The tragedy in Darfur is a reminder of the ‘peace-loving’ nature of Tanzania

July 18, 2013 12:20 am0 comments by:
UNAMID Sector South HQ Staff members attending a brief Ceremony to pay tribute to Tanzania fallen soldiers.

UNAMID Sector South HQ Staff members attending a brief Ceremony to pay tribute to Tanzania fallen soldiers.

This week Tanzania is sadly receiving bodies of 7 soldiers belonging to the Tanzania’s People Defense Force (TPDF) soldiers who were part of peacekeeping forces in Darfur. It is a heartrending moment for the country but also a time to remind us of our ‘peace-loving’ nature and efforts to create peace in the region.

For a long time Tanzania has been known as an Island of Peace. Indeed it is. This is in light of the fact that Tanzania has not only maintained peace since it’s independence but also the fact it has helped to restore peace to the countries, which have faced war for many years.

The continent map locates Tanzania in the Great Lake Region with neighbors that have gone through one or more conflicts. These countries include DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. Even Kenya, one of the countries that boasted stability for so long, fell into post elections conflicts in 2007. Thus, Tanzania is indeed is an island of peace in the midst of rough waters.

Impressively, Tanzania has never been selfish about this, instead it has been working hard day and night to ensure that her neighbors are attaining and enjoying peace. This, she has done through mediation, reconciliation, sending of peacekeepers, and hosting refugees. In 1978/79 Tanzania helped Ugandans to oust a dictator- Iddi Amin Dada. Arguably, this was and among a few interventions that complied with the Just War theory, which in summary is a war based on morality. Mwalimu Nyerere could have stopped fighting Amin after restoring the invaded Tanzanian territories. However, out of moral motives, Mwalimu intervened in Uganda to oust a tyranny. Even with enormous costs, Tanzania has never ceased to help its neighbors in peace making and building.

During the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, Tanzania welcomed thousands and thousands of refugees from Rwanda. Tanzania, due to its neutral stance and credibility, hosts the UN Tribunal for Rwanda. For a long time Mwalimu mediated in the conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi.  Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, was in the Kenya’s post-elections conflict resolution and reconciliation team. President Kikwete also worked very hard in his capacity as the President of Tanzania to ensure peace and reconciliation in Kenya. At the moment TPDF troops are serving as peacekeepers in Eastern side of DRC where M23 rebels are causing havoc and chaos.  For many citizens of the neighboring countries, Tanzania provides a hope and refuge for them.

With such a track-record of working so hard for her neighbors, practicing the second greatest law- according to the Bible- ‘love thy neighbor as yourself’, it is saddening and hurting to see how a recommendation by President Kikwete on ways to solving security issues in the region can be taken so personally with harshest and undiplomatic reactions from some state and non-state actors.  I would think that any leader would objectively listen to a Tanzanian Head of State on matters of peace because for Tanzania it’s never about rhetoric or selfish national interests; it’s about exerting its ‘peaceful’ nature, which Tanzania has proven by its own stability and actions in the regions.

Tanzanian soldiers will continue to go all over the world as peacekeepers.  We are saddened by what happened in Darfur this week. But this is another reminder of the sacrifices that this great and unique country- Tanzania makes to ensure peace and stability in the world.

Lastly, Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the seven TPDF soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty defending, peace and stability of their African brothers and sisters in Darfur.

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