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The Tanzania Insurance Ombudsman

August 13, 2017

Let’s talk about Ombudsman.

But before I do, let me take this opportunity to thank the newly re-elected president of Kenya, President Elect Uhuru Kenyatta, for being re-elected for another five years. To the people of Kenya, there was bound to be winners and losers. Life will have to go on regardless of who won or who lost. The reality on the ground is that whoever won will not bring food to your table, pay rent for your household, take you to hospital when you fall sick, or pick you up from the ditch when you fall down. No. All that is still your responsibility and guess what, your neighbor is likely to be your first and fast responder when you need help. My personal prayer is that peace prevails and may the Almighty God bless Kenya.

Back to Mr. Ombudsman.

Tanzania Insurance Brokers Association had their 3rd annual conference last weekend (4th – 6th August), where the who is who of the insurance industry was represented from Tanzania as well as some East African countries. The conference brought together over 100 decision makers from the Insurance fraternity regionally, including the Commissioner of Insurance who was there in person. I must say he is a very lively, eloquent and firm gentleman who quickly earned my respect and admiration.

I learned a lot of things from this conference and at some point I admit I did feel very stupid when I realized I had made some very wrong choices in the past because of being ignorant when it comes to (some) matters insurance. To highlight one of those mistakes, let me say this; if you are importing a vehicle from Japan, talk to your insurance broker and let him or her advice you on how you can save yourself some good money by taking your cover locally instead of from some Japanese company in Japan, whose documents will be written in Japanese, a language you (most likely) don’t even understand.

Back to the conference, somewhere in the program I had seen the name Ombudsman and in my mind, I thought it was referring to a (rich) Nigerian Igbo man, a chieftain so to speak. And so I was patiently waiting to see this Nigerian man take to the podium since he was scheduled to speak. I was waiting for the flare and drama that encapsulates Nigerians. Then he stood to speak and I have never felt so foolish like I did that day. Later on I laughed myself to a headache. Apparently, I had gotten it all wrong! Ombudsman is not a person’s name but a person’s role! Worse still, I had ridden in the same vehicle with the Tanzania Insurance Ombudsman and I had no clue he was the one! Trust me when I figured out who he was I felt like hiding under the table because I had made him wait for me in the car (since we had been car pooling from the airport) for almost 30 minutes, while I ran a personal errand. I didn't have the guts to talk to him while at the conference once I realized who he was so I want to use this platform to do so. Retired Judge Lyimo, if you are reading this article today I profusely apologize for the misconception of who Ombudsman meant, and also for the delays I caused to you that day.

That word really intrigued me and later on when the event came to an end, I started asking questions about the name e.g. what it means, where it came from, what language it was in (now that I had confirmed it had nothing to do with some Nigerian chieftain), whether it is unique to insurance, etc. To my surprise though, not one of the people I asked could give me a proper answer; forget the fact that they are all from the insurance industry. Eventually, we all agreed to ask Google what it thought and there is where we found our answers.

Later on as I was looking back on the event, I realized I had gained a lot of insight about the insurance industry, which would not have happened if I hadn’t been there. This realization brings me to today’s message; the importance of learning something new every day.

Every day presents a huge opportunity for each one of us to learn something new. I think I have said this before in a previous article that no matter how busy you are, you can at least learn a new word in any language! Any day that comes to an end without you having learnt something new is a day wasted. Any day that goes by without you saying that today you made a new discovery, that is a day wasted. I came across some interesting reasons why it is good to learn something new every day on www.successgroove.com and as always, I will share them with you in this post.

  1. Provides something to talk about. Who doesn’t want to be known for being an interesting conversationalist? You’ll have plenty of fodder to share with others. (I guess this works for those looking for popularity).
  2. Exposes you to new things. Learning about new information expands your mind. You become a more interesting and thoughtful person when you gain new knowledge.
  3. You might just find that one thing that makes your heart sing. For example, maybe you’ve never heard of swimming with the dolphins. But you read about it or saw it on television and planned a vacation to do it. You stand to experience something awesome just because you gained new knowledge.
  4. Learning is refreshing. Learning excites your mind when you take in new info. You’re seduced to learn more and more. It’s great to feel like your mind is renewed in some way, and learning every day contributes to that feeling.
  5. Combats boredom. When you learn something new, it helps you avoid a hum-drum existence. Jazz up your life simply by acquiring new information.
  6. Gives you something to look forward to. If you know that each day after work, you’re going to search the internet with your gadget of choice to research your currently favorite topic, you’ve got something to look forward to during your work day.
  7. You affect the lives of othersSomething you learn and share could have a profound impact on another person. At the very least, you might trigger someone’s curiosity to the extent that they delve more into a topic you’ve shared. (For instance, I know someone will want to find out what Ombudsman means).
  8. Knowledge is power. Sir Francis Bacon, an English philosopher and writer who lived during the 17th century, once said, “Knowledge is power.” When you have knowledge, you have the power to achieve many things. You gain something important. One of the most crucial reasons to learn something new daily is that you gain power when you do.
  9. You’ll be intellectually stimulated. Get your intellectual juices flowing by opening a book or watching an information channel on television. Want to know more about carpentry? Fashion design? Ancient aliens? Find thought-provoking information and indulge. Expose yourself to topics to ponder. (my latest interest right now is animals vs human beings; which are more “humane?”)
  10. Your quality of life will be enhanced. Learning provides you with an escape when you need it, knowledge when you seek it, and a great pastime. (If I may add, it provides a nice escape when you don’t want to be bothered by people; just pick a book - a nice and legitimate way to ignore people.

Some of the reasons given above are not very serious but the truth is, if you make it a constant routine to learn something new everyday, you are increasing your value by the day.

Allow me to leave you with the word of Henry Ford who said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”.

Be ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.


PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 13th August, 2017, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words". 




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