Archive for Reviews


Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, edited by Jim Igoe and Tim Kelsall. Durham NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2005 xvii + 309 pp. ISBN 1 59460 017 1

This book is a collection of essays on the changed political landscape in Africa, more specifically on the interactions between government, NGOs and the international aid community. NGOs have everywhere become significant political actors, albeit that they may deny political aspirations. There are two contributions on Tanzania, one being by Ben Rawlence who wrote a sensitive article on the Jamiani Development Committee (JDC). This was spawned from a Danida school maintenance/ rehabilitation program. Teachers had formed a School Extension Group that capitalised on using Danida’s services on a wider scale. When these teachers were transferred, it was renamed JDC. Rawlence shows well how novel this form of organization was and how it operated in the interstices of power. Read the rest of this entry »



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

edited by Felix Chami, Gilbert Pwiti and Chantal Radimilahy. Dar es Salaam University Press, 2004 (distributed in Britain by African Books Collective, Oxford); ix+187 pp. ISBN 9976-60-408(410)-4.

This is the fourth set of papers in the series, Studies in the African Past, produced in as many years by the University Press in Dar es Salaam. That in itself belies the common perception that effective scholarship, and serious publication too, are barely manageable locally. More than that, this series, reporting archaeological fieldwork in several countries of eastern and southern Africa – and in the present volume extending to West Africa – attests a range of recent endeavours directed from a number of universities, including Dar es Salaam, and should be setting an example to academics in certain other disciplines where the spirit of active research has become moribund. Read the rest of this entry »



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

FILM: DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE by Hubert Sauper, (Paris: Mille et une productions, 2005).

The power of Hubert Sauper’s new documentary Darwin’s Nightmare is rooted unfortunately in the indefatigable ‘heart of darkness’ theory of Africa. The film is primarily about the Nile Perch fishing industry in Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria. The infanticidal behaviour of the Nile Perch, which has eaten all the smaller fish in the lake and has turned to feeding on its own young, is taken to be a metaphor for human society. Straining to replicate Conrad’s narrative, the film unconvincingly implies that weapons are being smuggled into Tanzania in exchange for fish. Barbaric European pilots and businessmen “feed” economically on a thoroughly savage Africa, where children bare their teeth at each other in an animalistic fight for spilled cornmeal. The veiled eugenic fantasy implied in the title, of Europeans devolving into savagery through an encounter with the erstwhile ‘Dark Continent’, remains fundamental to European/White identity. The dying Kurtz shuddering at ‘the horror’ of what he had become by associating too closely with Africans is the emotive force of Sauper’s Oscar-nominated film. Read the rest of this entry »



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

. Edited by Jack Ruitenbeck, Indumathie Hewasam and Magnus Ngoile. Published by the World Bank, 1818 H Street NW Washington, DC. ISBN 0-8213-6213-6.

The special nature of Tanzanian marine life has most recently been brought to the attention of newspaper readers in the UK through the re-discovery of the coelacanth, a fish that was thought to have been extinct for at least the last 70 million years. In January 2006, The Observer ran an article on the regular appearance of these strange fish – which have no backbone, and sport four limb-like appendages- in nets in shallow waters off the Tanzanian coast. The implication of the article was that these rare and endangered fish are being driven into shallow water by deep water trawling in the coelacanth’s offshore habitat.

Like elsewhere in the world, Tanzania’s marine ecosystem is coming under increasing, and unprecedented risks. Threats include over-exploitation (of, for example, deep sea habitats like that of the coelacanth, but also of resources closer to shore: mangroves, lobster and coral); destructive fishing methods (dynamiting, poisoning), industrial and domestic pollution; potential unregulated tourism development and global climate change. Read the rest of this entry »



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

. Piers McGrandle. Continuum, 2004. ISBN 0 8264 7123 4 h/b £16.99.

