Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mwembechai Killings

Mwembechai killings: "Difficult problems, Easy answers"
In every man’s past there are things which a man would not admit to anyone, except to his closest friends. There are things too which a man would not admit even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in strictest confidence. But there are other things which a man would not admit even to himself, and every decent man has quite an accumulation of such things...
Notes from Underground
This book takes as its central concern to look at the killings which took place outside the Mwembechai mosque on 13 February 1998 not as a cause, but as a clear manifestation of a simmering political crisis in our country. Many decent Tanzanians are likely to find the details given in this book extremely difficult to accept even in their own hearts, not because they are untrue, but because they are painful. The tendency to cherish fond illusions and to suppress ugly realities is virtually universal. In 1992 I met in Kuala Lumpur a Malay old man who told me that he had two young wives and that he was at that time 80 years old. When I expressed my surprise that he was so advanced in age, he rebuked and educated me: "Never ever say so and so is old. Old age is an attitude of mind; it is how you feel. If you feel old you are old irrespective of your chronological age. I personally feel very young. The most you can say about me is that I am experienced." Comforting illusions. The ugly implications of old age and the chilling consciousness of mortality are quite unsettling. Many old men and women would like to believe, and to be told that they are young or at least that they look young. And such is the power of self-deception that people will go to great lengths to suppress the evidence of old age by artificially removing the wrinkles and painting the hair.
There was a time when, Tanzania as a nation was also young, beautiful and highly promising. This was a time when Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere even before Tanganyika’s independence had expressed not his intention but the intention of the people of Tanganyika to light a candle and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa as a shining symbol and example to the rest of the world of the commitment and grim determination of Tanganyikans to build a just and vibrant society. A society whose testimony by example would shine beyond her borders inspiring ‘hope where there was despair, love where there was hate and dignity where before there was only humiliation.’ The wording of Tanganyika’s lofty declaration of intent echoes, and is patterned after, the following famous prayer of a Roman Catholic saint, Francis of Assisi who prayed: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is sadness, joy; where there is darkness, light.’
The fact that Mwalimu Nyerere modelled Tanganyika’s national ideal after the prayer of a Roman Catholic saint inspired both hope and fear. It enkindled the hope that Nyerere and his team of leaders would be as dedicated as saint Francis was in translating the dream into reality. It also awakened the fear that Nyerere was so profoundly influenced by the teachings of his church that he might consider its doctrines and ideals as necessarily coinciding with those of independent Tanganyika. In the following pages I attempt to show that this fear was not unjustified. At this point I shall give an example or two. In an interview with the Christian Century of March 1, 1972, Mwalimu Nyerere was quoted as saying that his efforts to build African socialism in Tanzania represented his determination to translate in practical terms the teachings contained in The Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is wrong with that? I do not think there is anything wrong with implementing the political and economic teachings of Jesus Christ at a national level, so long as those teachings are consonant with the aspirations of the nation. In this particular case, like in the case of adapting the prayer of St. Francis above, the problem lies in the principle employed not in the details. It is wrong to use the Christian Gospels to guide the political and economic course of an avowedly secular state, even if in many instances the aspirations of the two may coincide. I am not saying it is inherently wrong to use religious books to guide the nation, I am only saying that at present it is constitutionally wrong to do so. We may debate, and I suggest that we should debate the whole concept of secularism, its attractions and its disabilities. We may as a nation reject it. Only then can we use our religious books as guidelines.
A more serious problem arises when an attempt is also made to implement those Roman Catholic doctrines which clash with our national goals. A case in point is the long-standing doctrine: extra ecclesiam nulla salus "outside the church there is no salvation". Since Vatican II (1964) this doctrine is no longer officially upheld by the Roman Catholic church. In practice it meant that both in religion and politics good people were only those Roman Catholics who unswervingly adhered to the teachings of Christianity as presented by the hierarchical church. In public Mwalimu Nyerere was a fierce defender of secularism. It is therefore quite disturbing to learn that in private he championed the sectional interests of his own church. In 1970 Nyerere invited to the State House the then Secretary General of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, Fr. Robert Rweyemamu and the Pope’s Representative to Tanzania Mgr. Giovano Cerrano. Among other things Nyerere told his guests that he was doing every thing in his power to strengthen Catholicism in the country. He also requested them to go and inform the Bishops that he had established a Department of Political Education in TANU (the ruling and only political party at that time), and that he had appointed a Christian Reverend to head that department, not because of his competence as a political analyst, but because of his strong faith as a Christian. His responsibility was to guide and control the political direction of the party. He also informed them that in the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) two members were Reverends. He said he believed that was the best way of ensuring that the party got good people(van Bergen, 1981:333-336).
It is quite obvious that by "good people" Mwalimu Nyerere meant Christians in general and Roman Catholics in particular. It is not surprising therefore that Sivalon (1992:49) reports that in the same year 1970 Roman Catholics could boast that they constituted 70% of the 75% elected Christian members of Parliament. Out of the 108 elected Members of Parliament, 23 were Muslim, 5 Traditionalist and 80 Christian. Throughout his rule Nyerere was both President and Chairman of the ruling Party. His promise to strengthen Catholicism was not an empty one. Catholics could now use Parliament to promote their religious interests if they so wished.
Another area which is likely to generate political problems concerns the rules which Roman Catholics are supposed to follow when it comes to thinking with reference to their church. Among the "Rules for Thinking with the Church" outlined by St. Ignatius of Loyola rule number one says: "Laying aside all private judgment, we ought to hold our minds prepared and prompt to obey in all things the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church", and rule number thirteen says, "To arrive at the truth in all things, we ought always to be ready to believe that what seems to us white is black, if the hierarchical church so defines it..." (Longridge, 1922:197,199). In his book referred to above, Sivalon (1992) says the Roman Catholic church in Tanzania had established a Department whose primary task was to fight both, communists and Muslims in Tanzania. Between 1959 and 1966 Fr. Schildknecht was the Director who headed this department. What is of interest for us here is the fact that in its report the church noted that Islam was growing very fast in Tanzania, and that the growth of Islam would greatly weaken Christianity. The church was particularly worried by the unity and organisational capacity of Muslims under the East African Muslim Welfare Society (1992:35-37). Because the church said the EAMWS was dangerous in that it would weaken Christianity, it had to be so. Mwalimu Nyerere used his political powers to ban this legitimate organisation, to confiscate all its properties and to impose on the Muslims a puppet organisation, BAKWATA. As its name suggests, the EAMWS was a welfare organisation whose primary objective was to provide education and health services. The intellectual brilliance of Mwalimu Nyerere is well-known, and so is his sense of social justice. But Nyerere was also a sincere Roman Catholic. He could not pick and choose what to follow and what to reject in his faith.
The Mwembechai killings followed a similar pattern. Father Camillius Lwambano of the Mburahati parish claimed that he passed at Mwembechai mosque and heard Muslims ridiculing Jesus Christ. It was later established, after the police had opened fire and killed at least four unarmed Muslims and maimed several others, that this claim by Father Lwambano was, after all, a sheer fabrication. As I am writing this book, almost two years after the killings, our government has yet to form a team to probe the killings despite repeated requests from many concerned Tanzanians across the religious divide.
I do not know if there is any serious observer of Tanzania’s political history who can deny the commitment and sacrifice of Tanzanians to the freedom fighters of Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, and even beyond Africa. In this regard Tanzania has indeed provided a shining example to the rest of the world, and has deservedly won the respect and admiration of many countries. That admirable aspect of our national history is not the focus of the present study. My interest here is to encourage my fellow country men and women to have the courage to confront the odious side of our political history. A political history of religious discrimination against Muslims. The unstated but effective policy of marginalising Muslims in education, employment and political appointments is not of recent origin. It began and was firmly entrenched during the twenty five years of Mwalimu Nyerere’s political rule. And I believe unless this problem is openly addressed Tanzania may also find itself engulfed in civil strife.
Multiple interpretations of the problem
On the political future of our country many Tanzanians irrespective of their religious affiliation seem to agree on two things: that there are deep undercurrents which threaten the country’s social cohesion and political stability; and that urgent measures be taken to arrest the situation. And as far as I am aware, our consensus ends there. We think differently about the causes of, and the solution to our political predicament. Considering the complexity of the problem and the enormous political price we may have to pay for a wrong diagnosis, it would be quite unfair to expect or to press for a uniform interpretation. There are at least four competing explanations: Tanzania’s political stability is being undermined by (a) the collapse of socialism as a national philosophy; (b) the rise of Islamic fundamentalism; (c) religious animosities engendered by Muslim public lectures; and (d) social injustice and religious discrimination against Muslims. 
(a) The collapse of socialism as a national philosophy
Although political tension in Tanzania is manifesting itself in religious undertones, its actual root-cause is economic, and its real solution lies in the economic empowerment of the people. It is not coincidental that Muslim public lectures began in the mid 1980s a period which corresponds with Tanzania’s official shift from socialist policies to economic liberalisation. Since Tanzania has, especially beginning with President Mwinyi’s era abandoned socialism, the only ideology capable of guaranteeing economic progress, freedom and justice to all, many poor people are psychologically frustrated as a result of the economic miseries they experience under liberalisation. Left with no hope for the future in this world, these poor souls turn to religion for solace and for hope at least in the world to come. Because of their deep-seated economic frustrations and their ignorance, this group can easily be manipulated to divert its fury from the real enemy which is capitalism to a racial, ethnic or religious "other". And this is precisely what is happening in Tanzania.
This explanation has its appeal and has attracted several first class minds in Tanzania. This, for example, used to be a favourite interpretation of the late Dr. Jumanne Wagao, who until his death was serving as economic advisor to Mwalimu Nyerere. Professor Sam Maghimbi, one of the leading sociologists in the country , also seems to subscribe to this view. The only difference though is that Maghimbi does not attribute the problems to the collapse of socialism but to the harsh realities of poverty and squalid living conditions irrespective of ideology. Despite its attraction, this explanation is unsatisfactory. While appearing to analyse the Tanzanian society, this explanation is actually merely restating the Marxist theories of social progress without sifting the facts on the ground. Why did socialism, the panacea of Tanzania’s all socio-economic ills, collapse in the first place? If the real cause of the problem is purely economic why should it affect and find its bitterest expression only from the Muslims? This theory can only stand if it is assumed that it is the Muslims who constitute the vast majority of the poor, or to use the Marxist jargon, the lumpen proletariat . Even then it leaves open the question as to why the majority of the poor are Muslims. To be sure, poverty is a serious problem in Tanzania, a country which enjoys the unenviable distinction of being among the poorest in the world. But I believe to blame the looming political crisis in our country on poverty is dangerously misleading. 
(b) The rise of Islamic fundamentalism
According to this view, Tanzania’s stability is being endangered by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the country. Islamic fundamentalism is dangerous because it is actually being used not as a means of religious revival or spiritual recharge but rather as a strong political resource at the hands of selfish power-hungry individuals. These deceitful people under the garb of religious leaders succeed in their endeavours largely because of the ignorance and gullibility of the masses. Jenerali T. K. Ulimwengu, a famous political analyst in the country, is one of the proponents of this view. In his address to the UNESCO-sponsored colloquium on the "Culture of Peace", Ulimwengu has been quoted by Ambali (1999:7) as saying:
Tanzania, which prides itself on the relative peace it has enjoyed in the midst of conflict-torn countries, cannot afford to sit on its laurels, precisely because there is every indication that there are forces working to undermine the existing state of tranquility, and one of these forces has a religious facade, even if its real nature is political...These are the ones who use their clerical status to obtain material wealth or otherwise profit from the total confidence of the multitude of poor souls who, unable to see through their trickery, believe they can achieve deliverance with the help of these crooks. It is this type of unquestioning loyalty and trust that is cynically exploited by these con artists in robes and collars when they decide to place their considerable power at the service of political effort. Many a country in the world has known terrible suffering because of the irresponsibility of these dangerous elements
This being the case, the solution is to identify, arrest and punish all irresponsible "crooks". To a very large extent the government has often taken this line of action, when it came to dealing with Muslim leaders and a completely different approach when it dealt with Christian "crooks". This theory is also inadequate because its premises are not true. Like any other group, Muslims in Tanzania have their weaknesses, but unquestioning loyalty to leaders, be they religious or political is not one of them. Even if we assume, for the sake of argument that Muslims are indeed blind followers of their religious leaders, this explanation does not tell us why Muslims are so easily amenable to influence. Is it because they are exceedingly ignorant? But why should ignorance coincide with religious affiliation? If Muslims are so easily deceivable, why should their credulity be so selective; being credulous to their religious "crooks" but very critical of their political leaders?
The prescription proposed by this point of view has so far failed precisely because the diagnosis is wrong. In 1993 Tanzanians were told "mzizi wa fitina" which in Kiswahili means the root-cause of the problem was the late Sheikh Kassim bin Juma of the Kwamtoro mosque. He was arrested, denied bail and died several months after his release. Later we were told the trouble shooter was Sheikh Shaaban Magezi of Mwembechai mosque, and then Sheikh Omar Bashir. Later the police discovered that in fact the real engineer was Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda and called upon all peace-loving citizens to help the police in facilitating his arrest. Sheikh Ponda has since gone underground. As I am writing this book Tanzanians are being told that the problem is Sheikh Juma Mbukuzi of Mujahidun mosque, and has now been arrested! To use the words of Professor Issa G. Shivji who has always been very critical of using what he calls "police methods" to address political problems, "You can arrest Muslim leaders, but you cannot arrest social problems." Jenerali Ulimwengu’s analysis quoted above was made before the Mwembechai killings. It appears that even Ulimwengu has significantly shifted his position after witnessing the government’s dependence on police methods during the Mwembechai saga. The title of this chapter is an English translation of a Kiswahili title: Maswali magumu, Majibu Rahisi written by Jenerali Ulimwengu in his weekly column in RAI (September 3-9, 1998). In that column and the subsequent one, Ulimwengu was very critical of how our society was giving very shallow answers to highly complicated problems. 
(c) Muslim public lecturers
The most popular view, as far as newspapers are concerned, is that our country is slowly but surely being pushed into the abyss of civil strife by a small group of Muslim preachers who openly instigate religious hatred in the country. To pretend that the problem is too complex to understand or to solve would not help us. The problem is staring at us in the face and is acknowledged by all serious-minded people. What is lacking is the courage to take the necessary measures. For unknown reasons this was particularly so during President Mwinyi’s era. Muslims and Christians in Tanzania have enjoyed a long-standing history of religious harmony because they have always respected each other’s faith. Suddenly from the mid 1980s a band of Muslim preachers began preaching Islam using the Christian Bible. In the process of doing so they have been pouring scorn on Christians and their religion. Under such circumstances, quite predictably, the esteem of Christians for Islam and Muslims would also be adversely affected. To allow a group of people to ridicule and revile another group is unconstitutional, immoral and politically dangerous. If we do not attack the crocodile at the bank of the river it will be extremely difficult to do so in the middle of the river.
This view is extremely popular because its logic is unassailable. But unfortunately it is also the most misleading. It is misleading not because it is deficient in argument, but because it is superfluous; it is attacking a straw man. The Muslim preachers who are accused of sowing seeds of discord in society are also fiercely opposed to the use of disrespectful language. Anyone who has actually attended these open air public lectures from August l984 when they began to the present cannot fail to notice several things: (a) the large attendance of Christians, (b) the friendly atmosphere surrounding the Christian-Muslim dialogue, and (c) the number of Christians who are embracing Islam. What do Muslims stand to gain by ridiculing Christians? May be psychological satisfaction. But why should an insulted person accept Islam? And why are Christians always flocking to these public lectures? To enjoy the insults? The fact of the matter is that these lectures disturb the clergy because their followers are joining another faith. And they want the government to act on their behalf. Muslims should be prevented from preaching to their followers.
In June 1981 the Muslim Students Association of the University of Dar -es-Salaam (MSAUD) organised an international seminar on Zakat. At that time I was the Secretary General of MSAUD. Among the invited speakers was Sheikh Ahmed Deedat from South Africa, a well-known Muslim scholar of the Christian Bible. He gave his first public talk on "Muhammad in the Bible" at the Lumumba Hall in the City. Immediately after the lecture six young Christians embraced Islam, three of whom were Roman Catholic seminarians. That was a Thursday Sheikh Deedat was scheduled to present his second public talk at the Diamond Jubilee Hall on the following Sunday. On Friday the late Sheikh Mohammed Ali who was at that time the Secretary General of the Supreme Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA), received a letter jointly written by the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) and the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT). The letter requested him as a matter of urgency to do everything in his power to prevent Sheikh Ahmed Deedat from giving his second public talk for the sake of peace and harmony in our society. But more importantly, the letter suggested two alternatives: Sheikh Deedat could make a public talk but not on comparative religion; or he could go ahead and deliver the same topic but inside a mosque. But since Ahmed Deedat was a guest of MSAUD Sheikh Mohammed Ali had no alternative but to plead with us to heed the request from the churches. When we refused, Sheikh Mohammed Ali was visibly worried. He said, "You are too young to know the power and intrigues of church leaders in this country. I can assure you by now this matter is already being handled by the government. We may face reprisals. This is not a request, it is an order." We refused. He took the matter to the First Vice President, at that time Alhaj Aboud Jumbe and requested him to impress upon us the danger of going ahead with the public talk. Jumbe said that so long as we were breaking no law, he saw no reason of forcing us to cancel the talk. We were very much relieved and the talk went ahead. Again four Christians embraced Islam there and then. Way back in 1981 church leaders were worried and attempted to block Ahmed Deedat, not because he insulted Christians but because he attracted them to Islam. It is not surprising therefore that when in 1993 President Mwinyi invited Muslim and Christian leaders to the State House, the church leaders could neither substantiate nor define the insults. And as was the case in 1981, even today Muslims are told to deliver their lectures in the mosques not in public grounds. Will Tanzania be a better place to live if Muslims are allowed to foment religious hatred in the mosques? 
(d) Social injustice and religious discrimination against Muslims
The argument in this book is that the conflict in Tanzania is not between Muslims and Christians but between Muslims and the government. The problem is neither inter-religious nor horizontal but political and vertical. In all political regimes, Muslims have repeatedly pointed out, with evidence, that they are being discriminated against. But before examining that evidence it is important to appreciate the magnitude and complexity of the problem. Although the problem is politicaland not religious, yet it seems to me that there is a wide perceptual gulf between how Muslims and Christians look at the problem. This religious polarisation has encouraged some people to draw a wrong inference: that the problem lies in the worsening of Christian-Muslim relations. Of course it is perfectly legitimate for intelligent people to come out with different interpretations from the same data. But why should there be a general correspondence between intellectual interpretation and religious affiliation? This shows that we are not dealing with a simple problem. 
The complexity and magnitude of the problem
There are factors which make Muslims and Christians who live in the same country have different views about the same problem. These factors have nothing to do with religion. They include: different sets of experiences; the loathsome implications of change; the lure of present gain versus future pain; and errors of commission versus errors of omission. 
Different sets of experiences
One’s judgment cannot be better than the information upon which one bases that judgment. There is a lot of significant information which is available to the majority of Muslims but which is inaccessible to the majority of Christians. As a result of the different sets of experiences an intelligent Christian, without being affected by any traces of religious prejudice may sincerely believe that Muslims are being dishonest when they claim that they are unfairly treated. A Muslim on the other hand cannot understand how any fair-minded person can fail to see the injustices perpetrated against Muslims in the country.
Let me give an example which happened in 1984. In August of that year a Christian friend who was at that time a Lecturer in the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Dar-es-Salaam stormed into my office with a Kiswahili daily newspaper and wanted to know whether it was really true that Muslims in the various parts of the country were calling for Jihad against the government. I told him that although the newspaper story was highly distorted, it was indeed true that Muslim anger against the government had reached dangerous proportions and that many people were calling upon the Muslims to rise against the government. But at that time the story was several months old! My friend was amazed because as a political analyst he thought he kept himself abreast with all the events in the country.
The actual event which triggered Muslim anger occurred at Buzuruga village, in Mwanza. The leaders of the vigilante groups popularly known asSungusungu were preparing a huge annual ceremony to introduce and officially install the regional leaders of the vigilante groups. Everyone was required to participate in the ceremonies. Unfortunately, the ceremonies involved many elements which were religiously unacceptable to the Muslims because they were polytheistic. They included sun-worshipping, dressing codes which required men and women to bare their chests and to mingle freely during the ceremonies, the serving of un-Islamically slaughtered meat and alcoholic drinks , and the compulsory use of Traditional prayers. And the time of beginning the ceremony coincided with the beginning of the Muslim dawn prayers. Muslims objected. They said they would participate in the day-to-day activities of self-defence but their religious conviction disallowed them from attending and participating in the ceremonies. Sungusungu leaders were furious. They declared that anyone who would absent himself or herself would be dealt with severely. Muslims reported the matter to Party and government officials and appealed for their intervention. The response of the government at the district level was that Muslims should not make a mountain out of an anthill. Even if the ceremonies were religiously unlawful in Islam, Muslims should participate because the ceremonies were being held only once a year, and they would last only a few hours. Unsatisfied with this response, Muslims presented the matter to the regional authorities who promised to handle it before the ceremonies. They did not. The important day arrived, and Muslims instead of going to the ceremonies went to the mosque. True to their word, Sungusungu members entered into the Buzuruga mosque, desecrated it, vandalised the copies of the Holy Qur’an, and severely tortured Sheikh Daudi who died several months later.
