TANZANIANS on Sunday marked 51 years of independence from British colonial rule on December 9, 1961. They had all the good reason to celebrate. We have come a long way since then and have undoubtedly made commendable strides in all spheres of national development.
All said and done, this is the right occasion to assess the gains and losses made and chart out the way forward. However, there are a lot of challenges the country is still facing in the effort to attain development goals. Addressing Tanzanians on the big occasion, President Jakaya Kikwete commended Tanzanians for maintaining unity, peace and solidarity.
Maintenance of unity, peace, tranquility and concord is indeed a grand achievement for any country in Africa, a continent that had in the last five decades been infested with a myriad of bloody conflicts and unrest. Many countries, including some of our neighbours, have been subjected to internal and external conflicts, mostly originating from poverty and bad leadership.
Some countries soon found themselves under dictatorial regimes whose rulers stole heavily from public coffers for themselves, their families a few cronies. It is hoped that Tanzanians will do everything at their disposal to guard their independence and sovereignty.
No forces from anywhere should be allowed to make Tanzanians compromise with those pillars of independence. The theme for this year's Uhuru Day -- "Accountability, Integrity and Patriotism are the pillars for development of our country" -- is an appropriate one as the nation looks forward to the future with renewed hope and enthusiasm. Apart from peace and political stability the country has made various political, social and economic developments that can vividly be seen.
The developments are in the fields of education, health, water supply and infrastructure development. There are many schools around from primary to tertiary level compared to those left by the British Administration on December 1961. The same is the case with the number of health centres and hospitals as well as roads.
These achievements are by no means cause for complacency. The country should aim at turning itself into an economic giant, especially after discovery of enormous natural gas deposits and uranium. What Tanzanians need is passion and patriotism to make the country the best place to live in. Let everyone play his or her part. Ring a bell?