THE NYERERE LEGACY AND ECONOMIC POLICY MAKING IN TANZANIA. Edited by Ammon Mbelle, G D Mjema and A A L Kilindo. Dar es Salaam University Press, 2002. pp.362. ISBN 9976 60 3657. Available from African Books Collective, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford. Price £23.95.

Julius Nyerere was a towering figure -whose personal philosophy had a unique influence on Tanzania. So it was fitting that the National Economic Policy Workshop in March 2000, a few months after his death, should be devoted to an assessment of his legacy.

The 17 papers by Tanzanian economists, geographers and social scientists cover a wide range of public policy in Tanzania. The first paper concludes that targets to reduce poverty will not be met unless the economy grows -and unless specific steps are taken to favour the poor. The second argues for a strategy to promote entrepreneurship. There are three papers on agriculture, showing that government support for agriculture has declined, a lack of initiative from the community level, and a need to improve the infrastructure, especially feeder roads, if agriculture is to prosper. The paper on industry argues for more local investment in small-scale production. The paper on social services shows that it is all but impossible for Tanzania to meet its objectives with the present level of external debt. The papers on education and health show how the disparities between urban and rural children got worse during the years of structural adjustment.

Two papers argue for better communications with Tanzania’s neighbours, and economic co-operation, and above all for peace and stability. A paper on tax argues that fiscal discipline, lost after Nyerere stood down, is gradually being restored. A paper on settlement patterns argues that Nyerere was fundamentally correct to persuade people to live in villages -while being clear about what went wrong and can still go wrong today. The final study is a very frank discussion of corruption.

All the papers reference Nyerere’s writing, of more than 30 years ago. The frontiers of debate have changed, and thinking is more complex ­for example there is no simple choice between industry or agriculture, but there are choices about what sort of industry and how best to support agriculture. But the legacy of Nyerere’s policy papers still influences discourse today.

Tanzanians have much to be proud of. Their country broadly manages to feed itself with three times the population at Independence, and a capital city now exceeding three million people. Some form of structural adjustment (not necessarily the IMF’s version) was inevitable when the oil price rose and the seemingly limitless aid flows came to an end. But out of the hard years has come the possibility to develop local resources and skills, using competition within the private sector to keep the excesses of monopoly in check, and the state to provide the infrastructure and to clamp down hard on corruption. Socialism and Self Reliance -reinterpreted for the new millennium -still have much to offer as the economists, geographers and politicians develop new strategies for today.
Andrew Coulson

WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN THE PANGANI RIVER BASIN: Challenges and Opportunities. Ed. J.O.Ngana, Dar es Salaam University Press, 2001, 150 pp. ISBN 997660356 8.

The Pangani is one of Tanzania’s largest rivers. Headwaters from Meru and Kilimanjaro are collected by the Kikuletwa and Ruvu and from their confluence in Nyumba Ya Mungu Reservoir south of Moshi, the Pangani flows south-eastwards to the Indian Ocean with additions from the Pare and Usumbara Mountains. The basin occupies over 40,000 km 2 and ranges from alpine heathland and forests to wooded grassland and thicket. Fertile uplands are densely populated and cultivated, whilst on lower slopes large estates for sisal were developed with diversification into sugar and paddy rice in the north. The agricultural, domestic and commercial demand for water is heavy but must leave sufficient for hydropower generation given a present installed capacity in excess of 100 MW.

This volume introduces a collaborative project involving the University of Dar es Salaam and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology which aims to access and analyse the data bases needed to promote guidelines for sustainable water management and to enhance the research capacity of staff and postgraduates. Twelve project papers are then presented which use archival and new information for investigations centred in the northern sub-basin where water demand is greatest. They vary in length and depth and several would have benefited from a more rigorous editorial scrutiny. Under ‘Water Resources’, descriptions are given of a modest rainfall shift, patterns of low stream flows, and the formation and discharge variations in mountainside springs. The end point of data acquisition is the construction of hydrological models since, given simulations of the past and present, it should be possible to predict future impacts of changes in land use and water management. Modelling needs reliable data; early results from modem gauging stations in three sub catchments are described, as are approaches to model construction.

