30 January, 2006

The Other Side Of Africa

I am always very surprised and pained at how, up to now, both Senegal and Tanzania are rarely mentioned at how well they have done. And: they have done exceptionally well. And, yet the major world news media very rarely mention this.

Both countries had the luck of having Great leaders with foresight and vision right from independence from colonial powers: Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Leopold Senghor of Senegal. All the positive results in these two countries now, are due, mainly to them.

From the start, they were incorruptible leaders who ruled without letting nepotism and cronyism sway their judgment. Both had impeccable integrity and were very well informed about history, the arts and the world at large. Both laid solid foundations for having proper civil societies in their countries; and both willingly gave up power. They willingly gave up power before the collapse of the Soviet Union; which was considered impossible in Africa, then.

Senghor, a Christian, gave up power in 1981 and handed it to his hand picked successor Abdou Diouf, a Muslim; Abdou Diouf ruled transparently and strengthened more the democratic foundation - up to 2000, when a rival party led by Abdoulaye Wade won the elections and peacefully took over power. Note: Senegal today has many parties and yet the government rules transparently and corruption is very well controlled.

Nyerere, a Christian, gave up power in 1985 and he too - handed power over to his handpicked successor Hassan Mwinyi, a Muslim; Mwinyi won two elections and ruled till 1995 and as the Tanzanian constitution doesn't allow one to rule for more than two terms - Banjamin Mkapa, a Christian, was chosen to run for the elections; and he won and ruled up to December 2005 when another Muslim, Jakaya Kikwete won the elections and is now the President of Tanzania; Jakaya has several women ministers and they control some of the most powerful ministries. Note: in Tanzania - the same party CCM, has ruled since independence.

In both countries, the transfer of power has always been very peacefully done and with dignity; in both countries, governments are democratically elected and have transparency; and yet rarely is this mentioned.

How much more democracy is required for a country in Africa to get and have praise and accolades? Is there any country in the world with such a diversity of tribes and languages, and two major religions with the kind of democracy at work like in Tanzania and Senegal? Why aren't they singled out and repeatedly mentioned for their achievements?

I do hope, the other African countries will emulate the Tanzania and Senegalese way; or emulate: Botswana or South African or Ghana, in democratically serving their people. Africa, and the people of Africa deserve that.

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