Arusha is interesting. Neat and clean, without the horrendous Nairobi traffic, it seems inviting. Seems. I am not sure that it is. The passive-aggression I am experiencing - have experienced so far - is bewildering. Take the receptionist at our conference centre. Since we arrived on Monday, she has been "looking for the IT manager" so that we can get the correct password to the conference room's WiFi. She smiles, takes our instructions and does fuck all about it, spending the winding hours perched on her stool chatting up her colleague for hours on end.
Tanzanians, so far as I can tell, don't have the get up and go of their Kenyan or Ugandan brethren. They are not exactly the Doppelgangers of my brothers at the Coast, but they are not the most motivated bunch I have met either. This must explain why they are wary of the fifteen or so Kenyans making their mark at the East African Community Secretariat where, by the by, there are over four hundred employees. Arushans live under the fear that one Kenyan alone can render them jobless and homeless simply by showing up.
One of my dearest and closest acquaintances used to tell me that George Eshiwani repeated the adage, "decisions are made by those who show up" and I think it is an apt motto. If Arushans won't turn up, the fifteen Kenyans in the EAC Secretariat will rob them of their jobs and homes because that is the way of the world. Their passive-aggression is a handicap; it is a tacit acceptance that they are just not good enough.
That is not the attitude of many Kenyans, especially Kenyans with the balls to flee their homes for greener pastures. There are a few wastrels among the many ambitious Kenyans out there in the world - there was that story of the homeless Kenyan murdered in the USA - but these are not the norm, they are the exception that proves the rule. Where a Kenyan goes, whether he is qualified or not, whether he has papers or not, that Kenyan is determined to make mark, make something of himself, make a success of his life. He is out to make himself a person of means. Arushans live by fate - and they have paid the price for their passive-aggression.
It now makes sense why Tanzania was so miffed when Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda came up with the coalition of the willing over the question of travel across borders using national identity cards. Tanzania is still wedded to a colonial mindset when it comes to immigration control. For goodness' sake they are still using embarkation and disembarkation cards at their points of entry and they keep an beady eye on Yellow Fever certificates even of visitors from the EAC. This passive-aggression on a national scale and it is the reason why half the good hotels in Arusha are owned by kaburus from pre-independence.
Tanzania is a land of opportunity if you're willing to put in the work and suffer the passive aggression of the inferiority-complexed natives. All that real estate is sitting idle waiting for some bright spark willing to invest heavily. Manufacturing might be the next thing if they sort out their ridiculous electricity deficit. But so long as they and their government sit sniffily on the corner resenting the moxie of their partners in the EAC, Tanzania will always be treated like a moody child: ignored and sidelined when the rest are skinny dipping with wild abandon.