During our reflection to prepare our CPT (Catholic Professionals of Tanania) Contribution for the official Government Document – Vision 2050, We realized that we are touching a deeper issue in our society when we speak of bottom – up development instead of top – down planning.

For a decade now CPT has stressed the need for a Moral Revival Movement if we are to build on a healthy basis for Social behavior.

When we spoke about growing inequality in our society nobody disputed the fact but hardly anybody proposed to do something revolutionary about it, nobody pushed for changing direction.

Is Tanzania ready for change?

Is Tanzania willing to change?

Are these valid questions – who is “Tanzania”?

Tanzania as a people is a unification of many different groups (religious, cultural, economic, social, political). And within those groups, and between these groups there are interactions, different interests, contradictory movements – there are also unifying forces like the Tanzania identity which built itself up from its recent history, language, culture.

  1. Differences and its consequences

In taking the step into independence political leaders stressed union, unity, national identity and feared greatly any divisive forces – tribalism, religious differences, educational ignorance. Differences were experienced as threats, not as potential for different contribution to build up society.

Unity was a positive goal, but it became also a stifling imposition of uniformity, lack of initiative, lack of creative thinking, lack of critical analysis. Even the University had to be streamlined into one mode of thinking – political correctness was the order of the day.

Nationalization policies and structures centralized even further decision making, increasing dictatorial power in the hands of the rulers.

Religious differences and other differences were pushed into the private spheres and any possible power struggles between them or influencing public life, were characterized as bad behavior, to be avoided and contradicted and even put down by force and through court decisions. This political centralization has greatly influenced people’s passivity and fatalistic waiting for others to make decisions.

When we stress now a bottom – up approach to development, we are up against a major weakness of a Social psychological nature we have educated and formed people into passivity.

That is why our MRM and our struggle against inequality and unfair playing ground for the small farmers and the informal sector have found little echo in society.

These are counter – cultural ideas which can find no resonance in the national psyche.

There is no social anger against such abusive situations.

This calls for serious formation of the popular mindset. We do not need to push for aggressive social behavior, but aim at formation of mind and heart not to be content any more with abusive situations, educate people to want change and show concrete ways for handling change.

Looking closer at our situation to – day we see signs that there are certain stirring movements which show that there is something alive – “Movement for change” was a slogan at one time, change for a New Constitution remains present among the people, dissatisfaction among young people is growing and is becoming a silent poison as there is little interest to take it really seriously, family life is under strain as the older and younger generations do not succeed to be in harmony.

  1. Our CPT efforts of the last decade

We have made serious reflections with CPT and tried an honest analysis and made proposals for improvements.

The truth is that we had little impact.

Our Church leaders, clergy and lay councils, do not want to look at this reality, they are inward looking and do not want to see the plight of the majority of our people, who live in poverty and see no way out – they are paralyzed.

Instead the Church leaders are obsessed by the needs of the institution and are prepared to squeeze the poor.

Many of our catholic laity, who are active in Church circles, do not want to reflect seriously on the reality of the poverty in our society.

The Social Doctrine of the Church is itself the result of past activities of some dedicated groups of laity, cooperatives, trade unions, social movements who pushed during the industrialization period and the growing Communist movement and who pushed the Church leaders to speak out against abusive exploitation that is how the Social Doctrine came into being.

Tanzania to – day is facing the same reality CPT has been trying to call the attention of the leaders, and of the people in general, that we cannot continue the way we are doing now and ignoring the real situation of the majority of our people.

The Church, its leaders and its faithful, must take up the calling of the Gospel to sanctify the life of the world and influence society to live according to God’s will, to build the Kingdom of God.

Our Church community has not yet accepted the responsibility to improve the life of every Tanzania and in a special way the lowly people, the poor and vulnerable.

CPT wants to invite our Church community to play a more active part in public life. Some people disagree and say this is doing politics and is not the role of the Church. Those who say this have not yet understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who came to save people from evil and sin and corruption and build a human society according to God’s plan. To refuse to practice the apostolate of building God’s Kingdom is a Sin of omission – not doing one’s duty.

  1. Our proposal for the Church of Tanzania in the present time

1. We ask our leaders, clergy and lay – Council leaders to play the role of animating the faithful to participate in public life and play their part at the level of the local community, at the level of national politics and actively participate in influencing the making of policies in favour of the common good, solidarity and collaboration. To use the time of the Sunday Sermons to teach the Social Doctrine of the Church and the Social dimension of the Gospel.

2. We ask the permission to re- write our pamphlet to guide the J.N.N to help one another in daily life and reflect on how the Gospel invites us to carry one another’s burden.

3. To teach the Social Doctrine of the Church as a full subject in our Major Seminaries.

4. To invite our lay – movements – Wawata, Uwaka, TMCS, TYCS, Viwawa, H/Walei, Men and Women religious institutions to study the Social Doctrine and put it into practice in the life of their members and communities.

5. To take a leading role in animating the NGO’s, Civil society groups, Human Rights groups with a spirit of moral uprightness and defending the rights of the poor and lowly. This moral animation must be a priority for a religious community and has a great impact on the community. It is an influence which political parties and politicians cannot provide as their moral integrity and credibility is weaker in the eyes of the citizens.

For the Church community to use its moral influence in combatting poverty and combatting corruption and abuse of power for selfish purposes, is a major contribution religious groups must play.

The Catholic Church has a special responsibility because we have a precious source of reflection and wisdom and experience in our Church, in the practices of so many catholic initiatives of mercy and care for people in need.

6. When we launched our CPT initiatives of Moral Revival Movement, of our Village Transformation Programme, of our Reflection on the Growing inequality in incomes in our society, when we launched our study on helping small farmers, when we organized our Kongamano on CPT – Ideas for Vision 2050 – in all these initiatives we saw and realized how much the ordinary citizens were pleased to hear our contribution – what was and is lacking is that there are Wasomi and people of good will to pick up these initiatives and organize practical programmes at the local level.

That is where the Church has such a great potential power to bring progress locally through its presence in the outstations and in the parishes and in our lay – movements.

Why are our Christians not picking up their responsibility and bring practical development and improvements in their lives? In the past Mission stations and parishes have often been places of such practical developments and services.

Why have we lost this tradition, why do we leave it to politicians and to government to bring us development, or look for money from donors before we feel we can do something.

This culture of inertia and discouragement and passivity we must break down and rise up to take our development into our own hands, this dependency culture is a great enemy of our country and a great cause of our own self – made poverty. This dependency we see at all levels

“Yes, we shall arise – must be our answer”

“Send me Lord, to be your missionary of salvation for the poor and lowly”.

Fr. Vic Missiaen, M.Afr.