sahihi na mzizi wa tatizo ni kutokuwa na umiliki – je tunabadili vipi mitazamo na tabia zetu kama Watanzania? Tunaanzaje kuhisi kuwa tunamiliki nchi yetu hii na utamaduni wake unaoitwa Tanzania? Umiliki ni zaidi ya kile kinachoonekana,  na hufika katika umiliki wa kiutamaduni na kijamii pamoja na utambulisho wetu kama Watanzania. Je “tunajisikia” kuwa watanzania au tumepewa tu hili jina na passport na vitambulisho vyetu?

Badala ya kutaka kutusimamia kama polisi, viongozi watafanikiwa zaidi wakituhamasisha kumiliki nchi yetu, kujikubali na kusherekhea utambulisho wetu kama Taifa na watu. Ndiyo, wezi waadhibiwe lakini adhabu yoyote itakayotolewa ije na maelezo ya ziada ya kuwa vitendo kama hivi hutuumiza sote kama jamii. Inabidi tulipe kodi lakini watushawishi kuwa kodi zikikusanywa, kama Taifa tunapata huduma bora zaidi. Na siku nyingine nikipita mitaani kwangu mbele ya shule ya serikali iliyo safi, walimu wako madarasani wakifundisha wanafunzi wenye furaha waliokaa kwenye madeski, naweza kujiaminisha kuwa kodi yangu inafanya kazi. Ni mtazamo unaoweza kuchukuliwa kuwa ni wa kitoto na wataalam wetu waliobobea  katika uchumi wanaotumia hesabu na majedwali kueleza maendeleo na ukuaji wa uchumi unavyofanyika – lakini labda tuweke kando kwa sasa hesabu hizi na badala yake tujikite katika lugha muhimu zaidi ya kujenga taifa kwa muda. Maana hakuna mipango ya kitaalam, michoro, mahesabu na mikakati inayoweza kujenga hisia ya umiliki wa Taifa katika watu. #ChangeTanzania

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The Rise of the Anti-Establishment

With the US election campaign season in full swing since the beginning of the year, a topic often discussed has been the “Establishment” and the rise of candidates who are outside the Establishment on both sides – Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democrats’ side. Both men were not members of their respective parties until recently when they decided to run. But what is the Establishment? I am no political analyst and will not attempt to find the official definition; instead I will give my understanding of it with a Tanzanian link. Establishment can be viewed as all that links into the ecosystem that is in charge of the political and economic functions of a nation. In the US, it is those sitting in the branches of government and civil service including the legislative (regardless of political parties), executive branch, the judiciary and so on. It also extends to the heads of large businesses (dubbed ‘Wall Street’ in the US) who are at the helm of the economy of a nation. In Tanzania we often refer to this as the “system”and we can add into this mix the 4th pillar i.e. media and the civil society as well.

 

The anti-Establishment sentiment is clearly on the rise in the US but it is also in many ways on the rise in Tanzania. The so-called Establishment in Tanzania is strongly linked to the ruling party CCM which has been in power since independence first in the form of TANU and ASP and later united into CCM. Clearly one cannot speak about the Establishment in Tanzania without taking into account CCM which ruled singularly until the 90’s and still remains heavily linked with the government including the fact that the President of the United Republic is the Chair of the Party. Given rising anti-establishment sentiments, it is not surprising that in the past election, CCM saw its share of votes decline. However this is where the narrative took a new twist in Tanzania.

 

The candidates for presidency from the two major parties at first glance would have been categorized as follows: CCM – the Establishment candidate VS CDM / UKAWA – the anti-Establishment candidate. Yet this is not what happened. In the internal primaries of CCM, the most favored candidate of the establishment – Edward Lowassa – was jostled out by a small group of the top leadership. In turn the presumed favorite of the top leadership and rival of Lowassa – Bernard Membe – was voted out by Lowassa loyalists and instead a lesser known, inconspicuous John Magufuli was elected. And when I say – lesser known Magufuli, let it be clear that all foreign media and governments as well as many in the private sector were running around to find any information about him. And information in the public domain had been extremely sparse. This is because despite his previous popularity when he had headed various ministries, little was known about Magufuli outside his job. He was not known to hold long stump speeches, be accessible to the media or meet with various interests groups and lobbyists etc. He was an outsider despite being part of the Establishment (and arguably remains one in many ways).

