Archive for Reviews


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.



URBAN LIFE AND STREET CHILDREN’S HEALTH: Children’s Accounts of Urban Hardships and Violence in Tanzania. Joe L.P. Lugalla and Colleta G. Kibassa. Lit Verlag Munster, 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6690-4. 158 pages.
This is not a feel-good read. It is a serious research effort. The authors have five objectives: 1) identify the factors which generate and perpetuate the increasing number of street children; 2) understand the socio-economic background of these children; 3) explore basic daily needs and how they are met; 4) identify problems confronted and how the children surmount them; and, 5) assess how street life impacts the children’s behavior and health, and how they vary by gender. There are 10 Chapters.
The authors point out that the problem has been rife in other parts of the world for decades and ask why it only appeared in Tanzania in the ‘80’s The conclusion given later that the problem can “only be understood within the context of Tanzania’s political economy”, a result of the SAPs (Structural Adjustment Programs) designed to get the economy on track (from 1986), was trashed by their later statement that “this is happening in a country with a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic”, which results in orphans. This is mentioned now because it is an important point that was not convincingly addressed. There have always been poverty, famines, cruel step-parents, and hardships. Why, from the mid-80’s, did this result in children leaving their homes and relatives and living on the street? As pointed out by the authors themselves, officials see the children as hooligans, vagabonds, and criminals. Policies deal with symptoms rather than causes because the government is ignorant about the nature of the problem. “There have been no (italics authors) attempts to establish in-depth and systematic studies aimed at understanding these children…” In other words, there simply isn’t enough researched information on which to make a useful policy to help them.
This book is a good start. However, its funding from a private source (Guggenheim) points out another problem facing those dealing with street children/orphans (once mentioned, orphans were inseparable from the problem): chronic underfunding for day-to-day problems of food, let alone esoteric research for future alleviation.
Who will pay? Chapter Nine, The Civil Society and the Welfare of Street Children suggests everyone will, if this generation continues to be marginalized and criminalized. And buried. There is a term for prostitution: Survival Sex, but the authors called it “Death Sex”, because of the almost certain result of HIV/AIDS infection. In one street child’s own words, “We are not living! We are dead already.”. The NGO’s helping are doing a commendable job on a shoestring, securing life (read food, medication, education) for the children they deal with. But they are chronically understaffed, undertrained, underfunded, and inexperienced. And again, they deal with symptoms. Not one has designed an appropriate strategy for alleviation of poverty at the community level. Most started as drop-in shelters, and grew into “rescue centers”, but that proved to cause even more problems, as the children become institutionalized, and caretakers see a chance to avoid doing what they can. There are simply too many children in difficult circumstances today. (This is where the HIV/AIDS question comes into big play.) Reunification requires an enormous amount of backup. (Refer to “chronically understaffed…) Help within the community, advocacy and campaigning for children’s rights, makes the communities aware of the effect of abuse and harassment experienced by children. The authors say the NGO’s do a commendable job taking into account that the government has been silent in so far as helping street children is concerned. Also, NGO’s are too few to absorb the children in difficult circumstances. It was suggested NGO’s need to coordinate their efforts, and obtain sustainable and consistent funding. They also need to look into ways of promoting social development, alleviating poverty, and stopping social inequality.
There are several valuable tables and figures, including ones about age and sex, sources of income, narcotic drug use (a very dangerous new addition to the lives of street children), and a very interesting one on Distribution of Poverty by Education Level of the Household Head. That one alone justifies every effort to educate our children.
Chapter Five, Ethnographic Narratives of Urban Hardships and Violence, is a must read. You hear the voice of the children talking of their lives and their stark realities, the nightmare of every parent or guardian.
Chapter 10 has serious recommendations for long-term policies and poverty alleviation. Education and health infrastructure must be strengthened to bear the weight of these children. Community awareness and responsibility must be encouraged, as well as promotion of children’s rights through legislation.
The last conclusion offered by the authors states political will and commitment of the government, accompanied by people’s willingness and commitment will resolve the problem if all of us play our part.

