Growing up I always thought I needed to work at a lucrative job and make tones of money so that I can escape poverty. As a kid, I thought being rich was the best thing ever. Growing up in a poverty stricken neighborhood, I have seen and experienced the real problems associated with poverty. And, I tell you, poverty isn’t fun.
I have lived through hunger and lack of access to money. I was treated in poor health facilities and went through an education system that was starting to breakdown. The problems I encountered as a poor kid are not a thing of the past. The same issues continue to happen as I write this. Poverty is truly an impediment to the poor masses progress.
Going through colleges and reflecting on the realities of life. I had to ask myself these questions: How can I make a difference? How can I serve my community best? What is that single thing I can do to touch many lives?
As I continued to ask myself these questions and continued to reflect upon them, I realized I had to make a decision on what kind of a career path I will have to take to make a greater impact on poor kids. I realized that just making tones of money will not empower me to change the lives of many young and disadvantaged kids who are continuing to be raised in similar conditions such as my own. In addition, my numerous encounters with people who have tones of money have not convince me that–a pile of money will allow me to stay with my life’s purpose.
I knew right then, I wanted to make an impact on young people. Young people with similar backgrounds like my own. Thus, I had to shift my decision into choosing a career path in the realms of equity and social justice. I had believed then, and I continue to believe now that instilling a good and quality education on the disadvantaged youth will have more impact in their lives than anything else.
So, I had to find a career that will fulfill my two objectives in life (equity and social justice). I chose to become an educator and environmental scientist. My experience as a student had a great influence on my decision. As a student, I encountered many selfless educators who worked hard and at times against their own welfare (monetarily) just to help me succeed. I felt like in order to help my community, I must become a National Builder, shaping the lives of disadvantaged kids like myself.
As a student I learned about freedom fighters and determined leaders such as Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkuruma, Patrick Lumumba, and Nelson Mandela. I also came to understand pan-Africanism. The teachers I had raised my consciousness, politicized me, educated me, all at the same time.
As an educator my sole purpose was to arm my students not only with academic knowledge, but also, to instil in them a strong sense of self and a deep-rooted understanding that they are responsible for the type of communities they will want to live in. I believe academic knowledge has to be connected to our own community existence and justice. Thus, as I move on into teaching educators, I will continue to raise my student- teachers consciousness to think more about the bigger picture rather than thinking only about climbing the corporate ladder. There-in lies happiness. Happiness in knowing that once it’s all and done, you have contributed directly in changing someone’s life.
Educators and especially educated educators such as myself are an important lever in the fight for equity and social justice. There is still a huge need for more highly qualified and gifted men to become educators especially in Tanzania. Educators who will not only teach content to our kids, but also enlighten them by raising their consciousness in multiple ways—socially, politically and economically. For me, to teach is to go beyond the confines of content. I am a believer of teaching the whole child.
Henceforth, it is up to all of us to pose the question: If you want to have the largest, most sustained impact on society, why not be an educator at least for a small amount of time in your life?
You view yourself as radical?
Well, there has never been a more radical stance than educating the underprivileged youth of our nation. The time is now. Teaching those who will teach the less fortunate to read and problem-solve has always been a good cause for the country.
Do you remember the old saying: Each one-Teach one?
For nationalism—there is nothing more patriotic to help president Magufuri right now than educating those who are willing to-go out to educate all our children regardless of their upbringing. Equipping them with the latest teaching and learning theories and methodologies.
Be that Tanzania you want to see!!