EAST AFRICAN EXPRESSIONS OF CHRISTIANITY. Thomas SPEAR and Isaria KIMAMBO Oxford: James Currey 1999. 340pp., ISBN 0-85255758-2. £40.00 cloth; £14.95 paper.
‘From the perspective of the world system, Tanzania is poor, insignificant and marginal, a fact reinforced daily by the mass media.’ Yet in the eyes of Father Felician Nkwera of the Marian Faith Healing Ministry in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is a ‘Chosen Nation’, dedicated to the Queen of Peace by Pope John XXIII (on Independence Day 1961, coinciding with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception), the ‘Star of Africa’ and the liberator of Southern Africa. So write Christopher Comoro and John Sivalon in this new volume of essays by academics, mainly historians and anthropologists.
Such evidence of spiritual revival, combined with a typically African concern for the physical as much as the spiritual, and for justice as much as piety, pervades this book. It accounts for the confidence of East African Christian leaders today and calls in question the Western secular habit of ignoring the phenomenal growth of Christianity on the African continent. ‘Christianity is no longer an exotic transplant, but is deeply embedded in everyday thoughts and expressions.’ Religion may be regarded as politically incorrect by many who offer their services sacrificially to help Africa, but this view is little understood by Africans.
The essays are divided into seven topical sections, each of which begins with a short analysis of the theses presented. Most essays conclude with a summary of their chief arguments. There is no attempt at a historical coverage, but the sharply localised foci of the essays are dramatic illustrations of the adoption and inculturation of the Christian message by East Africans over the last 120 years.
The most readable contributions come from the pens of Tanzanians. Anza Lema offers a fascinating account of Chaga traditional religion and the Chaga response to the early Lutheran missionaries who showed little interest in their deeply theistic religion. Bruno Gutmann was one of only a few exceptions -the story of his conflict with his colleagues would have made an interesting appendix -but make no mistake, African evangelists are the real heroes of the story, and of this book.
Cuthbert Omari traces the story of the very recent bitter and bloody conflict on Mount Meru within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania -unedifying perhaps, but needing to be heeded by all the Churches if local sectarianism, now appearing disconcertingly often, is not to undermine the universal brotherhood of the gospel. Ecumenical brotherhood is much in evidence in Josiah Mhalagwa’s essay, focussed chiefly on Dar es Salaam, about the spiritual revivals which have been such an East African feature for at least sixty years. They continue today in garb more distinctively African than ever before, tending to be orthodox in doctrine and pentecostal in spirituality.
The growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Ugogo and their relations with CMS Anglicans are traced by Gregory Maddox. Many (but not all) missionaries, Catholic and Protestant alike, ‘did not trust Africans to be true Christians’ -a fault which the famous Anglican missiologist, Roland Allen, tirelessly exposed from 1910 until his death in 1947. The ultimate irony, however, is that those Africans ‘began earnestly to enquire into the Christian Scriptures they had been given to see where the missionaries had misunderstood the gospel … and in turn insisted that missionary attitudes should be scrutinized in its revealing light.’ They still do, as Lambeth and Vatican Conferences have recently shown. Lamin Sanneh, the West African theologian, is frequently quoted to show how throughout Africa it is the Christ of the Scriptures who is the test of faith and practice.
Other essays focus on the origins of Catholic and Lutheran congregations in Ufipa and Uzaramo. These local and particular studies of African reception and reinterpretation of the faith enable us better to appreciate broader, more systematic histories like that of Elizabeth Isichei (SPCK) -and also suggest that it may be high time for the direction of the old missionary traffic to be put into reverse in the interests of the reevangelisation of Europe.
TANZANIA: PORTRAIT OF A NATION. Photographs by Paul JoynsonHicks. Quiller Press. 1998. (Tel: 4996529) 304 pages. £28.00
This is a beauty. Hundreds of colour photographs from the camera of a 27-year old highly skilled British freelance photographer who spent two years on the job and travelled 25,000 miles throughout the country. This book is unlike other Tanzanian tourist travel books. It is Tanzania as a whole and Tanzania as it is now. The book does not devote itself largely to wildlife as most such books do although there are scores of beautiful pictures from the less well known game parks as well as from the Serengeti. Pictures of the Maasai are few; pictures of other Tanzanians are many. There is little on traditional musical instruments and traditional dancing. But, unlike other such books, this one has pictures from every region of the country. The author is interested in places and people and their way of life. Have you ever seen pictures of the miner in Chunya, Mbeya Region, still panning for gold after 50 years, or the spectacular Kalambo Falls in Rukwa Region, or the mobile music maker in Morogoro, or part of the 1.5 km-long diamond pipe at Mwadui near Shinyanga, or the stone age sites at Iringa, or the rarely visited Katavi Plains National Park in Rukwa or the depth of the dust in the main street of Mwanza or how coffee and cotton and tea and sisal are processed? It is all here in these pages.
