DICOTA: “A Missed Opportunity”.


I have been having flashbacks lately regarding the DICOTA convention I attended in September, 2011. The fact that it was a missed opportunity for this organization to do a collective gesture to the common ills that we all know exists back home is still bothering me to date.  The basic necessities like books for school children, desks, hospital beds and the like are lacking in all four corners of Tanzania. The conventions could even in a small scale be used to address these nuances.

DICOTA as an organization has several objectives and one of them is to promote the improvement of infrastructure in Tanzania. Thinking of just  that, It would have been really nice to have at least a “Harambee” type of event during the allocated convention time where people (DICOTA Members) could be asked to donate money or goods that will be used to fill-those-gaps that we already know exists.

I am not putting any blame to the DICOTA leadership or anything like that, but when opportunities like 600 plus Tanzanian folks happening to be in one place for three or four days, it’s an opportunity that we need to harness. Let’s say all 600 delegates gave S50 each.  What is 50 bucks? For most of the folks who attended the convention, it is just gas money these days. That alone would raise about $30,000. Imagine, how many mattresses Tshs 48,000,000 would buy for hospitals or maternity wards in Tanzania?

We could even go further and pay for our own lunches for the days we have the convention. The money allocated for lunches from the sponsors could be used to add value to our own harambee contibution. I’m not very sure how much those lunches cost at a Marriott hotel in Washington D.C.? I bet, its not less than 20-25 bucks each.

Therefore, for the sake of our image, if we have one and the fact that we care a lot about the lives of the people back in Tanzania—such kind of a gesture will help even our common goal for a Dual Citizenship. We may not be able to build roads and making uninterrupted supply of electricity possible to Tanzania, but we can do a better job that way than nothing at all.

These simple but helpful gestures to our fellow citizens—will go a long way in letting them know that we not just a bunch of people who are enjoying BATAS in the western world and  at the same time we happen to want it GOOD in Tanzania as well.

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6 thoughts on “DICOTA: “A Missed Opportunity”.

  1. KB

    Do you wholeheartedly feel your suggestions are sustainable in the long run? What good are desks with absentee teachers, hospital beds with no doctors (they are on strike.) Did the diaspora Tanzanians present an agenda? are we ourselves united as Africa’s 5th region is indeed the Diaspora. Can we not unify and amplify our voices to influence legislature. What about voting in the diaspora..was this even explored?

    “These simple but helpful gestures to our fellow citizens—will go a long way in letting them know that we not just a bunch of people who are enjoying BATAS in the western world and at the same time we happen to want it GOOD in Tanzania as well.”

    Simple gestures for complex situations don’t go far. Changing perception with a few “good deeds” “charitable deeds” is not what we need for change.

    just my 2 cents

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  2. Kate all your points are very valid. I know I have touched your nerves with this article. We have to start somewhere…and start we must. Are my suggestions sustainable over the long run? No—they are not. But, I refuse to just seat and wait untill all the good suggestions you have suggested materializes. Good governance, the right to vote and a voice to influence legislations back home are all good ideas—I am sure you aggree with me on this, we are not there yet!!!

    So here is my point, start with the hearts and minds. We are not going to achieve anything unless we are counted back home. And we are not counted as we speak? Our voices for now; are just that voices or makelele as they call them.

    While I agree with you on your statement that “Simple gestures for complex situations don’t go far. Changing perception with a few “good deeds” “charitable deeds” is not what we need for change” For change, we must start somewhere. Softening the perception on how they view us is a good point to start with before we can get to the BIG picture, that is influencing legistalitons, being able to vote and the like.

    Thanks for your comments KB.

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  3. KB

    Enter the match:

    Telecoms/corporate (CSR) philanthropy vs Diaspora Philanthropy! all the best with that…will be looking forward to seeing it on Issa Michuzi.

    There are tons of ways to contribute, I believe we should imagine more, first and foremost. Why cancel out roads and electricity? it doesn’t have to be nationwide building, it could start in your town, your village, your region.

    What is the total $ amount when it come to remittances?

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  4. While I have no real figures of how much remittences the Tanzanian diasporas contribute to the Tanzania’s economy. I believe it is high enough that the Tanzanian politician are starting to forge an interest with people that lives outside Tanzania. I understand that, with such amount of money–we should atleast have a say “a reverage” on matters related to Tanzania development and on how the politicians spend that money—and have an influence on the legislative body as well.

    Yes, there are many ways to contribute to Tanzania’s development other than Diaspora Phillanhtropy. I am one who is actually doing that already in the smallest possible way I can—starting in my village. The problems I face in doing that are very systematic—and without changing the system—-i am not going to be very successful.

    We all know that mine, yours and many more people voices from the diasporic life and within Tanzania are regarded in the polital corners in Tanzania as mere Keleles. That has been established. How do we come together so that our voices will be in unisson and heard? What do we need to do to make the remittances we love to send back home to at least be sent with strings attached?

    I am not going to drag Issa Michuzi in this discussion—for all, I ain’t fun of the face proning and self serving kind.

