VILLAGISATION

The Tanzanian Government responded to the droughts and depressed economic conditions of the past two or three years by placing a greater urgency on the policy of regrouping people in village settlements. In August TANU national headquarters published a booklet which claimed that 9,140,229 people now lived in villages on the mainland of Tanzania; Mwanza region alone is said to have a million people in villages. Last year there were widespread reports, including many in the Tanzanian press, of resistance to villagisation and of strongarm methods in some areas to overcome that resistance. Apparently this was most acute in the Njombe area. Visitors to the south-eastern region of the territory report that almost 100% of the people there now live in newly created village settlements, there has been some resentment at the destruction of houses outside the new settlements and some delays in payment of compensation; there have also been delays in getting water piped to some of the new settlements and some are thought to be already too large. It was freely predicted in the South-East, and elsewhere, that there would be a larger negative vote in the Presidential election as a reflection of this resentment. In fact the no vote did increase in the recent election, doubling from 3% to 6% but this hardly represents a massive repudiation. President Nyerere claimed at the Party Congress that the policy of pressing ahead with villagisation despite the risks had succeeded; people were settling in to their new homes; and services were being provided.

Jonathan Power, writing in Encounter for November 1975, gives the following version of the villagisation process; ‘Since the beginning of 1974 the Government has placed great emphasis on the need to move people into ujamaa villages at any cost. Moving is no longer a matter of ‘providing incentives’; it is just compulsory … However at the same time the government has given up its insistence on communal production. This is a response to the sharp drop in food production which these sudden shifts of population combined with drought have brought about. The World Bank, attempting to put into practice its new commitment to the small farmer, has been investigating the potential of these Ujamaa villages; and its observations on their potential are encouraging for Tanzania. The Bank is now strongly supporting an ujamaa scheme involving 250,OOO people in the Kigoma region. Its financial contribution will be spent on the inputs of new improved seed and fertiliser, marketing and credit systems, extension services, irrigation and access roads. This aid will amount to 225 dollars per family, of which Tanzania will provide 25%. The World Bank officials .. appeared to be confident that within ten years village-and-family-income would be doubled. (At present per-capita annual income in Kigoma is 20 dollars, well below Tanzania’s average.) They also reckon that the economic rate-of-return on the project will be 23% a year – which is of course well above what a private investor would hope to get out of the average industrial enterprise.’ (Jonathan Power, ‘The Alternative to Starvation: Despair, Dogma and Hope in the Third World’, Encounter, November 1975).

Meanwhile, we have been sent two accounts of visits to Tanzania which include a description of life in an Ujamaa village. One writes: ‘The village had recently harvested a considerable crop of wheat which was to be sold on behalf of the community. Village affairs are run by an elected body of twelve officers (in this case 7 women and 5 men) who are responsible, amongst other things for allocating private land to each family and deciding how long each day an individual must work on the communal lands. The wealth created is kept in the village by sales through a co-operative shop, which in this case was well stocked with essential items of food and clothing. Piped water ran from a dam constructed by the community, and the women were thereby spared their traditional trek of miles a day to fetch water. The primary school teaches Swahili, English, mathematics and science, and over the whole village lay a sense of purpose in communal activity that could never be generated among a scattered rural population. It was stressed that the village must be self-reliant … no government handouts to lame ducks!’ The second account is very probably of the same village, which is situated near Iringa. It is equally enthusiastic. ‘The people seem proud of their achievements … The children in school are keen to ask us questions. ‘What will you tell about us in England? How can you help us? If so many people live in the towns how can you grow enough food?’ We also meet the villagers at the end of the day in the barn. One of them proudly shows us the sacks of wheat. “We could not have produced so much individually”.’

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