‘Trevor meant nothing to people of my generation; he is as relevant to them as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the three day week’

So Piers McGrandle starts his biography of Trevor Huddleston. It was a sentence that brought me up short. To people of my generation, Trevor was a household word, the scourge of apartheid, a highly political presence in Stepney and subsequently Archbishop of the Indian Ocean. He was also an unyielding critic of anyone who could not recognize that the one subject which could not be discussed objectively was the sin of apartheid. In spite of some 30 years of friendship, I fell victim to his wrath when treading the BBC’s path of objectivity at the World Service. Read the rest of this entry »



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

SACRED TREES, BITTER HARVESTS – GLOBALIZING COFFEE IN N.W. TANZANIA. Brad Weiss. Greenwood Publishing Group, June 2003. ISBN p/b 0 325 070970 £15.99. h/b 0 325 070954 £36.99. pp216.

Brad Weiss explores the ethnography of coffee in Northwest Tanzania, weaving the story of its historical significance with the changing social political and economic processes taking place at the beginning of the twentieth century. While this book is surely an ethnography of coffee and coffee growing – its cultural, political as well as material significance – it also belongs in a whole line of literature exploring colonial encounters. In this case, the analysis is of local encounters between Haya communities and powerful outsiders – the White Fathers, coffee traders and others who act as supporters of change at the turn of the century. This is an anthropological monograph, a book as much about the Haya people themselves, about the relational elements of product practices frequently interpreted as simply ‘technical’ – the cultural, political as well as the material significance of coffee and coffee growing – as well as a study of political, social and economic processes – of power and how it is sustained and maintained. Read the rest of this entry »



British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock was at the unveiling of plans for a MWALIMU NYERERE UNITED WORLD COLLEGE FOR SELF RELIANCE in Dar es Salaam. It will be built at Mwalimu Nyerere’s home village of Butiama in Mara Region. There are already United World Colleges in the UK, Singapore, Canada, Swaziland, United States, Italy, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Norway and India. The Tanzanian College would be similar to the Simon Bolivar United World College of Agriculture in Venezuela and would be established on a 600-acre piece of land that had once been developed through Cuban assistance, he said.

Over 147 types of prohibited COSMETICS worth Tsh. 24 million, were seized from shops during surprise inspections carried out by Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TDFA) officers in all municipalities in the country. Speaking at a press conference the Director of the project Dr. Sekubwabo Ngendabanka said that laboratory tests revealed the presence of harmful substances, which were not displayed on the packaging, contrary to regulations, while some of the cosmetics carried labels with unfamiliar names aimed at fooling the authorities. He said that there were side effects from using cosmetics containing Hydroquinon, mercury and steroids. Some people got pimples on the face and there were also dangers from skin cancer, heart attack and kidney infection – Guardian.

In a recent report prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, which met earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland, Tanzania ranked 63rd out of 146 countries in the 2005 INDEX OF ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY. The index ranks nations on their success at such tasks as maintaining or improving air and water quality, natural resource management, biodiversity, and cooperating with other countries on environmental problems. Finland, Norway and Uruguay held the top three spots and the US ranked 45th behind for example Japan, Botswana and most of Western Europe, but before Britain which ranked 66th. Near the bottom were Haiti, Taiwan, Iraq and North Korea. The report is based on 75 measures, including the rate at which children die from respiratory diseases, fertility rates, water quality, over fishing and emission of heat-trapping gases.

Speakers at a memorial meeting in Dar es Salaam to celebrate the life and work of JOAN WICKEN, Mwalimu Nyerere’s lifetime private secretary, showered praise on her as an exemplary leader, worker and intellectual who dedicated her life to serve Tanzania. President Mkapa’s special emissary to see her when her health degenerated, Mr Walter Bgoya, said it took him some time to persuade Joan that he was in London last December for no other reason except to convey greetings from the President and Mama Anna Mkapa. They spent about ten hours together spread over three days just before she died. Even then, he said, her wish was to get news on how the issue of leadership succession was evolving. Walter said he gave her some of the names that were being mentioned and her single reaction was that she was surprised that some of them were even contemplating running for the presidency. He did not reveal those names but the remark had made President Mkapa laugh. CCM Secretary-General Philip Mangula said Joan’s name stood out prominently in the history of Tanzania. Her efforts to set up the Kivukoni College along the lines of Ruskin College, Oxford, had inspired and shaped the destinies of many cadres in the ruling party. Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation Joseph Butiku said she was a very strong-willed person and moderated Mwalimu’s behaviour on several occasions, by simply but firmly, telling him that he could not do what he wanted to do just because he was president. Her personal secretary, Ms Anna Mwansasu, said Ms Wicken was, apart from being a very strict disciplinarian, very humane in nature and always seemed to know the needs of her subordinates even before they revealed them. In the office, she was affectionately referred to simply as shangazi, Swahili for aunt. Ms Mwansasu, who seemed to lose the steadiness in her voice, said that Ms Wicken was not only her boss but also a great friend. When the eulogies were read out, tears welled in quite a number of cabinet ministers and top civil servants’ faces – The Guardian.

