Archive for May, 1989


According to AFRICAN CONCORD Tanzania’s estimated 5,000 troops which were sent to Mozambique nearly two years ago, although the agreed period was six months, have been withdrawn. Mozambique’s Defence Minister, Alberto Chipande commented “They did their job of freeing the entire Zambezi Valley (from MNR rebels) and have therefore returned to their country with the merit of having fulfilled their liberating mission in Africa”.

Tanzanian Defence Minister Salim Ahmed Salim told a parade of returned soldiers that they had succeeded in preventing the MNR from cutting Mozambique in two at its narrowest point between the southern tip of Malawi and the port of Quelimane.

“It’s early morning in a sleepy African Village. The mooing of cows punctures the morning silence. Those in the surrounding low-lying houses turn in their sleep. The cows become more audible, more insistent. No doubt someone has been remiss in their milking. The mooing of the cows is joined by the cackling of dozens of fowl. This blissful ‘rural’ awakening is not taking place in some remote corner of the African world. It is right in the heart of the ‘developed underdeveloped’ University of Dar es Salaam. The early morning bovine sounds come from no other than the academic’s cows”. So began an article in the January 1989 issue of AFRICA EVENTS.

The article goes on to say that President Mwinyi, who is also Chancellor of the University, had urged University leaders to raise chickens, cows and pigs to supplement their income. But, the article asked, should it be the business of academics to raise chickens and cows in order to make ends meet. And the conditions under which academics work hardly leave room for raising chickens. Everything has to be sought for long and hard. Public transport is tortoise-slow and public officials unhelpful. Academic’s work is bobbled down by lack of facilities; large classes, limited staff and work-shy students, all make academic life at Dar es Salaam a pretty hard slog.

The article went on to discuss research and what it described as the extraordinarily myopic attitude of the government towards Tanzanian academics compared with ‘jet-in, jet out’ experts which it preferred.

The DAILY TELEGRAPH in its April 10th issue reported that wildlife officials had shot two man-eating lions which had killed three people near Bagamoyo, on Tanzania’ s Indian Ocean coast. The hunt had been organised after hundreds of people had fled their homes.

AFRICA HEALTH has reported that a new Japanese grant is being used to finance a five-year programme of vector control in Dar es Salaam and Tanga. The programme began in July 1988 and involves indoor residual insecticide spraying, larvicide spraying of breeding habitats and the spraying of residential areas with ultra-low volume machines. Dar es Salaam had a malaria control programme in the 1960’s and 1970’s but its staff was dispersed about the country following a decentralisation drive in 1972. By 1981 there were only a dozen malaria assistants left and the youngest of them was fifty years old. Nearly 5,000 Tanzanians died of the disease in 1985 – a particularly bad year – and 386 died in 1986.

The GUARDIAN in its issue dated January 6, 1989 reviewed a collection of Zanzibar music recently released on two records. It wrote: ‘Zanzibar’s unique island location off the East coast of Africa has produced an intriguing musical melting-pot where Arabic, Indian and African influences converge with exotic results. Taarab describes both the music and the social occasions on which it is played.

In the case of Ikhwani Safaa, Zanzibar’s most popular orchestra, founded in 1905, this consists of a mesmeric mix of western violins alongside eastern instruments like the ganoon (a kind of zither) and the oud. It is these two instruments, in the capable hands of Abdullah Mussa Ahmed and Seif Salim Saleh, which are featured on the other record … strange and seductive sounds’.

Under this heading NEW AFRICAN in its February issue wrote that local brewing is becoming so popular in Tanzania that it is threatening the survival of the beer industry as well as the only industrially brewed local beer, properly known as ‘kikuku’ or ‘tikisa’. As little as five years ago, local brews were only drunk at traditional celebrations and other rural-based rituals.

In Dar es Salaam alone there are now about 19 types of local brew including ‘kindi’, mbege, tembo, mnazi, njimbo and kangara which are made mostly of grains, sugar, baking powder and molasses. Thousands of people who want to get drunk quickly drink illegally distilled ‘gongo’, ‘kill me quick’, or ‘supu ya mawe’ (soup made from stones) !

