There is a wrong notion that books writing is the duty of academicians or rather scholars. This has been proved wrongly by a senior civil servant, Mr Evodius Katare who spends most of his time reading, conducting research and writing books for future generations.
Our Special Correspondent talked to the civil servant-cum-writer on a wide range of issues...
QUESTION: Can you tell us about your historical and educational background?
ANSWER: Yes. I was born in 1964 in the village of Rulama II, Mikoni Ward, Bukoba Rural District. I am the sixth born child from the family of Mzee Felician Katare and Bibi Lucretia Tibeita which happened to have twelve children. Our family was relatively poor and we survived by farming into our two plots.
Currently we are nine children and the other three have departed. I started my primary education at Rutete Primary School in 1973 and in 1979 I joined Rutabo Preparatory Seminary in Muleba District and in 1981 - 1984 I had my ordinary Level Secondary School at Rubya Seminary in the same district.
In 1985 I concluded my 'O' Level education at Kashozi Secondary School in Bukoba District. I joined the University of Dar es Salaam in 1990 - 1993 and I was awarded a B.A (Hons) in Political Science and Public Administration. Towards the end of 1993 I was employed by the then Dar es Salaam City Council as a Manpower Management Officer up to 1996 when the Council was dissolved and a City Commission established.
I worked with the City Commission under the same position until 1998 when I joined Masters Degree programme up to 2000. When I came back, I was posted at Kinondoni Municipal Commission with the aim of transforming it to the Council. In 2008 I was transferred to the newly established Dar Rapid Transit Agency (DART) as a Human Resources Manager and later as an Acting Finance and Administration Director, a position I still hold to date.
Q: How did the idea of writing books come about?
A: It should be noted that the art of writing is multi- dimensional. In some cases people are born with that art, some are inherited but others are acquired through learning. As to my case from my childhood when I started my pre-primary school education I started reading stories from different books (of course childhood books).
At our school there was small library whereby pupils and students were encouraged to borrow books and read them in a week's time, then bring them back and take other books. I used to borrow books and from there I developed the art of reading and learn on how people can read, write and educate others.
When I was at class five I started reading books authored by Elistablus Elvis Msiba and Kazirahabi which to me were very much interesting. It was at that point when I developed the curiosity of writing such stories which touch the real life of the community. Of course it was just a mere desire since I had no writing skills at all. It was at the university when we learned on how to write.
When I was in the third year at the University of Dar es Salaam, I was one among four students who were proposed by the Political Science and Public Administration to undertake the topic of interest as our thesis. This encouraged me and I chose to take the B.A. thesis on "Democracy During General Elections in Tanzania: The Case of Bukoba Rural Constituency."
Also when I was undertaking my Masters Degree course much emphasis was put on research methodology which widened my knowledge on writing skills. By those theses I learned on how to write the researched and factual events. From there I started writing researched and factual articles up to the time I was writing the two books of "Julius Kambarage Nyerere: Falsafa zake na Dhana ya Utakatifu" and that of "Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete: Ahadi Wakati wa Kampeni na Siku Tisini za Kwanza"
Q: What is your profession?
A:As I said earlier my profession is on public administration, human resources and management. I know you want to know why I am a Director of Finance and Administration. This is according to our organisation set up whereby it was sought imperative to combine Finance, Human Resources and Administration.
In any case there should be a head of the directorate and should come from these professionals. This is how it came about but this is not our area of focus at this point.
Q: What prompted you to write a book on the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere's journey to sainthood?
A: You see, it was a bit of anger and nervousness. The Tanzanian Roman Catholic Church, the denomination where Mwalimu belonged had declared the journey to canonise Mwalimu. By the time the inaugural Mass to start that process was being conducted I was not in the country.
Shortly after the inaugural Mass the Tanzanian media started interviewing people of different walks of lives, asking as to whether Mwalimu deserved that eternal title. Many respondents especially the young generation responded with a provocative and uncalled for language.
They went further assimilating Mwalimu with other dictatorial president's of his epoch and saying that the Church has lost direction. They went further saying that Nyerere was inhuman in all aspects; they said Ujamaa philosophy, decentralisation and nationalisation of people's property were brutal and cannot be forgiven.
Fortunately, I was in the country when those surveys were being conducted. I could learn that the young generation needed some help to understand who Mwalimu was to Tanzania.