TWO BRITISH SOLDIERS who were accused of murdering a woman in Dar es Salaam in November 2004 were released in December when Director of Public Prosecution Geoffrey Shaidi said that, much as the public would wish to believe otherwise, the truth was that the police findings did not establish that the British soldiers killed Conjesta Ulikaye (26). There was no reason therefore for the court to continue holding the two soldiers. According to the British Ministry of Defence, the 22 soldiers came from the ‘Light Dragoons’ and were in Tanzania for training. “When the State pronounces that it has no interest in a particular case (nolle prosequi), the decision is made by professionals, without any influence from anyone,” Shaidi said. He was also reacting to claims from certain quarters that his office had been under pressure from the British government, one of Tanzania’s major donor countries. “None of us can silence the people. They are free to think or say what they want. But I can assure you that a three-panel judge and I worked together on this case. We could not find any substantial evidence to convict the suspects” he said. The death certificate issued by the Muhimbili National Hospital said that the woman died of ‘Aspiration Pneumonia.’ Some human rights activists had said earlier that the government showed that it valued the rights of foreigners more than those of its citizens and added that the decision had tarnished Tanzania’s image. One said the decision to drop the case had “shocked” women who now felt they were not being protected by their own government – Guardian.

When the British fugitive Duncan Grant moved to Dar es Salaam in 2002 from India, where he was facing CHILD ABUSE CHARGES, according to the Guardian, he knew he was not just taking a chance. The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Tanzania has requested Indian Police to expedite the extradition process. The ‘jigsaw puzzle’ which Grant seemed to have taken advantage of in deciding to choose Tanzania as a sanctuary, is based on the historical background of the two countries. The fact that some of the laws were inherited from the colonial administration and since there was no bilateral treaty on exchange of criminals, the extradition of Grant to India remained a matter of ‘probability’. Upon arrival in Tanzania, Grant opened three childrens’ centres in Kariakoo, Magomeni and Bagamoyo. After his arrest on August 30, 2004, two of the centers, in Kariakoo and Magomeni, were closed down.

Prof. Sospeter Muhongo of the Department of Geology at the University of Dar es Salaam has been elected the new Chairperson of the Scientific Board of UNESCO’s INTERNATIONAL GEO-SCIENCE PROGRAMME. Prof. Muhongo, who becomes the first scientist from a developing country to lead the global scientific Board, was also recently elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and by the Elsevier publishing company was appointed as one of the two editors-in-chief of the ‘Journal of African Earth Sciences.’ IGCP was established in 1972 as one of the five scientific programmes of UNESCO. It operates in about 150 countries involving several thousands of scientists and has funded more than 500 projects in all continents of the world.”

The ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (ZIFF) is planning a conference from July 1 to10 under the theme “Monsoons and Migration, unleashing dhow synergies”. ZIFF is inviting papers on such topics as immigration, cultures of tolerance and peace, Indian ocean cultures, maritime routes, trade and relationships, the Dhow Culture, the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean, and cultural diversity in Zanzibar. ZIFF does not have its own funds, but hopes to raise enough for local costs of the conference. It may not be able to help with airfares or accommodation. The organiser can be contacted at

Dar es Salaam is to have a Shs 20 billion BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM intended to severely restrict the use of cars in the city centre. The project will be financed by the World Bank, UNEP, USAID, and the City Council and will be planned and constructed by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy of New York, Logit Engenharia Consultiva of Brazil and Inter Consult of Tanzania. The architect is a former Mayor of Bogota who was quoted in the Guardian as saying that “The real objective is a city where it is nice to walk and ride a bicycle or sit on a plaza under a giant tropical tree.” The proposed system would provide the city with hundreds of kilometres of pedestrian streets lined with giant tropical trees, sports fields and thousands of kilometers of protected bicycle-ways. 160 to 200 passenger capacity buses would help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution at the city center.