The burgeoning business is a reflection of the rising inflation. A half litre bottle of beer now costs about one US dollar, an increase of more than 1,000% since 1980 compared with about eight US cents for a local brew.

SOUTH magazine in its January issue had a 5 page Survey on Tanzania, one of the articles in which described how the government is now offering licenses to small-scale gold miners in an attempt to crack down on organised gold smuggling which has depleted foreign exchange reserves. The miners are being tempted to go legal by being offered a 70% retention scheme on their foreign exchange earnings. Twelve licenses have been offered so far and there are hundreds more in the pipeline. Less than a quarter of the gold output from the half million small miners is passing through the State Mining Corporation.

Other articles in the Survey covered the ‘tight economic corner’ that Zanzibar has been pushed into because of its reliance on cloves, ‘another dose of IMF medicine’ and the problems of the Tanzania Zambia Railway.

AFRICAN BUSINESS in its March 1989 issue reported the decision of the Tanzania Posts and Telecommunications Corporation to ‘leap into the electronic age’ by introducing portable cordless telephones. They are expected to prove popular in urban areas where 25% of residents have access to telephone lines.

According to the March 15 issue of AFRICAN CONCORD President Mwinyi has said that criminals were stealing so many guns from policemen that he had decided to most constables on daylight patrol. In future only policemen guarding strategic buildings would carry firearms. The rest of the force would carry short hand batons he added.



The “Virgin Butterfly” picked up speed at the mouth of Dar es Salaam harbour and rose magnificently onto her hydrofoils. Onlookers along the shoreline gaped in astonishment and the crew of a nearby dhow leapt to their feet in panic. Inside the cabin, stewardesses began to sell soft drinks, and the Captain appeared on the video screen to welcome us aboard. The mainland coast rapidly shrank to a thin ribbon along the horizon.

I could not believe my own good fortune. On a short stop-over in Dar es Salaam, I had reluctantly ruled out the possibility of visiting friends in Zanzibar – so close yet so far ! Air Tanzania’s service to the island is notorious for being cancelled at the last minute. The old ferry “Mpundusi” sails only twice a week and takes six hours or more. By contrast, the 35 metre long hydrofoil, which can cruise at up to 95 kilometres an hour took just seventy five minutes. At the cost of US$ 20 each way (Shs 1500 for locals) my weekend visit was not just possible but completely effortless.

The combination of lush tropical vegetation, fine beaches and an old Arab town – full of haunting reminders of past trading wealth – must give Zanzibar tremendous tourist potential. Linked by plane to Nairobi and by hydrofoil to Mombasa as well as to Dar es Salaam, it could become an extra link in the tourist circuit that takes in the Kenyan coast, the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro. Tourist facilities on the island are limited but the Aga Khan has recently promised to finance a new luxury hotel.

First however, the Norwegian operating company and the shareholders in the new service (who include the Tanzania Tourist Corporation and a number of Zanzibar businessmen) must make the new service pay. To do so, they will have to stick to the timetable and operate close to the hydrofoil’s 330 seat capacity. If they succeed, and it is a tall order, then there is little doubt they will transform Zanzibar.

As for me, I had a marvellous and unexpected week-end break which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone.
James G. Copestake



On reading ‘Why are the Italians Not Coming to Mafia’ in the last issue of the Bulletin I was filled with alarm at the idea of Italian tourists, or tourists of any sort Whatsoever, flooding into Mafia. I have never visited the Mafia group of islands myself but know that their beautiful and special marine life is something to be preserved from the pollution and damage experienced further up the coast of Tanzania and Kenya. Dynamiting of fish; collecting for the marine curio trade; the pressure of tourism; and, pollution from sewage have all contributed to reef and marine life destruction.

The main attraction of Mafia is its game fishing and marine life so if any benefit is to be reaped from tourism there, conservation must go hand in hand with development.

