A Conference Held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) 26th and 27th June 1986.

This was an impressive occasion. The photograph above by Paul Fo (SOAS) shows part of the packed audience. Michael Hodd to whom much credit is due for organising this ambitious affair (and who also received brickbats when things did not proceed as he had intended!) was himself surprised by the size and scale of the participation Furthermore, the conference could hardly have been better timed as Tanzania adjusts itself to the dramatic changes now underway.

There were participants from almost all the major centres of learning in Britain which are interested in Tanzania; there were also representatives of FAO, the World Bank, ODA, the British Council, the Britain-Tanzania Society, the Scandinavian Institute of Africa Studies, the College for Developing Countries, Antwerp, the Centre for Development Research, Copenhagen, the Institut fur Afrikanistik de Univer:sitat, Vienna, the Institute of Social Studies, the Hague and a contingent from the United States who took a prominent role.

Above all there were the large group of participants from Tanzania, one for each major subject area in the programme and many more besides, whose contributions were not only, in general, the most clearly delivered but also, naturally, the most up to date and often the best informed. They were characterised, as Gus Liebenau (Indiana) put it by a combination of pragmatism and intellectual vigour. The frankness of their contributions also compared well with the directness of the criticisms coming from many of the non-Tanzanians. As Tamin Amijee (Queen Mary College) put it “Nyerere is to Blame” might have been a better title for the conference. A much appreciated remark by Philip Raikes (Copenhagen) about the beneficial effects of changing one’s mind from time to time was also appropriate to the occasion.

It is quite impossible to do justice in this Bulletin to the 27 papers presented – one paper alone would fill the whole of this issue! Comparisons, as Shakespeare said, are “odorous” but there were some good papers and some not so good, Those on industry in Tanzania were of high quality. Those on Education and Manpower covered only part of the field and one in particular was stronger on political rhetoric than on the realities of the Tanzanian educational scene. On agriculture, the most intractable problem facing Tanzania, the solutions still seem to evade us. On Urbanisation and on some other subjects the World Bank came in for some heavy but rather unconstructive criticism. There was some straightforward talking in the section on Trade and Aid from Denis Osborne (ODA) – “the British Government’s attitude has been that there should be no new financial aid to Tanzania pending economic reform; the argument behind this had been not simply that we liked people to agree with the IMF but because we thought that some changes were needed if aid were to be effective.”

The final section of the conference on political issues was extremely interesting. Jeanette Hartman (University of Dar es Salaam) in a thoughtful paper spoke of a “government without governance and a state without a system.” Part of a paper on Zanzibar by David Throup (Cambridge) was challenged by another speaker and Haroub Othman queried the appropriateness of the conferences s theme because as he said, “Nyerere will continue to be a great influence on the country for a long time to come,” Many were disappointed that Mr Othman’s verbal contribution to the debate had to be cut short due to time constraints.

A clear division seemed to arise between two groups of participants – those accustomed to regular sparring matches at other conferences and those enjoying the novelty of the occasion. But John Arnold (Southampton) told me that he found at this conference a new willingness to debate with rather than abuse or ignore those with differing views. I believe, however that I was not the only one present to be astonished by the aggressiveness of some of the remarks made by certain of the academics about their fellows.

There was too strong a tendency to want to discuss socio-economic hypotheses about what happened in the past but As Henry Bernstein (Wye) pointed out however “the great villagisation debate….ground to a halt in the late 70s” yet this and other debates continued to rumble along at this conference.

Members of both groups of participants expressed some frustration with the conference. To the first group it was “superficial” ; to the others it was “too academic”. In my view it was good’ for the two sides to meet. It might have been better if they had been able to do so in a more structured way, through, as Mick Silver (Bath) suggested, small working groups running in tandem.