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

LORDS OF THE FLY: SLEEPING SICKNESS CONTROL IN BRITISH EAST AFRICA 1900-1960. Kirk Arden Hoppe. Westpoort (Connecticut), Praeger, 2003. ISBN 03250 71233. h/b 216pp. £37.99

In his book Lords of the Fly Hoppe looks primarily, but not exclusively, at the relationship between disease control and the exercise of power at various levels in colonial Uganda and Tanganyika.
In Uganda from 1903 and Tanganyika from the 1920s, the imperial government introduced measures aimed at curtailing the spread of sleeping sickness, which the author contextualises as part of Britain’s ‘civilising mission’ for the colonies. Underlying the apparent benign paternalism, however, lay less benevolent practices. The colonial regime introduced a number of coercive measures to tackle disease and eradicate the tsetse fly. Read the rest of this entry »



Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

MIMI & TOUTOU GO FORTH. Giles Foden) – ISBN 0718145550 – Penguin – pp320. £16.99.

At the start of World War 1, German Warships controlled Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa which was of great strategic value. In June 1915 a force of twenty-eight men were dispatched from Britain on a vast journey. Their orders were to take control of the lake. To reach it they had to haul two motorboats with the unlikely names Mimi and Toutou through the wilds of the Congo. This is their story.
Giles Foden has unearthed new German and African records to retell this most unlikely of true life tales. The twenty-eight men were a very strange bunch. One was addicted to Worcester sauce and would drink it as an aperitif, another was a former racing driver, but the strangest of them all was their commander, Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, who liked to wear a skirt and had tattoos all over his body. He was also determined to cover himself with glory. This is a classic tale of amateurism triumphing over disciplined opponents, which Giles Foden tells almost as if it was a novel, having had access to eyewitness accounts, which adds to this incredible true story.

David Holton Read the rest of this entry »



Editor – John Cooper-Poole


The origins of this remarkable biography lie in an invitation to the author from the Director of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, to transcribe the unpublished expedition diary of Keith Johnston, who was among the last of the European explorers of the classical period of African exploration. Only a small part of the book derives from that manuscript, however. The author obtained access to Johnston family papers, which provided insights into the formative years in Keith Johnston’s short life. Thereafter, the author sought out a range of archival sources shedding new light on the evolution of the family firm of Alexander Johnston, Keith’s father and one the most prestigious cartographic houses of the nineteenth century. The author also immersed himself in the literature of nineteenth-century African exploration. The result is a significant contribution, both to the history of nineteenth-century cartography and to the history of European penetration of Africa.

Although much the smaller part of the narrative, the part which will be of most interest to readers of Tanzanian Affairs will be the account of four months of preparation in Zanzibar in 1879, the trial safari to the Usambaras, before eventually setting off from Dar es Salaam southwest to Behobeho village on the banks of the Rufiji, where Johnston died of dysentery and was buried, with the expedition less than two months old. The slow progress of the expedition, the observations which were made and the many difficulties encountered are related from Johnston’s diary and from the records of his young and ultimately more famous assistant, Joseph Thomson. The tragic brevity of Johnston’s journey into what is now the Selous Game Reserve is emphasised by the short flight which the author himself made in 2001, in an unsuccessful attempt to locate Johnston’s grave. This was to be the last great expedition into Africa mounted by the Royal Geographical Society. At last, a part of it has been meticulously researched in its wider context, within a scholarly biography which is lucidly written and appropriately illustrated.