I understand there is a modern style Fishing Lodge which possibly needs upgrading but cannot conceive why it should be necessary to enlarge the airport as long as small planes are available. The island is only 152 sq. miles and largely covered by coconut plantations. Is it possible for a tourist to arrive by sea? I feel this would be ideal.

Peter Marshall wrote in ‘Journey Through Tanzania’ (1984) “In the limpid water of the Indian Ocean myriads of brightly coloured fish – such as the damsel, angel and lion fish – sway luminously amongst the delicate coral formations. On the sea-bed, crabs, squirts, starfish, sea cucumbers and shells of all colours and sizes add to the irridescent ballet of underwater life. The extremely rare ‘dugong’ or sea-cow also comes to breed amongst the swaying sea grasses. Ancient mariners believed it was a mermaid … The Mafia Channel, breeding ground for the great white shark, also has a large population of giant turtles which can be seen swimming by. During the north-east monsoon the turtles come to lay their eggs on the white corraline sand of the small uninhabited islands to the east of Mafia. The area is an extremely rich habitat … It would be tragic if these magnificent marine gardens of the Tanzanian coast disappeared.”

Some legal protection has been proposed for the area: Chole Bay and Tutia Island were declared Marine Reserves in 1981 but no regulations have yet been implemented. It has been further recommended that the Rufiji Delta and the entire Mafia area should become a biosphere reserve (U.N.E.P. and I.U.C.N. ‘Coral Reefs of the World’. 1988). The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is responsible. Can we know what is being done about this please?
Christine Lawrence

With reference to ‘Kilimanjaro Centennial’ (Bulletin No 32) I would like to add that another explorer’s anniversary, that of the three-month visit of J.J. Thomson in 1883 to Mangi Mandara at ‘Old’ Moshi and his excursions up the mountain was marked by a re-enactment, based on his journals, in June 1954 performed in the quadrangle of the then ‘Old’ Moshi School by pupils, with one of them, the great great grandson of Mangi Mandara, in the role of his forebear.
P.H.C. Clarke

It was good to see (Bulletin No. 32) a list of University links between Tanzania and the UK since I suspect that many people are not aware of their range and number. In this regard, I would like also to mention that the Sociology link is co-ordinated from Hull University but also includes links with the Universities of Glasgow and Cambridge. The Cambridge side of the link, is over ten years old. It is focussed on the Cambridge University African Studies Centre and Churchill College, and it has been very valuable for creating and maintaining research and teaching interests on both sides. At present two staff members of the Dar es Salaam Department of Sociology are with us here in Cambridge and we expect a Cambridge visitor to be in Dar quite soon. I will be glad to provide further information for those interested.
Ray Abrahams
Chairman, African Studies Management Committee



TANZANIA AND THE WORLD BANK’S URBAN SHELTER PROJECT: IDEOLOGY AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE by Horace Campbell. The Review of African Political Economy. No. 42, 1988, pp 5-18.

John (not Horace) Campbell sets out to examine a major World Bank funded urban project in the context of Tanzania’s relationship with the Bank and its attempts to influence domestic policy as a condition of further lending. Bank ideology has determined its actions, he argues, not the realities of Tanzania’s situation or the priorities of its government.

In the 1960’s urban areas grew rapidly and programmes of slum clearance and public housing failed to meet housing needs. Much development was unplanned, with half or more of the population living in squatter areas and dependent on incomes below the poverty line. The Second Plan (1969-74) included a commitment (although few funds) to provide infrastructure and housing suitable for the needs of the urban poor. In 1971 rental housing was nationalised, with the effect that the (primarily Asian) landlord class was pushed temporarily out of the housing market and no new housing was built for more than a decade.

Although the intention of providing serviced plots on a large scale to accommodate poorer families had been stated in 1969, it was not until 1972 that a decision was taken to proceed (partly, Campbell speculates, in response to worker unrest) and 1974 that World Bank funding was secured.

