BOOK REVIEWS

Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Underdevelopment and an uncaptured peasantry. Goran Hyden (1980), Heinemann, London, 270pp

This is a most stimulating and challenging book arguing basically that the resilience of the peasant mode of production has resulted in it successfully resisting attempts to ‘modernise’ it, either by capitalism or socialism. Although highly assertive and even repetitive at places Hyden, nonetheless, achieves his aim of analysing underdevelopment outside the commonly accepted notions of capitalist penetration and dependency, arguing that Marxist paradigms are inapplicable to Africa, and not least to Tanzania, for two reasons. Firstly, the peasant mode of production, because of its social logic, resisted capitalist penetration thus rendering this notion an unsatisfactory explanation of underdevelopment, and secondly, the vast majority of African peasants have not been alienated from their means of production (i.e. principally land), thus the development of antagonistic social classes has been lacking. Further, because o f its failure to break down pre-capitalist modes of peasant production, capitalism did not succeed in generating self-sustaining modernisation.

The peasant mode of production has retained its resilience because of its success in satisfying man’s needs within the ‘economy of affection’ which recognises the importance of social structure, ties and obligations within the wider peasant system. As long as the ‘economy of affection’ satisfies needs, and assuming that famine is not a problem, then there is in fact very little incentive for peasants to accept innovations. This therefore means that the peasant mode of production can operate quite independently of state power~ or indeed of any other social class. It is quite capable-a reproducing and subsisting within its own social logic, just as long as peasants retain access to the means by which they can continue to secure their own reproduction, that is the land primarily. The state, therefore, is irrelevant to the needs of the peasant mode as it stands. Conversely, Hyden argues, the state is dependent on the peasantry as food producers and so is obliged, for its own existence, to control and subordinate the peasant sector because “history has demonstrated that the development of modern society is inconceivable without the subordination of the peasantry” (p.16).

Hyden applies this theoretical stance to the evolution of agricultural policies in Tanzania. The resistance of many peasants to colonial attempts to develop agriculture is explained by the resilience of the peasant mode, and Hyden goes on to argue that the same resistance was applied to the attempts by the post-independence state, including the introduction of ujamaa and villagisation. More could have been made of the fact that the post-independence state attempts paid little attention to the results of the earlier colonial attempts. In many ways they followed the same path and consequently received a very similar response of resistance from the peasants. However, although Hyden suggests that in its attempts to control the peasantry the state becomes more authoritarian, he does not really explore fully the methods by which the state attempted to do this. Some are considered, but not deeply enough; for example, Operation Maduka (the establishment of communal village shops), and the conversion of political organisation from a mass party (TANU) to a more selective (and potentially elitist) party (CCM). Other features such as the use of minimum acreage bye-laws and the role of Kivukoni as an ideological college deserve far greater attention than they receive.

The discussion of events of the 1973 to 1976 period are sketchy and assertive. Although Hyden is very correct in pointing out that the introduction of villagisation is a recognition by the state that they had failed to subordinate the peasantry, nothing is gained from blandly asserting that villagisation moved only about five million people and not the ten million people that other observers have suggested. No evidence is offered, and the reader is left wondering whether Hyden’s methodology is simply ‘think of a number between ….’! Perhaps when the 1978 census results are available in some detail, we will have a clearer idea of the number of peasants moved. Until then, this type of uninformed speculation is of little value.

More seriously, Hyden consistently, and correctly, repeats the resource orientation of peasant production, but he ignores the effect of movement on peasants’ micro-environmental knowledge. Micro-environments and resource bases can alter significantly over relatively short distances, and so knowledge built up over many generations in one area may be of little value in an adjacent area of as little as two miles away. Clearly, this can have a significant deleterious effect on food production, an effect that can be considerably made worse by drought, as happened in 1974-75. In addition, on being moved to a new location, peasant priorities were to build houses for shelter etc. at the expense of planting food – after all, the state could be relied on to provide food to prevent famine, but could not be relied on to build shelters. As we know, Tanzania faced a major shortfall of food production at the time, and Hyden surprisingly accepts the view that the drought was the cause. Whilst few would share Lofchie’s extreme view that the drought was irrelevant, analysis would suggest that the effects of villagisation, the uncertainty this created among peasants, and the drought all contributed together to produce the crisis. Hyden’s argument at this point to support the drought school is very flimsy. He shows that National Milling Corporation grain purchases picked up in 1975/76 and 1976/77, a fact he attributes to more favourable weather conditions. Certainly this is part of the story, but so is the fact that peasants were now coming to terms with new micro-environmental conditions, they were now producing surpluses above requirements for the family’s needs after disruption, and they were now re-asserting their former self-confidence. In short, they were once more demonstrating peasant resilience to withstand external threats from the state, a point that Hyden apparently misses.

On a more general level, the reader is left wondering whether peasants have the ‘exit option’ open to them. This is difficult to see in areas where population pressure is great and/or the carrying capacity of the land has reached its upper limit, for example. As land becomes ever more fragmented or indeed lost altogether to particular individuals, then a real threat exists that the peasant will be alienated from his means of production, something that must weaken the resilience of the peasant mode of production. By generalising about peasant modes and not paying special attention to these areas where this may be a problem, Hyden weakens his case.

A major disappointment to the reviewer were the unoriginal proposals for the future development of rural Tanzania – the provision of a range of services supporting modern agriculture and the provision of consumer and capital goods to stimulate the consumer desires of the peasant. Having carefully read Hyden’s argument and found myself in broad sympathy with much of it, the profound disappointment at the end left me with a feeling of “yes, but we’ve seen this before”.

