If there’s any contemporary, eye-rolling event that powerfully defined Tanzania and Africa at large, then it was the election of Dr John Pombe Magufuli as the president of Tanzania in 2015.
His style of leadership – which’s proactively unique in many areas compared to his predecessors – refreshingly amazed and wowed friends, foes, optimists and pessimists alike; and nothing like it in matters of leadership has the country ever experienced.
On the flipside, Magufuli’s arrival and his style of doing things made him step on economic and political landmines. His style and performance have earned him both friends and enemies.
Practically, Magufuli’s unique style of leadership is essentially the centrepiece of ‘Magufulification,’ a concept the former Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Dr Pius Msekwa, and I delved into and explored on how it sprung to life, and what it has achieved in terms of what it can offer to others facing the same problems.
Nuanced on its quick achievements, ‘Magufulifications’ applicability to African countries is inevitable due to the fact that the problems they face share the same nexus that can be traced to colonialism or neo-colonialism and slavery as external root causes and to bad governance, corruption, ineptness, laziness and the likes as internal root causes.
This concept is enticing to explore, particularly for academics due to the heat it has generated since coming into being.
If anything, ‘Magufulification’ as a new concept-cum-style of leadership, has tested the international norm that revolves around the superiority of Africa’s former colonisers and the inferiority ascribed to the poor in Africa.
Because of such thinking, Magufuli, the man behind Magufulification, was viewed as a needle in a haystack. Given the novelty of the concept, at this stage, it is hard to tell apart between a person behind the concept and concept itself.
This, of course, is a little bit hard and complex thing to do; as was the case regarding the concept of “Ujamaa na Kujitegemea”, or socialism and self-reliance vis-à-vis its founder, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the founder president of Tanzania. There is no way one can analyse or interrogate Ujamaa na Kujitegemea without doing the same to Nyerere.
Magufuli’s unique style of leadership captured and engulfed the world like a bushfire, and his agency and mojo ignited the continent and restored its lost hope about the transformation and realignment of the continent.
Fundamentally, those who wrongly thought that Africa would always be doomed had to rethink again, thanks to the new style of leadership Magufuli had ushered in.
Now, he is gone. What’ll happen to the concept and the country? Nobody can actually tell. But the arrival of Magufuli rekindled a spirit that we view as a total liberation of Tanzania, particularly economically.
Magufuli’s arrival also altered the way Tanzanians (and Africans generally) used to view themselves. And this was grounded on his manner and speed of doing things, specifically what can be achieved in a very short time. This is what ‘Magufulification’ has shown.
It is from this background that I write this dirge for the fallen president. Will Tanzania maintain the mojo-cum-tempo as his noble commemoration? For the way ‘Magufulification’ restored sanity in running the business of Tanzania, if used as a case study, cannot just be ignored, or be left to fizzle out.
It has addressed many nagging social and economic challenges that have been troubling the country for a long period of time.
Next week, I’ll explain why Africans need to employ ‘Magufulification’ in their countries.
Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador