Compiled by John Budge and Michael Wzse
Helena JERMAN, Between Jive lines: the development of ethnicity in Tanzania, with special reference to the western Bagamoyo District Uppsala: Finnish Anthropological Society; Nordic Africa Institute, 1997. 360p. (Transactions of the Finnish Anthropological Society; no.38) ISBN 952-9573- 16-2, SEK 110.
This study is based on the area that lies inland from Bagamoyo. It forms the section of the greater Bagamoyo district that, more than the sea coast town itself, was subjected to and influenced by, the passage of representatives of differing cultures through the centuries. Not all of the slavers, propagators of religious belief, traders, and politicians merely passed through, leaving a detritus of ideas and physical tokens of their passage. Some, for whatever reason, tarried or settled, administered from distant urban centres; all had some significant impact. It is their successive impacts that are the subject of this interesting book.
It originated as the author’s thesis for her doctorate, and was based on oral as well as documentary evidence. The investigation dates from more than twenty years ago, and as such is to some extent a valuable historical record, pictorially and in the interviews with old people, of a society that has subsequently undergone further radical change; such has been the impact of the late twentieth century even on rural communities.
The five lines of the title were drawn in the sand by an elder in the course of describing his country’s development though many centuries. They symbolised, for him, the peoples who have confronted each other in the region. The author’s text is divided into sections that consider the pre-colonial period, which included most notably the islamisation of the coast, the development of the Waswahili ethnic identity, and powerful invasions such as the Ngoni and the Kamba. Then came the German period, and the widespread repercussions of the Maji Maji movement. The British period included the emergence of political associations, while the post-independence era has seen attempts at the integration of a national culture and controversial attitudes regarding the positiveness or otherwise of ethnic/tribal thinking.
The author’s list of sources used, or consulted in personal contacts is impressive. This is the outcome of systematic investigation over a period of years, and deserves consideration. It is also very readable.
John MILLARD, Never a dull moment: the autobiography of John Millard -administrator, soldier and farmer. Silent Books [1997?] 226p., ISBN 1 85183 096 0, 217.50. Obtainable from: Philippa Millard, 29 Gorst Road, London SW1l 6JB. U.K.
This is an apt title for the story of an all-rounder who enjoyed life to the full. A more sententious critic might categorise the book as a smug saga, but although a degree of self-satisfaction does emerge in its pages (as happens with many autobiographies) this would be far too harsh a verdict to make in this case.
The author writes from experience in many fields and countries and he must have taken great pains over the years to chronicle the incidents that provide the material for his narrative. In doing this he has achieved his aim of portraying both the highs and lows in various situations and careers. He describes these lucidly and entertainingly and with an easy style in which, inter alia, he makes light of adversity.
John’s account compares favourably, in my view, with several others I have read written by persons who served and farmed in the colonies, and he certainly captures the atmosphere of Africa. Although not a scholarly dissertation, he writes expansively and diversely, not confined only to African matters. His encounters during World War I1 in many theatres receive due comment and are interesting, as also his amusing description of his time in Whitehall at the Colonial Office, where he worked with the late Sir Ralph Furse (the renowned Director of Recruitment) on the selection of key personnel for the Post-war Colonial Service. Never a dull moment is not penned in official Government-type language nor is it weighed down by numerous appendices. Another plus, and so essential in a non-fiction book, is the efficient index of names and places.
Affection for his family is apparent throughout, and this is well illustrated by his sensitive handling of the effects of the serious and tragic riding accident sustained by his wife; Corinne. His love of the countryside, and for South Africa (where he was born), the United Kingdom and especially his wife’s homeland, Ireland, all figure prominently in his thoughts. His final philosophical words, written no doubt from his contented retirement base in Kenya state: “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today”.
