One is neat, polite, orderly. The other is loud and totally chaotic. That is the main difference between the main bus terminal at Ubungo in Dar es Salaam, and the wild din that is Nairobi’s ‘‘Machakos Airport’’.
It reflects the main difference between Kenya and Tanzania. Or, to be more precise, between Kenyans and Tanzanians.
Landing in the Tanzanian capital in the middle of a General Election campaign, a Kenyan used to the loud and violent variety would be forgiven for thinking there is something amiss.
It is just too quiet. There are no rival groups competing to make the loudest racket or going at each other with sticks, stones and pangas.
Actually there is little evidence of a contested campaign. One will spot occasional billboards and posters for the campaign of President Jakaya Kikwete, who is defending his seat on the ticket of the ever-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi.
The opposition, fronted by Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and the Civic United Front (CUF) presidential candidates, Dr Willibrod Slaa and Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, seems mostly absent.
The CCM remains impregnable, with President Kikwete running only against himself, or against Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Kim Jong Il of North Korea and others for whom anything less than 90 per cent of the vote is a failure.
Tanzania may resemble a one-party state, but even if the perennial ruling party does exercise a strong guiding hand, it is with the support of the majority.
Tanzanians are curious about Kenya. They can be a bit smug about it, because for years, regarded as the poor, backward neighbours, its leadership came out powerfully to help Kenya out of its self-destruction epoch following the disputed 2007 presidential elections.
Ex-President Benjamin Mkapa was in the Panel of Eminent African Personalities put together by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan that brokered the settlement out of Kenya’s period of blood and shame.
President Kikwete personally flew over to help Mr Annan apply the diplomatic muscle required to make President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga see sense. Kenya thus owes a debt to Tanzania for helping pull it out of the abyss.
Tanzanians are shocked that even after the promulgation of the Constitution, there is still tussling over implementation.
The most outrageous is the attempt by a small cabal at the Office of the President to secure its powers and privileges despite the new Constitution.
The powerful administrative and security complex is not about to let go. Despite Kenyans voting overwhelmingly for devolution, the Harambee House mandarins are plotting to retain the dictatorial powers of the Provincial Administration.
Kenyans voted to do away with the colonial era force of subjugation, not simply change its name. Those tinpot dictators down from chief all the way up to Provincial Commissioner – the people that presidents Kenyatta and Moi would refer to as ‘‘‘my eyes and ears’’ – must go. Period.
Devolution means that the administrators serve the county governments rather than be agents of a remote central government. That is not to say there will not be room for a national government presence at the county level or coordination of inter-county affairs.
Counties will not be independent states and we must suffer no such illusions. This lesson is particularly apt for those already salivating at the prospect of becoming mini-presidents with the licence to steal if they become governors.
We also know, from our sad history of local government, that devolved units, if not well-guided, can be centres of corruption and mismanagement.
However, we should be focusing on designing the institutions and laws that will make devolved government work, not plotting to hold on to discredited and dictatorial powers.
That is not a function for bureaucrats with vested interests, the same sort of fellows who worked so hard to sabotage the passage of the new Constitution.
There must be a way we can craft a working devolved system without going into the excessive control structure of the Tanzanian model.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether President Kikwete can beat his Rwanda counterpart, President Kagame, who last month was returned with 93 per cent of the vote.