SELECTED STUDIES OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN TANZANIA. Eds. Waheeda Shariff Samji and Alana Albee. Dar es Salaam: Department for International Development, 2000. 103 pages.
TANZANIA WITHOUT POVERTY. Arusha: HakiKazi Catalyst, 2001. 36 pages.
These two booklets are funded by the British ‘aid’ department DFID, but the editors and writers are Tanzania based and the focus of both publications is the poverty reduction programme in Tanzania. ‘Selected Studies’ is an academic treatment of several aspects of the current approach to civil society, while ‘Tanzania without Poverty’ is a popularising version of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper which emanates from the Vice President’s Office (it also exists in a Kiswahili text). Both are enhanced by ‘Masoud’s hard hitting and sometimes agreeably cynical cartoons.
In Selected Studies the overview of civil society in Tanzania by Stefan Kossoff is the most accessible article for a non specialist reader. The author writes with the confidence that comes from a staff post under a major donor, and states the downside as well as the favourable aspects; typically for Tanzania, the picture is a mixed one between pluralism and authoritarianism. He discusses the numerous categories of civil society organisations: human rights and legal aid, democracy and political empowerment, the churches and the media, anti corruption, independent research organisations and the political parties. The dominance of donor strategies in the field is clearly established, and the risky area of donor involvement in ‘political empowerment’ is touched upon. The second chapter (Dangor and Nadison) is written from a South African base, and draws interesting experience from there to illuminate the Tanzanian problem. It is perhaps a little optimistic about the results achieved, and emphasises the special areas of gender and disability which are subsumed in Tanzania by the general term ‘vulnerability’. Other chapters deal with the means of supporting village groups and organisations (Hobbs) and the field experience of SAW AT A (Saidia Wazee Tanzania) working with the elderly in Kagera District (O’Donoghue).
Tanzania without Poverty is more clearly a government based policy document, though infinitely more open to public opinion than were earlier ‘official handouts’. Political reform is touched; upon, but regarded as outside the core interest of poverty reduction. The language of the booklet is modest, and it amounts to a serious attempt to set out the whole government approach to development and poverty reduction, in simple language. Targets, activities and indicators are explained, together with a section on the sources of funding.
Civil society has been ‘flavour of the month’ in the development field for some 10 or 15 years now. As Hyden analyses it, earlier thinking was about development -for the people, then with the people, until it became development by the people with the thinking was about development -for the people, then with the people, until it became development by the people with the support of governments and donors. This was not so much a change in ideology, but rather a pragmatic response to the failure of the former’ aid’ efforts to achieve useful objectives. It slowly became apparent to donors that bureaucracy and inefficiency in government prevented any cost effective results. By the 1980s this conclusion was reinforced by general financial breakdown, which made even governments anxious to hand down responsibility to other groups in the society. Community inputs were required if any progress was to be achieved towards the aim of poverty reduction but could they be obtained if the state itself was centralising and clientilist?
The problem is that civil society organisations are not equipped for the essential tasks of questioning state officials and defending individual freedoms; having no defined position in the state they easily become coopted by the rich and powerful elements in their community. By their nature they are not competent to practise legitimate, inclusive and accountable decision making over public resources. This is the role which local government is designed to play, yet donor agencies have currently left local government on the back burner while they pursue development through non-state organisations. In this reviewer’s opinion it is a dangerous choice. Popular energies will be released, if at all, through political decentralisation: voting by electors, budgeting and service administration and development planning by councillors. If poverty reduction programmes are to be self sustaining, they need to give more attention to the political. To quote Markovitz, state and society do not stand apart in Africa, (on the contrary) all interests seek the support of the state. In the final assessment it will be local democracy, in whatever form, that alone can give lasting results.
REASON FOR HOPE. AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE. Jane Goodall and Philip Berman. Thorsons 2000.282 pages. £8.99.
Jane Goodall’s autobiography (structured by Philip Berman) is a ‘book and a half packed with so many interesting stories, thoughts, happenings that I dare not miss a paragraph but had to read the whole book before venturing to review it. lane is probably known to most of us as the lady who went to live among the chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania. Her interest in all living things began early; at 18 months taking a handful of earthworms to bed, she hurriedly returned them to the garden on being told they would die in bed. At four years old she hid in a hen house for four hours in order to discover how hens laid eggs.
