Archive for January, 1992

WHERE IS THE ROLLS ROYCE ?

MEANWHILE, Tanzania’s popular press has other concerns as indicated by this cutting from the front page of the ‘Family Mirror’;

Daily Mirror front page

Comments (1)

REVIEWS

(In the last issue we inadvertently failed to mention that the book ‘Persistent Principles Amidst Crisis’ by H. Othman, I Bavu and M Okema (eds) was supplied by and is obtainable from Leishman and Taussig, 28 Westgate, Southwell, Notts NG25 OJH – Editor)

ZANZIBAR UNDER COLONIAL RULE edited by Abdul Sheriff and Ed Ferguson. Historical Association of Tanzania; James Currey; Heinemann, Kenya. 1991. £9.95.

Zanzibar Under Colonial Rule is a major work on this small Sultanate which has played such a pivotal role in the history of East Africa. Its 278 pages include eight studies on various aspects of Zanzibar’s past economic and political development, an introduction and conclusion by Abdul Sherriff, 9 pages of bibliography plus extensive source notes following each chapter, 33 illustrations and a useful 8- page index.

Abdul Sheriff puts the major premise of the book right up front in his introduction, entitled ‘A Materialist Approach to Zanzibar’s History’. He states “As Karl Marx pointed out, history cannot be reduced to the collection of ‘self-explanatory’ facts. To start with, facts are not ‘given’; they are perceptions according to the specific philosophy of the observer, the recorder or the historian who select what each considers significant … The task of the historian is then to interpret t hose truths, and this can be done consistently only through an explicit theory of social development”.

Starting within this framework, the individual studies are : The Transition from Slavery by Jacques Depelchin; The Formation of a Colonial Economy by Ed Ferguson; The Struggle for Independence by B. D. Bowlesj The Peasantry Under Imperialism by Abdul Sheriff; The Dec line of the Landlords by J. R. Mlahagwa and A. J. Tem~ The Contradictions of Merchant Capital by Zinnat Bader; The Development of a Colonial Working Class by George Hadjivayanis and Ed Ferguson, and finally, The 1964 Revolution: Lumpen or Vanguard? by Abdulrahman Babu.

Not all of the writers are equally successful. The first study, Jacques Depelchin’s The Transition from Slavery, places much emphasis on fitting slavery into the context of historical materialism and argues “What is determinant in relations of production is the class position and not the ethnic origin”. Things do get better however. Bowles’ chapter, The Struggle for Independence, is particularly well balanced and informative. Indeed, if the reader can disregard the ideological cant which pervades the opening and closing paragraphs of several of the chapters, there is a wealth of facts and interesting documentation fairly evenly distributed throughout the rest of the book. One needs to be a discerning reader however and alert to the occasions when the conspiratorial theory of history is given undue license. In general, the research based on East African sources is impressive. There are, justifiably, few comments on US relations with Zanzibar during the colonial period but those there are suffer from limited and ideologically selective sourcing.

The final chapter, by Abdulrahman Babu, deserves separate mention. The crucial events surrounding the 1964 revolution, in which Babu was a major participant, merit a much more extensive and detailed accounting. He could, if he wished, offer many more important personal insights than he provides here. Babu’s contribution is noteworthy for the degree to which it remains ideologically consistent with his views of the early 1960’s. The broad range of international experience he has had since that time seems to have changed his thinking surprisingly little. In light of recent events Babu’s paean of praise for the militant socialism typified by the Zanzibar revolution now rings hollow like a voice out of a distant epoch.
Dale M Provenmire

THE ECONOMIC CRISIS, RECOVERY PROGRAMMES AND LABOUR IN TANZANIA
. Paschal B. Mhiyo. Labour, Capital and Society 23:1.1990

This 28-page paper is very revealing indeed. It would be better entitled ‘Survival Strategies of Tanzania’s Urban Workers’ in the face of the economic crisis of the 1980’s. It illustrates in down-to-earth language the remarkable degree of initiative shown by Tanzanians in trying to feed their families on wages which were totally inadequate. The survey was conducted among 540 workers in six Dar es Salaam enterprises in 1987-88.

