Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)
FILM: DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE by Hubert Sauper, (Paris: Mille et une productions, 2005).
The power of Hubert Sauper’s new documentary Darwin’s Nightmare is rooted unfortunately in the indefatigable ‘heart of darkness’ theory of Africa. The film is primarily about the Nile Perch fishing industry in Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria. The infanticidal behaviour of the Nile Perch, which has eaten all the smaller fish in the lake and has turned to feeding on its own young, is taken to be a metaphor for human society. Straining to replicate Conrad’s narrative, the film unconvincingly implies that weapons are being smuggled into Tanzania in exchange for fish. Barbaric European pilots and businessmen “feed” economically on a thoroughly savage Africa, where children bare their teeth at each other in an animalistic fight for spilled cornmeal. The veiled eugenic fantasy implied in the title, of Europeans devolving into savagery through an encounter with the erstwhile ‘Dark Continent’, remains fundamental to European/White identity. The dying Kurtz shuddering at ‘the horror’ of what he had become by associating too closely with Africans is the emotive force of Sauper’s Oscar-nominated film.
The film is nevertheless an important one. Like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the plainly disgusting process of industrial food production becomes synecdoche for the exploitative underbelly of an unregulated economy. The harvest of fish by glue-sniffing children, remains shocking to anyone familiar with the peaceful history of Tanzania and the warm smiles encountered there at every turn. And this is why the film should be seen, especially by those familiar with Tanzania’s history. On one hand one is led to blame this destitution on Nyerere’s economic failures, on the other one recalls Nyerere’s efforts to keep people from dropping out of the bottom of an unregulated economy. The film, ultimately, is not about Tanzania but about an interpretation of modern Africa made popular by writers like Robert Kaplan whose influential article “The Coming Anarchy” in the Atlantic Monthly predicated state collapse on social breakdown in a barely civilized Africa. The answer, however, lies not in the well-trod myth of ‘the white man’s burden’ that derives from the logic presented in this film. A more attuned ear to Tanzania’s own history would bring to mind Nyerere’s much more constructive analysis of the global economy in his introduction to The Report of the South Commission.
An opening scene in the film shows a prostitute resolutely singing the beautiful schoolchild hymn “Tanzania, Tanzania, nakupenda kwa moyo wote…” [Tanzania I love you with all my heart] while a rude European pilot mocks her. The song is given no translation and this is representative of the tragic shortcomings of this film. To one who understands Swahili, the scene is a powerful portrait of a woman whose pride of place and identity remain intact even under the assaults of these brutish johns. To a foreign audience, the woman stubbornly chants an irrational mumbo jumbo as her life is slowly taken from her. Tanzania is a real country with real people, who are not given justice in this otherwise courageous film.
PRACTICING HISTORY IN CENTRAL TANZANIA: WRITING, MEMORY, AND PERFORMANCE. Gregory H. Maddox with Ernest M. Kongola. Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. 2006. Pp. xii + 181. US$29.95, paper (ISBN 0325070563).
In this innovative and far-ranging book, Greg Maddox investigates how history is created and transmitted in colonial and post-colonial Tanzania. He does this by following the career and work of a practicing historian of the Gogo people, Ernest Musa Kongola, who is also credited as the book’s co-author. The result is a fascinating conversation between Maddox, an American-based professional historian interested in locating Gogo history within the broader context of Tanzania and Africa on the one hand, and Kongola, a retired teacher and author of several self-published volumes on the history of Ugogo and Gogo people in central Tanzania, on the other.
This conversation mainly concerns the creation of a usable past in post-colonial Tanzania. This past sits rather awkwardly aside the nationalist ‘meta-narrative’ constructed around the history of TANU and career of Julius Nyerere. Within these dissonances between local histories and national ‘meta-narratives’, Maddox raises questions to the production of different histories for different audiences. Maddox is at his most persuasive when he analyses the motives and meanings behind Kongola’s decision to devote an enormous amount of his historical attention to Mazengo – the Gogo paramount chief under Indirect Rule – decades after Nyerere and TANU had abolished the chiefs and dismissed such administrative structures as anachronistic and illegitimate. Kongola also questions the legitimacy of Mazengo, but on the traditional grounds that he was a usurper who simply took ritual authority. Maddox finds that these narratives, even long after independence, continue to offer glimpses into struggles for control over local communities and the meanings of modernity.
Kongola’s life story serves as the book’s point of departure. His autobiography, reprinted in full, is dominated by his experience within the colonial education system as both a student and teacher. Maddox demonstrates how the two twentieth-century institutions that decisively shaped Kongola’s life – church and state – stand in contrast to the formative institutions of clan and ritual within normative Gogo tradition, even though standard motifs of clan histories structure the autobiography. Kongola offers his life story as a moral tale; he led a successful life because it was based on order and discipline, with political and personal defeats muted in the text but no less poignant. Christianity exercises the greatest influence over Kongola’s life and writings, and here Maddox opens up an important vista of continuity amidst the dramatic political changes of twentieth-century Tanzania. Kongola, a member of the Anglican Church, writes the life histories of his mother Talita and wife Margareth as exemplary Christians; his own life and writings represent, according to Maddox, a Gogo struggle to ‘domesticate’ Christianity on local terms. This becomes particularly clear in the writings of Kongola’s father, Musa Kongola, whose own life history is fully defined in Christian terms. To his credit, Maddox gives the highly Christian nature of local Gogo history the full treatment that it deserves.