The captions and the regional introductions do not quite live up to the high quality of the photographs but you will want to read every one of them. The introduction, which comprises a concise history of Tanzania, is excellent.
Christmas is a long way away but this book would make an ideal birthday present. Or, you could give yourself a treat that you will be able to enjoy over and over again. It can enrich your library or be placed on your coffee table for the benefit of visiting Tanzanophiles (as the late Bishop Huddleston used to call us) -DRB.
MATETEREKA: TANZANIA’S LAST UJAMAA VILLAGE. David Edwards. 1998. Occasional Paper No. 77. Centre of African Studies. Edinburgh University, £4.50 or $9.00.
This writing covers the period from 1960 when Julius Nyerere, soon to become President, with his ujamaa policy, was encouraging the formation of small farming socialist communities up until 1998.
The work is built around the history and development of one such ujamaa village. Matetereka, from its formation in 1962, through its time as a member village of the Ruvuma Development Association (RDA) until that organisation’s destruction in 1969; through its growth and struggles with the authorities following this; and to the problems and conflicts brought about by the influx of a large number of newcomers with the implementation of villagisation in 1975, conflicts which continue until this day. There was obviously, at the time of villagisation in 1975, the chance that the whole of the original Matetereka ujamaa group might have been forced to leave all their achievements and move their families elsewhere. This was a fact of life for several of the other RDA villages.
The story of Matetereka was gathered from the ujamaa group in the village where Edwards spent eleven days. It is therefore a story told from their angle. I feel sure that they will have appreciated a sympathetic visitor hearing their story and recording it for outsiders to read. I’m glad that the centre for African Studies at Edinburgh University saw fit to publish it as one of their Occasional Papers.
Together with the Matetereka story, Edwards joins the many writings on the relationship between peasant communities and their governments. In relation to this question in the Tanzania of President Nyerere, the fact that two of his informants, Ntimbanjayo Millinga and Lukas Mayemba were not only involved with the RDA villages but also in local and national politics has provided some interesting details on the lead up to and the banning of the RDA. These largely confirm what I have always believed, that the action of the TANU Central Committee in insisting on the banning of the RDA was in reality moving to put paid to President Nyerere’s concept of ujamaa villages as bodies who took their own decisions on their running and development.
It would be interesting to have the experience of Matetereka from those who were forced into the village through the villagisation programme. Where these newcomers arrived to a village where a group of people had already, through several years hard work, achieved a considerable amount of development, it is easy to see how they might hope to have a share of what was there. Having been uprooted and moved by a government decision, with no consultation, they could hardly be expected to be in co-operative mood. In spite of that it does seem that at Matetereka efforts of the original inhabitants to try and help the newcomers along a similar development road as that along which they had travelled did seem to have a degree of early success. Essential to obtaining the drive for development through communal working that was the hallmark of the RDA villages was the understanding of the members that they were working for their better future and that of their children.
LIMNOLOGY AND HYDROLGY OF LAKES TANGANYIKA AND MALAWI. Ruud C M Crul. UNESCO Publishing, Paris.
This book is listed as No. 54 in a series by UNESCO on Hydrology but, as its title indicates, it also covers limnology (the study of chemical, physical and biological aspects of freshwater habitats). The book is not intended for the general reader; there is frequent use of technical terms, without any glossary, but it forms a very useful source of a great range of information, published articles and books. There are good accounts of the geography, exploration and European discovery of the lakes, their early scientific investigation, geological and climatic history as well as details of changes in lake levels; the catchment areas are well mapped as are bathymetric details (mapping of the lake bottom). There are accounts of the lake sediments and of their biotic components, especially phytoplankton and zooplankton.