These are some of the survival strategies the paper describes:
a) aggressive search for work; every member of the family was expected to look for something to do in order to earn something;
b) organised afternoon absences from work; ‘job caretakers’ would perform double roles so that one could seek other part-time employment;
c) use of children to sell food to better-off children at school;
d) use of breaks at work for informal work such as hair- dressing, shoe shining; bicycle repairing etc;
e) combining official and private duties; for example, secretaries doing private work during office hours;
f) use by drivers of enterprise cars as ‘pirate taxis’;
g) diversion of the enterprises’ clientele into private contractual arrangements by, for example, those engaged in medical, technical and legal work;
h) dependence on second-hand commodities – a ‘reappreciation’ syndrome under which nothing grows too old to be bought;
i) the ‘costume hire’ phenomenon; as few women could afford to buy expensive clothes they would hire them on a weekly or monthly basis; middle class women ‘can make a fortune on this phenomenon’ the writer reports;
j) acceptance of indeptedness as a way of life;
k) mutual aid through wage pooling and the setting up of hardship funds

Many of the subterfuges referred to above are not confined to Tanzania of course but the paper then goes on further to describe also the changing nutritional, housing and transport patterns and even changes in mannerisms as employers and employees struggle to cope with the economic crisis.

Finally the author discusses the psychological and emotional consequences of all this. 81% of the interviewees said that they were worried about money and food all the time. Hardly surprisingly there was evidence of psychological exhaustion and a great deal of ‘withdrawal’ and apathy both at work and at home the latter being particularly serious.

In his conclusions the writer emphasises the number of external factors (eg: white elephant projects) which had caused the crisis and how the workers, who had worked without complaint during this period and never staged any major protest or strike should not be made to bear the biggest portion of the blame – DRB.

WHOSE TREES? A PEOPLE’S VIEW OF FORESTRY AID. Tanzanian Section – Learning from the Past? Christopher Mwalubandu, Anthony Ngaiza et al. Panos. 1991. £ 7.95.

The first part of this 40-page report, written in a journalistic style, describes a classical sequence of mismanagement in a tropical forest, but with a difference.

In 1977 aid from the Finnish organisation FINNIDA was supplied to the parastatal company Sikh Saw Mills (SSM) for heavy logging equipment and management to exploit a valuable timber resource in the East Usambara Forest Reserves, Although consultants Jaakko Poyry and EKONO were responsible for the inventory of utilisable timber and the monitoring of operations there were no proper controls enforced and no plans for restocking. Encroachment of the forest areas by land-hungry farmers increased as a result, and cultivation of unsuitable s lopes and unsuitable crops (cardamom) together with the construction of logging roads and heavy equipment on them, led to erosion and the silting of streams. All this affected the water supply for populations downstream, including Tanga, and caused irreversible destruction, not only to forest soils, but also to fauna and flora, some of which were unique to the Usambaras.

And the difference? In 1985, as a result of international criticism (the little African Violet played its part), FINNIDA were shamed into funding a survey to establish the exact species distribution in the area. This in turn produced the Amani Forestry Inventory and Management Plan (AFIMP) and in the following year SSM were stopped logging in the Usambara mountains. In 1988 FINNIDA started discussions on the East Usambara Catchment Forest Project (EUCF) which had as its aims: ‘the maintenance of essential ecological processes and biological resources for the people of Tanga region and the international community’ and ‘to allow the utilisation of forest related products by the local communities in a rational and sustainable manner’. FINNIDA was prepared to underwrite the project to the tune of US$23 million, with the Tanzanian Government contributing the salaries of their staff involved.

So far 50 good, but the second half of the report is taken up with describing the ‘can of worms’ that FINNIDA found themselves holding when trying to implement these very commendable objectives. In fact, it is not clear whether the new project had actually started work by the time the report went to press in 1991. The complications are too varied for comprehensive summary here but some of the main ones are:
– the villagers’ dependence on the crops and produce of the forest for their very meagre livelihood, and their demands (with the women’s demands presented separately) to be involved in the detailed planning;,
– the governments’ concern that a valuable timber resource should not be wasted, their need for the revenue and the pit sawers’ need for employment;
– the complications of surveying, demarcating and legislating for the Nature Reserves, Buffer Zones, Forest Reserves, Water Catchment Areas and Public Lands;
– the danger of duplication of effort and rivalry with a pilot project which has already worked with some success. This is the East Usambara Agricultural Development and Conservation Project, but it is generally known as the IUCN project (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources);
– accusations of lack of communication between the various parties concerned.

