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Change: ni mimi, ni wewe, ni sisi!

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Education, Tanzania
Rakesh Rajani Valedictory. Picture: Ian Attfield/DFID
Rakesh Rajani Valedictory. Picture: Ian Attfield/DFID

The New Year started with humid weather and heavy rains in Dar es Salaam, portentous signs for a year likely to bring change, not least in parliamentary elections - as President Kikwete completes his final and second term in office, late in 2015.

Breaking the monotony of the January blues and New Year resolutions was an event celebrating the work of the civil society agency Twaweza. It’s charismatic founder and head Rakesh Rajani was passing the leadership baton onto Aidan Ekakuze, and hundreds of supporters and friends had gathered at the Karimjee Hall, a grand old colonial building close to the botanical gardens in Dar’s centre.

The eclectic mix included a wide spectrum of Tanzanians from government, civil society, NGO’s, activists and elders, all passionate to develop their nation, hold its leaders to account and empower its citizens to be a force for change and good. Most striking to me, and what really brought home the influence of Twaweza, were the former business and government officials who also spoke with passion on topics such as the scourge of corruption and the crisis of failing schools and illiteracy.

Change Ni Mimi ..
Change Ni Mimi ..

Change: ni mimi, ni wewe, ni sisi! (it's me, it's you, it's us) was the motto etched on a slab of rock by the speaker’s podium. The former Controller and Auditor General spoke with passion on the productive working partnership with Twaweza to open up audit reports and all sorts of information: procurement, contracts, budgets, performance data to promote accountability was heartening.

Tales from Rakesh’s earlier days with Haki Elimu (friends of education) network and the clashes with the government over education policy really emphasised that it requires more than just finance and technocratic solutions to compromise and bring lasting, positive change. It's welcome to see Twaweza’s rapprochement with government and a healthy respect for one another’s position develop: the Minister of Education now cites the UWEZO learning outcome results from students in some speeches he makes and has instigated a national early grade literacy and numeracy assessment to track progress.

Rakesh will doubtless continue to poke fun at the establishment, not least DFID and advocate for change in his expanding international work with the Open Government Partnership and the Ford Foundation. I wish him well and look forward to working with Aidan and all of the Twaweza team in the coming year. To quote another slab of rock, with words of African wisdom:

The truth remains that if we want our children to learn, we need to look into the mirror. For change will not just come, unless you make it happen.

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  1. Comment by Anette/Sida posted on

    Nice Ian! Thanks for sharing. Tanzania will not be the same without Rakesh but we have to try and manage 🙂

  2. Comment by Roy Trivedy posted on

    Thanks for sharing this. Great memories and exciting times ahead.

  3. Comment by Ismail posted on

    Wow what a good writer Ian. How i wish i could be like you
    I needed with the work that Twaweza does you can not be passionate about it and its indeed true when you say
    I quote: "The truth remains that if we want our children to learn, we need to look into the mirror. For change will not just come, unless you make it happen".

  4. Comment by Mbayani Tayai posted on

    I appreciate the work that you did, I thanks my best Friend, Michael Teoh Sulim, founder of Thriving talent that focus in supporting young people world wide to archive their full potential and development in their life, through their unique tools called Potential matrix products, a tool that unlocking potential for all in life, friend from Malaysia for connecting me with you Ian. I didn't know it before. Am looking to work with you.

    Looking to see you soon in Arusha or Dar es Salaam.