Wednesday, April 29, 2015
“I learnt years ago not to use logic to understand African politics.” ― Nana Awere Damoah
Over fifty years ago, Julius Nyerere was considered the father of Tanzania and was known affectionately as “Mwalimu” or Teacher. Elections are held every five years with the president limited to two terms. When Nyerere stepped down, he hand-picked Mkapa to be president and he was elected and served until 2005 when Kikwete was elected president and then again in 2010. Even though Nyerere had passed away before Kikwete ran, he had been hand-picked by the “Mwalimu” and won easily both times. This means that one party, CCM, has been ruling Tanzania since the ’60’s. There has been opposition but always beaten down. In the past three elections, there have been several opposition parties and the election coming up in October of this year will have the strongest opposition to the ruling party ever and no candidate who can claim any support from Nyerere. There was much violence during the 2005 elections. Other missionaries urged us to stock up at least a week’s worth of food, to make sure the tank on our car was filled, and not to leave the compound for at least five days. Over thirty-five people in our area were killed in 2005 in Musoma and Mwanza with hundreds fleeing into Kenya. In the 2010 elections, over fifty people died and riots, tear gas, and police were common. We kept a low profile and had food, a full tank of diesel, and doubled the security guards for a week. It will be worse this year because the opposition party has real strength and is already being fought by the ruling party, CCM. Our Australian missionary friends are taking their family and going back to Australia till it’s all over. We don’t have that luxury, but we are not doing anything to compete with local schools or businesses and should be okay. Once again, we will hunker down. If the opposition wins the presidency, there will be calls for the arrests of former leaders, so their fear is real and the violence will be major. Votes are bought by the ruling party, registration is made almost impossible in strong opposition areas, so things have already started heating up. The major violence occurs when a rally of one party attacks a rally of another party. We need your prayers up to and through October and especially the last week of October. We will try to protect our workers as well. Our dogs should be fairly effective and the good will of our neighbors. We are not looking forward to it, but neither are we afraid for our lives. God led us here, God has supported us here, and God will not abandon us—and you can take that to the bank.