What would MAGUFULI do

18th March 2021. Social media was awash with the news of his passing. Our typical response in the post COVID era to announcements on social media is cyncism or at best a frenzied search for cross references. This time, the news came cross referenced. It was difficult to believe. Even more difficult to accept. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli at the age of 61 had succumbed to a heart condition, Vice President Samia Suluhu announced.

He had rested from his labor. In 2015, when he burst on the scene, he made it crystal clear that his priority would be Tanzania. One of my most memorable quotes from him is:

Our home was grass thatched and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family, I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

Bill Hybels in his book, Courageous Leadership entreats leaders to have a compelling vision. A leader sees the vision. Rais John Pombe Magufuli had a very compelling vision for Tanzania. In His Tanzania, it was possible for all citizens to prosper. He painted this vision continually, whether it was mineral rights, or education, or roads, the Tanzanian citizens were always first. First things first, corruption either in terms of money or time was dealt with swiftly. It robbed the citizens. He would show up unannounced in government offices and ask difficult questions.

You cannot talk of preserving environment when the majority of the citizens are depending on charcol or wood for most of their energy source.

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

He felt so deeply about this that became so famous for his austerity. He barred unnecessary foreign travel, cut his own salary to USD 4,000. At one point, he chose to clean up to curb the spread of Cholera rather than hold national independence celebrations. What? Was this in Africa? Whose that guy? And so came the trending hashtag which is the title of this blog. #WhatwouldMagufulido.

We were awestruck. We were inspired. Could this be the rise of a new breed of leaders? How long would he last? We watched his every move with bated breath. We tweeted and retweeted his lastest actions. We dramatized every single action of his.

Indeed, even when COVID-19 struck, he did not disappoint. While everyone was scrambling to lockdown, Tanzanian borders were open and it was business as usual. The Magufuli approach. There were pictures of him praying in various places, but the most iconic were the ones where he was without a mask. We were all masked, in our homes, shut in tightly. He looked like some renegade cowboy or modern John Rambo, just ready to shoot down this virus. It was in the same 2020 that Tanzania moved to lower middle income status. We clapped and celebrated with them, while hoping and praying for the end of our lockdown and a return to the normal.

While we were locked down, he managed to convince our own President to take a trip down to Tanzania to expedite the harmonization of pending issues on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Chato, Tanzania.
This is East Africa’s first major oil pipeline. The $3.5bn project will connect Uganda’s oil fields to port Tanga of Tanzania on the Indian Ocean for about 1,445 km (898 miles). extraction agreements. Tanzania was kind enough to allow the Ugandan oil pipeline to pass through their territory to the coast. He built so many bridges, physical and mental.

The bilateral meeting in Chato, Tanzania. Source; web

Visions are priceless. They are holy entrustments from God that must be taken seriously. To squander a vision is an unthinkable sin.

Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership

Habbakuk reminds us that all visions have an appointed time. (Habbakuk 2:3) As leaders, it is imperative that we know the seasons of our visions so that they speak in their time. We are grateful for the gift of John Pombe Joseph Magufuli and his emulation of a visionary leader. May His Soul Rest in Peace.

A celebration of my midwife: Sorry, I didn’t get your name

My gynaecologist, Dr Biryabarema had given instructions that I should check in on 7th November, whether or not I was in labour. Both my sons, as described by my brother, seemed to enjoy 1st class facilities in my womb and they never arrived on their due dates. This was the case that morning.

We arrived to a very quiet Ward 5&6, at Mulago Hospital. This was rare but there we were. I plonked myself on the bench and waited for the doctor. She came sweeping in a few minutes later, she never walks, she kind of glides through that hospital. She saw me, paused, greeted us mid-glide and off she went to begin admissions.

The ward was full so I was taken directly into the labour room as we waited for a bed or room. My things would have to remain in the car, I had my little (light enough to fit in aircraft hand luggage) emergency bag, so I had all I needed until the baby arrived. Triage. Bed next to window. No more eating. Only black tea. You know the drill. Aye, aye, Captain.

The midwife, burst in and started to check on the patients. I could not see her but I could hear her frenzied movements. One of the ladies was having a difficult labour, she needed to be prepped for theatre. The one next to me was progressing well. Nothing was happening on my side, so I was to be induced, no use being in the labour ward doing nothing. This is not a resort. With such swift efficiency, she had identified the vein (usually takes about 20 minutes for any vein to show up on my arm) and connected it to the line. Off she went.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

When she returned, a few minutes later with a colleague from another ward. She gave her instructions on what to do while she prepped herself for theatre. Apparently, the other nurses and midwives had not shown up for duty and she was on duty alone. I was not a risk, she was to keep checking on how the contractions were progressing. She was to monitor the lady next to me keenly to ensure that nothing went wrong. Right? Right? Scrubs on. She moved to surgery with the lady opposite me.