This is a very worthwhile report which pulls no punches on either side. The authors recognise the urgent need for a project like EUCF to be started now in order to reverse the deforestation of the Usambaras, but at the same time they ask the question ‘Conservation for Whom?’ with the quote from an old man – “You cannot think about conserving genetic resources when you have an empty stomach”. Though weighted on the side of the aid receiver, this report should be required reading for all those involved in the identification and appraisal of forestry and conservation projects in the Third World.
F. S. Dorward

A HISTORY OF AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGY. P Robertshaw (Ed) . James Currey. 1990. £15.95 THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY CARVED DOORS OF THE EAST AFRICAN COAST. Judith Aldrick. Azania. British Institute in Eastern Africa. Vol XXV. 1990. pages 1-20.

This article summarises the findings of research (which included the compilation of a photographic and descriptive catalogue of 100 doors in Zanzibar’s Stone Town) submitted to the University of Durham in 1998 for a M.Litt thesis.

The carved doors along the coast fall into several distinct styles, varying according to regional preferences, stylistic developments, status and prosperity. These doors can be catalogued into a rough dating sequence. Aldrick divides the doors into eight different styles, each clearly showing differences in construction method and in the details of their design and ornamentation.

Her Omani, Unframed, Gujerati and Zanzibar-style doors are found in Tanzania. The earliest dateable Omani style door comes from the gereza at Kilwa Kisiwani, with a date of 1807 or 1815. The doors’ styles develop variations through time which help to create a workable stylistic chronology for the nineteenth century. The stylistic origins of this type of door are found in the Persian Gulf.

Both Gujerati and Zanzibar-style doors are predominantly found in Zanzibar town. Originally imported from India, especially from Bombay, the Zanzibar style seems to have become popular because it was encouraged by the Sultans of Zanzibar in the 1880′ s.

The carved doors of the region also reflect changing trade patterns and prosperity. By the mid-nineteenth century the artistic influence of Yemen and the Red Sea declined as that of the Gulf and India grew. This period of prospering economy along the East African coast was reflected in the investment of the wealthy merchants in elaborate carved doors and new styles.
Alex Vines.

PENETRATION AND PROTEST IN TANZANIA. Isaria N Kimambo. James Currey/Tanzania Publishing House/Heinemann Kenya/Ohio University Press. 1991. £9.95. (Cloth £25.00)

It is convenient to summarise what this book is about. The first chapter ‘The Nature of Penetration: An Overview’ explains that “we know that the penetration of the capitalist trading system … was the main catalyst” and “from the second half of the nineteenth century to the end of the colonial period, the Pare people were in a continuous struggle for survival against the exploitive force of capitalism”.

The author describes Long-distance Trade, Imperialist Penetration, Peripheries of two distinct areas (North and South Pare) 1891-1928, Pare (Same) District 1928-47, including the Protests, Restoration of Production 1948-53 and Planning for Faster Capitalist Development 1953- 60. He concludes that “the colonial system had successfully created a ‘tribal’ unit for its own purpose”.

From the piece on the back cover of t he book you will also read that “These partial changes destroyed the Pare’s balanced subsistence structure” and “The colonial government tried to reverse the effects of the revolt without providing the kind of transformation desired by the peasants”.

As I was partly brought up in the “1066 and All That” historical school, it seems to me that the author clearly believes that Imperialism/Colonialism was BAD. It is not quite as clear whether capitalism was GOOD or BAD or, perhaps like the curate’s egg, good in parts.

This reminds me of Humpty Dumpty – “when I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”. Could the author explain what “peasantisation” means? Does ‘penetration’ mean complete force or only those parts he does not like?