The government not only refrained from taking any legal measures against the culprits who were all known, but suppressed the story. And by suppressing it the government was merely denying this information to the non-Muslims. Within a few days the story accompanied with fiery sermons of righteous indignation had hit the pulpits of almost all mosques in the country. Muslim delegates from as far as Kigoma were flocking to Buzuruga to console their fellow Muslims and to express their solidarity. As tension was mounting, the government decided to use Mufti Hemed bin Juma bin Hemed to cool the tempers of the Muslims. He went to Mwanza in a government plane accompanied by Hon. Rashidi Kawawa, who was at that time the Secretary General of CCM and Minister of State without portfolio. He went to Buzuruga and consoled the Muslims and assured them that he would present the matter to the President. Muslims showed him how the mosque and the copies of the Qur’an were desecrated. Sheikh Daudi showed him his scars. Mufti Hemed returned to Dar-es-Salaam and then came the bomb shell. Mufti Hemed denounced the Muslims over the national radio for giving credence to unfounded rumours that Sungusungu members had violated the Qur’an at the Buzuruga mosque. "I went there and talked to the Muslims of Mwanza and I found that the stories being disseminated in the mosques are a sheer fabrication". Since then Muslims of Mwanza have vowed never to allow Mufti Hemed to speak in any mosque of Mwanza. They said they could not bar him from praying, but they would never allow him again to speak after his betrayal in 1984. True to their word ten years later Mufti Hemed was prevented from addressing Muslims in Mwanza. Eight years after the Buzuruga episode, Mufti Hemed revealed in an interview with the An-Nuur reporter that he was ordered by the government to make that statement over the radio. "I was told by security officials and top government leaders that for the sake of national peace and harmony I must deny the Buzuruga story", he said.
Even from this one example it is not difficult to see why the judgement of a Muslim is likely to differ from that of a Christian. For example, from their knowledge and experience Muslims would openly denounce Mufti Hemed who is supposed to be their highest national leader. But it would escape the understanding of a Christian to hear Muslims castigating a learned leader whose only mistake is to advise them not to depend on rumours in their decisions. Any intelligent Christian would certainly side with Mufti Hemed. In fact as recently as January 1999, His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo was quoted in a Catholic newspaper, Kiongozi (24 Dec.- 1 Jan. 1999) as saying that he had a very high regard for Mufti Hemed for his learning, wisdom and piety. This statement came at a time when Mufti Hemed’s standing in the eyes of Muslims was at its lowest ebb. Likewise, to the Muslims, Buzuruga was yet another example where the government had not only deliberately mishandled Muslim grievances, but had also added insult to an injury. The majority of Christians are not even aware that such an event occurred in their country. Or worse still, for those who are aware about the event, Buzuruga is yet another example of Muslims fabricating non-existent injustices, as Mufti Hemed, their leader had said. Muslims know that government interference in their organisations is calculated to disorganise them, the Christians notice that Muslims are often quarelling with their leaders, and assume that they are by nature quarrelsome. This is but one example. Let us look at other examples.
I think very few Christians in Tanzania are aware that Mwalimu Nyerere had specifically instructed leaders of the Supreme Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA) to seek his prior approval before undertaking any project, and before presenting any proposals to the Muslims. And in turn, the Muslims were not allowed to do anything without the approval of BAKWATA. The word "supreme" was not redundant. And yet there is hardly a Muslim in Tanzania who does not know that Nyerere was their supreme but invisible religious leader. I shall illustrate by just one example.
In 1979 a group of enthusiastic young Muslims who were tired of being led by a Roman Catholic staged a successful coup within BAKWATA. They removed Sheikh Saleh Masasi and his team of leaders and installed a new leadership which they thought would promote and defend Muslim interests. Quite ironically, this is how Mufti Hemed initially came to power. In this way they believed they could easily sideline Nyerere. They were mistaken. Nyerere was not the kind of person to be shoved aside that easily. In the meantime the new leadership started to work, of course without seeking Nyerere’s approval. With the help of young Muslims, they launched a highly educative Kiswahili newspaper Muislamu, wrote a new comprehensive syllabus of Islamic knowledge, and started writing teaching manuals. They also wrote a proposal to transform the Kinondoni secondary school into an Islamic seminary. That was in 1981, and at that time Christians had 23 seminaries and Muslims had none. These proposals were tabled to the National Conference and approved. And Kinondoni was transformed into an Islamic seminary. Then Nyerere intervened.
At the Dar-es-Salaam International Airport, in November 1981 as he was leaving for a long tour abroad, Nyerere instructed Aboud Jumbe and Rashidi Kawawa who had gone to see him off, that when he came back he would like to see Kinondoni secondary school had reverted to its former status of a private secondary school. The two leaders had no alternative but to discuss the matter with the BAKWATA leadership. A meeting was held on 29 November, 1981 at Aboud Jumbe’s private residence at Mjimwema and attended by five members: Aboud Jumbe, Rashidi Kawawa, Mustafa Maqboul, Adam Nasibu and Mohammed Ali. The meeting was mainly about how to implement Nyerere’s directive. The new leaders were intimidated, and were prepared to implement Nyerere’s instructions, except Sheikh Mohammed Ali, the Secretary General who said come what may he would never change a decision which was passed by a National Conference. "What shall I tell the Muslims?", he asked. To cut a long story short, Nyerere came back and Kinondoni secondary school was still being run as an Islamic seminary, because Sheikh Mohammed Ali did not want to co-operate. The government provided funds to the co-operating leaders and instructed them to call a national meeting which would expel Sheikh Mohammed Ali from leadership.
As I have said above, at that time I was the Secretary General of MSAUD. The co-operating leaders came to seek the support of our organisation in their campaign to remove Sheikh Mohammed Ali. Sheikh Juma Mikidadi who was at that time BAKWATA’s Secretary of Education, (now Professor Dr. Juma Mikidadi is a Member of Parliament of the Kibiti constituency-CCM) approached MSAUD’s Vice-Chairman, Mr. Ramadhani K. Dau (now Dr. Dau is the Director of Marketing with Tanzania Harbours Authority) and revealed the plan and also that it had the backing of the government. Mr. Dau and I went to see Sheikh Adam Nasibu the then Deputy Secretary General of BAKWATA to verify the story. Nasibu confirmed the plan and sought our support. We told him there and then that we would do everything in our power to disrupt the meeting and to tell the Muslims the truth. We grossly underrated state power. The date of the meeting was announced over the national radio and delegates were promised a lot of money in the form of allowances. The meeting was held at the Ardhi Institute (now University College of Lands and Architectural Studies) in Dar-es-Salaam. The venue was heavily guarded by uniformed and plain clothes policemen. MSAUD and members of the Muslim Writers Workshop (WARSHA) distributed leaflets to inform the Muslims country-wide about the actual designs of the meeting. We saw Muslim delegates being driven to the conference in State House Mercedes Benzes!
The meeting had only one major agenda: Mohammed Ali. Sheikh Mohammed Ali was found guilty of co-operating with irresponsible youths who were bent on disrupting peace and harmony in the country; and of sowing seeds of discord among Muslims. The Chairman of this meeting was none other than Mufti Hemed, who ten years later acknowledged the innocence of Sheikh Mohammed Ali. In the meantime, Sheikh Mohammed Ali was forced to resign. But a day before his resignation, a police officer went to his house in Upanga to counsel him. He was told that the best and most honourable option for him was to resign. If he did not then the police had a way of discovering narcotics in his house!
A few weeks after Sheikh Mohammed Ali’s resignation, Adam Nasibu announced that Kinondoni was an ordinary private school. Muslim parents called a meeting to deliberate on the matter. The meeting was broken down by the Field Force Unit. When Muslims complained they were told the policemen were sent there by Adam Nasibu and not by the government! In the second meeting Sheikh Juma Mikidadi, the Secretary of Education had a difficult time. Angry Muslims denounced him as a hypocrite, and that they did not know Madina University could produce people who hated Islamic teachings. Mikidadi was so provoked that he revealed at that public meeting what was supposed to be a government secret. "Do not be so simple-minded," Mikidadi said. "Do you really believe that I can willingly prevent Muslim students from learning their religion? Do you really believe that?" One Muslim responded, "It is not a matter of believing, we know that this is precisely what you are doing at this school". To which Mikidadi said, "No Muslim can take such a decision. We have been forced by the government. Do you hear, we have been ordered to change the school into a private school." And hell broke loose. Muslims vowed to confront the government. The government dismissed Mikidadi’s utterances as childish, BAKWATA distanced itself from them and Mikidadi himself ended up losing both his temper and his job.
While the majority of Muslims know the above story, many Christians do not. As a result, Christians, even those who are critical of Mwalimu Nyerere, may still have a very high estimation of him. When Muslims criticise Mwalimu Nyerere for allowing Christians to run their religious affairs and for suppressing Muslims, many sincere Christians are likely to dismiss this charge as nonsensical. "How can they accuse Mwalimu of this?" And they might be tempted to conclude that in their judgment Muslims are rather emotional.
The two episodes above took place at a time when Tanzania did not have a vigorous independent press. One might think this was the major contributory factor for Christians’ unawareness. More recent examples suggest otherwise. It is certainly true that the situation is far better now than it was in the early eighties. For example, on 7 August, 1999 when he was addressing a public rally at Mburahati, Dar-es-Salaam, President Mkapa said that female Muslim students had the right to put on Hijab in schools and that no one should harass them. This story was completely suppressed in the government-owned Sunday News of the following day. Despite this suppression Tanzanians were aware of the President’s statement because all other newspapers reported it in their lead stories. Nevertheless, even today, what Christians know is but a small fraction of what their fellow country men and women who are Muslims experience every day. It is like the harassment and humiliations which many women experience at work places. I do not think there is a man who is not aware that women do suffer affronts at work places. But I doubt if there is any man who fully appreciates the extent and magnitude of those indignities. Men only know those few cases which receive publicity in the mass media. And as a result men are likely to treat those few cases as "isolated".
Among the experiences which many Christians are not aware of is the now well-established tradition of harassing Muslim leaders. In his book, The Life and Times of Abdulwahid Sykes Mohamed Said (1998) has given a long list of Muslim sheikhs who were arrested, detained or deported by Mwalimu Nyerere. It is now becoming more and more regular to arrest and release Muslim leaders without charge or trial. The arrests are often done following the Gestapo tradition. In the small hours of the morning a team of fully armed policemen surround the house of a Muslim sheikh and order him to come out. They handcuff him and take him away. And the usual practice is to release him after about 18 hours. When Muslims go to inquire, the standard response given by the police is that the sheikh had committed no offence, they only wanted him to help them carry out their work! Many Christians may know about Chuki Athumani, a 17 year old Muslim student who was wounded by a police gunshot at Mwembechai but who for several weeks could not be treated at the Muhimbili Hospital because the police had permanently enchained his legs and hands at the posts of his hospital bed, and that the young boy has since paralysed. Chuki’s case was reported in the newspapers. But how many Christians know about two Muslim old men, the 78 year old Mzee Chatta and the 80 year old Mzee Katembo? Muslims have composed moving narrative poems about the sufferings of these old men and other Muslims in the country. Many Muslims find it very difficult to hold back tears when their stories are recounted. These old Muslim leaders were arrested in January, 1998 long before the Mwembechai saga. They were held without charge or trial for five months, before they were released in May. While in remand prison they were tortured and ridiculed. Mzee Katembo lost his sanity. They both recounted their ordeal at a large Muslim gathering held at Masjid Nnur Sinza. But because Mzee Katembo’s sanity had already been unhinged, no one could make head or tail of his ravings. His sanity was intact at the time of his arrest. The audio cassettes of their stories were circulated in various parts of the country.
Likewise, few Christians are aware that the government leaders are openly interfering with the day to day affairs of mosques. The Kinondoni DC, Ms. Rita Mlaki a Christian, has on several occasions gone to Masjid Nnur to demand that new leaders be elected! When the persecution of Muslims reached its highest point following the Mwembechai killings, Muslims, in all their congregational prayers used to recite Qunut, a supplication made in times of persecution or adversities. Government leaders intimidated the Imams from making this supplication on the grounds that it incited the Muslims to hate the government. Many Imams ignored the order.
Immediately after their release from remand prison, Muslim women who were arrested at the Mwembechai mosque organised a large meeting at the Diamond Jubilee Hall to reveal the tortures, sexual indignities and religious humiliations they suffered at the hands of the police. The government banned the meeting. Many newspapers criticised the government for preventing Muslim women to reveal the truth. The awareness of Christians ends there. What many Christians do not know is that those women from March 1998 to December 1998 travelled throughout the country to inform fellow Muslims what actually happened at Mwembechai, and what they suffered at the hands of the police, and what they thought was the government attitude towards Muslims in the country. Almost all Muslims are informed of the harrowing ordeal which Muslim women experienced in remand prison which included the routine of male police officers searching for bombs supposedly hidden into the women’s private parts! Out of respect to my readers I spare them the other gory details. At any rate I do not think recounting them serves any useful purpose. One may understand why the government did not want the general public to hear what it was doing against the Muslims.
These are just examples of the discrepancy in information between Muslims and Christians living in the same country. From these different sets of experiences, it would be next to impossible to convince the Muslim that he and his fellow Christian are receiving equal treatment from their government. And likewise, from his knowledge and experience, I do not see how the Christian can acknowledge that there is a pattern of discrimination against Muslims in the country. From the evidence available to him the Christian may reasonably conclude that the injustices experienced by the Muslims are isolated and a result of the general abuse of political power which many citizens suffer irrespective of their ethnicity or religion.
Apart from different sets of experiences there are other factors which have generated a perceptual rift between Muslims and Christians in Tanzania. 
The loathsome implications of change
The Waswahili have a saying: Truth is painful. But obviously not every true statement, like say, "You have won the election," is painful. Truth is painful only when its acknowledgement carries fearsome implications. In the Tanzanian context to admit that there is social injustice implies a preference for change. A preference for change implies that the status quo is bad and should therefore be changed for something better. But what constitutes the better? Better to whom? Let us look at a simple example. It is generally acknowledged that Muslims constitute the majority of jail inmates in Tanzania. When the Prime Minister Mr. Frederick Sumaye inaugurated the first Board of Parole in the country, all the regional board chairpersons were Christians, five of whom were clergymen. The Muslims pointed out the government’s bias in favour of Christians. There were a number of Christians who agreed with the Muslims. Majira and Rai newspapers strongly criticised the religious composition of the parole board in their editorials. President Benjamin Mkapa disbanded the board. The majority of Muslims were overjoyed and praised him for his fair-mindedness. The majority of Christians were embittered and blamed him for setting a very dangerous precedent. When the new board was announced six months later, fifty percent of the members were Muslims. In this particular case, was the status quo changed for something better? "Definitely yes," says the Muslim; "Definitely no," says the Christian. The argument given by the Christian is that competence, not religion should determine appointments. This is the good reason, but the real reason is that in the new board their representation is cut down by fifty percent.
When some Christians denounced President Mkapa for setting a "dangerous" precedent they were right, if they meant dangerous to Christian interests. In almost all public appointments the situation is more or less similar to the earlier Board of Parole. A powerful and sensitive organ like the Tanzania Election Commission is all-Christian. Over ninety five percent of all District Commissioners are Christian. The implications of changing the status quo may be highly desirable to the Muslim but extremely objectionable to the Christian. As a result, the proposition that the present order is unjust is likely to be a bone of fierce contention with the majority of Christians dismissing it as a figment of Muslim imagination. One may appreciate why the laws of natural justice demand that a person cannot serve as judge in a case which he or she is an interested party. No matter how intelligent a man might be how can he fairly decide a case in which his beloved wife is a defendant? How can he possibly accept as sufficient or beyond reasonable doubt the incriminating evidence against her? In fact a friend of mine who is a medical doctor told me that physicians are debarred from performing major operations to people who are so close to them, because they would be too emotionally involved to do it competently. He told me of a case in which a doctor was tried of manslaughter for operating his wife who died at the operation table. These are human weaknesses. I am prone to them as everyone else is. For example, Tanzania is a poor country and income distribution is both uneven and unfair. But if someone were to argue that for the sake of social justice, my salary should be cut down, I do not think I would easily see the logic of the argument. And I might even marshal evidence not only to justify why my salary should not be cut down, but why it should be increased. But that is precisely why we need, and have governments. As Russell (1938:11) said, "Every man would like to be God, if it were possible." The government should be guided by its ideals and principles, not by what I like or dislike. 
The lure of present gain versus future pain
Another common human weakness which may contribute into pushing our country into civil war is the strong enchantment of present comfort compared to the threat of future problems. The joys of present bliss are to most of us very tempting, even if they may lead to future calamities. We would rather continue with our life-styles because we find them pleasurable now even if we know they may lead to cancer or cholesterol build up. As we say in Kiswahili, ponda mali kufa kwaja, that is, enjoy yourself now before death overtakes you! Because the political cancer of civil strife has not as yet ravaged our body-politic, the importance of changing our political life style is ignored. If the tragedy of civil war is to be averted in Tanzania, the status quo has to be changed by taking comprehensive and integrated measures as opposed to fragmented and incremental ones. As I have intimated above, the bitterest opposition would come from the beneficiaries of the present order. By its very nature prevention, whether of disease, crime or political turmoil, is often seen as a non-event. It means that nothing has happened! That Tanzania is peaceful is not news worthy. To take far-reaching measures which would prevent future civil strife in a presently peaceful Tanzania would seem to waste time on imagined problems. And success in this regard would merely mean nothing happened. As a result remedies are considered necessary only when it is already too late.
One day in April 1998 as we were having our afternoon tea at the Senior Common Room, University of Dar es Salaam, I told a Christian colleague about the threat of civil strife in our country. He said, of course quite jokingly, "In this age of science and technology, war is waged using highly sophisticated weapons. If you people imagine that you stand a chance of winning a war with swords then you want to commit mass suicide." My friend had conventional war in mind whereas I meant communal violence of the Rwanda or Burundi type. In our situation the superiority of weapons in the hands of any group cannot guarantee peace as it has failed to do so in Burundi. Once initiated the spiral of communal violence perpetuates itself. And to initiate it all you need is a kitchen knife. It will be no consolation to me to know that our group has highly sophisticated weapons, if upon returning home I learn that my youngest daughter was knifed to death along with several other children at their nursery school earlier in the day. And I do not think I would be in a mood to forget such a barbaric act in a hurry. It has happened to our neighbours, it may happen to us. 
Political errors of commission versus errors of omission
While the actual break out of civil disturbances in our case may be set in motion by political errors of commission, like those of Mwembechai, the deeper underlying causes are the political errors of omission; what successive governments have failed to do as far as Muslims are concerned. Therefore rectifying errors of commission alone would not stem the tide of mounting political discontent. If the government would today arrest and try all the people who were responsible for the wanton killings at Mwembechai, that alone would not satisfy Muslims. The lasting solution lies in structured social justice.
Mr. John Malecela, the Vice Chairman of CCM which is the current ruling party in Tanzania was quoted by a Kiswahili daily newspaper Majira of 5 April, 1999 as saying that if Vice President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Presidents Laurent Kabila of Congo, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania were to die and required to give their accounts before God Almighty, only Mkapa would go to Heaven. The rest would be thrown into Hell-fire because of the killings which take place in their countries as a result of incessant civil wars. My interest here is not in Malecela’s eschatological knowledge, but in his neglect of errors of omission. What about deaths which are a result of brutal neglect? In 1999 in Mahenge district alone, at least 45 people died of hunger at a time when the country had enough food to save their lives. The problem was reported in the newspapers, but the then DC of Mahenge Mr. Pachomius Ukugani said people were dying of witchcraft! And Mahenge was not the only district in which people were reported to have died of famine. In apartheid South Africa black people were the majority in prisons. Why is it that in Independent Tanzania Christians should be the majority in secondary schools, colleges and in government employment and Muslims should be the majority in prisons even after forty years of governing ourselves? To borrow the words used in the editorial of The East African (February 8-14,1999) ‘Could it be true that a "John Mtanzania" is sometimes favoured over a "Suleiman Mwananchi"?’
The second level of errors of omission involves every Tanzanian who is mature enough to vote. The promotion and protection of social justice is the responsibility of every member of society, including those who are being treated unjustly. It is socially and morally wrong to acquiesce to injustice. Muslims have a moral and political responsibility to expose and to fight against all forms of social injustice and discrimination, even if their efforts would always end in failure. Heroic failure in fighting injustice is far better than success in entrenching an unjust order. If Muslims stand up against injustice, their situation may not become better, but at least it may not become worse. Non-Muslims should also stand up against cruelty even if it is directed against Muslims, because as Professor Issa Shivji said at a public talk on the Mwembechai killings, police brutality is not a cap which one decides when to put on, it is dangerously addictive. He said in the 1975 Mwanza and Shinyanga killings four high ranking leaders took political responsibility and resigned. In the 1980 Kilombero killings no one took political responsibility but at least some officials were disciplined. In the Mwembechai killings not even a probe team had been set up. He said that was a dangerous signal to the police. And he was right. Several other killings have taken place since Mwembechai. There is a proverb in my Ngoni ethnic group which says the younger wife should throw away the stick which her husband had used to beat the senior wife.
The combination of these factors makes the political crisis smouldering in Tanzania rather complex. Its solution would not be easy either. The Mwembechai killings illustrate our political dilemma. But what actually happened at Mwembechai? The following chapter addresses that question. 

"Shoot at that Muslim": David and Goliath at Mwembechai
We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person-- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land-- it would be as if he slew the whole people: And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
Qur'an, 5:32
Let me begin this chapter with an old story which is available in several versions. According to one version, an old grandmother upon hearing that her grand-daughter was bitten by a deadly snake and had died, she screamed and wailed loudly, "Oh, I have killed my grand-daughter, Oh, my God! I am responsible for her death." When people insisted that she was not to blame because the girl had died of snake poison, she said, "I am responsible for her death because I am the one who gave birth to her mother. Had I not given birth to her mother, her mother would not have given birth to her. And had she not given birth to her she would not have been bitten by the deadly snake and she would not have died"!
The killings which took place at Mwembechai were a culmination of a long history, and our grandmother is certainly responsible. However, our present interest in this chapter is to look at the immediate circumstances surrounding the death of the young girl and to find out who let loose the deadly snake and who allowed it to strike.