N. O. Durdant Hollamby
Aili Maria TRIPP, Changing the rules: the politics of liberalisation and the urban informal economy in Tanzania. Berkeley: University of California Press, Berkeley, 1997. 289p., ISBN 0-520-20278-3, £13.95; US$ 18 (paperback)
It is the early 1980s. Forty passengers board a privately operated bus leaving Dar es Salaam. A police officer stops the bus because, although public transport is woefully inadequate, only government-owned buses are legal. The passengers, strangers to one-another, spontaneously become one big happy family, singing and ululating as though on the way to a wedding. The police give up; they cannot charge the driver of a wedding party.
That is but one of the many examples Aili Maria Tripp offers to convince the reader that the civil society – persons pursuing livelihood outside wage employment – strongly influenced government policies. Tripp’s approach is refreshing because the ordinary citizen is often seen as victim of inept or immoral government and/or international banking policies. The tale is too seldom told of collective survival skills -families getting roofs over their heads, beans on the table and shoes on the children.
The author of this book, the daughter of Lloyd and Marja-Liisa Swantz, did her schooling in Tanzania (1960-1974) and often accompanied her mother on research interviews. Between 1987 and 1994 she and a Tanzanian research assistant interviewed (in Kiswahili) nearly 300 residents of Manzese and Buguruni districts of Dar who were engaged in informal sector activities. They also interviewed ten-house cell leaders, party secretaries and chairmen and legal counsellors. The objective of the study was ‘to document the growth of new dimensions in Tanzania’s urban and informal economy in response to the economic crisis of the late 1970s and 1980’.
Tripp traces the employment-related history of Dar es Salaam, including the split between CCM and government in the mid-1980s. In 1970 just 4 per cent of wives living there were self-employed, but by the end of the 1980s, 69 per cent of women were self-employed. Because real wages fell by 83 per cent between 1974 and 1988, more than 90 per cent of household income came from the informal sector of the economy, where women, children and the elderly dominated. Most of them operated from their homes, a fact that leads Tripp to a strong condemnation of the oversight of the household economy in national accounts that intensifies the formidable nature of market restraints for the poor.
The survival strategies of women, children and the elderly form an innovative array. They sell maandazi and other pastries, fish, cassava, soup, rice, beer and soft drinks; they are tailors, and the better educated export horticultural products and organise secretarial services; they own shipping and receiving companies, private schools, flour mills. In Zanzibar alone, since the late 1980s, an estimated 10,000 women produce seaweed as a cash crop.
Some husbands -but not many -fear that their wives ‘will do well and leave me’, others simply say that their wives ‘make a few cents’ with their projects. But most men keep quiet after providing starting capital for their wives. Indeed! The average monthly income from making maandazi is 4.5 times the minimum salary in Dar.
Women have a good deal of autonomy today, and at least half of those interviewed by Tripp participate in savings societies (upato). Whether barely getting by or earning high incomes, they save money to pay for their children’s education, clothe them and build family houses. They are central to the family economy. In the words of the author: ‘People have drawn on their own resources and have come up with creative, flexible and viable solutions to the problem of survival under extreme duress’. In the process, they have often quietly defied the law, and government gradually gave in – often quietly as well – by easing restrictions and legalising informal economic activities.
Articles in Journals
Rita ABRAHAMSEN, The victory of popular forces or passive revolution7 A neo-Gramscian perspective on democratisation. Journal of modern African studies, 35 (1) 1997, p. 129-152.
Most scholars acknowledge the connection between the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the subsequent “democratic wave” in sub- Saharan Africa. This paper, by a journalist and PhD. candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Swansea, is primarily a perceptive study of overseas aid and its ramifications.
Aid policy during the Cold War was shaped by strategic-political considerations, and African leaders did not hesitate to play the two sides off against each other in order to attract foreign support. When it ended there was a substantive reduction of aid to Africa, especially for authoritarian regimes -as witnessed most recently in Zaire. The end of the cold war has been portrayed as a ‘moral release’ for the West because it allowed for the formulation of policies along more principled ethical lines, and resulted in the emergence of the ‘good governance’ agenda, and political conditionality.
