Kenyans ought to respect Tanzania by Mobhare Matinyi

* If defending our great country means the death of the federation, so be it!
By Mobhare Matinyi, Washington DC

THE recent rhetoric from Nairobi on the sensitive issue of East African integration has been obscene and inane to say the least. Some of our neighbor's politicians and journalists have bragged about the subject so much that they have completely forgotten the truth that they are among the icons of disunity and disintegration in Africa.

What irks me more is the tone of the arguments that seems to be derived from the simplest mind one can find on earth. How dare a Kenyan refer to Tanzania as a dirty poor country while 50 percent (19 million) of Kenyans live in abject poverty?

To the contrary, 36 percent (14.4 million) of Tanzanians live in poverty, and that is why we have programs such as MKURABITA. We don't deny our poverty, we fight it. If they are rich, why don't our integration tutors salvage their own poverty first?

Tanzania's economy is a fraction of Kenya's economy?! Please give me a break. Last year, Kenya had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) based on purchasing-power-parity of about $61.22 billion. Tanzania's was $51.03 billion. So is this $10 billion difference such a big deal?

Let me tell you Kenyans, your GDP is less than what the US investor Warren Buffet keeps in his pocket. In March 2008, the Forbes magazine estimated Buffet's worth at $62 billion in its annual ranking of the world's richest people.

If this difference is so significant, why can't the Kenyan government stop their men from sending their wives to practice prostitution to earn a living? I am not kidding, in 2006 the CNN international correspondent, Christine Amanpour traveled to Kenya as part of a special documentary on AIDS and HIV called Where Have All the Parents Gone? You can visit the link:

et me directly quote from the CNN website: Tribesmen told us the appalling story of sending their wives out for prostitution, in order to afford food. But along with the food, they bring AIDS back to their tribe and their village.

Now, if Kenya is so rich, why does such humiliation exist? One may think there is a point in the whole blawling and whining, but there isn't! It's just arrogance. Mind you, Kenya has more external debt ($6.7 billion) and domestic debt ($3 billion) than Tanzania's $4.4 billion and $1 billion respectively. Even worse, Kenya has more trade deficit ($4.4 billion) than Tanzania ($2.6 billion), and Kenya's last month inflation rate was 28.4 percent compared to Tanzania's 11.8 percent.

And so is the noise about Tanzania's labor force, which is almost twice that of Kenya. The Kenyans claim that ours is unskilled and theirs is skilled because they speak 'better broken English.' Japan is the second richest economy in the world, Germany the third, and now China is the fourth. Do they speak better English than Tanzania?

English is the language of our former colonial masters that Kenyans still embrace, that's it. We have our own language that Kenyans are now working hard to take a refuge in. Swahili brought unity among us, and we are very proud of our language, not our master's language.

And who said that common market must include land, replacement of passports by shoddy national identity cards, and permanent residence? Europeans are sober and have been around with their European Union for a while now. Do you think they are naïve for excluding these three things?

The fact of the matter is: Kenyans and the rest, that includes Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, want to quickly off load their problems on our motherland. That will never happen as it is inconceivable. Only an imbecile can fail to grasp the reasons why Kenyans insult our United Republic of Tanzania, the one and the only in Africa. We are proud of our country and we are ONE.

For many years, Kenyan governments, one after the other, have inculcated in their people the sense of disunity and inequity. From the day Kenya got independence, Kenyans have never been one people. Kenyans go by their tribes - Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin, Kamba, Taita and many others. That makes all the noise we are hearing about the importance of integration totally nonsense. Since when did a Kenyan know better about unity than a Tanzanian? To be frank, most Kenyans are not only arrogant, but misanthropic. I don't understand who certified them as integration tutors?

Kenyans grew up in a jungle-like society where nobody cared about anybody. For example, Kenyan police and prison officers are known in Africa for inhumane practices. In one incidence in 1997, a journalist was forced to wipe up human excrement with his bare hands. Please this link to see the story of a journalist, Evans Kanini:

Kenyan society is unfriendly, pompous and arrogant, which makes it very incompatible with Tanzanian society, people who are peace-loving, humble and friendly. Let me ask Kenyans - between the two societies, which one should emulate the other? Or in which would you like to live?

Because Tanzanians decided to experiment with socialism after independence, the western nations fought back by investing heavily in Kenya to discredit our ideology. And since Kenya decided to embrace their colonial masters, they had an easy road when it came to industrial development and large-scale farming.

Again Tanzanians, on the other hand, we decided to help our southern Africa brothers and sisters to fight for their freedom. Kenya at that time was the darling of the west and even kissed the Boers feet. It was disgusting.

Last but not least, Tanzanians, we had to uproot the Butcher of Africa who invaded our country, Dictator Idd Amin Dadah. Since he had the blood of his own people on his hands, removing him from power in Uganda was an automatic obligation for us; we did it with pride.