Count down to the killings
It was in the afternoon of 13 February, 1998 that policemen armed with live ammunition were ordered to open fire at the people who were outside the Mwembechai mosque. From the video tape of the shooting at least four people were killed and many others maimed. It is also quite clear from the tape that the aim was to kill the Muslims. In the tape the police commanders are seen and heard ordering their armed policemen to take careful aim of their targets. In two cases the first bullets wounded without killing the intended victims, and the police commander in both cases ordered his men to shoot again. And they did, with unmistakable zest and ruthlessness. The tape also shows the police dragging the bodies of the dead and throwing them into the lorries. There is one brief scene in this tape which has always moved me to tears. The commander orders a young policeman to shoot. He shoots in the air. The commander orders him to aim his gun at the crowd. The young policeman is clearly torn between obeying his commander and obeying his conscience. The commander repeats the order. The policeman makes a brave attempt to obey his commander. He raises his gun, he looks at the crowd, but his hands become weaker and weaker, and the gun slowly falls to the ground. Was he a Muslim? Or a Christian whose conscience revolted against the idea of killing innocent human beings? I guess his name was not in the list of those policemen who were later to be praised and promoted for their fine job at Mwembechai. But why was the commander so particular that his policemen should shoot to kill? Why was he so sure of his footing? I do not know, and we may not know the truth without an independent public inquiry. What is known is the chronology of events before and after the killings.
The proximate beginning of the Mwembechai tragedy is traceable to President Mkapa’s speech of 4 January, 1998. On that day the President, who was a guest of honour at the celebrations of the Western Diocese of the Moravian Church in Tabora, declared war on "people who go about distributing cassettes, booklets and convening meetings where they insulted and ridiculed other religions" (Daily News, 5 January, 1998). In his declaration of war President Mkapa did not mention any religious group by name, but its wording in the Tanzanian context left no doubt as to the targeted group. Later that year when Muslim women organised a huge march in Tabora to express their outrage at the Mwembechai killings, they temporarily stopped outside the Moravian Church and asserted that the plan to persecute Muslims was hatched there.
Mkapa’s pre-indicative speech was made in the first week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan. In the last week of that month, the government issued a juristic ruling about Muslim Eid prayers and threatened to take strong measures against any Muslim who would not abide by its ruling. According to the ruling, which was this time announced by the Vice President, Dr. Omar Juma the government would allow no Muslim to pray except on the day which would be announced by the leader of the Supreme Muslim Council, Mufti Hemed. Muslims were enraged by the ruling, not because it was enforceable, but because it demonstrated the government’s open interference in Muslim affairs. Muslims pointed out that the government had never issued a ruling to direct Christians when or how to pray even when there were violent clashes like those between mainstream Roman Catholics and the followers of Father Nkwera, popularly known as Wanamaombi. After the Mwembechai killings the government withdrew its ruling.
After Eid prayers on 29 January 1998 Muslims at the Mwembechai mosque held an Eid Baraza. The Baraza discussed the recent government ruling on Eid prayers. Later, Muslims went on with the usual Eid festivities of visiting friends and enjoying sumptuous meals. On that day there was inter-religious dialogue neither at Mwembechai nor Mtambani. However, a week later, on 8 February, 1998 Padre Camillius Lwambano of the Mburahati parish in Dar es Salaam said that on Eid day he passed by Mtambani mosque in Kinondoni and Mwembechai mosque in Magomeni and heard how "The Lord Jesus Christ was being ridiculed by Muslim preachers in their public lectures." His emotionally-charged claims were broadcast over Radio Tumaini, which is owned and run by the Roman Catholic Church. Padre Lwambano denounced the government for giving empty promises on the issue of Muslim preachers. He gave the government two alternatives: to ban blasphemous public talks and take severe measures against Muslim preachers; or to make a public admission of its failure to put an end to blasphemy in the country. That was Sunday, 8 February, 1998.
On the following day the government issued a two-pronged statement. In the first part, all Christians in the country were asked to accept the government’s sincere apology for the deep religious anguish they went through on Eid day. In the second part the government promised to take stern measures against all Muslim preachers who organised the blasphemous talks on that day. The statement was issued by the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Lt. Yusuf Makamba. That was Monday, 9 February, 1998. On the following day the Dar es Salaam Regional Police Commander, Mr. Alfred Gewe issued another statement which was actually a footnote to the government statement of the previous day. Mr. Gewe emphasised that the government measures would be very harsh and far-reaching. That was Tuesday, 10 February, 1998. After nightfall on the same day the arrest of Muslim leaders began. The Imams of Mtambani, Kibo and Mwenge mosques were taken out of their houses and arrested in the small hours of the morning. On 11 February, 1998 a large contingent of armed policemen surrounded Ubungo Islamic High school at midnight, and unnecessarily harassed the students and teachers. They said they were looking for Sheikh Shaaban Magezi, a Muslim preacher of comparative religion. They were told that Sheikh Magezi was neither an employee of the school nor a student. And of course they did not find Magezi in the school premises. To keep themselves busy, they decided to storm into the neighbouring house of an old man, Sheikh Abdulrahman Kileo. They harassed him and his wife, Mama Zainabu. They searched his house for about two hours, they found nothing of interest and left.
Around 3.00 p.m. in the afternoon of Thursday 12 February, 1998 a group of about twelve uniformed and armed policemen raided Mwembechai mosque and abducted Sheikh Shaaban Magezi who was chatting with friends outside the mosque. There was no public lecture on that day, and except for the people who were offering prayers inside the mosque, there was no public gathering at the area. Within an hour after Sheikh Magezi’s abduction, a large band of policemen, including the para-military police force surrounded the mosque. As the whole mosque was cordoned off by heavily armed policemen, Muslims who were praying inside the mosque, fearing that they might be attacked, decided to remain in the mosque. As one of them said later, "We could not risk coming out of the mosque, because the police could maim us and then claim we had attacked or provoked them. We believed by staying inside the mosque no one could accuse us of having provoked or attacked them." Their guess was wrong. Around 8.00 p.m. more armed policemen were brought to the area. The situation became tense and many passers-by were arrested.
Around 1.00 a.m. the government ordered the Tanzania Electrical Supply Company (TANESCO) to cut power supply in the mosque. When the whole area was plunged into pitch darkness the policemen threw irritant and tear gas bombs into the mosque. People who were in the mosque were confused. At that point the policemen broke into the mosque and beat up the Muslims and dragged them into the police vans. In that operation many Muslims, especially old men and women sustained heavy injuries. By daybreak the government had discovered that the majority of those arrested and injured were very old Muslim women. Why did the government order its police force to storm into the mosque and beat up innocent worshippers? What was their crime? An explanation had to be found. In the morning the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Ali Ameir as well as the Dar es Salaam Regional Police Commander, Mr. Alfred Gewe issued a statement that the government ordered a power black out and a police raid into the Mwembechai mosque because it was suspected that some "ruffians and criminals" had taken refuge inside it.
On Friday, 13 February, 1998 the entire Mwembechai area was infested with plain clothes policemen. The large presence of policemen intensified the fear of Mwembechai residents and especially of Muslims who were going for Friday prayers at Mwembechai mosque with the previous night’s crackdown still very fresh in their minds. Nevertheless, Muslims turned out in great numbers. They cleaned the mosque which was besplattered with blood puddles and other stains. The Friday prayers were conducted without incident. After the prayers the Imam informed the Muslims of what had happened the previous night. Among other things he told them that many old Muslim men and women were arrested and were still being held by the police. They deliberated on the matter and decided that their immediate attention should be on bailing out those who were taken into police custody. It was decided that all those who had their Identity Cards with them should together go to the police station to apply on bail the release of their fellow Muslims who were apprehended the day before. This discussion was public and the police were fully aware of what was decided. When Muslims came out of the mosque and started going to the police station as agreed upon, they were without any warning attacked by the police and many more were arrested, thrown into police vans and driven away. Confusion ensued. A large contingent of policemen from the Field Force Unit was brought in. They immediately and indiscriminately started beating up people around the Mwembechai area and throwing teargas bombs in the streets. And as this was going on more and more people were being arrested. The brutality of the police provoked the anger of the people, including non-Muslims. They started throwing stones to the police. The police responded by opening fire on the people. And as we have already pointed out above, the commanders specifically ordered the policemen to shoot and kill. 
What happened after the killings
The killings were video taped by several private television stations. At that time the government had not yet set up its own television station. The killings were shown but only once and very briefly. All stations were reportedly ordered not to show the scene of the police shooting. Immediately after the Mwembechai killings the Central Committee, and the National Executive Committee of ruling political party (CCM), at their respective meetings commended the government on its handling of the Mwembechai issue. NEC and CC are the highest organs of CCM and are both chaired by the national party chairman, in this case Mr. Benjamin Mkapa, who is also the President. Although in this political comedy the government was being congratulated by the party which is a different body, the dramatis personae in both organs were nearly the same. Nearly all cabinet ministers are also either members of NEC or CC or both. All policemen who distinguished themselves during the Mwembechai saga were decorated and promoted by the government. Another significant institution which praised government action at Mwembechai was the Catholic church. His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo expressed his support in a DTV "Hamza Kasongo Hour" programme on 12 April, 1998. When he was asked whether by opening fire to unarmed civilians, the police did not use unnecessarily excessive force, the Cardinal said that the use of live bullets was perfectly justified because Muslims were also armed with stones. And stones could kill. He invoked the biblical story of David and Goliath to demonstrate the lethal power of pebbles. The Cardinal’s highly publicised interview provoked Muslims to ask: Who was David and who was Goliath at the Mwembechai crisis?
After the Mwembechai killings the intimidation of Muslims was intensified. The security of Muslims depended on the whims and caprices of policemen. So long as you were a Muslim, a policeman could accuse you of throwing stones during the Mwembechai shooting and you would be remanded and denied bail. In many mosques, almost after every congregational prayer, the Imam would announce "fulani ameunganishwa " that is "so and so has been arrested and included in the Mwembechai case". Things came to such a pass that corrupt policemen would approach Muslims and demand money on the real threat of including them in the Mwembechai case. That was especially between February and April, 1998.
On 13 February the police arrested about 300 people at Mwembechai. When they took down their statements they discovered that about one third of them were Christians. Although their charges were the same, the Christians and Muslims were sent to different courts. All Christians were sent to the Kivukoni court where they were immediately granted bail. Muslims were sent to the Kisutu court where they were all denied bail, even in cases where the suspects needed special medication. On 18 May 1998 one Muslim remand prisoner, Mohamed Omari (50) died and was hurriedly buried without any inquest being done (Nipashe 20 May, 1998). In the meantime on 30 March, 1998 the government closed down the Mwembechai mosque and sealed off the surrounding area, with the police helicopter occasionally helping in the surveillance. This move was taken following the riots which took place at Mwembechai on 29 March, 1998. The riots were sparked off by the government decision to prevent Muslim women from revealing the religious and sexual humiliations they suffered while in remand prison.
It is also important to note that at that critical period our country witnessed an ominous political sin of omission. No NGO, no human rights group, no gender sensitisation group, no political party, no law society stood up to publicly condemn the killings or the sexual harassment of Muslim women. The earliest public condemnation of the killings came from the University of Dar es Salaam, during a panel discussion organised jointly by The Dar es Salaam University Political Science Association (DUPSA) and The University of Dar es Salaam Academic Assembly (UDASA) on 17 April, 1998, two months after the event. 
Give a dog a bad name and kill it: The case of "Immigration"
"Give a dog a bad name and kill it" is a well-known English saying. It underlines man’s tendency to assuage his guilt by resorting to projection as a comforting psychological defence mechanism. According to Abdel Wahhab (1993:12) the Germans found it very difficult to massacre the Jews; and so they pretended that the people they were killing were not Jews but Muselmanns, the German word for Muslims!:
Believe it or not, when the Germans decided to exterminate the Jew, they labelled him a Muslim. Now I photocopied this from theEncyclopedia Judaica because when I saw it I could not believe it myself, for two reasons: The extreme racism. I mean even as he was burning a Jew, he could not come around and call him a Jew but a Muslim. The second reason is that these facts disappear completely from the literature on the holocaust. It simply disappears but for this entry on the matter from the Encyclopedia Judaica.
How does one kill his dog which has been a faithful guard of his house and a life-long companion without experiencing a sense of guilt? The easiest way out is to say it is an incurable rabid dog that endangers human life. Muslims in Tanzania often quote this saying when they hear the flimsy charges used to justify their persecution. They believe it is simply a case of giving a dog a bad name.
In the same month of February 1998 when the killings of Muslims took place in Dar es Salaam, and the Muslims were saying it was a case of giving a dog a bad name, a magistrate from Kasanga Primary Court in Sumbawanga, Mr. Onesmo Zunda gave a death sentence to a dog because it had a bad name, "Immigration". That historic ruling generated a lot of interest and debate in the country and abroad. The debate centred on the legality and justice of the ruling. The facts of the case (which are here summarised by someone who has no legal training) were as follows: Mr. Anatory Kachele Chizu was apparently very much frustrated by the incompetence and general poor performance of the Immigration officials of the Sumbawanga office. He gave his dog the name "Immigration". He took his dog with him whenever he went to the Immigration Department, and made a point of calling his dog in the presence of Immigration officials. One of the Immigration Department officials, Mr. Stanley Anyitike took Mr. Chizu to court. In his submission Mr. Anyitike argued that it was an insult and against Section 89(1) of the Penal Code for Mr. Chizu to give his dog the government department’s name. In his ruling magistrate Onesmo Zunda found Mr. Chizu guilty of the charges against him and sentenced him to a six-month jail term. He also ordered the dog to be killed. That particular court judgement was implemented without allowing the accused to appeal. The dog was immediately clubbed to death with a huge cudgel from the Immigration Department. Because that case had attracted a lot of public interest, on 28 April, 1998 Tanzania’s Chief Justice Francis Nyalali told a press conference that the order to execute the dog was ludicrous, illegal and unjust.
There are some disconcerting parallels between the two events which have not escaped the notice of Muslims in the country. The act of killing was involved in both cases, at least four people in Dar es Salaam and one dog in Sumbawanga. The dog was called "Immigration" by the owner and clubbed to death by government officials, Muslims were labelled "fundamentalists" by the Christian clergy and gunned down by policemen. In fact Cardinal Pengo’s favourite label is wendawazimu which means "mad men" (Kiongozi April 11-17, 1998). The government’s contradictory statements after the Mwembechai killings lend support to the Muslims’ claim. On 30 March, 1998 the Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Ali Ameir said the government had to take tough measures because it had evidence that the Mwembechai crisis was being fomented by Muslim foreign countries which he did not name (Daily News 31 March, 1998). A week later, the Vice President, Mr. Omar Ali Juma said the government had discovered that local Muslim businessmen engineered and financed the Mwembechai crisis (Uhuru 9 April, 1998). The following week the same Vice President gave another explanation. He said the government had sufficient evidence of the involvement of opposition political parties in the Mwembechai riots (Majira 17 April, 1998). It was later hinted that the crisis was actually instigated by some disgruntled leaders within CCM itself! Public reaction to the two cases was also quite different. There was a public outcry over the killing of that dog, and conspicuous silence over the killings of those Muslims. Tanzania’s Chief Justice Francis Nyalali was so concerned about the unjustified killing of "Immigration" that he took a personal initiative to investigate the matter and eventually denounced the ruling in public. Muslims had officially requested the government to form a probe team to investigate the killings. The official government response given by the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Ali Ameir on 4 March, 1998 was that in discharging its duties the government was always being guided by the principles of the rule of law. The government would not therefore be pressurised by any individual or group into forming a probe team. On 15 May, 1998 an individual Muslim, the now famous Abu Aziz wrote a long official submission to the Attorney General of Tanzania on the Mwembechai killings and requested him to act. He did not act nor acknowledge receipt of the complaint. That submission was also forwarded to the Chief Justice of Tanzania. Unlike in the killing of "Immigration" Chief Justice did not see the need of commenting on the killings of innocent Tanzanians who happened to be Muslims. Of course the learned lawyers have their saying: de minimis non curat lex, the court and the law do not bother with trifles. 
The Rodney King parallel
The case of Rodney King, an African American who was brutally beaten up by four white policemen in Los Angeles on 3 March, 1991 received wide coverage in Tanzania. And when the court verdict found the four white officers not guilty of using excessive force in May 1992, many Tanzanians condemned the US for its racial discrimination against black people. The image of the US was greatly tarnished, and the Director of USIS Dar es Salaam, who was a white American at that time, found himself in a very difficult situation. In his damage control efforts he organised a public talk at the USIS auditorium which included a video show of the Los Angeles riots which flared up after the court ruling. The Director tried to impress upon his audience that the Los Angeles incident was a sad but isolated case. He was immediately silenced by Professor David Dorsey who was an African American Fulbright scholar at the University of Dar es Salaam. The audience seemed to support Dr. Dorsey who argued with finger tip evidence that the discrimination of black people was structural not incidental. My interest here is just to point out the unsettling parallels between the two cases.
Because of the publicity which the Rodney King case received in Tanzania, Muslims were to recall it after the Mwembechai killings. Quite unfortunately for our country, the two cases make the American "devils" of 1991 appear "angels" when compared to the government-backed police brutality displayed at Mwembechai in 1998. In Los Angeles it was a passer-by who videotaped four white policemen beating up Rodney King, in Tanzania private TV stations videotaped a group of policemen shooting and killing Muslims. The beating of Rodney King received maximum media coverage in the US, the killings very briefly shown in two TV stations, and Muslims were prohibited from showing the tape in mosques. Americans expressed outrage at the police brutality, in Tanzania the police were praised and promoted for a job well done. Except in mosques, there were no expressions of public indignation. The policemen stood trial in Los Angeles, the police were given promotions in Tanzania. But perhaps a more significant similarity between the two cases is that evidence of police brutality did not alter the religious perceptual gulf in Tanzania as it did not the racial perceptions in the US (Sigelman, et al. 1997). 
The rise of religious tension
The way the government handled the Mwembechai saga convinced Muslims that their government was not only biased in favour of Christians but was now acting like a military wing of the church. After the Mwembechai killings the government did not want to be reminded of Padre Lwambano’s fabrications which were broadcast over the Catholic radio, nor of its solemn promise to take severe measures against Muslim preachers. It was clear to the Muslims that the government refused to appoint a probe team because it did not want to be confronted with the unpleasant truth. The government knew the truth. Muslims were innocent but had to be killed to satisfy the demands of church leaders. The praise and satisfaction expressed by the highest hierarchical Catholic leader at the killings reinforced that perception. The prevention of Muslim women to reveal what they suffered in remand prison, the granting of bail to Christian suspects and denying the same to Muslims, and as Abu Aziz (1998:35) notes in his submission to the Attorney General, ‘the absence of even the minor consolation of words of sympathy from the President to the bereaved families, giving the impression of the CCM government feeling satisfied in killing innocent citizens as if they were common criminals (even criminals deserve justice)’ intensified Muslim anger and resentment.
Muslims began to criticise President Mkapa’s government as a government of murderers, and CCM as a political party of murderers. In addition to public utterances, a series of anonymous leaflets began to appear. The favourite theme of the leaflets was the supposed government plan to carry out a genocide of Muslims. The death of Mohamed Omari (50) in remand prison after repeatedly being denied medical treatment lent support to those stories. It was at this point that Kitwana Kondo, the Kigamboni MP intervened. In his press conference on 21 May, 1998 he strongly criticised the government for reinforcing the Muslim perception that it was anti-Muslim and wanted them to die in remand prison (Majira 22 May, 1998). Expressions of Muslim support for Kitwana Kondo echoed across the nation. Many Christians regarded him as a dangerous person who was fanning religious hatred in the country. By the end of the year tension was so high that the Muslims were cursing the government in public gatherings. A way had to be found of calming down the tension. President Mkapa managed to do this in his speech at the Idd-el-Fitr Baraza at the Diamond Jubilee Hall on 19 January, 1999. In two important ways his speech marked an important milestone in the political history of Tanzania. For the first time the government acknowledged the existence of long-standing Muslim grievances, and for the first time it set out a procedure of resolving them. The political tragedy of our country lies in the fact that the proposed mechanism was a non-starter and yet many Christians feared that it was too revolutionary.
What did the President propose? Why are his proposals unsatisfactory? We address those questions in the following chapter. 
President Mkapa’s Programme of Action
Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad:...
Supplication of Solomon, 1 Kings 3:9 
When Solomon had an opportunity to ask from Almighty God for whatever he wanted and a prior guarantee to be instantly granted his request, he did not ask for personal comfort, honour, fame or riches. He asked for wisdom and understanding; not in order to win debating points but in order to enable him distinguish between right and wrong and act accordingly. There is a well-known joke in Tanzania, whose different versions are also available in many parts of the world about two envious neighbours who were granted a similar opportunity like that of Solomon. In one version, the king invited the two envious men and told them to ask for and would be granted whatever they wished on one condition: the first to make the request would get what he asked for, but his neighbour would get twice as much. "If you ask for twenty bars of gold", the king said, "your neighbour will get forty". For six hours no one made a request, each one told the other to submit his wish to the king. Then one of them told the king, "Oh king, remove one of my eyes from its socket"!
It is economically costly to have a large section of society marginalised in education and public life, whether on grounds of gender, ethnicity or religion. And religious inequalities are politically more dangerous than gender inequalities. Except in Aristophane’s comedy, Lysistrata, it is very improbable for gender imbalances to precipitate any society into a violent civil war between men and women. However, religious injustices are capable of inflaming members of society into an armed conflict. It is far better for all of us in Tanzania to have the majority of Muslims in college than to have them in prison. And yet as I shall attempt to show in this chapter, there are some influential Tanzanians who behave as if they would prefer suffering the pain and disadvantage of having one eye, to seeing a neighbour who has two eyes like themselves. 