Phase I (1974-78) was intended to benefit c. 160,000 low income people by providing 10,600 serviced plots in Dar, Mwanza and Mbeya and upgrading squatter areas in Dar and Mbeya. In Phase II (1978-83) an additional 315,000 residents were to benefit from similar schemes in five urban areas. Campbell suggests that the Bank insistence on tendering contracts to the private sector was contrary to national policies which aimed at expanding the role of the public sector, although it is questionable whether the latter would have had the capacity to take on large contracts. The serviced plots provided were in relatively low density suburban areas and the Bank insisted on full cost recovery. Although construction for subletting was allowed, the provision of loans by the newly established Tanzania Housing Bank (THB) and its insistence on the use of ‘modern’ building materials, made the plots too costly for most poor families. The World Bank’s pressure to reduce standards of construction was not heeded until 1981.

By that time, Phase II was under way, despite the cost overruns of Phase I, the failure of the THB to account for funds and corruption in the allocation of plots. Shortages of housing for middle income families, due partly to policy neglect, encouraged them to obtain serviced plots, pushing out the poor to unauthorised and unserviced areas. Failure to consult residents gave rise to initial suspicion of upgrading, but this later proceeded with fewer problems. Following mounting cost overruns, project components were cut and the standard of services reduced. Responsibility for project management was devolved to local government, despite its lack of expertise and finance. As a result, services and infrastructure deteriorated rapidly and residents’ understandable reluctance to pay for them increased.

Campbell is correct in emphasising the dominance of project planning and implementation by the World Bank; pointing out that the serviced plots met the needs of the middle income rather than poor households; stressing the burden of infrastructure in need of maintenance; and accusing the World Bank of attributing Tanzania’s problems solely to economic mismanagement rather than external shocks. He may well be right that the Bank, despite its involvement with the country’s economic problems, was taken by surprise by the huge cost overruns that its attempt to devolve responsibility for project administration on to ill-prepared local government structures was an attempt to wash its hands of responsibility; and that its concern for the poor was jettisoned when cost recovery was threatened by rising costs. However, by succumbing to the temptation to treat the Bank as a scapegoat, he has oversimplified the explanations for what occurred in Tanzania between the mid-1970’s and mid-80’s. To apportion blame solely to the Bank is to ignore both the mismanagement which undoubtedly occurred, in, for example, the abolition of urban local government between 1973 and 1978; and the class interests within the indigenous (and not just Asian) Tanzanian population which have sought to utilise power and the spoils of public sector activities to advance their own interests.
Carole Rakodi

VILLAGES, VILLAGERS AND THE STATE IN MODERN TANZANIA. Edited by R. G. Abrahams. Cambridge African Monograph 4. Cambridge University Press.

These five papers which are based mainly on field work carried out in Tanzania in the seventies and early eighties, were first published in 1985. They give an insight into the situation pertaining in a number of rural communities at that time and the changes which came about during the post-independence era.

Developments in five disparate areas of the country during and after the villagisation programme known as Ujamaa are detailed. The impact of state intervention in village life has been considerable, and sadly, as is well known, much of the programme has been marred by failure. Poor management, mishandled funds and corruption were features highlighted in this paper.

The field work carried out by Thiele in villages close to Dodoma illustrates, as do other papers, the reluctance of villagers to engage in communal farming activities on collective plots. Priority was always given to their own areas and labour allocation to other work was given a distinctly low priority. The fact that communal farms have been frequently sited on the poorest and most inaccessible land does not also contribute to good production as is evidenced by the poor yields achieved in a number of villages which were listed.

The paper by Lwoga, the only contribution by a Tanzanian, based on work in the vicinity of Morogoro, shows how the State imposed its will and disregarded the views of villagers until the Prime Minister’s Office was able to make a second intervention.

In his paper Walsh outlines the problems associated with traditional leadership, both before and after independence, and how the influence of traditional authority lingered to the detriment of the community as a whole, in spite of the fact that the role of chieftancy had been abolished at the time of independence. The complicated and interweaving relationships within a community were further illustrated by Thompson who related the unsuccessful efforts of a well educated young leader from the town when pitted against the traditional beliefs of the villagers.

