I spent a better part of last week discussing the questions of leadership with a group of ambitious young politicians. One of the persistent questions I put across to some of these guys is that...why do you want to lead? Is it just an urge to be upfront or you want to do something with the position that you are seeking? And, thinking through our challenges as a country, what is it that you are offering as solutions?
I want to put across some very real [immediate] challenges that would require creative leadership to overcome. Think of Dar es Salaam. And think of the combination of the following challenges:
1. Ruvu river, which is the main water source for Dar es Salaam, is decreasing in flow at the rate of 6-9 per cent per year. The next big crisis in Dar will be over water (actually we are starting to see it already)
2. At the same time, Dar es Salaam adds more than 200 new inhabitants per day. Slums are expanding, and rents in slums are skyrocketing. At the moment, Kariakoo day labourers and other unemployed pay 300 shillings to sleep overnight in someone's corridor in Kariakoo.(Fact: in all the cities in the world, Dar es Salaam is the 18th fastest growing. The first in the world is Kigali - but these guys in Rwanda have deliberately decided to urbanise the country. For us, it just happens)
3. 60 percent of Dar es Salaam dwellers are under-30, majority of them with high aspirations but no work.
4. 70 - 80 percent of Dar dwellers use charcoal as a source of cooking energy. At the same time, over the last 15 years, we have cut down 20 million acres of forests and therefore charcoal is becoming expensive (30,000 - 35,000 shillings per bag now), with no energy alternative for the urban poor. (Our energy crisis will be over the unavailability of charcoal).
5. A civilised society is determined by the manner in which it disposes its garbage. Every piece of land in Dar is now expensive, and since we are going to be churning out hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage per day, we are going to be hard pressed for spaces for "dampos". Incineration is costly because of the cost of power per kilowatt. Where and how do we dispose our garbage?
6. We can [structurally] sort out the transportation issues in Dar (with rapid transit buses, over-passes, better traffic policing, etc), but our city has no "soul" (perhaps because of its "balkanisation"), and therefore we cannot act as a community to tackle common challenges as other cities in the world do. Creative leadership is needed to "bring the city together" and make its dwellers feel as one. How do you do that?
....anyway, we could go on...but the point I was making to these guys (most of them Dar es Salaam dwellers) is that if you are thinking about being a leader, you should at least (minimally) reflect on the challenges of the community in which you reside (which is Dar es Salaam) and think through the solutions to those challenges. Other things (Buzwagi, etc) that our MPs fret about are important: but you start with the problems of your community. So, what are your solutions?
Levels of the social
5 days ago