I read the last issue of Tanzanian Affairs with great interest -as usual. And, also as usual, I found many comments with which I disagreed -e.g. Mr Musiba saying that he had never seen development arising from aid. Where has he been all his life? … where was he educated, and how, and would he have had the same opportunities if at that time aid had been scorned while we waited for private investment?…… I don’t claim too much for the first 25 years of independence but some of our greatest achievements -e.g. almost universal literacy and the system of basic education and health spreading almost everywhere and without religious or racial discrimination -would have not been possible without aid ….. .
But eventually I read my obituary of Judge Mustafa ….. I am now embarrassed by what I am sure is the kind of error which can easily be made when you have deadlines to meet. I wrote: ‘Judge Mustafa was dependent upon thrice-weekly dialysis for his last years, but continued to enjoy life with his wife Sophie. You wrote: ….. dialysis for his last years but continued to endure life with his wife Sophie….. Could some short acknowledgement of the error be published in the next issue?
I am even more embarrassed I can only blame too much use of modem technology especially dictation to the computer. Many apologies -Editor.
THE SERVING CLASS
I read with interest Professor Pat Caplan’s criticism of my review of “Serving Class” published in issue number 74 of Tanzanian Affairs (here). I feel that her response was overly protective of the book and its author Janet Bujra, and lacked any substantive point. Professor Caplan asserts that the book is an academic study by a well-known development sociologist whose work on both Tanzania and Kenya is widely respected both in those countries and internationally. This surely does not render the work impervious to criticism. Are well known and respected people in the world always right? Cannot they be criticised? That is surely unacceptable in the academic field. If all authors are not to be criticised, how are they going to improve their work?
In response to my argument that the author Bujra had borrowed western ideas to fit into her research, Professor Caplan notes that the author pays tribute to Issa Shivji, who has written on class struggle in Tanzania. Professor Caplan goes on to make the general point that the author has taken great care to be historically, socially and culturally specific. Professor Caplan suggests that my review didn’t take these aspects into account. I do not dispute that Bujra mentions social, cultural and historical aspects in her work. What I vehemently argue is that Bujra has not commented on the significance of these aspects on the emergence of domestic services in Tanzania. Merely stating that domestic servants were working for missionaries and colonialists or foreigners in general, does not link up the sources of domestic services in Tanzania with traditional, religious, slavery and colonial practices.
Similarly I do not dispute that Bujra mentions women who are sexually abused by their employers, and that child servants are not neglected in the book. My point is not that the author does not mention these subjects, but that no critical challenge is made of common practices like parading child domestic servants along roads to sell ice cream, bread or cake for the household they work in. Nor is there any analysis of the reactions of parents whose children were made victims of child labour and abuse. Professor Caplan is incorrect to say that Bujra’s page 2 has answered my arguments. Page two only notes the existence of sexual and class exploitation as well as nomenclature of dominance.
Moreover, I stand by my criticism of Bujra for dropping some details from the English version, which appear in Swahili, thus losing certain areas of meaning in the process. I also feel that it is regrettable that there is no translated version into Swahili to give a chance for people who were involved in the study to read this work, compare the correctness of the findings and eventually gauge their reactions in the light of the past and current status of domestic services in Tanzania.
Finally, I am very surprised that the learned Professor Caplan wants to know what I have done before she hears about my criticisms. Nobody was born a writer, a university lecturer or famous person. Everything has a beginning and then develops. I don’t think it is appropriate to try to frustrate, intimidate and bully young writers so that they become afraid to review work of high profile people simply because their qualifications, celebrity and experience do not match. Other readers who can analyse text and write must be encouraged to do so in forthcoming issues regardless of their level of education, experience or fame in the Society. Please read the book and exercise your right to criticise or support it.
ARE WE CRAZY?
That’s what our friends and family said when we told them we had committed ourselves to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. For some reason they seemed to find it amusing that we would swap hairdryers for mountain blizzards, vodka bottles for water bottles, kitten heeled mules for blistering walking boots and the famous Indian curry for re-hydrated mash. Perhaps we are crazy, but when you discover why we’re doing it you will understand. We have committed ourselves to raising £2,800 each to help VSO with its work in Tanzania. There are currently 74 VSO volunteers working in Tanzania representing 12 different nationalities and they are concentrating on four key areas: education and health care, income security through sustainable livelihoods and employment and promoting the use of natural resources. If any of your readers can contribute to this challenge could they please call us: Ben Langdon on 020 xxx0 7218 or e-mail us on ben.langdon_AT_vso_DOTorg.uk
Emily McEweb and Kate Backler
THE GROUNDNUT SCHEME
I refer to TA No. 74 and have to report that I received a response from one of your readers, Mr John Pike who was mainly employed in the southern province in the 1900’s and could be of help to Mr David Morgan of Alcester but I regret not to me. I am sure readers must be around who have photographs of Kongwa from 1946 to 1951. I do wish you could try again. I find explaining the Groundnut Scheme verbally is very hard going.
S G Carrington-Buck, 3 Glassenbury Drive, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN 40 2NY. Tel: 01424 -2xxxx11