These historical events put economic pressure on us, and as a result we finished the 20th century somehow behind Kenya. However, with our social and political attitudes that took time to nurture, with our massive land and countless natural resources, we are far better placed to take off in the 21st century than Kenya.

Immodestly and shamelessly, after rejecting the first idea to form the United States of East Africa in early 1960 as advanced by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and after breaking up the former East African Community in 1977, Kenyans are suddenly becoming the 'uniters.'

Yes, we know that Kenya wants markets for her industries that contribute 16.7 percent to the GDP so that our 'less-developed industries' that contribute 18.9 percent to our GDP can die; and we know that with a 40 percent unemployment rate, Kenya wants an alternative source of employment from any means, thanks to Kigali for waiving working permits recently.

The list of needs for Kenyans has hit the roof and that includes water, energy, minerals, natural gas, food crops, cash crops, livestock, national parks, Mount Kilimanjaro, the whole of Lake Victoria, even Zanzibar, and a home for their robbers.

Kenyans also want an opening to release the pressure of their social inequality built by constant tribalism and discrimination. And, the political tension has just added the fuel to the fire. With Kenya's annual foreign investments now below one-tenth of Tanzania's (over $500 billion now), with corruption mounting day-by-day, with degradation of rule of law and increase in absolute poverty, Kenya is about to implode.

Come the year 2025, the Kenyan population is estimated to be over 51.3 million - where will all these people suffuse? Kenya is largely a desert country in the north and the fertile land is mostly owned by the white settlers and very few African elites. No doubt Kenyans need land from us. By the way, our population in Tanzanian by the year 2025 is projected to be 57.4 million. That's wonderful because we have enough land for everybody. Don't touch it.

In fact Mwalimu Nyerere warned in 1958 (well before independence) that privation of land is dangerous for poor Africans. Kenyans didn't get it, and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta
said: KENYA NI KAMA NG'OMBE ALIYECHINJWA, MWENYE KISU KIKALI ATAKULA NYAMA KUBWA." Literally means: "Kenya is like a slaughtered cow; whoever has a sharp knife will eat a big steak." Now you are eating it!!! Kenya is infamous in Africa for human trafficking and a high crime rate. On every major tourism and travel website of the world, people are warned of the crime in Kenya. Not long ago a wave of armed robberies crossed the border into our country, and Tanzanians have not forgotten. Thanks to our security organs, our land is safe again.

The Nairobi newspaper, The East African, this week reports that a London based think tank, known as the Institute of Public Policy's Research (IPPR), has placed Kenya and Uganda among the 20 weakest and failing states of Africa together with Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Zimbabwe while Tanzania has been praised.

The same newspaper also reports that Kenya and Uganda have been again kicked out of any prospects for Millenium Challenge assistance while Tanzania continues to enjoy the disbursement of $698 million, which is the highest ever. As usual, Kenya scored poorly in rule of law, immunisation rates, health expenditures and fiscal policy. In the corruption perception index prepared by Transparency International (TI), Kenya ranks 147th while Tanzania ranks 102nd among 180 countries. The World Bank Institute (WBI) groups Kenya together with Afghanistan and Somalia on criteria such as control of corruption, rule of law, and political stability.

Before thinking about integration, Kenyans should have first been introspective. Tanzania, we are not trying to interpose the integration process, but we are defending the present interests of our country for our future. We have much more to lose than to gain in this insane idea of weird integration.

The perfervid rhetoric will not hamper us from defending our invaluable country. We have uncovered your trick to inveigle us into a trap. Your belief that Tanzanians are senile is incorrect and whatever you are trying to maraud will never be bequeathed. Tanzanians are not ready for any Kenyan jingoism, and we are not ready to witness the death of our national ethos for the sake of a fake unity with people who slaughter each other. We don't see any reason to be roped into this kind of federation now.

Be placid, and listen to us and maybe it will happen several decades from now! If defending our country means the death of the federation, so be it. We will not yield to your invidious pressure. It took us time to build this wonderful nation you are seeing today; we know for sure that whatever we lose today will be irrecoverable tomorrow, so beware. The ideas of identity cards instead of passports and permanent residence are only means to an end, and that is, grabbing our land and resources. No, no, no! It is so dejecting that we even got to this stage of discussion, but we hope that our leaders are reading the writing on the wall. Kenya, just like Tanzania, is impecunious, but the difference is there is hope in Tanzania while in Kenya everything is dead. You'd better blame yourself!

Swahili people say: Usivione vinaelea, vimeumbwa hivyo. Long live Tanzania, the land of opportunity and the home of the patriots.

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For another article, "Kenya and Tanzania: Who is the big guy?" Please visit "Analysis and Opinion" from
*The Citizen is a Tanzanian newspaper owned by Nations Media Group of Kenya.