This may be harsh criticism, however, for what is a most stimulating and thought provoking book, and one that is not only worth being read carefully by people interested in Tanzania, but also by people interested in the issue of African development, not only because of Tanzania’s experience but also because of the wider implications of Goran Hyden’s approach.

John Briggs
Department of Geography, University of Glasgow.

Economic Shocks and National Policy Making Tanzania in the 1970’s.
R.H.Green; D.G.Rwegasira and B. Van Arkadie.
Institute of Social Studies. Research Report Series, No. 8. The Hague 1980. 136 pp plus Introduction and statistical Appendix.

Written by two ex-Advisors to the Tanzanian Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning and the current Director of Economic Research and Policy at the Bank of Tanzania, this report illustrates the options and constraints faced by economists advising policymakers in Tanzania. For non-economists the report provides a sourcebook on the technical problems of planning and evaluating development strategies and responding to external shocks such as crop failures, world recession and dramatic changes in the terms of trade. But such readers will not find the book easy to use. it concentrates on the technical story of economic policy in Tanzania with very little by way of general summaries. In addition, the writing is not always elegant, as the following sentence illustrates – “It was the result of an iterative estimation of minimum resource requirements, maximum domestically generatable resources and maximum mobilisable external resources, with estimation carried out sectorally (especially for external resources) as well as globally” (pp l28/l29)

The background against which this book is set is well-known. Tanzania is a poor country – its economy is characterised by subsistence agriculture, it relies on a handful of primary products for its export earnings, and it is dependent on imported manufactures. The hallmark of its development strategy is the intention to create a self-reliant socialism as evidenced by the Arusha Declaration, the leadership code, the creation of nationalised and parastatal institutions, and a commitment to the goals of greater equality, mass access to social services, popular participation in decision-making, and the achievement of national control over the economy.

The book describes the basic dilemma of Tanzanian development strategy as follows. In order to transform the structure of the economy, basic services and industry must be developed. But this demands high initial level of imports. Due to fluctuating harvests, unstable world demand and prices, and the difficulties of raising production, exports of coffee, sisal, cotton etc cannot be: ‘relied upon to pay for imports essential for the development programme. Furthermore, food and other basic consumer imports exhaust part of the precious exchange reserves. Thus, despite the self-reliant philosophy, external borrowing is inevitable because “full compression to import levels sustainable without bridging finance would be very costly economically and politically”. In other words it would hamper development’ and further impoverish the people.

As if this general position was not bad enough, 1973/74 saw the arrival of a series of ‘shocks’ – the effects of drought on Tanzanian food production allied with a rise in grain prices on the international market, and also a fourfold increase in oil prices with consequent secondary increases in shipping and fertilizer costs.

The response of the Tanzanian Government was to accept and adjust to the oil crisis by raising petrol prices. But in order to preserve the development programme and maintain the commitment to equality the government also raised food prices ~o protect rural incomes; raised the wages of the low paid; expanded credit to permit the finance of stocks and work in progress; increased taxes and public industry prices to maintain funds for development projects and also recurrent spending on mass adult education, health services and water supplies.

The inevitable balance of payments gap was to be financed by external borrowing. Because bilateral aid sources are generally not sympathetic to requests for import support, the option was – to take the upper credit tranche from the I.M.F. (together with the conditions attached to this facility) or resort to the international commercial credit market, both of which present a problem for a poor country, particularly one committed to a transition to socialism.

In addition to describing the 1973/74 crisis and Tanzania’s response to it, the report also attempts to evaluate economic policy. In addition to the usual difficulty that the consequences of the pursuit of an alternative policy cannot be known, this presents two major problems. Firstly the report points out that the “micro-efficiency” (technical efficiency) of market mechanisms would perhaps have been higher than the bureaucratic methods actually employed in response to the crisis (they may have involved lower administrative costs, fewer shortages, better distribution and the avoidance of a black market) but that the “macro-efficiency” of measures must also be considered, that is their consistency with the country’s chosen path to development and its commitment to maintain the development effort and to resist the growth of inequality.

Secondly, the success or failure of economic policy is difficult to judge because of the distorting effects of external factors. Thus the coffee boom of 1976/77 brought unplanned benefits, while the 1974 drought, the lag in disbursement of promised foreign aid and the recession in the developed world represented distorting negative factors.

But although a single measure of success or failure is not possible, the report does, with the admitted benefit of hindsight, suggest where mistakes have been made. Thus there is still scope for improving efficiency in agriculture, industry and the public service. Also, it is now realised that a crisis management (exchange control) approach to trade problems was misguided. What has to be admitted is that an export strategy is needed. Although the ‘primary product export’ path to growth had been rejected as outmoded and tainted with colonialism, failure to pay for necessary imports with export earnings will increase dependence on foreign borrowing.

One particular feature of Tanzanian policy which there is widespread interest in evaluating is the villagisation programme. Perhaps ten million people were involved between 1973 and 1976, a period coincident with the food shortages and balance of payments problems described by Green et al. In what might be a carefully worded sentence the report concludes that “villagisation had little negative effect on 1973/74 output, and its subsequent short-term positive impact is probably low and not yet statistically demonstrable”.

Brian Harvey
Sen. Lecturer in Economics, University of Nottingham, Dept.of Adult Education.

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