It was Mohamed Halfani (Dar es Salaam) who finally admitted something that many speakers were reluctant to say. “What is to be done? Like everybody else in the conference I am shunning this problem and saying it would be presumptuous of me to suggest alternatives”!
Among the more interesting and surprising remarks we heard at the
conference were the following:

“There is a right-wing backlash in Tanzania. This my lead you to reach hasty conclusions… the right wing people may not be able to go very far ….. the army is influential.. A. F. Lwaitama, University of Aston


“‘Education for Self-Reliance (ESR) is inspirational rather than a policy document. Are Tanzanian schools working in its spirit?” A very difficult question. It’s like the debate in Britain about religious education in schools. Nyerere had problems in the curricula implications. ESR was a perfect vehicle for communicating with aid agencies. It was like Booker T. Washington’s speech in the American South when he told blacks not to leave the South but to cast down their buckets where they were. The speech encouraged Northern aid agencies like the Rockerfeller Foundation to come to the aid of the South. Similarly, Nyerere’s call for ESR was swallowed hook, line and sinker by the writers of aid literature in the Northern Hemisphere. People were led to believe that it (ESR) was what was happening.”
Kenneth King, University of Edinburgh


(In response to talk at the conference about black marketing and attacks on people going abroad and then returning home with toothpaste and selling it at exorbitant prices) “a debate on black marketing at this level caricatures the entire economic debate. There are a lot of petty commodity producers who are labelled black marketers. Before one labels people negatively in this way. one has to realise that if a peasant takes a bunch of bananas across the Kenya border to sell at a price higher than the official price in order to obtain basic commodities that are not available locally for personal consumption, that person is not a black marketeer. Oil producers sell oil outside the OPEC market. We don’t call them “black marketeers.” We speak of the “spot market”. …. Don’t accuse our mothers. ….”
E. J. Kisanga, London School of Economics


(In answer to criticism of the statistics in a paper entitled “A Food Strategy for Tanzania,”)” Don’t forget that we are working within the context of a developing country. The US Department of Agriculture told me that it took them 100 years to develop a good system of agricultural statistics. What is the alternative? Are we saying that because we have bad statistics – by the way they are not too bad – that we don’t have to help Governments to plan for the future?” A.N.Cortas. Food and Agriculture Organisation
of the United Nations, Rome

(Reference had been made to the effect that) “maybe there is a future for some Tanzanian industries through the Southern Africa Development Co-ordination Conference, SADCC. I wish that I could share that opinion….. in the case of the East African Community the problem was that everything benefitted one country more than another. The Kampala agreement allocated particular industries to countries. But this proved impossible. Countries should recognise that it is better to get something rather than nothing out of regional co-operation.”
Dr. Walter Elkan, Brunel University


“Some of us are worried about how new economic conditions may affect (Tanzania’s) attitude to the S.Africa struggle. The ANC is worried about…the effect of IMF conditionalities…. how it might affect our capacity.”
Haroub Othman, University of Dar es Salaam.


“Comparing the United States with Tanzania (this had been done by another speaker on the subject of education) is like comparing apples and oranges.”
Leslie Block, Northeastern Illinois University


“The most amazing thing in Dar es Ealaam is the amount of building going on now…. There is great development from Bahari Beach at one side, to the airport at the other. The Housing Act of last year… allowed this.”
S.Rugumisa. The Prime Ministers Office, Dar es Salaam


“We need a little ferment from below to spur the top level people. Don’t be afraid of revolution.”
Manuel Gottlieb, University of Wisconsin


“The painful thing for Nyerere (as compared with similar leaders) would be for him to sit in Butiama and see all his progressive achievements eroded away. Nkrumah was far away from home in Guinea when the changes were made, Nasser was in his grave before Sadat made the changes.
Haroub Othman, University of Dar es Salaam,

I hope that we shall be able to quote more fully from some of the
papers in future issues. We do have room for part of one paper however. It was quite different from all the others. Through its originality and perception of what the Tanzanian man (in this case, woman) in the street thinks about the Nyerere years (as evidenced by Mwalimu’s speeches) we may gain a clue as to what Tanzania after Nyerere could be like, The paper is entitled “The Nyerere Heritage” and consists of an imaginary dialogue between a thirty year old female primary school teacher and a 35 year old male linguistic student.
David Brewin


