URBAN LIFE AND STREET CHILDREN’S HEALTH: Children’s Accounts of Urban Hardships and Violence in Tanzania. Joe L.P. Lugalla and Colleta G. Kibassa. Lit Verlag Munster, 2003, ISBN 3-8258-6690-4. 158 pages.
This is not a feel-good read. It is a serious research effort. The authors have five objectives: 1) identify the factors which generate and perpetuate the increasing number of street children; 2) understand the socio-economic background of these children; 3) explore basic daily needs and how they are met; 4) identify problems confronted and how the children surmount them; and, 5) assess how street life impacts the children’s behavior and health, and how they vary by gender. There are 10 Chapters.
The authors point out that the problem has been rife in other parts of the world for decades and ask why it only appeared in Tanzania in the ‘80’s The conclusion given later that the problem can “only be understood within the context of Tanzania’s political economy”, a result of the SAPs (Structural Adjustment Programs) designed to get the economy on track (from 1986), was trashed by their later statement that “this is happening in a country with a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic”, which results in orphans. This is mentioned now because it is an important point that was not convincingly addressed. There have always been poverty, famines, cruel step-parents, and hardships. Why, from the mid-80’s, did this result in children leaving their homes and relatives and living on the street? As pointed out by the authors themselves, officials see the children as hooligans, vagabonds, and criminals. Policies deal with symptoms rather than causes because the government is ignorant about the nature of the problem. “There have been no (italics authors) attempts to establish in-depth and systematic studies aimed at understanding these children…” In other words, there simply isn’t enough researched information on which to make a useful policy to help them.
This book is a good start. However, its funding from a private source (Guggenheim) points out another problem facing those dealing with street children/orphans (once mentioned, orphans were inseparable from the problem): chronic underfunding for day-to-day problems of food, let alone esoteric research for future alleviation.
Who will pay? Chapter Nine, The Civil Society and the Welfare of Street Children suggests everyone will, if this generation continues to be marginalized and criminalized. And buried. There is a term for prostitution: Survival Sex, but the authors called it “Death Sex”, because of the almost certain result of HIV/AIDS infection. In one street child’s own words, “We are not living! We are dead already.”. The NGO’s helping are doing a commendable job on a shoestring, securing life (read food, medication, education) for the children they deal with. But they are chronically understaffed, undertrained, underfunded, and inexperienced. And again, they deal with symptoms. Not one has designed an appropriate strategy for alleviation of poverty at the community level. Most started as drop-in shelters, and grew into “rescue centers”, but that proved to cause even more problems, as the children become institutionalized, and caretakers see a chance to avoid doing what they can. There are simply too many children in difficult circumstances today. (This is where the HIV/AIDS question comes into big play.) Reunification requires an enormous amount of backup. (Refer to “chronically understaffed…) Help within the community, advocacy and campaigning for children’s rights, makes the communities aware of the effect of abuse and harassment experienced by children. The authors say the NGO’s do a commendable job taking into account that the government has been silent in so far as helping street children is concerned. Also, NGO’s are too few to absorb the children in difficult circumstances. It was suggested NGO’s need to coordinate their efforts, and obtain sustainable and consistent funding. They also need to look into ways of promoting social development, alleviating poverty, and stopping social inequality.
There are several valuable tables and figures, including ones about age and sex, sources of income, narcotic drug use (a very dangerous new addition to the lives of street children), and a very interesting one on Distribution of Poverty by Education Level of the Household Head. That one alone justifies every effort to educate our children.
Chapter Five, Ethnographic Narratives of Urban Hardships and Violence, is a must read. You hear the voice of the children talking of their lives and their stark realities, the nightmare of every parent or guardian.
Chapter 10 has serious recommendations for long-term policies and poverty alleviation. Education and health infrastructure must be strengthened to bear the weight of these children. Community awareness and responsibility must be encouraged, as well as promotion of children’s rights through legislation.
The last conclusion offered by the authors states political will and commitment of the government, accompanied by people’s willingness and commitment will resolve the problem if all of us play our part.
TUTAFIKA: IMAGINING OUR FUTURE – TANZANIA. Society for International Development, Tanzania Chapter, P.O. Box 79540, Dar-es-Salaam. Foreword by Juma V. Mwapachu. Pp.40.