Mkapa’s proposals to resolve the problem of religious discrimination
On 19 January, 1999 almost a year after the Mwembechai killings, President Mkapa was a guest of honour at the Diamond Jubilee Hall Eid Baraza jointly organised by Muslim groupings of different schools of thought. As I noted in the previous chapter, Muslim public anger was approaching dangerous proportions. And from the onset of the Mwembechai crisis until that day, President Mkapa had not made any public statement of either condemning or consoling Muslims. But his chairing of the NEC and CC meetings which commended government operation at Mwembechai, and his Tabora declaration of war speech which was perceived as having set in motion the whole crisis, encouraged Muslims to include President Mkapa in the list of political villains. But he did not top the accusation list. Top on the list of public condemnation was the Catholic clergy, particularly Padre Camillius Lwambano and the Catholic Radio Tumaini for giving maximum publicity to Lwambano’s seditious fabrications, followed by Makamba, Gewe, Ameir, Omar Juma, Sumaye and then Mkapa. At the same time when President Mkapa was attending Eid Baraza at the Diamond Jubilee Hall, there was another historic Eid Baraza taking place a kilometre or so away, at Mtambani mosque, along Kawawa Road, Kinondoni. The Mtambani Eid Baraza was historic because it attracted thousands of Muslims not only from Dar es Salaam but also from Morogoro, Tanga and Mwanza. It was historic because it was held in defiance of a government order not to hold it. The government sent a large contingent of para-military police in full gear, but they wisely decided not to disrupt the Baraza. It was historic because the tape of the Mwembechai killings was shown to thousands of people at one time. At that Baraza some of the above public figures including the President were also incriminated for their failure to apprehend and try the Mwembechai culprits.
It was against the above background that Alhaj Ramadhani Madabida, on behalf of the Muslim community in the country, presented to President Mkapa Muslim grievances about religious discrimination in the country. By way of illustration he cited religious imbalances in education, employment, and imprisonment, the disregard of Muslim Personal Law, religious prejudices against OIC membership, and the handling of the Mwembechai crisis. And it was in that socio-political context that President Mkapa made his milestone speech. Before I look at his response, it is important to keep in mind the immediate public reaction to his speech. The reaction was mixed, and generally polarised along religious lines. While many Muslims exploded with joy, and were generally pleasantly surprised, many Christians seethed with apprehension and genuinely felt the President’s speech was ill-advised. All newspapers except the Muslim weekly newspaper, An-Nuur, sidelined the President’s speech. It was the Muslim newspaper An-Nuur (January 22-28, 1999) which published the full texts of both, Madabida’s speech and Mkapa’s response.
In his initial response to the political grievances aired by the Muslim community, President Mkapa encountered the dilemma faced by his government in addressing such complaints. He also suggested procedures which he believed could amicably resolve the problem. His dilemma was, as far as the government was aware, in its vision, in its constitution, and in actual practice, Tanzania had always abhorred discrimination in all its forms and manifestations, which included religious discrimination. And yet a large section of the Muslim community seemed to believe that while in theory Tanzania was religion-blind, in the sense of giving equal opportunities to all citizens, in practice the government was not only openly biased in favour of Christians, and especially Catholics but also decidedly anti-Muslim. Again from the government’s point of view there was absolutely no policy, overt or covert, to marginalise Muslims, despite the latter’s insistence that their under-representation in education and key government positions was not fortuitous but calculated.
To resolve that political enigma the president proposed a three-pronged interrelated procedure. First, the government would painstakingly re-examine the claims of Muslims with a view to establishing their credibility. Second, the Muslims should dispassionately re-inspect their claims and back them up with adequate, reliable and scientifically verifiable data. After all the onus probandi rested with the Muslims. The third step would involve a joint meeting between Muslim and government representatives to share and exchange notes. If a sober and unemotional scrutiny of available evidence would seem to support Muslim claims, the government would take measures to rectify the situation within available resources.
On the face of it, the modus operandi proposed by the president appears to be quite reasonable. In fact it encouraged a number of serious-minded Muslims to start mustering the required evidence. It would appear to me that the whole exercise is predicated on wrong-headed assumptions. If carried out, the exercise promises to be a cruel political hoax in effect even if not in intent.
As I have noted in the previous chapters, the Mwembechai killings were a tragic summation of a long process of Muslim demonisation. Subsequent events since then have compelled more and more Muslims to admit that their ardent, patriotic hopes of building a peaceful and just society whereby Muslims would also be considered as rightful citizens like anyone else were probably unrealistic and therefore alternative options would have to be explored. A careful reading of the political signs on the wall would seem to suggest that unless the government takes bold and far-reaching measures to redress Muslim grievances Tanzania may find itself engulfed in a violent political turmoil. The programme of action outlined by the president is too superficial to be of much political value in stemming growing Muslim discontentment which has been building up for many years.
Before pointing out those weaknesses, I wish to acknowledge that his speech of 19 January, 1999 marked an important watershed in the political history of Tanzania. President Mkapa is the first, incumbent national leader in the history of independent Tanzania to admit in public the existence of Muslim grievances (irrespective of whether they are real or imagined). He is also the first leader to call for a candid re-examination of those grievances. No other incumbent leader before him, with the possible exception of Professor Kighoma Ali Malima, was courageous enough to address the Muslim question. All along the general tendency has been to pretend that all was well, and to suppress the expression of those grievances. Whether or not Muslims agree with his views, President Mkapa will go down in the history of Tanzania, and will particularly be remembered by Muslims as the first leader who made the attempt to look into their demands. The fact that I believe his views are mistaken, does not and cannot in any way diminish the political milestone he has achieved in this regard. 
The basic assumptions are untrue and invalid
As far as access to education and employment are concerned, Tanzania today is divided into two major classes; the privileged and the underprivileged. For reasons which I shall point out herebelow, the vast majority of Tanzanians who happen to be Christians are in the former category while the majority of citizens who are Muslims belong to the latter class. There is probably no serious researcher who can deny that Christians constitute a disproportionate majority of the best trained minds in Tanzania. And since the majority of the finest medical doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers and professionals in other fields are Christians, naturally Christians also predominate in almost all key positions in government administration. It is very unlikely that the government which is served by such highly qualified personnel should be ignorant of the marginalisation of Muslims. It is therefore inconceivable that Muslims can provide any new information to the government, considering that, unlike Muslims, the government has unhindered access to all data. The problem is not lack of adequate information but lack of enough political will to confront the problem. The problem is political not statistical. As I pointed out in the first chapter, acknowledging the problem carries serious implications which may involve a radical reallocation of scarce national resources in favour of Muslims. The privileged class is naturally apprehensive, and if historical evidence is anything to go by, it will do everything in its power to maintain the status quo. In the Tanzanian context members of this class would do so not because they are Christians but because they are beneficiaries. The following examples may illustrate the futility of the whole exercise of data collection.
Charity begins at home. Members of Parliament are supposed to be representatives of their respective constituencies. A number of researches, using sophisticated research instruments have established that the vast majority of Tanzanians are very poor (although I think our poverty is so conspicuous to need such researches ). The World Bank Development Report (1993) listed Tanzania as the second poorest country in the world. And according to a study by Jazairy and Pacuccio (1992) 60 per cent of Tanzanians in the rural areas were in 1988 living below poverty line. And in April 1999 the government confirmed that at least 45 poor peasants died of starvation in Mahenge District alone (Majira 17 April, 1999). Yet in the same year those representatives of the poor passed with record speed a bill which entitled national leaders and all members of parliament huge terminal benefits and privileges, which are not by any standards commensurate with our economic status as the second poorest country in the world. While the electorate complained that the bill allowed their leaders to "loot" the country, some members of parliament complained that the allocated amount was but a pittance. Our honourable members of parliament passed the bill not because they lacked sufficient data about the distressing poverty of their electorate. They were actuated by personal interest. To provide the MPs with detailed, well researched scientific data about the poverty of the country and her people using different indices of poverty could not have possibly induced them to scale down the monetary benefits awarded them let alone to torpedo the bill altogether. The difficulty of accepting scientific data is in this case aggravated by the fact that the decision makers and the beneficiaries coincide. As we noted earlier the rules of natural justice demand that the accused or defendant should not at the same time serve as judge. 
The addictive and corrupting power of privileges
In situations where some members of a society are oppressed, the oppressor would often seek to justify and perpetuate the unequal relationship, even if that meant resorting to selective recall of evidence, fabrications, blaming the victim and providing proofs which are nothing but self-fulfilling prophecies. It will be seen from the following examples that there are striking points of similarities between the arguments which were used to justify oppression elsewhere and those which are being advanced today to rationalise the marginalisation of Muslims in Tanzania.
In his book, The Black Image in the White Mind, Fredrickson (1971:47) has quoted William Drayton, the lawyer, justifying the continued enslavement of Africans by saying:
Personal observation must convince every candid man, that the Negro is constitutionally indolent, voluptuous, and prone to vice; that his mind is heavy, dull and unambitious; and that the doom that has made the African in all ages and countries, a slave -- is the natural consequence of the inferiority of his character.
It is worth recalling that the German colonial authorities decided it was necessary to use forced labour including the use of the lash to induce the African to work. They also believed that Africans, all Africans had criminal tendencies, lacked personal initiative and self-discipline and were lazy by nature (Koponnen, 1995). Similar arguments are now being presented by the privileged group in Tanzania to explain the gross under-representation of Muslims in education and in key government positions. Muslims, we are told have no one to blame except themselves. This is because they do not value education, they are lazy and extravagant, and being fatalistic, they lack the enterprising spirit which is so crucial for personal advancement. In his widely acclaimed book, The Life and Times of Abdulwahid Sykes: The Untold Story of the Muslim Struggle against British Colonialism in Tanganyika, Said (1998) has presented a detailed account of not only how Muslims spearheaded the struggle for independence but also how their numerous programmes to advance themselves were (and still are being) interfered with by the Christian-dominated government. So far no one has as yet challenged the evidence presented by Mohamed Said. Nor has anyone questioned the devastating findings reported by Sivalon (1992). But since the problem is not lack of information but a determination to maintain the status quo, the derogatory charges against Muslims continue unabated.
At the beginning of the 19th century, a scholar called Richard Colfax published a scientific study titled Evidence Against the Views of the Abolitionists, Consisting of Physical and Moral Proofs of the Natural Inferiority of the Negroes. In it Colfax argued that Africans were so inferior both physically and morally as to resemble beasts. And evidence from history had shown that ‘over a period of three or four thousand years Africans had many opportunities to benefit from personal liberty and "their proximity to refined nations", but they had "never even attempted to raise themselves above their present equivocal station in the great zoological chain" ’(Fredrickson, 1971:49-50). And as the 20th century was coming to a close, two American scholars, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray (1994) published their book, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life which uses charts, graphs and statistics to prove that Africans are genetically inferior.
In Tanzania no one has so far come out with an explicit statement to the effect that Muslims are genetically inferior. The supposed inherent inferiority of Muslims is suggested by insinuation; by ostensibly allowing facts to speak for themselves. In 1984 the Africa Events magazine (which I forgot to record its volume and issue numbers) under the heading: "Tanzania: A Question of Numbers" wrote that ‘out of 33 students accepted at the Medical school only one was a Muslim, and out of 14 who qualified as dentists, only one was Muslim. Is the ratio 1:33 or 1:14 ?’ The following year another magazine, Arabia (May, 1985) wrote under the heading "A Closed Door to the Corridors of Power": ‘The majority of pupils in Tanzanian primary schools are Muslim (80 percent), a percentage which dwindles to 15-20 percent in secondary schools, sinking to a mere five percent at University level’. Almost fifteen years later, on 2 February, 1999 the Member of Parliament for Kigamboni Hon. Kitwana Kondo told the parliament that out of every 100 students who sat for the standard seven examination in Dar es Salaam in the year 1998, 71 were Muslim and 29 Christian. But out of every 100 students selected to join government secondary schools only 21 were Muslim while 79 were Christian. The MP wanted to know whether Muslim children were inherently dull (An-Nuur, February 5-11, 1999). Such statistics along with those which show a low rate of enrolment and a high rate of truancy or drop outs in predominantly Muslim areas are calculated to suggest that somehow Islam is incompatible with education and development. In fact in its editorial of 27 January, 1999 Mtanzania, one of the leading daily newspapers in the country called for a national campaign to save the Coast region education wise. This call came in the wake of a disturbing report that by that time Muhoro secondary school in Rufiji had registered only two students for Form One. And the most popular historical evidence used to prove that Muslims devalue education is the nationalisation of religious schools in 1969. If thirty years after the nationalisation of those schools Muslims are still a minority in higher educational institutions and have not "even attempted to raise themselves above their present equivocal station", the problem lies squarely at the door of Muslims themselves.
Another standard response of the oppressor is to believe or to pretend that the oppressed are happy and contented except for a few misguided elements. Even in the wake of Nat Turner uprising of 1831 white slave owning masters continued to argue that the African "found happiness and fulfilment only when he had a white master". And singing was regarded as betokening that satisfaction. Douglass (1845) a former slave says, ‘I have often been utterly astonished, ... to find persons who could speak of the singing among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake’. In Tanzania the government believes or seems to believe that except for a handful individuals in the Sheikh Ponda Committee, or the Dar es Salaam Imams Consultative Assembly headed by Sheikh Juma Mbukuzi, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are very happy and contented with their lot in the country! Goaded by that conviction the government directed its police force to launch a crack down operation of all suspected members of the committee. And quite unsurprisingly, the editorial ofMtanzania (7 May, 1999) not only endorsed the move but also lamented its belatedness. In the wake of the pork butcheries riots of 1993, the then minister for Home Affairs Hon. Augustine Mrema actually said that the Muslims they knew would never riot. In the same year the then Arch-bishop of Dar es Salaam, now Polycarp Cardinal Pengo (1995) issued a pastoral letter in which he condemned the few confused Muslim extremists and pledged to co-operate with moderate civilised Muslims. I have already pointed out why that analysis is a gross misreading of the political signs on the wall.
Usually beneficiaries of a socio-political order would endeavour to perpetuate it, no matter how unjust it may be. In the United States for example, the slave-owning churches of the South solemnly resolved in 1864 to maintain the enslavement of the black people when they said, ‘"we hesitate not to affirm that it is the peculiar mission of the Southern Church to conserve the institution of slavery, and to make it a blessing both to master and slave"’ (Ahlstrom, 1972). In the same reference Ahlstrom says ‘the most violent and radical pro-slavery men were ministers’ and that in defence of slavery ‘The pulpits resounded with a vehemence and absence of restraint never equalled in American history’. And Douglass (1845) notes that the most cruel slave-owners were the religious people because ‘they found religious sanction and support’ for their cruelty:
As an example, I will state one of many facts going to prove the charge. I have seen him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with a heavy cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing the warm red blood to drip; and, in justification of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of Scripture -- "He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes".
Another example is the ordeal which Elisabeth Kecklye (1825-1905) underwent at the hands of a Christian minister. ‘For several months, a young Christian minister flogged her every Saturday because he thought it is his Christian duty to induce in her demeanour more fitting for a slave’ (Barksdale and Kinnamon, 1972:306). I have already mentioned how in Tanzania His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo invoked the Bible to sanction the Mwembechai killings.
It is also quite significant that whenever Muslims accuse the government of marginalising them, those accusations elicit very strong and hostile responses not from the accused, which is the government, but from church leaders. For example in 1993, Alhaj Aboud Jumbe, the former President of Zanzibar and Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, in a series of articles published in a weekly newspaper Mwananchi, argued quite persuasively and from his personal experience in government that there was in Tanzania a methodical but underhand scheme of marginalising Muslims in education and employment. Jumbe (1994) repeated and backed up those charges with statistical evidence in his book,The Partner-Ship. In his book, Jumbe called for a full-fledged research to investigate the nature and magnitude of religious discrimination in Tanzania. Jumbe’s candid observations provoked an animated official reaction from the churches. In an impassioned response published in Rai ( April 13-19, 1995) under the heading "Askofu Mkuu amshambulia Jumbe" ( The Arch-bishop attacks Jumbe ), the Arch-bishop of Dar es Salaam (now Cardinal ) Pengo described Jumbe as a dangerous person bent on sowing seeds of discord in the country (See also Watu, April 24-27, 1995). It is important to bear in mind that the intriguing tendency of church leaders to arrogate to themselves the role of government spokespersons is not a recent phenomenon. Way back in 1963, the patron of Da’wat-El-Islamia, the late Sheikh Hassan bin Ameir (1963) noted with grave concern, the vehement attacks which church leaders directed against Alhaj Chief Abdallah Fundikira for speaking in Parliament of the need to rectify religious imbalances in education. In their response published in a Catholic newspaper, Kiongozi ( 17 July, 1963 ) under the heading "Amani na Haki vimeponzwa" (Peace and Justice betrayed) they charged that Fundikira’s statements deeply hurt the feelings of Christians and of the government and endangered peace and justice in Tanganyika. His words, they said were like rubbing powdered pepper on a healing wound. And quite prophetically they ended their acrimonious reply by saying that Chief Fundikira was deceiving himself (for the status quo would be maintained at all costs?). 
Demonisation of Muslims in the Mass Media
In his book, The Jew and the Cross, Runes (1965) says in order to justify the discrimination against the Jews, the church deliberately planted stories which depicted Jews as ritual murderers and poisoners of wells. ‘This type of propaganda was so successfully put forth by the clergy that the church-going masses suspected every Jew of crucifying children on church holidays’ (1965:57). He also notes that in Norwich ‘a Jew was burned alive for refusing to admit that Jesus was God’. There are probably very few well-wishers of Tanzania who may have failed to notice that in recent years Muslims are increasingly being demonised both in the official and private media. Available historical evidence does not seem to suggest, even remotely that Tanzanians who happen to be Muslims and their fellow country-men and women who are Christians are sworn enemies. On the contrary, although as citizens, Muslims are grossly underrepresented in educational opportunities and employment, Muslims have never considered Christians as their enemies who should be hated or killed. Muslims have continued to live in harmony with Christians without any alarming traces of social or religious animosities.
The same cannot be said of Tanzania today. Tanzania which until very recently was praised by Rasmussen (1993) as setting a fine example in Christian-Muslim relations in Africa, has now begun to experience the hostilities which come with "the demise of social unity" (Kaiser, 1996). The seeds of religious discord and hatred are deliberately being planted by repeatedly painting Muslims as ignorant, misguided zealots whose highest ambition is to cut the throats of Christians. Newspapers, with tacit government approval seem to vie with each other in tarnishing the image of Muslims in the country. For example, in its second issue, The Family Mirror, ( May, 1993 ) an influential and otherwise sober magazine wrote:
Balukta calls for shedding of Blood as 500 youths register for ‘Jihad’
At least 500 youths are believed to have registered in Dar es Salaam to serve in the Islamic Army which is reportedly being formed to fight in the ‘Jihad’ (Holy War) declared by fundamentalist Muslim faction (Balukta) against alleged marginalisation of Muslims by Christians, according to investigations by the Family Mirror.
Investigations have also revealed that two containers of arms caches were recently intercepted by customs officials. The Islamic Republic of Iran was the chief supplier of arms and money to fight in the Jihad.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Augustine Mrema who is also responsible for the Home Affairs Ministry confirmed the government has received information in this respect and was working on it. 
In its earlier issue the same magazine wrote in an eye catching headline:
Religious Tension in Tanzania: Iran funding Muslim fundamentalists, Vatican Embassy to be set on fire? Arch-bishop of Dar es Salaam to be killed?
Tanzania Analysis ( July 22, 1995:1 ) joined the Muslim bashing bandwagon in style. In its maiden issue the magazine wrote that the Muslims in the country had solemnly vowed ‘to prevent the prospect of a Christian from taking over the Presidency’ and that ‘The president (Mr. Ali Hassan Mwinyi) has himself armed them sufficiently to slash the throats of all Christians in this country’. Of course Tanzania Analysis was merely repeating the accusations which the clergy had heaped on the president the previous year in a document signed by Rev. A. Shila. Among other things the church leaders accused the president of ‘opening up the floodgates of bloodshed in the form of MUJAHEDDIN who are resolved to burn down Christian schools and hospitals in the country’ (Watu, August 12-16, 1994 ). Jews in Christian Europe were accused of ritual murders and wells poisoning. Muslims in secular Tanzania are depicted as bloodthirsty hoodlums bent on spilling Christian blood.
They are also depicted as untouchable ignoramuses who have a particular aversion for schools. This image is daily reinforced in Radio and Television "Entertainment" programmes where Muslims and their religion are vilified through the use of indirect satire. In medieval Europe Jews were burned for rejecting the divinity of Jesus, in modern Tanzania Muslims are arrested, denied bail and harassed for refusing to believe that God Almighty is Jesus son of Mary.
While Catholics constitute a privileged religious group in Tanzania, Muslims are the ultimate religious "other". To justify their continued suppression, Muslims are painted in the worst possible colours. They are bloodthirsty, lazy, and hate Christians and education. It is instructive to recall that in nineteenth century Catholics were also vilified in the United States. Not because Catholics were or are particularly evil people compared to other groups; but primarily because the Protestant Church was dominant in the country and wanted to maintain the status quo. Protestants believed they had a special mission to mould the United States as a Protestant nation. They hated the idea of sharing power with Roman Catholics. But they did not say so. Instead they attempted to prejudice the people against Catholicism by unleashing fabricated stories against them.
Some of those fabrications have been reported by Ahlstrom (1972). He has recorded Thomas Jefferson’s argument that the Catholic church was extremely dangerous because it represented the most powerful institutionalisation of ‘medieval superstition, sectarian narrowness, and monarchical despotism in religion’. The writings of Episcopal bishops were less refined. They resorted to what was known as "horror literature". The first in a long series of such literatures was Six Months in a Convent (1835) supposedly written by Rebecca Theresa Reed. It was followed by Maria Monk’s Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal (1836). In those books and subsequent ones the authors were ostensibly presenting first hand accounts in the form of confessions about horrifying sexual misdemeanours of Catholic priests and nuns. The illegitimate children who ensued as a result of the sexual orgies between priests and nuns were murdered and quietly buried in the subterranean dungeons of church buildings. Of course the so-called "confessions" were actually written by some of the Protestant clergy with the express purpose of vilifying Catholics. Catholic bishops and priests made desperate efforts to deny and even to disprove those allegations but with little success. The problem was not the presence or absence of scientific data; the problem was whether Catholics should have equal rights with Protestants.
