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Big shame to those who made JPM believe he was immortal




The politicians around Westminster have been at each other’s throats over the devastating effects of Covid-19 in terms of loss of life and economic backsliding.

The Boris Johnson government is catching flak for not having done enough, having taken its sweet time doing it and/or having bungled the measures needed to confront the pandemic.

That is as it should be. The representatives of the British people have the right to put their government on the spot if they think the latter have neglected their duty of service, and they have the right to demand that heads roll and butts be kicked. When you look at what has been happening in India you understand where I’m coming from.

Impossibly blind

Accusations of dereliction of duty must include being obstinate when a situation is clear enough for all to see except the impossibly blind. I have been telling my friends in the medical profession that they let us down badly since a year ago when they seemed to acquiesce in the mad fallacy that wanted us to believe that our prayers had made God listen to us rather than to the Pope.

The unbelievable defence of the medics is that then-president John Pombe Magufuli (JPM) would have done ‘‘bad things’’ to anyone who had dared contradict him.


This is a very sorry state for a nation to be in, and I think anyone who helped us get to that point is criminally liable on account for the scores of people who died.

Now that obscurantism has been shunted off to the sidewalk through President Samia Suluhu’s government saying that there is indeed a Covid-19 problem, the next step is for the vaccines to arrive. The government has stated that vaccines will be procured for people to be inoculated ‘‘if they so desire.’’

I know that in most countries where vaccines are given the exercise is voluntary, so there should no fear that people will be forced to be vaccinated.

Democratic right

However, what needs to be done in case the response is so low that too many people remain vulnerable to contract the virus?

Would that not render the fight against the virus unwinnable? I incline to think that this is an existential issue that must be treated as such. It is as if canine rabies were spread through droplets in the air and some people refused to take anti-rabies inoculation.

In that case would it not be mandatory for everyone to be inoculated? Would the democratic right to not be vaccinated negate the right of the others to not be infected?

Whatever the sangomas in our midst would have us believe, I think that there was a lot of infection around Magufuli’s work environment, in which wearing a face mask was not tolerated and crowding was a way of life.

It was as if someone was trying to display supernatural powers given only to themselves. My trepidation flows from my realisation that I am only mortal and accept my shortcomings.

If a Maasai warrior brandishing a simi charges at a lion that has attacked his boma, I will recognise a hero. But if he says he is going out to do battle with some virus, I will confirm his madness. For, the lion is known for its powerful claws and canines, and the Maasai is reputed to be fearless and nimble. But what do we know of the virus and the silly little man playing hide-and-seek with it?

The lesson we draw from this episode is that we never seem to be able to draw lessons from anything we are afflicted with or by. This is so because we never take time off to do stock-taking of what we have been through, to apportion blame and to mark out what we should never do again. As a result, we are condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again, like perennial infants.

Worthy people

The medical experts I was blaming are worthy people who struggle day and night to save lives and advance the frontiers of the search for wellness.

But, they can attain neither if they are too scared they will lose their employment to tell their superiors they see death when death is indeed what they see.

We quite often talk of speaking truth to power without knowing exactly what the expression means in real terms. It means it can be disadvantageous for you to tell the powerful what they do not want to hear, but tell them nevertheless.

They can harm you, sack you, or worse. Galileo could have been sent to the gallows by the Vatican, but he stood his ground.

Now, we are beginning to hear people talk as if they are emerging from a five-year-long stupor; they are now criticising Magufuli as if they had been too blind to see what the others were seeing all the while.

Then they remained silent when they should have spoken or, worse, singing praises of the man they soon made to think he was immortal.


Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]

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Kenyan Digest