“The most interesting period (in Tanzania) is starting now,” So said Mr Haroub Othman, Director of the Institute of Development Studies of Dar es Salaam University in almost the final words of a conference given at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) on June 26th and 27th 1986. I confess that my own view had been the opposite of this. I wondered how the international interest which has been for so long concentrated on the Tanzanian ship could survive the departure of its pilot.
There is of course a lot of debate as to who is now piloting the ship but if one is to judge by the number of headlines and photographs appearing in the Tanzanian press, the pilot is still aboard.
What will happen when he eventually disembarks, under the heading, in each case, “Tanzania after Nyerere”, has been the subject of a 25 page cover story in the May/June issue of “Africa Events” and also the conference referred to above which attracted the largest assembly of Tanzanophiles (almost 200 people) since Mwalimu’s last visit to the UK.
And then the “Tanganyika Reunion,” at its Jubilee event at the Royal Commonwealth Society on July 25th 1986, attracted almost 300 people including several Tanzanians. Participating in the cutting of the cake was Mr. Geoffrey Hucks, well known in Tanganyika many years ago as the person responsible for the conduct of the early elections.
Once again this has been an event packed four monthly period. After years of debate Tanzania finally decided to do a deal with the IMF, and this was followed in Paris in June 1986 by one of the best attended World Bank sponsored Consultative Group Meetings yet held. Then came a courageous and generally well received Budget. These matters are covered by Roger Carter in an article starting on page 3.
The Budget was followed by a month-long debate in the National Assembly in which members had no hesitation in expressing their views. See “Free Speech” on page 7.
Readers of the “Guardian” on June 11th 1986 must have been surprised to see the heading “Nyerere Doubts on the One Party System” which quoted Zambian newspapers as saying that Mwalimu had stated that “The single party system breeds complacency among the electorate and their elected representatives because there is an absence of political challenge to keep the leaders of the ruling party on their toes. Party leaders in some areas (of Tanzania) have become so complacent that they do not hold any meetings; others do not bother to hold elections to fill vacant party posts” . Roger Carter has written an article on the one-party system which begins on page 19.
On the lighter side, I understand that two intrepid Englishmen returned in July 1986 from a journey that they described as to “the centre of the Earth” – by bicycle! The centre was an unnamed spot in the Xinjiang province, N. W.China. They said that they found a few camel tracks, some bushes and a bit of dried camel dung. An earlier adventure was in Tanzania and they wrote a book about it which is reviewed by Martin Burton on page 25. A more serious review about the use of bicycles as transport in Tanzania is reviewed by Mel Crofton on page 26.