From the above examples one major inference can be drawn: it is naturally difficult for a superordinate group to "understand" the need for sharing its privileges with a subordinate group. On the contrary it will attempt to perpetuate the subordination of the underprivileged group. No sober mustering of evidence by Muslims in Tanzania to argue their case can make any significant impression. To use a famous political aphorism, "Rights are taken, they are not given". 
Popular myths about Muslims and Christians in Tanzania
Anti-Muslim propaganda in Tanzania is being engineered by geniuses who wield immense political power in moulding public opinion. As a result the campaign is registering remarkable success as far as Christians are concerned. A growing number of sober Christians, not all of them of average intelligence, have sincerely come to believe that Muslims are a problem in the country. On the other hand the same propaganda seems to have a boomerang effect on the Muslims. Many patriotic Muslims, who had for many years lived with the comforting illusion that their country accepts Muslims as full-fledged citizens, are now becoming increasingly disenchanted. In fact that disenchantment has reached absurd levels. The image of a Muslim leader may easily be ruined by his being publicly praised by government leaders. (Like a Tanzanian president being praised by American imperialists in the early 1970s)! This trend indicates that our country is on a collision course.
Anti-Muslim propaganda is pervasive and takes a variety of forms. It is not possible to address all its forms and manifestations here. Instead I shall look at the popular myths disseminated to legitimise the subordination of Muslims. These are:
(a) Religion and criminology in Tanzania
(b) Muslims undervalue "secular" education
(c) Christian churches help the government in providing education and health services
(d) Muslims are disorganised
(e) Muslim public preaching "Mihadhara" may disrupt peace and stability 
Religion and criminology in Tanzania
One of the major pillars of anti-Muslim propaganda in Tanzania is the supposed linkage between religion and crime. While in apartheid South Africa and in the United States (and even in colonial Tanganyika) the linkage was between race and crime, in Tanzania efforts are being made to create the impression that Muslims are comparatively more criminal than other religious groups. By insinuation Islam is supposed to be the cause of their criminality. In practice a Muslim is considered a potential criminal or a legitimate suspect.
A Catholic bishop in colonial Tanganyika by the name of Cassian Spiss was convinced that ‘"Muslims had no morals, were deceitful and all had venereal diseases. To educate them was useless, they were friends of the Government out of greed only"’ (Hornsby, 1964:85). The Anglican bishop Steere insisted that schools should be located far away from Muslim areas so as to avoid ‘"the demoralising influence of the coast peoples"’ (Swatman, 1976:108). The same prejudices are repeated today but in a refined scientific garb. Statistical figures are presented by our experts to prove the high rate of criminality among Muslims. The proof is based on police records of (a) the number of people arrested, (b) the number of people in police custody, and (c) the number of people serving jail sentences. For example it was reported in the Mfanyakazi newspaper (April 9, 1997 ) that in rape cases reported in Dar es Salaam, Muslim men committed 56 per cent of those cases, whereas Christians committed 43 per cent and Traditionalists 1 per cent. Mtanzania (12 May, 1997) reported that 90 per cent of Keko remand prisoners were Muslims. And according to the Mfanyakazi (1 October, 1988) report 111 Keko remand prisoners died between 1984 and 1988. Presumably the majority of whom were Muslims.
Even if we assume that the above statistics are accurate (and I have no reason to doubt their accuracy), they do not provide conclusive evidence that Muslims have a greater propensity for crime than non-Muslims. A number of problems attend the above statistics. The first one is their representativity or sampling error. What is the percentage of Muslims, Christians and Traditionalists in Dar es Salaam? What is the religious percentage of remand prisoners in Tunduma or Bunda? To use a concrete example, there are Muslims in Mwanza and Shinyanga regions. In recent years over 4000 old women suspected of being witches were killed in the two regions. From available police records there is no Muslim who has so far participated in those murders. Would it be appropriate to conclude from this evidence alone that non-Muslims are more liable to commit murder than Muslims are? Sheikh Mbalamwezi, a famous religious leader in Mwanza thinks so. He cites as further evidence the non-participation of Muslims in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Anyone who sought refuge in a mosque was protected by the Muslims irrespective of ethnicity, religion or gender. The same could not be said of the Catholic churches. Some clergymen actually participated in the killings. I think this is a hasty generalisation and more factors should be taken into account.
The second problem is that of reliability. Police statistics of arrests are not a very reliable guide in establishing the linkage between religion and crime. Every year thousands of innocent people are arrested by the police, and every year the police are unable or unwilling to arrest thousands of people who have committed crimes. And in the Tanzanian situation conclusions based on the police register are even more suspect because there is more than enough evidence to show that the police are more enthusiastic in suspecting and apprehending Muslims than Christians. And this is hardly surprising in a situation where employment at all levels is disproportionately biased against Muslims. I have already pointed out how the Mwembechai crisis illustrates the magnitude of the Muslim predicament in Tanzania with respect to the rule of law. In practice religion is a classifying factor in the administration of justice. The experience of Muslims and the rule of law in Tanzania is like that of a King’s Messenger in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The Messenger was being punished in prison before his trial had begun. His trial had been scheduled to start the following week. The trial would proceed and reach a verdict before knowing for which crime he was being tried. Only after his trial had ended would his offence be mentioned! In July 1994, the Morogoro para-military police force (FFU) bombed the Uwanja wa Ndege mosque with tear gases because they believed Muslim preachers who were setting up microphones at the mosque would eventually make offensive utterances about Christianity. Subsequently, two Muslims died ( Majira 18 July, 1994). Against this background police arrests alone are not a reliable indicator of Muslim criminality.
The third problem is that of validity. Is it Islam or poverty which actuates many young men and women to commit crimes? Is it Islam or lack of employment opportunities? This can only be established in a situation where Muslims and non-Muslims enjoy equal opportunities. At present Muslims are disproportionately sidelined in education and employment. In a socio-political set up whereby the majority of the unemployed are of a particular religion or race, it would not be surprising if the people of that religion or race make up the majority of jail in-mates. Correlation should not be confused with cause.
The fourth problem lies in what such statistics conceal. It may be true that over 80 per cent of Tanzania’s convicted prisoners are Muslims. What are the crimes which landed them in prison? Are they street crimes (of the kibaka and changudoa type) or suite crimes (of looting the national banks type)? In his celebrated book, Trusted Criminals Friedrichs (1996) says that suite crime, or white collar crime involves human behaviour in its most devious and diabolical forms. ‘We cannot fully understand our political, economic and social institutions without attending to white collar crime’ (1996: xvii). Who are the trusted criminals in Tanzania? What is their religious identity? What is their percentage in jails? What is their percentage in police registers of arrests? In their Pastoral Letter of 21st November, 1993 the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) noted with concern how trusted criminals (they did not use that phrase, they called them "people entrusted with leadership") were ruining the country. Such expressions of concern are few and far between. It is common knowledge for example that extreme poverty coupled with the alluring hope of living like dignified human beings have compelled some young Muslim boys who should have been in secondary schools to risk their lives by being carriers of cocaine and other drugs. When they refuse to be carriers, and most of them refuse after their first trip, they are usually found dead in dubious circumstances. They are given two choices, to continue being carriers or to die. Muslims who are denied education and decent jobs are then turned into perpetual slaves of trusted criminals. The trusted criminals are not only treated as respectable citizens but are also provided with the "ultimate security" in the country. Recently a Catholic priest was caught with packets of heroine and bhang. The case received very little publicity. Only one daily newspaper reported it in a small corner of the inside pages. In his judgement the Kisutu Resident Magistrate gave him the option of either serving a four month jail term or paying a fine of 200,000 Tanzanian shillings, about 250 US dollars! Of course he immediately paid the fine (Majira 27 August, 1999).
Muslims undervalue "secular" education
As a result of the interplay of factors mentioned in chapter one many of our Christian friends find it extremely difficult to come face to face with the grim reality of religious discrimination in Tanzania. In a way their cognitive dissonance is understandable. It was easier to see and condemn the apartheid policies of the white racists. It was easier to believe that white people even if they were good Christians, were still capable of discriminating black people, even if those black people were also good Christians. The recent examples in Bosnia and Kosovo have shown that white people, even if they were good Christians, were quite capable of massacring their fellow countrymen and women, even if they were also white, if those white people were Muslim. It was easier to see and accept that the Somalis were capable of spilling the blood of other Somalis even if those other Somalis were also Muslim. It was easier to accept the possibility of white Catholics hating and even killing white Protestants in Northern Ireland. The Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda and Burundi were capable of killing each other even if they are all black people and rightful citizens of the same country. Tanzanians who were above such primordial politics could even play the role of mediators in Burundi and elsewhere. A comforting illusion is being orchestrated in Tanzania to the effect that somehow Tanzanians are a unique species. Christians in Tanzania, even if they dominate all spheres of national life can never discriminate against other Tanzanians. In fact this argument was used in 1998 by the Minister for Home Affairs and by some church leaders not only to justify the exclusion of Muslims, but also to condemn as dangerous the idea of including them, in the National Board of Parole ( Taifa Letu June 7-13, 1998 )!
Christians find the reality of discrimination in their beloved country is just too bitter to drink unsweetened. As we all do in such situations, to relieve their guilt excuses are supplied. Muslims, it is said, should blame themselves. They overvalue religious instruction in their "Madrasas" and shunt aside secular education. The government has no policy of marginalising Muslims in education. It should be appreciated however that it is extremely difficult to convince Muslims to take education seriously. The situation is painted as resembling that of the proverbial horse which can be driven to a well but cannot be forced to drink water! This is probably the most used propaganda ploy to cover up religious discrimination in the country. And as if by instruction, the few show cases Muslims who have been appointed to serve in the government would unfailingly repeat this propaganda in all Muslim functions they are invited to attend. Perhaps one of the most nauseating examples in recent years was the ill-advised speech delivered by the Vice President Dr. Omar Ali Juma on Eid-el-Haj day at Tandika mosque on 8 April, 1998. Muslims were so amazed by Dr. Omar’s puzzling unawareness that ten days later Waislam wa Tanzania (1998) wrote and disseminated an eight page document as a reply to his speech.
Fr. Peter Smith (1992) acknowledges that Muslims lag far behind in education. He argues that this is a natural outcome of Muslims’ unwillingness to accept a secular system of education. A similar observation is made by Professor Malekela (1993:26), the current Director of University of Dar es Salaam’s Bureau of Educational Research (BERE):
Since staunch Muslim believers equate Western schooling to (sic!) Christianity, they need to be helped in changing such false beliefs...It will be difficult for them to participate fully in the process of democratisation if they are having only the traditional teachings of the Qur'an.
In his doctoral dissertation on access to secondary education in Tanzania, Malekela (1983) found that 78.5 per cent of secondary students were Christian and only 18.6 per cent Muslim. Likewise the 1994 US Report on Human Rights in Tanzania acknowledges the significant disadvantages facing Muslims in education and employment. It also notes the existence of widespread Muslim resentment in the country. More importantly however, the Report says religious imbalances in Tanzania are a result of historical circumstances rather than deliberate discrimination (US Department of State, 1995).
Available historical evidence, both past and present, would seem to contradict the popular belief that Muslims hate or fear education. It is certainly true that in the past Muslims rejected, as they continue to reject today, the Christian principle of using diakonia (services like education and health) as means of evangelisation. People should enter into Christianity out of conviction and faith in the Word of God, not as a condition of getting food, clothing, medical treatment or education. I believe Christians would have reacted in a similar fashion were they to find themselves in a situation where educational institutions served as instruments of Islamisation. In fact recently Christian Members of Parliament took to task the Minister for National Education and Culture, Professor Juma Kapuya (a Muslim) for enforcing a long-standing government secular which allowed Muslim students to put on head scarfs. He was accused of harbouring a secret agenda of Islamising public schools, although Christian nuns have been doing so since colonial times!
The German colonial policy of education was to establish government schools which would be secular. The Germans believed that it was dangerous for the government to depend on mission schools because ‘the products of mission schools rarely proved of sufficient quality for government service and could never be relied upon for total loyalty as they always considered themselves "children or servants of the mission" ’ (Swatman, 1976: 108). In retrospect, it would appear that the Germans were correct. In Tanzania today Muslims are discriminated, maimed or killed not because the constitution says so; but because the majority of Christians who hold key offices in the government were educated by, and consider themselves servants of, the missions. Mr. Mgandu, a good Christian friend of mine told me in 1988 as we were going to Segerea Seminary, that although 95 per cent of the University of Dar es Salaam lecturers were Christian, 60 per cent of them were trained in Christian seminaries. Naturally but quite unfortunately, their first loyalty is to their church leaders. As a result we have cases in present day Tanzania whereby government scholarships to study abroad are announced to church-goers on Saturday or Sunday, while the same information is withheld from other members. In May 1999 a Muslim student who has asked for anonymity came to my office to seek for my recommendation to study abroad. A Christian friend of his got the information from his church and tipped him. And his Christian friend made a personal appeal to the desk officer responsible for those scholarships to consider his Muslim friend. He was the only Muslim to get the scholarship and is presently studying abroad. He is so grateful to his Christian friend that he would not like to betray him or the desk officer in any way. Or as I mentioned in the first chapter (s), a situation where the Director of Information Service, in the Vice President’s Office, instead of dealing with matters of national interest, was busy promoting the sectional interests of Catholic Old Boys and reporting the matter not to the Vice President, but to Rev. Walsh ( Sivalon, 1992:15).
The German principle that government schools should be free of religious influences enraged the Catholics who accused the government of bias in favour of Muslims. The first schools were located in the coastal area; Tanga, Dar es Salaam, Bagamoyo, Pangani and Lindi. The residents of those towns were and still are predominantly Muslim. And as Hornsby (1964:84) noted, ‘It is not surprising then that the majority of the pupils were Muslims. This fact was seized upon by the missions (mainly the Roman Catholics) who accused the government of being pro Islam’. As early as 1892 Muslims were the majority in government schools which offered Western education. Yet a century later, and in independent Tanzania, Muslims of the same areas are unashamedly described as hating or fearing Western education. And to give a serious touch to this comic drama (in the style of Oscar Wilde’s comic play, On the Importance of Being Earnest ) Mtanzania in its editorial of 27 January, 1999 wrote, apparently in dead earnest, "Pwani yahitaji Kampeni ya Kitaifa Kuiokoa Kielimu" (The Coast Region needs a National Education Rescue Campaign). The burden of the editorial’s tale was that the people of the Coast region who are predominantly Muslim do not value education. A national campaign be mounted to educate them about the importance of education!
Since initially Muslims dominated in education, they also dominated in government employment. This fact was not lost to Christian missionaries. As Roland Oliver (1965) notes in his book, The Missionary Factor in East Africa Christian missionaries soon realised that the spread and prestige of Islam grew ‘largely from the fact that there was a Muslim in nearly every subordinate post in the government’ (1965:205). And this had a bad influence on the Africans who followed their Traditional religions because ‘They now knew that they could have civilisation without Christianity, for they saw educated yet polygamous Muslims at every government station’ (1965:206). This violated the Christian principle of using diakoniafor Christian proselytization. A vigorous campaign was launched to ensure the marginalisation of Muslims in education and employment. That campaign was perfected during the British colonial period. As Roland (1965:206) says, ‘In British territories, strangely, it was the government rather than the missions which saw the dangers of Islamic expansion, and which took what steps they could to forestall it’. That process of marginalisation has continued since. Forty years after independence, Muslims are still perceived by the missions and the government as religiously and politically dangerous!
The open discrimination and marginalisation which Muslims suffered under British colonial rule impelled them to spearhead the struggle for independence. They struggled against the British not because they feared, but partly because they were denied education. In fact AMNUT in 1959 petitioned for the delay of Tanganyika’s independence until Muslims in the country had achieved greater educational progress. Nyerere’s argument at that time, (an argument which made a lot of sense) was that it was the British who deliberately marginalised Muslims in education, and the British could not be expected to redress the educational imbalance. It was only independent Tanganyika which was capable of bringing educational progress and social justice to all citizens. Yet after independence the question of religious imbalance in education was made to appear extremely sensitive. To remind the government of its promise was to encourage "udini", a word coined by Nyerere to mean parochial, religious interests. Way back in 1961, in a debate on educational policy in the National Assembly Muslims criticised the continued religious discrimination in schools and severely attacked Christian teachers for spending most of their time in trying to get converts. They called for the nationalisation of schools. Nyerere rejected the idea of nationalisation and said he ‘would have expected most of the speeches to be of gratitude and not of criticism’ (Westerlund, 1980:119). And according to Msekwa (1977:25) the discussion of TANU NEC (National Executive Council) members on educational policy in the country in 1962 recorded: ‘the members complained bitterly about the policy which was being followed, pointing out that there were schools which accepted only the children of the members of their religious denomination’. And as Westerlund (1980:122) suggests, the nationalisation of the schools in 1969 was probably intended to pacify the strong discontentment of Muslims following the government’s decision to dissolve their religious body (EAMWS) and to create for them a puppet organisation (BAKWATA). And now, following the stunning confessions of the Roman Catholic church itself, as published in Sivalon’s book (1992), we know that Nyerere banned EAMWS at the request of his Catholic church which considered and continue to consider Islam as its chief enemy in the country. And ‘Nyerere (who once alleged that TANU was "fiercely secular"’ (Westerlund, 1980:65) has been quoted in Bergen (1981:335) as saying that he had deliberately appointed a Christian minister to head TANU’s Department of Political Education because of his strong religious faith.
In 1987 the then Minister for Education and Culture the late Professor Kighoma Malima discovered that deserving Muslim candidates were deliberately being denied access to secondary education.(It is curious to note that throughout his 25 - year rule, Nyerere had always appointed a Christian to head the Ministry of Education and a Muslim to head the Ministry of Home Affairs.) The trick used by the Christian dominated panel was to select the candidates after decoding their examination numbers. Professor Malima directed the panel to select and announce the results using examination numbers only. In that year the percentage of selected Muslim candidates rose by 40 per cent! He alerted the president
about the matter and suggested a thorough investigation be carried out. He was branded "Mujahidina" and removed from that portfolio and the selection panel reverted to its old system. He repeated those charges at a public rally in Dar es Salaam in 1995. Any government which is "fiercely secular" would certainly wish to know the truth of the matter. Apparently there was no need for the government to investigate the obvious. On July 7, 1999 Muslim leaders paid a courtesy call to President Mkapa at the State House in Dar es Salaam. In the course of their informal discussions Muslims raised the issue of decoding examination numbers. According to my informant the president was clearly surprised. When he asked his Minister for Education and Culture who also attended the talks, the minister confirmed the Muslims’ account. As a result one of the numerous but supposed "isolated" cases came to light in January 1999. A Muslim candidate one Adam Ramadhani Kindenge of Gilman Rutihinda primary school was not selected. His father disputed the fairness of the selection process and demanded to be shown the scripts. It was an embarrassing case. Christian candidates with lower points were selected and Adam who had higher points was left out. No one in the ministry could hazard an explanation. The case was disconcerting in view of Kitwana Kondo’s question in Parliament. But it was a case which like others in the past the ministry managed to suppress. For details see Ramadhani Kindenge’s two letters to the Ministry of Education and Culture (1999). Despite protests from Muslims, the same ministry had also successfully managed to hide from many unsuspecting Tanzanians another discomfiting letter bearing Ref. No. E10/MMC-1/183 of 9 June, 1998 from the Morogoro Municipal Education Officer directing all Headteachers to submit to that office the names of all Standard Seven Catholic students! When a weekly Muslim newspaper An-Nuur confronted the ministry with that letter the spokesperson was too embarrassed to comment. He promised however to investigate the matter. A time-tested device of dropping a hot potato!
Adam Kindenge’s case above is not an isolated one. Muslims have a long list of such cases. The name of a selected Muslim candidate, Kopa Abdallah of Kichangani primary school, in Kilosa was in 1983 unfairly cancelled out in favour of a Christian, Mr. Anthony Samirani who scored less points. Mr. Kopa is today employed as a driver. Was it merely a case of corruption? In his long career as a Secondary School Headmaster and later as a high ranking civil servant, Mr. Bori Lilla was twice confronted with incredible discoveries of religious discrimination in the country. Mr. Bori Lilla is today one of the highly respected Muslim elders in the country and is affectionately referred to as "Mzee Lilla". He told me and he has repeated this account to many others that he was once in the marking and selection committee and was mistaken for a Christian. After marking the scripts he decoded and recorded the names according to their pass marks, and there were as many Muslims as there were Christians. A fellow panelist who was a Christian saw the list and was very furious, he said in a loud voice, "Wewe huoni kama orodha yako ina Waislamu wengi sana, au wewe ni mgeni nini hapa?" ( Don’t you see that your list has so many Muslims, or could it be that you are a new comer here?). Mzee Lilla says that he responded in an equally loud voice, "Mimi siyo mgeni, mimi ni Muislamu". The room was gripped with an eerie silence.
Mzee Lilla witnessed the second revelation of deliberate religious discrimination when he was in the selection panel for allocating High School places for deserving Ordinary Level candidates. It was during the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan and they had almost finished their task when Christian panelists broke for lunch. The panel had only two Muslims who stayed behind. The other Muslim panelist, Mr. Abdulrahman Mwalongo, was writing something and needed a ruler which was in the Chairperson’s draw. When he opened it he found along with the ruler, a list of 25 First class Muslim candidates who had not yet been allocated any place in High Schools while all their Christian counterparts had already been placed. And the panel’s chairperson who was also a Reverend had not even hinted that there was such a list. Mwalongo is from the Hehe ethnic group. And the Hehe are known in Tanzania as fierce warriors. When their colleagues returned, Mwalongo reminded the chairperson about the list in his draw. He brushed aside Mwalongo’s concern saying that those candidates would be taken care of later. Quite unexpectedly, Mwalongo banged his table so forcefully that all members were taken aback. Shaking with rage Mwalongo told the chairperson no business would take place in that room before the allocation of the 25 Muslim students. The chairperson backed down and those students were placed. In July 1997 I cross-checked Mzee Lilla’s account with Mwalongo himself. He confirmed the story. As I am writing this book, both of them are still alive and can easily be contacted for further details.