These various papers show that the aim of Julius Nyerere, widespread socialism has not been achieved in Tanzania. Reluctance on the part of rural communities to take part in communal activities has been clearly shown and the original aspirations of the State that each village would have a collective farm of a significant area have not been met. Merchant enterprises, such as the village lorry and shop, have often been more successful, but the examples shown indicate that such success was generally limited. Lack of spare parts for vehicles and the frequent absence of basic supplies, poor accounting and corruption, have all contributed to poor results. However, examples in two papers show what can be achieved by good leadership. The resilience and organisation of the local schoolmaster in one instance and the village chairman in the other, were largely responsible for the success achieved. The value of education was also evident in some cases and, more particularly, when this applied to a Village Manager. Thompson also illustrates the extent to which education and urban background undoubtedly contributed to the failure of one politician.

These papers are valuable contributions to the story of rural development in Tanzania during a particular post-independence period. It is to be hoped that later field work by the authors will give a further insight into more recent programmes and achievements.
Basil Hoare

ZANZIBAR TO TIMBUKTUU by Anthony Daniels. J. Murray. 1988.

The first two chapters of this book are devoted to Tanzania, and it is important in the sense that, as there is not a vast library of literature (either non-fiction or intelligent fiction) which deals with contemporary Tanzania, anything in print is liable to be seized upon as some sort of guide to the country, past as well as present.

Despite the fact that it has already had some good reviews, it is not an impressive offering. The trouble is that Daniels really wants sensation at every turn, and in Tanzania he reckons that the best way to obtain this effect is to highlight the misery and wretchedness and the way society has deteriorated in the past quarter century. So we are given a seemingly endless list of iniquities. In Dar es Salaam, for example, we are told that Africans neglect their gardens, the telephones don’t work, the potholes on the road are so bad that you need a four-wheel drive vehicle and the thieving is such a problem that you have to have locked doors, barred windows and even ‘steel gates constructed across windows.

To be fair to the writer he does try occasionally to even up the picture. He admits that ‘this violence is un-characteristic of Tanzanians’ and that ‘I knew them as gentle and forgiving people’. The problem is that he is keen to rush through Africa, from one country to another, hardly pausing to take breath, that he never stops long enough to analyse either people or social situations. Daniels is plainly aware of the ambivalence in many of the scenes he describes. The Tanzanians, though gentle, he declares, can behave extremely badly, even dishonestly to one another ‘no real trust existed between them’. ‘This is Tanzania, this is Tanzania.’

But with full respect to his lively and often amusing style and picturesque phrase, this simply will not do. If there are contradictions in people’s characters then the good writer explores them and helps us to understand the ambivalence. If he had ever done this, or even attempted it, this book would be ten times more worthwhile. The sad truth is that there is nothing in this hasty tour of Africa that is really substantial. Daniels has clutched at straws, many of them brightly coloured and diverting, but straws just the same, and blown away by the wind as they should be.

There is undoubtedly a fashion for travel books which titillate the palate with the slightly grotesque, and invite us to look with our comfortable western eyes at various morsels of Third World decay. But in these pictures there is scant truth to life. It is a pity that Daniels’ undoubted descriptive talents have not been used to produce a book of greater balance and some real depth.
Noel K. Thomas

AGRICULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA: THE CASE OF TANZANIA by Goram Hyden, Universities Field Staff Report 1988/89 No. 5. pp 10. $4. 00
This report was written following a short visit to Tanzania in June 1988 funded by USAID. It is in two parts. The first is an analysis of Tanzania’s predicament. It can be summarised by a table and two quotations.