To pursue this Imperialism/Colonialism matter it is useful to look at Paulo Mashambo, a non-violent leader during the MBIRU Popular Protest 1944-47, mainly about tax (a subject not unknown in England in 1991!) On page 102 we read “I memorised a lot of Bible verses which enabled me to find solutions to different problems … The Germans had a just rule. They could not allow loopholes… The Germans would punish the guilty but the British would free the guilty and punish the innocent”. It would have been interesting to get his biblical views on the similarities between the problems of the pre-capitalist Pare people and those of the garden of Eden; also between the Pare tribe and the wretched Ishmaelites who very rarely got anything right.

The whole chapter on Mbiru is import ant whether you agree or not with the authors’ view that “one can consider the action taken by the Pare peasants to have succeeded in achieving the intended results”.

However, some younger Pare people still consider that the tough action taken by the women in Usangi as the most heroic part of the protest. Is this perhaps why most of the illustrations in the book contain women and their traditional pots? (Apparently they did not think much of the modern wheel).

Less contentious are the Restoration Strategies 1947-53 described in chapter seven. They cover Local Government Reforms, Education as a Mobilising Tool including the Literacy Campaign, Community Development, Formal Education, Public Works especially Roads, Women’s Clubs and perhaps most important, Agricultural Production. These are covered in some detail and at least part are described as the Golden Years. But lest some should become too uppity, the author concludes “The colonialists achieved in this short period more than was planned – at minimal cost to themselves. It was a great achievement on the part of the Pare peasants”.

Equally interesting is the chapter dealing with Attempts to Plan for Development 1953-60 which includes the main points of the Smithyman (DC Pare) 5-Year Plan. This contained plans for Social Development, Development of Middle Pare, Road Systems and Surveys particularly irrigation soils, afforestation and the Pare Basin. Not surprisingly this ambitious plan was not entirely successful. For example,’ the local authority ‘ s effort to mechanise agriculture by buying a tractor, was disastrous. Worse still, they had to hire a capitalist contractor to do the job. The plan memorandum however was “a valuable document” says the author, but he adds that attempted implementation illustrates “the nature of peripheral capitalism under imperialism” if you can understand what this means.

There is much more in this book than I have covered in this review. Particularly one should have mentioned the crucial land shortage and over population, the dubious cooperatives, the sisal plantations, labour, the role of the Christian missions (not much is said about Islam) and so on.

The book has reminded me of some correspondence I had with Elspeth Huxley in which she wrote – “The problems of Africa are insoluble. That is why it is so fascinating”. So, although I cannot agree with Professor Kimambo’s opinions nor do I like his repetitive methodology, I admire his diligent research and references and I certainly enjoyed the nostalgia. I hope we will get another astringent book entitled perhaps “Freedom: Fantasy and Fact”.
B.J.J. Stubbings

LINGUISTIC STUDY OF THE NOVEL. S.A.K. Mlacha. Verlag Schreiber Publishers. Berlin. 1991.

This book examines lexical and grammatical patterning in Euphrase Kezilahabi’s 1975 novel Dunia Uwanja wa Fujo and the 1974 Kichwa Maji. In the first three chapters the author interprets frequency counts of various semantically-defined groups of verbs, and discusses how the writer uses these to portray the themes and characters of Dunia Uwanja wa Fujo and how they contribute to the structure of the novel.

The second half of the book explores the functions, both organisational and stylistic, of time and location ‘relaters’ (adverbials with a connective function in the narrative) and conjunctions. As in Chapters 1 – 3, frequency tables provide a point of departure for the analysis of patterns of use of particular linguistic items and the interpretation of their contribution to the novelist’ s purposes and overall style.

Much of the analysis is insightful and thought-provoking, and ought to provide interesting material for students of Swahili language and literature. The discussion raises a number of questions. In discussing the high frequency verb -fanya (‘Verbs of voluntary action’) Mlacha points out its importance in contributing to the theme of action, arising out of individual free will, which changes situations and feelings. He illustrates the latter with ‘Yote haya yalimfanya Anastasia asikitike badala ya furahi’ (‘ All these made Anastasia sorrowful rather than joyful’). Examples of this kind, ie. -fanya+verb, help to account for the relatively high incidence of -fanya, but this structure is only one of the ways in which coercian/causation is expressed in Swahili. Mlacha does not mention causative verbs, nor address the question of Kezilahabi’s choice of – fanya+verb eg. ‘ fanya … asikitike’ rather than verb with causative suffix eg ‘-sikitisha’. If use is made of causative verbs do they not also, like – fanya, contribute to the action and conflict themes discussed on pp 18 – 19?

