Kenya-Tanzania Diplomatic Spat Was Unnecessary

Published on 30th March 2015

Presidents Kikwete (L) and Kenyatta (R)
I don’t need to repeat what transpired when Kenya banned Tanzania’s vehicles from accessing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Tanzania reciprocated by reducing Kenya Airways’ trips to Dar Es Salaam from 42 to 14 a week. By whatever standards, the moves by two countries were totally counterproductive and economically unviable. Thanks to the wisdom of the presidents of the respective countries, the differences were ironed out timely and constructively.

We need one another. Shunning one another won’t do us good. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “We need to live together as brothers all die together as fools.” Our regional integration won’t succeed if each country members cling to their narrow views of the future. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere used to say that if African countries keep on thinking individually, they would be doomed. Our nationalities are nothing but a colonial creation. We need to seek our true nationality that is African. Selfishness and a better-than- thou mentality must be avoided at all costs.  We need to cultivate the spirit of negotiating, mediating and compromising whenever differences (which are natural) surface.

We tend to blame colonizers for all our miseries for no reason sometimes.  Instead of thinking about coming together, we’re easily falling prey to redundant divisions based on trivial matters. Conflict among human beings, countries, even animals is a normal thing and inevitable. Instead of using conflict destructively, we need to learn how to use it constructively so that we can forge ahead without harming our relationships and economies. While conflict is unavoidable, it can be productively used to strengthen our relationship and create opportunities.

We need to have economic sense of doing things based on the realities of today. Currently, China is an upcoming global force thanks to her clout in doing business with the world. We can’t improve the lives of our people by avoiding or ostracising one another. This is why the total unification of East Africa – and ultimately Africa based on equality and equity –is sine quo non.

We tend to blame our former colonial masters for exploiting us and dividing our continent. Again, who’s preventing us from reuniting? The answer is obvious: our narrow mindedness and selfishness. I wonder. How much money do we spend hopelessly purchasing weapons for fear of our neighbours? It has is more difficult for Africans to travel in Africa than in Europe or America.  Why’d it be likelier and easier, say, for Tanzania to create more jobs for Chinese through trading with China than doing so for Kenyans and vice versa?

By Nkwazi Mhango

Author of Saa ya Ukombozi, Nyuma ya Pazia (published in Cameroon) and Peace and Conflict scholar based in Canada.

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