 

Then came the twist of Edward Lowassa moving to the opposition and becoming their candidate. The opposition ‘sold’ this radical swap as being advantageous because Lowassa was expected to bring the Establishment with himself – the money and business interests backing him, high level officials in government who were on his side and even CCM heavyweights who all had backed him openly during the primaries. And this is where the anti-Establishment attribute shifted from the opposition to Magufuli; who maintained and strengthened it by distancing himself from CCM as much as possible throughout the campaign. To the extent of emphasizing that the ‘Magufuli government’ will do A,B,C; not the CCM government. On the other hand, the opposition was busy lining up any CCM heavyweight switching over including Kingunge Ng’ombale Mwiru a figurehead of CCM, and another former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye; thus strengthening its pro-establishment credentials. There was also a show of money and power during the rallies of the opposition, with constant use of helicopters, big crowds and entertainment. Of course, CCM matched each show of force, but this was not really new to the voters. What had been different was Magufuli personally not using helicopters during the campaign and travelling by car; an earmark of a low key, low budget campaign.

 

After election, one would have expected Magufuli “to drop the act” and get comfortable with the Establishment as many within the party, government and the business community had expected. Much to everyone’s surprise, the newly sworn in Magufuli continued the anti-Establishment narrative, being ‘unpresidential’ by cleaning the streets of Dar-es-Salaam, curbing foreign trips, directing money from MPs cocktail to buying hospital beds. This anti-Establishment behavior has earned him respect and praise in Tanzania as well as in Africa and around the world as everyone is asking: who is this new president who doesn’t seem to have any regard for formalities and procedures and is rather focused on pragmatic solutions and results?

 

President Magufuli remains little known.  Gaining access to him has proven difficult even to those members of the Establishment who had been used to coursing the corridors of the State House. So the only glimpse we can get of Magufuli’s thinking process, vision or approach is via the rare speeches he has given since taking office. On these occasions, like the recent one he gave during Law Day on February 5th 2016, we get unrehearsed speeches, which are arguably controversial. Like this recent speech, where some critics have said is un-presidential, un-statesman-like and even down right impeachable. This may be considered a fair assessment from the perspective of conventional presidential speeches, but these and such, in fact all, criticisms do not seem to have much effect on the citizenry who continue to support and defend, aggressively, the President.

 

President Magufuli has also very cleverly addressed his critics in this speech saying explicitly “I am neither mad, nor am I dictator, but it gets to a stage that you need to close your eyes and  make tough decisions due to the extent to which government officials have ruined this country. [own emphasis]. My sacrifice in serving Tanzanians is to serve them so well that when I get to Heaven I can be made leader of Angels”. Many may skim past this statement in a 46 minutes long speech, but this is crucial: it gives a rare glimpse into two things. One, Magufuli remains firmly anti-Establishment despite being the head of Government. Second, Magufuli seems to be convinced that he is on a mission entrusted to him by God.

 

It is too early to judge whether this is only a tactical ploy or the true self of President Magufuli. What is clear is that the Establishment (including ruling and opposition parties, the legislative, judiciary, media, civil society and part of the civil service) is clearly unhappy. Yet Magufuli remains highly popular with the public at large who seems fed up with the Establishment and its cozy self-serving alliances and entanglements. Magufuli’s anti-Establishment attitude and actions for now remain his biggest strength. However in the long run, can he run the country as an outsider without finding common ground with the Establishment? Difficult to imagine. Unless he is planning to take on the extraordinary task of entirely revamping the Establishment, a first in our history since the introduction of democracy and free market economy.

#UnokoNiUzalendo – Unoko, ubahili, ushamba oyee!

Nilikuwa najaribu kuangalia tafsiri ya neno “mnoko”. Usishangae maana neno “mshamba”ninahisi nina tafsiri yake ya “country bumpkin” ingawa Google inasema ina maana ya “lout” ila inaweza kuwa na tafsiri ya ziada inapotumika leo hii Tanzania aka Bongoland. Alafu neno “mbahili” pia tafsiri inaeleweka “miser”. Nilikuwa natafuta tafsiri ya ‘mnoko’ ili nijaribu kumwelewesha mtu yeyote ambaye si mtanzania na haongei Kiswahili ni jinsi gani maneno haya yalitumika kama njia ya kuua uzalendo na maadili na kutukuza maisha yasiyo halisi. Hoja yangu ni kwamba leo hii, Unoko ni uzalendo, ubahili ni maendeleo, ushamba ni sifa.