While former communist states became successful competitors for Western aid, presenting new and lucrative investment opportunities, Africa’s share of economic assistance declined. At the same time the idea of one-pasty states was discredited and democratic thinking was encouraged – even Julius Nyerere was said to have conceded that Africa could learn “a lesson or two” from Eastern Europe.
Africa’s prolonged economic crisis also undermined the developmental ideology which underpinned the one-party state, as the capacity of states to meet the welfare needs of their citizens steadily deteriorated or collapsed altogether. At the same time corruption, mismanagement and human rights abuses persisted in what have been called ‘states without citizens’ – which exist only for themselves and their own beneficiaries, excluding the vast majority of the population. Popular protests became common among wide sections of the population, especially urban workers, trade unions and the middle classes, including students, teachers and civil servants.
Maintaining that countries do not exist in isolation, the author sees that in a world increasingly dominated by a global capitalist system, more and more decisions lie outside the control of the individual state. African regimes, increasingly reliant on overseas aid, consequent on poor credit ratings, had no alternative to dealing with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, described as “a de fact receiver to African governments”, and the effective governance of Africa was “gradually transferred from its official political leaders and former political organs to international financial institutions”.
Structural Adjustment policies, with their emphasis on privatisation, market efficiency, proper pricing policies, and so on, invariably lead to a dismantling or radical reduction of the economic and welfare role of the state. But so far, the author continues, “the miracle of the market” has failed to materialise, while the negative effects continue to mount. “Those few countries which have achieved some macro-economic stability have done so at the expense of growth, investment and human welfare”.
The emergence of pro-democracy movements could not be explained without reference to the widespread feeling of disillusionment and discontent arising from externally imposed austerity measures.
The author expresses the view that a liberal market democracy merely becomes complementary and supportive of goals aimed at expansion of the capitalist world economy. Some gains are achieved in terms of civil and human rights, “but the same elites are still in power and the same socio-economic arrangements persist”.
She concludes: “For those committed to change the message is perhaps that, in order to succeed, counter-hegemonic struggles must take place, not only at the national but also at the international level.”
Stein Sundstol ERIKSEN, Between a rock and a hardplace? Development planning in Tanzanian local governments. Third world planning review, 19(3) August 1997.
Laura FAIR, Clothing, class and gender in post-abolition Zanzibar. Journal of African history, 39, 1998, p.68-94.
From the dawn of civilisation – if not before – what people wore and how they wore it has been significant for the identification of class, status and power. In this interesting and detailed study Laura Fair shows that in Africa, and especially in Zanzibar, this subject is particularly meaningful because of the legacy of slavery and of the area’s specific geography.
She observes that with the abolition of slavery in 1897, former slaves began a “protracted multi-generational process of redefining their positions”. In the early part of this century they accounted for roughly three-fourths of the island’s population, and began identifying themselves as freeborn coastal Swahilis. “They had spent the greater part of their adult lives there, built their homes, planted their farms and watched both their children and their trees grow to maturity on Zanzibar’s rich soil.”
They abandoned clothing associated with their mainland heritage and adopted fashions which identified them first as Swahili and later as Zanzibar-is. As smallholders they became the main producers of the island’s two main exports -cloves and coconuts. Their increasing economic advance often came at the expense of the Omani aristocracy.
Clothing fashions and styles, as well as class and ethnic identities were dramatically remade. Freeborn children began adopting elements of free dress, particularly head coverings and shoes, which they had formerly been forbidden to wear, as well as creating new forms of dress. New markets for imported cloth were opened up, especially in towns, as consumerism was seized upon by former slaves “as a means of articulating their aspirations of upwards social mobility.” The makers and sellers of kangas were making a fortune from women who were said by many to be busily transforming their identities from those of slaves into “slaves of fashion”!
The adoption of Arab clothing was a common strategy, for the association of veiling and purdah with status and property was widespread in pre-colonial Muslim Africa.. After the First World War, women who covered themselves from head to foot with a buibui were publicly demonstrating that they were worthy of respect. Asked why women began to wear the buibui instead of a kanga, a respondent suggested : “It covered you completely, rather than simply covering your head, and was therefore a sign of respect for yourself, your parents and Islam.” It signified that they were “women of dignity and rank and more worthy of respect.”
