BOOK REVIEWS

In the last issue an appeal was made for help in reviewing books. Many thanks to the six persons who responded. From the next issue, book reviews will be organised by Michael Wise who will be helped by John Budge especially on article reviews. Michael Wise was at the Library of the University of Dar es Salaam from 1962, shortly after its establishment, until 1969 and has maintained contact with Tanzanian colleagues in the library profession throughout subsequent years. He has also worked in Library Science in Nigeria. He can be contacted at Fronhaul, Llandre, Bow Street, Ceredigion SY24 5AB. Tel: 01970 823351. John Budge has begun reviewing articles in this issue. He has been a journalist for many years and was Lecturer in English and Social Studies at Dar es Salaam Technical College from 1966 to 1970. For the following two years he was Journalist Training Officer at the Dar es Salaam ‘Daily News’. Thomas Ofcansky in Washington DC has also kindly offered to keep TA informed about new US publications on Tanzania – Editor.

BEYOND CAPITALISM VS SOCIALISM IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. Ed: Joel
D Barkan. Lynne Reinner Publishers. 293 pages. 1994.

This is an important book. There is very much in it which is instructive and it incorporates valuable statistical information to back up the arguments in eight generally well written articles. Perhaps inevitably, the articles do vary in quality, although most show evidence of good background knowledge and research. However, the considerable political bias of almost all the articles (and especially of the editor’s) needs to be recognised and borne in mind. Unfortunately, while each author (or group of authors) draws conclusions on the basis of just one aspect of the two nations’ development, there is none which looks at the total effect of their different policies on the lives of their peoples.

But perhaps this is to complain about something which was never intended. The first article, by the editor, sets out what appears to be the real purpose of the book – to present the argument that despite different policies in the past, both countries are now seeking to become some kind of capitalist economy and society – which (two years after the book was published) it is possible that the new government in Tanzania might dispute!
Nonetheless, this book could be very helpful to those concerned about, or having responsibility for shaping the future of Tanzania and East Africa generally. Much of its factual information is a painful but useful education for those who try, without full knowledge, to defend the policies of ujamaa na kujitegemea against allegations that they were an an unmitigated disaster for Tanzania in practice. Thus, valuable lessons about avoidable mistakes can be learned by socialists and others generally concerned for the well-being of the commonality of people; at the same time, factual ammunition is provided for anti-socialists! This book deserves to be read.

True as I believe that statement to be, the book would have been more helpful if its underlying and guiding assumption had not been along the lines that both Kenya and Tanzania made a mess of things in their different ways, but both have ‘seen the light’ and are in the process of reform. Even so, acknowledging the advantages of hindsight, and the paucity of educated and trained citizens in the 1960’s, might have been appropriate. Nor was it enough to mention only once or twice – and in passing – the important differences between the two neighbours.

The economic geographies of Kenya and Tanzania are and always were very different. There was considerable difference in the levels of human, infrastructural and industrial development which the newly independent governments inherited. And the dissimilar political configurations of the early postindependence administrations resulting from those facts, together with the different pre-independence policies of the colonial power in the two countries, had clear relevance to the success or otherwise of the policies they adopted after independence.

Further, it is only in the final article that the book really takes any account of the effects of external events on the development of the two countries. That, however – except for the instructive sections dealing with the IMF/World Bank as well as their operating tactics – is the weakest of the eight articles. The author’s experience is in international economics and the US State Department, but he has written also on political matters without sufficient research or care. For example, he refers at one point to the ‘low key approach to foreign policy’ by both countries from independence to the mid 1970’s; this is an astounding statement in the light of Tanzanian policies during those years. He also talks on page 237 of a Tanzanian ‘initiative’ in invading Uganda in January 1979, while on page 245, talking about the aftermath of October 1978 when ‘Amen’s forces invaded and occupied the Kagera salient. .. declaring it to be part of Uganda’!

Despite such irritations, the book is thought provoking and worthwhile. The article on the Politics of Agricultural Policy by M Lofchie, for example, is well written, well argued and factually supported: its being presented solely in economic terms, divorced from the countries’ stated social and political objectives, is probably the result of the brief given by the editor. It should be noted, however, that the author’s assertions of political and budgetary bias in Tanzania appear to be contrary to the conclusions of the article on urban policy by R Stern, M Halfani and Joyce Malombe.