Before and after independence, Muslims in Tanzania have been complaining about the inferior position they are accorded in education and employment. Yet many Christians would like to believe that Muslims fear or devalue education! 
Churches help the government in providing education and health services
While Muslims are often reproached for disregarding education, Christian churches are invariably praised for holding education dear as well as for helping the government in the provision of education and health services. This is making a virtue of necessity. By means of this propaganda decoy, a dangerously false impression is created: that churches provide education and health services because they want to supplement government efforts in these important services. Nothing could be further from the truth. The churches have always provided those services as basic instruments of evangelisation.
In his book, Ujamaa na Dini, Westerlund (1980:119) writes:
First and foremost it must be emphasized that the mission schools were the classical means of converting the masses. For that reason, the Church accommodated as many Muslims and adherents of African religions as possible in their schools. Catholic children, on the other hand, were only in exceptional cases allowed to attend non-Catholic schools. "The Church cannot give her approval to the principle of neutral or multi-denominational schools; still less can she allow Catholic children to attend schools conducted by those who profess a religion other than the Catholic Faith"...Although the Catholic schools did not force the non-Catholic pupils to attend Catholic religious instruction, they were nevertheless under pressure to change their religion. It was the fundamental concept of Christian education that religion should pervade the entire atmosphere of the school. Hence the problems were great for the Muslims and the adherents of African religions,...
And yet ‘Financially, the churches became more and more dependent on state aid’ (Westerlund, 1980:120). Likewise, in their book, Christian Education in Africa the All Africa Churches Conference (1963:31-32) mentioned the following as among "The Principles of Christian Education":
(4) The Church is charged with the commission to make the truth entrusted to it available to each generation. Each new generation must be taught the truth that sets mind free and be challenged to live at its fullest and best, and so to fulfil the purpose of God. Each person must learn what it means to live an abundant life in his community. And each community must learn God’s purpose for it and for the world.
(5) The spread of education is not therefore a secondary consideration of the Church, but stands at the very core and centre of the Christian message...(My emphasis). 
In his article "The Theory and Practice of Evangelism" Morrison (1930:555) says that ‘Experience has proved that the corporate life of a Christian institution is the most fruitful of all missionary agencies’. He therefore urged the churches to put emphasis on the establishment of schools, hospitals, baby welfare centres and dispensaries.
In his discussion about educational problems in Tanganyika, Raum (1930:564-565) observes that since ‘In the right type of mission school there is no contrast between secular and religious instruction; even in geography and hygiene we teach as messengers of Christ’, the idea of admitting Muslims into those schools was unacceptable because ‘Moslems are fanatical and self-conscious; they would hardly accept instruction given in a Christian spirit with Christian text-books’. He suggested that Muslims should have their own schools with Muslim teachers.
Small (1981:36) says ‘There is no doubt that education was a method of evangelisation’. A similar observation was made earlier on by Smith (1963:102) who noted that ‘The Roman Catholic Missions had always believed in education as an integral part of their missionary work’. And since education was considered as an effective instrument of proselytization, quite understandably there was intense rivalry between Catholic and Protestant missions as Swatman (1976:111) says:
Intense rival missionary activity, in fact, sometimes resulted in an overconcentration of educational institutions in certain favourable districts. The profusion of Lutheran and Catholic schools, set up in close proximity in both Moshi and Bukoba areas, were clear-cut examples of this. In the Southern Highlands, there was an even greater multiplicity of voluntary agencies which were all competing. Mission rivalry there reached its peak during the ten year development plan, 1947-1956, when primary education was expanded with government aid. In parts of Songea District, in 1958, there were over thirty half full primary schools, including eighteen U.M.C.A. schools near Lake Nyasa and twelve Benedictine schools further inland, whereas about twenty-two schools could have probably accommodated all the primary school children in the area. The intense rivalry represented by this situation was clearly reflected in the Benedictine Bishop of Peramiho’s sworn ambition to "drive the U.M.C.A. back into the Lake".
The spirited competition between the U.M.C.A. and the Roman Catholics has also been reported by Gallagher (1971). In an article "Jinsi Kanisa Lilivyoendelea" (How the Church Developed) published in a Catholic magazine Mwenge (21 July, 1968, NB. 376) the Roman Catholic church admits that ‘the mission hospitals played an important role in spreading Catholicism’ (Gallagher, 1971:331). Green (1995:29) notes that ‘widespread "conversion" to Christianity was not the result of aggregate choices of individuals attracted by the "message" of Christianity, but a direct consequence of colonial educational policy, in particular, the British government’s policy of grants in aid to missions...Baptism was a routine part of a child’s progression through primary school, and for the children of non-Christians, was performed when a child reached the third standard’.
It is clear therefore that the churches provide educational and medical services not as a selfless expression of agape (love) to the needy nor as an altruistic supplement to government efforts, but as an effective instrument of Christian proselytization. It should be emphasised here that this is a statement of fact not of judgement. A question which critical minds are likely to ask themselves is: If it is quite proper and legitimate for Muslims to use "Mihadhara" (public lectures) as an effective tool of converting adherents of Traditional religions and even Christians into Islam, why should it be considered improper or sinister for Christian churches to use schools and hospitals as influential agencies of evangelisation? To be sure, there is nothing wrong at all for Christians to use their schools and hospitals for ecumenical purposes. But what is certainly wrong and unfair is for a presumably secular government to use tax-payers’ money to fund Christian evangelisation activities.
During the colonial period, under the grants-in-aid scheme, Christian schools received substantial financial support from the government. To give but one example, when the colonial government decided to open classes for Advanced Level School Certificate in Tanganyika, it chose to begin providing such opportunities in three schools: the government secondary school in Tabora, the Roman Catholic secondary school at Pugu and the Protestant secondary school at Minaki. And according to Sydenham (1959:6):
To meet these needs, Government promised a Capital Grant to Minaki, spread over four years, of 40,000 pounds to cover the cost of buildings required, with contributions towards the cost of new equipment and an electrical installation. Further, new staff Grants-in-Council, to enable the Mission to offer salaries commensurate with the qualifications, experience and responsibility of those to be engaged to teach in these specially selected schools.
While in theory even Muslims could receive government financial support, in practice Muslim schools rarely benefited from such grants. Muslims were actually restricted from opening schools. In those places where Muslim schools had been built the DC and the Provincial Education Officer (P.E.O.) directed that secular subjects should not be taught. And even the few approved schools were denied monetary assistance (Zuhra, No. 71 of 12 December, 1958 and No. 72 of 19 December, 1958).
Even after independence, in fact especially after independence, Christian schools were heavily dependent on government funding. The scheme came to an end after the nationalisation of religious schools in 1969. However on 21 February, 1992 a Memorandum of Understanding (1992) was signed between the Christian Council of Tanzania and the Tanzania Episcopal Conference on one side and the United Republic of Tanzania on the other. Under this memorandum the Churches would ‘make policies in all matters related to Education and Health services provided by the churches’ and the role of the government would be to seek and provide financial support to church institutions. Muslims opposed and continue to oppose this unfair arrangement whereby the government financially supports educational and medical institutions which are owned, controlled and run by the churches. And since churches use educational and medical services as basic instruments of evangelisation, a government which uses its national resources to sponsor such institutions cannot be said to be religiously impartial. It was in that year (1992) that the late Sheikh Kassim bin Juma was labelled a "fundamentalist" because he was so vocal in denouncing the MoU at his Kwamtoro mosque. Despite strong Muslim opposition, the Christian-dominated government went ahead with its "understanding" of supporting Christian institutions. In the 1992/93 financial year (immediately after the signing of MoU) the government allocated Tshs. 2,015,416,000 as grants to religious medical institutions (Wizara ya Afya, 1992). The satirical contradiction here is that the churches are "helping" the government which is too poor to establish and run quality schools and hospitals! 
Muslims are disorganised
Some of our Christian friends argue that Muslims are neither discriminated against nor deliberately marginalised in Tanzania. The real problem lies with the Muslims themselves; they seem to be in disarray and their priorities are lopsided. This is certainly true, but only partially true. And as is often the case, half-truths are sometimes equivalent to a lie. Like Christians, Muslims were very well organised before and immediately after Tanganyika’s independence. The unity of Muslims was not only pan-territorial but also inter-racial. Muslims had very clear and carefully thought-out priorities. The solid unity of Muslims was considered as constituting a political and religious danger to independent Tanganyika! Muslims had to be disorganised. And the Tanzania government intervention in Muslim affairs has always been so crude and brutal that there is hardly a Muslim today who does not know that it is only Christians who have the right and freedom of organising themselves without undue government interference.
In his doctoral dissertation, Yusuf (1990:189) observes:
It is noteworthy that, in comparison to other religions of Tanzania, it is only the Muslims who were formally and officially connected to the State. The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) which is the Catholic Secretariat representing the largest Christian denomination in Tanzania, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) representing the non-Catholic denomination in Tanzania, the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) comprising of Protestant missionary societies...were all left free of official control.
And according to Westerlund (1980) Muslims are brought under State control because they are perceived as being politically dangerous. Disturbing details about how the government has been suppressing Muslims can be found in the studies by Said (1998) and Chande (1991). As I have pointed out in the previous chapters it was actually the Christian churches which requested the government to subdue Muslims and superintend their organisations (Sivalon, 1992). As if to confirm the church-government alliance against Muslims, in 1994 the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Augustine Mrema called upon the churches to raise funds for the General Meeting of the Supreme Muslim Council of Tanzania (BAKWATA). The bishops raised Tshs. 20 million and Mr. Mrema supervised the election meeting in person. The government funding and management of the 1982 BAKWATA meeting was politically more refined than Mrema’s amateurish performance in 1994. After that meeting angry Muslims nick-named Mufti Hemed "Bishop". It would appear that in the eyes of the government it is a criminal offence for Muslims to independently organise themselves even in an adhoc committee like that of Sheikh Ponda whose task is primarily to raise funds and seek legal advice for Muslims who are routinely being arrested by the police. In fact the committee was formed in response to the 1993 massive arrests of Muslims. Yes, as a community Muslims are disorganised, and it is the government which is mainly responsible for disorganising them. 
"Mihadharas" pose a threat to national peace
The government bias against Muslims is clearly reflected in the way it handles Muslim preaching. The government has joined forces with the Christian clergy in criminalising legitimate Muslim preaching. Muslim preachers, we are told, endanger national peace and security. On this question it would appear the majority of lay Christians differ with their church leaders. While the church leaders warn their followers against listening to Muslim preachers, many Christians ignore this advice and a growing number of them end up reverting to Islam. Ponda (1998) has recorded a good example which occurred in Mwanza in January 1998 before the Mwembechai episode. A Muslim group AL-MALID delivered a series of public lectures which were attended by thousands of people of different religious faiths. One journalist wrote in a tabloid published in that city that those Muslim public lectures were likely to disrupt peace and should be discontinued. Hundreds of angry Christians and Muslims thronged the Police station and demanded a correction of the false and malicious report as well as an apology from the publishers. The journalist admitted in public that his report was evil-intentioned and the apology was published in the following issue. The actual threat of Mihadharacannot be understood without reference to the history of Christian-Muslim relations in the country.
The early Christian missionaries, the White Fathers and the Church Missionary Society, considered Islam as the most determined enemy of Christianity. They also believed that Muslims could never be converted into Christianity. As a result they hated and avoided Muslims. Later on the missionaries stumbled upon two crucial discoveries: (a) it was actually possible for a Muslim to become a Christian and vice versa, and (b) the number of Muslims who were becoming Christians was bigger than of Christians who were returning to Islam (Holway, 1966). That discovery encouraged missionaries to change their relationship with Muslims as Kasozi (1989:37) notes:
The realisation that Muslims could, and were being converted to Christianity had a fundamental impact on the way Christians related with Muslims. It was realised that in order to win Muslims, there had to be a shift from the traditional adversarial to a new friendly approach which would make Muslims gain the confidence of Christian evangelisers. Christian missionaries were henceforth taught the basic elements of Islam as a preparation to their dealings with Muslims. In Kenya, the National Christian Council of Kenya appointed the Rev. James Ritchie to be its advisor on Islam. He was partly instrumental in the creation of the Islam in Africa Project whose mandate was to advise church workers on Islam. In 1971, the Rev. Tom Beetham took over the direction of the Project.
Muslims in East Africa were too disorganised to note this crucial change of attitude and methods of evangelisation on the part of Christian leaders. Due to their lack of institutional organisations and basic education, they do not seem to have realised the danger implicit in the change by Christians from an adversarial to a friendly (but in reality a more bitter) relationship. 
In Tanzania the Roman Catholic church trained her own experts in what has come to be known by a term which sounds like a disease, "Islamology" (the study of Islam for purposes of combating it). The first expert was the famous Fr. Peter Smith whose Ph.D. dissertation was on "Muslim and Christian Relations in Tanzania in the Light of Vatican II". Now that role has been taken over by Fr. Michael Milunga, who like his predecessor, is very fluent in Arabic and has memorised a good portion of the Qur’an. Babu (1984) noted that the Catholic Christian Democratic Movement had set itself two major objectives: to fight communism worldwide and to combat Islam in Africa. The Limuru conference in that year had two items of the agenda: refugees and the spread of Islam. Rev. Sebastian Kolowa of Tanzania ‘openly and eloquently expressed the fear of the Christian hierarchy on the spread of Islam and suggested methods to stop it...’ Tanzania was allocated 240 million Tanzanian Shillings, and ‘to facilitate their movement the church is constructing 14 airfields in the country, much more than the government’s own airfields.’ Moreover, 10 million copies of the Bible were sent to Africa, some in Kiswahili but printed in Arabic script (Babu, 1984).
Many of those Bibles were distributed to Muslim students in many schools in the country. Even the government-controlled BAKWATA was alarmed. Its Secretary General expressed deep concern in his letter Ref. No. UK/D/10/14/72 of 13 July, 1989 to his counterpart of the Christian Council of Tanzania. Muslims in Tanzania decided to read very carefully the Bibles being thrust into their hands and began to use them to invite Christians to Islam. When "Mihadhara" started in 1984, Christian leaders were very much pleased to find that Muslims who in the past never touched the Bible were beginning to read the Word of God so avidly. In fact the regional itinerary of Muslim preachers was even being reported on the Radio Tanzania’s "Majira" programme. Among the places where Muslim and Christian preachers were officially invited to have public discussions include the Police College, the Marangu Teachers’ Training College and the KCMC medical school all of which are in Moshi (Ponda, 1998). Church leaders thought Muslims’ interest in the Bible would lead to mass conversions into Christianity. However it did not take long for them to discover that many Christians were accepting Islam on the authority of the Bible, and that they could not satisfactorily counter the Muslim reading of the Bible. It was quite clear therefore, that if encouraged or left unchecked, Muslim preachers would soon alter the religious equation in the country. A new button was pressed. And suddenly like in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four Tanzanians were pressurised to "hate" Mihadhara. From 1987 following Mwalimu Nyerere’s speech in Sumbawanga where he wanted to know whether Ustadh Fundi Ngariba, a famous Muslim preacher was a prophet, a sinister and sustained campaign was unleashed to link Muslim preaching with the disruption of peace! It was like the misfortune of a man who lost the good favour of his mother-in-law who used to treat him like a king when he first married her daughter.
Ten years later the campaign reached its feverish peak. Mtanzania (21 February, 1997) exactly a year before the Mwembechai killings, quoted Bishop Elinaza Sendoro as saying "Mihadhara ya dini itazua vita" (Religious lectures will cause war). Majira (10 April, 1997) quoted Bishop Basil Sambano as condemning religious debates. And in its editorial of 2 April, 1997 Majira wrote "Ushauri wa Askofu Pengo kuhusu mihadhara uzingatiwe" (Arch-bishop Pengo’s counsel on religious preaching be heeded). What was chillingly ominous about that editorial (and in retrospect quite prophetic) was its concluding statement, made a year before the Mwembechai killings:
Hakuna sababu ya kuhofia kuudhi mtu au kikundi fulani cha watu. Tunasema katika hilo ni vizuri kutumia mbinu za kumwua nyani.
There is no reason for [ the government ] to fear displeasing any person or any group of persons. We insist in handling this matter, it is preferable to use the techniques of killing a monkey. 
The metaphor used by the Majira editor is as frightening as it is accurate. In Kiswahili idiom, it is said that if one is really determined to kill a monkey, then one should not look at the monkey’s face. The reason being that the monkey’s face so resembles that of a human being one may be overcome by feelings of compassion. In the context of Muslim preachers the editor says the same procedure should be used. The government should not reflect upon the matter, for if it does, it will never kill Muslim preachers. To appropriate the Shakespearean analogy in The Merchant of Venice, (Act III, Scene I): A Tanzanian Muslim and his or her Christian counterpart are so strikingly similar. Has not a Muslim eyes? Has not a Muslim hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? -- fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick them do they not bleed? If you tickle them do they not laugh? If you poison them do they not die? Moreover Muslims like Christians are all Tanzanian citizens, guided by the same constitution, and they are all entitled to preach their respective religions, and what is more Muslims have committed no offence. The editor says if the government would consider all these factors and hence make the mistake of looking at the Muslims on the face it will definitely shy away from killing them. And that is exactly what came to pass at Mwembechai. The government killed the Muslims and it has so far rejected to probe the killings. If you want to kill a dog, give it a bad name; if you want to kill a monkey, do not look at its face! Aziz (1998) has made a sober and exceedingly insightful appraisal of how the Tanzanian government has been handling the issue of Muslim preaching. Aziz’s long letter to the Attorney General is appended at the end of this book.
In her study, Biersteker (1996) has shown that as way back as 1893 Muslims in East Africa were having public religious dialogues with Christian missionaries. In her book she gives many examples of Muslim responses to the attempt by a CMS missionary, Mr. W.E.Taylor to convince them that Jesus son of Mary was a progeny of God. In one of the examples reported by Biersteker (1996:258) a Muslim says in a poem dated 21 July 1893, composed in Mombasa:
Katika Injili 
haya hukuona: 
Hapana dalili 
Isa kuwa mwana! 
Wazua! Si kweli 
Tela ulonena
In the New Testament 
this you did not see: 
There is no sign/that 
Isa/Jesus was a child [of God]! 
You prevaricate! It is not true 
Taylor what you say 

Muslims did not ask the government to prevent Rev. Taylor from preaching at the market place, and those inter-religious dialogues did not disrupt peace. Maalim Ahmed (1961 rpt.1985) of Mombasa was challenged by a Christian on the radio and he responded by providing scriptural evidence from the Bible. Tanzania’s peace is not threatened by Muslim preaching. 
Mkapa’s procedure cannot work
It should be clear from what I have noted above that the predicament of Muslims in Tanzania has nothing to do with scientific data or lack of it. I do not think there is anything in my account above which can be considered as providing "new" information to the well trained and very well informed Christian elite in my country. I have largely depended on their researches. The problem is basically that of a negative mind-set. This negative mind-set is extremely difficult to overcome because it is tied up with vested interests. The long-established Muslim complaints of religious discrimination from the colonial period to the present and the disputes about those complaints cannot be assessed disinterestedly, like say a dispute about the annual average temperature of the North Pole.
I am aware that there are exceptions. There are always people who, in Marxist parlance, can commit class suicide. Lodhi (1994:92) for example has quoted Walter Bugoya, an influential and brilliant intellectual in the country as saying ‘It is a fact that Muslims are generally and unfairly treated educationally’. And in a private discussion I had with a Christian professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Dar es Salaam, he candidly told me, ‘I know that Muslims are being marginalised in this country. But mind you I am a beneficiary of the present order, there is little that I can do to change it’. I admired his frankness. Such people are in extremely short supply. Unfortunately, in practice, many Christians consider Muslims as subnormal. And when those subnormal citizens demand equal rights they are noticeably amazed. Examples abound. The government had initially set Sunday as a public holiday and later included Saturday to allow Christians of all denominations to go to their respective churches. Friday is not a public holiday. Muslim students have to seek special permission to attend Friday prayers. And when they do, the Christian teachers are enraged. "You may attend your prayers but classes would continue", they are told. And it does not occur to them at all that Muslims who are also rightful citizens are being unfairly treated. And when the Kigamboni Member of Parliament raised it in Parliament he was labelled a mischief monger! Year in year out the Christians, the rightful citizens, spend a lot of public funds to buy Christmas trees, cards and other expensive decorations, to adorn public offices as part of Christmas celebrations. When Muslims query the legality of such expenses and such activities in public offices, Christians are usually shocked to imagine that there is anyone in his or her right senses who could possibly question the importance of a secular government celebrating Christmas. But when Muslims request for similar public funds to celebrate Eid they are considered crazy! With the advent of multipartism in Tanzania it was decided that CCM’s birthday, the 5th of February, should cease to be a public holiday. Instead of scrapping it off altogether, or replacing it with a religiously neutral date, it was decided Christians should have more days of celebrating Christmas. A Muslim who applies for a passport in his country, is required to produce a birth certificate or a certificate of baptism. The same requirement will meet a Muslim who wants to contest for a leadership position in CCM Youth League. A rightful Tanzanian citizen is unconsciously assumed to be a Christian. And just in case anyone had any doubts about the religious affiliation of CCM the Vice Chairman of the Party dispelled those doubts in May 1999. When a Muslim, one Issa Juma wanted to join CCM, the Vice Chairman, John Samuel Malecela had to baptise him into the party by pouring water on his head in public (Dar Leo, 7 May, 1999). I believe Malecela who is the second in command in the party, did not do that baptismal ceremony consciously. But the event illustrates the depth and complexity of the Muslim predicament.
