BOOK REVIEWS

The Tanzanian Experience- Education for Liberation and Development: ed. H. Hinzen and V.H. Hundsdorfer: UNESCO Institute for Education, Hamburg, and Evans Brothers Limited, 1979: 266 pages.

This book is a collection of papers written by various educationists. They are mostly Tanzanian scholars and teachers, but the German editors and one or two other expatriate observers have also contributed. Their aim is to present a broad-based case-study of Tanzanian educational reforms in the perspective of lifelong education.

The structure of the book includes sections on the philosophy and purpose of education in Tanzania; the experience of schooling and teacher training; the post-independence non-formal and formal systems of adult education (a section of which includes post-secondary and university programmes); and a short chapter on Tanzanian research in education. Within this framework, the editors have assembled nearly thirty pages, several of which will already be familiar to many people interested in developments in Tanzania. In some senses, therefore, the book may be of limited value to anyone who is seeking up-to-date information and new thoughts about what is happening in the field of Tanzanian education today. The idea for the book was conceived in 1975 – it seems to have been assembled in 1977 and was published in 1979. Does it have contemporary relevance in 1981 – taking into account the speed with which new developments occur?

Well, yes, I think it does – particularly for someone who wants to get a general picture of the ideas and values that inform the various innovations in Tanzanian educational reform. For anybody not familiar with the role of President Nyerere as a writer and teacher, the five papers by him that are included here will surprise and delight. His lucid directness and the lightness and charm with which he develops the most important and profound ideas give this book a core content of high quality.

The rest is fairly uneven, but contains some useful critical assessments of well-known educational programmes, and one or two interesting descriptions of what is (or was) actually taking place at a grass-roots level. It is unfortunate from our contemporary viewpoint that there is hardly anything in this book about the Folk Development Colleges, presumably because their main development and expansion has taken place in the past five years. It would have been of great value to learn more about the way Tanzania is tackling some of its basic social problems – the post-primary school leaver; the world economic recession; the courageous attempt to reorganize social and productive life through rural development and villagization; and what comes after the functional literacy programme.

These are gaps caused by recent developments. What the book does convey, however unevenly and disjointedly, is the flavour, style and excitement of the Tanzanian socialist experiment. This book is clearly about a country that is redefining itself and attempting, as part of the process, to construct a new and relevant approach to education.

Brian Hughes


The Internal Debate:
Most of the published comment and debate on Tanzania is produced in Europe and North America and domestic criticism has been limited to that produced by the President himself, the writings of the University based Marxist left and complaints about lost postal orders and examination certificates in the letter pages of the daily press. The verbal criticism expressed in Party meetings, in public meetings with political leaders and at almost any social gathering has not been transferred into print. The publication, in Tanzania, of two very different booklets each critical of either Party policy or Government execution of policy is a welcome development, a sign of a maturing society which is able to distinguish criticism from subversion and accept that not all the causes of the country’s economic difficulties are outside its control.

‘A Preliminary Analysis of the Decline in Tanzanian Cashew Nut Production 1974-79‘: Frank Ellis. University of Dar es Salaam Economic Research Bureau Paper 79.1

Dr. Ellis is one of those all too rare academics who can present the results of their research clearly and briefly. His findings illustrate some of the basic problems facing Tanzania’s planners, the conflict between villagisation as a method of maximising the provision of services and its frequently adverse effects on agricultural production; the failure of crop marketing boards to provide producers with good service or a fair return; and the absence of detailed information on the production methods and problems of key crops.

Cashew nuts were one of the success stories of Tanzanian peasant farmers. With a minimum of Government assistance output increased from 5000 to 145,000 tons in just over 20 years. This expansion was achieved by the peasants of the coastal and southern regions who have been frequently condemned as being lazy and backward. The potential earnings from this export crop could be enhanced if the nuts were processed and packaged wi thin Tanzania. Hence since 1974 ten processing factories have been built with loans from the World Bank and the Bank of Sicily, an apparent example of self-reliant industrial development using local produce to earn foreign exchange. Why then by 1979 was the industry in crisis with production down to 40% of the 1973/4 peak and half the factory capacity unused?