Katika kampeni ya 2015, nilikuwa ninatazama na kusoma zaidi ya kuandika, hii ilikuwa ni sehemu ya kujaribu kuelewa nini kinasukuma watu kumpigia kura mgombea fulani au fulani. Kitu nilichokiona kinarudiwarudiwa ni neno “mshamba” wakati wa kumkosoa mgombea wa CCM, ambaye sasa ni Rais Magufuli. Nikaamua nisome zaidi maoni haya. Inaelekea kutosomesha watoto nje na katika shule za ‘academy’ ni ushamba, kutosafiri sana nje ni ushamba, na jinsi anavyovaa na lafudhi yake nzito pia inashiria kuwa ni mshamba. Lakini tusiwahukumu walioyasema hayo. Ni sawa kabisa kwamba katika jamii yetu ya sasa ambapo tumetilia mkazo muonekano wa nje wa mtu, neno ‘ushamba’ hapa linahusika.

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Cha ajabu pamoja na ushamba huu, Rais Magufuli sasa anaonekana kweli ni mtu simple ambaye ameishi maisha halisi ya mtanzania na hahitaji kuigiza au kuvaa mara moja moja kama mtu wa kawaida. Ndivyo alivyo. Na tunaanza kuona kuwa wale waliokuwa wanabadili magari kila kukicha na wanamiliki nyumba 73 walikuwa hawaishi maisha ya kweli kwani walikuwa wanavunja sheria. Nadhani muda si mrefu ushamba utakuwa ni sifa na kila mtu atataka awe ‘mshamba’ asiyejua ujanja wa teni pasenti.

Kwenye ubahili ninakumbuka wakenya walianzisha hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo na mwanzoni baadhi ya watanzania huko Twitter waliona kama wanamkejeli Rais maana hata picha na tweets ziliashiria ubahili wa kupitiliza. Lakini muda si mrefu, hashtag ikawa maarufu na hivi sasa wanahabari, wanaharakati na watoa maoni wa nchi mbalimbali wanashauri serikali na viongozi wao kuwa bora wawe kama Magufuli – yaani wajali sana matumizi. So ubahili sasa umekuwa ni
suala la maendeleo!

Mwisho kabisa narudi kule nilipoCOCREu3WwAAlkYkanza kuhusu unoko! Ah! Neno “mnoko”! Ukiitwa mnoko shule lazima ulie! Ina maana wewe ni yule ambaye utawasemea wenzako wanaopiga kelele, utanyoosha kidole wa kwanza kujibu swali, mkiambiwa mkafanye usafi utakuwa wa kwan
za kupanga mstari na fagio lako na utavaa sare zako safi kila siku bila kukosa. Na bila shaka utakuwa unakaa mstari wa mbele shuleni na unajitahidi kusoma uwe unaongoza darasani, ukikosa maksi uliyokusudia kidogo unalia.

 

Sasa ukishaingia miaka ile ya kuanza kupevuka kimwili, unoko haukuwa sifa nzuri. Maana wanoko hawakupendwa na hawakuvutia. Baada ya masomo, kama mtu mzima kama uliendelea kuwa mnoko utaonekana mbaya kwa majirani, wafanyakazi wenzako na hata bosi wako. Wanoko hawapandishwi cheo na ni nadra wao kuonekana na viongozi wao na kuchaguliwa kuongoza. Ingawa wanoko wengi ni viongozi wa asili. Wanataka vitu viende vizuri kwa manufaa ya wengi, kila mtu afuate sheria hata ye na familia yake, na tuheshimiane wakubwa kwa wadogo. Kwa maelezo haya, nahisi sitakosea kusema Rais Magufuli ni mnoko. Yaani vijana wanasema, “Dah! Huyo ka Dingi wako basi atakuwa mnoko!”. Lakini leo hii hakuna anayelalamikia unoko huu wa Rais Magufuli. Ghafla wote tunasema ni muhimu sheria zifuatwe, tujenge taifa, tusimamie na tushirikiane usafi siku ya Uhuru na muhimu ‘kumsemea’ anayevunja sheria, haya yote ni vitu vizuri. Sasa tunasema Unoko ni Uzalendo.