Question from the linguistic student: When Nyerere finally leaves, do you think something of his style of public speaking will remain with us?
Answer from the primary school teacher: I don’t know what you people call “style”. As far as I am concerned something decidedly Nyererean will continue to influence political oratory in Tanzania in the area of Lexis. In translating Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” to “Mabepari wa Venisi” and “Julius Caeser” into “Juliasi Kaizari”, Nyerere created a political lexicon which is unique in East Africa. Words like Ubepari, Umwinyi, Makupe, Ujamaa, Ndugu, have acquired a whole range of meanings which it will take some time superseding (in case some right-wing politicians wish to do this in the future!)
Q: Apart from lexical influences, is there anything else about the way Nyerere spoke which Tanzanian politicians will have to inherit or may inherit?
A: I suppose his way of saying “Ndiyo” with a high-rising intonation to mean “Yes, you must believe me!” and with a low-level intonation to mean “Yes, and who dares not believe me” will continue to be imitated by some politicians.
Q: What message would you give to researchers like myself who are interested in linguistic differences between lectures, sermons, harangues and such like?
A: I would like people like you to come up with theories which discourage upstart politicians who would wish to reduce Nyerere’s oratorical style to mere techniques used to elicit laughter or agreement. Just because a lot of us always laughed whenever Nyerere started to laugh in his peculiar ironic way, and we used to clap in agreement whenever he said his many “ndiyos”. Some of these careeri5t politicians think people like me would do the same if they mimicked Nyerere!
Q: What sort of theories would satisfy you?
A: Well, theories which looked into things like what kinds of speeches Nyerere gave to party conferences and what kinds did he give to Parliament, What sort of speeches Nyerere gave to open air mass rallies at Mnazi Moja and Jangwani in Dar es Salaam and what sort he gave to a selection of Dar es Salaam Party and Government leaders at Rarimjee Ball or Anatoglu Hall. There were times when he seemed to lecture in a most soliloquising way and there were times when he seemed to use his Dar e s Salaam audience to indirectly give a sermon on humanism to world leaders outside Tanzania. Very rarely did be engage in demagogic political stunts to win some political favour from his audience like most politicians in the so-called older political democracies.
Q: What impression do you form of Nyerere as a politician from his political speeches?
A: I think he carried conviction and honesty in his discourses on the evil of one people ruling over another, and how this corrupted both the coloniser and the colonised. He stirred in one a sense of pride in one’s own African ancestry. His speeches during the war with Idi Amin in 1978/79 were most powerful in arousing in most Tanzanians a sense of outrage against a11 forms of oppression irrespective of the person committing “dhuluma”. The anti-Amin war songs and speeches evoked the “spirits” of Mkwawa and Songea and the anti-colonialism Maji-Maji Resistance War of earlier times. This part of the Nyerere heritage will stay in the hearts of Tanzanians like myself for a long, long time. Who knows, this part of the heritage will come in handy should South Africa do to Tanzania what the United States did to Libya!
Q: Wouldn’t you say that in practice he would only be remembered for instituting the one-party state and watering down the role of parliamentary democracy?
A: Well, I don’t know what you people in universities will remember him for – but I know this: even many years after he has gone his anti-umwinyi, anti-dhuluma sentiments as they reflected themselves in the 1971 Party Guidelines (Mwongozo) – proclaimed after the Idi Amin Coup in Uganda and the attempted coup in Sekou Toure’s Guinea the year before – as well as in the speeches delivered during the anti-Amin war will have a long term impact on Tanzanian society.
Q: But what came out of his speeches as his attitude towards institutions like parliament and elections and a free press ?
A : I don’t know what you people would say was his attitude to democracy. All I know is that he seemed to be saying that countries like Great Britain did not necessarily Rave democratic institutions mere1y because there were opposition parties and that newspapers were owned by rich capitalists who competed amongst themselves for readership and control over the news. I do not believe that at village level there will be any advantage in having one party which believes the village should grow coffee and another which commits itself to uprooting the coffee as soon as they win control of the village council! I don’t know what democracy means in any other terms than those set in Nyerere’s speeches. I don’t know whether the colonial governors left any manuals on how best to run governments democratically ! My main complaint with CCM (and TANU before it) is that they tend to allow too many capitalist crooks who engage in Ulanguzi to infiltrate them.