Government officials in the cashew nut areas have made strenuous efforts to reverse the decline in production. The extent of grass cutting under cashew trees (to prevent fires and facilitate collection of the fallen nuts) became a measure of an Area Commissioner’s performance and urban civil servants have been sent out to assist with harvesting but the decline has continued. The official explanations include the familiar accusations of backward peasants refusing to follow advice on agricultural practice on pruning, spacing and thinning, or lazy peasants refusing to clear the ground under their trees and abandoning them to destruction by bush fires (or elephants!).

Dr. Ellis argues that the peasants are acting quite rationally in withdrawing from cashew production, since it has become an uneconomic use of their time as a result of a combination of villagisation, the price level and problems of grading and payment resulting from attempts by the marketing authorities to improve crop quality.

Tanzanian cashew nut production began in the early ’50’s and expanded rapidly, providing an export cash crop for areas which were unsuitable for coffee, cotton or tobacco. The trees could be grown along with traditional food crops and so involved a minimum of risk and the annual clearing could be carried out when annual crops were harvested. The largely Asian small traders provided an efficient marketing system and despite complaints of exploitation they offered prices which encouraged the harvesting and expansion of the crop. Starting in 1962 marketing was taken over increasingly by cooperative societies and a succession of marketing boards, which attempted to introduce quality grading systems. These were thought by the growers to be unfair and were much resented. From the mid-60’s the price of cashew nuts to the producer fell both in terms of general price levels and in relation to alternative crops. Particularly in recent years the national need to stimulate food production has increased the prices for beans and peas which produce a much more rapid return for labour than cashew nuts. This relative price fall was intensified by the increasing proportion of the export price being taken up by marketing costs.

On top of the declining price incentive came the villagisation programme which was conducted with great vigour in the cashew nut producing areas. Villagisation removed the producers from their trees, increasing the time needed for their cultivation and harvesting. This crucially affected the economics of combining cashew nuts with food production. It became an uneconomic use of peasants’ time to make the special journeys required to clear grass under cashew trees and collect the harvest. The attempts by Government officers to force peasants to look after their trees were counterproductive; it was in the peasants’ interest to allow their trees to be killed off by bush fires since they could not then be forced to look after them.

The life cycle of the cashew nut tree, seven years from planting to first fruiting and replacement after 30 or 35 years, suggests that replanting and new planting virtually stopped at the end of the 60’s in response to the falling real price of the crop and that this process was intensified by villagisation despite the efforts of officials to encourage the crop.

Dr. Ellis’ study has done a considerable service by explaining the contradictions in policy, which try to improve peasant living standards by providing village services and yet reduce their cash income, and the damage caused to the economy by the inflexible application of national policy. Villagisation need not have had such disastrous consequences for cashewnut production if the different needs of permanent and annual crops had been recognised and if the minimum of 250 families for a village had not been adhered to so rigorously. Smaller villages, or satellite villages grouped around a central unit, would have reduced travel time to tend cashew trees. Above all, the study demonstrates the futility of attempting to coerce the peasants to accept a policy, which brings them no economic advantage.

Dr. Ellis’ paper should be helpful to policy makers in identifying the problems of rural planning and devising remedies. Readers who have studied Rene Dumont’s book ‘L’Afrique Etranglee’, or the brief summary of it in our issue no.12 of March, 1981, will recognise in this paper much common ground.

John Arnold

‘Honest to my Country’: ‘Candid Scope’: TMP Book Department, Tabora.

This booklet consists of five essays written at the time of the tenth anniversary of the Arusha Declaration in 1977, but only now published together with four of Julius Nyerere’s writings – ‘Let us correct our mistakes’ (first published in Swahili in 1962), ‘Public ownership in Tanzania’, published in February, 1967, after the post-Arusha Declaration nationalisations, ‘Freedom and Development’, presented to the TANU National Executive Committee meeting at Tanga in October, 1961, and ‘The varied paths to socialism’, an address to the University of Cairo in April, 1967.

