Recently I have noted, online and in the media, the proliferation of articles, blog entries, commentaries that touch on historical facts with blatant distortion shrouded at times in half baked information and often drawing on ‘wacky’ conspiracy theories.
A few of us on Twitter started a conversation on this in particular about Freemasonry. Yet it appears many people do not understand the significance of this misrepresentation of historical facts and propagation of false ‘myths’ and at times outright racist/misogynistic distortions.  
Let us take this issue of Freemasonry. Today many Tanzanians have been made to believe that Freemasons are everywhere in Tanzania, they are bloodsuckers, they have to kill humans as rites of passage, they control the world and every successful and rich person is a Freemason etc.
Two historians – Michael Baignent and Richard Leigh have done extensive research about Freemasonry and had an interesting take on so called myths and history. They argue that if propagated for long – such myths or fallacies eventually become the ‘truth’ and eventually history. 
“The lies of a people or a culture… – hyperbole, the exaggeration and embellishment, even the outright falsification and invention – are not purely gratuitous. On the contrary, they bear witness to underlying wants … lacks .. dreams and ..overcompensation. .. And to that extent they serve to crystallize a collective identity or self definition, they create a new truth – or create something which becomes true.” – Michael Baignet & Richard Leigh “The Temple and the Lodge”
So when for those of us who are aware of historic facts that are documented and researched, keep quiet while fallacies and lies are propagated we are guilty of ‘creating a new truth’ that is difficult to eventually undo.
Recently I was outraged when a blogger claimed that homosexuality (new ‘strain’) started in 14th century. I demanded the retraction of this because it is a blatant lie, deliberate distortion of documented facts. Instead of debating this and citing sources and even links, the author spent time trying to bend the conversation his way by 1. Trying to imply that I am defending homosexuality for ‘conflict of interest’ (whatever that means!) 2. It is his opinion that he is entitled to 3. He is citing ‘independent’ history
I withdrew from that discussion and refuse to take part in any discussion that is based on fallacies and seeks to be self –prophesying  ‘truth’. We should all as Tanzanians – educated and armed with enough knowledge – work on ensuring that any distortion, fallacy, lie is faced with rigid unbending principled stand. There is no ‘ifs’ ‘buts’.
Let us imagine that a prominent American media commentator would start a discussion saying that “Tanzania got its independence in 1980 only one year before Zimbabwe therefore it will go down the same path like Zimbabwe”. And when we argue that Tanzania it got its independence in 1961, he would respond “It’s my opinion I am entitled to it! So do you agree that Tanzania will go down same path as Zimbabwe or not?”! Ridiculous, we would say. Well this is what is happening right now here with silly articles about Freemasonry, homosexuality and other subjects!
So I want to emphasize that – we are entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts, IMHO

Maria Sarungi Tsehai
Maria Sarungi Tsehai

An activist and advocate for change in Tanzania. Promotes positive change and education particularly for women. Known for launching the #changeTanzania hashtag on Twitter.