Jeffrey Stone

WOMEN STRIVING FOR SELF-RELIANCE: DIVERSITY OF FEMALE-HEADED HOUSEHOLDS IN TANZANIA AND THE LIVELIHOOD STRATEGIES THEY EMPLOY. Anke van Vuuren 2003. Amsterdam University, Drukkerij Haan-Bedum. ISBN 090 5448 055 3. Available from African Studies Centre, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 Leiden, The Netherlands.

This book provides a detailed account of livelihood strategies of Nyamwezi female household heads in Ndala, Tabora, documenting the ways and means by which female-headed households manage to not only get by but even flourish. This bucks the view that female-headed households are necessarily marginalized relative to male-headed households. Interestingly, Van Vuuren found a very high incidence of female-headed households in Ndala, 42%, rather than the normal 20-33% one comes to expect in rural villages in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Van Vuuren refined the concept of household headship discerning four different forms of female headed-households. Besides the usual divorced, widowed or married women temporarily heading households by virtue of male migration, there was a relatively new category, the avowedly unmarried single female heads of households. This is a category that has been observed in urban settings for decades, but it has been rare in rural areas where women are generally made to feel that they should reside with a male ‘protector’ in the form of a father or husband.

Non-agricultural income diversification is central to the economic well-being of the female heads of household. Non-agricultural income diversification is very far advanced in Ndala generally with 96% of female-headed households’ income and 88% of male-headed households’ income coming from non-agricultural sources. Ndala is a settlement that is outgrowing its village origins, being the site of a Catholic mission hospital and school. The Mission complex offers salaried employment opportunities to a level quite unusual in the Tanzanian village context. The implication is that not only is salaried employment higher but the multiplier effects of such formal employment raises the level of informal sector opportunities for people. Hence Ndala has a higher than average level of non-agricultural income-earning.

Women have access to formal and informal employment and are choosing not to marry men – the new breed of female household heads. But would such a category exist in the absence of the Mission employment? Why are such women avoiding marriage to men? Men are largely invisible in this study. How are they reacting to this? And what do the missionaries think about this trend?

This is a pioneering study with surprising findings, opening the way for research elsewhere to ascertain if Ndala is an isolated case or part and parcel of a growing trend. It is readily evident that the author had very good rapport with her female informants and gleaned valuable insights into household emotional relationships and family finance. The book will appeal to anyone wanting to know more about Unywamwezi, Tanzanian female-headed households or general social trends in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Deborah Bryceson

By Gerhard Maier (2003). Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 380 pp. $49.95. ISBN 0-252-34214-7

Eastern Africa is today famed for its fossil human ancestors, the hominins, but few concerned with those stars of the palaeontological world may know of the earlier work in the region that produced huge quantities of those other famous and popular fossils, dinosaurs. In fact between 1907 and 1931, German and then later British research teams recovered some of the finest known specimens of large Jurassic dinosaurs at Tendaguru in what is now southeastern Tanzania. This fascinating book by Gerhard Maier interweaves the history of the discoveries and the later fate of the remains with the political events of the 20th Century, and in the process even underlines the links between the search for dinosaurs and human ancestors. That most famous of all African palaeontologists and archaeologists, the Kenyan-born Louis Leakey, then a Cambridge student, was originally invited to join a British Museum (Natural History) expedition to recover more dinosaurs from Tendaguru in 1923

While the British sought more specimens, in Berlin technicians were busy removing the huge bones from the plaster jackets in which they had been encased for transportation back to Germany before World War I. The logistics of such recovery from field to museum would tax even a modern expedition, and in the chaos of early 1920s Germany raising funds for the preparation of the material in the museum was an equally daunting task. But by the late 1920s whole skeletons had been reconstructed and numerous scientific papers published, and the importance of the material made clear to the scientific world and public alike. The material even survived the massive destruction of Berlin during World War II and the rather cavalier attitude to lending whole skeletons to overseas institutions under the German Democratic Republic, and to this day forms one of the centrepieces of the Berlin Natural History Museum.