Nancy Macha

TUTAFIKA: IMAGINING OUR FUTURE – TANZANIA. Society for International Development, Tanzania Chapter, P.O. Box 79540, Dar-es-Salaam. Foreword by Juma V. Mwapachu. Pp.40.
This booklet describes itself as a wake up call. Wake up for what? Reflecting on the past and forecasting the future is a natural thing to do for any thinking person; this is applied to three scenarios of the short and medium term future of Tanzania. These are termed in Kiswahili:
Yale: As it was (Central Government as it stands now)
Mibaka Uchumi: Those who grab the wealth (rapid privatisation with wealth and decision-making in a few hands)
Amka Kumekucha: Wake up, it’s dawn (formation of a
Federal Republic)
In recent years rapid changes in Tanzania have included:
* Liberalisation of the economy.
* The multi-party system
* Privatisation of state owned corporations
* Rapid foreign investment alongside decrease in donor support, especially to Government
* Urban economic growth with widening income distribution
Since 1963, Tanzania has emphasised the unity between the mainland and the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. This has been of great significance for continued peace, but in recent years it has been the source of political tension as recent positions taken by the CUF which is anti-Christian and anti-West indicate. If this party gets the dominant vote in Zanzibar in the 2005 elections, under the present constitution, it is likely to fill the office of presidency of Zanzibar, which will lead to also the mainland presidency.
This booklet must be read in this context. The CCM party has led the nation to this present time. But it has been slowly losing its majority especially in Zanzibar where the influence of Islam and the Arab states is perceived to threaten Tanzanian unity. Zanzibar has been under pressure from the Arab world to break away from this union. Similar advice is also growing in the mainland especially in the coastal regions.
There is also rivalry between those who distinguish non-ethnic from ethnic Tanzanians (Wazawa) and want to exclude the former from various privileges such as bidding in the new privatisation programme. On the other hand there are those, such as the contributors to this booklet, who are against any form of discrimination. They would like to see a multi-ethnic Tanzania including the Zanzibari; they, therefore, are against separation of the mainland from Zanzibar.
The cover picture of the book illustrates the heart of the matter i.e. election and democracy. As the economy continues to move more towards favouring the few who control the wealth (mibaka uchumi), electioneering continues to be based less on policies and democracy, but rather on who controls money and influence. This makes the country increasingly unstable during the election period. This causes people to wonder where the nation is going (Yale yale) i.e. continuing with its past, where those who held political and economic power were foreigners, prompting the questions: Who are we? Where are we going? (P.12).
Alternatively, there is the possibility of radical change – Amka Kumekucha. This says that the country cannot remain as it is, and we cannot go back to the past, but we ought to move on. Specially, the suggestion is to form a federal government, which will join all the present regions into five provinces. The idea is to strengthen regional unity, in order to hold Zanzibar into the framework at this level.
Amka Kumekucha’s main objective is to uphold the national unity between the mainland and Zanzibar. Zanzibar continues to fall under the CUF, supported and funded by the Muslim world with an option of breaking the Union. Amka Kumekucha is trying to prevent this by increasing support for a Federation Government. The elections to provincial government will be held at regional level, while representation in parliament will be determined at provincial level. This will help to keep Zanzibar in the Federation because it will be politically and economically directly administered and linked to other regions in its province. With fewer people supporting CUF on the mainland regions of eastern province, it will help drop its threatening majority in the Island as it stands now.
The danger may come if there is disunity within the federal government or if one province becomes too strong (especially those next to the country’s borders), and seeks to move out of the Federation. It is very unlikely if the details of a new constitution will consider this before hand. It would be less dangerous if provinces were given limited autonomy e.g. with provincial executive councils rather than elected bodies. The experience of decentralisation in the period 1972-82 also supports this, as the semi-autonomous RIDEPs (regional programmes) had the effect of arbitrarily widening growth rates between the regions. Overall, the provincial scheme proposed in the third section of the booklet needs more careful assessment, if the major political and economic risks are to be minimised. Similarly, little attention seems to have been given towards the role of civil society especially faith based organisations such as churches and mosques, considering the reduction of state involvement in providing livelihood and welfare generating activities.

John Madinda and Deryke Belshaw

SWAHILI FOR THE BROKEN-HEARTED. Peter Moore. Bantam Books. ISBN 0553814524 – £6.99.
Peter Moore follows the fabled Cape Town to Cairo route by any means possible, and this is an account of his adventures. We follow Peter’s hilarious travels through South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania which he enters through Mbeya. He then catches the Train to Dar es Salaam. His descriptions of the landscape are superb and he encounters a lot of characters on the way. Peter takes us around Dar which is a place he likes, and visits some familiar landmarks and some not so familiar – like the T &M beauty salon & internet cafe! After a detour to Zanzibar, he heads north to climb Kilimanjaro. Wearing a pink fleece and using the route from Marangu our intrepid traveller sets out to conquer the highest mountain in Africa, but after an eventful climb told in his inimitable style, he fails – along with 80% of those who attempt it. He then continues north and finishes his journey in Cairo with lots more incidents on the way. Peter’s dry wit and observation make this a very enjoyable book.
David Holton

DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION IN TANZANIA. THE VOICES OF WORKERS’ REPRESENTATIVES. Samuel E. Chambua 2002 Dar es Salaam, DUP. ISBN 9976603630. Distributed in U.K. by African Books Collective, 27 Park End Street, Oxford.
This book is the product of a five year research project – African Workers’ Participation Development Programme – executed by the Institute of Development Studies (University of Dar es Salaam). The research project was based in a series of survey questionnaires, delivered to workers’ representatives at various levels of the Organisation of Tanzanian Trade Unions. As a result, the book is very rich in empirical survey information: no less than 59 Tables and Boxes in less than 200 pages.
Chambua covers a great deal of ground. The book begins with a discussion of labour politics in comparative perspective. The argument here is that workers’ participation is a key property of developed capitalist societies, and is therefore not merely to be associated with ‘socialism’. The point drawn from this argument is that the appropriate participation of labour can improve the developmental or economic effects of structural adjustment. Thus, a scene is set in which Chambua aims to understand participation in order to make it work more effectively for Tanzania’s neoliberal programme. The second chapter gives an interesting history of labour organisation in Tanzania, largely following a series of legislative changes. Chambua emphasises the cloying corporatism of the single party period, although he does identify a limited space for autonomous worker politics in the Workers Committees until 1975 when they were banned.
Chapter three provides a case study of Morogoro Canvas Mills (MCM) which raises some interesting issues concerning the performance of this foreign-managed factory and the workers’ participation in decision-making. In keeping with the Presidential Circular (1970), at MCM, workers participation was largely conceived as a way to make firms more productive. As a result, participation was a means to an end, not an end in itself, which set limits to the quality and extent of participation: at best participation as good labour relations and at worst, as ‘lip service’ (page 55).
By and large, this tension is not investigated in subsequent chapters. ‘Participation’ as a concept works to externalise a wider variety of issues pertaining to labour politics in preference to a liberal model of labour relations in which astute labour management can make workers feel ‘valued’ and more productive. As a result, Chapters four to seven are largely ‘problem solving’ in their tone: how to make participation work better and in everyone’s interests. These chapters give a wealth of statistical detail concerning labour representatives’ views on information management, social provision, wage levels, training and other specifics. These all feed into a case study of the general strike in the turbulent year of 1994.
Not a great deal has been written about formal labour politics in Tanzania. As a result, Chambua’s book is valuable to those interested in the institutional dynamics of labour union politics. But, the book has such a wealth of questionnaire results to relate that it stops short of a fully political analysis. There are no passages in which one can get a sense of workers’ voices: the ‘moral economy’ of the workplace; the constructions of worker collectivity/identity and employers as ‘bosses’ or ‘managers’; the strategies that workers employ to bend jobs to their own preferences – ‘weapons of the weak’, are not considered. This is most apparent in the chapter on women in decision-making. The analysis is rather bloodless in that no women’s voices are heard, no application of concepts of gender analysis are brought in, and the principal conclusion is that women need to be ‘more confident’ which, intuitively to this reader, sounds rather like blaming the victim. The point that women lack confidence, even if related by a general survey, should be a place to start a critical analysis, not the place to conclude.
The book concludes with a sensible statement concerning the way forward for labour unions with a view to enhanced participation. Here, it appears that Chambua’s analysis fits well with the reformulation of structural adjustment as a Comprehensive Development Framework, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and so on. Chambua ends with an entreaty to ensure that foreign large-scale capital does not prevail in Tanzania and that labour constitutes a keystone of Tanzanian civil society in the face of predatory globalisation.

Graham Harrison

LEADERSHIP, CIVIL SOCIETY AND DEMOCRATISATION IN AFRICA: Case Studies from Eastern Africa. Abdalla Bujra and Said Adejumobi, editors. Development Policy Management Forum, UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2002. Distributed by African Books Collective.
This edited volume contains four case studies of the role of civil society organisations in the democratisation processes in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, each of which is concerned with the organization’s location, history, size and structure, mission, and relationship with the state. Its special focus on civil society is designed to emphasize the capacity of the organization to act as an independent center of power, and consequently effectively participate in the political process. Chachage Seithy analysis of “Leadership in the Civil Society in Tanzania” is exceptionally interesting reading because the author develops a careful context that includes an historical overview of the concept as it evolved during the colonial and post-colonial periods with a focus on economic aspects which seemed to characterize both eras. NGOs gradually emerged in the post-socialist era as responses to societal needs which the government failed to meet; they tended to be non-political, rather than either liberal or conservative. This chapter includes two case studies. The first analyzes – dissects is probably a better description – the Association of Journalists and Media Workers (AJM) when independent newspapers began to emerge in the late 1980s. Given the media’s opportunities to take issue with the newly evolved non-socialist government it failed to take issue with various political policies, not so much because it feared government retaliation but rather because it feared loss of readership and profits. Rather than take a proactive approach to government policies the media tended to be reactive and indirectly pro-government. The second case study focuses on the Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) whose “vision and mission … stood for the interests of the less privileged and marginalized ….” (p.164) Organized in 1992 it gradually became an ‘umbrella’ organization for various groups dealing with women’s needs, extending from education, training, and advocacy to awareness raising, and evolving as a pressure group exerting a positive influence on the government. In effect, it has become a social movement, promoting positive and beneficial policies for women at local, regional, and national levels. The contrast between the two types of NGOs could not be more telling. A recent journal article – Jyotika Ramagrasad, The Private and Government Sides of Tanzanian Journalists, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 8, 1, Winter 2003, 8-26 – notes that the private media’s recent approach has been to exercise its freedom in a “sensationalistic and unethical manner”, which suggests that journalists have not yet utilized their independence in a manner comparable to the TGNP’s constructive approach to society’s needs.