The author adds significantly: “While the buibui reflected a growing ideology of spiritual equality among East African Muslims, it nonetheless allowed Zanzibari women a freedom to express and debate hierarchicies rooted in more material bases.”
She concludes: “Throughout history and across the globe, men and women have consciously manipulated their material world in order to fabricate their identities physically, and differentiate themselves from others… Covering their heads and bodies was one of the first public demonstrations that formerly servile men and women made of their freedom.” Intrigued by the power of drawings and photographs to act as historical sources, the author effectively utilises such evidence as an integral part of the discussion and text.
Susan GEIGER, Tanganyika nationalism as ‘Women’s Work’; life histories, collective biography and changing historiography. Journal of African history, 37(3) 1996, p.465-479.
Outstanding and exceptional personalities, almost invariably male, are all too often assumed to be the prime instigators and leaders of revolutionary and anti-colonial movements.
After independence, for example, Nyerere was known as “Father of the People”, and the inspiration provided by the masses was generally ignored by historians. These unchronicled individuals were generally presumed to be men, but in this study Susan Geiger, of the University of Missesota, claims that nationalism in Tanzania was largely the creation of women.
Bibi Titi Mohammed, the only TANU leader besides Nyerere whose name was known throughout the country at the time of independence, went from being the lead singer in a popular Dar es Salaam group called ‘Bomba’ to being head of the women’s section of TANU in 1955, and was responsible for enrolling 5,000 women members in a period of three months.
Susan Geiger suggests that the women activists, who constituted a substantial majority of TANU’s card-carrying members, did not learn nationalism from Nyerere or TANU; rather they brought to TANU and to political party activism an ethos of nationalism already present as a “trans- ethnic trans-tribal social and cultural identity”, expressed collectively in their dance and other organisations, and reflected in their families of origin as well as in marriages that frequently crossed ethnic lines. They “evoked, created and performed the nationalism that Nyerere needed to make TANU a credible and successful nationalist movement.”
Open to all who wished to join them, urban women’s dance groups provided newcomers to urban life with entry into “a social and cultural world in which Swahili was the language of song and conversation.”
TANU also benefited from the appeal of uniformed members of the party’s women’s section and of the choirs and youth league, with their many women members, chiefly constituting the party faithful. “Performance and signification produced nationalism in Tanzania as surely as Nyerere’s speeches.”
The writer concludes that nationalism was significantly the work of thousands of women whose lives and associations reflected trans-tribal ties and affiliations, and who thought of Nyerere not so much as father of the people as the son of the people!
Bruce HEILMAN, A social movement for African capitalism? A comparison of business associations in two African cities, by Bruce Heilman and John Lucas. African studies review 40 (2) September 1997, p. 141-17 1.
A comparative study of Kano, in Northern Nigeria, and Dar es Salaam.
FAREWELL to farms: de-agrarianisation and employment in Africa; edited by Deborah Fahy Bryceson and Vali Jamal. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 1997. 277p., ISBN 18014 193 X, 516.50.
This collection of essays by various authors is a continent wide survey, which considers the topic of whether Africa’s future is necessarily rooted in peasant agriculture. The term ‘de-agrarianisation’ embraces the actuality of urban migration, and the expansion into rural areas of non-agricultural activities which provide income for those who live there; thus accelerating a move away from reliance on agriculture by rural people.
The name Bryceson is familiar to many Tanzania-philes, and the book includes a study of the rural informal sector in Tanzania, as well as several chapters of general scope, such as rural industries, and labour diversification in rural areas, which take into consideration the Tanzanian factor,
K. GUILANPOUR, A systematic review of Tanzanian environmental impact statements, by K. Guilanpour and W.R. Sheate. Project apppraisal, 12 (3) September 1997, p. 138-150.
Daniel KOBB, Measuring informal sector incomes in Tanzania: some constraints to cost-benefit analysis. Small enterprise development, 8 (4) December 1997, p.40-48.
