Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spot the difference

The Tanzania Information Office (MAELEZO) ‘entrepreneurs’ have just discovered a new way of making some extra bucks. They are peddling another mug-shot of the Prez, Jack Mrisho as the new official portrait.

The difference? Hardly any. It’s the same old Jack, with a smile on his visage. I wondered what would have prompted MAELEZO officials to feel that the country needs a brand new face of the president to smile benevolently at us from all those walls.

If the new portrait was to be used as a campaign launch, then few will notice the differenced. Or, maybe it would be used to brighten up the many dingy government offices. Frankly most government offices look like they have been designed by sadists. The moment you enter most of them you feel depressed – you feel like crying.

Anyway, back to Jack’s new portrait. What would have made the MAELEZO honchos start another business of getting Mzee’s new portrait and direct all government offices, SUs, private companies to buy the new photos for Shs 15,000 each? Let’s do some sums. How much will a thousand portraits make?

Maybe the new portrait has a better smile. I got out my smile-o-meter to checked Jack’s dental formula. In both photos, the old one and new, the Mkuu is all teeth. In the first portrait, his smile has only five teeth. In the second photo he is baring 8 top teeth. I hear that tooth-paste making companies are falling all over themselves in an attempt to make Mzee endorse their products.

Still – why a new portrait? In the first one the face is pictured in profile. In the second one taken full nondo – straight faced, with more teeth. It must have been the work of government spin-doctors (wapambe, nuksi). All over the world those guys are bad news. They are the ones who persuade African presidents that their ‘wananchi’ want the boss to change constitutions to rule them for life and a load of other rubbish.

Spin-doctor number one could say: “Mzee, we have to change your portrait. The one we have now is good. But we plan a portrait in which you will look benevolent, carry authority, look soft hearted and a stern man who will brook no nonsense, at the same time. A portrait which will depict you as a visionary and a leader who is intelligent and yet humble, God- fearing and fearless at the same time. And frankly, the people want to see more of those teeth.”

Mzee will ask what is wrong with the first portrait. Enter spin-doctor number two: “You see, Mzee, in the first portrait, you look a bit cheeky. As if you are giving the glad eye to a member of the opposite sex. Now you see the United Republic of Tanzania comprises of male and female species. While that look might gladden the madada, it can offend your fellow men.”

The Mkuu gives the nod for the spin-doctors to go ahead. Lets do the sums again – how much is TShs 15,000 multiplied by a hundred thousand portraits?

No comments: