Thank you, Uhuru and Jakaya, for recognising the software of mind and soul

The recent, high-profile state visit to Kenya by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, and his lavish reception by his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, is just what the doctor ordered in terms of curing the hiccups that have bedevilled the relations between the two neighbouring countries over the years.
Observers will of course call to mind the well-publicised spat around the so-called Coalition of the Willing (CoW), a loose alliance of some members of the East African Community eager to go on with the business of fast-tracking, deepening and broadening regional integration, in the face of a perceived more lethargic stance shown by a couple of fellow member states.
The CoW came to represent the greater dynamism embodied in the declared intentions of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, while Tanzania and Burundi were seen as the laggards of the regional group who should not be allowed to hold back those who were ready to go for faster integration.
Some bad-tempered altercations took place, and these were made worse by other factors in the regional geopolitical calculus that may not have had regional integration as their main cause there was enough bad blood in the region arising from the volatile situation that has arisen in the area beginning with the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
It would seem like those relations are now thawing and, despite the delicate situation in Burundi, it may not be too optimistic to see signs of rapprochement among the countries of the region with a view to getting the integration train back on the rails and moving full speed ahead.
Tanzania and Kenya have of course enjoyed a patchy relationship over the years.
Kenya has, since the aent of colonialism, been the bulwark of capitalist development, having been favoured by the British for a number of reasons. Tanganyika has always been the poorer cousin on the southern border lacking the dynamism for industrial and commercial development.
Cold-war era politics drove further wedges between us, with Kenya being seen as the unabashed capitalist bridgehead in the region in league with the racist regimes in Southern Africa, while Tanzania became more involved in liberation support and the global anti-colonial and anti-apartheid effort.
Naturally, the two countries drifted apart, and at the time of the original EAC collapse in 1977, this uneasy relationship was not unimportant in bringing it about, though other factors also helped.
Homo East Africanus
Happily, both the Cold War and apartheid lie dead or dying today, which allows us to remove the cobwebs from our eyes and see more clearly where and how to secure our interests.
Fortunately, the leaders of our countries have been steadfast in not allowing petty feuds to drive wedges between us. The EAC is growing stronger every year.
Tanzania and Kenya should rightly lead the way to further progress. It is encouraging that this visit has made clear that the two countries, within the regional context, can do much more together than they have been doing thus far.
They can revamp their infrastructural links reinforce co-operation in their tourism programmes intensify their commercial activities co-operate more closely in the combat against terrorism curb drug and people smuggling and so on.
This will necessarily call for the intensification of people-to-people contacts, which are the theoretical cornerstone of the new EAC, preferred over the earlier, state-to-state edifice that was easy to push over and destroy when government types failed to see eye to eye.
At that softer level of people interfacing with real people, a new East African human being will most likely emerge, with time: Homo East Africanus, the product of those young men and women who met in colleges and research institutions, or in service delivery agencies, or just going places across borders to enjoy themselves.
By crafting a judicial mix between the hardware found in building railways and bridges on the one hand, and the software of the mind and the soul, the intellectual and the moral, the social and the matrimonial… herein shall we have laid the foundations of an East Africa that will survive presidents and regimes.
I think that is what Jakaya and Uhuru are saying, if you but listen carefully.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an aocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: ulimwengu@jenerali.com