25 November 2012

Tanzania: Making Civic Education Interesting

SEEING that a large number of people came-out last Monday afternoon, to watch a civic play in Kidatu Ward of Kilombero District, Morogoro Region, pleased the Executive Officer, Mbizo Mabeshi.

This he believed was a step in the right direction towards rectifying what he had noticed, as the biggest problem in the Ward. He had observed a sort of apathy residents had towards attending community meetings that worried him greatly.

"Many times when we organise meetings and call residents to come out in large numbers they tend to think they already know everything and very few people show-up, Mabeshi told the 'Star' immediately after the performance.

It was his third time to watch the play called "Tuamke Sasa" (Let's wake up now!) by the Tanzania Community Civic Initiatives (TACCI) theatre troupe from Dar es Salaam. For Mabeshi the life issues depicted in this stage-play brought the spotlight on a number of situations villagers experienced daily including the need to wake up and start playing an active role towards their own development.

In one scene in the play an elderly man is shown talking to his son on a mobile phone. He is informing his son that is not going to farm that day, because that son has a big job in the government, so instead his son should send him money regularly to cover all his needs.

On top of that the father has taken a third wife who is expecting her seventh child. "It would be extremely beneficial to the people if this play was taken throughout all the villagers in the Ward," Mabeshi said he had suggested to the organisers during a previous screening.

However, he went on to add, "Not only would they benefit from the messages in the play, having legal people present to provide advice is also very beneficial to the people." He was referring to the two trained lawyers who occupy a tent not far from the stage, where villagers are encouraged to visit to discuss any legal issues that are disturbing them.

According to Mabeshi the nearest place a villager, in need of legal advice, has to go is Morogoro Town. The next point after this is Dar es Salaam. Before leaving the area the Star had the chance to hear what the Kidatu Village Executive Officer, Hongera Mwasisoja, who unlike his superior was his first time to see the play.

He was also pleased to see how it portrayed real issues. However, Mwasisoja feels there is a need for government, to be more open and support villagers' efforts. He says that there are incidents where villagers have taken on an initiative only to see their efforts sabotaged by unethical leaders thereby discoursing villagers to work hard.

The following day the group moved to Kibauni Village in Ifakara Ward. It was there that the 'Star' spoke to a young single parent called Nevis Kalima who freely contributed towards the discussions that were held in between scenes.

"If we want to be honest with ourselves and speak the truth, we should admit that we parents have to change the way in which we bring up our children. We need to teach them to be independent people and not rely on hand outs.

This training should start when our children are very young and accompany us parents to the farm. We should give them a little work to do so that they grow up responsible," Kalima suggested.

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