Irrigation has a long history in the Pangani basin and in a section on ‘Land Use’, farmers considered increased demand, greed and prolonged droughts as principal causes of the water shortages which had brought about changes in the crops grown and lifestyles. Little evidence was found of negative effects from irrigation on soil fertility and salinity. Recognising the importance of land cover to water budgets, a comparison of albeit rather old Kilimanjaro land use maps (1952 & 1982), revealed significant losses of forests and dense bush with increases in cultivated areas -trends which presumably continue into the present. The value of vegetation conservation in water management is touched upon again in a final section on “Social­Economic Aspects”, which also includes a concise overview of water availability and water use conflicts and unexpectedly, an account of the high population growth potential in rural areas. Many authors comment on a shortfall both in the quality and quantity of relevant up­to-date data sets such that the reader is left in no doubt as to the challenges and opportunities which confront those responsible for managing the increasing and competing demands for the water resources of the Pangani.
Roland Bailey

Janet Bujra. ISBN 0 7486 1484 2. Edinburgh University Press Ltd, Edinburgh. £18.00

European authors who choose to write on African affairs sometimes give themselves problems. The great danger is that they borrow western ideas, and so present incomplete reality about Africa. In this book, the author forces comparisons between working classes in Europe and Africa, domestic service in Tanzania in particular. Domestic service in Tanzania does not fit into a western serving class model.

A study of the nature of domestic service in Tanzania needs to contain some account of its historical status. It would have been interesting to have the author’s views on whether modem domestic service is a continuation of indigenous practice, or a product of foreign attitudes inherited through slavery and colonialism.

Traditional life, before foreigners arrived, was responsible for the establishment of domestic services and the feminisation of domestic work. In traditional society, grandparents requested their grandchildren to stay with them in order to help in domestic work, girls in particular. In some circles in Tanzania, the use of grandchildren to perform domestic chores (unpaid) had become common among traditional leaders.

Nor does the author discuss early visitors to the African continent. There is a school of thought that claims that missionaries, especially priests, preferred to employ men in order to distance themselves from women in a bid to avoid temptation, or allegations of sexual misconduct, from female servants. Hence missionaries employed men and trained them to perform domestic work, even though in some tribes, men did not do household work (including cooking), except in pastoral and agricultural societies where men learnt to cook (but not wash up pots and plates), especially when women of the family were out doing farm work.

The author makes no critique of the common practice of using child domestic servants to sell ice cream, bread or cake for the household they work in; nor of those made pregnant by their employer or by relatives in the employer’s family. We don’t see much about how the parents ofthese girls reacted, nor how much this possibility influenced or changed their decision to send males to work rather than girls. The author should be commended for her use of Swahili, which contrasts favourably with many other European authors who do not integrate African languages into their writings. However, while the author expands some descriptions of things unfamiliar to readers of English writings, she drops from the English version some details which appear in Swahili, losing certain areas of meaning in the process. As there is no parallel Swahili version, we cannot gauge the reactions of post and current domestic servants in Tanzania who cannot speak English.

This book has its good points, but the picture of domestic services in Tanzania is incomplete. The author needs to reassess and recommend what should be done in the light of her research ideas.
Frederick Longino.

FARMERS AND MARKETS IN AFRICA: POLICY REFORMS AND CHANGING RURAL LIVELIHOODS. Stefano Ponte. Oxford, James Currey, 2002. ISBN 0-85255-169-X £40 (cloth). 0­85255-169-X £17.95 (paper).

It is very clear from the outset of this book that the author aspires to more than a detailed case study. He has used the Tanzanian case studies to illustrate a general argument about continental policy reform and marketing structures. Ponte’s empirical evidence clearly shows that International Financial Institutions’ (IFI) policy goals to enhance smallholder export agriculture through economic liberalisation have backfired, largely undermining rather than bolstering the sector. Instead, ‘fast crops’, like tomatoes that generate much needed quick cash, and non-agricultural diversification have proliferated ­developments that were never foreseen, let alone intended in the original IFI policies.

Ponte’s argument is empirically well-supported. My main criticism is that in trying to broaden his audience he sometimes juggles with an eclectic hotch-potch of political economy and post-modernist-inspired theories as well as sliding between levels of analysis to bridge the global-local gap. This ambitious all-encompassing approach makes the book somewhat uneven in places and occasionally detracts from the strength of the research findings. Very briefly I will make a few observations about each chapter.

Chapter 1 is efficient in setting out the scope of the book and the research methodology. The macro-level bias of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) impact literature is criticised with emphasis placed on the need for more local analysis and more attention to non-economic phenomena of the ‘local context’. The promise is made to observe farmers’ agency within larger systems and to “‘fill” the macro-level dynamics with a basic level of generalisation coming from specific local-level experiences in their diversity, without, at the same time, losing important shades of contextualisation’. Contextual analysis, therefore, is used in terms of collecting local interpretations, divergent accounts, and constructions from below.

