But let’s keep dat­ing, and not talk about… guns

The East African - - OPINION -

It was while wit­ness­ing an ar­gu­ment be­tween two gen­tle­men about the size of their re­spec­tive mil­i­taries that I re­alised why I am so ex­as­per­ated by the East African in­te­gra­tion pro­ject. There I was, hav­ing stated some of my mis­giv­ings and anx­i­eties only to end up be­ing asked in­del­i­cate ques­tions about why “Tan­za­ni­ans are scared of the Union” and other hos­tile en­coun­ters.

This, my dears, is not how one wins over an in­formed scep­tic. Any politi­cian worth their salt will tell you that the “hearts and minds” ap­proach to bring­ing peo­ple over to your point of view is crit­i­cal for mo­men­tum.

I don’t re­ally mind the East African Com­mu­nity, it is bet­ter than the African Union in many ways (this col­umn re­sides in a pro-eac pa­per). It is just that I am not con­vinced about the po­lit­i­cal fed­er­a­tion bit and do not un­der­stand the hurry.

There are many ben­e­fits to co-or­di­nat­ing our­selves re­gion­ally, rang­ing from se­cu­rity and in­creased tourism revenue and in­fra­struc­ture to po­ten­tial so­cial ben­e­fits like ac­cess to each other’s’ as­sets be it in ed­u­ca­tion, health ser­vices, the cul­tural and en­ter­tain­ment sec­tors, at­tract­ing mas­sive FDI, etc.

As a fan of open bor­ders I don’t be­lieve for a minute that there is such a thing as “steal­ing” a job in any coun­try at any time. If we have de­signed a world where cap­i­tal can move so freely across bor­ders to gen­er­ate profit, then peo­ple cer­tainly should do so too and gen­er­ate in­creased hu­man wel­fare.

This is where I can be bru­tal about com­pe­ti­tion: I like mer­i­toc­racy. If we prac­tised it to re­cruit for our civil ser­vice here in Tan­za­nia in­stead of pul­ing about whether the CEOS of pri­vate com­pa­nies come from this place or that, we wouldn’t be con­stantly fail­ing our own po­ten­tial.

Rather than a com­pet­i­tive and an­tag­o­nis­tic

As an in­formed scep­tic who will al­ways put Tan­za­nia first, I’ll wait for when the con­ver­sa­tion turns ma­ture, invit­ing and per­sua­sive

view of the Com­mu­nity, I tend to dwell on the com­mu­nity part of the en­deav­our. Our di­ver­si­ties is one of the as­sets that I think we don’t ex­plore nearly enough. An­other is our youth: We are sit­ting on a gen­er­a­tion full of greatnes.

Just re­cently, I was in Arusha watch­ing a col­lec­tion of young East Africans at­tend­ing a sum­mit. This is the kind of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.