Water balance details show up the limited out flow (about 6% annually) of Lake Tanganyika compared with Lake Malawi (17.6%) enough to generate electricity from power stations on the Shire River.
There is a great deal of overlap in the references and a joint bibliography, rather than one for each lake, would have been better. In fact the whole book might have been condensed. It seems that UNESCO could have been a little more painstaking in its editing but, nevertheless it is a most useful publication.
NOT DEAR TO THEMSELVES. Barbara Wolstenholme. Teamprint. 1994, reprinted 1998. Available from 10 Myrtle Drive, Preston, Lancs. PR4 2Z1 £10.00 incl. p&p. All proceeds to the Methodist Church.
This fascinating account of the severe trials faced by the first missionaries sent by the Methodist Church to East Africa (especially during the long voyage from England, the subject of a major part of the book) has been researched by the great-granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Wakefield who landed at Zanzibar and continued by dhow to Mombasa in 1862. At this time the coast from Lamu to Kilwa, at least, was controlled by the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar; the British were busy chasing slave ships in the Indian Ocean, and had a Consul in Zanzibar; and, Livingstone had not yet started his last expedition into the interior. Thomas was accompanied by Dr Ludwig Krapf of the C.M.S. and was later joined by Rev. Charles New, the first Europeans to reach the snowline of Kilimanjaro.
I found this ‘look back’ at history extremely readable and even helpful in putting the present into perspective. It is astonishing that the church founded by Thomas Wakefield at Ribe in Kenya is still flourishing. His first wife and baby are buried there.
The book is attractively produced with many line drawings and would make a pleasing gift.
WHO ARE TANZANIANS? COMPETING CONCEPTIONS OF TANZANIAN CITIZENSHIP IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY. Bruce Heilman. Africa Today. 45, 3-4 (1998) 19 pages.
This article examines the linkage between citizenship and access to political, economic and social opportunities in Tanzania from the colonial to the present time. Heilman rightly notes that during the colonial period, the country’s population was segregated between Europeans who had full access to economic and political opportunities, Asians who occupied an intermediate place with access to commerce and the professions but were essentially excluded from the political life of the country and Mricans who were marginalised in both economic and political spheres. In citizenship terms therefore, Europeans were full members of the society, Asians were a kind of semi-citizens while Africans were simply subjects.
After independence the government adopted a citizenship policy based on the principle of equal rights for all Tanganyikans irrespective of their race but also attempted to redress the under representation of Africans in the civil service, first through Africanisation and later localisation policies. In 1967 the government adopted the socialist path of development, and nationalised the major means of production. With the abolition of private accumulation of private capital and wealth, citizenship as a means of access to resources became largely irrelevant. The policy also created a de facto separation of economic spheres of influence as Africans pursued lucrative careers in the expanding public sector and Asians continued to engage in private sector activities.
The debate over citizenship re-emerged again in the 1990′ s when the transition from a one party socialist state to a multiparty market economy led to a shrinkage of both the civil service and the public economic sector thus undermining the power base of the African bureaucratic bourgeoisie while creating unprecedented opportunities for the Asian commercial bourgeoisie.
The author argues that economic liberalisation in Tanzania has stimulated economic growth, but it has also heightened private sector competition between Africans and Asians resulting in anti-Asian sentiments among African business people. To prove this point, the writer cites a high profile conflict between Reginald Mengi, an African owner of the Independent Television Network (ITV) and two Asians, AI Munir Karim and Shabir Dewji of Coastal Television Network (CTN) and Dar Television (DTV) respectively over the rights to broadcast the World Cup of 1994. As the dispute went on, Mengi claimed that he had received threats against his life and TV station and the two Asians and nine other persons were arrested. Eventually Mengi maintained exclusive rights to broadcast the soccer matches and the charges against the eleven arrested were withdrawn.
The second example is the incident which took place between 1993 and 1994 in which African street vendors attacked Asian owned shops in the Kariakoo area of Dar es Salaam and in Morogoro. These incidents, according to the writer, show that ‘increased economic competition not only created tensions between large-scale African and Asian business but, in some instances, also served as a catalyst for the expression of anti-Asian feelings among participants in the informal sector’. According to the author ‘the actions ofMengi, like those of the Morogoro street vendors, conveyed a similar message to the Asian community: despite their formal legal rights, Asians are still a special group whose status is somewhat like that of guests, their ability to live and prosper in Tanzania depending upon the goodwill of their African hosts’.