Another query concerns the second part of the book. In the discussion (pp ’59 – 66 ) of ‘Time Relaters of Subsequence’ e.g. ‘baada’ , ‘halafu’, there is no mention of -ka- in the verb group as a marker of subsequence. Is this because Kezilahabi does not use this structure to mark the chaining of events or because the computer used for the frequency-count is not sensitive to bound morphemes? (It would also account for the lack of attention paid to the causative verb-suffix noted above). If, indeed, Kezilahabi makes little or no use of –ka it would have been useful to have had a comment on this.

It seems a pity to end on a carping note when so much valuable information is presented in this book. It is extremely irritating to read, not only because it is littered with a very large number of typographical errors, but because there are also serious shortcomings in the layout. For example, in Chapter 1, a group of verbs – I Verbs of Intellect’ – is presented and sub-divided into five sub-groups labelled A – E; with no new sub-heading of any kind, the text (p-16) goes from sub-group E to a completely new major verb-group – ‘Verbs of Volition’. Four sub-groups of volition verbs are listed, labelled G – J, at which point the reader turns back to hunt for sub-group F. Most of the Figures (actually frequency tables) are un-numbered, the third one in the book (pp 27-28) does get numbered – but, somewhat mysteriously – as 6.3. The heading for the ‘Place Definers’ frequency table is attached to the wrong table, ie. on p88 instead of p76. It is a great pity that the standard of proof-reading falls far below that of much of the content.
Joan Russell

JUST YOUR CUP OF TEA. BROOKE BOND IN MUFINDI. 1940-1990. Printed by Peramiho Printing Press.

Tom Brazier, Chairman of Brooke Bond Estates Group, expresses the hope in his Foreword that this 50th anniversary collection of stories will ensure that the achievements of all employees will not be forgotten. In fact such interesting technical and social history deserves a more comprehensive coverage than a mere 97-page paperback. Nevertheless, the ten authors involved have contributed 14 very well balanced short chapters which undoubtedly succeed in recreating for the reader a real flavour of the early days at Mufindi when life was both exciting and exacting.

The topics covered include the founding of the Mufindi Club in 1940, the Mufindi Rod and Gun Club in ’62, the building of St John’s Church which was dedicated by Archbishop Leonard Beecher in November ’60 and bird and plant life. In addition there is Colin Congdon’s hilarious ‘Nine Holes in Mufindi’ which he wrote for an earlier issue of this Bulletin.

Quite rightly, the major area covered is the development of 2,388 acres of semi-derelict tea which Brooke Bond took over from the Custodian of Enemy Property after he had confiscated the German-owned tea estates which in total covered 30,000 acres. Bert Dale recalls that in 1940 yields of made tea were as low as 143 Kgs per hectare. Rehabilitation was slow due to the unavailability of fertilisers and to the shortage of labour caused by the competing demands of the sisal barons.

Recruiters went as far afield as Ukinga in the Livingstone Mountains, 150 miles away as the crow flies; this meant that many men were taking six days to walk to Mufindi and for much of their journey their path was through man-eater country. George Rushby, who finally ended the 10-year reign of terror of the Njombe man-eating lions, wrote that the official figure of 800 reported deaths could easily be doubled as many deaths went un-reported!

By 1962, with the heavier use of fertilisers, especially nitrogen, yields had risen to 760 kg/ha. About this time herbicides were introduced enabling the twin problems of couch grass control and a spiralling wages bill to be overcome. The next breakthrough came in ’67 when Mike Carr conducted some very successful research into the water requirements of tea which resulted 1n a very substantial acreage being put under irrigation. This, combined with the use of compound fertilisers, gradually pushed up yields to reach a new peak of 2,500 kg/ha.

