Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Fears grew of a return to sectarian violence in parts of Tanzania this week as newspapers reported public shock and disgust over the murder of a Catholic priest in the predominantly Muslim Island of Zanzibar.
“Father Evarist Mushi of the Catholic Church in the Isles was gunned down by thugs in what is likely to be translated as religious motivated attack,” said The Citizen.
Commenting on the incident, the daily said: “This crime comes hardly two months after another incident that took place (during) Christmas last year, when another Catholic cleric in Zanzibar, Father Ambrose Mkenda, was shot as he returned home, sustaining serious injuries on the face.'
It said in in November last year, Zanzibar Mufti’s secretary, Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Soraga, had acid thrown on to his face and chest, causing him serious harm that necessitated treatment abroad.
The newspaper said some two weeks ago, a preacher with Tanzania Assemblies of God, Mathayo Kachili, was killed in Buseresere town, Geita Region (on the mainland), during a clash that pitted Muslims and Christians over the rights to slaughter animals destined for sale in butcheries.
“It’s obvious that Tanzania is rapidly descending into deep religious divisions and faith-based violence, a situation that would finally divide the nation between Muslims and Christians,” said The Guardian.
According to the daily, if there was anybody who would deny that Tanzania “isn’t falling apart because of the so-called men of God, then that person is insane”.
The same paper urged the Tanzanian public to realise that their peace and unity as a nation didn’t rain from heaven, but were built and nurtured by those who believed in the dignity of human beings.
On its part, the government-owned Daily News said that the murder of Father Mushi “came as a big shock to the nation … and deserves the utmost condemnation”.
The paper called for a thorough investigation of the incident saying whatever motive was behind the killing, Tanzanians believe that it was carried out “by a group of a few criminals whose act threatens to seriously undermine efforts to achieve harmony among faiths”.
Mid-week, Tanzanians were put into another shock as newspapers flashed the 2012 results of the national Form IV (Ordinary level) examinations, which, instead of making people confident raised more questions about the country’s education system.
Attributing part of its comment to Education Minister Shukuru Kawambwa, The Guardian reported that six out of every ten students who sat for the exams failed.
“An overwhelming 240,903 students out of a total of 397,126 ended up with Division 0, with a lowly 23,520 (5.92 percent) emerging with Division I to III passes. Surely, this does not augur well for our education,” said the private daily.
Though there was a positive shift in performance in favour of girls, the daily bemoaned a rise in the number of cheats and students who filled their exam answer sheets with unprintable phrases.
“As a nation, we need to think aloud. In a very important way, what we have just witnessed is just another manifestation of wasted financial and other resources.
“Shall we just leave this shame to grow into a debacle or shall we be bold enough to embark on some workable programme to turn things around?” the daily asked.
Discussing the same issue, The Citizen wrote that the results have triggered a national outcry, which educationists described as disastrous enough to shake the foundations of the government’s thinking on education.
According to the daily, stakeholders were warning that the government should see this as a wake-up call and not imagine that doing more of what was done in the past decade would improve future results.
“The government has all too often been advised to improve the learning and teaching environment. Instead, it has always pointed to community schools, which are in every ward, and boasted that every child can access education in his or her own neighbourhood.
“What we have forgotten, though, is to establish whether we are providing quality education.
“The results we have before us paint the true picture of Tanzania’s education and the kind of nation we are building.
“With such humiliating results, do we have anything to boast about? The answer can only be an emphatic no,” The Citizen argued.
Meanwhile, the government mouthpiece Daily News reported that Kawambwa attributed the poor performance of students to shortage of teachers as well as teaching and learning materials in schools.
But the paper added that there was need to dig deep and get to the root cause of the problem.
All relevant authorities, the daily suggested, should join hands to find out what went wrong and revisit policies on education development instead of pointing accusing fingers at each other.