While agreeing with the historical review and conclusions on the citizenship debate in Tanzania up to 1990, this reviewer remains doubtful about the conclusion drawn from the two post 1990 episodes noted above. Whatever its prominence, a single incident of the dispute over the rights to broadcast the World Cup, is insufficient to support a general conclusion that there was conflict between large-scale African and Asian businesses. Indeed the author had noted earlier on that even in the post 1990 debates, not all African businessmen supported indigenisation of the economy.
With regard to the shop stoning incidents, it is worthy noting that virtually all the shops on the streets where the riots took place are owned by Asians. Accordingly, it is not entirely certain whether the shops were attacked because they were owned by Asians or simply because they were formal tax-paying businesses preferred by the government against non-tax paying street vendors. If the reason for stoning the shops was because they were owned by Asians, why didn’t this take place until the government sought to bar the petty traders from doing business in the same areas?
Also the reaction of the petty traders after their goods had been destroyed or confiscated is consistent with the response of any aggrieved group of people when the state handles them with strong arm tactics. The victims usually turn to destroying whatever is in their sight.
In my view, the incidents cited by Heilman were primarily economic/class wars between the losers and the gainers in the new economic dispensation and it just happened to be the case that the majority of the gainers were Asians while the losers were Africans. The principle lesson therefore is whether a liberal economic order which enables the few who are already wealthy to prosper even more at the expense of the economically marginalised majority is sustainable.
DAKA WA DEVELOPMENT CENTRE: AN AFRICAN NATIONAL SETTLEMENT IN TANZANIA. 1982-1992. Sean Morrow. African Affairs. No 97. 1998.24 pages.
When apartheid South Africa banned the African National Congress CANC) in 1960 Tanzania was one of the fIfSt countries to offer asylum and succour to the growing number of refugees. After delving into records deposited in the Liberation Archives at the Fort Hare University, Sean Morrow has been able to present an extremely valuable account of an historic project, enabling him to conclude: ‘It is now possible to aspire to a more subtle and realistic picture of exile as a factor in the history of South Africa’
Now synonymous with the Art and Craft Community Centre in Grahamstown, the name of Dakawa is being preserved ‘to maintain symbolically the memory and spirit of the years of exile’.
The Soloman Mahlangu Freedom College, named after one of the martyrs of the struggle, set up in 1977 on an abandoned sisal estate at Mazimbu, near Morogoro, ultimately housed a population of around 3,500 South Africans and consisted of a large farm, hospital, primary and nursery schools, cultural and sports facilities, a furniture factory and extensive housing. There was however an urgent need for a place where newly-arrived young people might stay until they could be received at the college and the opportunity came in 1982 when the Tanzanian government donated a 2,800 hectare plot at Dakawa, about 55 kms away. The area was undeveloped, isolated, with no electricity or access to sweet water or building stone; it was flat and difficult for the installation of piped water or a sewage system. During the rainy season it turned into a sea of mud. The exiles were badly affected by malaria and other tropical diseases while the experience of exile caused some refugees to take refuge in alcohol and drug abuse.
Ideally, Dakawa was intended as a centre for the orientation of up to 5,000 youths -a model community for a future South Africa. There were plans for agriculture, water reticulation, roads and various welfare facilities. But in 1990 there were only about 1,200 South African workers there. Not all arrivals were students and there was a widespread perception by ANC cadres of Dakawa as a ‘dumping ground’ -the impression could not be avoided that the rehabilitation centre was virtually a penal settlement.
Attempts were made to develop the farm but the land was heavily overgrown with bush and there were drainage and irrigation problems three quarters of one sunflower crop was eaten by rats, while roaming Maasai stock, wild pigs and, on one occasion, elephants from the Mikumi Game Reserve devastated crops.