This booklet describes itself as a wake up call. Wake up for what? Reflecting on the past and forecasting the future is a natural thing to do for any thinking person; this is applied to three scenarios of the short and medium term future of Tanzania. These are termed in Kiswahili:
Yale: As it was (Central Government as it stands now)
Mibaka Uchumi: Those who grab the wealth (rapid privatisation with wealth and decision-making in a few hands)
Amka Kumekucha: Wake up, it’s dawn (formation of a
In recent years rapid changes in Tanzania have included:
* Liberalisation of the economy.
* The multi-party system
* Privatisation of state owned corporations
* Rapid foreign investment alongside decrease in donor support, especially to Government
* Urban economic growth with widening income distribution
Since 1963, Tanzania has emphasised the unity between the mainland and the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. This has been of great significance for continued peace, but in recent years it has been the source of political tension as recent positions taken by the CUF which is anti-Christian and anti-West indicate. If this party gets the dominant vote in Zanzibar in the 2005 elections, under the present constitution, it is likely to fill the office of presidency of Zanzibar, which will lead to also the mainland presidency.
This booklet must be read in this context. The CCM party has led the nation to this present time. But it has been slowly losing its majority especially in Zanzibar where the influence of Islam and the Arab states is perceived to threaten Tanzanian unity. Zanzibar has been under pressure from the Arab world to break away from this union. Similar advice is also growing in the mainland especially in the coastal regions.
There is also rivalry between those who distinguish non-ethnic from ethnic Tanzanians (Wazawa) and want to exclude the former from various privileges such as bidding in the new privatisation programme. On the other hand there are those, such as the contributors to this booklet, who are against any form of discrimination. They would like to see a multi-ethnic Tanzania including the Zanzibari; they, therefore, are against separation of the mainland from Zanzibar.
The cover picture of the book illustrates the heart of the matter i.e. election and democracy. As the economy continues to move more towards favouring the few who control the wealth (mibaka uchumi), electioneering continues to be based less on policies and democracy, but rather on who controls money and influence. This makes the country increasingly unstable during the election period. This causes people to wonder where the nation is going (Yale yale) i.e. continuing with its past, where those who held political and economic power were foreigners, prompting the questions: Who are we? Where are we going? (P.12).
Alternatively, there is the possibility of radical change – Amka Kumekucha. This says that the country cannot remain as it is, and we cannot go back to the past, but we ought to move on. Specially, the suggestion is to form a federal government, which will join all the present regions into five provinces. The idea is to strengthen regional unity, in order to hold Zanzibar into the framework at this level.
Amka Kumekucha’s main objective is to uphold the national unity between the mainland and Zanzibar. Zanzibar continues to fall under the CUF, supported and funded by the Muslim world with an option of breaking the Union. Amka Kumekucha is trying to prevent this by increasing support for a Federation Government. The elections to provincial government will be held at regional level, while representation in parliament will be determined at provincial level. This will help to keep Zanzibar in the Federation because it will be politically and economically directly administered and linked to other regions in its province. With fewer people supporting CUF on the mainland regions of eastern province, it will help drop its threatening majority in the Island as it stands now.
The danger may come if there is disunity within the federal government or if one province becomes too strong (especially those next to the country’s borders), and seeks to move out of the Federation. It is very unlikely if the details of a new constitution will consider this before hand. It would be less dangerous if provinces were given limited autonomy e.g. with provincial executive councils rather than elected bodies. The experience of decentralisation in the period 1972-82 also supports this, as the semi-autonomous RIDEPs (regional programmes) had the effect of arbitrarily widening growth rates between the regions. Overall, the provincial scheme proposed in the third section of the booklet needs more careful assessment, if the major political and economic risks are to be minimised. Similarly, little attention seems to have been given towards the role of civil society especially faith based organisations such as churches and mosques, considering the reduction of state involvement in providing livelihood and welfare generating activities.
John Madinda and Deryke Belshaw
SWAHILI FOR THE BROKEN-HEARTED. Peter Moore. Bantam Books. ISBN 0553814524 – £6.99.
Peter Moore follows the fabled Cape Town to Cairo route by any means possible, and this is an account of his adventures. We follow Peter’s hilarious travels through South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania which he enters through Mbeya. He then catches the Train to Dar es Salaam. His descriptions of the landscape are superb and he encounters a lot of characters on the way. Peter takes us around Dar which is a place he likes, and visits some familiar landmarks and some not so familiar – like the T &M beauty salon & internet cafe! After a detour to Zanzibar, he heads north to climb Kilimanjaro. Wearing a pink fleece and using the route from Marangu our intrepid traveller sets out to conquer the highest mountain in Africa, but after an eventful climb told in his inimitable style, he fails – along with 80% of those who attempt it. He then continues north and finishes his journey in Cairo with lots more incidents on the way. Peter’s dry wit and observation make this a very enjoyable book.
DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION IN TANZANIA. THE VOICES OF WORKERS’ REPRESENTATIVES. Samuel E. Chambua 2002 Dar es Salaam, DUP. ISBN 9976603630. Distributed in U.K. by African Books Collective, 27 Park End Street, Oxford.
This book is the product of a five year research project – African Workers’ Participation Development Programme – executed by the Institute of Development Studies (University of Dar es Salaam). The research project was based in a series of survey questionnaires, delivered to workers’ representatives at various levels of the Organisation of Tanzanian Trade Unions. As a result, the book is very rich in empirical survey information: no less than 59 Tables and Boxes in less than 200 pages.
Chambua covers a great deal of ground. The book begins with a discussion of labour politics in comparative perspective. The argument here is that workers’ participation is a key property of developed capitalist societies, and is therefore not merely to be associated with ‘socialism’. The point drawn from this argument is that the appropriate participation of labour can improve the developmental or economic effects of structural adjustment. Thus, a scene is set in which Chambua aims to understand participation in order to make it work more effectively for Tanzania’s neoliberal programme. The second chapter gives an interesting history of labour organisation in Tanzania, largely following a series of legislative changes. Chambua emphasises the cloying corporatism of the single party period, although he does identify a limited space for autonomous worker politics in the Workers Committees until 1975 when they were banned.
Chapter three provides a case study of Morogoro Canvas Mills (MCM) which raises some interesting issues concerning the performance of this foreign-managed factory and the workers’ participation in decision-making. In keeping with the Presidential Circular (1970), at MCM, workers participation was largely conceived as a way to make firms more productive. As a result, participation was a means to an end, not an end in itself, which set limits to the quality and extent of participation: at best participation as good labour relations and at worst, as ‘lip service’ (page 55).
By and large, this tension is not investigated in subsequent chapters. ‘Participation’ as a concept works to externalise a wider variety of issues pertaining to labour politics in preference to a liberal model of labour relations in which astute labour management can make workers feel ‘valued’ and more productive. As a result, Chapters four to seven are largely ‘problem solving’ in their tone: how to make participation work better and in everyone’s interests. These chapters give a wealth of statistical detail concerning labour representatives’ views on information management, social provision, wage levels, training and other specifics. These all feed into a case study of the general strike in the turbulent year of 1994.
Not a great deal has been written about formal labour politics in Tanzania. As a result, Chambua’s book is valuable to those interested in the institutional dynamics of labour union politics. But, the book has such a wealth of questionnaire results to relate that it stops short of a fully political analysis. There are no passages in which one can get a sense of workers’ voices: the ‘moral economy’ of the workplace; the constructions of worker collectivity/identity and employers as ‘bosses’ or ‘managers’; the strategies that workers employ to bend jobs to their own preferences – ‘weapons of the weak’, are not considered. This is most apparent in the chapter on women in decision-making. The analysis is rather bloodless in that no women’s voices are heard, no application of concepts of gender analysis are brought in, and the principal conclusion is that women need to be ‘more confident’ which, intuitively to this reader, sounds rather like blaming the victim. The point that women lack confidence, even if related by a general survey, should be a place to start a critical analysis, not the place to conclude.
The book concludes with a sensible statement concerning the way forward for labour unions with a view to enhanced participation. Here, it appears that Chambua’s analysis fits well with the reformulation of structural adjustment as a Comprehensive Development Framework, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and so on. Chambua ends with an entreaty to ensure that foreign large-scale capital does not prevail in Tanzania and that labour constitutes a keystone of Tanzanian civil society in the face of predatory globalisation.
LEADERSHIP, CIVIL SOCIETY AND DEMOCRATISATION IN AFRICA: Case Studies from Eastern Africa. Abdalla Bujra and Said Adejumobi, editors. Development Policy Management Forum, UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2002. Distributed by African Books Collective.