Kwa kumalizia ni hivi, naamini kuwa ni wachache ndiyo walituaminisha kwamba eti ukitaka kusimamia haki, ufuataji wa sheria, kusimamia matumizi mazuri na sahihi binafsi au ya serikali au kuhamasisha jamii basi wewe ni mnoko. Ni wachache ambao walitaka tuamini eti Tanzania ya leo ni aibu au ushamba kutomiliki gari hata kama wewe ni binti wa miaka 20 na hatua pekee uliyopiga maishani ni kushinda mashindano ya urembo. Ni wachache waliotuaminisha kuwa usipofanya sherehe kubwa ya harusi basi ni mbahili au mshamba. Lakini watanzania tulio wengi tulikaa kimya. Tuliendeshwa kwa kiasi lakini wengi tulibaki watazamaji zaidi na tulikubali kuwekwa katika kundi hilo la washamba, wabahili na wanoko. Tulikuwa tunasubiri siku ambapo kejeli hizi zitageuka kuwa sifa.

 

Mabadiliko tunayoyasubiri kama Manna kutoka mbinguni

Huwa tumezoea kusikia kuwa Mabadiliko ni mimi, ni wewe (Twaweza.org), ya kuwa tunatakiwa tuwe chachu ya Mabadiliko. na – tokea 2008, baada ya kampeni na ushindi wa Obama – ‘Mabadiliko huanza na wewe’.
Cha ajabu ingawa tunarudiarudia sana maneno haya na kuyasikia, bado kama Taifa na wananchi, sisi watanzania tunasubiri mabadiliko YALETWE na mtu au kikundi cha watu. Tunamsubiri Nabii wetu wa Mabadiliko, tunamtafuta Obama wetu wa 2008. Wengine wanasubiri Nyerere mwingine au Sokoine mwingine. Tunasubiri Nabii huyu ajitambue, azinduke, apate nguvu na ujasiri, ajitokeze na kisha atuongoze .. kuelekea wapi hatujui ila tusibaki hapa tulipo.
Hii ndo hali halisi na tupo tayari kuijengea hoja tena kwa nguvu na kutetea hali hii. Utamsikia msomi anayekaa mjini akisema, “Tatizo letu sisi watanzania wengi ni maskini..” “Tatizo ni mfumo wetu wa elimu” na tunachopenda kurudia sana sote ni: “Ujinga wa watanzania ndo mtaji wa viongozi wetu wabovu” Utamsikia mwenyekiti wa jumuiya ya kijamii (al maarufu kama CBOs yaani Community Based Organizations) akilalama, “Tunahitaji kuwezeshwa”. Wapo wanaosema “Wewe umefanya nini?” kana kwamba kutofanya kitu kwangu ndo sababu nao kukaa tu kusubiri kuletewa mabadiliko. Basi tu sababu lukuki. Mfano mzuri ni jinsi tulivyojaribu Change Tanzania kuhamasisha watu tukusanye sahihi kutaka uwajibikaji kamili katika kesi ya Tegeta Escrow. Wapo wanaohoji, “Itasaidia nini? Haisaidii kitu.” Basi tuendelee kukaa tu?
Ninawaheshimu sana na kuwapongeza wanaochangisha jamii kununua madawati, kujenga mashule, kuelimisha watoto nk kwani hata kama ni watoto wawili tu wananufaika na juhudi zao, ni hatua kubwa kuliko kutofanya kitu na kulalama. Tatizo tunalolifahamu sote ni kuwa bila mfumo mzuri wa utawala, misaada hii ni tone la maji katika bahari. Lakini juhudi zote ni muhimu tusizibeze.
Kwani tukibeze juhudi hizi ndogo na tukikubali kuwa sisi watanzania ni maskini, wajinga na tuna maradhi chungu mbovu.. swali ni je, kwa hiyo tuendelee kusubiri Nabii ajitokeze miongoni mwetu ambaye hatakuwa mjinga, maskini na atakuwa buheri wa afya?
Kwa leo sitaki kuingia katika suala la vyama vya siasa au kutaja majina ya viongozi, ninachotaka kufanya ni kuwachokoza watanzania wenzangu, hivi wenzangu hamjachoka? Mi naona hakuna Mkombozi atakayeshushwa kutoka mbinguni. Hakuna Sauti ya Mungu itakayosikika hadharani ikitupa mwongozo tufanyeje, kwa sababu sote tulipewa dira (compass) mioyoni mwetu na Mungu. Hiyo dira inatakiwa ituongoze na kutupa mwelekeo. Dira yangu inaniambia tupo njia isiyo sahihi kama nchi. Kama taifa tumekosa uadilifu, nidhamu, utu na upendo kwa binadamu wenzetu. Tumekuwa nchi iliyokata tamaa. Lakini naamini kukata tamaa ni kosa na nina matumaini kuwa kila mmoja wetu alizaliwa mtanzania kuishi mwaka huu na nyakati hizi kwa sababu tumepangiwa kazi. Hivi ndivyo Nyerere, Sokoine, Gandhi, Mandela na wanamabadiliko mashuhuri walivyofikiri. Waliamini hawakuzaliwa katika mazingira yao kwa bahati mbaya. Tuko hapa duniani kwa malengo makubwa zaidi ya kupata mkate wa kila siku.