And when in the face of all this, Muslims compaign that they are being treated as foreigners in their own country, many Christians are sincerely surprised, and consider such statements as exaggerations. And it seems that they have forgotten that in 1955 Africans in Tanganyika, both Muslims and Christians, complained to the United Nations that ‘jambo tusilolipenda ni kwamba baadhi yao hutufanya sasa tujione kama wageni katika nchi yetu wenyewe (What we object is the attempt by some of them to make us feel like foreigners in our own country) (TANU, 1955:15).
In his memorable essay, "Time to read the signs on the wall" Shivji (1993) cautioned the government against using police methods to address political problems. He wrote, ‘But when people perceive that they are accorded an inferior treatment and / or are oppressed because of their identity, then it becomes the material for a social volcano’. He called upon the government to seriously confront the problem of the ‘unequal treatment accorded to the Muslim community as a community’. Six years later, the situation of Muslims has worsened and Shivji’s far-sighted advice has gone unheeded.
I am aware that the president did indeed invite different ministries to examine Muslim complaints and to advise him. I was privileged to see some of those responses. All of them were arrogantly dismissive and extremely hostile. Except for giving BAKWATA more freedom, the experts have cautioned the president against disturbing the status quo. Those responses reminded me of the conversation I had with Alhaj Aboud Jumbe in July 1994 when he was finalising his book, The Partner-Ship. He told me that immediately after the breakout of civil war in Angola, Mwalimu Nyerere requested him to deliver a special message to Dr. Agostinho Neto, who was the president of Angola at that time. To avert further bloodshed in the country, Mwalimu Nyerere appealed to Dr. Neto to consider the possibility of a political solution. Alhaj Jumbe said, "Dr. Neto listened to me very attentively, and I was very much encouraged. But when I finished, his response shocked me. He said, ‘Go and tell Mwalimu, I appreciate and understand his concern. But we must kill each other first if lasting peace is to return to Angola.’" In the 1800s Napoleon said that ‘Bloodletting is among the ingredients of political medicine’ (Herold, 1955:159). Did President Neto subscribe to a similar view? At any rate, Jumbe said that after what he experienced during the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution, he would not like to see any generation of Tanzanians undergo a similar experience. But if Muslims continue to refuse their inferior status and Christians continue to harbour a negative mind-set, how can civil strife be averted in Tanzania? The following chapter looks at the looming political tragedy in Tanzania and the faint hopes of averting it. 

Tragedy and Hope
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave half free. -- Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858.
The Limits of "Suffering without Bitterness"
In his moving farewell speech at the Diamond Jubilee Hall on 4th November, 1985 Mwalimu Nyerere made two statements, of great moment, about Muslims in Tanzania. In a way, those statements encapsulate and crystallise both Tanzania’s looming political tragedy and the fading hopes of averting it. In the first part Nyerere paid glowing tribute to Muslims for their political maturity and patience, qualities which greatly contributed to the country’s enduring peace. He acknowledged the existence of enormous religious disparities against Muslims in education and employment when the country became independent. And that the inferior status of Muslims was so conspicuous that it could have easily been used to divide the nation. He said that attempts were indeed made to use those imbalances to disrupt the unity and solidarity of Tanzanians, but Muslims spurned them. In the second part Mwalimu Nyerere expressed his satisfaction that as he was stepping down from government leadership Tanzania had already successfully rectified whatever imbalances that existed between Christians and Muslims in education and employment.
Nyerere’s second statement has baffled me, and I hope many other Tanzanians since. And like many Tanzanians also, I have too much respect for Mwalimu to accuse him of lying. But how could he commit such a grave factual error in his public farewell speech? There are several logical possibilities. The first one is that he sincerely believed religious imbalances had been redressed. It is a possibility which is difficult to accept. Throughout his political career Nyerere kept himself very well informed about local and international affairs. The position of Muslims in Tanzania is a subject which even the dullest students could hazard a correct answer, how could their teacher, and one who ruled the country for twenty five years, have got it so wrong? The other possibility is that Nyerere like everyone else knew that those imbalances had not been corrected and that in some cases like political appointments the Muslims were even worse off in 1985 than they were in the early sixties. Nyerere had promised Muslims in 1959 that their lowly position could only be set right after independence. After ruling the country for a quarter of a century and after acknowledging the enduring patience of Muslims throughout that long period, Nyerere found it difficult to admit his failure in that regard. But again that is very uncharacteristic of Mwalimu. Way back in 1962 Nyerere wrote Tujisahihishe. The onus of his narration in that small booklet was to underline the need for acknowledging and correcting our mistakes. And in his leadership Nyerere displayed admirable courage in admitting mistakes and even failures without equivocation. The Arusha Declaration: Ten Years After is but one example. But why was Nyerere suddenly unable or unwilling to admit failure in religious imbalances?
We may never know why Mwalimu made that puzzling statement but many Muslims have been forced to suspect a trace of religious prejudice against them. One can understand why in his book, Said (1998) has described that speech as a "farce". Muslims argue that Nyerere could not have possibly been ignorant of their situation. Nor could he have been embarrassed by his failure to keep his promise. For if that were the case he could have easily ignored that subject altogether as he had done throughout his rule as president. He was under no pressure to raise it. Nyerere not only raised the matter but also attempted to close the Muslim file by misrepresenting it. It was mentioned in chapter one how Nyerere, a Catholic, had vowed to do everything in his power to strengthen Catholicism in Tanzania. Was Nyerere afraid that the new president, a Muslim, would also misuse his power to strengthen Islam in the country? In any case, Nyerere had failed to fulfil his promise. Why was he now deliberately discouraging future leaders from addressing that problem? Did he believe Muslims would perpetually continue with their suffering without any bitterness? A year before Nyerere made that statement Mazrui and Tidy (1984:377-378) noted in their book, Nationalism and New States in Africa that the political leverage of Muslims in Tanzania was well below commensurate levels and that ‘Most observers do not even realise that there are more Muslims than Christians in Tanzania’. They also wrote, (and in retrospect quite prophetically) that while Tanzania had fared better in terms of religious harmony, ‘but the risk that Muslims might become increasingly discontented as they witness a disproportionate share of privilege enjoyed by Christians continue to hang over Tanzania, especially in the years which would follow the departure of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’. 
Was Nyerere shedding crocodile tears?
In Tanzania Christians have dominated key government appointments for so long that they now seem to consider it anomalous to see a Muslim beyond the rank of an office cleaner, messenger or driver. Malekela (1993) for example claimed that under Mwinyi’s leadership the tendency was to favour Muslims to assume positions of high responsibility even when they were ill-qualified. He could not cite even a single example. In fairness to him however, he did acknowledge that he was quoting a rumour. In his pastoral letter Pengo (1993) also reported but discounted the claim that Christians were being discriminated in government appointments. Reverend Curthbert Omari (1994) went even further. He cautioned his fellow Christians to be on their guard against possible Muslim "infiltration" in "our" various government institutions! Far from remedying religious imbalances, Tanzania was becoming more and more exclusionary as far as religious affiliation was concerned. Baraza Kuu (1993) in their booklet Madai ya Haki za Waislamu did not rely on rumours. They compiled a list of Christian and Muslim officials in various government offices and parastatal organisations. They pointed out for example that in that year 1993 there were 8 Muslim District Commissioners against 113 Christian. In the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister himself, his Principal Secretary, Deputy Principal Secretary, and all the five Directors were all Christian. Likewise in the Civil Service Department a Christian Principal Secretary was assisted by five directorates all of which were headed by Christians. The Tanzania Electoral Commission had seven members all of whom were Christian except one member from Zanzibar. The Tanzania Law Review Commission had nine members all of whom were Christian except one member from Zanzibar. Muslims called upon the government to rectify the religious under-representation of Muslims.
In the same year 1993, following the pork butcheries riots, hundreds of Muslims were indiscriminately arrested and denied bail on very flimsy grounds. During that trying period Shivji (1993b) stood out as an eloquent if lone voice to speak out in defence of the underprivileged. Even Nyerere was alarmed by the ferocity with which the government pounced on the Muslims. He criticised the government of the day by saying that during his presidency the primary duty of the government was to fiercely defend the constitution, not pork shops; whereas the major task of the current government was to fiercely defend pork shops, not the constitution. He was alluding to the Union government’s wavering stand on Zanzibar’s membership to the OIC. Of course Nyerere was conspicuously silent about the Mwembechai killings. But perhaps more significantly it was in 1993 that Nyerere for the first time admitted in public that there was indeed religious hatred against Muslims in Tanzania. He said that it was nothing but religious hatred against Zanzibari Muslims which was behind the call for the creation of Tanganyika. In an interview with a local Kiswahili newspaper Nyerere said that when he opposed the G55 motion for the creation of Tanganyika a team of clergymen went to see him at his Msasani residence. They told him that it was important for Tanganyika to have its own separate government because of the cultural incompatibility between Zanzibaris and Tanganyikans. Nyerere asked them whether the people of Bagamoyo were culturally closer to their fellow Tanganyikans of Bunda than they were to the people of Unguja. Or whether the people of Tanga or Mafia were culturally more compatible with their fellow Tanganyikans of Tunduma than they were with the people of Pemba. He told them that there were more Muslims in Tanganyika than in Zanzibar. The same problem of cultural incompatibility would confront them within Tanganyika. In his book Tanzania, Tanzania! Nyerere (1993) repeated his charge about religious hatred against Islam and Muslims in Tanzania.
I am aware that there are formidable arguments, both constitutional and political, in favour of three governments. Those arguments have also been presented by some of our best legal minds in Tanzania, and not all of them out of religious prejudice against Muslims or Christians. Way back in 1983, at a meeting of the Tanganyika Law Society, Wolfgang Dourado, a patriotic Zanzibari Catholic, presented closely reasoned legal bases for the creation of Tanganyika. Shivji (1990) and Jumbe (1994) have also argued that the 1964 Articles of Union envisaged three distinct jurisdictions. My interest here is not to discuss the legality or political suitability of having the government of Tanganyika, but rather to underscore the fact that Nyerere at last made a public acknowledgement of the existence of the cancerous curse of religious animus in Tanzania. Quite unfortunately however, Nyerere made those admissions at a time when Muslims were already so disenchanted with him that they accused him of shedding crocodile tears. He was the one who laid the foundation of a structure which guaranteed the continued dominance of people of his own religious faith. If there were more Muslims in Tanganyika than in Zanzibar, those Muslims were virtually invisible in the government machinery. Nyerere did not say how this terrible monster of religious rancor against Muslims crept into Tanzania, "the citadel of peace". Any serious effort to disentangle ourselves from its fatal grip must begin with an equally serious effort to understand how it came to haunt us. In the foregoing pages I have attempted to show in the light of my understanding and experience the nature and complexity of the political malaise which now weighs so ominously upon our society. 
What should be done?
To avert political catastrophe in Tanzania I suggest the following: 
 (a) The president should address the dominant group
President Mkapa has acknowledged the existence of Muslim grievances. He has also expressed his willingness to resolve them. Muslims have many complaints but they all fall under the rubric of religious discrimination. Perhaps the strongest political advantage which Tanzania has, but one which may not last long, is that religious discrimination against Muslims is still hierarchical and therefore unilateral. It is not so far horizontal and therefore not yet mutual. Muslims suffer religious discrimination and humiliation in their contact with vertical institutional power, in schools and government offices. Muslims do not experience religious discrimination horizontally in their social relationship with Christians at the market place, or as neighbours and friends. Even at those trying moments when Muslims were being hounded up by the government, in some cases it was a perplexed Christian neighbour who took care of the children of the arrested Muslim parents. And in most cases Christians would be among those people who would come to comfort a bereaved Muslim parent or spouse.
Because of their inferior position, Muslims, even if they wished, cannot possibly discriminate against Christians at a vertical level. It is the Christians who dominate positions of power who have unilaterally decided to discriminate against Muslims. And it is this group which the president should address. Female Muslim students for example have a constitutional right to follow the Islamic code of dress. The Ministry of National Education and Culture had issued a circular letter to that effect long ago. Yet in practice Muslim students are daily being harassed by Christians who head those educational institutions. When Muslims staged a demonstration in protest, they were reassured that putting on an Islamic dress was their constitutional right! The government should have addressed and warned those who were unilaterally discriminating against Muslims. The government drive should aim at changing the arrogant mind-set of the dominant group before its discriminatory tendencies trickle down and induce exclusionary tendencies at the horizontal level.
Muslims suffered religious discrimination under the colonial rule and they rose against it. Why is it that after independence Muslims have endured religious discrimination for so long? Why are they now becoming increasingly discontented? The patience of Muslims rested on two major factors which are now crumbling away. For better or for worse Muslims did believe that they would get a fair deal after independence. It did not occur to
them that like the colonialists, their fellow citizens would also count them as political or religious enemies. They hoped that after independence one’s religion would not be a determinant factor in upward social mobility. That trust is poignantly captured in Nyerere’s 1985 farewell speech. Nyerere recalled and recounted the brotherly treatment Christians received in a predominantly Muslim city of Dar es Salaam. That speech was reproduced in Uhuru, 5 November,1999 following Nyerere’s death. Forty years after independence Muslims are not only disproportionately under-represented but are also openly perceived as enemies. The second factor was that despite the gross religious inequalities in access to education and employment, Muslims as a community were still regarded with respect and treated as dignified human beings. They were not deliberately held up for public scorn or humiliation. The government sensitivity towards Muslims was such that Independence Day celebrations were postponed if they fell on the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan. Forty years after independence the government insensitivity towards Muslims has been such that in 1999 Muslim students were initially scheduled to sit for their examinations on Eid-el Fitr Day! And when Muslims raised concern some government officials said with unmistakable insolence, "The time-table will not be changed. It is up to them (the Muslims) to decide whether to sit for the examinations or not" (Kondo, 1999). Despite repeated Muslim protests, the humiliation of Muslims is becoming a favourite form of "entertainment".
At a sensitive period of national anguish when Mwalimu Nyerere passed away, and even before his body had been laid to rest in Butiama,Mtanzania ( 23 October,1999), one of the leading daily newspapers in the country decided to entertain her readers by publishing a cartoon which reviled Muslims and their religious leaders, and which proudly presented Nyerere as a Catholic religious leader. The cartoon had two parts. In part one the uncle by the name of Kepu says to his nephew, Wavisa, "Do you know, Wavisa, that Mwalimu’s funeral has set an unparalleled record this century?". The nephew responds by saying, "You are quite right, uncle Kepu". In part two the nephew adds by saying, "But the funeral of a Muslim religious leader in our area set an unparalleled record in having the greatest number of pick-pockets and thugs." The overjoyed uncle jumps up in a hearty laughter. Was Nyerere a Catholic religious leader? Why should his funeral be compared with that of a Muslim religious leader? Forty years after independence Muslims are publicly portrayed as the dregs of the Tanzanian society. In whose interest? In their letter of protest Muslims said that they were greatly saddened to note that the occasion of Nyerere’s funeral should be seized to vilify Muslim leaders who sacrificed so much to facilitate Nyerere’s rise to power. The letter also stated that under normal circumstances the government would have taken action against the newspaper or at least reprimanded it, especially since the cartoon was religiously insulting and politically divisive. But Habari Corporation had the effrontery of publishing it at a time of national mourning because of the sure knowledge that Muslims and their religious leaders were not regarded as normal citizens (Walid, 1999).
If Mtanzania maligned Muslim religious leaders, a Radio Tanzania play "Niachieni Mwenyewe" ridiculed the Holy Qur’an and the Sunday Observerreviled Muslim women and the Muslim dress of Hijab. In all the above cases and many others Muslims protested but their protests do not seem to stem the tide of slurs against them. In July 1999 the Dar es Salaam Consultative Assembly of Imams issued a statement against the stigmatization of mosques by CCM’s Secretary General, Philip Mangula (Mbukuzi, 1999). The gross religious inequalities of today are not only accompanied by a structural exclusion of Muslims but also by their conspicuous humiliation as a sort of national pastime. The process of changing the negative mind-set against Muslims must include disallowing the dissemination of negative images of Muslims in the mass media. 
(b) The establishment of religious checks and balances
The promotion of national ideals should not largely or solely be dependent on the good sense of individuals in positions of power. It is important to establish in-built control mechanisms. It is of course true that to a very large extent having a good government means having good people in government. But in-built safeguards would help the government to spot and flush out bad elements before it is too late. Any serious bank for example would carefully scrutinize the past history of its employees and admit only those with unblemished records. Despite their trustworthiness the bank would still put in place financial regulations to monitor all transactions. Any foul play would be discovered almost immediately. Unfortunately, there appears to be a very well established image in our country that Christians are such good people that their own self-policing should be enough. To be sure, many Christians are indeed good people, but certainly not all of them. And since human beings are capable of moral degeneration it is always important to have checks and balances.
By way of illustration I shall here mention only three examples. The first example is connected with the massive leakage and subsequent cancellation of National Form Four examinations in November 1998. The government has not yet published its official report about the leakage. But it came to light in the aftermath of the leakage that while most schools had a new invigilator every year, some schools were lucky to have the same good invigilator for a period ranging between ten to fifteen years! Of course for the purposes of administering an examination what is important is not the face but the trustworthiness of the invigilator. But why is it that certain invigilators must always go to particular schools year in year out? It was also revealed that no external invigilator was usually sent to those schools which were known to be headed by virtuous and highly trustworthy people! The actual integrity of those individuals is not at issue here, our concern is on the potential danger such capricious regulations pose. For we may not even know whether the probity of such people is still beyond question. If left unchecked we may soon find ourselves having more and more first classes matched up with less and less competence, like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm where statistical economic growth goes hand in hand with deteriorating living standards.
The second example is the vulnerability to which our country is exposed by the numerous airfields owned and controlled by the Christian churches. The idea behind allowing churches to have their own airfields is to facilitate the provision of emergency medical or relief services. But human beings even if they are Christian clergymen are liable to human weaknesses. Without reliable controls the flying in doctors may abuse those facilities to bring into the country illegal drugs or even arms.
The third example is a perplexing revelation made in an official report by the Roman Catholic church in Tanzania and submitted to Pope John Paul II when he visited Tanzania in 1990. In its report titled Activities of the Church in Tanzania the Catholic church has reported about the existence of a Commission of Armed Forces within the church. The report is silent about when that Armed Forces Commission was established within the Catholic church in Tanzania (Baraza Kuu, 1998). Muslims formally requested the government to clarify on that matter with a view to allaying their fears. The government has yet to respond. In the absence of an official clarification we do not know whether the Armed Forces commission of the Catholic church works within the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces or operates as an independent military wing of the church. In either case it is not clear why the Catholic church would need a commission of Armed Forces. The hierarchy of the Catholic church is such that all Catholic leaders in Tanzania including His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo have to answer for their actions directly to the appointing authority in Rome. Was the formation of the Armed Forces Commission a directive from Rome? Could it possibly be that it was this commission which was behind the killings of Muslims at Mwembechai? Could this be the reason why Catholic leaders rushed to defend those killings? The government can easily put to rest such wild speculations by explaining why it believes it is necessary for the Catholic church to have a military wing or a commission of Armed Forces, and whether other religious groups can also form their own Armed Forces Departments.
The above examples underline the need for establishing religious checks and balances. Part of the problem in our country is that the government is almost exclusively run by Christians. One way of controlling religious excesses is to strike a religious balance in appointments. This would imply adopting a deliberate policy of affirmative action in favour of all underprivileged groups. To effect such changes the Tanzania leadership would need the courage of taking intelligently fearless action. In The Prince, Machiavelli (1940:65) offers a different advice. He argues that it is politically useful for a leader to ‘seem all mercy, faith, integrity, humanity, and religion’ but it is politically dangerous to actually and always put them into practice. The political tragedy in Tanzania may partly be precipitated by the seeming tendency to heed Machiavelli as far as the question of religious discrimination is concerned.

Tanzania: A Citadel of Peace?
Our leaders have always described our country as a citadel of peace. We do not seem to have drawn any meaningful lesson from the Rwanda tragedy of 1994. The Rwandese, like Tanzanians, do not constitute a special species of human beings. Tanzania may do well to learn something from the social roots of that chilling tragedy. For what happened in Rwanda could happen in Tanzania. Is Tanzania a citadel of peace? There is a charming anecdote in East Africa which warns people against the folly of being entrapped in their own propaganda. According to one version, a hungry and physically exhausted farmer returned home at nightfall and lay in his bed. But since it was a brightly moonlit night children were playing at his compound and their wild noises irritated him. But how could he lure them away? He decided to invent a lie. He opened his window and addressed the children: There is a sumptuous banquet going on at the mosque now and the choicest dishes are available. Why don’t you go to enjoy the feast? All the children rushed to the mosque and they did not come back again. But when the children did not come back, the hungry farmer said in his heart: There must be a feast at the mosque, otherwise the children would have come back. He put on his clothes and went to the mosque! Of course the mosque was closed and he heard the children playing in another compound. It was asinine of the hungry farmer to believe his own lies. 
"I am afraid of normal people"
As I was walking along the streets of Gainesville, Florida, in September 1999 I saw a woman driving a car which had a bumper-sticker with the following statement: I am afraid of normal people. I was struck by the vibrant ambiguity and complexity of that deceptively simple statement. I do not know why that woman was afraid of normal people. But her statement provoked me to recall an upsetting experience I had with "normal people" at the Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam in 1991. It was an experience which nearly cost me my life. I had finished my shopping at around 11.a.m. when I saw a young man of about 16 years fleeing from his pursuers who were shouting "thief! thief!" The young man fell down about four metres from where I was standing. I saw "normal" passers-by who a minute before were calmly walking along the road rushing to take bricks and other missiles. By sheer good luck I managed to calm them down. I inquired about his crime and they told me that he stole some three or four bananas. I volunteered to pay for all the bananas the young man had stolen. The owner of the bananas was not even among those who were murderously beating up the young man. I told them that I was very much against theft, but it was an enormous crime to unilaterally enforce a death penalty for such a petty crime. The angry mob was about to disperse when suddenly someone who was not in the group came rushing with a brick and hit the young man in the head. And suddenly all the people who had seemed to agree with me now resumed their attacks. When I tried to intervene again they told me that they would kill me also. In less than fifteen minutes the energetic young man was no more. After which the same "normal" people went about their business as usual. Why is it that those apparently peaceful and normal people felt no remorse at all after clubbing to death that young man? What would have happened if those people had access to fire arms?
