Arusha Times (Arusha)

1 December 2012

Tanzania: In Focus

A television channel encourages its viewers to look for stars on the screen instead of the sky. Viewers can actually look for stars on the ground as well.

By the way, the stars on the ground represent every sector of development. For example, in communication, the Northern Star Newspaper has been on the newsstands for several months in Arusha and the rest of northern Tanzania. The new bi-monthly Newspaper covers news in Arusha and from Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Mombasa. The name suggests an ambition for the paper to become a champion for covering news for people who live in northern Tanzania.

Jesus is definitely a star in Arusha if based on the extent to which Arusha City bus operators display him or his wisdom on their vehicles. In addition, some city bus drivers play much Gospel music in their vehicles to honor Jesus. But you wonder if the drivers play the music for themselves or for their passengers.

It is not difficult to figure out how much followers consider Jesus to be their star or rather their hero when they pray or sing to praise him. You only need to observe the followers' faces and feel their soul when they pray or sing. A substantial number of people in Arusha follow Jesus if based on the number of churches which exist wherever human beings live.

Martin Luther is also a star if you think about it. The many magnificent Universities, colleges, hospitals and hotels under the Lutheran Church in Arusha symbolize some of Martin Luther's philosophies with regard to humanity.

It is useful to distinguish Martin Luther from another star called Martin Luther King Jr. Several bus operators in Arusha City display Martin Luther King Jr. as a civil rights activist of which he was even though he was also a practicing Christian.

Yet, it is rare in Arusha to see displays of similar civil rights activists like MalcomX, Steve Biko or Mandela. Meanwhile, many Tanzanians are proud to display pictures of the late Julius Nyerere in their offices as a champion of equality in Tanzania. They quote Nyerere as a star invariably.

There is Prophet Mohammed S. A. W. His followers consider him to be their ultimate star and mentor in life and beyond. Prophet Mohammed S. A. W. is not displayed anywhere but residents of Arusha cannot avoid hearing the prophet's name everyday when Muslims call followers for prayers. Those who live near mosques that use loudspeakers to call for prayers hear the prophet's name loud. It becomes more so in the morning for those who live in a location where several mosques are located.

The Industrial Products Promotion Company appears to be a leader of marketing in Tanzania. In contrast, Bakhresa Group of Companies which is based in Dar es Salaam is arguably a leader in trade, processing of agricultural crops and sports. Many consider the Company's football team the team to beat in Tanzania.

Rural communities in Arusha observed champions of community support who are called Melinda Gates and Koffi Annan. The two stars visited subsistence farmers in Arumeru District recently. It reminds of the book titled "Mountain Farmers: Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru" by Thomas Spear.

From individual perspectives, many posters in Arusha display a star football player called Didier Drogba. Drogba is from Ivory Coast.

Compared to Ivory Coast, Tanzania has never produced a football star the caliber of Drogba. But the country has produced world class athletes in the past. Many still remember the outstanding Filbert Bayi, Juma Ikangaa and Gidamis Shahanga.

Speaking of entertainment, Arusha city bus operators still display the legendary reggae musician called Bob Marley. Arguably, Bob Marley has been an undisputed star of reggae music of all times.

It tempts to search for more stars in other sectors of development. Time will provide.

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