Chapter 2 is a good overview of trends in international and continental agricultural marketing systems. The author has managed a very lucid account that will be of interest to economists and non-economists alike.

Chapter 3 and the first part of Chapter 4 provide basic background on Tanzanian post-independence policies and the switch from African socialism to World Bank-led structural adjustment. Covering material that is already well-known to many readers, the author nonetheless has provided a succinct historical background needed for understanding the analysis which follows. The latter part of Chapter 4 is an exceptionally insightful account of the tenuous statistical base upon which the World Bank has proclaimed Tanzania an economic success story.

Chapter 5 is probably the most important empirical chapter of the book, clearly documenting the author’s field findings regarding the declining input supply availed farmers by private traders in the wake of liberalisation.

Chapter 6 is a middle-level institutional analysis of the objectives and effectiveness of public vs. private-leaning marketing systems. Interestingly, all four case studies seem to be largely over-determined by the impact of IFI policies, world market forces and physical locations vis-a-vis markets. The reported findings suggest that local­level agents’ manoeuvrings were hemmed in by these factors, and that on balance, agricultural marketing services of whatever institutional nature, were generally declining and acting as a deterrent to farming.

Chapters 7 and 8 are both very empirically strong chapters with a more relevant analytical focus, that of livelihoods. Chapter 7 concentrates on the significance of fast crops and significance of the increasing incidence of hired labour. Chapter 8 turns to rural households which resort to non-agricultural activities and the impact this has on wealth differentiation, and incidence of poverty. Chapter 9 summarizes the author’s argument very forcefully and convincingly, and helpfully points to the policy implications.

This book provides an engrossing read. Clearly written, well-structured and empirically strong, the author provides a careful review of the impact of structural adjustment and economic liberalization policies on rural smallholder farming villages. His two Tanzanian case study districts offer interesting contrasts as regards transport/market accessibility and crop mixes, demonstrating some of the variation, as well as many of the striking commonalities that have surfaced in rural Africa in the wake of the continental-wide implementation of SAP by international financial institutions. This is a book for those interested in the politics and economics of Tanzania and Sub-Saharan Africa more generally.
Deborah Bryceson

DAR DAYS: THE EARLY YEARS IN TANZANIA. Charles R. Swift. University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-2331-X paperback). 211 pp. Two maps. $38.

Readers familiar with Tanzania during 1966-1974 will easily identify with the environment, attitudes, and assumptions that Swift records in this edited version of his daily diary during his years of service as a psychiatric consultant with the Ministry of Health. His recollections are based on an annual, episodic rather than thematic basis, reflecting his medical schedule and availability of facilities, his daily routine and life style, and family responses. Central to these memories are his connections with medical professionals in Tanzania and Zanzibar, some of which record personal as well as professional differences. These experiences reflect the politics (petty and otherwise) played out by Tanzania’s medical administrators as they vied for positions of control over their bailiwicks, or alternatively co-operated with one another, either for their own benefit or that of their patients. With few exceptions Swift makes minimal reference to major political events; clearly he was deeply affected by the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane and very impressed with the leadership of Julius Nyerere. While he took note of major events, e.g., Idi Amin’s coup in Uganda, or his occasional association with notables such as Jane Goodall and Nathan Shamuyarira, these are descriptive rather than analytical accounts. The use of parenthetical remarks to explain local circumstances interrupts the literary flow; the two maps are somewhat confusing, even to those familiar with the area. But, these minor failings detract only minimally from the overall value of this book which will likely set readers to reminiscing about their own experiences.
Marion Doro

Zachary Kingdon. ISBN 0-415-27727-2. Routledge, 2002, £55.00

Makonde Blackwood carving is rarely included in serious reviews of African arts and is routinely derided as of interest only as Tourist art. In this book Kingdon, in elegant and accessible prose, provides the corrective. He supplies an in-depth examination of the art making, and insight into the relationship between expressive form and social relations within Makonde society.

In the main the book is concerned with the form of carving known as Shetani. For most spectators these carvings are anomalous anthropomorphic forms that within primitivising discourses on African art have even been ascribed a surrealist root. This book, through careful documentation and through research, debunks such ideas and demonstrates the history of how this particular form emerged into the Makonde carver’s corpus. The insights provided are key to an art history of Makonde carving and the development of the shetani form. Without denying the constant tension between tradition and modernity Kingdon places carving within the social history of the Makonde in Tanzania. The book carefully documents the relations between carvers and patrons in Tanzania, the life histories of predominant carvers and, in a passage rich in detail that draws upon the author’s own apprenticeship, the process of carving.