The article on Education is also extremely important, albeit the participation of three authors (B Cooksey, D Court and B Mkau) is noticeable and perhaps accounts for its unevenness. The most recent figures given, for the time of writing, are frightening. This is especially true for Tanzania, where it is asserted that the primary school enrolment now covers only 50% of the children of the relevant age group; that is about the percentage in 1961. The article also gives evidence of a collapse (and in the past ten years even of abandonment) of endeavours to equalise educational opportunities among regions and among all income groups and religions. The dangers of this for a country committed to the principles of equality and justice and to safeguarding national stability, are very clear: they are recognised by the authors. It seems rather odd, therefore, that their conclusion should include the statement that ‘pluralistic politics and market economics are the two most important factors’ offering hope for ‘further educational decline being arrested’!

But despite all possible criticisms, the information and arguments of this book need to be studied and learned from. It is a pity therefore, that its price is high (more than £25 in UK) and that its print is so small and light that it is quite difficult for anyone with imperfect sight to read. Perhaps a Tanzanian publisher might be able to consider applying for permission to reprint – assuming that the authors would be willing to forego royalties for the purpose?
Joan E Wicken

THE DETERMINANTS OF INFANT AND CHILD MORTALITY IN TANZANIA. A J Mturi and S Curtis. Oxford University Press.

In contrast with other developing countries, infant and child mortality in Tanzania after independence did not vary in accordance with the relative wealth or poverty of the parents. In demographic jargon there was ‘a unique lack of socioeconomic differentials’. Searching for a reason the authors concluded that it was due to the country’s post-independence development strategy, which began in 1967 with the ‘radical shift’ in policy when the government ‘changed the capitalist oriented development it had inherited to a socialist, centrally planned economy’ with special emphasis on rural concerns. Although communal production was disappointingly low ‘notable success’ was achieved in the provision of education, health and water supply to the villages. Another surprising consequence of their research is the importance they place on the presence in the household of a radio, ‘relatively widely used and valued in almost all parts of Tanzania’. They claim that it acted as an ‘economic indicator’ which in turn was likely to influence access to health services and the ability to provide adequate nutrition for the children’. They link this with the ‘enlightened education policy’ which, from the mid-1970’s resulted in Tanzania’s efforts and achievements in adult literacy being ‘lauded the world over and recommended as a model for developing countries’.

The authors believe, however, that in the process of building up and maintaining the rural health system, urban health services were neglected, especially in the provision of adequate staff, particularly nurses. The mortality levels in the coastal region, including Dar es Salaam, are among the highest in the country.

They conclude that although Tanzania’s child survival patterns may be different from those in other countries because of its development approach, infant and child mortality remain too high; they add: ‘It is difficult to predict the future due to the recent changes in policies and economic hardship among the people.’ John Budge

ADVENTURES IN EDUCATION. Bernard de Bunsen. Publisher: Titus Wilson, Kendal. 153 pages.

This book is a personal document written with informality of style. Although, in places, de Bunsen’s own feelings and reactions shine through, it is other people who loom large in his account of his life, written almost as though he was no more than an interested observer of the achievements of others.

de Bunsen writes about education in Britain, Palestine, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal and, of course, Makerere in Uganda where he went to make this institution of higher learning into a University College. It is surprising to read that the letter of appointment to the principalship of Makerere was written by himself. de Bunsen writes about the difficulty of dealing with people at the College who did not want change, in making it autonomous, in seeing subjects and the college itself though African rather than British eyes, and about problems with the Art School and in the introduction of social studies.

The author then involves himself in the genesis of the University of East Africa and talks at length on the stages culminating in its beginning. Avoidance of unreasonable duplication and maintenance of common standards in the region were the factors that gave rise to the University. Politics, kept away from the British mode of education, was glaringly present in the East African countries. To the politicians the Africanization of important posts went a long way to speak of freedom of the black man. But Africanization of the content of education was being implemented very, very slowly. The University, a recipient of government funds, cannot sequester itself from the state. This was made very clear in Tanzania by the appointment of a ruling cadre , Pius Msekwa, as the Vice-Chancellor of the University.

It is advisable to read de Bunsen’s book and see the transitory nature of Man’s activities. The author himself writes: ‘….the most humanly absorbing job a man could be given, in the centre of a community, is transformation’. I believe that Prof. Geoffrey Mmari of the Open University knows better. Like de Bunsen he has been at the centre of Tanzania higher education transformation for decades. He owes the state a book of the calibre of ‘Adventures in Education1. It is a challenge directed at him to show us that we have our own de Bunsen’s in our midst. Edwin Semzaba

EXPERIENCE OF WOMEN IN TANZANIA. THE RIGHT TO ORGANISE AS THE MOTHER OF ALL RIGHTS. Nakazael Tenga and Chris Maina Peter. Cambridge University Journal of Modern African Studies. 34 1 (1966) 19 pages.