Maier’s book details all of this in great (perhaps at times a little excessive) detail, and ends with a very good review of the interpretation of Jurassic dinosaurs and the significant contribution to this field of study made by the Tendaguru specimens. In doing so, he also gives a very impressive review of the history of fossil prospecting in eastern Africa as a whole during the first part of the 20th Century, and of the extreme conditions in which much of the work at Tendaguru and elsewhere had to be done. It puts the specimens that we palaeontologists now casually look at in museum collections into a very useful and at times frankly sobering context, and underlines the debt that we owe to those who recovered the material, often at the cost of their health or even their life.

Alan Turner

THE FORGOTTEN FRONT (The East African Campaign 1914-18), Ross Anderson, Tempus Publishing, ISBN 07522423444.pp.352, £25 hardback.

Ross Anderson’s earlier book The Battle of Tanga 1914 was reviewed in Tanzanian Affairs No. 77. He has now continued his scholarly account of the war in East Africa to its conclusion in November 1918.

Following the disastrous attack on Tanga in November 1914, Field Marshall Kitchener, The Secretary of State for War, was anxious to avoid further setbacks. He told the British Commander in 1915 “You are entirely mistaken in supposing that offensive operations are necessary”. While the Germans remained in firm control of their colony throughout 1915, the British had to be content with the sinking of the battle cruiser Konigsberg in the Rufiji delta.

The appointment of General Jan Smuts to command the British forces produced a dramatic change in the situation. The offensive he launched from Kenya in 1916, assisted by an attack by Belgian forces from the Congo, steadily forced the German army under Colonel von Lettow Vorbeck to withdraw. Dar es Salaam, Kilwa and Lindi were captured in September and in January 1917 Smuts announced that the campaign was more or less finished, with only “mopping up” left.

Unfortunately the Germans showed no signs of readiness to be “mopped up”. Von Lettow won several skirmishes against British forces (now mainly from Nigeria and the Gold Coast) and a separate column under Colonel Naumann roamed at will for eight months as far north as Moshi before being defeated near Dodoma. In November 1917 von Lettow avoided attempts to encircle him and slipped across the Ruvuma River into Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). Finally he moved into Northern Rhodesia in October 1918, and only surrendered on 13th November after learning of the Armistice in Western Europe. As a mark of respect for his dogged resistance the British allowed the German officers to retain their swords when they were repatriated to Germany.

Anderson gives some fascinating glimpses into the complicated political maneuvering behind the military campaign. The Belgians from the Congo were determined to annex Rwanda and Burundi and made an important contribution to the fighting, with their troops operating as far south as Njombe and Mahenge. On the other hand, the Portuguese forces were totally inadequate and von Lettow regarded their outposts not as obstacles but as useful sources of food and ammunition. When the Portuguese commander was recalled to Lisbon in disgrace, the Portuguese Government imprisoned him for two months, while the British Government, in the interests of bilateral relations, made him a Commander of the Bath (CB).

The general reader, without a detailed knowledge of East African geography, might sometimes find it difficult to follow the intricacies of the bush fighting, particularly as Anderson uses German place names like Bismarckberg and Wiedhafen without giving their English equivalents. The index could also be rather fuller. But the book as a whole gives a comprehensive and definitive survey of the “Forgotten Front” and deserves to be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the military history of East Africa.

John Sankey


In his exploration of Burundian refugees in Lukole camp in northwest Tanzania, Turner argues that while confinement in the camp alienates refugees from national (i.e., Tanzanian) socio-political processes and rights, their role as aid recipients has brought them closer to the international community. This exposure has, through rumour and conspiracy, led to international factors being insinuated into refugees’ understanding of the roots of the conflict that has led to their displacement: Hutu refugees have positioned themselves as victims of a Tutsi plot endorsed and abetted by the international community (including Tanzania). Paradoxically, neither the refugees’ extra-national status nor their suspicions of international actors have undermined their faith in the nation state or in the international community’s ability to engender a peaceful future.

While borrowing heavily from post-modernists critiques of the nation-state and analytic divides between domestic and international affairs, Turner argues that these artificial constructs exert strong influence even among those most likely to question their ontological status. Turner supports his position through a review of how development and displacement provide the schematic foundations for national allegiances while drawing attention to ways in which everyday practices—rumor, economic exchange, displacement, and encampment—reproduce and naturalize refugees’ shared history and ethno-national divisions. Through this analysis, and a review of United Nations operations and refugees’ attitudes, he also counters facile charges that refugee camps serve as anomalous systems of governmentality removed from broader domestic trends and histories.