Another issue was the relationship between the ANC and Tanzanian workers. In the context of Tanzania the South Africans were comfortable, even privileged, by comparison with their generally impoverished hosts, on whom they relied for labour. The leadership complained that the South African labour force was ‘very unstable and unreliable’. There were numerous relationships between South African men and Tanzanian women and there are offspring of mixed parentage in the area today. There was also an alleged tendency (,vehemently rejected by the more socially and politically conscious’) for some South Africans to ‘look down’ on Tanzanians as being ‘less sophisticated and poorer than themselves’. As was to be expected amongst a population from a traumatised country, there was also social dislocation and personal maladjustment, leading at times to criminality and violence. Generally speaking the morale was low.
A vocational centre gave instruction in carpentry, plumbing, bricklaying and electrical installation; the leather factory made shoes, belts, and bags and there was a garment factory. Much help was received from Holland, Eastern Europe, the German Democratic Republic and Scandinavia with Western aid arriving much later.
According to Sean Morrow: ‘The spirit of Dakawa is embodied in individuals who moved to Grahamstown. The fact that it was a much wider endeavour than an arts centre alone is not well-known beyond the memories ofthose exiles who were based there.
Now, when the constant flow of refugees is a global reality, it is salutary to obtain an insight such as this into the consequences, so often tragic, of unjust and violent measures imposed by unscrupulous people in authority.
John Budge PROTECTING SCHOOLGIRLS AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: A GUARDIAN PROGRAMME IN MWANZA, TANZANIA. Z Magla, D Schapink, J Ties Boerma. Reproductive Health Matters Vol. 6. No. 12. November 1998.11 pages.
This study, carried out in 1996, looked at a protection programme in primary schools in two districts of Mwanza, which had as its aim the protection of adolescent girls against sexual exploitation. The role of the Guardians (walezi), designated female teachers, is to help young women in cases of violence or sexual harassment, and to give advice about problems of sexual health, since the sexual exploitation of female pupils by schoolboys, young men and teachers is common. The programme of protection has already drawn a good deal of attention to this issue among the wider public. One ofits most important initial effects has been to lift the veil of secrecy which hides sexual violence; teachers, among others, have found it more difficult to conceal such abuses than in the past. Even so, the fact that the majority of Guardians and other teachers were opposed to all sexual activity among schoolgirls limited the possibilities of encouraging contraception, and teaching about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
PAGAN PRACTICES AND THE DEATH OF CHILDREN: GERMAN COLONIAL MISSIONARIES AND CHILD HEALTH CARE IN SOUTH PARE, TANZANIA. N T Hakansson, Uppsala University. World Development. Vo126. No 9. 1998.9 pages. At the beginning of this century German Lutheran missionaries implemented a successful campaign to lower child mortality without the aid of modem medical technology but through their understanding of indigenous ideas, co-operation with indigenous healers and through co-operation and mutual learning. This paper quotes, from archives, case studies on infant feeding and birth procedures in South Pare 90 years ago.
ACCEPTABILITY AND USE OF CEREAL-BASED FOODS IN REFUGEE CAMPS; CASE STUDIES FROM NEPAL, ETHIOPIA AND TANZANIA. Catherine Mears with Helen Young. Oxfam. 1998. 135p. £12.95
ZANZIBAR AUJOURD’HUI. Jean-Louis Balans. In French. 1998. £25 Obtainable from Africa Book Centre. Tel: 01718363020.
KAULI YA MALALHOI (VOICE OIF THE WRETCHED OF THE WORLD). Mlenge Fanuel. Benediction Publications, Ndanda-Peramiho. 63 pages. 1998. The author of this Swahili book is very angry. He wrote the 25 essays which make up the book to vent his frustration against the establishment for the harsh punishment it meted out to students at the Ardhi Institute after they had been on strike. The East African says that the book has striking similarities to ‘Animal Farm’. It ridicules ‘the political establishment and politicians and their notorious greed and disregard for the public good’.
SWAHILI. ROUGH GUIDE PHRASEBOOK. 179p. 1998. £4.00. Obtainable from the Africa Book Centre.
FOREIGN AID AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN TANZANIA. Timothy S Nyoni. World Development. Vol 26. No 7. 5 pages. This highly technical paper uses cointegration technique and an error-correction model to examine the relationship between foreign aid inflows and the real exchange rate and assess the potential for aid-induced ‘Dutch disease’ (defined as the undesirable effects of aid). It found that aid inflows, increased openness of the economy and devaluation of the local currency caused real depreciation while increased government expenditure caused real appreciation. Foreign aid has not caused ‘Dutch disease’.