Marion Doro

TELLING OUR OWN STORIES: LOCAL HISTORIES FROM SOUTH MARA, Tanzania. Shelter, Jan Bender. Brill, 2003. 334p bibl index (African sources for African history, 4) ISBN 9-00-412625-2 pbk, $31.00.
The Mara region of Tanzania, known mainly for its Serengeti National Park, is squarely placed in the center of the human cultural landscape by this book on the area’s precolonial history and social structure. The authors of the individual texts comprising this volume are the local residents themselves, usually male elders, who dictated their historical knowledge in one of the local languages to a now literate younger generation, who then transcribed the accounts into Swahili. (All participants are identified by name and photograph.) These texts in turn are faithfully translated into English by Shelter (Goshen College), who also provides an informative social and historical context for these indigenous accounts of the past, demonstrating that these peoples had both greater local identities and regional similarities than admitted to by the colonial regime, which transformed them into a series of manageable “tribes” for administrative purposes. This exquisite cultural portrait of the area and its peoples was clearly an intensive intellectual labor of love for all concerned. The result belongs in every library of higher education.
Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

THE UNIQUE FOREST BIRDS OF THE USAMBARAS. Lecture given by Dr William Newmark of the Utah Museum of Natural History at the Royal Geographic Society in November 2003.
Across the globe there are twenty five ‘Tropical Bio Hotspots’. Within these hotspots are the vast majority of the Earth’s threatened species. One such Hotspot is situated within the East Usambara Mountains, at an altitude of 1000 – 2500 metres. For the past sixteen years this area has been under close examination by Bill, who has built up a well organised system to monitor and analyse the delicate ecosystem.
His research, primarily focused on birds, has revealed this area of Tanzania, which covers 6/10ths of 1% of its land surface, is home to unique species of Sun Birds, Fly Catchers, Waxbills and Broadbills to name just a few! What’s all the more interesting is through netting and tracking the birds, Bill has found that 80% of them don’t venture more than 400 meters from where they were netted. This shows their strong dependence on their local forest area, and helps explain why small disturbances in the forest have a big impact on this rare bird population.
The current threat to this sensitive ecosystem is gold mining, which brings with it people and the demand for fuel wood. Bill’s simple message: to prevent further damage “Don’t fragment the forest!” In fact he has gone one stage better and agreed with the Government to reconnect large blocks of the forest and create a Wildlife Corridor, which will start taking shape when sufficient funds are achieved.
Bill uses both local villagers and volunteers in his research. The volunteers are arranged through Earthwatch. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact it at: or info[AT]earthwatch[DOT]org[DOT]uk.

Peter Leonhardt


As Plato duly warned: music politics and social change in East Africa. K M Askew. Anthropological Quarterly. 76 (4). 2003.

Poverty and wealth at the rural-urban interface: an actor-centred perspective from northern Tanzania. J Baker and H Wallevik, Environment and Urbanisation, 15 (2), 2003. Pps 8.

‘Brothers by Day’: Colonial policing in Dar es Salaam under British rule, 1919 – 61. A Burton. Urban History, 30 (1), 2003. Pps 28.

Reconsidering Witchcraft: post-colonial Africa and analytic uncertainties, Ihanzu, Tanzania. T Sanders. American Anthropologist, 105 (2), 2003. 14 pages

Cultural interpretations of an emerging problem: blood pressure in Dar es Salaam. H Strahl. Anthropology and Medicine, 10 (2), 2003. 24 pages

Urban health in daily practice: livelihood, vulnerability and resilience in Dar es Salaam. Anthropology and Medicine, 10 (3).




IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS IN TANZANIA: A FIRST INVENTORY. Neil & Elizabeth Baker. Published by Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, 2002. ISBN 9987-558-04-6. £30. Available from The RSPB, International Division, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG 19 2DL

Many years of desk and fieldwork have culminated in the publication of this monumental work -a milestone in the history of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania and for bird conservation in Tanzania. For many years, the spectacular mammal wealth of Tanzania has overshadowed the very rich bird fauna of 1000+ species including some notable ones found nowhere else in the world. Using a clear and concise set of internationally agreed criteria developed by World Conservation Union and BirdLife International, all the known information about birds in Tanzania has been analysed in a systematic way to come up with a set of 80 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These sites are judged (on the basis of the information currently available) to be the most important places in Tanzania for globally threatened birds i.e. those species that are considered most at risk of extinction in the near future.

The book starts with some introductory sections summarising ornithology in Tanzania, the importance of the country for bird conservation, the IBA process, what conservation activities are currently take place; it describes different types of protected areas and lists the most important conservation issues.

