When the chairman of Tanzania’s main opposition party was released from detention and went straight from his cell to State House to have a one-on-one chat with President Samia Suluhu, even a casual observer could have understood that the president had secured his release, one way or another. The photos released by Ikulu painted a picture of a cordial conversation that could easily have taken place between Samia and a visiting dignitary, except that the familiar face of Freeman Mbowe needed no explanatory caption.
Thus, the answer was provided to all these questions as to who had caused the decision of the State to end the prosecution; now it was clear that Samia had ordered it. And for good reason too. The case had only nuisance value, and Samia’s government derived little benefit from it.
The idea that Freeman might be a terrorist was laughable.
State prosecutors had assembled a crummy case with questionable witnesses, and the embarrassment to the government was so obvious that some wondered if the prosecution itself was determined to rain down on its own parade.
The President had also been under pressure to end this matter which was going nowhere, as I have already indicated, and she may have seen the wisdom in moving gently on the matter. It’s the skill she employed in handling the issue that may have surprised many: Freeman is released around noon, and by evening he’s with the president in a one-on-one at State House.
It’s interesting, because it clearly shows where the order for prosecutors to “lose interest” in the case came from. Based on this, we are helped to understand that the supreme political authority of the land wanted Freeman to be left free to pursue his political agenda.
He wasted no time doing it. After being released on Friday and meeting the President on the evening of the same day, he was on the road to Iringa, some 500 kilometers from Dar, on Monday for the women’s wing of his party celebrating Women’s Day, where he delivered an impassioned speech on the role of women in society, a speech which must have pleased President Samia, given that it was a presentation of the vital importance of seeing women take their rightful place in the affairs of their community, their society and their nation.
It would be silly to suggest that the President had timed Freeman’s release to allow him to be in Iringa for the Chadema women’s meeting, but suffice to say the coincidence was fortunate for Freeman to make his first major political statement. (after so many days of incarceration) on women’s issues.
Freeman’s statement was peppered with statements from illustrious men and women in recent history, such as “the fastest and most lasting way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world” (by Charles Malik, former President of the United Nations General Assembly), and Hillary Clinton’s remark that “women are the greatest untapped pool of talent in the world”.
I find this coincidence (release from custody and speaking at a women’s forum) to be the most fitting for Freeman, as it provided the most fitting platform for her homecoming.
He is a man who fought for the realization of basic rights in Tanzania in general, but every conscientious Tanzanian will know that women are more oppressed by all that we consider oppressive than their men.
For every aspect of life considered to be limiting in the enjoyment of any social right for society in general, women are disadvantaged more than men, whether it is access to education, access to employment, justice and equity in the remuneration of fair remuneration, or even to be treated as members of society who are entitled to fundamental freedoms and dignity, from home to workplace.
In short, for every principle where a fundamental human right is posited, double it when looking at the same issue from a gender perspective.
And yet, statisticians tell us that women constitute more than half of the population of our countries. If this is the case — and I do not wish to dispute this — then we are keeping at least half of our population in a state of limited capacity in efforts to develop our countries, our societies and our economies.
It’s like this: The human body received – among other things – two lungs, two legs, two arms, two eyes, two ears, thirty-two teeth, etc. Why would anyone want to use only half of everything they have? given at birth, comprising half the brain, half the blood in the veins, half the emotional energy and only 16 teeth?
So, by stepping out of the “cooler” and into Iringa, Freeman may have accomplished more than others in his position would have had the opportunity to accomplish.
And by forcing the state to release Freeman – not an easy task, if you ask me – Samia may have added a little more wind in the sail of the ship of women’s liberation in our country.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]