Her dream of going to Africa was realised in 1957 when she was invited by friends to Kenya. This led to a meeting with Dr Loius Leakey and she became his personal assistant, accompanying him to Olduvai Gorge. Louis was interested in research into chimpanzees who are man’s nearest relative. He wanted someone with a ‘mind unbiased with scientific theory’ but with a love of animals and ‘monumental patience’. Jane filled the bill and went to Gombe, near Kigoma, in 1960 aged 26 and accompanied by her remarkable mother for the first five months, as required by the British government.
During these early days Jane made the amazing discovery that chimps used and ‘made’ tools; that is to say they selected and modified twigs or grasses to extract termites from their earth; mounds. Hitherto it was thought that only man was a toolmaker. Now Louis was able to obtain a grant from the National Geographic Society for Jane to continue her research.
In the book Jane describes her observations and her growing empathy with the chimps, pointing out that personalisation of animals was rather frowned upon in scientific circles at that time.
Between 1964 and 1974 lane obtained her PhD in Ethology (Animal Behaviour) from Cambridge and later became an adjunct professor at Stanford University. She married Hugo van Lawick, Wildlife photographer, and they had a son, commonly known as Grub. Together they built up the research station at Gombe which was to become ‘one of the most dynamic interdisciplinary field stations for the study of animal behaviour in the world’.
Jane’s second marriage was to Derek Bryceson, whose story she tells briefly. He was then a much respected Tanzanian MP and Director of National Parks. Very sadly, Derek died after four years of marriage. Jane found healing in the forests of Gombe, in the wonderful diversity and resilience of nature, and in the spiritual power she feels so strongly is around us. The book contains a lot of philosophical thought about life and death, good and evil. Jane has a tremendous ability to recall and relive her very full life. Personal encounters with many interesting people make fascinating reading and indeed help us to put life into perspective. The back cover of the book calls Jane ‘one of the most extraordinary and inspiring women of the 20th century’. I think I agree.
NOTE: the Jane Goodall Institute, with branches in several countries, comprises a) the Gombe Research Centre; b) TACARE (Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education) established in 1994 with funding from the European Union; it addresses the inter-related problems of poverty and unsustainable land use in 30 villages; c) Sanctuaries for Orphan Chimps in Congo Brazzaville, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania; it rescues chimps illegally taken from the wild and d) ‘Roots and Shoots’ -programmes for young people started in Tanzania in 1991 and now in over 20 countries.
The Jane Goodall Institute-UK is a registered charity number 327858, and is open for membership. Jane’s books may be bought from it -15 Clarendon Park, Lymington, Hants S041 8AX
GUNS AND GHANDI IN AFRICA. PAN AFRICAN INSIGHTS ON NON-VIOLENCE, ARMED STRUGGLE AND LIBERATION IN AFRICA. Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer. Africa World Press. £14.99 (Paper).
Bill Sutherland became well known in Tanzania from 1953 when, among other things he was a special assistant to the Sixth Pan African Congress in Tanzania. This book includes contributions from many leaders in the fight against colonialism including Julius Nyerere and Salim Ahmed and examines the strategies and tactics they used in their struggles.
INTERSECTING PLACES, EMANCIPATORY SPACES, WOMEN JOURNALISTS IN TANZANIA. Melinda Robins. This book is said to ‘take a critical feminist approach in an effort to recognise the complex relationships among economic and political systems, the media industries and those who produce its content. .. male and female journalists speak candidly about their experiences … we are taken home with the researcher (who lectures at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts) as she struggles with the ethnographic tradition and the realities of her day to day experiences.’
GENDER, F AMIL Y AND WORK IN TANZANIA. C Creighton and C K Omari. Ashgate. 2000 308pp. £50.
ZANZIBAR: THE BRADT TRAVEL GUIDE. 4TH EDITION. 2000. 296 pages. £12.95. Obtainable from the Africa Book Centre, Covent Garden. Tel:020 7240 6649.
POLITICAL CULTURE OF LANGUAGE. SWAHILI, SOCIETY AND THE STATE. A new edition. Ali and Alamin Mazrui. USA. Institute of Global Cultural Studies. 305 pp. £12.95. From Africa Book Centre. Comprises essays on Swahili and its uses in markets, mosques and politics in East Africa.
SWAHILI-ENGLISH; ENGLISH-SWAHILI DICTIONARY. Nicholas Awde. Hippocrene Books Inc. New York, 2000. 586 pp. Large pocket size. $19.95; in London it can be obtained at prices varying from £13.99 to £17.50. It claims it has over 35,000 entries.
