Apparently, there are encouraging signs to suggest so:
Tullow Oil said Thursday that the Likonde-1 well, onshore Tanzania, has encountered thick sands with hydrocarbon shows. The well, which is now being plugged and abandoned, is the first of a two-well program within the prospective Ruvuma delta region. The encouraging results will be followed up with detailed technical work prior to selecting the next drilling location.
Intense things take hold of you in Africa.
Thus another Conradian journey into the Heart of Darkness commences.
Drink driving by an American who knows it would not happen back in civilization. An old white couple who have become Lifers. The kind of prisoners who have no chance of release. They are trapped, ‘That’s what happens when you stay too long. You become ‘unhinged, paranoid or just plain weird’.
Why are the inhabitants of the darkness like this? Pat Robertson said the Haitians were hit by the earthquake because of a pact they had made with the devil. This blogger, a certain Ms. Lindsay Morgan who is a ‘communications consultant,’ quoting a New York Times columnist no less, puts out another theory. Culture. Not a lack of culture, but CULTURE.
‘Progress resistant cultural influences,’ the columnist calls it. And what are these? They sound vaguely familiar. We know we have them. We are African and Tanzanian. We recognize these things when we come across them. But what does our voyager think? Because it is the Culture that drives expats like her to become unhinged, paranoid and just plain weird in this here Heart of Darkness.
But what is ‘The Culture’? How does it manifest itself?
The lazy ignorant teller at the post office.
Bureaucrats and civil servants who don’t do their jobs at the Ministry.
Drivers who can’t keep time.
And then the zinger – ‘Corruption is part of the Culture’. Ouch.
But here’s the thing.
Are developing countries responsible for their own development? Well, not really. Not when its being paid for by someone else, like her governments. They don’t act responsible because they don’t feel responsible.
Because they are not blowing their own money.
Because they don’t need to when almost half of the budget is funded by her people! And however much of it disappears and goes unaccounted for, they keep bringing it. And now your partners in development are hooked. And everyone knows, you shouldn’t leave an addict alone in the pharmacy.
But there is no need to be too hard on oneself. Ms. Morgan blames herself for feeling arrogant and careless in those moments when her thoughts turn dark, she feels confounded by the darkness and begins to entertain ideas and theories that make you feel like a ….you know.
Which she most definitely is not! But these things just float into her headspace from time to time. And she wonders why these people are like this. And seeing as she can’t put it down to their…you know, then perhaps it’s their Culture?
But she is wrong. Because in truth she has a limited understanding of what the Culture is. She can’t be blamed for that. It’s not in any books she may have read, artworks she may have seen, theatre productions and films she may have watched. But it is there.
What she has experienced is not ‘Tanzanian Culture’. Tanzanian Culture has nothing to do with the intransigence, corruption, torpor, stupidity, laziness, arrogance and mediocrity. What she has experienced is commonly known in Kiswahili as Uzembe, Ujinga and Un’yoko.
She imagines that only her and her people are aware of the encroaching darkness that threatens to engulf this country, this continent that seems reluctant to better itself. But she is not alone. All those other faces standing in the queue behind her at the post office, the bored idle faces of the people sitting in the reception area at the Ministry, the thousands of commuters who stand waiting for the unscheduled, over crowded, dangerous dala dala to arrive at the stop next to her taxi rank, all those people are as pissed off and confounded as she is at what they are witnessing. The encroaching darkness.
And if she asked them, they would tell her. They wouldn’t bite. They would nod in agreement with everything she thinks and says about her experiences of Tanzania.
Except the bit about Culture. Which sounds a little….you know.
(H/T Swahili Street)
Well, sort of.
On Sunday March 21st, the Nigerian newspaper NEXT featured the above cartoon by Tanzania’s very own Gado. It is quite exciting to see the glimmers of continental integration that this cartoon syndication shows – a Tanzanian cartoonist, working for a Kenyan media house being published in a Nigerian newspaper.
A less remarkable but equally satisfying report was published in two Nigerian newspapers on March 24, 2010. The article is about the growth of the equipment leasing business in Nigeria since 1996. Serengeti Advisers did the research that informed the article and witnessed the House Commerce Committee hearing on a Leasing Bill that quoted, approvingly, from the article.
(Credit: GADO. Source: Daily Nation – Nairobi, Kenya. Provider: CartoonArts International / The New York Times Syndicate)
“Local journalists did not do their research, if you want to talk to the President, have a grasp of the issues and that’s what foreign correspondents did. If you don’t do your homework I shut you out, I made a policy not to talk to ignorant and lazy media. That’s why I am happy the Aga Khan is setting up a campus that will insist on research,” – former President Benjamin Mkapa speaking at the Pan African Media Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN), publishers of Daily News and Habari Leo and their sister publications, Sunday News and Habari Leo Jumapili, has today announced the names of its new incoming board of directors which will be chaired by a former civil servant, Mr. William Mukama.
One wonders whether other media houses will let us know who makes up their board of directors. Will IPP Media, home of The Guardian and Nipashe? Will Mwananchi Communications, owners of The Citizen and Mwananchi? How about Media Solutions, publishers of This Day and Kulikoni?
All these organisations love to harp on about how we need more openness from our government institutions. Well, may be they need to practice a little more transparency themselves.