Q: What about his attitude to African liberation ?
A: At first I did not understand when he said recently that it was sad he had participated in the foundation of a Tanzanian nationalism instead of an East African nationalism or an African nationalism. Listening again to his speeches during the anti-Amin war and his comments on the famine in Ethiopia I can see he is a man who is more proud of having the ARC school at Morogoro than he has so far admitted. His naming of a stadium in Sumbawanga as Nelson Mandela last year is very symbolic. This was the last thing he named before retiring from the presidency!
Q: What would you remember Nyerere for in the field of agriculture and industry?
A: In the late 1960’s things were good. My brother secured a job with the Cotton industry in Mwanza although we come from Mbinga which grows coffee. He used to come home during his holidays with lots of stories about life in other parts of Tanzania. He would tell us about the steamships on Lake Victoria and locomotive train rides between a very big city with lots of cars and a town known as Dodoma which was going to replace Dar es Salaam as the big city! My mother was unhappy at first because she did not like losing someone who might have helped on our coffee farm. But then, my brother used to send money and clothes to my mother, and most of us young people did not share my mother’s enthusiasm for farm work in the same village one was born in and was to die in.
Q: Do you think he favoured small peasants like your mother enough?
A: I don’t know. I think my mother has always been happy with Nyerere. She only complains when the price of coffee goes down or the prices of corrugated iron sheets or clothes go up. But I suppose Nyerere had children like myself who learned about life in other parts of the world and wanted the good things of the city. People in factories and offices have holidays – paid leave they call it. They have pensions. They have greater independence from control by their parents and relatives. I hear that in Europe people are paid for quite long periods of time for doing nothing! Who would not like a life like that ? I suppose Nyerere favours peasants like my mother but he too has children like myself who want Tanzania to develop and be like those European countries. The Europeans who come over here are always found enjoying themselves in our hotels in our own country! Who would not like life like they lead? I am sure Nyerere’s love is torn between that for his old mother and that far his young children.
Q: What will remain in the minds of most Tanzanians as the thing they inherited from the Nyerere e rain the sphere of education?
A: The institution of National Service (Civil and military) for all higher secondary and tertiary level graduates, the use of Kiswahili as the medium of education in primary schools, the 1974 Musoma Resolution on Adult Education and universal primary education have had an impact on Tanzanian social life which has yet to be assessed. The philosophy of Education for Self- Reliance (although it has not been very successful in many practical terms) has had a very great impact on the practice of education in Tanzania. A young chipukizi (pioneer) in Tanzania is likely to know more about what is going on in South Africa, Nicaragua, and Palestine than most children of her age in Britain for instance. All these things are not visible but they will be, should Uncle Sam do a Grenada on Tanzania! These Nyerere inheritance s will certainly make Tanzania very difficult to rule in a completely right-wing way.
Q: Did Nyerere strike you as someone who wished to urbanise Tanzania?
A: I have been to Dodoma. If he had had his way he would have wished Dodoma to grow up into a village-like capital city – a compromise between his love for the social harmony of his mother’s peasant life and his sympathy for his children’s aspiration for economic growth and material development in the European sense. Q: If your children asked you what Nyerere’s attitude to employment was, what would you say?
A: I will tell them to listen to his speeches! I think his idea of employment was again influenced by his retaining close contact with peasants like his mother in his home village. To me, employment means being employed by the state. To Nyerere you got the impression that it could mean both employing oneself on a peasant farm and being employed on a village communal farm on a wage and “paid leave” basis! I think t his problem is too complex for me t o explain, but maybe ecologists, and humanists, and people like that, can explain it better. Was it to be “kufanya kazi” or “kuajiriwa” ?

The dialogue between the imaginary school teacher and the imaginary linguistics student is as realistic a depiction of the perceptions of quite a number of Tanzanian lay people of what Tanzania after Nyerere will be, as could be presented to a conference of economists, political scientists and sociologists. The apparent naivety of some of the contributions should not belie the seriousness given to the issues examined.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.