My faithful labour ward companion showed up and the stories started. Laughter and jokes. Catching up on the news. She remembered she had an Auntie who was a nurse. She left to go check on her. On their return, they found the fill in nurse and both agreed I was still far from active labour. I should take it easy, drink more black tea and rest if I felt tired. It was starting to sound like a resort after all.

The mid wife came back, this time she is on phone checking on how far her child is in the queue to see the doctor. She had left her baby with the maid in a queue in the Paediatric clinic. Her maid also needed to go queue up in the eye clinic before it closed. She ceased to be the midwife and became a mother, a wife, a woman to me. Well, she didn’t have time for that, my neighbor had to be rushed for an emergency C-section. Back to theatre.

My mum came in, and another round of stories started and more jokes. I had some slight pain but not discomforting and neither was it electrifying. Our auntie Sister passes by and finds me laughing with everyone, ‘you are still laughing, you are not about!’ She smiles and leaves.

‘Madam, you were not feeling the baby’s head?’, the midwife asked after taking a peak in between my legs. Is that what it was? I thought to myself. ‘Eh, your baby is ready to come out, prepare to bear down,’ she exclaims as she snaps on a fresh pair of gloves. ‘What does bear down mean again? I wonder. ‘Wama, mummy ono jangu omuyambe aterere, tugenda kuzala kati, omutwe gwa baby guguno’. My mum, woke up as if from slumber, gave quick instructions and at once l was ready. Did I mention my mother gave birth to my baby brother at home by herself? So there we are, from smiling to active labour. My husband and faithful companion had gone to bring up the luggage, we had found a room. Boy, were they in for the shock of their lives.

‘Ok, on the count of three, push’. I pushed. ‘Ok hold it, there is something obstructing the baby:. I thank God that at this time, the nerves go on some vacation and it’s only the contractions that I could feel. Her hands go in and out comes my baby.

The cord had been wrapped round his neck, she had unwound it. I pushed and out he came with such force and a loud cry. She quickly rushed him off. Following closely at her heels, was my mother aka Kaaka to my son, Baby Joe. She run the APGAR assessment and he scored highly. Ever the calm baby, he cried a bit and slept off.

She returned for what we describe as the second labour. The delivery of the placenta. The placenta had been severed from my baby but not from me. Now it had to be torn from my womb. With a few twists and turns, it started to severe and finally it was out. She put it away and cleaned up all the blood. Within micro seconds, the room was back to normal. No bloody mess, just one exhausted mum. My faithful companion walks in to let me know that the room had been allocated and was ready. She inquired, ‘how far?’ lol. I asked her whether she hadn’t seen my mum with a baby. :Eeehhh’, she exclaimed!

I don’t remember the name of my midwife. I will remember the waiter with the tag. I will remember the boda boda guy who told me his name. But I will not remember the name of the lady who saved me and my baby. Maybe I should have been more conscious of others than I was of my pain. For all the what ifs, I still did not get her name and for that I am sorry.

Thank you dear midwives for your care and love.

Shattered glass

Butter fingers. Soft, tender and dreamily melting in the mouth butter. It started with a cabbage that literally flew like a missile out of my hands into next stall, knocked over a bowl (katasa) of tomatoes, rolled into the peppers then somersaulted into the carrots. The drama of that cabbage.🙄 The stall owner totally unamused, narrowed her eyes and gave me THE LOOK! (For shame). But Jesus took my shame. I quickly gathered my fingers and wits, apologised profusely and rescued the errant cabbage.

This morning I broke a glass. Well, I wouldn’t quite say that I broke it. That would imply malice and aforethought. It slipped out of my fingers. Well, not quite slipped either. Let’s say, it bounced on and off my fingers, danced onto my finger tips and as we were just getting the hang of this waltz, it slipped off. And slid to the floor, where it made the most earth shattering noise! What had been a very quiet morning, was rudely interrupted by the crash and subsequent splattering of glass everywhere. Ssshhhhh

Photo credit: Pinterest

Why can’t glass keep silent as it shatters? Why does it have to spread every where? Why are the pieces so tiny? How do the pieces get into all those hard to reach crevices and nooks? Why is glass transparent?

The Quiet returns. But my mind was undulated as all these thoughts and more started to race through it. I quickly run to sweep up the glass shards. I had to do it quickly and swiftly. Because my once happy go to glass, was now a danger to anyone who came near it. Like porcupine quills, it’s shards keep everyone far away.

