Why being ugly is an advantage, if a Swiss Agricultural Journalist is reporting from one of the poorest countries in the world, where two third of population still relies on Agriculture.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. 2014 it was ranked 159th amongst the 187 nations in the Human Development Index. The average economic performance is with a gross domestic product of 530 USD (2014) per capita not very astonishing. Two third of the population income is directly linked to agriculture. Some 13% of the nations GDP comes from agriculture.
So far the numbers. The big question to me is: what am I going to do here within the next three months of my „stage“ at The Citizen. What is a Swiss Agricultural Journalist, working for BauernZeitung, doing in Eastern Subsahara Africa? Would I be the good, the bad or the ugly one? Just another „Mzungu“ from the developed North, who says, how things should be done? Just another Journalist, who likes to draw dark and backward oriented pictures of the black continent and its people?
According the numbers, Tanzania would be an ideal candidate to elaborate what should be done in order to alleviate poverty, increase average income and end food shortage. It would also allow to draw a dark and backward oriented picture of a torn country. The reason are the approaches recently used from the political elite, which concerned observers. Even one of the most important English newspaper (The Citizen) asks in its Friday-issue-headline, if the one-year-in-power president, John Magufuli, is already acting like a dictator.
The conclusion of the therefore published study was, that the majority of the people see the president and his engagement positively, although there are some accusations of high-handedness. Or, as some observers say: „Often the president is using presidential decrees to set a new law. Even the parliament has raised concern, as it has the feeling, that it is not heard enough to represent the people accordingly. “ Furthermore, Magufuli was described as a Post-Nyererist, because his policy programmes seems to look pretty similar than those of the famous first president of Tanzania, mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Nyerere dreamed of a socialist Tanzania. A country, in which every man and every woman could feel free and save and where the government is controlling all the important parts of citizen’s life. He succeeded in unifying the country and brought together Tanzania’s people on their way to independence.
Coming back to the initial question, if I would be the good, the bad or the ugly one. I chose to be the ugly one. First, because being good does not mean, that one is right. Second because I believe that there are so many (local) good and great people out there, I possibly won’t be able to add anything more to their greatness, compassion and stamina. Third, I consider the bad-guy-role neither as mine. In addition, bad news, for sure raise attraction. But they also rise concerns, fears and even the feeling, that doomsday is just a couple of hours ahead of us. Fourth, being ugly is not considered as something to strive for. So it would allow me to observe and report, what is just happening in front of me. And there is happening a lot, I can tell you already after three days. Finally, being ugly means: not the reporter will shine, but the stories, he (or she) tells. And this is, why I am here for.