Available records show that in Rwanda Catholic clergymen did participate in the massacres of their fellow Catholic citizens in 1994. The fact that even such a highly respected personage and highest ranking Catholic leader in Tanzania as His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo could, without the slightest tinge of contrition, justify the killing of unarmed Muslims at Mwembechai should give us a foretaste of the tragic possibilities that lie ahead of us. I am not afraid of normal people, but I have no illusions about them.
Tanzania cannot long endure half privileged half oppressed.
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Mkapa Renounces His Pledge
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. - Mathew 7:18-20
I had already submitted the manuscript of this book to my publisher when President Mkapa officially renounced the pledge he made on 19 January, 1999. The president’s dramatic change of heart took many Muslims by surprise. They pinned so much hope on him. The immediate impact of his back-pedalling was to heighten Muslim resentment. I believe the political implications of that move are significant enough to warrant an afterword.
I do not share the current popular view that Mkapa was play-acting when he made his milestone speech on January 19, 1999. Such statements are expressions of anger and disappointment rather than serious attempts to understand the situation. I believe Mkapa was quite sincere when he promised to address the Muslim question. I also find it difficult to believe that the official reasons given to justify his withdrawal are the real reasons. They are too weak to be his actual reasons. I think the president underestimated the magnitude of religious discrimination in the country and the deep-seated hostility and negative mind-set which many government officials harboured against Muslims. And those were the officials who were supposed not only to advise him but also to help him in solving the problem. As I indicated in chapter three, all the official reactions from the different ministries that I had managed to see had nothing but scorn and venom towards Muslim grievances. It is very likely in my opinion that President Mkapa found himself in a political dilemma. When he met the Muslims he was overwhelmed by the evidence of religious discrimination they gave him. But despite their numerical superiority and the justness of their demands, in terms of political power Muslims were underdogs. And when he consulted his chief officials and advisors he found an impregnable wall of unanimity about the flimsiness of all Muslim claims and demands. But since those were the people who ran the government machinery they naturally wielded immense political power, even if they were not many. They had the capability of undermining his effectiveness and authority. And in conventional politics might is right. The leaders of many poor countries accept the unreasonable conditionalities of the IMF and the World Bank amid stiff opposition from their own people, not because they believe they are good for their economies but rather because they know they are necessary for their political survival. As if President Mkapa was telling the Muslims: "Look, I understand your demands and I personally think they should seriously be addressed. I think you know my position. But I am alone. All my officials are against your demands. Why don’t you also try to promote a good relationship with them? They are the ones who are against your demands. Please, do not come to me. You will be wasting your time and mine. Go to them." But almost during the same period Fr. Method Kilaini, the Secretary General of Tanzania Episcopal Conference was pleased to report that the Christian "Council of Elders" whose members were drawn from both TEC and CCT, had "thrice met the President of Tanzania to press issues of common interest" ( Kilaini, 1998:3). Presumably the Church Elders had a good working relationship with government officials. 
But that is my interpretation. And it is highly speculative. The president should be judged by what he actually said, not by what I think he meant to say.
On 7 July, 1999 President Mkapa invited members of the Muslim Executive Committee to the State House. In the course of their discussion about the plight of Muslims in the country, they reached a common understanding on several issues. They also charted out a broad framework of how to forge ahead. At least that is what the Muslims thought. And they came out of that meeting with radiant hopes of a new beginning. And in their optimistic enthusiasm they assured Muslims of President Mkapa’s grim determination to stamp out religious discrimination. Muslims were reminded that in July 1992 a committee of 12 Muslim leaders was appointed to seek audience with the then Prime Minister, Hon. John Malecela. Their letter did not receive even the courtesy of a reply. President Mkapa was different. He was willing even to talk to them. On 10 July, 1999 during the Maulid Baraza held at the Diamond Jubilee Hall the Committee encouraged Muslims to believe that prospects of eliminating religious discrimination were never better than during Mkapa’s presidency.
On 29 July, 1999 President Mkapa addressed BAKWATA’s National Conference in Dodoma. In that speech (the full text of which was published in An-Nuur August 6-12, 1999), President Mkapa made a very significant shift from his landmark speech of January 19, 1999. When I pointed out to some Muslim friends that the president was clearly abandoning the modus operandi suggested in his January speech, I was accused of reading too much "into" the speech. Of course I was not the only one who saw the signal. An-Nuur (August 13-19, 1999) expressed its deep concern by publishing a full page special commentary on that speech. Many Muslims however did not want to revise the fond image of their hero. And they therefore refused to notice the directional change the president was making.
On 26 August, 1999 the Muslim Executive Committee, with brimming confidence and eagerness, requested an audience with the president as a follow up to their July meeting. In their eight-page letter, the Committee began by giving a summary of what its members thought was a faithful record of what transpired in their earlier meeting. The second part of the letter outlined the agenda, and underlined the urgency of their meeting. Among other things the letter also revisited the Dodoma speech and hinted about the committee’s misgivings. About four months later, President Mkapa responded. In his six-page letter dated 17 December, 1999 President Mkapa managed, with admirable politeness, not only to dismiss all Muslim grievances as fictitious and dangerous, but also to warn the committee against wasting the president’s precious time! The tone of the letter was very respectful. But unlike the Dodoma speech, the message of the letter admitted no interpretational ambiguities. Upon reading the letter one could not help recalling that from the late 1970s Mkapa distinguished himself as one of Tanzania’s most outstanding diplomats. Our concern here however is on issues of substance not of style.
As an argument the letter stands on weaker grounds. Its hidden imperative is: out of sight, out of mind; and what is out of mind does not exist. There is a story among the Ngoni of a man who, to his utter loss, applied that imperative. The man noticed that one of the wooden pillars supporting his house showed signs of being moth-ridden. When he dug out to inspect he found white ants had virtually eaten up the pillar to its very foundation. He decided to inspect the other pillars. He was shocked to discover that each succeeding pillar was worse than the previous one. It occurred to him that any attempt to meddle with the pillars would bring the house tumbling down. He carefully replaced the sand he had dug out around the poles and the house looked as intact as ever. His worries vanished and he went about his business as usual. After all it was nothing but curiosity which killed the cat! In his letter President Mkapa says in effect that Tanzania’s unity and stability are supported by the harmonious co-existence of four national pillars: religion, tribe, gender and region. He advises Muslims to refrain from digging out and inspecting the pillar of religion. To do so would encourage others to examine the other pillars. The scrutiny would only fuel worries, fears and suspicions. Let us turn a blind eye to religion, tribe and gender and we shall continue to live in peace. In politically correct terms let us be religion blind, gender blind and ethnicity blind. We shall see later how the plea for "blindness" is being used as a logical double bind at the level of argument and as a justification for discrimination at the level of practice.
The second axis of President Mkapa’s argument is the principle of the rule of law. The constitution should serve as a national compass and point of reference. All Tanzanians should be guided by the constitution. As citizens, Muslims may submit their demands to the government. But the substance of those demands and the procedures of presenting them must not violate the constitution. And secondly Tanzania should be judged by referring to its constitution and laws. It should not be judged by looking at the personal idiosyncrasies of certain individuals serving in the government.
When the government subjected Muslim claims and demands to the above framework the following conclusions emerged:
(a) the nature of some of those demands, like the call for OIC membership, and Kadhi courts, violated the constitution.
(b) the claims that Muslims were discriminated against were totally unfounded. The country’s constitution, its laws and all government procedures and regulations did not stipulate nor condone discrimination of any kind.
(c) if Muslims did indeed have evidence of religious discrimination, they should take legal action against such people.
(d) the government could not rule out the possibility of there being a government official somewhere who hated Muslims. The existence of such a person did not prove that the government had a policy of religious discrimination. Nor could the existence of religious imbalances alone, prove that charge.
(e) there was no need of forming a probe team to investigate the Mwembechai killings because the disturbances which erupted at Mwembechai had nothing to do with religion.
(f) some of the procedures which Muslims used to voice their demands were unconstitutional and politically dangerous. A good example is the seditious utterances of The Consultative Assembly of Dar es Salaam Imams.
In his letter President Mkapa said that it took him so long to respond because he needed to consult with relevant government ministries. His letter could therefore be regarded as representing the official government position on this issue. And from the response it is quite clear that the government was officially biased against Muslims. And that bodes ill for our country. Let us briefly look at the above conclusions.
Muslims have called upon the government to consider the possibility of joining the OIC to enable it, like Uganda and Mozambique, benefit from the interest free loans granted to member countries. The government has rejected that request on constitutional grounds. Muslims have argued that if joining the OIC was unconstitutional then our membership to the Commonwealth ( whose leader must always be a Christian and head of the Anglican Church) should also be declared unconstitutional. Muslims have also argued that the government decision to abolish Muslim Kadhi courts violated the constitution. On the other hand the government argues that reestablishing those courts would violate the constitution of a secular government. The Muslim response is that if that argument holds then even the government decision to declare Saturday and Sunday which are Christian days of worship as public holidays would also be unconstitutional in a country where the majority were non-Christians. I am not suggesting that the Muslim position is necessarily correct and that of the government is necessarily wrong. What I am suggesting is that there is an interpretational dispute about what the constitution says or allows. That dispute cannot be said to have been resolved fairly and with justice by the executive usurping the powers of the judiciary and arbitrarily enforcing its interpretation. Certainly not in a country which takes its constitution and the rule of law seriously. The dispute should have been settled by legal and constitutional experts in an open court. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.
Perhaps even more surprising is the conclusion that Muslim claims of religious discrimination are baseless because there was nothing whatsoever which could even remotely be construed as anti-Muslim in the country’s constitution, laws, or government regulations. Muslims have never said they were being discriminated against because but inspite, of Tanzania’s constitution and laws. One could not dismiss the complaints of many Tanzanians about corruption in the country by citing our lofty constitution and our many laws against bribery. I am not aware of any law or provision in the constitution which encourages corruption. And yet one of the first things President Mkapa did after assuming office in 1995 was to appoint the famous Presidential Commission of Inquiry Against Corruption headed by Judge Joseph Sinde Warioba. In 1996 the Commission released two volumes of its report on corruption. Anyone who has read the report would be forced to admit that as citizens we have good cause to be ashamed for allowing our country to degenerate to such despicable levels of corruption. Yet despite the massive evidence few people have been taken to court. Discrimination is one of the worst forms of corruption. And instances of discrimination are not easy to prove in a court of law. For example when the government had initially appointed an all-Christian National Board of Parole, Muslims could only deplore the fact. Technically speaking no law was violated when the government excluded Muslims. Muslims could grumble but they could not possibly "prove" that they were discriminated against. After all Tanzania is supposed to be religion blind. The government suggestion that Muslims should take their cases to court is offered as a taunt rather than as a serious way of addressing the problem. But even the judiciary was not as independent as President Mkapa suggested in his letter. Chief Justice Nyalali told the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 1998 that the government and the ruling party CCM were often interfering with and violating the independence of the judiciary. He said that the situation was so notorious that on several occasions he had to tell the government to stop talking about the rule of law, if it could not respect the right of the judiciary to administer justice independently (Majira 7 August, 1998).
Equally less convincing is the supposed strict dichotomy say, between Mr. Benjamin William Mkapa, "Baba Stephen" and His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa, the President. If Mkapa, the individual regards Muslims as being worthy of respect, that attitude will also be reflected in his performance as Mkapa, the President. Muslims suffer the indignities of discrimination in their own country not because the constitution is against them, but largely because there are government officials who have religious hatred against them. And quite unfortunately, such people are not in short supply. Of course, it is beyond the powers of any government to prevent such people from having those feelings. But it is quite possible to set up mechanisms of preventing them from using their positions to discriminate other citizens. Muslims came up with some proposals in that regard. The very idea of setting up a monitoring mechanism has been rejected as encouraging religious consciousness. Tanzanians should instead encourage religion blindness! In their letter Muslims cited the example of the recent appointment of the PPF Board of Directors. The previous board was heavily dominated by Christians, but at least there were three Muslims. When the term of the board expired and a new one appointed, all the Christians who served in the previous board were reappointed, and all the three Muslims were dropped and their positions were filled by new Christian faces. And stories were circulating that the whole idea was to "teach" Muslims a lesson. The official government response was to warn Muslims against inspecting the religious identities of Tanzanians. The idea of religion blindness is used as a shield to justify the predominance of Christians. Anyone who drew attention to their disproportionate over-representation would be told, "We did not even know that they were Christians, we only considered their professional competence".
But while religion blindness is fiercely defended when Christians predominate, the same concept is considered intolerable when a Muslim holds a senior position. A recent example is the Centre of Foreign Relations located at Kurasini, Dar es Salaam. It so happened that three senior positions at that centre were held by highly qualified Muslims. The National Assembly was so shocked by such rampant religious discrimination that the Deputy Speaker, a Christian, hurriedly formed an all-Christian probe team of seven members to investigate religious discrimination at the Centre. It is reported that when the team asked the Director, a Muslim, why three senior positions at the Centre were occupied by Muslims he said, "Do you seriously want me to answer that question? Have you looked at your team? The Deputy Speaker, a Christian, has formed a team of seven Members of Parliament all of whom are Christians, to investigate about the discrimination of Christians at a Centre headed by a Muslim! Are you really serious?" The team was embarrassed, but went on with its investigation. They were certain that their appointment was religion blind. The employment of Muslims at the Centre was religiously biased!
The government cannot successfully use the fig leaf of "personal hatred" to cover up such naked discrimination. In June 1992 I attended a colloquium on American Studies held at Lake Victoria Hotel, Entebbe. When we were discussing a paper by Dr. Sylvia Tamale of Makerere University, a colleague from University of Nairobi took the opportunity to attack Islam on the basis of some misdemeanours of a certain Muslim in Mombasa. I took strong exception to that line of attack. I said that it was quite unfair to judge Islam on the basis of the misdeeds of an individual Muslim, and misdeeds which were abhorred in the basic sources of Islam. Likewise we could not say Christianity allowed adultery because there were certain Bishops who were sinning with other people’s wives. Islam, like Christianity, should be judged by its teachings. I almost carried the day, and then came the devastating intervention by Dr. David Dorsey, a Fulbright scholar attached with the University of Dar es Salaam. He said, "I used to be a Christian but I ceased to be one on that day when I read in the Bible: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them". That was the end of his submission and he sat down. I got his point. He was criticising me for drawing a sharp distinction between Islam and Muslims. Muslims should approximate Islam. You cannot say Islam is good but Muslims are bad. Christianity is love but Christians are cruel. And by extension you cannot say socialism is good but socialists are bad, or that our laws are good but our magistrates are corrupt. By their fruits ye shall know them.
The distinction between the constitutional ideal and individual performance is criticised not because of its logical untenability but because of its practical irrelevance. What is the use of a lofty constitution which guarantees the basic human rights of all citizens if in practice it is possible for a government official ( who hates Muslims ) to order the government police force to shoot and kill the Muslims he hates? What is the use of having good laws which are not discriminatory if in practice it is possible for a magistrate (who hates Muslims) to use his powers to deny bail to the Muslims he hates? The Mwembechai killings will go down in history as one of the worst manifestations of abuse of political power. Since the killings happened in February 1998 Muslims have repeatedly appealed to the government to take legal measures against all those who were responsible for the killings. The entire government (not just an individual official who hates Muslims) has refused not only to prosecute the killers but even to form a probe team! Could it be the case of an ugly girl hating the mirror? The entire government "feels" it was justified in killing Muslims. The president’s categorical defence of the Mwembechai killings, one of the most tragic episodes in our national history, will remain indigestible to many of those Tanzanians who cherish the principle of the rule of law.
Against such a background what inference could Muslims draw? That the government was fair to all citizens? The President was dismayed by the statements issued by the Consultative Assembly of Dar es Salaam Imams expressing lack of confidence in his government. Did the government attitude inspire confidence? The argument of the Imams was a simple one but it captured the imagination of many Muslims: A government which on the basis of unfounded rumours from the Catholic church could order the killing of Muslims and decorate those killers was not likely to treat Muslims fairly in education or employment. Such statements reflect the deepening political discontentment of the Muslims. Muslims do not know where they should turn to for corrective and distributive justice. And as if to confirm that predicament, Muslim killers are defended and Muslim leaders are condemned. Is there religious discrimination in Tanzania? The official government position is that all such claims are baseless. It is very likely that Muslims would interpret that stand as reflecting the government’s determination to perpetuate religious discrimination against them.
And during the Eid Baraza held at the Diamond Jubilee Hall on 9 January, 2000 President Mkapa’s letter was read to thousands of Muslims who turned up. In an emotionally charged presentation, Said El Maamry, a prominent lawyer in the country, said that Tanzania’s laws were very clear about the necessity of immediately carrying out an inquest if and when anyone died while in police custody or in prison, or in dubious circumstances. And according to the law there must be three parties to that inquest; a lawyer representing the government, a lawyer representing relatives of the deceased, and a coroner who acts as judge. El Maamry told Muslims that since he knew what the law stipulated, he submitted an official request for an inquest to the Attorney General. His letter was not even acknowledged. During that Baraza Muslims took a solemn pledge to fight to the bitter end to ensure that Muslim blood was regarded as precious as the blood of other citizens in the country. They also resolved to form a team of Muslims whose task would be to travel throughout the country to mobilise the people to reject the idea that the deliberate killing of Muslims was a trifle not worth even investigating.
Muslims have always submitted their complaints against religious discrimination and their demands for social justice, to the government on two assumptions: that in executing their duties government officials, irrespective of their religions, were guided by the constitution and other government regulations. That assumption has led them to make pleas to the government despite their awareness that the majority of those officials were Christians. The second assumption is that the government would act on those demands as a key player and not as a political bystander. As I noted in chapter three, church leaders have often acted as government spokespersons when it came to considering Muslims’ demands. As if to demand social justice was to declare war against Christians. Perhaps the most costly political mistake committed by the government and clearly reflected in President Mkapa’s letter has been to endorse and adopt the church leaders’ misreading of the situation. While the government does not regard demands for gender equality as implying a declaration of war by women against men, it seems to have accepted the belief that any demand for social justice on the part of Muslims was ipso facto a declaration of "Jihad" against Christians. The whole question is viewed as a wrestling competition between Muslims and Christians, with the government acting as a referee.
By adopting that view the government has unwittingly aggravated the problem of religious discrimination to absurd levels. For once the problem is defined as a "war" between Muslims and Christians, quite naturally the battle line would necessarily be drawn along the same lines, with Christians regarding Muslims as their "enemies" and vice versa. And in such a war no Christian or Muslim, can conceivably be an impartial referee. And the biggest crime in any war is to lose. And to ensure that "the enemies" do not get any foothold, all Muslim demands were dismissed as flimsy. And those who inflict heavy losses to the enemy side can only be regarded as heroes to be honoured and congratulated. When Muslims learn that the president and his entire government are firmly convinced that it is a waste of time to probe the killings of Muslims, it only confirms their belief about religious discrimination. How could any fair-minded government regard the killing of a dog as deserving more attention than the deliberate gunning down of several Muslims? Quite naturally, Muslims are deeply worried to see that the killing of Muslims is organised and justified by the very government which is supposed to protect them. The fear of what the future holds in store for them would naturally impel them to campaign against that tendency. But any nation wide campaign against the government decision to protect Muslim killers would be interpreted as a "Jihad" mobilisation against Christians. And the government might be tempted to take strong measures against such campaigns. The Muslims would say, look here is a government which has refused even to question the killers and yet it uses so much force against people who demand justice!
The wide-scale brutalization of Muslims in 1993 shocked many Muslims including the few who are serving in the government and in the police force. The hatred and persecution of Muslims was so intense and unmistakable that many Muslim policemen and women did whatever they could to alleviate the suffering of their fellow Muslims. A young Muslim policeman was ordered to escort to the Central Police Station about 200 Muslim men and women arrested at the Kwamtoro mosque. When they reached the Clock Tower roundabout, he sternly ordered all of them to squat as if punishing them. And then he told them in a low voice: Disperse in different directions and go home. The persecution of Muslims which followed the Mwembechai killings drew more and more Muslims to side with their fellow Muslims and to help them. One of the most notable but unintended result of President Mkapa’s letter has been to strengthen the solidarity of Muslims and to deepen the religious polarisation of Tanzania’s politics. Muslims from all walks of life, including high ranking government officials attended the January 9 Eid Baraza. They all supported the call for bringing Muslim killers to justice.
By virtue of being a good Christian himself, President Mkapa had a unique role to play in the fight against religious discrimination. Many Christians did not agree with his Eid Baraza speech of January 19, 1999. But they could not accuse him of siding with people of his own religion. The same speech would have been a political disaster had it been made by former President Mwinyi. Christians would have been calling for his impeachment. President Mkapa had the confidence of Christians and could have used that advantage to allay their fears and to help them transcend the religious war path orientation in politics. The tragic misfortune of Tanzania is that President Mkapa did not only squander that rare opportunity but also endorsed the religious battle line. So much so that even in his capacity as President of Tanzania he did not at all see the need for investigating the killing of Muslims by his police force. As far as the Mwembechai killings were concerned, many people gave President Mkapa the benefit of doubt. For the benefit of the people, however, President Mkapa removed that doubt.
All is well that ends well. 
Kilaini, Fr. Method. 1998. "The Tanzania Catholic Church" TEC Web Site.

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