Graph of table data (not in original publication)

Gross Domestic Product by Kind of Economic Activity at 1976 Prices (in Tz. Sha. Million)

Economic Activity 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986

1. Agriculture, Forestry,Fishing & Hunting 9,046 8,998 9,418 9,639 9,453 10,045
2. Mining & Quarrying 214 189 189 193 176 160
3. Manufacturing 2,811 2,730 2,683 2,304 2,159 1,935
4. Electricity & Water 220 286 400 420 439 523
5. Construction 884 783 932 930 629 572
6. Wholeseale & Retail Trade, Hotels & Restaurants 2,839 2,797 2,839 2,668 2,640 2,669
7. Transport & Communication 1,685 1,699 1,818 1,694 1,703 1,887
8. Finance, Insurance, Real Estate & Business Serv. 2,036 2,208 2,483 2,702 2,920 3,073
9. Public Administration & Other Services 2,342 2,937 3,657 4,221 4,555 5,394

Total Industries 22,077 22,627 24,419 24,771 24,664 26,258

10. Imputed Bank Service Charge (DEDUCT) 424 485 531 667 754 772

11. Gross Domestic Product at f.c. 21,653 22,142 23,888 24,104 23,930 25,486

Source: Bureau of Statistics

The table shows GDP growing less than 20% in 10 years – but three quarters of that growth comes from ‘public administration and other services’. Agriculture has apparently grown (but can we believe the statistics?), as has ‘finance, insurance, real estate and business services ‘; manufacturing has clearly declined.

The two quotes are the following:

In brief, the decline of the Tanzanian economy between 1973 and 1985 must be ascribed to a widespread decline in production beginning in the agricultural sector; it spread to manufacturing because imports to keep the industries going became more and more difficult to purchase with falling agricultural revenues. This situation was aggravated by the adherence to the Basic Industry Strategy which encouraged capital investments in new, often expensive and ill-conceived plants. This limited the scope for allocating scarce foreign exchange in existing industries which were often forced to operate at very low levels of available operational capacity.

It is paradoxical that Tanzania, a large country with low population densities, poor initial infrastructure, and population concentrations mostly in the areas bordering on other countries, should have devoted a smaller share (averaging about 7% between 1970 and 1985) of its resources to transport and communications compared to Kenya (12%).

The second part of the report, under the heading ‘Tanzanian Agriculture since Liberalisation’, consists of thinly disguised prescription. Priority No. 1 is maintenance of the road and rail networks. The second priority is to cope with ‘institutional shortcomings’, notably the failures of the marketing authorities and the National milling Corporation. However, ‘this must be accompanied by a strengthening of other institutions, including the co-operatives’ (how?), and Hyden also advocates ‘district based development trusts’ such as the Njombe District Development Trust. The third priority is more investment in agricultural research, but also more effort to ensure that the results of this research are used. This leads him to conclude that ‘agricultural production in the years ahead will increasingly be led by large-scale farmers’ who will be mainly ‘retired party and government officials …. cultivating 10-50 acres … in the vicinity of large urban centres’! In this way Hyden repeats his distrust of ordinary Tanzanian farmers. A similar mistake characterised his 1980 book, when, using unhelpfully aggressive language, he wrote of the ‘uncaptured’ peasantry and the need to ‘capture’ them. Somehow Hyden’s belief in market forces deserts him when it comes to small farmers. Yet his own analysis provides the clues to an alternative. If the district and trunk roads are maintained and the railways do the work they were built for and if basic consumer goods are available up-country, then Tanzanian farmers, just like those everywhere else in the world, will produce and sell.
Andrew Coulson

QUEEN OF THE BEASTS. An ITV ‘Survival Special’ broadcast on March 17th 1989.

The lion has always been a potent symbol. The European hunter who came to the area in 1913 is shown in photos with his foot on a lion’s mane. He seems to think of himself as a ‘Super lion’. By 1921 most of the lions had been shot and the scarcity of lions was the stimulus for making Serengeti, the size of Northern Ireland, a National Park. Since then fortunate visitors have seen the magnificent scenery and the vast herds of grazing animals and have got close to prides of resting lions.

I remember seeing such a pride. There were so many friendly exchanges, lickings and head rubbings that I was tempted to get out of the car and join in, especially as one lioness was lying on her back asking to be stroked!

