CULTURE being the soul of the nation is one of the most outstanding, patriotism-enhancement slogans of the Tanzanian nation.
The cultural component is among most fundamental inputs into what we may characterize as Tanzania’s wholesomeness.
Wholesomeness in the sense that when the country’s tribes plus ethnic group are combined, we come up with the national cultural heritage. To our credit, we are a very solid nation in spite of being culturally very diverse.
More significantly is the fact that not only have we managed to forge a stable and peaceful nation but it is widely cited as a role model.
In some parts of the African continent and beyond, ethnic or tribal tensions are rife, as some people within some tribes perceive themselves to be superior to others, and that, therefore, it is from them that leaders and holders of major institutional posts should emerge.
As Tanzanians, we should be proud of being a country whose ethnic diversity is a blessing rather than a curse.
For by picking or borrowing positive of cultures from elsewhere, through inter-marriages, for instance, we enrich national heritage. But absolute perfection is near-impossible to attain, the “good show” being spoiled by negative practices and beliefs in some ethnic set-ups.
Mara Region, unfortunately, provides one of the illustrative cases, through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), under which girls perceived to have come of age are subjected to the so-called “cut”.
When the season for the cultural rite dawns, the girls undergo the ritual, the “surgeons” being relatively elderly women called “ngariba”.
The practice is orchestrated as conferring honour on the girls who undergo it; implying that those who don’t haven’t graduated into adulthood and don’t deserve respect, as well as the entitlement to getting married.
Thanks to fairly widespread sensitization, many girls are rebelling against the practice, an example being the nearly 500 of them, mostly Tanzanians and a few Kenyans, who fled and sought shelter and protection at the Association of Female Genital Mutilation (attgm) camp Masanga Centre in Mara Region’s Tarime District.
To its credit, the centre has so far rescued over 3,000 would-be victims of the cruel opractice. The initiative is laudable, plus others in that category.
We should grant a big YES to positive cultural practices and reject negative ones with a huge NO.