Nyerere’s declaration that “women in the villages work harder than anyone else in Tanzania but the men are on leave for half their lives” is at the heart of this excellent study. Nakaziel Tenga is a Dar es Salaam advocate and Chris Peter is Head of the International Law Department at Dar es Salaam University.

Women have always been a formidable force in Tanzania and after independence it soon became clear that although politics may have been traditionally regarded as a man’s domain, mothers, wives and daughters could not be ignored. The radicalism of TANU, the ruling party, appealed to a lot of women, not least to those who were Muslims active in the ngoma dance groups that characterised the highly-organised lelemama societies.

Nyerere ensured that TANU’s first constitution provided for a women’s section and that their leaders occupied various positions in the government. The authors mention that in several less tolerant communities, such as Bukoba, the women’s sections were closed down by the men, and in others women were only invited to take part when there was work to be done! When a single national organisation Umoja wa Wanawake wa Tanganyika (UWT) was set up Bibi Titi became the first chairman, with Kanasia Mtenga as her deputy and President Nyerere as patron. When later amalgamated with Zanzibar’s Afro-Shirazi party it became Jumuiya ya Wanawake wa Tanzania. To all intents and purposes a branch of the government in a one-party state dominated by men, it nevertheless managed to record some positive achievements. The authors state that it played a part in burying for ever the colonial myth that African marriage was equated with ‘wife purchase’; the 1971 Law of Marriage Act combined all forms of marriage in ways that comfortably accommodated Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others. There was powerful support from the judiciary in reforming the divorce and custody laws and an old lady in Bukoba, who took her husband to court over land inherited under her father’s will, is aid to have caused a judge to comment that “it had taken a simple old rural woman to champion the cause of women, not the elite women in town who chant jejeune slogans years on end on women’s lib without delivering the goods”.

Another judge was said to have decreed that domestic chores, looking after a home and bringing up children were valuable contributions which had to be taken into account when considering family assets which might be the subject of division if the marriage were dissolved.

During the marriage law debate the authors report that there were complaints that men were losing long-established customary rights and one parliamentarian pronounced that if a man had to get his wife’s consent to a second marriage the African tradition “where a man has always been superior to a womant” would be endangered.
The UWT was also in the forefront of the struggle to change
labour laws so that all working women would receive paid maternity leave and not just those who were married, and to ensure that young women were equally entitled as men to university entry.

Things changed with the introduction of the multi-party system in 1992 when the UWT’s affiliation to the CCM meant that it no longer spoke for all women, so a women’s council, the Baraza la Wanawake Tanzania (Bawatu) was set up. The new constitution continues to acknowledge the marginalisation of women by reserving a number of special seats for them in the National Assembly, but the authors acknowledge that, although women are no longer taken for granted, ‘a great deal of progress needs to be made.
John Budge

MIRADI BUBU YA WAZALENDO. (THE INVISIBLE ENTERPRISE OF THE PATRIOTS). Gabriel Ruhumbika. Tanzania Publishing House. 1995. 168 pages.

When the history of Tanzanian literature of the 20th century comes to be written, the small islands of Ukerewe in Lake Victoria will hold a place of honour quite out of proportion to their size and economic significance. For these islands have produced some of the most significant authors of the century, notably Aniceti Kitereza (1896-1981); E Kezilahabi, who pioneered the ‘free verse’ forms of Kiswahili poetry and introduced the critical realist novel into Kiswahili fiction; E Musiba, whose significance lies in the direction of ‘popular’ fiction; and now, Gabriel Ruhumbika. They all, except Musiba, belong to the Abasilanga clan, the traditional ruling family of Ukererewe.

Miradi Bubu is a sweeping and chilling tale covering 50 hectic years of Tanzania’s recent history i.e. the 1930’s to 1980’s. This is the first Swahili novel to portray this period of drastic socioeconomic changes and struggles. It is an attempt to recapture history as experienced by the various social forces – the rural proletarians, the ordinary office workers, the women, the youth and the nascent state bourgeoisie.

The novel’s structure is based on a simple narrative principle: that of parallel life profiles. Characters include Saidi, a government messenger who becomes a chief messenger; Nzoka, the up-start who benefits from the post-independence Africanization policy who becomes a parastatal executive, a tycoon and a polygamist into the bargain; and Munubi, a rural proletarian-cum-overseer whose yearning for justice eventually lands him at the gallows. Others who interact with them include politicians such as Julius Nyerere, white settlers such as Tumbo Tumbo, Indian shopkeepers, women petty traders such as Mama Ntwara, office girls, the wives, children and grandchildren of the main characters.