Visitors accept lion society without questioning, but scientists, comparing it with the life style of more solitary cats have been puzzled. This ‘Survival Special’ film is the result of a recent two year project by Richard Mathews and Samantha Purdy. This involved them in danger, considerable discomfort and a great deal of drudgery but it was well worthwhile.

We saw the Serengeti at all times and all seasons; the migration of the huge herds of wildebeest and the animals left behind, especially the lions driven to tackling ostrich eggs, unsuccessfully and robbing cheetah of their prey, successfully.
One of the most exciting sequences was taken during a four day and night trek. With the aid of binoculars, cameras and film adapted for night viewing they showed us a pride at its most active. For their study the scientists kept records of individual lions. They noted and drew the nicks in their ears and the spots on their muzzles; and they listened to bleeps from electronic collars fitted to some of the lions. All this was shown with an enthralling sound track and traditional African music in the background.

The picture emerged of two groups of lion society; one being the small group of unrelated males who live together temporarily and the larger matriarchal group with only one or two adult males. By hunting strategically, large prey can be brought down, but there are other reasons for grouping. The females of the matriarchal pride are all related; they will feed one another’s cubs, and we even saw one wounded lioness who could not share the hunt share the kill.

While he is in residence the adult male is a protector, an amiable consort and a tolerant father, but about two years later he is ousted by a mature younger male or males. We saw two, who had been members of a ‘bachelor’ group, drive away the resident male. Although he put up a token fight at the edge of his territory little harm was done, The newcomers entered the new pride and drove out all the nearly mature males, again without bloodshed.

After that a vague menace became a horrifying reality. The newcomers, finding the resident lionesses unwilling to accept them, killed all the cubs they could find. Two days later the bereft lionesses came into season and after a while accepted the newcomers.

This apparent descent from nobility to savagery is disturbing but all lion behaviour has a purpose. Their usual corporate care of the cubs and even a wounded lioness is not as consciously generous, nor is the slaughter of the innocents as casually cruel as we might imagine from an anthropomorphic viewpoint.

As for us?
It is only thanks to some far seeing and caring members of our species who made the area a national park, to the scientists and film makers of today, and to the people of Tanzania who are responsible for the region that we can enjoy watching ‘The Queen of Beasts’ in her natural setting and reflect on how the ‘super lions’ can be reconciled among themselves and with nature. I am now going to ask ITV for a repeat!
Shirin Spencer

MAKONDE: WOODEN SCULPTURE FROM EAST AFRICA. From the Malde Collection. An Exhibition (April 2 – May 21. 1989) and Seminar (April 15, 1989) at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.

The exhibits are separate pieces about 18 inches or more high, mostly columnar, worked to a smooth finish in black hardwood, mainly bearing individual artists’ names, and dated between around 1940-1970.

At first I was somewhat baffled, attracted and repelled. The often twisting, intertwining elongated figures variously distorted and even abstract yet disturbingly realistic fell into no category I was familiar with. But I was fascinated. Gradually I began to see meaning in the strangeness. The postures and activities portrayed found an echo in my own experience. There was common ground.

Then I was lucky enough to talk to Mott Malde, the collector of the pieces (We hope to publish an article on the way in which the collection was made in our next issue – Editor), and I began, after he had helped me with some stylistic puzzles, a little to enter the world of the Makonde and to identify with the themes which preoccupied them. The ‘big-headed teacher’ talks animatedly to the eager and respectful ‘little’ students who cluster round him; (size expressing importance is a familiar concept in art); a woman gives birth; a mischievous ‘spirit’ taunts and upsets two human figures; the ‘spirit’ meant to be protecting the fruit crop yields to the temptation of the succulent fruit and opens his (huge) mouth, greedily eating whilst a large turd falls from his anus (he is punished by diarrhoea ?!); ‘He who would not listen’ portrays a young man mournfully surveying his limp, ineffective penis, and ‘She who would not listen’ shows a woman whose flat, hollowed stomach suggests infertility. For the moment I am leaving out the few masks which are displayed. They come into rather a different category, I think , and require a more strictly anthropological approach than the one I am taking in these few notes.