The bulk of the book is of course, the IBA site accounts. A vast amount of information (up to 4 pages per site) is nicely presented. For each IBA, there is a sizeable map, a site description, bird information with key species highlighted in a table, a section on other threatened/endemic wildlife, conservation issues affecting the site, ideas for future action as well as a list references/further reading.

The authors have been helped in their work by many dozens of people both resident in Tanzania (these are acknowledged in the book) and from outside Tanzania who contributed a lot of information to the IBA project. Together, they represent a huge amount of knowledge about Tanzanian birds. This knowledge base is obvious to anyone reading many of the site accounts.

Many of the IBAs in Tanzania are already protected within the existing protected areas network but a few are totally unprotected. Amongst these, perhaps the most important are the Kitulo Plateau and Usangu Floodplain in Southern Tanzania and the Wembere Floodplain/Lake Kitangire/Lake Eyasi complex in the Eastern Rift Valley.

The book will have many uses. It will be used by local, national and international decision makers to guide planning and conservation work. It may be used by bird watching tourists to get information on some of the best sites for birds in Tanzania. It should be used by protected area managers to inform their management plans. It will form the basis of IBA site-protection groups as have already been started in neighbouring Kenya following publication of their own IBA book in 1999.

The authors have done an excellent job of bringing a mass of information together and presenting it to the world, but, as they say, this should be seen as a first step. Tanzania is a vast country and some areas are very poorly studied. The writing of the book (and the Tanzania Bird Atlas project, which the authors have been running for nearly 20 years), has highlighted the gaps. They are also at pains to highlight that if further conservation action does not follow from the publication of the book, their work will have been in vain. Much of the information given in the book is accessible via the BirdLife International website ( and following the links in the datazone tab.
Zul Bhatia

THE BATTLE OF TANGA 1914. Ross Anderson. Tempus Publishing ISBN 0752423495. Pp. 158. £16.99. p/b.

ARMIES IN EAST AFRICA 1914-18. Peter Abbott. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1 84176 4892. Pp 48. £8.99. Available from PO box 140, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 2FA, U.K.

The conflict in German East Africa in the First World War has become widely known from films like The Africa Queen and William Boyd’s novel The Ice Cream War. These two paperbacks will be of interest to those who would like to know the real facts behind the legends. Ross Anderson’s scholarly publication concentrates on the disastrous British expedition to capture Tanga in November 1914. The plan was not in itself unsound -a seaborne assault by an expeditionary force sent from India, while the King’s African Rifles (KAR) diverted the main German forces under the control of Col. Paul von Lettow Vorbeck. Unfortunately, the disembarkation of the inexperienced Indian Army troops at Tanga was a shambles, and morale was further lowered when they met unexpected resistance from a small force of Schutztruppe (the German equivalent of the KAR). Heavily outnumbered, the Germans withdrew from the town under cover of darkness, but the British Force Commander, General Arthur Aitken, failed to send out patrols and did not realise that the town was undefended. Von Lettow now acted swiftly and rushed the bulk of his forces from Moshi to Tanga by rail. The Royal North Lancashire Regiment suffered severe casualties and some of the Indian units panicked and fled to the rear. In the face of stiff German resistance and with unreliable troops, General Aitken decided that the situation was untenable and ordered the expedition’s withdrawal. Von Lettow could hardly believe his good fortune -his 1500 men had defeated an Anglo-Indian force of over 9000. Aitken left East Africa in disgrace and was given no further command.

Peter Abbot’s Armies in East Africa 1914-18 is primarily intended for those interested in regimental history, uniform and equipment. There are eight attractive full-page colour plates showing the British, Indian, South African, Belgian, Portuguese and German units involved in the fighting. The book has a useful potted history of the whole East Africa campaign, covering the allied offensives in 1915116 and the incredible trek by von Lettow through Tanganyika and Mozambique until his final surrender in Northern Rhodesia.
John Sankey


The author examines two different means of holding people to account, namely:
(1) The practice of ritual ‘breaking a pot’ which is a powerful form of curse in the Mount Meru area of northen Tanzania, and (2) Local government audit, a practice that is currently being reinforced as part of local government reform under foreign donor support of ‘good governance’, at both local and central government levels. Superficially, the two practices appear to have little similarity, but the author suggests that the two accounting systems have more in common than might be supposed. He asserts that both practices are forms of verification, aimed at disclosing truth and bringing retribution for misconduct in order to attain accountability on the part of those responsible.

The author attempts to compare the indigenous (pot breaking) and imported (rational) mechanisms for holding people to account, both of which are currently in use in Arumeru District, and concludes that the two systems neither fit neatly into an ‘irrational/rational’ scheme nor could they conceptually be seen to complement or substitute each other in local government audit. He has also cited several field cases based on interviews of informants’ testimonies of people who, after ritual breaking of pots, had suffered some calamity (usually death) as a result of being linked, by action or by kin, with some kind of social transgression. Further evidence is presented of people who had confessed to transgressions and paid compensation to plaintiffs for fear of the effects of the pot, which can be construed as empirical evidence that the procedure of breaking pots is successful in holding people to account for their actions. Whether it is successful solely because of its pyschological impact upon individuals who believe in its efficacy is difficult to say. However, the author has not been able to rationalise the mystical powers of the pot.

