The Tanzanian Ferry Tragedy – Reflections

News started filtering in earlier today of a ferry that capsized between Zanzibar and another island. The scale of the tragedy soon became clear: close to 200 fatalities. It could have been so much worse though since initial reports were pessimistic about the survival chances of all 800+ passengers.

In the midst of all this however, one of the survivor’s stories made me pause a bit an think. According to her, the passengers begged the crew not to set off because the ship was visibly overloaded. Note that it was carrying 200+ more passengers than it had been licensed to carry. Now – I’m sorry to say this and I know I may get some stick for saying it but this is a clear example of how we Africans simply do not know how to say ‘no – enough is enough’. A typical Westerner (Briton, German or American) would not have stopped at pleading with the crew – he/she would have proceeded to disembark. Why is it so hard for us to do the same? Why do we suffer in silence while risking our lives?

How many of you (Ugandan readers) have ever been in a taxi whose driver simply puts the fear of the Almighty in your hearts with his driving? I know – the majority of you. But did you do anything apart from sitting back and hoping/praying for the best? Why? How many of you have sat back silently while being packed in a taxi or bus like sardines in a tin? What about those of that have sailed on one of our ferries without a life-jacket?

How I pray we get to the point where we’re brave enough to say no to those practices that put our lives and livelihoods at risk. And not only as victims but as willing participants/accomplices. In the meantime, condolences to those affected by the Zanzibar tragedy.

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