Life in a PC Country: Cows, Girls’ Education and Climate Change

Photo from Hyscience

One down side that comes with getting around a third of your budget from foreign donors, is that you have to kiss a lot of ass. At least rhetorically.

As a result, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that, on paper, Tanzania is one of the most politically correct places that I’ve ever lived. And, coming from a guy who was at Stanford University in the late 80s, that is saying something.

Here in Tanzany, you see a lot of NGOs, government agencies, politicians, journalists and others toeing the politically correct party line. Often when it doesn’t even make any sense.

Take for example the beginning of an article that ran in The Daily News on Monday, “Tamwa challenges herders on value of girl education.” (As always, I am typing this verbatim, including typos.)

The Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) has challenged the Maasai and other pastoral communities countrywide to abandon the culture of marrying-off their school going girls.

A statement issued by TAMWA yesterday and signed by its Executive Director, Ms Ananilea Nkya, said the pastoral communities should also education their young ones on the global challenges such as climate change …

‘It is against this reality that pastoralists in the country need to know that their future in the context of climate change, depends on their willingness to unpack their mindset and drop the culture of marrying off school girls for cow wealth and instead focus on education for their children.

Now, I don’t know anything about the challenges Maasai girls have in getting an education. And like all reasonably informed, non-Republicans, I definitely agree that climate change is a big potential problem.

However, I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here when I assert that climate change is pretty far down the list of the things preventing the education of school-aged girls in pastoral communities. (Further down, the article points to lack of social value of education, poverty, and a broken education system.) 

What interests me more, is the whole economic sub-context. There are a gazillion groups here from the UN to The Human Fund, promoting a huge range of causes and issues. And all of them are clamoring to be noticed and competing to advance their pet issues. 

So maybe I’m overly cynical, but I think it’s far more likely that someone, somewhere in the process that created this article, stood to gain financially from showing concern about climate change. Maybe an NGO needed a donation, or a media firm needed to show another PR success, or a journalist needed some extra money to pay for their kids school tuition. Who knows?

However it happened, it shouldn’t cloud our appreciate of the resulting zaniness. So I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for these little gems and post them from time to time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.