Valuable as this work is to a general history of art in Africa; its aims are more ambitious. The interpretative strategy used here depends upon the location of the artefact (the shetani carving) within the social context of Makonde culture to the extent that the work carries with it agency akin to a Makonde sense of being (if that is what is meant by ontology). In this investigation a loosely phenomenological analysis is presented in which concepts such as embodiment, personhood, play, insecurity and mediation are used alongside ethnographic details of women’s affliction, spirit possession, masquerade performances, tattooing and body art. From time to time there is a tendency to work from the highly particular to the theoretically general that then appears overstated, but the theoretical nexus works well and is convincing, backed up with comparative material from other East African ethnographies.

In an intriguing passage in the introduction Kingdon writes of learning the embodied dispositions of the Makonde carver during his apprenticeship, a metaphor for describing anthropological fieldwork, yet also reminiscent of passages in Merleau Ponty. Talking of the analysis of understanding through perception Ponty criticises the reading of artworks for their visual resemblance as disembodied reading. Rather he writes;

“Things have an internal equivalence in me; they arouse in me a carnal formula of presence. These correspondences in turn give rise to some tracing rendered visible again in which the eyes of others could find an underlying motif to sustain their inspection of the world.” In embodying Makonde carving the author of this book has clearly found a motif, a practice, allowing this rich and worthy inspection of a Makonde world.
(Maurice Merlau Ponty (1961) Eye and Mind (L’oeil et l’esprit) Art de France
(1) p125-126)
William Rea


Urban development waterfront revitalisation in developing countries: The example of Zanzibar’s Stonetown. B. Hoyle, Geographical Journal, Vo1168, No. 2, June 2002. (141-162)

This paper includes a good deal of background history, and a map of the coastal strip showing interesting buildings and open spaces between the present day port and State House. It discusses their successive changes of use, the characters involved, Stone Town Conservation Plan, and the contributions of several research projects and aid-funded activities.
Dick Waller

Placing the Shameless: approaching poetry and the politics of Pemban-ness in Zanzibar, 1995-2001, Nathalie Arnold. Research in African Literatures. Fall, 2002. v.33, i3, 140-68.
An analysis of the political implications of the song: “The Shameless Have a Town of their Own”, especially as the lyrics reflect political interpretations of Pemba responses in Zanzibar following the 1995 Tanzanian elections. The emphasis is on the concept of “belonging” and the variations of appropriate behaviour as well as modes of action that reveal violence, especially at the local level of ethnically-based political activity.

International Discourse and Local Politics: anti-female-genital­ cutting laws in Egypt, Tanzania, and the United States.” Elizabeth­Heger Boyle, Fortunata Songora, and Gail Foss.” Social Problems, 48, 4 November 2001. pp 524-544.
A comparative analysis of anti-FGC policies that explores how different local political situations interact with international aid policies.

Medical Syncretism with Reference to Malaria in a Tanzanian Community
.” Susanna Hausmann Muela, Joan Muela Riberia, Adiel K. Mushi, and Marcel Tanner. Social Science and Medicine. 55, 3, August 2002 pp 403-413.
Explores local responses to new health information in a semi-rural community of south eastern Tanzania, with specific reference to malaria. Emphasis is on how recipients receive and respond to new approaches to this health problem.

‘Kunyenga’, ‘Real Sex,’ and Survival: Assessing the Risk of HIV Infection among Urban Street Boys in Tanzania. Chris Lockhart. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 16,3, September 2002. pp294-311.
Examines sexual networks and practices of “street boys” as they move from homosexual to heterosexual behaviour and the ultimate consequences for HIV IAIDS infection for the general population.

Networks, Trust, and Innovation in Tanzania’s Manufacturing Sector. James T. Murphy. World Development, 30, 4, April 2002, pp 591-619. Assesses the extent to which “trust” affects exchange of information and promotes innovation as revealed in study of a group of manufacturers in Mwanza. Indicates, among other things, that “openness to social relations enhances innovation”.


  1. Tanzanian Affairs » LETTERS said,

    July 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    [...] of Janet Bujra’s fine book ‘Serving Class’ in the last issue of Tanzanian Affairs (here). This book is an academic study of domestic service in Tanzania by a well-known development [...]

  2. Tanzanian Affairs » LETTERS said,

    July 10, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    [...] of my review of “Serving Class” published in issue number 74 of Tanzanian Affairs (here). I feel that her response was overly protective of the book and its author Janet Bujra, and lacked [...]

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