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REVIEWS

Edited by John Cooper-Poole
Our reviews pages have often featured books distributed by African Books Collective [ABC]. This is an organisation of 114 independent and autonomous African publishers from 18 countries. It is non-profit making, commercially self-sufficient, and receives support from funding agencies for development of publishing capacity in Africa. ABC stocks largely English language titles in 56 subject disciplines. Some 150 new titles are added each year. There is an emphasis on scholarly and academic books, literature, and general culture titles. There are a small number of children’s titles in Swahili, and some titles in French. If you would like to receive monthly new title email announcements from ABC please send an email to Justin Cox – email address available from editor

BANAGI HILL, A GAME WARDENS’S AFRICA. John Blower. Librario Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-904440-35-5. pp 303. Can be ordered at www.librario.com or from Brough House, Milton Brodie, Kinloss, Moray IV36 2UA. Tel. 01343 850617. £11.99.
This book is a good read. It is a saga of one man’s life and work in the “old” Africa of the 1950’s and 60’s. As well as bringing back many nostalgic memories to those who were John’s contemporaries, it will also appeal to others who prefer their adventures second-hand. I knew John and the Serengeti back in 1953-4 when I was District Officer Musoma in which district Banagi lay, and I remember many of the places and people he mentions. I find it interesting that though the book is entitled Banagi Hill, his experiences in this area occupy only seventy pages of the book and the author only spent four years there. But it was a wonderful area and I for one understand his evident love of the place. If he were to go back there today, he might be disappointed, for there is now a luxury tourist resort nearby at Seronera, and the area swarms with tourists. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

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REVIEWS

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

THE AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGY NETWORK: REPORTS AND A REVIEW
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 »

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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 »

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REVIEWS

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

BLUEPRINT 2050: SUSTAINING THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT IN MAINLAND TANZANIA AND ZANZIBAR
. 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 »

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REVIEWS

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

TREVOR HUDLESTON – TURBULENT PRIEST
. 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 »

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REVIEWS

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 »

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MISCELLANY

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 asheriff@zitec.org

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.

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REVIEWS

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 »

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REVIEWS

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 »

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