LETTERS

SOKOINE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
With reference to the short report in the May issue of the Bulletin on the suspension of 297 students (out of 500) at Sokoine University of Agriculture I would be most grateful if the following facts were brought to the attention of your esteemed readers.

– The students were suspended for removing from some of the rooms double decker beds which had been installed for those who opted to use them. They had a choice to live off-campus and receive Shs 2000 monthly to meet costs involved. They were also suspended for obstructing their colleagues from using the double decker beds. Finally, they were suspended for refusing an order of the Executive Committee of Council requiring them to install the beds they had dismantled. This indicates that refusal to live in threes in rooms designed for two was not the basic reason for the suspension. They had the freedom to live off-campus if living in threes in rooms designed for two was considered (by them) to be inconvenient.

– 250 of the 297 (the figure was 296) resumed classes on 15th March 1987, 25 were suspended up to the end of 1987 and the rest up to the end of 1990. Council set up an ad hoc committee to investigate causes for the unrest. The suspended students were also allowed to use their right to appeal to a statutory Disciplinary Appeals Committee.

– Council, at its meeting on 2nd September, received reports from both committees. Council has allowed all those still on suspension to resume studies in January 1988. This follows from the advice of the two committees.
I hope that this information will help to get the facts up-dated.
Professor G.R.V. Mmari, Vice-Chancellor

A SLUM
Your issue of September 1987 quotes a woeful article in the Economist(June 20th) in which Tanzania is describedas ‘a slum’ and Kenya as a ‘shaky success’

Fortunately, one of the hard-won liberties of the 1980’s is not to have to pay the slightest attention to economists. Their capacity for producing conflicting analyses of trees while missing woods is inexhaustible.

I was however struck by the fact that the quote should appear close to an account of a Frenchman’s tourist experiences in Zanzibar in which he found the Kenyans not very pleasant and the Tanzanians friendly and happy.

I will personally fund five days in a Nairobi shanty town for that Economist feature writer’s next holiday, to be followed by five days in any Tanzanian village, so that he may return to Berkshire, or wherever, with his spirits revived.

Tanzania may be going through an economic upheaval, but it is in the strength of Nyerere’s ideas and policies that that upheaval brings immediate and tangible benefits from the top to the bottom of society – even though the policies themselves have necessitated the upheaval. Name me one other country where the same has been, or could be, achieved.
Dr. Tim Cullinan, Mbeya

PUNCHING
I refer to your article in Volume 28 of the Bulletin concerning the views expressed by Eileen Stillwagon on oppression of women at the University of Dar es Salaam.

I do not entirely agree with the impression created by Ms Stillwagon. The ‘Wall Literature’ on a wall at the back of one of the cafeterias is used as a mechanism to check the behaviour of members of the University community, not the women alone. Thus, anyone in the University can be ‘punched’, ranging from lecturers to students and the person who ‘punches’ others comes from any part of the University community – not from the engineering department only.
Female Ex – University Student

MAKONDE AND MAWIA
In the September issue of the Bulletin I was interested in the contribution by Mr. Godwin Kaduma ‘The Makonde Carving: Its Essence’. For nine years I worked at Newala on the ‘Makonde Plateau’ looking over the Ruvuma River to Mozambique. Members of the Mawia tribe, a tribe in Mozambique, frequently came over from Mozambique to seek work on the sisal estates on the coast and to sell their carvings. The Mawia were a tribe quite distinct from the Wa-Makonde different in their language, manners, habits, characteristics and appearance. Mr. Kaduma describes them accurately in describing Wa-Mawia – not Wa-Makonde!

The Wamawia are by nature gifted artists . This is evident in their ebony carvings showing the decoration of their heads, the pattern of their hair treatment, the pattern of their facial markings (Mr. Kaduma calls them ‘tattoed’; actually they are ‘incised’ – carved on the skin); also they file their teeth to a point.

A Mawia boy came to St. Josephs College, Chidya; he stood out clearly from the others especially in his gift for drawing pattern and picture making.

I understand that a group of Mawia settled near Dar es Salaam and sold their carvings which came to be known as ‘Makonde carvings’. Someone better qualified than me could give the Mawia their due and describe their characteristics.

The late Dr. Lyndon Harries shared life with me at Newala for a time and studied the Mawia language and I think wrote about it.

