Tanzanian perspectives: Bullish about regional integration

The third issue of the Greater Horn Quarterly (GHQ) from the Futures Program of the Society for International Development (SID) continues monitoring debates, highlighting trends and offering insights on current issues under its Trend Monitoring Report Series. Focusing broadly on the Greater Horn of East Africa - from Djibouti through to Tanzania, the Eastern DRC, the two Sudan's and everything else in between - the report hopes to capture current or alternative voices and perspectives in developmental issues concerning the region.

In this issue we ask how well we inherently understand East African Countries. As East African issues are being discussed or decided at regional organs of the East African Community (EAC), does the public truly know and comprehend the impact of integration? Digging for such information based on properly researched evidence is always a good thing because of the likelihood of having to dispel existing assumptions. That is what is beginning to happen in Tanzania following the Society for International Development's (SID) collaboration with Twaweza in the Tanzania Dialogues Initiative.

Most perceptions of Tanzania and its citizens are a characterization of lukewarm attitudes towards integration initiatives. This perception is so prevalent that most of the reporting on Tanzanian feelings towards the "Coalition of the Willing" (COW) seemed to brand them as very unenthusiastic in progressing the integration agenda and that it was justi?ed to let them (together with Burundi) catch up in future. Surprisingly, it emerged from the Sauti za Wananchi survey conducted with Twaweza that 80 percent of Tanzanians believe fully in the East African integration process. The majority of those who had heard of the COW wanted to join it. So, if integration is so popular in Tanzania, is the problem its leadership or its bureaucracy?

Even more astounding, despite a historical rivalry with Kenya, Tanzanians view the country as a popular partner. The same is the case with Uganda although the two share much more cordial relations in history. In that sense it seems a legacy of the three pioneer countries in the EAC is still very strong all the way down to the general populace. Maybe this is the reason why a single tourist visa and progress on free movement have been warmly welcomed. Tanzanians just can't wait for an opportunity to visit Kampala or Nairobi! This will surely work into the very optimistic view of their future.

Other than reporting these Tanzanian perspectives, this issue also comments on growing in?uence of Kenya's military in domestic security. The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) may require a little more nuance in service provision. Our bookworm gets to review "Through My African Eyes" by the 'in-your-face, intensive if not hypertensive but humorous' man, Je? Koinange, as he weaves a profound story of the challenges, intrigues, and focus in the experiences of an African journalist.

Additionally, this issue also tries to ask how the Greater Horn of East Africa (GHEA) is coping with mental health issues within a context of so many trauma related events. This is especially the case, in light of increased participation in actions of conventional warfare while still having to face many other scary and shocking events that are likely to manifest in generations of people afflicted by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Such shocking events can be like what our reporter in 2026 informs us as the occupation of Burundi by Tanzanian forces. One can never tell what this could mean, not only for the psyche of the nation but also the mental health of Burundians at border points going to be attacked in that time by the Union of Kivu Peoples (UPK).

Despite the mostly gory news coming out of Kenya these days, Irungu Houghton points us to some good work coming out of Kilimani neighborhood in Nairobi. Through a place-based organizing initiative residents are envisioning an alternate concept of their spaces, therefore, gaining more ownership to confidently demand better services while improving their society by building: trust, community and solidarity beyond maintenance of utilities. It is clear that this can only happen with greater imagination and openness in processes. In Ebola, another horrific story, we find light through lessons provided by gallant Ugandan doctors as they help out their West African brothers in their time of need.

We also get to ask if Sudan and its Al-Ingaz regime are actually 'friendly' to the integrationist development agenda in the GHEA; particularly in the EAC. This is in light of very revealing leaked documents of its Military and Security Committee that speak of its intentions to continue facilitating protracted fighting in South Sudan and possible linkages with militias such as Al-Shabaab in Somalia where a number of EAC countries are engaged in peacemaking under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). And what lies in wait for Burundi if its people continue to suffer from hunger and ill-health? Lastly, in our 'Tweenterview' section we feature Aly-Khan Saatchu's monthly #Mindspeak series, where he invited TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Chief Executive Officer Frank Matsaert to talk on how to "Unleash the East African Lion". Let's think about it.

by Leonard Wanyama, Programme Officer, SID Nairobi office

Download GHQ Issue 3

Photo: Tanzania Teen Club, globalpost.com, The Kilimani Project, iol.co.za