As young people, we need to realise that the future of our country and our continent is in our hands. Every action taken and decision made will shape how we live in the years to come and therefore it is important that the youth of today are on the path to creating a positive future. It is something that Eclectik-City believes in and when I kept hearing about Maanisha! and the amazing things they are doing in Tanzania, I made it a point to find out more.
I spoke to Andrew Mahiga, Maanisha!‘s young and enterprising Managing Director and he had powerful things to say about what his organisation is doing for Tanzanian youth and how young people can be part of the changes they are making in society. Andrew is a young man of 26 who is no stranger to social issues and reaching out to people, having lived in Tanzania, Australia, Swaziland and later the U.S.
While in university he began interning and doing online marketing for various underground street wear brands and later at Complex, a well-known men’s lifestyle magazine. This was Andrew’s first taste of the world of media and marketing. On his return to Tanzania, Andrew worked for Push Observer, a media monitoring company, which further increased his knowledge and exposure to how the industry works. His educational background and real-life experiences have put him in an ideal position to lead Maanisha! as it combines the best of both worlds.
How did Maanisha! come about?
‘Maanisha! Was founded in 2010 by Modesta Mahiga. It first begun as a way to reach out to students in high school, giving career talks, speaking to them about preparing for life after school and being able to compete in a global environment. Modesta would make these visits with her colleague to various high schools in Dar-es-Salaam’.
‘Their work gained them an invitation to Clouds FM to speak more about their efforts. This led to weekly visits to Clouds FM and eventually they were given their own show – ‘Temino’ which is still running on Clouds FM every Saturday from 3pm to 5pm. Temino touches on different topics surrounding personal and professional ethics and skills that are required to be a positive, confident and entrepreneurial young person in Tanzanian society. Our main focus is to cater to the Tanzanian youth – people between the ages of 16 and 35′.
‘Maanisha! Eventually soon became an NGO – we continued with our School Outreach Program, Temino and we are currently working on another radio show called “The Link” and a TV show called @ccess Point. In June 2012, Maanisha! changed status from an NGO to become a Limited company in the hopes that it can not only take on its own programs but also produce content for other organizations and companies whose vision is similar to ours. This has given Maanisha! The freedom to create more avenues of opportunity for Tanzanians. Our ultimate vision is to become a full-fledged media house – run by young people, for young people’.
What is Maanisha!’s vision for the youth in Tanzania?
‘Maanisha! would like to see the educational and employment sector in Tanzania improve for young people. This comes down to influencing the change of policies and laws governing these two sectors. Maanisha! Would like to see school curriculums change and teachers given higher recognition’.
‘Unmotivated teachers will not lead to motivated students no matter how bright the students may be. The development of natural gifts and talents is also something that Maanisha! is actively attempting to increase throughout all levels of education in Tanzania. This builds confidence and creativity amongst young people. The old-fashioned thinking of only certain occupations are considered “professions” (i.e. Law, Banking, Medicine) needs to change and fast’.
‘As these changes take place throughout Tanzania, so will the employment or self-employment sectors improve. We will begin to see more industries with a wider range of positions within those industries. We hear this amongst a lot of young people we encounter, “Nobody will hire us. There are not enough jobs out there for all of us.” Our answer to this is, “Don’t look for a job, create one. Let people see your value and they will make room for you.”
What projects can young Tanzanians actively take part in to achieve your vision for them?
‘We wouldn’t really say projects but rather initiatives. We would like to encourage young people to gain professional, “real world” experience while they are still young – still in school even. This will happen by volunteering, interning, getting involved with as many things as possible’.
‘This will mold them into who they want to become and for some, this will make them realization who they are and what they want to do. This is something we are urging companies and organizations to do as well as young people – create opportunities for young people to learn while they work, or work while they learn. In short, we would urge young Tanzanians to learn and be engaged. Ask questions, meet people and find out who shares your interests. Network’.
As a young African, what is your take on the youth in Tanzania today- What direction do you feel we’re heading in, at this point in 2012?
I think at the moment (or maybe I’m only realizing this now because I work with youth) Tanzanian youth are very creative, innovative and passionate but a lot of that is not directed or focused. Young people know what they love doing and they do it well but they have no means of reaching that goal. This is also why I am noticing that young people lose hope a lot faster. Somebody in their 20s should not have such a negative mind-frame about their country or their life. It is really saddening to hear and see. But in retrospect, I understand where they’re coming from. Finding people who can help them channel this passion is key, this is what I am trying to do with my work here in Tanzania.
‘Young people are influenced by their peers so much that it is becoming difficult to find a unique person or a unique idea. This needs to change. People need take a risk to stand out and to be individuals’.
Compiled by T.Soul