Saturday, October 31, 2009

Drunken driving is legal in Bongo!

In one of my sojourns abroad I was met with very agreeable couple with their two lovely kids. That evening they invited me to dinner at restaurant about three kilometers from their home.

The family had two cars but, came evening they suggested that we walk to the dinner place.
“But why?” I asked, flabbergasted.
“You see, we are planning to have a drink. Have some wine or something.”
“So what?” I asked. This time they were flabbergasted.
“But drunken driving is strictly not allowed in our country. You could get a five-year ban and a stiff fine for that. They police are very strict about drunken driving.” They insisted.

We left two top-notch cars and walked to the restaurant and back. Okay, we had great fun. But I could easily have done with a drive to and from the chow place.

The next morning, while I was yawning and reflecting the events last night, I felt a sense of nostalgia for the United Republic of Bongo. What country was that where one could ply oneself with booze and happily zigzag one’s home, ands God help everybody on the way?

Whatever they say about breaking the law one thing I have noticed – breaking the law is cool in the United Republic of Tanzania. As long as you don’t want to violently from power and you are well connected, you can literary get away with murder!

Drunken driving is perfectly okay in Bongo? You go to a watering hole and get pissed until you are blotto, then you stagger off to your car and start committing attempted murders on other citizen’s life and limb on the road. You may even succeed to commit suicide and kill other people in the process. Suicide driver or something.

What will society do? The traffic cop will hardly notice that before you killed other people you were bombed dizzy. Instead the traffic cop will have been busy admiring your four-wheel contraption and likely to ask for some chai for himself too.

Your chick will be busy, not restraining you, but admiring mzee fiddling with the latest CDs and making sure that rivals see her, well and clear nodding to the car stereo belting out the tunes. And society in general will be admiring as the drunk zooms around town. Society, in general will be nodding their approval on your drunken exploits. He has made it. He is rich.

But being bombed alone is not enough. The apart from the latest car you have to have latest cell phone. To have the right car, fairly drunk, the latest cell phone is absolutely de rigueur for any self-respecting city pretender claiming to have ‘made it’.

The phone must have a disco, radio, TV, a picture of your latest concubine (few spouses are lucky enough to make it to mzee’s I-Pod) a fast-take away restaurant, internet and everything – you just name it, it is in there.

Never mind that your own dad and mom are living – no, not living – semi starving in some hovel somewhere in some village. They are busy scratching mother earth with their chapped hands using hand-holes. While in town you claim that they are ‘farmers’.

I think if the billions stolen at EPA grand corruption could have made it to the rural areas that would have been understandable. But the guys are a living lie. Not I think Tanzania, as a country, is living in a bubble. One day that bubble will burst.

For now drink driving is cool, add a cell-phone and talking mostly nonsense while you are busy arranging a date in a guest house with someone’s spouse – that is no problem! You see breaking the law has become so common that we actually don’t need to worry about EPA. You start with small crimes and then go to big crimes. The society is now immune to criminality. You can break the law and most likely you will be handsomely rewarded for it!

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