I saw the importance of writing to them the underlying reasons for all what they called 'brutal actions,' I saw that there was a strange and unbearable historical decay amongst us. I could see that the country is breeding a generation which does not know its source and that is dangerous.
I compared the trend with other countries I was privileged to visit and found the controversial phenomenon. While the young generation in other countries are eager to understand their historical background as a nation, we Tanzanians are fast forgetting our recent history to the extent of distorting it.
I thought that there was something to be done immediately to rescue such a shameful situation. It was with that background that I set up for research to write on Mwalimu so that the young generation should understand the role Mwalimu played in making them boldly and firmly stand before the world and call themselves 'Tanzanians.'
The aim of the Catholic Church to bestow him the sainthood is rooted in what he did for the entire country. For the old generation, I thought by this work they will be awakened to stand and praise this hero because it is through his philosophies that there is equality amongst us.
That had it not been Mwalimu, there could be classes and few could have enjoyed the national cake while the majority remained suffering as they did during colonialism. This is what prompted me to write on Mwalimu. Sainthood is symbolic and an everlasting pillar to Tanzanians and not to Mwalimu himself.
As I describe in that book, the book is intended among others, to stimulate other people to make a thorough research on Mwalimu's mission to Tanzanians and how successful he has been. It is said that the book has not exhausted Mwalimu's mission in all dimensions.
Few have been put forward to make people appreciate what Mwalimu did for them, contrary to the way he was being portrayed after the Catholic Church had announced the process towards his beautification.
Q: Was really Mwalimu Nyerere a man of the people and what more do you know about him?
A: Yes, he was indeed for the people, for Tanzanians, for Africa, for the world. Mwalimu was all the time on the side of the oppressed majority. His efforts and aim and basically his political career and motive were how to raise a society of equals.
His only enjoyment and dream was to see a world of equals. At his deathbed, his last words were, "I am dying, leaving behind my beloved Tanzanians." He never thought of his own family at the deathbed. To him Tanzanians were his family.
These were his last words. What kind of a fatherly love!! At the South African National Assembly he declared his pride to be called 'African.' See him at Commonwealth Summit he declares to the world to make sure that the wealth of the western country should be shared equally with the third world countries, because they contributed immensely to the wealth in the Western. What a bold position!
Mwalimu preached what he personally practised. During his lifetime I managed to visit him at his Mwitongo village. We found him farming using a hand hoe and we could not stop him until the time he had planned clocked. At his home he invited us to his personal library where we could observe current journals, books and literatures.
He said to us "even if I am now a farmer, a pensioner and a 'Mzee,' I need to be current on what is happening to the world. See whenever I get time to travel I pass through bookshops to see whether I can obtain something worth reading."
A humble man! Mwalimu was called by his ten cell leader to attend a village meeting and he would do so. At the meeting he would sit listening to the ideas put forward and would at a later stage raise his hand and contribute to the point as other villagers did.
At Msasani he would visit his neighbours, the 'machinga' who were thought by others to be of inferior rank. He would play 'bao' with them and enjoy a cup of locally made coffee with them. I wonder as to whether today we have a statesman who can do that.
I tend to believe that if anyone who has no biasness and who has the sense of humanity will appreciate that Mwalimu through the Arusha Declaration doctrine and its subsequent literatures was a philosopher. It is unfortunate that the young generation does not take time to go through the doctrine, but it is our belief that one time they will read it and at that point things will turn around!!
Another issue which I managed to witness myself is Mwalimu unlike other statesmen was of no appointment. You would visit him and ask to talk to him at any moment provided you get permission to get in. It was upon receiving you he would ask who you are and from there you would start the discussion.
Q: How many books have you published so far? What are they?
A: As I said earlier, I have been all the time involved in writing professional papers and assisting the society as a consultant. In my career I have managed to write two books namely "Julius Kambarage Nyerere: Falsafa zake na Dhana ya Utakatifu" and that of "Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete: Ahadi Wakati wa Kampeni na Siku Tisini za Kwanza"
Q: Who funds the printing costs of your publications?
A: The costs for printing are born by myself. This reminds me something. I tend to believe that it might be true that many Tanzanians have issues worth writing for the purpose of informing the society, but the stumbling block might be this aspect of who to fund the publication. During the process of research of two books and then writing the book I drained all the money I had.
I approached many individuals and institutions to see the logic contained in the manuscripts and asked them for assistance to publish them but no one could assist. Due to the efforts I had already incurred during research I approached the bank and obtained the personal loan which enabled me to incur costs of publishing in anticipation that accrued from the sales would pay the loans.