I fear the tourists who buy these carvings have spoiled their art by showing their preference for what is less original or, as Mr Kaduma says, less authentic.
Canon J.W. Cornwall

(Christine Lawrence who has also lived in the area has been doing some further research on the matters raised by Canon Cornwall and writes as follows – Editor)

It is not surprising that Canon Cornwall is puzzled over the Wamakonde and the Wamawia. In fact, they are one and the same although the latter is a nickname. This is explained by J. Anthony Stout in his book ‘Modern Makonde Sculpture’ (1966. Kibo Art Gallery Publications, Nairobi).

‘The Makonde are Bantu Africans and a distinctive people. These sculptors, or, in some cases, their fathers, were born in the north eastern corner of Mozambique. There is also a Makonde people indigenous to the area north of the Ruvuma in Tanzania’. Dias (in his book ‘Portuguese Contribution to Cultural Anthropology’. A. Jorge Dias. Witwatersrand University Press. Johannesburg. 1961) supposes that both Makonde groups were closely related at one time but have developed important cultural differences from their long separation.

Stout goes on to write ‘Because of the high cost of goods and the scarcity of employment in that part of Mozambique, there has long been considerable migration across the shallow Ruvuma into Southern Tanzania ….. they are generally regarded with both respect and fear. A reputation for ferocity and violence has accompanied them from Mozambique where they had the derogatory nickname ‘Mawia – the short tempered ones.’

‘Mawia’ comes from the Swahili verb ‘wia’ meaning to warm up, begin to boil, or to seethe.

Anthony Stout’s book was published following an exhibition of Makonde carvings at Kibo Art Gallery, Kilimanjaro in 1965.

Stout also wrote that ‘the times move on and we should not expect modern Makonde art to stand still. The artists have overcome great problems in the recent past because they would not stagnate. Makonde creativity is as unquestionable as life-force’.

PROPOSAL FOR A ZANZIBAR RESEARCH GROUP
There is a widespread feeling among Zanzibaris and others that the islands have been neglected in terms of academic research for a very long time. This has been partly because of the intellectual climate over there for the past couple of decades and partly because of the lack of co-ordination between scholars with interest in Zanzibar.

The climate in Zanzibar is now changing. The Government there is showing every sign of trying to bring about a revival in education and cultural development. The effort to establish a national library has begun to bear fruit; the Zanzibar archives are being rehabilitated; and the Government is apparently considering a proposal to set up an institute for social research in Zanzibar.

The renaissance however will be hampered by the fact that intellectuals with interest in Zanzibar have been scattered over the four corners of the globe. While some have attempted to maintain some informal contact among themselves , most are not aware of the interests and academic pursuits of their colleagues. This may not only lead to duplication of effort but also hamper the identification of the most fruitful avenues of research and collaboration between scholars with common interests.

We would like to propose a modest project to help correct this situation. The first requirement is to establish contact with all those with interest in Zanzibar.

Secondly, we would like to build up our research resources on Zanzibar . Many of us have written articles (academic as well as newspaper) and books but• these are often inaccessible to many of us when we become aware of them. We would like to propose the setting up of a unit where these materials can be collected. We would welcome two copies of these publications, one which can eventually be deposited in the Zanzibar library when it begins to operate. Readers of the Bulletin can send materials written by others if they are easily accessible or they could be donated.

Thirdly, to disseminate information on scholars and publications, we propose a modest newsletter. Unfortunately the cost of production and postage will impose a heavy burden on individuals. We wonder whether anyone would be in a position to share the cost with us in the form of a modest subscription or donation.

While such information, if disseminated by the newsletter, will be useful to us all, we feel that the unit can play a useful role in identifying or initiating specific research projects. One such project could be the recording of the experience of the last thirty years of the poetical and other changes on the Islands. Twenty years after the revolution, for example, there is only one scholarly account of it, and that written from a colonial perspective. And yet there are many participants in the political struggle leading up to it who have not yet been induced to put their reflections down on paper or on tape. Some of these participants are already dead and it will be unfortunate if we fail to record the memories of those still with us. Other projects could focus on aspects of culture, scientific development, language etc. We hope you will agree with us about the need to initiate this modest project.
Professor Abdul Sheriff , History Department, University of Dar es Salaam, P.O.Box 277, Dar es Salaam (to whom correspondence should be directed) and,
Dr. Haroub Othman, Institute of Development Studies, Dar es Salaam.

1 Comment »

  1. Tanzanian Affairs » LETTERS said,

    March 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    […] AND MAWIA I have seen the letter in the last Bulletin about the Makonde and the Mawia. I am a Makonde from Newala. When I went to school I first met the […]

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