I sweep the debris into the dustpan. Sweep again to get any remaining pieces . Sweep again, this time, further away, shards do fly! The last sweep brings no glass. We are done with the cleanup. I get back to putting away the other glasses.

In that moment, I realized I could vow to never touch a glass again. I could make it public. I could even get accountability partners. I could give away all the glasses I have and replace them with all this trendy almost but not glass things. I could even sit my children, nieces and nephews down and lecture them on the dangers of glass and implore them to stay away from glass. Why? Because glass is dangerous. It shatters.

But then who sits and wails over a broken glass. Who calls their friend for comfort over a broken glass? A broken glass is replaceable and life it goes on.

Well, my dear reader, so it is with every other failure. Yes, it may seem like the world is coming to an end. It may seem like without this opportunity, you have reached the end of your road. Shame. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Not so.

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it, is what makes the difference.

Virginia Satir

Because you carry around a mental image of a picture perfect life, failure will rattle you to your core. Take time to mourn your broken glass. Gather up the shards so you are not bleeding on people who didn’t hurt you. Pick the lesson and dispose of the debris. Soul debris takes a while to unravel, like pieces of glass hidden in the crevices, you keep finding bits you didn’t know we’re there. Trust the process.

When you are ready, put the rest of the glasses away. Or better yet, pour your favorite drink and savor the taste of goodness.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Is the phrase, with which Patrick Henry ended his now Famous Speech (a link to a very passionate rendition) at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia. In August 1775. This is the speech that sealed the resolution of the thirteen colonies to secede from the British Empire. Henry then, began his role in arming a militia that would lead the American revolutionaries to the Declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776.

Liberty in the United States is even immortalised in the statue of Lady Liberty, or Libertas. A gift from the French people to celebrate American freedom. (the idea was conceived in 1865 and Lady Liberty took her place on Ellis Island in 1886.)

What is liberty? Why is it so important that a man would rather die than live without it? As a young girl, I always assumed that everyone was free to do as they please, within the bounds of the law of course. For as long as what I did made my parents happy, I was free to do as I pleased. My perception of liberty was forged in furnace of my neighborhood and formed on the anvil of school. In school, as long as I did what made my parents and teachers happy, I was at liberty and I never had to die for it. I imagine that if I had read Patrick Henry’s speech in school, I would have been plunged into this liberty discourse earlier.

Permit me, dear reader to introduce you to the idea that there is freedom beyond the law and the anti-thesis; that laws can curtail freedom. The Magna Carta and philosophers of the Enlightenment belabored the anti-thesis- creating alternatives for liberty under the law. Some elevated reason and though they recognized natural laws, they rejected the One who made these laws.

Cogito, ergo sum – ‘ I think, therefore I am,’ has been sang in different variations since the 17th century but it has not lead to liberty. Philosophers like Spinoza, Hobbes struggled with the issue of evil, because if one thinks evil, then they are evil. Without laws to curtail the freedoms of evil people, where would society end? Men would need to give up their liberty in exchange for protection from governments, Hobbes argued. John Locke, on the other hand, believed men created governments only to safe guard their rights to liberty, life and property. It seems then that the role of a government is to protect the liberty of the governed, whether as an exchange or as a ‘social contract.’

Almost two centuries later, after Patrick Henry’s speech, in my own country, Uganda, a group of young lads with 27 guns, took to the bush in 1981 because they were seeking liberty. Their government had not protected their Liberty, so they too took up arms. Today, we commemorate their liberation of Uganda on 26th January 1986.

Seated here, 35 years later, it is evident that we as a people have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. The existing laws cannot redeem any man from depravity. We still cry about hunger, injustice, corruption, extra judicial killings, illiteracy, unemployment, violence, rape, fake UMEME, wars etcetera etcetera. Having spent most of my time locked down in 2020, because of a COVID-19 virus pandemic, I am very cognizant of the inability of the government to protect me in exchange for my liberty. Because the virus, bacteria and other disease causing germs do not exchange their liberty to any government, they are at liberty to do as they please. Where does one go when those assigned to protect are unable to do so?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord .”

Luke 4:18-19 NKJV

Luke records Jesus Christ as reading this text written by Prophet Isaiah in a synagogue in Nazareth where he had grown up. The Jews threw him out, for one, they were still under the very oppressive rule of the Romans. He could not state such things and leave them as they are. Secondly, they knew Him. He was their homeboy, he could not be the Messiah.

Well, two millennia later, we know better. But we still need to believe better. Our liberty was proclaimed and Jesus has all the authority in Heaven and on Earth. (Matthew 28:19NKJV) The government is on His shoulder. (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV) He is the One we should run to for Liberty.

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:7 NKJV