Road naming in Arusha City ! Betrayal?
By Valentine Marc Nkwame
"... I admire that bird for bravery." Says Jasper Wendo. "It comes to the wrong place, but doesnít even bother to shut up about it!"
Jasper Wendo, is the key character in the Francis Imbugaís play. "Betrayal in the City." The bird in question, had just flown by, as he was busy guarding his dead brotherís grave.
Personally, I happen to admire the East African Community or EAC, for its bravery. Comes to Arusha, unceremoniously, "grabs" an important road in town and names the road after itself. .... A camel gets into the tent and kicks out the owner.
The Simeon Road, running from Sanawari junction to Goliondoi roundabout, was the only means through which, local residents could guard the history of the Arusha community and identity of its founding chief, Simeon Laiseri.
We all understand how desperate for recognition the East African Community might be, but surely not to this extent and certainly not in this style. Can any of the bureaucrats at the EAC Secretariat spell the word, "Blasphemy?".
Yoweri Museveni, the guy who reportedly graced the unholy baptism of the "Barabara ya Afrika Mashariki", should understand that, in Arusha, one doesnít simply stage a coup to take over roads. People of Arusha have the rights to their opinions, their heroes and definitely their roads, thus need to be consulted on any decision about their town .... Soon to become a city.
Even the UN-Tribunal, which a few years ago, took over most of the AICC complex , hasnít thought of renaming the building after itself .... yet!
Nobody has any quarrel with EAC and in fact if they conduct themselves properly, people may even start to recognise their existence around here .... Why, they may even start buying copies of the Treaty!
Meanwhile, thanks to the Federal Government of Germany, the EACís own building will be constructed. Before being completed however, the EAC should be busy passing their bowl to various other potential donors plus doing a bit of spending ....
When the building is ready, maybe in 2010, the future president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni (Yes Him), will officially inaugurate it at the stadium, under the name of, "Jengo la Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki" Just a suggestion .... No other alternative anyway!
Actually, the point here is that, we should first name the EAC building after EAC, before considering to offer any of our local paths, let alone a tarmac road to the community.
By the way, what happened to the Arusha-Athi River road, which was to be a project under the EAC has it been shelved or awaits some financial blessings from a donor?
The roundabout located on one end of the controversial Simeon road, stand three statues; A man shouldering bananas, a woman with a pot on her head and a child between them.
Early this year, somebody knocked off the pot from the womanís head, probably mistaking it for the head.
This week, the culprit must have realized the mistake, went back and totally beheaded the woman.
The question is, There are three figures at the roundabout - why should the woman be the only statue to suffer the wrath. Oh! And should this be a sign of things to come for the "Barabara ya Jumuiya...?"
Have a gender balanced, head intact and totally EAC free day ... Maybe Not!