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  5. Mh. Fundi, I’m sorry to hear that you are having negative flashbacks regarding the 2011 DICOTA convention and 50 Years of independence celebrations.
    While I agree that more can always be done and should be done, I disagree with your sentiment that it was largely a missed opportunity hence implying that it was not a success.

    You mentioned that you did not witness ANY collective “gestures” or beneficent efforts towards the common ills experienced back home? I find your reasoning for labeling the event as a missed opportunity troubling to say the least, such a statement is misleading and grossly unfortunate. Especially since you claim to have attended the events!

    At the events there were many opportunities that were presented to the participants to affiliate and/or support beneficent efforts towards some of the problems experienced back home.
    For example, there was an art auction that was organized; proceeds from the auction were to be donated to an NGO that helps unfortunate children in Tanzania.
    Did you attend the auction and/or buy any of the art in support of the NGO and the Tanzanian artist?

    Second, there were many NGOs that were allocated presentation space/tables primarily because of the wonderful work they do in Tanzania. One of the organizations is Mlimani (http://www.mlimani.org/charity ), they have a wonderful school desk program. As a matter of fact one of the founders/leaders of Mlimani was present at their presentation site. She also wrote a personal finance book geared towards helping young adults back home manage their finances better. Some proceeds from her book are used to assist Mlimani’s projects.
    Another good NGO at the event in my opinion is The Hassan Maajar trust ( http://www.hassanmaajartrust.org )
    Did you approach Mlimani, HMT or any other NGOs and ask how you can help or participate?

    Third, there were many businesses such as Nyumba Poa and Umoja Phone that were presented at the convention. Such businesses in one way or another assist our fellow countrymen/women back home.
    Did you approach any of these businesses and offer to support them or participate in any way?

    Fourth, Mh. Membe revealed that a special Diaspora office has been created and the gentle lady heading that office was presented to the participants. This is in response to the positive increase of the Diaspora’s involvement back home.

    Fifth, the Embassy had a dedicated presentation table as well and their staff including the Ambassador was readily available to anyone. In addition many movers and shakers within the government including the President were available. I wonder how many of us “effectively approached” them with our concerns? …especially since this is an opportunity that many of our fellow citizens don’t get back home.

    Last but not least, there were about 600 fellow countrymen at the convention/ independence celebration. We all drunk and ate good food as you eluded to but I wonder how many of us took it upon ourselves to effectively network with the intent of solving some of the common ills you mentioned? Do we need DICOTA or any other organization to “collectively” tell us to do that?

    Since we are discussing ways to collectively assist with the common ills that our fellow citizens experience back home and you are in favor of at least contributing $50, I would like to invite you and anyone else to join the Team Wazalando on Kiva (http://www.kiva.org/team/wazalendo).
    So far we have successfully loaned money 159 times to fellow entrepreneurial citizens in Tanzania, they gradually pay it back and we then loan the money to someone else. With more support from people like you who are looking for an effective way to help others, we can loan to even more people.

    In conclusion, I think DICOTA in conjunction with the Embassy of Tanzania (USA) did a wonderful job with the 2011 convention/ celebration event. In the history of the TZ diaspora in the US there has never been a TZ event that brought together 600+ Tanzanians and secondly there has never been a TZ lead organization in the US that was able to successfully bring together at once so many top government officials and put them at the disposal of so many and all this within its third year of existence. There is an organization called “Jumuiya ya Watanzania” that has been in existence for a LONG time and its results are dismal compared to what DICOTA has been able to do so far. DICOTA’s primary task was to set up an environment where the Diaspora could take actions/steps with regards to the many concerns we have, some of us did and some of us didn’t, an individual’s inability to raise to the occasion cannot be blamed on DICOTA.
    However, there are a lot of improvements that DICOTA can do to improve and I hope that the organization learnt some lessons and will raise the bar even higher at the next convention!

    “If real development is to take place, the people have to be involved!”- Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere

    “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, Ask What You Can Do for Your Country!” – JFK

    “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success!” – Henry Ford

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  6. Dear John. First and foremost thank you for taking the time to read the article and leave a comment behind. The article is actually very clear in my views, WE COULD HAVE DONE MORE, BUT WE DID NOT. In addition, the gathering as a gathering ONLY was a huge success. Do we really want it to be just that?

    I know you WILL agree with me that it is really hard to have 600+ Tanzanians in the Americas to come to one location for 3-4 days. Kuddos to DICOTA for making that happen. It is not AN EASY JOB. But we could have done MORE with that number. That was really my main reason for writing the article and hence the title ” A missed opportunity”.

    I do appreciate the links and the information you provided in your comment. I’m sure a lot of people will find them useful—as I have. In addition, I did indeed buy a lot of the stuffs from Tanzania and I annually contribute to various courses aimed at improving the lives of many poverty riden Tanzanians back home, many without a choice of their OWN.

    I’m sure next year, DICOTA will provide a platform for ACTIONS for things like the ones I have suggested. We need to WALK the TALK, they (leaders)already talk too much in Tanzania. I would rather see US doing “THINGS” differently. What about you?

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