Like the line drawings (in Brooke Bond green ), anecdotes have been nicely scattered through the text showing that there was always room 1n a busy life for humour and sport . In the former category I like the extract from the office archives which reads:
1.4.58. The Assistant Company Secretary sent out a circular urging managers to indent for their wild oats immediately. Some responded! In November the Assistant Company Secretary left . On the sporting side I enjoyed picturing Bert Dal e coming down from Nairobi in 1940 already determined to build a golf course, and in anticipation, bearing a precious cargo, 1n those war time days, of s ix boxes of golf balls which he had winkled out of Craigs Sports House in Nairobi. The construction of the golf course was a labour of love with all the earth being moved by the headload. To fertilise the sites of the greens, ox dung was brought from Kinoga, 4 miles away, while t he second green received exceptional treatment; it was ploughed in a bed of bat guano which was carted from caves near Mbeya 180 miles away! All in all a delightful publication. If a pull-out map could have been inserted, so that some of the many place names could be located, this would have been an added bonus.
Geoffrey D. Wilkinson

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

ON SAFARI. IN THE STEPS OF BISHOP TREVOR HUDDLESTON. THE DIARY OF A JOURNEY TO MASASI. August/September 1991 by Eric James. Christian Action. £2.00.
A highly readable, very honest and lavishly illustrated 40- page booklet written by the person who is now preparing a biography of t he Bishop and who was looking for some background on which to base its Masasi chapter (the Bishop was there from 1960 to 1968). Bishop Huddleston has indicated, however, that he does not want his biography to be published while he is still alive.

THE CHURCH IN THE AFRICAN CITY by Aylward Shorter. Geoffrey Chapman. 152p. £9.95.
A useful, readable book, not only for I ts discussion of the church’s urban mission but also for its discussion of urban life. Examples are given from the author’s experiences while living in Tanzania and Kenya.

TANZANIAN JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES. Chief Editor – J. A.Ngasongwa. Development Studies Institute. Sokoine University of Agriculture. Vol 1. No 1. January 1991. Individuals $10 per copy . Institutions $20 each.
This ambitious first issue of a new publication contains 6 articles (on such subjects as the peasants, the story of community development in Tanzania and its present role, erosion hazard assessment, village afforestation and the psychology of property and work in Tanzania.

MONEY CREATION AND FI NANCIAL LIBERALISATION IN A SOCIALIST BANKING SYSTEM: TANZANIA 1983-88. Paul Collier (Oxford Univ) and Jan Willem Gunning (Free Univ, Amsterdam). World Development. Vol 19. No 5. 1991.
This highly technical 6-page article argues, inter alia that bank money used to finance the recurrent deficits of crop parastatals should properly be incorporated in government accounts and that there is a statistical equivalence between the total recurrent deficit so caused and the increase i n the money supply.

RELIGIOUS CHANGE IN A HAYA VILLAGE, TANZANIA. Journal of Religion in Africa. Vol XX !. Fasc 1. February 199 1.

THE WIDENING GYRE. THE TANZANIAN ONE-PARTY STATE AND POLI CY TOWARDS RURAL COOPERATIVES by Oda van Cranenburgh. Eburon, Delft, Holland, 1990. 245pp. Paperback.

THE EAST AFRICAN EXPERIENCE IN INTEGRATION. Conrad N. Nkut u. African Economic Digest. 12 August 1991, pages 4-5.
This article describes the collapse of the East African Community in 1977 and the reasons behind it. The article provides lessons which are highly topical as the heads of state of the three countries have now begun to talk seriously about reviving the community.

CONTRIBUTORS
Mr ZUL BHATIA was born in Dar es Salaam and currently works for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds at one of its nature reserves in the Scottish Highlands. He regularly visits Tanzania mainly to guide tourists round the National Parks.

Mr J. ROGER CARTER is Vice-Chairman of the UK Chapter of the Britain-Tanzania Society.

Mr FRANK S. DORWOOD OBE retired as Senior Forester with the Commonwealth Development Corporation after 32 years service eight of which were spent in Tanzania, mainly with Tanganyika Wattle Company. He has also visited Tanzania on forestry consultancies. He now lives in the Scottish Borders.

