Thursday, January 27, 2011

Political unrest affects disabled people most, Tanzanian official says

From IPP Media:

Religious leaders have been urged to speak with one voice when addressing issues which can endanger national peace and tranquillity, if not handled with care.

The call was made on Saturday by IPP Executive Chairman, Reginald Mengi at the 19th Form Six graduation ceremony at Ilboru secondary school.

He said it was not in the interest of the nation for each group or individual to give own statement, worse still point fingers at each other, warning that such a move would only serve to destroy the peace enjoyed for so long in the country.

Addressing thousands of Arusha residents who attended the graduation ceremony, the IPP Executive chairman said if each sect or religious group gave its own statement, that would only promote more problems.

He said safeguarding national interest is more important than individual interests or interests of certain groups, be they religious or political.

“There is no person, an individual, religious groups or political groups which are above national interests. Even the interests of Sheikhs and Bishops are not above national ones,” said Mengi.

“I want to talk about the peace and harmony of our country. I know many of you will not be interested in this topic because there are other interesting topics with regard to this graduation ceremony,” said Mengi when commencing to address the people attending the function.

He said for a long time Tanzania has been known nationally and internationally for being an island of peace.

“If people do not know, peace and harmony is a very expensive prize. There are some people who say that the country was fortunate to have peace. In fact this is not the case. A lot of effort went into building the peace we enjoy today. We are supposed to collectively and with all our efforts defend the peace and harmony that we have,” said Mengi.

He said further that it seemed it was not easy to appreciate the peace we have until after it has perished. “And by that time it will be very difficult to find it. Even when looking for it, it will not be there because we would have destroyed it…we shall start killing each other, become impoverished, ending up with no development.”

He said there cannot be development if there is no peace in the country, adding that anywhere where there is conflict and strife, there is no development.

“Because we have lived in peace for a long time, we have failed to appreciate its importance. We have one problem. We think what happened in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi cannot happen here. If we are not careful this will happen,” said Mengi.

He said there are things that need to be done and one of them is love or friendship for no reason.

He gave his testimony saying when he was a child in his home village and by virtue of the culture there, every woman was a mother to all the children regardless of the type of relationship those people had. The same applied to a man who was called father.

“There was nowhere you would call Mzee so and so or Mama so and so. I didn’t know whether my neighbour was a Christian or a Muslim, but a mother or a father, a neighbour,” said Mengi.

The IPP Executive Chairman reiterated the call to clerics to preach peace and shun religious sentiments that may trigger violence, at an annual New Year party he hosted for people with disabilities in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

He said peace was a necessity for all the people, especially people with disabilities, who he said were likely to be affected the most in the advent of chaos.

Mengi made a humble appeal to religious leaders to deliver sermons aimed at safeguarding the existing peace and avoid opinions that might divide the nation along religious lines.

“On behalf of the disabled community, I pray to you religious leaders in your words, thoughts and deeds, embrace peace and stability, as an important ingredient to the prosperity of our beloved country. When you utter words that are likely to breach peace, then you confuse us your followers,” he said.

He noted that, when war ensues and peace evaporates, the group that is hardest hit is that of the disabled.

The IPP boss said war on poverty would be rendered useless and that no meaningful gains would be registered in the absence of peace.

He told the persons with disabilities not to despair or get scared because of their physical appearance. “Make the best use of the hidden talent to pursue your dreams and stop lamenting on your outward outlook,” he said adding “There is a worse form of disability than being physically challenged,”

In a gesture of appreciation, the chairperson of the federation of people with disabilities Lupi Maswanya hailed Mengi for supporting people with disabilities. “It is not a matter of luncheon. This is a clear testimony how Mengi is integrating by heart with people with various disabilities,” said Mwasanya.

She too echoed Mengi sentiments on peace, underscoring the importance of shunning violence.