Before a pot is broken, a notice of intent must be posted some weeks prior to the actual ceremony. Clan elders will normally give their consent to break a pot only if they are satisfied that other channels of dispute resolution, e.g. normal clan fora, the police and the courts, have been exhausted. In other words, pot breaking is undertaken as a last resort. Given that the pot is believed to be so powerful, elders are reluctant to allow it to be used without good cause. To break a pot, it is also necessary to obtain a permit from ward or village government. When a threat is made to break a pot, there is an opportunity for reparations to be made. Fearing the pot’s lethal effects, which may affect an individual culprit or the culprit’s clan, many offenders either expose themselves or are exposed by kinsmen. Confession is followed by appropriate reparation as may be decided by the village authority, after which the dispute is resolved.

Then the author analyses the procedures of local government audit and suggests the idea behind audit is scientifically familiar in so far as it relies on sampling techniques to provide a picture of reality. However, accounting remains vulnerable to error, or subversion. At present, auditors are not highly trusted, not only because the methods they use are not understood by most Tanzanians but because it is rightly or wrongly assumed that auditors can be, and are frequently bribed. Arumeru people interviewed by the author showed more faith in the pot than they did in modem systems of financial accountability. They mistrusted accountants and auditors, just as they did the entire system of government. The second reason for mistrust relates to shortage of competent accountants. Until this situation changes, some audits are likely to lack thoroughness and credibility. Thirdly, more often than not, annual audit reports by the Government Comptroller and Auditor General in Tanzania point out serious irregularities which are the responsibility of others to investigate, e.g. police, anti-corruption bureau, and Parliament. Sadly no serious effort has been taken to find out the culprits and punish them. Observers of this indifference to deal with suspected cases of theft, embezzlement and corruption have cynically attributed such inaction to lack of will on the part of politicians, some of whom may be implicated in corruption. Some adverse audit reports resulted in court prosecutions (with few convictions), some transfers or retirements and some no action at all.

In view of this, the way in which modem audit technology, when combined with other institutions of government, leads to accountable outcomes is in some ways more mysterious than the ritual of pot breaking. Modern audit technology does not instil the same fear in suspected culprits, given that the consequent punishment is by far less severe than that associated with pot breaking. Whereas pot breaking is directed at specific individuals and their kin who believe in the mystical powers of the pot, modern audit technology is far less feared by culprits, given the relatively benign consequences of being found guilty. Besides, it is against Government of Tanzania Law to condone mystical powers/witchcraft as a means of extracting confession from suspected citizens. On the other hand, it is unlikely that many auditors and accountants outside of Arumeru District believe in the power of the pot even if they were subjected to it. In the final analysis modern accounting technology has to be adopted at all levels of government. Irrational folklore should have no place in accounting of public funds.
Augustine Macha

THE LANGUAGES OF TANZANIA: A BIBLIOGRAPHY (Orientalia et Africana Gothoburgenisa No.17). Jouni Filip Maho & Bonny Sands. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, G6teborg, 2002. ix & 428pp (paperback). ISBN 91-7346-454-6. Swedish Krona 300 (approx. £23.20: information on ordering can be found at

Tanzania is blessed with an abundance and variety of languages. It is the only country in Africa which can claim to host all four of the continent’s major language families -Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan and Khoisan. The Niger-Congo phylum is represented by more than 100 Bantu languages (as commonly defined), including the national language and lingua franca Swahili. Afroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan are represented by a small number of Cushitic and Nilotic languages respectively: the most widely spoken of these is Eastern Nilotic Maa, the language of the Maasai. One click language, Sandawe, is generally thought to be related to the Khoisan languages of southern Africa. Tanzania’s other click language, Hadza, is a fascinating isolate whose genetic affiliation remains undetermined.

For many years the best guide to the literature on Tanzania’s indigenous languages was the second edition of W. H. Whiteley and A. E. Gutkind’s A
Linguistic Bibliography of East Africa, published in 1958. This practical volume was produced with screws holding the cover boards in place, a loose­leaf format intended to facilitate the insertion of supplementary material. If this didn’t get across the message that there was still linguistic work to be done, then the many pages in the Tanganyika section with little more than a language name printed on them should have done so. It wasn’t until the 1970s that researchers began to make significant progress in filling in some of the gaps. Edgar Polome’s overview of ‘The Languages of Tanzania’ (1980) provided a bibliographic update and record of obscure manuscripts and other items that Whiteley and Gutkind had missed. And there matters largely stood still, though researchers continued to gather and (less frequently) publish material on Tanzania’s languages and dialects.