The production of ‘Honest to my Country’ is an event of some political significance. Written by a Tanzanian and published in Tanzania, it criticises Government and Party policies as being too radical. Nyerere has frequently been attacked for being insufficiently committed to a truly ideological socialism, but criticism from the political centre is something new. Some Tanzanians have welcomed the book, without accepting its arguments, as a demonstration of the reality of political freedom in the country, but for many it articulates their worries and disappointments. A press report claimed that a Dar es Salaam bookshop sold its stock of 700 copies in a few hours.

The author seems to be giving the impression that he is taking a brave stand and making fundamental criticisms, but most of his priorities for change have already been identified by the President; indeed, much of the book is taken up with quotations from Nyerere’s writings in support of the author’s arguments. Most of the other issues are commonly discussed within Tanzania, although it is true that they have rarely until now been written down.

The first essay borrows Nyerere’s title ‘Tujisahihishe’ (let us correct our mistakes) and consists largely of quotations from Nyerere’s writings and speeches, which identify the problems, which Tanzanians can correct for themselves. The author claims that these national self-criticisms show the need for a reappraisal of the methods being used to achieve objectives and the efficiency of national institutions. This section suggests that the author has read a book on management techniques.

The second essay is concerned with what is termed national character and freedom of expression and is probably the most important of the five. Significantly, it is the one which least depends on quotations from Nyerere or other sources. The author describes the fear of ordinary people to speak openly about political matters because of the risks to their personal position, or even of ‘keko’ (detention) and the inhibiting effect which this fear has on initiative. The case is argued for an end to the Prevent1ve Detention Act, a reduction in the powers of the President by dividing the posts of Head of Government and Head of Party and limiting the period of office. The author also calls for the removal of the requirement for the National Executive of the Party to approve candidates for the National Assembly, additional national newspapers which are not subject to Government or Party control and for the meetings of the National Executive Committee of the Party to be in public.

The third and fourth sections are concerned with Party attitudes to private industry and rural development. Neither contains any hard analysis of the causes of Tanzania’s economic problems. The main argument is that the near ritual abuse of private industry and commerce is not justified by Party policy and is harming development. The proposal that the peasants, having been moved into villages, should be allowed to cultivate individually hardly needs arguing, since this had become effective policy at least two years before the book was written.

The final section repeats without acknowledgment many of the criticisms of Tanzanian society, which Nyerere made in ‘The Arusha Declaration- Ten Years After’- the need for more democracy, franker discussion of problems, giving publicity to failures as well as successes and improving the efficiency of parastatal organisations.

The choice of Nyerere’s writings which are included as appendices has been done with considerable care. In particular, Tanzanians should be reminded of ‘Freedom and Development’, which was intended to stand with ‘Socialism and Rural Development’ and ‘Education for Self-Reliance’ as the foundations of the policies of the Arusha Declaration, but which have somehow never received the same attention.

The general impression is of a weak and unsatisfactory book. The criticisms which are made need to be more clearly stated. The author seems to want the status of leader of a responsible pro-Nyerere opposition without really offending anyone. The art of political opposition has to be learned and the author is taking the first tentative steps.

John Arnold


‘Ujamaa Villages in Tanzania- a Bibliography’
: Dean E. Mc Henry Jr.: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Uppsala, 1981 (ISBN 91-1106-181-8)

We hope that the Bulletin can speak on behalf of all friends and students of Tanzania in recording appreciation of Dean McHenry’s labour of love and of the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies for publishing it. No doubt somebody, somewhere, will find an omission, but for the rest of us its nearly 500 carefully documented entries will provide an invaluable source of guidance and information. We can only say ‘thank you very much’ to Dean McHenry.

John Arnold

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