In 1974 Tanzania had a serious famine. The government
provided famine relief, but the food was not getting to the people who
complained to the authorities. The President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, heard
about the complaints and decided to visit all the storehouses of the National
Milling Company (NMC) where the food was being kept.
One day Nyerere visited the NMC in Shinyanga. He disguised
himself as a beggar wearing worn out clothes and an old hat. When he arrived at
the gate of the NMC no one recognized him. He passed through the gate without
permission and went straight to the office of the manager. He knocked on the
door and yelled out, “Hey, you people in there. Help me. I don’t have any food.”
The manager answered, “Stop bothering us, old man. We don’t have any food here.
Go to the market and buy some for yourself.” As the African proverb says: A
satisfied person does not know the hungry person.
Nyerere continued to cry out, but no one paid any attention.
The manager and his assistants were busy with some local business men who were
buying the famine relief food that was supposed to go to the Tanzanian people.
Finally Nyerere opened the door and walked into the office. He immediately took
off his hat and made himself known. Needless to say, the manager was speechless.
After President Nyerere returned to Dar es Salaam, it was
announced that the manager of the NMC in Shinyanga had been fired together with
some of his assistants.