Maho and Sands’ book, has finally provided us with the rich bibliographic resource that Tanzanian languages deserve. An explanatory ‘Introduction’ is followed by a section listing ‘General Reference Works’. This is followed by sections headed ‘Asian Languages’, ‘Bantu Languages (Excluding Swahili)’, ‘(South) Cushitic Languages’, ‘Khoesan Languages’ (= Khoisan, including both Sandawe and Hadza for convenience), ‘Nilotic Languages’ and finally ‘Other Languages’, a residual category which includes English and Tanzanian Sign Language. Each language heading includes some general information (a map showing its location, the estimated number of speakers, and alternative language or dialect names), followed by the references themselves, which are split into two categories, primary descriptive works and other, assorted, materials. There are two indexes at the end of the book: one listing language names and the other listing authors. The volume as a whole is well produced, though many libraries will want to bind their copies with hard covers.

The only major omission from the bibliography is Swahili: as the authors explain the literature on this language is so voluminous that it would require a volume of its own. No attempt has been made to include literature in local languages, for example vernacular religious and educational texts: to do this properly would require specialised research in libraries and institutions both within and outside of Tanzania. These omissions are well justified. To make up for them the bibliography provides a number of bonuses. As should be evident from the summary of its contents, The Languages of Tanzania includes both indigenous and introduced languages. It also includes many references which are non-linguistic, but provide general historical and ethnographic information.

This makes it an excellent resource for anyone interested in Tanzania’s different linguistic communities, as well as providing specialised linguists with the opportunity to gain a wider perspective on the peoples they are studying. And the references themselves are both thorough (including, for example, page counts where these are known) and in some cases helpfully annotated. The authors have also set up a web appendix to the bibliography, listing relevant web links (at

Specialists will find plenty to quibble about: language names misspelled, dialects omitted, references missing … But this is inevitable with an undertaking of this size and complexity, and the authors are to be congratulated on the work they have done. Research currently underway on Tanzanian languages -for example by SIL Tanzania teams in the field, and by the Goteborg-supported Languages of Tanzania (LOT) project in the University of Dar es Salaam ­means that the new bibliography will soon need updating anyway. Let’s hope then that this is only the first edition of many, and that Maho and Sands can be persuaded to periodically update and improve their bibliography. In 1958 Whiteley and Gutkind gave us loose leaves and detachable boards and plenty of blank spaces: now we have their electronic equivalents and better technology to process an admittedly greater volume of information. Meanwhile, the paper edition that is currently available can be highly recommended.
Martin Walsh

HIGHER EDUCATION IN TANZANIA: A Case Study. Daniel Mkude, Brian Cooksey & Lisbeth Levey. lames Currey: Oxford, Mkuki wa Nyota: Dar es Salaam 2003. 114pp. £9.95 (pb).

This book, part of a series on ‘The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa’, sponsored by four V.S. foundations, is designed to share information about higher education in Africa and promote supportive measures in research and collaboration. It offers historical background, extensive evidence about the goals and accomplishments of Institutional Transformation Programmes, the financial strategies, economic trends and legal policies that affect the system. In view of the broad generalizations -and minimal attention to the early influence of socialism and current political-economic realities –the goals it envisions seem quite ambitious.

Perhaps more realistic is a recent Oxfam report: Debt for Poverty Reduction: The case of education in Tanzania. which, among other things, explores the country’s Basic Education Master Plan (BEMP). An equally realistic account can be found in America, January 2003, vI88, Of Many Things, George M. Anderson’s interview with officials of the St. Augustine University near Mwanza. The clergy note the extent to which poverty and the H.I.V.-AIDS factor adversely affect access to education, and the minimal advantages produced by recent World Bank and IMF debt reduction policies.

Frances Katherine Vavrus, Desire and Decline: Schooling Amid Crisis in Tanzania. New York: P. Lang, 168 p., 2003. Claire Mercer, Performing Partnership: Civil Society and the Illusions of Good Governance in Tanzania, Political Geography, v. 22, no. 7 (September 2003), p. 741-63. Explores consequences of recent efforts by the IMF, World Bank, and international donors to promote “good governance” in the face of debt problems.

Jyotika Ramaprasad, The Private and Government Sides of Tanzanian Journalists. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, v. 8., no. 1 Winter 2003. p 8-26.

Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania. Milton Makongoro Mahanga. Dar es Salaam University Press. ISBN 9976603436. P/b. £18.95. Distributed by African Books Collective, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OXl IHU. A study based on research in unplanned and planned areas of Yombo Vituka, Dar es Salaam. It argues that adequate housing for the urban poor is a source of income generation and therefore a means of improving livelihoods. It emphasises that the urban poor are able and willing to contribute to better social services and housing, but that the land allocation system and lack of access to credit are major constraints. The author is Member of Parliament for Ukonga Constituency, Dar es Salaam.