During the last century the impact of Europeans (missionaries, traders, etc.) stimulated the Makonde to develop further their traditional wood carving. In response to direct requests they made small pieces, usually port raying ordinary everyday domestic activities. But from the 1940’s onwards they developed a more liberated, independent and individual style, using their own imagination and corporate myths to express their own unique from of life. They felt free to express fun and ribaldry, the seriousness of teaching the young the pain and joy of sexuality and reproduction, and the vulnerability of humans to the caprice of the ‘Spirits’. Different styles emerged, but most seem to be based on the tree trunk, a column of wood with the figures either carved in relief leaving the solid wood intact, or – quite breathtakingly – hollowing out the wood leaving sinuous intertwining figures of immense delicacy and inventiveness, resulting in a most satisfying filigree design. Sometimes the abstraction is so extreme one responds entirely to the aesthetic pleasure of the flowing lines weaving wonderfully balanced shapes, using both external and internal surfaces. But (almost) always, on close inspection, one realises that limbs, faces, hands and feet are intricately carved and the whole is alive with the active human or animal form.

Not surprisingly this work became popular with visitors who wanted to buy it. Various outlets were used, including of course, airports, and this has given rise to what seems to be a misconception. Because the pieces are readily saleable at airports, which therefore stimulates further production, the derogatory term ‘airport art’ has been in this case misapplied. Mr. Malde was very insistent that all his pieces are carved by genuine artists, who decide the subject themselves and who, like most practising artists, are pleased to have their work bought.

The SEMINAR was held to discuss ‘Issues of Colonialism, Primitivism, Exoticism and Western Attitudes Towards Indigenous Art’. The well-qualified speakers talked learnedly and fairly about primitive art (is it art ?) but, I felt, from a purely detached Western perspective. As I listened I became increasingly uncomfortable. These were people of meticulous scholarship, who clearly respected indigenous art and judged it worthy of study on its own terms, but whose emotional distancing, their retreat almost into academic concepts gave the implicit message that of course a direct and instinctive response to the sculptures themselves was for a European impossible. I profoundly disagree. Undoubtedly the more one knows of the background and life of the Makonde the more one’s understanding and appreciation of the sculptures increases. And certainly we delude ourselves if we claim, arrogantly, completely to understand what we are seeing. But having said that, I feel if we lay aside (as far as we ever can) our own cultural conditioning, and humbly allow ourselves to respond naturally and simply to the carvings, a great deal of their fundamental meaning is communicated to us. I am sure that our common humanity, our shared hopes, fears, joys and longings provides a common ground from which we can enter into the spirit of the work of art. If it is passionately and honestly made, we can have a passionate and honest response to it. Then it becomes both ‘other’ and ‘familiar’.

This is an excellent exhibition, and large and varied enough to give one a rich experience of a modern art form of culture different from our own, engrossing in its own unfolding into a new form of an old society. We must thank the Oxford Museum for mounting it.

(The exhibition will be in Preston in July and August, Southampton in September and October, Bristol in December and January, Glasgow in January and February and Leicester from February to April 1990 – Editor)
Kathleen Marriott

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The Tanzanian Chapter of the Britain-Tanzania Society has elected its office bearers for the year 1988/89. Mr. Amon Nsekela is Chairman and Vice President, Professor A. S. Msangi, Vice-President, Dr. Esther Mwaikambo, Honorary Secretary, Mr. E.W.K. Bejumula, Associate Secretary and Mrs. Agnes Msuya, Treasurer.

Those elected to the Executive Committee were A. Kanylili, O. Luena, K. J. Kunulilo, C. Eliapenda, P.M. Eliapenda, C. Imray (British High Commissioner), Dr. S.P Mosha, M.B. Mgina, A.A. Kaduri and J. Ndonde.