Do you remember the first time I wrote you an open letter addressing you by your given name? Akwilina had just been shot by police dispersing a protest and I used the 21-year-old student’s death to draw your attention to the fact that people were starting to get scared of you. I did my best to advocate on behalf of young Tanzania which had so much faith in you. I invited you to watch the Marvel film Black Panther with me.
It might have sounded quite insane but trust me: that film raises much to discuss for Africans about power, pan-Africanism, vengeance, leadership, resource nationalism, gender and so much more. The best part is that it calls out the colonisers – Mabeberu, as you like to call them – in a most satisfying manner.
I knew the informality of the letter would annoy you, and I apologise for that. Mischief is unfortunately part of my charm. Tanzanian presidents have been known over the years to appreciate a bit of witty cheek from time to time as long as it is not taken too far. But really, in calling you by your first name – rather than the more formal President Magufuli – I wanted to remind you of a very fundamental fact: humility. Humility, John, is one of the ways in which people tempted and tortured by power might escape the worst of its ravages and I was hoping for that for you. Freedom from personal torment.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.