Thanks to the intervention made by HAKIELIMU to fund some of the cost for publication of the second book of "Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete: Ahadi Wakati wa Kampeni na Siku Tisini za Kwanza" I managed to publish few copies of those two books, but surprisingly the sale was not as anticipated. Encouraging enough for the few copies which were sold people were responding positively to the books and were asking for production of more copies.
Together with that encouragement I have no funds to reprint the books though people including Members of Parliament, Public Servant, Scholars and researchers have suggested the books to be adopted by the Ministry of Education and Culture as reference books.
Again, people have asked for Mwalimu's book to be translated into English and if possible, French. I agree that Tanzanians are not good readers but as I said earlier our intentions were to have Tanzanians know Mwalimu. The issue of translating the book into other languages is welcome and brilliant, but as we pointed out I am a public servant and have little time to translate.
I call upon people with good will to sponsor the translation of the book so that the work of Mwalimu can be exposed to the international discourse. Q: Where is the market for your publications? A: The intended market was the entire country. But currently I have no specific market centres.
You know it is one thing to compose an idea and write on it, but is another thing to market that product. This needs another specialty of market strategies. As I have already pointed out as a public servant I have no time to strategise on the market. I am sure vendors are on the market and here are good products for sale, we welcome them to take up the challenge.
Q: It is undeniable fact that, in recent years the reading culture among Tanzanian youth is declining. How do you describe the situation and what measures should be taken to reverse the trend? Do you have any special call to the government and parents in regard to this reading culture drop?
A: As I pointed out earlier reading and writing culture to many of us was brought in during our upbringing. When I was a young boy at school we used to have a library which was opened every Friday of each week if I remember well. Students were being encouraged to go to the library for reading any book of your choice and return it to the librarian or borrow it for a week.
We as students were challenging each other for borrowing different books and reading them. It was proud for us to face the teacher and tell him about the book you borrowed. Also it was proud to other students to show the list of books you have borrowed and returned to the librarian in a month or so.
It was through that that the learning culture was brought into students' minds in that way molding future readers and writers. Today, there are no libraries, students have embarked on reading uncalled for newspapers and watching television throughout. That is we can build a reading and writing culture among our societies. I challenge all who are concerned on this matter to reverse the trend.
We should train our young generation to develop a reading culture. Let us establish libraries at schools and entice our children to visit them, else if we lose that culture, we should also be prepared to lose our valuable culture because the pen does speak louder and for generations to come.
I remember my father used to see me reading some books and at a certain point he would intervene when my mother was asking me to do so many things to help with house chores. He used to say to her "why don't you let that be done by somebody who is lazy?
At least this one is reading for himself". I do not say that we should disobey parents' orders but parents have obligation of challenging their children on the reading culture.
Q: As a civil servant, how do you get time to research and write those books.
A: As I said earlier, writing, reading and researching, once they are inculcated in you, you will be obliged to fulfil them. As a public servant much of my time is dedicated to office assignments which are also quite demanding. However, such assignments do not deny one private time.
It is during my private time that I develop ideas, gather information and write on those ideas. When writing about Mwalimu, I used my vacation time which had accumulated to a good number of days and started research almost all over the country. It is an usual practice to sacrifice a portion of my sleep, I wake up at 2:00 am and start writing on the developed ideas. It is through that way that I have managed to write books and papers.
A good example is that when I have an idea, after office hours, it is normal to spend an hour or so at the University of Dar es Salaam library, reading a certain literature before dropping home for a rest. As it is known to most of social scientists, any social work is a contribution of many people.
The book about Mwalimu is a result of individuals and institutions who contributed immensely during our research. They gave out ideas; some who worked with Mwalimu in different ways gave their own testimony about him.
The literatures we saw were the work of researchers who wrote, testifying his philosophies and their application to us and how they shaped the world in different ways. I pray to Tanzanians and individual who have good wishes for Mwalimu and his work to us to enable us reprint book.
It is our wish that our people especially the young generation do understand him and acknowledge the work he did to us. We believe that by their understanding they will be able to know the history of Tanzania, the country they are proud of.
As one of the high ranking government officials commented on the book, the book is neither religious nor political; it is the Tanzanian community book. We do agree with the comment. We are of the opinion that the Catholic Church has shown a way of its intention to bestow to Mwalimu its highest title; sainthood.