Although this is a significant analysis and contributes to restoring human agency to the displaced, one wonders if Turner has made too much of the rumours he encountered. There is little doubt that rumour and casual conversation are important in shaping refugees’ perspectives and, presumably, actions. Indeed, the way in which Hutu refugees relate Monica Lewinsky’s ‘seduction’ of Bill Clinton to the ways in which Tutsi women ostensibly elicited the allegiance of foreign powers is both comic and illustrates how all societies use familiar logics of causality, however specious, as metaphors for understanding the unknown. Similarly, Turner convincingly illustrates how Hutu refugees’ reliance on global conspiracy theories serves as a powerful (informal) tool for absolving domestic actors—including themselves—for their suffering. However, understanding the emergence of these conspiracies and their ontological power requires a broader analysis of the camps’ political structures. While rumor is a mechanism through which conspiracy theories take form, they do not adequately explain the interests and motivations behind them. That said, Turner is unlikely to dispute the need to situate these rumours within a broader socio-political and historical context, as indeed he tries to do. Rather, he would justifiably argue that this article is intended merely to draw attention to the ways in which rumor and sub-altern discourse can transfigure or, as in this case, fortify, the national order of things.

Loren B. Landau

AN AFFAIR WITH AFRICA Tanganyika Remembered. Donald Barton. Authors Online Ltd, 40 Castle Street, Hereford, SG14 1HR. ISBN 0 7552 0122 1. Pp xii. 260. p/b. Available from the author at Christophers, Powntley Close, Alton, Hants, GU34 4DL. Tel. 01256 862630. £11.50 plus £1.50 postage. The author will donate £1.50 to the Britain Tanzania Society for each copy bought direct from him.

Memoirs by former Colonial Service officers replete with tales of witchcraft and exciting encounters with wildlife are not uncommon, and probably fairly easy to write. In this case the author goes much further and tries to answer such questions as “yes, but what did these chaps actually do for their living, and why and how did they do it?”

Don Barton joined the Colonial Administrative Service in 1951 and after attending the First Devonshire Course at Oxford was posted to Tanganyika in 1952, where he served until 1961. During that time he had postings in Manyoni, Kondoa, Lindi and Masasi and finally Ukerewe.

The author’s feel for place results in vivid description, not just of views and sights, but of tastes and smells. That pervasive smell of bat droppings above ceilings, for example. He also shows us the day to day work of administration at District level, and the impetus which lay behind it, and gives a good insight into the diversity of matters with which young officers had to deal, including much which was routine or plain boring. This insight into the work of the young District Officer gives the book an historical value which such memoirs do not always have. The reproduction of the letter from Julius Nyerere to the author, and presumably other officers, begging them to stay on after independence would alone give the book an historical interest.

There are interesting insights into family life. Very special qualities were needed by the wives of colonial service officers. The early years of their marriages were marked by long separations and the difficulties of bringing up young children in remote places. A lot could (and should?) be written about the way they spent their time.

The book is well illustrated. There are interesting and relevant photographs and attractive drawings by Don and his daughter, Nicola, as well as maps.

The author was initially attracted to the idea of a Colonial Service career by reading Kenneth Bradley’s “Diary of a District Officer” at the age of sixteen. If there were still a Colonial Service this book would surely attract other youngsters to join it. As it is, it is a very enjoyable read, while being also a document of considerable historical interest. Thoroughly recommended.

J. C-P.

DHOWS AND THE COLONIAL ECONOMY OF ZANZIBAR 1860-1970. Oxford, James Currey. P/b viii+ 176 pp. ISBN 0 8214 1558 1. £15.95.

This is an interesting and pleasingly slim and accessible volume from a specialist East African Publisher, more often known for its longer and less penetrable works of scholarship. Erik Gilbert went to Tanzania to research a thesis on the effects of the caravan trade on nineteenth century farming. However, he came across supposedly extinct dhows being newly built, and decided that a much more interesting thesis topic would be to investigate the history of the dhow trade that had helped create an Indian Ocean world linking peoples and commodities from India, the Swahili coast, the Red Sea, Arabia and the Persian Gulf long before European steamers and officials arrived on the scene.

