Thursday, September 25, 2008


Silent Readership: Forgot to tell you that the voting is open until mid-October and you actually have to go to the blog to vote. Yes, the blog, not your inbox, is where the poll resides. Click away!

Who Is the Fairest (Toughest and Smartest) of Them All?

Last week was the first I heard about the upcoming UWT-CCM elections when the local papers covered an internal tussle. Umoja wa Wanawake Tanzania...ahem. I think it was the Chadema women's wing leader who pointed out that the name was perhaps a bit inappropriate as they cannot be said to represent all the women in the country. Damn straight.

Anywho, it got me thinking again about the long-overdue poll about Government Babes. Unlike Government Dudes, our women in leadership rarely have the oppotunity to get by on skill, let alone charisma. It usually takes most of them a hell of a lot more work than that. In light of the uneven playing field, the JADIP-SRD lab has been working hard at three variables that, when combined, yield something similar in a not-really kind of way to the Ken Doll measure that was used for the male leadership. These are:

1. Penis Capital: contribution of high-profile male spouse/lover to political credibility and power.
2. Grrl Power: personal competence and leadership style.
3. Hot Mama Points: degree of feminine sexual appeal/charisma exhibited in personal style.

Thus, 1+2+3= Who Is Your Mama?

To give some guidance, the outgoing UWT Chairwoman Ms. Anna Abdallah had very high Penis Capital, relatively decent Grrrl Power and negative Hot Mama points throughout her long career. In contrast, the late Amina Chifupa had low Penis Capital (although that depends on whom you ask), very high Grrl Power and pretty high Hot Mama Points.

In order not to bias the poll more than strictly necessary, JADIP-SRD has refrained from giving the variables negative or positive values. Candidates should have been selected from the executive branch only in order to make the poll as similar to the Government Dude poll as possible, but the JADIP-SRD committee voted to expand the criteria kidogo because our lady ministers have an uncanny similarity of features in their opinion.

Becoming an Apologist for The Establishment

I was having a delicious discussion the other day - one of those where you start out with the problems of power provision and end up dissecting the political nature of the country- and I found myself more often than not defending the Establishment and its current manifestation. Please, don't swallow your tongue in shock, there is a simple explanation: I have gone conservative. Now that I have to care about little things like the price of land/real estate, general security, a relatively stable economy, investment opportunities and blah blah blah it makes sense to appreciate a system that generally 'works' for me.

Also, the long and sustained cynicism about the current administration has fatigued me: it is getting in the way of our basic appreciation. Oh, I know. Don't bother quoting GDP per capita figures, income inequality data, tossing corruption dossiers at me or asking whom the system 'works' for. The list of things that could be improved is as long as the line-up of reformers who have one thousand and one reasons why they are smarter, more ethical and better suited to run Tanzania than the incumbent. Guess what though my darlings: most of you barely have to run your families, let alone a leviathan of a social construct called a country filled with a few million people who think they depend on you personally for their well-being.

With that kind of pressure , navigating the various tensions and schisms that threaten Tanzanian stability all time is not exactly an idiot's job, nor is it a one-man show. The very fact that we function at all after barely half a century of "self rule" is evidence to me of a pretty effective system. I was accused of being Machiavellan in my thinking because I mentioned that sometimes small injustices (i.e. human rights abuses) are often committed for the 'greater good'. This is not entirely accurate: what I believe is that in order for us to enjoy our current stability and relative success as a nation-state, Tanzania's leaders have done a few unsavory things in the past. People have paid, and others continue to pay, sometimes in blood, for what we are today. Let us not forget that as we sip our Safaris in present-day comfort and malign our idiot leaders.

The main reason I have become an apologist for the current government is pretty simple: I think that there is evidence of a genuine desire on the part of Jay to the Kay to open up the Establishment a little bit, and to break with our oppressive past. It takes some doing to redirect this behemoth from its centralized, repressive tendencies to something a little more amenable to individual rights, social justice and prosperity. Every time there is a protest, or a politician exposes malfeasance, or a newspaper sticks its pen in the eye of the government, I get a thrill. We are finally becoming the kind of place where citizens can express dissatisfaction thanks to the attitude of the current administration. This is not a development I am inclined to take for granted.

So while I have no intention of giving the Party or its Government an easy time, you better believe I am not about to throw the baby out with the bathwater either. And that is how one becomes a (not-so-closet) apologist for the Establishment. Give me enough time, I might become more Catholic than the Pope...

Monday, September 1, 2008

A matter of juice

Whew, the blog done got away from me again- it is September already and the entry numbers are steadily crashing with every new month. There is no shortage of material to write about and no shortage of time in which to do it but there is a severe shortage of writing juice. Now it is all growing into a monster ball of unwritten ideas looming over me, growing day by day, blogdeath creeping closer and closer...I don't how this stuff happens. A whole bunch of entries are fidgeting in the departure lounge of my mind, desperately bored with the paperback selection, wandering up to the reception counter to ask whether its going to take much longer. I don't have the heart to tell some of them that their flights have been permanently cancelled. But here's a three-for-one entry today.

Politics: Boring. The PM gave his Richmond progress report, it was brief and circumspect, nothing new there. EPA. Richmond. Zanzibar. Whatever. Maybe the Tarime elections coming soon will provide some entertainment although there is a worrying tendency to wield weaponry out there...

Food: Ratatouille goes really really well with fried fish. I tried out a slow-cook method shown to be my a friend who learned it in gay Paris and it was delicieux. Eggplants are wonderful, magical fruits but combined with peppers and herbs and tomatoes and a long slow simmer...well. It is no wonder they named a movie after that dish. But you know, it could just easily have been called Tarte Tatin. Or maybe Quiche Lorraine. Or Soupe a l'Onion...maybe not that last.

Other stuff: Crazy Pet Lady has flounced off to colder climes to practice her seductive wiles on Nordic men. So while we wait for her return from adventures in elk-stalking and snowboarding, we have been charged with the care of her ill-tempered tomcat. Bliss because pets= immediate stress therapy. I think I only have two deep scratches so far on my right hand- the hand that he considers one of his favorite items to 'kill' during playtime.

We also got left with internet and satellite television (which I have been mightily resisting in spite of La Dee's campaign). The seductive evils of Devil Satellite Tele-Visitation have proved themselves: yesterday a long run of Top Gear followed by Judge John Deed saw me couch-surf for at least 8 hours in a row. Help. Help me please.

A little birdie told me...

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