WHY IS IT SO SUCCESSFUL?
(Abbreviated) Professor Cooke’s review of my book Fortress Conservation, in the last issue of TA raised some important questions about conservation and rural livelihoods and made criticisms which would be interesting to debate. The review did not deal with the book’s main arguments concerning the Mkomazi Game Reserve, which rose to prominence first, since several thousand people were evicted from it in the late 1980 and, second, because black rhino were introduced to a sanctuary there in the late 1990’s. The book examines the accuracy and veracity of fundraising literature used to promote Mkomazi’s conservation. This literature stated that the Reserve’s environment was under threat from people, that the evicted people were ‘not indigenous’ to the area and it emphasised the good work planned to provide for peoples’ needs around Mkomazi.
Fortress Conservation explores the history of environmental change and finds that people have been there for decades. It raises questions about the severity and extent of degradation. It then examines the economic consequences of eviction and finds that they have been severe. A more interesting question then arises. If the content of the literature is questionable, why is it so successful? A great deal of money has been raised for Mkomazi from this literature and the Reserve now has a considerable international reputation. What are the implications of these successes for African conservation elsewhere? At a time when community conservation is reported to be in ascendance, here is an example ofcoercive conservation flourishing. When therefore Professor Cooke complains that the picture of a fundraising event on the front cover suggests that Mkomazi is just a playground for foreign tourists, he may not have realised that the book is about the consequences of fund-raising. It describes the power of Western ideas about Africa and their consequences for rural Africans. The front cover is integral to the thesis.
The complaint also overlooks the fact that one of Mkomazi’s problems is that too few visitors enjoy its benefits …. Professor Cooke calls for the raising of funds on a large scale, to provide help for the burgeoning population of the Mkomazi area …. but it is unlikely that tourism could ever rival the returns from the cattle rearing economies which were dominant in the 1970s and early ’80s
Professor Cooke justified the eviction of people by asserting, on the basis of decades of experience, that a traditional pastoralism, diverse environments and their wildlife cannot co-exist …. but here is an issue where experts are divided. I feel detailed examination of the data is required and would therefore like to know what Professor Cook makes of the arguments in the book which considered what forms of biodiversity may be compatible with pastoralism at Mkomazi. I would like him to consider the national context of conservation in the country (more than 30% of the land mass is forbidden to human use and habitation) and I would like him to explain why the impacts of exclusion on livelihoods and the local economy are necessary.
Conservation is about compromise, about finding the balance between people’s needs and ecological priorities. I believe there is more room for compromise at Mkomazi. Policies of exclusion will cause impoverishment. If therefore alternatives are possible then they deserve thorough investigation and discussion. This will require an engagement with the data.
EDUCATION – A TOP PRIORITY
(Abbreviated) The speech by his Excellency Hassan 0 G Kibelloh, Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Britain, to members of the BritainTanzania Society (BTS) on 12th October was enlightening and attention captivating.
His Excellency opened his speech by praising the Society which for decades, and with very limited resources, has helped Tanzania in several development projects, particularly in education, health and the supply of clean drinking water in rural areas, because the members love our country and her people.
He then went on to present a broader picture depicting significant economic political and social developments taking place in Tanzania today. As an educationist, the theme of debt cancellation by the British government and its impact on the phenomenal expansion of education starting at primary school level, gripped me. We must remember that for years, the Tanzania government, churches, religious institutions and voluntary organizations, including BTS, campaigned day and night to have this curse of foreign debt, which kept Tanzania in perpetual poverty, removed. Ultimately, their cries have been heard, their efforts rewarded and the debt has been cancelled by the British government whose example should be followed by other filthy rich Western governments.
Of all post-independence achievements Tanzania can be proud of, her achievements in education stand out. In pre-independence Tanganyika we had just a few schools, a handful of technical colleges and not one university. Four decades after independence Tanzania has built many primary and secondary schools; we have many technical and vocational colleges and, to crown it all, we now have eleven universities!
Education is the mother of all professions and therefore the foundation stone of the nation’s development Our education institutions have produced hundreds of professionals: teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, military officers, political leaders, senior managers and many others. Adult education, initiated by Father of the Nation, the late President Julius Nyerere, who appealed to every educated Tanzanian to share his/her education with those who did not have this privilege, raised the national literacy and sanitation levels to unprecedented heights.
However, Tanzania’s development, particularly regarding the economy, has met with phenomenal obstacles. Constant poor rainfall or destructive floods devastated the agricultural sector upon which the country heavily depended. This problem, combined with derisory prices for Tanzania’s agricultural produce and minerals fetched in world markets controlled by rich Western nations hell-bent on keeping poor nations living in perpetual squalor, was a big blow to the economy. The government had to constantly borrow more and more money and had to pay it back with high levels of interest. It was mission impossible and the cycle of poverty became endless.
I must admit that other factors such as maladministration and corruption contributed to this sad state of affairs. This is why fighting these monsters has been President Ben Mkapa’s personal crusade. Recent cases of senior government officials being spectacularly dragged to court to answer charges of corruption indicate the serious nature of the leader’s determination to clean his government. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to strengthen the economy, create a suitable environment for foreign investors and to maintain peace, Tanzania’s unique blessing.
Now that the chains of economic slavery have been broken, with foreign debt cancellation, Tanzania must make education a top priority once again. We must double or even treble the number of our homegrown experts for all aspects of the nation’s development. Crucially, there is a need for a serious revolution in the nature of the education provided. We need the kind of education which goes hand in hand with trained practical skills and which ignites the intellect and triggers off intense research. The new kind of education must give Tanzanians high skills to process all our agricultural produce and minerals in the country and export top quality finished products at high prices. The new type of education would replace our current one which, in many areas, appears to be sterile; foreign textbook based and often not practical skills orientated.
Consequently, with small loans from the government and the private sector, even hundreds of our unemployed youths would be able to set up small businesses relevant to local needs, earn a living, reduce crime, restore their dignity and contribute to the development of our great nation.
Dr Frederick T Kassulamemba
A HIDDEN POLITICAL AGENDA?
(Abbreviated) During the ill-fated groundnut scheme after World War 2, a railway (the Southern provinces Railway) was constructed by the British colonial administration from Lindi and later Mtwara to Nachingwea and Masasi. Opened in 1953 it had a period of service of barely 10 years, before being closed and dismantled. During Redditch One World Link party visits to our twin town of Mtwara, we have noticed surviving features of the railway including earthworks, the station building at Mtwara Port and some godowns in the old Arab town area of Mikindani.
One of the Tanzanian friends, during our visit in 2000, recalled that he had seen the laying of an oil pipeline beside the railway, when he was young. It was not completed. Was there a ‘hidden political agenda’ in the building of a railway and developing a deep water port at Mtwara? It is claimed that Mtwara lies on the finest natural deep-water harbour along the East African coast.
As a railway enthusiast, I would welcome contact from any reader who may have information, memories or photographs of the erstwhile Southern Provinces Railway. I wonder whether Mr. Carrington-Buck whose letter appeared in TA No 72 drew any response and whether he has visited the Mtwara area.
David R Morgan, Karibuni, Chamberlain Lane, Cookhill, Alcester B49 5LD. E-Mail: dmorgan_AT_fish_DOT_co.uk