Miradi Bubu is not the kind of novel that one reads for mere entertainment or sheer excitement. Although it does have some humorous bits, the novel is, on the whole, serious business that demands some intellectual effort from the reader. It starts at a slow, leisurely pace, but manages to pick up momentum as we enter the exciting sixties, the frustrating seventies and the desperate eighties. At the end, the reader is left angry and depressed, critically reflecting on our chequered history and our inhuman condition.
M. M. Mulokozi

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL PARTIES IN TANZANIA (AFTER THE 1995 ELECTIONS). FACTS AND FIGURES. Max Mmuya. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. (In English and Swahili). 44 pages plus 32 pages of maps, pie charts and tables. 1996. Shs 5,000. This extremely useful guide is what it says it is – a publication filled with facts and figures on the political parties, the structure of the two governments and parliaments and related institutions. It also includes a brave attempt at the difficult task of identifying policy differences between the parties. One criticism – its very detailed analysis of the election results in 1995 is based on the regions. How much more useful it would have been if it had been based on parliamentary constituencies. Its summing up of the kind of people which the policy of each of the main parties appeals to, could form the subject of many debates. Highly recommended – DRB.

60 YEARS IN EAST AFRICA: LIFE OF A SETTLER 1926-1986. Werner Voigt. General Store Publishing House, 1 Main St. Burnstown, Ontario, Canada KOJ IGO. 1995. 178 pp. Canadian dollars 24.95. The author, a German, was a settler initially in Deutsch Ost- Afrika and then Tanganyika. He worked on numerous plantations during his career. His memoirs, which are largely impressionistic, nevertheless provide an important insight into this period of Tanzania’s history. The book is illustrated by numerous photographs. (Thank you Thomas Ofcansky for letting us have this notice – Editor).

DONOR INTERVENTIONS IN TANZANIA 1989-94. A Report by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) in Dar es Salaam. 1996. This fact and figure-filled report analyses in great detail donor aid by region and by donor. It shows how overall aid flows are shrinking and how Mbeya Region, for example, has had most aid and Singida Region has had least during the years covered.

TRAWLING FOR TROUBLE. B S Sekento. African Farming. Jan/Feb 1996. 2 pages. Overfishing, weeds and ecological changes are threatening Lake Victoria; but this article lacks statistical information.

ROTATIONAL WOODLOTS FOR SOIL CONSERVATION, WOOD AND FODDER. R Otsyma, S Minae and P Cooper. Tanzania-ICRAF Agro-forestry Project in Shinyanga and the Southern Africa Development Community Project in Tumbi Tabora. In the coastal and western regions of Tanzania, where deforestation has been acute, farmers have to travel up to 15 kms in search of firewood and poles for construction. Many are using animal dung and crop residues for fuel, which means that valuable soil nutrients are going up in smoke. Pressure on land leads to long fallow periods giving way to intensive but short-duration fallows and even to continuous cropping affordable by small-scale farmers which do not provide the benefits that come with traditional fallows. The authors look at ways of reintroducing trees into existing crop and shrub land, in the form of ‘rotational woodlots’ established by villagers mobilised by local organisations such as women’s and youth groups – JB.

SOIL FERTILITY DECLINE UNDER SISAL CULTIVATION IN TANZANIA.
A E Hartemink. Technical Paper No 28. International Soil Reference and Information Centre, Wageningen. 1995. 67 pages. The dramatic decline of the sisal crop in the first few years of independence is statistically presented. When attempts were made to revive the industry in the late 1980,s little notice was taken of soil fertility problems despite the evidence. The author recommends an intensive production system including the application of sisal waste and the use of legumes and fertilisers – JB.

BRIDGING THE ‘MACRO-MICRO’ DIVIDE IN POLICY-ORIENTED RESEARCH: TWO AFRICAN EXPERIENCES. David Booth. Development in Practice. (15) 4. November 1995. A discussion about how to combine rapid-appraisal methods with inputs from more conventional styles of research. Case studies are taken from Tanzania and Zambia.

COMPARISON OF PRIVATISATION ECONOMIES OF EASTERN AFRICA AND EASTERN EUROPE. Jean M Due and Stephen C Schmidt. African Development Review. Vol. 7. No 1. June 1995.

ASSESSING HEALTH OPPORTUNITIES: A COURSE ON MULTI-SECTORAL PLANNING. M H Birley and others. World Health Forum. Vol. 16. No 4. 1995. An account of a type of planning, tested in Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, which can yield major benefits for health, especially in water resource development projects.

1 Comment »

  1. Tanzanian Affairs » LETTERS said,

    October 3, 2010 at 9:20 am

    […] VERSUS SOCIALISM Joan Wicken (TA No. 55) complains about the price (£25) of Joel Barkan’ s ‘Beyond Capitalism vs Socialism in […]

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