The second edition of the TUKI ENGLISH SWAHILI DICTIONARY. Institute of Kiswahili Research, University of Dar es Salaam. 924 pages compared to the first edition’s 882 pages. London price of £30. (Thank you Peter White for letting us know about these two dictionaries -Editor).
TANZANIAN ARTS DIRECTORY. UK. Visiting Arts. 1999. £10.00.
A PLAGUE OF PARADOXES: AIDS, CULTURE AND DEMOGRAPHY IN NORTHERN TANZANIA. Philip Setel. Chicago University Press. 2000. 308pp. £13.50 (paperback).
BY THE SEA. Abdulrazak Gurnah. Bloomsbury. This well known Tanzanian novelist’s latest novel tells the story of a journey. Of necessity Saleh Omar has fled Zanzibar to seek asylum by the grey waves of the English Channel and this is the story of his experiences.
EXPANSION OF PRIVATE SECONDARY EDUCATION: LESSONS FROM RECENT EXPERIENCE IN TANZANIA. Gerard Lassibille, Jee-Peng Tan and Suleman Sumra. Comparative Education Review, February 2000.
The education scene in Tanzania is depressing. The postindependence attempt to link enrolment in schools with manpower projections, at a time when manpower planning was in a crude handicraft condition, has been disastrous. ‘Tanzanian children’ the paper states, ‘have amongst the lowest probability of attending secondary school of all children in the developing world.’ The enrolment rate has increased from 3 per cent to about 5 per cent! And the ones who get there have often been robbed of their opportunity of making adequate progress by the low quality of the primary schools they attended. The children are already so handicapped when they arrive at their secondary schools that they cannot make rapid progress there, without remedial attention.
This is not surprising. In common with many African countries, the share of the budget spent on education has been in steady decline. Since the brave days of the 60s and 70s, the amount of the budget spent on education has declined from 17 per cent to about 11 per cent between 1985 and 1994. The assumption is that it has continued to decline from the 66 per cent enrolment figure of 1996. Universal primary education seems to be further away every year, however many statements of intent to provide education for all are enthusiastically signed.
Private education is usually available for one or more of three reasons. The first is that there is not enough public education to go round. Since virtually all parents worldwide would like their children to have a better education than they have had themselves, they are ready to make any sacrifice to send their children to school. The second reason, which applies in countries where there is already adequate provision, is to provide an education of a higher quality than is to be found within the public school sector. This is usually done by attracting the best teachers by paying higher salaries, teaching in smaller classes and providing superior facilities. The third reason is to provide an education which gives access to the higher social classes in society. Where the fees are very high, only the rich will have access to the schools, and the next government and commercial ruling elite can be formed in schools to provide the next generation of rulers.
The third type can be found in most cities and large towns in Africa, as in other countries, by seeing which schools have the largest number of expensive cars parked outside, when children leave at the end of the school day. Nor are these schools necessarily private, though they generally are. It would be surprising if these schools do not exist in Tanzania.
For the most part, however, private schools in Tanzania are in the first category. They are simply filling a gap, making available a number of school places, which would not otherwise be available, ensuring that some children are going to school, who would otherwise not be able to do so. Unsurprisingly, the quality of education they provide is not always superior to that provided in the public schools.
They are governed by government regulations which are as restrictive as those which apply to public schools. They depend almost exclusively on school fees and private contributions to defray both recurrent and capital costs. While they pay slightly more to their teachers than public schools, most of them find it -impossible to give permanent contracts; the 39 per cent holding such a contract in the private schools compares poorly with the 95 per cent in the public schools. Consequently they depend very largely on new teachers, who are not faced with the necessity of sacrificing an existing contract. Consequently most heads in public schools are better qualified than those in the private schools, most of whom have no other experience of being head of a school.
Nevertheless the private schools are fulfilling their purpose in creating opportunities for many more children to go to school than would otherwise be possible, and while their results are not on the whole as good as those in the public schools, the difference is marginal. ‘In terms of examination results, students in both sectors perform equally poorly, with students averaging no more that one-third correct on the Form 4 examinations.’
The authors of the paper have the usual difficulty in accessing statistics that are really up to date, and in making adequate comparisons between the two systems they are studying. But they make a valiant attempt, and their paper provides a good deal of information which is highly suggestive for future decision making, while their final section provides some important proposals. Let us hope that they will be read not just by those who read journals like Comparative Education, but by policy makers who can actually provide change.