LAND degradation in Tanzania: perception from the village, by Alemneh Dejene and others. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1997. 92p. (World Bank Technical paper; no.370) ISBN 0-8213-3993-1) US$20.
Charles LANE, Tanzania – uncertain future for the Maasai of Ngorongoro. Indigenous affairs, no.314, July-December 1997, p.4-7.
Garth MYERS, Localising Agenda 21: environmental sustainability and Zanzibari urbanisation, by Garth A. Myers and Makarne A.H. Muhajir. Third world planning review, 19 (4) 1997, p.367-384.
P.K.G.M. NDYETABULA, The use of soil information in Tanzania. PhD.
thesis, University of East Anglia, 1995.
Stephen J. NORTH, Europeans in British administered East Africa: a provisional list 1889 to 1903. Wantage: The Author (22 Belmont, Wantage, OX12 9AS, U.K.), 1995. ISBN 0-9524754-0-5, £37.
A loose-leaf compilation of information which the author has already supplemented, and intends to continue as more information comes to light. This useful and unusual handbook follows work previously undertaken by Donald Simpson at the Royal Commonwealth Society, Mary Gillet of Kenya, and others. The informative entries aim to provide for each individual: full name, dates of birth and death, date of arrival in East Africa, nationality, profession, and chronological account of the person’s career in East Africa.
Robert PINKNEY, Democracy and dictatorship in Ghana and Tanzania. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997. 240p., ISBN 0-333-63 175-7, £40.
In examination of the evolution of democracy in the two countries, the author looks at the balance of forces between governments and campaigners for pluralist democracy, and at the outcomes that emerged.
Severine M. RUGUMANU, Lethal aid: the illusion of socialism and self- reliance in Tanzania. Lawrenceville, N.J.: Red Sea Press, [1997?] 256p., ISBN 0-86543-513-8, US$21.95 (paperback)
Peter R. SCHMIDT, Iron technology in East Africa: symbolism, science and archaeology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, [1997?] 400p. US$19.95.
Peter R. Schmidt, The tree of iron. Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
A 60 minute video. Has been welcomed for being one of the few films which document archaeological work in sub-Saharan Africa. In dealing with African iron smelting it presents convincing evidence of early indigenous technologies far more sophisticated than anyone had previously suspected. The video is described as being skilfully crafted and often beautiful to watch.
SUPPORTING women groups in Tanzania through credit: is this a strategy for empowerment? By Dorthe von Bulow and others. Copenhagen: Centre for Development Research, 1995. 14p. (CDR working paper; no.95.10)
Corinne Natalie Cox WHITAKER, The Impact of women’s participation in an income-generation program in south-western Tanzania. PhD. thesis, Johns Hopkins University (USA), 1996.
In issue no.58, September -December 1997 we published an enthusiastic review of Laura Sykes’ attractive guide, Dar es Salaam: a dozen drives around the city. It went with us when I revisited Dar with my wife earlier this year. As former residents we felt it would probably be useful in locating areas and buildings of interest after an interval of almost thirty years. We used it as a point of reference as we moved around once familiar districts, and explored new sectors of the huge conurbation that has developed since we lived there. This is a strong commendation of the work of Mrs. Sykes and her co-author, Uma Waide. They have produced a guide that need not be followed faithfully, but can add a great deal to any visitor’s enjoyment of Dar, which is such an interesting, lively and relaxing city -by contrast to the rough hustle into which Nairobi has descended.
From time to time we publish reviews of more general guides. Let me recommend, for the same reason of having actually used it, Michael HODD, East Africa handbook, with Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. 4th ed. Bath: Footprint Handbooks, 1997. 864p., TSBN l 900949 06 7, 214.99. It provides, as far as we needed, accurate and up to date information about what the average traveller requires: what to see, where to stay and eat; how to move around each locality; and most important, provides unexpected sections of relevant and very interesting background information when appropriate. We travelled very happily, following our own instincts and with reference when necessary to this guidebook, through Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. Full marks to Footprint!