Kila mmoja wetu akitambua hili, ndipo Taifa litazinduka na ndipo tutaona kuwa nchi itageuzwa na mabadiliko yatatokea. Na watu wa mataifa mengine na wanahistoria watajaribu kutafuta mashujaa wa kuwapa sifa zote na kuwatunuku nafasi hii ya kinabii, bila kutambua kuwa mabadiliko haya yaliletwa na kila mmoja wetu na kila mtanzania. Hii labda ni ndoto, achene niote tu.. bora niendelee kuota kuliko kukata tamaa na kukaa kuangalia mbinguni nikisubiri kishushiwa Nabii wa mabadiliko

A HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY – TRANSFORMATION OF TANZANIA CAN BE A REALITY

This is my first blog entry since I was nominated by President Jakaya Kikwete to the Constituent Assembly in February. And I do not intend to spend any time discussing events that took place so far. Instead I want to point out one pertinent matter or idea that I believe we should all embrace inside and outside the Assembly.

How we got here or this far in this historic process of writing a new constitution can be a topic to fill tomes of books but what I would like us to focus on is not the past but rather the future. Consider this: despite the fact that this Assembly consists of delegates who did not vie nor were we elected by citizens to be part of the Assembly, there is an interesting mix of delegates, albeit mostly favoring the powers that be. But who would have thought that someone as controversial as Reverend Mtikila will be part of this Assembly? Many delegates are uneasy and even fear Reverend Mtikila who has published his paper calling on the dissolution of the Assembly. Yet despite his avid stance on the revival of Tanganyika, Reverend Mtikila has taken the oath to be faithful to the United Republic. There are pastoralists, farmers, religious leaders and many others. Another interesting personality is Esther Milimba a Maasai woman from the pastoralist community, who in her full Maasai outfit represents the bold, industrious women of Tanzania. Then there are the elders including Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru –a stalwart CCM member and functionary with a wealth of historic information, but there is also the octogenarian John Lifa Chipaka who was political rival of Nyerere since the 50s and jailed for charges of attempted coup d’etat. These two elders have a totally different experience and view of history that may prove valuable in this process.

What we all have to realize inside and outside the Constituent Assembly is that we have a historic opportunity to finally transform our nation and get it right! We have been experts at criticizing and complaining about many things and here we have this unprecedented chance to act on it. This is the chance to unleash the potential of our people, our youth; to overhaul the system that has held back our development; to ensure that services are delivered properly to all citizens; to ensure that we have a well informed and educated citizenry… what we dreamt about can become reality.

