It is very obvious to everyone that Tanzanians will not establish closer cooperation with Kenya despite President John Pombe Magufuli  visiting Kenya and signing agreements to improve road networks between Kenya and Tanzania.

Researches show that Tanzanians are not comfortable with Kenyans because they regard Kenyans as:

  1. Too aggressive, and therefore likely take away jobs and businesses from them.
  2. Too corrupt and therefore likely to spread corruption and its twin vice, robbery, to Tanzania.
  3. Too tribal, which vice they may spread to Tanzania. Founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere worked hard to unite Tanzanians as one community regardless of tribe. It is an achievement they are proud of.

Nyerere himself scorned Kenya as a “Man Eat Man” country.  He was so appalled by the wholesale adoption of American style capitalism by Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta that he waged a media campaign against Kenya, dismantled the British East African Community and cut trade links with Kenya.

Mzee Kenyatta on his part,  and with the help of Kenya’s media, ridiculed Tanzania, labeling it a “Man Eat Nothing” country.

Kenyans regarded these ideological differences as passing cloud, but to Tanzanians they were much more deeper. The ideology of Ujamaa, (African socialism) started by Nyerere has sunk its roots too deep to easily uproot. And over the years, regardless of the President in power, the policy has been one – keep Kenyans away.

Closed borders

After the East African Community, Tanzanians dismantled the East African University and then closed borders – forcing Kenyan companies whose manufacturing plants had been concentrated in Nairobi to establish other manufacturing plants in Dar es Salaam.

 And more recently, they have stopped unified marketing of East Africa one one tourist destination, despite the fact that Tanzania and Kenya have game parks that straddle both countries. These are issues that show Tanzania’s determination to continue stay  away from Kenya.


Indeed, Tanzania is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in which South Africa – miles away from Tanzania – is the big brother. The famous Chinese Railway line, Tazara (also known as Uhuru ‘Freedom’ Railway} was built during Nyerere’s rule to open trade between Tanzania and Southern Africa. Through Nyerere, Tanzania spread its links and Kiswahili language all over Southern Africa where most countries where fighting for independence from colonialists or White racist regimes. It’s a natural link as many of the populations and leaders of these countries grew up or lived for years in Tanzania.

And now Tanzania is winning more and more followers within the region. Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and possibly Ethiopia are countries that have shown indication that they would rather be with Tanzania than with Kenya.

On many key issues Kenya and Tanzania are not agreed. For example, on the issue of International Criminal Court, Tanzania does not support Kenya which has mobilized some African countries against the court. While Kenyans leaders are likely to land in the court – as happened following the 2007 elections – such chances are remote in Tanzania where leaders like Magufuli are famous for their impeccable character and concern for the common good of Tanzanians.

Now Magufuli has visited Kenya and smiled with Uhuru Kenyatta, but he has made no meaningful concessions to support Kenya on key issues or to open the so-called “borderless trade” without the need of passports.