Mr PAUL A. ISBELL is a freelance writer based in Madrid. From 1986 to 1988 he completed a Masters Degree in Literature at the University of Dar es Salaam and is currently writing a book on the intellectual and artistic culture of the city.

Mr DALE POVENMIRE, who was formerly an American foreign affairs specialist, retired in 1986 and now lives in London. He was in Zanzibar in 1961-63.

Dr JOAN RUSSELL worked in Tanzania between 1957 and 1964, teaching at Bwiru, Butimba and Mpapwa. Since 1970 she has been Lecturer in Linguistics and Swahili at the University of York.

Mr B. J. J. STUBBINGS OBE has held many senior positions in Tanzania including District and Provincial Commissioner (in the then Northern Province) and Chairman of the Tanganyika Sisal Growers Association.

Mr ALEX VINES is the Africa Analyst for an international political risk consultancy. He has also worked as an archaeologist in Tanzania.

Mr GEOFFREY WILKINSON is a consultant in agricultural education. He served in the Agricultural Department in Zanzibar and Pemba in 1948-54.

Comments

LETTERS

ANOTHER COLONIAL MYTH?
I was intrigued and puzzled by the reference in Dr Thomas’ book review (Bulletin No 40) to Kiswahili being ‘still’ devalued in the last part of British rule. I would question the ‘still’, and indeed was not aware of it being devalued at all. At the time Kiswahili was the normal medium of instruction in primary schools; it was the language of the local and district courts, the language in which local bye-laws were framed (and subsequently translated into English for the benefit of a non-Swahili – speaking Judiciary and Legal Department), and was the language of the District Council debating chamber. It was incumbent on the expatriate officer to learn and use Kiswahili, not on the indigenous population to learn English.

This is not to say that there may not have been occasions on which pupils were punished for not speaking English. But this would have been for the purpose of improving English rather than devaluing Kiswahili in schools where English had become or was in the process of becoming – the medium of instruction, and, of course, the key to higher education. There was certainly no official policy of downgrading Kiswahili. We seem to have another ‘colonial myth’.

Dr Thomas also compared the teaching of Kiswahili with the teaching of Welsh. By way of comment may I add the following quotation from ‘The Age of Empire’ by E. J. Hobsbawm: ‘ The prohibition of the use of Welsh, or some local language or patois in the classroom, which left such traumatic traces in the memories of local scholars and intellectuals was due, not to some kind of totalitarian claims by the dominant state-nation, but almost certainly in the sincere belief that no education was possible except in the state language, and that the person who remained a monoglot would inevitably be handicapped as a citizen and in his or her professional prospects.
Donald Barton

AN OASIS
… The Bulletin remains an oasis of information in the middle of a British media desert.
Odhiambo Anacleti

USEFUL AND ORNAMENTAL PLANTS
I much enjoyed the article in Bulletin No 39 by R. O. Williams Jnr. especially as I was privileged to be working alongside ‘RO’ in 48/49 in Zanzibar. Ever since those days my copy of his book has always been near at hand for reference. ‘Useful and Ornamental Plants of Zanzibar and Pemba’ certainly merits a new edition because in many ways it provides a model layout which is especially helpful to the amateur. It opens with a very readable section on the structure and function of the different parts of plants and then goes on to list the ‘Useful Plants’ under headings which vary, for example, from the Cereals, Salads, Spices, Fruit, Nuts, Timbers, Medicinal plants, Fish poisons, Perfumes and Dyes to Water containers and Witchcraft plants. The next section provides a cleverly devised simplified flora or systematic guide to the reader in the identification of Ornamental Trees and Plants and this leads on to the main body of the book which, in alphabetical order (by botanical name) provides a description of each species that includes most interesting observations on where they occur and, when appropriate, their local usage.

The book is profusely illustrated with excellent line drawings and photographs. Above all, it succeeds in giving the reader that rare feeling of being given a real insight into the economic and ornamental botany of the Spice Islands and the teamwork, both national and expatriate that went into its 497 pages of compelling reading.
Geoffrey Wilkinson

Comments