But this can only happen if collectively and individually we put aside our cynicism and bring back our idealism. This is the second awakening of Tanzania .. let us aspire and dream big! In the words of the Founding Father Mwalimu Nyerere: “That is the way we ought to look at this constitution. We got to have a little amount of faith…. Democracy is a declaration of faith in human nature”. Call me naïve, call me an idealist but I have a lot of faith in human nature but most importantly I have a lot of faith in Tanzanians.. it is this faith of mine in the incredible generous and patriotic spirit of the citizens of Tanzania that our movement of #ChangeTanzania  has become a movement that cannot be ignored and that has given me this responsibility to represent the people of Tanzania. So I believe and trust, I have faith in the individual and collective nature of Tanzanians, let’s make history by changing our course and create a better future founded on equality, freedom and justice.

Skin of color

My first trip to West Africa was to Abidjan, Ivory Coast during my Easter break. I was excited to see and experience the culture in the West especially knowing that with the French influence and creativity, I could expect good food, fine African cloth and high quality artworks.

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Imagine my shock that one of the first billboards that caught my eye was a huge billboard advertising skin whitening cream!

I thought that I must have miss understood and that my French was getting rusty. After seeing 3 similar billboards, I decided to confirm with my host if I am reading correctly that in a country where its people are beautiful dark skinned, these skin damaging products are being advertised and pushed onto consumers! To my dismay, all the billboards I identified were really skin lightening creams and soaps. One billboard even cried that it is ‘naturel” made from Carrot! The absurdity!

The worse scene was when I entered an upscale supermarket and was confronted by row upon row of skin lightening body creams, face creams, soaps, lotion and any other abhorrent product I couldn’t  even have thought of.

Even men are targeted!

 

Shamelessly advocating skin damage!

Shamelessly advocating skin damage!

Why do I share this with you? Because I do not blame any of the women who use these products because they are victims of a glitzy campaign aimed at telling them that if you have dark skin you are “not proper”, “not beautiful” “not good enough”. And honestly all beauty product adverts do that to us women one way or another. But I think that when adverts aim to cause harm and make women feel inferior about a part of their body that they cannot change without harming themselves, it is criminal! What is strange some of these products scream that they are manufactured in France. There is no way to verify whether this is true or not but if it is true it is sad and if not then it is tragic. Why is it tragic, because it is probably made in the back shop of some illicit factory which mixes God knows what into this concoction and then it is labeled and sold as a premium product.

Endless rows of skin lightening creams

Endless rows of skin lightening creams

 

To fight this is may make one Don Quixote , but the truth is we all have to start somewhere! And apart from saying that Black is Beautiful (which some counter that White is Wonderful), we have to talk about the health risks associated with such products including melanoma, skin damage, etc.

As I left Ivory Coast I couldn’t but feel sad that more and more beautiful Black women will affect their health for a look that has been ‘sold’ to them insidiously. Hopefully their government will ban such products from its shelves and advertising. Not that it will stop it as it will go underground as it has in Tanzania, but at least the open lies and false advertising will stop and less insusceptible women will fall prey.

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“Unless you will be converted and become like children”…

“It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age.” wrote Margaret Mead.

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And that is something to think about. Childhood is considered to be tied to time and not to mind set or attitude and this is what biologically it means. However if we take the characteristics of being a child from an attitude point of view then it is not time to biological development or age. And that is why even Jesus said “Truly I say to you, unless you will be converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” So for us, adults we have to CONVERT to become like children.

Why is this important? Because if we all sit and recall even if only one moment from our childhood when we were happy like really happy. Not because of the alcohol or any other intoxicating substance, not for any particular reason, but just simply happy. And where did this happiness go to? Where did that encompassing love and trust disappear to? It has been ground down in us by adults as we were growing up. Maybe when we tried to share our imaginative world with a grown up we were told to “Grow up” “Stop being silly”. Or maybe when we wanted a hug we were told “You are too old to act like this”.

"Moment of reflection"

“Moment of reflection”

And today many of us adults are seeking for that past unfettered, unconditional happiness in other things and we get frustrated when we cannot find it. Because what we forgot from our time as a child is that this ability is within us not outside us. And that is why “it is never too to have a happy childhood”

And as for the cynics who said this is all “Bullsh*t” (a comment I received from a ‘friend’ on Facebook) well all I can say I have nothing but pity and if you really push me I will just stick my tongue out at you!