African Music for Schools. Mbati-Katana. Fountain Publishers. ISBN 9970022946. ppl90. £20.95. Available from African Book Collective, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OXl IHU.

This songbook for children brings together East African songs from many heritages. It includes children’s play songs, dance and story songs and some patriotic party songs, from the ethnic or language groups of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and related groups in neighbouring countries. The songs bear witness to centuries of African life, and their transcription aims to make music accessible to children from their own cultural traditions. The book includes the musical scores and song texts, translations of the texts, notes on the structure of the music, and suggestions for story telling, poetry, drama, art or dance which teachers or other adults may introduce to bring the songs alive and use them creatively, allowing the children to participate fully in their performance.

. Horniman Museum Day Conference, 24 October 2003

This first Colloquium in the UK about visual culture in eastern Africa provided a platform for a wide range of scholarly presentations by ten researchers from museum anthropology and other relevant fields. The scholars introduced and explored the actuality and to a lesser extent the theory of the region’s Visual ‘Traditions’. The purview was inclusive, both in terms of the region’s geography and its myriad visual practices. The wide scope of these small scale, ongoing traditions –such as the use of sticks for communication, many kinds of personal adornment and portable sculpture, several systems of drawing and ‘ready-mades’ ranging from debes to cattle –reinforced the notion that the big question is not what is art, but rather “when is art”. Aesthetic values make the connexion between ideas and things.

Larger than the conventional East Africa of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the eastern herein is flexible in order to engage aspects of the shared cultures and histories of the peoples of the Nile and Rift Valleys, the Great Lakes, Indian Ocean and to a lesser extent eastern Congo and Zambezia. Most of the presentations offered some evidence of regional interaction: for sculpture and masquerade (Kingdon, Israel), concerning pastoralist aesthetics and artifacts (Arero, Ostberg, Oteyo), concerning styles of drawing (Court, Marner, Neiderstadt) and about the kanga (Spring, Clarke). For example, the ‘frame’ and slogan format of the kanga has been consistent along the eastern Africa littoral for nearly one hundred years, while its use and imagery differ somewhat in time and by place. Research has been carried out about the kanga’s social uses and slogans, but as yet there is scant systematic study of its visual content of motifs and imagery. Perhaps, this will be stimulated by the upcoming, 2005 kanga exhibition at the Sainsbury African Galleries of the British Museum. Indeed, the curator is seeking evidence of hand-printed kanga, which were still for sale in Zanzibar town in the late 1960′ s; it seems only the printing blocks are available nowadays.

The Horniman Colloquium was an opportunity to view Tanzania’s visual practices in a larger context. In fact, no effort was made to extract what is specifically Tanzanian, although nationality was considered in the presentations based upon evidence from Kenya and Ethiopia. One reason is that systematic scholarship by Tanzanians about their visual art practices is slight to the point of underdevelopment, apart from the early 1960’s efforts of Prof S J Ntiro and current undertakings of archaeologist Prof Felix Chami and Waiter Bgoya of Mkuki na Nyota Publishers. Critical research has yet to catch up with the plurality of art practices, apparent in the renewal of the Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar Museums, innovations in ‘Tinga Tinga’ and other kinds of modern practice including fashion, local patronage [cut Chami] -all are part of the visual arts discourse in Tanzania and all have regional resonance. Please note the term ‘tribe’ was not employed to discuss this unit of ethnic, local, community practice; consider that kabila whether in Swahili or Arabic does not have the colonial, historical connotation of its English translation.

One theoretical ‘tradition’ that requires fresh unpacking is the assertion that there is no art in eastern Africa. Belief that there is/was ‘no art’ was due to a basic assumption, inscribed in western art historical scholarship and commerce in the late 1930’s that focused solely upon the traditions of figurative sculpture in west and central Africa. This construction was/is grossly inaccurate, even for its exclusions of west Africa’s traditions (C Steiner, J Picton). In the past two decades, western scholarship in African archaeology and contemporary art have interrogated and extended the canon to include eastern Africa and its array of art forms (Coote, S Hassan, Mack, Visona et al).

The sessions were attended by forty-five people including the presenters. The Colloquium, hosted graciously by the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London, was co-convened by Hassan Arero the Horniman’s Keeper of Anthropology and Zachary Kingdon, Curator of the Africa Collections, Liverpool Museum, who intend to publish the proceedings. We are thankful for this first cultural harvest. Uushukuru.
Elsbeth Court

‘BWANA SHAMBA’ by Peter Wilson. Following the demise of the Pentland Press, Peter Wilson has acquired the remaining copies of his illustrated autobiography. His book contains a forward by Vice-President and Prime Minister of Tanganyika Rashidi Kawawa. Autographed copies may be ordered @£15 plus £2.50 p&p (double p&p for overseas) from Peter Wilson, PO Box 304, Horley, RH6 7NE. (cheques payable to P M Wilson please).