This edited volume contains four case studies of the role of civil society organisations in the democratisation processes in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, each of which is concerned with the organization’s location, history, size and structure, mission, and relationship with the state. Its special focus on civil society is designed to emphasize the capacity of the organization to act as an independent center of power, and consequently effectively participate in the political process. Chachage Seithy analysis of “Leadership in the Civil Society in Tanzania” is exceptionally interesting reading because the author develops a careful context that includes an historical overview of the concept as it evolved during the colonial and post-colonial periods with a focus on economic aspects which seemed to characterize both eras. NGOs gradually emerged in the post-socialist era as responses to societal needs which the government failed to meet; they tended to be non-political, rather than either liberal or conservative. This chapter includes two case studies. The first analyzes – dissects is probably a better description – the Association of Journalists and Media Workers (AJM) when independent newspapers began to emerge in the late 1980s. Given the media’s opportunities to take issue with the newly evolved non-socialist government it failed to take issue with various political policies, not so much because it feared government retaliation but rather because it feared loss of readership and profits. Rather than take a proactive approach to government policies the media tended to be reactive and indirectly pro-government. The second case study focuses on the Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) whose “vision and mission … stood for the interests of the less privileged and marginalized ….” (p.164) Organized in 1992 it gradually became an ‘umbrella’ organization for various groups dealing with women’s needs, extending from education, training, and advocacy to awareness raising, and evolving as a pressure group exerting a positive influence on the government. In effect, it has become a social movement, promoting positive and beneficial policies for women at local, regional, and national levels. The contrast between the two types of NGOs could not be more telling. A recent journal article – Jyotika Ramagrasad, The Private and Government Sides of Tanzanian Journalists, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 8, 1, Winter 2003, 8-26 – notes that the private media’s recent approach has been to exercise its freedom in a “sensationalistic and unethical manner”, which suggests that journalists have not yet utilized their independence in a manner comparable to the TGNP’s constructive approach to society’s needs.
TELLING OUR OWN STORIES: LOCAL HISTORIES FROM SOUTH MARA, Tanzania. Shelter, Jan Bender. Brill, 2003. 334p bibl index (African sources for African history, 4) ISBN 9-00-412625-2 pbk, $31.00.
The Mara region of Tanzania, known mainly for its Serengeti National Park, is squarely placed in the center of the human cultural landscape by this book on the area’s precolonial history and social structure. The authors of the individual texts comprising this volume are the local residents themselves, usually male elders, who dictated their historical knowledge in one of the local languages to a now literate younger generation, who then transcribed the accounts into Swahili. (All participants are identified by name and photograph.) These texts in turn are faithfully translated into English by Shelter (Goshen College), who also provides an informative social and historical context for these indigenous accounts of the past, demonstrating that these peoples had both greater local identities and regional similarities than admitted to by the colonial regime, which transformed them into a series of manageable “tribes” for administrative purposes. This exquisite cultural portrait of the area and its peoples was clearly an intensive intellectual labor of love for all concerned. The result belongs in every library of higher education.
Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.
THE UNIQUE FOREST BIRDS OF THE USAMBARAS. Lecture given by Dr William Newmark of the Utah Museum of Natural History at the Royal Geographic Society in November 2003.
Across the globe there are twenty five ‘Tropical Bio Hotspots’. Within these hotspots are the vast majority of the Earth’s threatened species. One such Hotspot is situated within the East Usambara Mountains, at an altitude of 1000 – 2500 metres. For the past sixteen years this area has been under close examination by Bill, who has built up a well organised system to monitor and analyse the delicate ecosystem.
His research, primarily focused on birds, has revealed this area of Tanzania, which covers 6/10ths of 1% of its land surface, is home to unique species of Sun Birds, Fly Catchers, Waxbills and Broadbills to name just a few! What’s all the more interesting is through netting and tracking the birds, Bill has found that 80% of them don’t venture more than 400 meters from where they were netted. This shows their strong dependence on their local forest area, and helps explain why small disturbances in the forest have a big impact on this rare bird population.
The current threat to this sensitive ecosystem is gold mining, which brings with it people and the demand for fuel wood. Bill’s simple message: to prevent further damage “Don’t fragment the forest!” In fact he has gone one stage better and agreed with the Government to reconnect large blocks of the forest and create a Wildlife Corridor, which will start taking shape when sufficient funds are achieved.
Bill uses both local villagers and volunteers in his research. The volunteers are arranged through Earthwatch. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact it at: www.earthwatch.org/europe or info[AT]earthwatch[DOT]org[DOT]uk.
RECENT JOURNAL ARTICLES
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