The “dhow trade” was to a large extent a creation of colonial ideas about modernity and tradition, Gilbert concludes, similar to Western constructs like “witchcraft”. It sat ill alongside the modernising and regulating tendencies of colonial rule, particularly after the dhow’s fateful association with the slave trade gave it pariah status. Colonial officials, and most subsequent historians, repeatedly characterised the dhow trade as “dying out”, yet it remained stubbornly alive. Though a new colonial economy based on steamships emerged in the later nineteenth century, the dhow trade survived, still essential in the carriage of goods around the Swahili coastal ports and linking the region to Arabia and India. Though Zanzibar ceased to be the capital of a commercial empire in the Western Indian Ocean, the dhow trade remained a prop to the local economy and critical to Zanzibar’s well-being. Under colonial rule dhows had been expected by the British to wither on the vine as steamships took over, and dhow owners were prevented from carrying the export crops that colonial governments hoped would underwrite the future, like cotton, coffee, and sisal. But mangrove poles, dried shark, coconuts and salt were still hugely important staples, and the dhow continued to ship them. Dhows even experienced a significant revival during the second world war because of the dearth of shipping.

The end of colonial rule brought new challenges for the dhow trade, as governments fervently embraced modernisation. In 1979, however, dhows still carried nearly 30 per cent of Zanzibar’s official cargo traffic.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in Zanzibar’s history, because its trading connections with a wide regional economy are so central to it.

Ashley Jackson


Beth-Elise Whitaker., “Refugees and the Spread of Conflict: Contrasting Cases in Central Africa.” Journal of Asian and African Studies. Vol. 38. #s 2-3, August 2003, pp. 211-231. Basic focus on the 1994 Rwandan refugee movements into eastern Congo as well as into western Tanzania, the first of which contributed to the outbreak of war in 1996 and 1998, while the Tanzanian experience was relatively peaceful.

Jim Igoe. “Scaling Up Civil Society: Donor Money, NGOs and the Pastoralist Land Rights Movement in Tanzania.” Development and Change. Vol. 34. #5, November 2002, pp. 863-885. Traces the complex evolution of traditional grazing land rights and the registration of pastoralist NGOs as the process moved through traditional cultural institutions to modern structures; donor funding greatly influenced institutional behavior and outcomes.

Birgit Brock-Utne. “The Language Question in Africa in the Light of Globalisation, Social Justice and Democracy.” International Journal of Peace Studies. Vol. 8. #2, Autumn-Winter 2003, pp. 67-87. Focus on use of European languages in Tanzanian and South African institutions, noting conflicting trends that support globalization and the capitalist market economy as opposed to democratic patterns of behavior and social justice.

Siri Gloppen. “The Accountability Function of the Courts in Tanzania and Zambia.” Democratization. Vol. 10. #4, Winter 2003, pp.112-136. The courts in both Tanzania and Zambia tend to restrain their judicial authority to hold government accountable because the legal culture, the institutional structure, and the social legitimacy of the courts serve to minimize their willingness to challenge the executive.

Marion Doro


McCabe, J.T. Sustainability and livlihood diversification among the Maasai of Northern Tanzania. Human Organisation, 62(2), 2003, pp100-11.

Maoulidi, Salma. The Sahiba Sisters Foundation in Tanzania: meeting organisational and community needs. Development, 46(4), 2003 pp.85-92.

Mercer, C. Performing partnership: civil society and the illusions of good governance in Tanzania. Political Geography, 27(7), 2003, pp. 741-63.

Stiles, Erin E. When is a divorce a divorce? Determining intention in Zanzibar’s Islamic Courts. Ethnology, 42(4), 2003, pp. 19-30.

Bonu, S., Rani, M. and Bishai, D. Using unwillingness to pay to investigate regressiveness of user fees in health facilities in Tanzania. Health Policy and Planning, 18(3), 2003, pp. 370-82.