‘I WAS ASTONISHED’ (So was I – Editor)
In the last number of the Tanzanian Bulletin, I was astonished to see on the ’50 Years Ago’ page, a parody of the ‘Ode to Autumn’, describing the Monsoon Season of the Tanzanian Coast. Yes! I remembered that I had written it all those years ago.
As I read it again, I had a vivid picture of a very solid, double-storied German Lutheran Mission building. With the outbreak of war and the internment of the Germens, this building had been taken over by the Government, and used as offices for the administration of Kiserawe District. The offices were on the ground floor, and steep wooden steps led from the wide verandah to the floor above, and this was our home for two years. We looked out on a level with the tops of many coconut palms, shining in the moonlight, and rustling eerily in the evening breeze. All water had to be fetched by porters from the wells in the valley below, and then carried up these steep steps.
The sanitation consisted of a large pit latrine, built a little way from the house. This ‘convenience’ was spacious with a long wooden seat with accommodation for three people simultaneously!
Of the local people, I remember the daily queues sitting on the ground outside the office, bringing their shauris to the ‘Boma’. But I also remember, when, once, during the wet season, my husband was confined upstairs for some weeks with sciatica, the many dignified visitors in their long robes , Arab and African, who came to see him, offering compassion and concern with great courtesy.
We did not often go to Dar es Salaam, 20 miles away, petrol rationing being then in force; but we frequently visited the U.M.C.A. mission at Minaki, 2 or 3 miles away, where in school and hospital Canon Gibbons and Dr. Mary Gibbon must have had a lasting influence for good.
They are good memories of a friendly people – 50 years ago!
I feel sure that some readers of the Bulletin who possess an Oxford Standard Swahil1-English Dictionary, as I do, will have written to you in connection with the first paragraph on page 2 of the May Bulletin (No. 42) , headed, ‘What is Mageuzi’ , and the translation you gave from the “Teach Yourself” dictionary. I agree that the word ‘fluctuations’ hardly fills the bill and I feel sure that the Inter-Territorial Language Committee, East African Dependencies would also agree on the inadequency of this word. In the event of your not having been informed of the Standard Swahili-English Dictionary translation, I quote it as given:
‘Geuzi’ – noun, plural ‘mageuzi’ – usually in the plural, that which causes change, alteration, shifting turn, transformation.
This to me would appear to be a more suitable translation for what is happening in Tanzania today.
Ronald W. Munns. Adelaide.
In your May issue you were looking for a suitable English translation for’ Mageuzi’; but surely it is itself a Swahili translation of the wellknown English ‘U-Turn?’ There is no mistaking what that means.
PUBLICATIONS BY POLITICAL PARTIES
One of the specialist activities of this Library is the collection of publications issued by political parties in Commonwealth countries. I note with some interest the contents of page 8 of the latest Bullet1n of Tanzanian Affairs where you list new political parties in Tanzania. Obtaining documents from such bodies is not easy, particularly as the parties often do not have postal addresses. Our TANU and CCM holdings are exceedingly modest and I am always seeking to improve them and extend the collection.
If any of you readers can help us in obtaining such documents or letting us know where they could be obtained I would be most grateful.
Patricia Lar by (Mrs), Librarian,
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
University of London
28 Russell Square , London WCIB 5DS
Like Don Barton (Bulletin No 41) I too was intrigued by Dr Thomas saying Kiswahili was ‘still’ being devalued at the end of British rule. I shall not enter the Welsh part of the debate but agree with all Mr Barton says about Swahili.
I would add one further comment. I found myself on safari from time to time with one of the Maryknoll Fathers. His Swahili was perhaps adequate but he had one great advantage over me in that he spoke the local tribal languages (of which there were a dozen or so in Musoma District) and he told me it was his mission’s policy to use the tribal languages (in the 50’s) rather than Swahili as that gave them immediate access to the woman and the home
THE TANZAM RAILWAY, THE WORLD BANK AND THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK The abbreviated version of my letter which you published in your May issue did not reflect one of the main points I wished to make. In the penultimate paragraph you used the word “we” without indicating who was represented by the word. (Indeed I was fully aware of the potential of the Port). The point I was trying to demonstrate was that, after consideration in Abidjan and Washington the two banks were sufficiently interested in the TANZAM project for the ADB to send the No 2 of the Bank for discussions in Nairobi (then headquarters of the railway services in East Africa), Dar es Salaam and Zambia. I was asked to accompany him and help him on the mission.
Sir James Farquharson