The book’s major contribution is its methodological commitment to bridge the ever-widening gap in the work and audience of Western-based academic historians of Tanzania on the one hand, and Tanzania-based historians on the other. Maddox does well to avoid reducing Kongola’s writings to ethnographic curiosities and ‘primary sources’, as easily happens elsewhere, but instead brings them into a wider conversation about the meaning of historical production over a period of tremendous change. This book will appeal to readers interested in the craft of history, though more general readers might tire of Maddox’s ceaseless quest to import suitable historiographical and theoretical references at every turn. But this is a small objection. Overall, this is a wonderful study that will hopefully serve as a methodological basis for future collaborations between historians in Tanzania and outside.
James R. Brennan
ALONE ON A CROOKED MILE. Elizabeth Leeson edited and published by Bill Weston 2005 251pp £13.95 including postage. ISBN 0-9541103-4-X Available from William Ralph Weston, Over Croft, 8a Newland Road, Kirkheaton, Huddersfield HD5 0QT Yorkshire.
Elizabeth Leeson set out to sail single handed in a totally inadequate yacht to Bermuda where she hoped to do research on marine biology. After encountering shipwreck and financial difficulties she finally landed up in Madeira where she has remained ever since, able to pursue her intended research on jelly-fish! She has long been a familiar figure to visitors to the English Church in Funchal, where copies of her book are also available. One of the earlier chapters describes her years in Tanzania, 1949-61, initially as a missionary teacher at St Andrew’s School Minaki where she felt herself to be a misfit and was less than complimentary about her colleagues whom she considered narrow-minded! Her activities were certainly unconventional and she eventually left the Mission to teach in Government schools. Her reflections on the years leading up to Uhuru are particularly interesting to those of us who were there at the same time. She’s currently recovering from extensive knee and hip surgery but hopes to resume her place as organist once again as soon as she’s fit enough, a very determined lady.
CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL SYSTEM OF TANZANIA: A Civics source Book. Issa G. Shivji (editor and contributor), Humudi I Majamba, Robert V Makaramba and Chris M Peter. Dar es Salaam, Mkuki na Nyota Publishers Ltd. 2004. 312 pp. ISBN 9987 417 31 0. £34.95. Available from African Books Collective Ltd., Unit 13 Kings Meadow, Ferry Hinksey Road, Oxford, OX2 0DP. Email email@example.com
This book by leading legal scholars of the University of Dar es Salaam emerged from training courses for secondary school civics teachers, with input from teachers at a workshop on the draft. It follows the syllabus prescribed by the Ministry of Education, but the authors also offer it to the public as “a quick bird’s eye view” of the constitutional and legal system.
A wide range of basic topics are outlined: the nature, sources and branches of law; “The Constitutional structure”, summarising developments from independence; three short chapters on “Human Rights” show varied approaches of different authors, but summarise relevant constitutional provisions. International political and economic organisations are followed by the longest section, appropriately in a work designed for schools: an outline of “Children’s Rights and Common Problems” (60pp) includes a chapter on juvenile justice. The outline of the general court system which follows might usefully have come earlier; it includes summaries of civil and criminal trial processes and the treatment of offenders. The book ends with short chapters on environmental and natural resources laws and on nationalisation, liberalisation and regulatory laws. Some chapters include useful Bibliographical Notes – a consolidated Bibliography would have been helpful. On some topics (children, parole, environment, investment) recent laws are briefly cited.
Readers who expect a “sourcebook” to consist mainly of extracts from original sources will be disappointed: most of the text consists of discursive outlines. Selective quotations from laws or other sources appear in “boxes”, some of which provide case summaries or tabulate or summarise legal provisions. Some unevenness of treatment is inevitable from such joint work, but occasional repetitions could have been avoided. For some leading cases recalled, including those following the notorious atrocities of the mid 1970’s, the authors fail to state the outcome of the trials. The use of Kiswahili is mentioned only briefly, in relation to juvenile courts.
However useful the work may be in Tanzanian schools, the foreign price is exorbitant for the basic information provided.
A HISTORY OF THE EXCLUDED: MAKING FAMILY A REFUGE FROM THE STATE IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY TANZANIA. James L. Giblin. James Currey, Oxford. 2005. Pp. xii + 304. £50.00 hardback (ISBN 0-85255-4467-2), £16.95 paper (ISBN 0-85255-466-4).
This book examines how family ties serve as vital institutions to sustain people’s livelihoods within a period of destructive state intrusion in the Southern Highlands around Njombe. James Giblin combines documentary evidence from archives and memoirs together with an impressively deep and wide-ranging set of interviews to sketch out a history of family change in 19th and 20th-century Njombe. Families in this region succeeded in creating a ‘refuge from the state’ by carving out autonomous spheres, particularly in the agrarian economy beyond the reach of the state. Thus this book investigates the creation of private spheres free from bureaucratic regulation and predation, displaying the inadequacy of nominal public authorities. With his close attention to language and kinship relations, Giblin provides one of the richest pictures we have of the creation and transformation of social structure Tanzanian history.
Marion Doro sends information about the following recent papers of interest:-
Are poor, remote areas left behind in agricultural development: the case of Tanzania. Minot, Nicholas. International Food Policy Research Institute, December 2005. 52 pp.
Outlines a new approach to measuring trends in poverty in Tanzania.
Explores the distributional aspects of economic growth and the relationship between rural poverty and market access.
Adjusting inequality: education and structural adjustment policies in Tanzania. Vavrus, Frances. Harvard Educational Review, vol. 75, no. 2, pp. 174-201, Summer 2005.
International economic forces increasingly affect policy at multiple levels and in multiple domains. The interplay of three levels, international, national, and local are under-researched in the social and educational policy fields, which includes educational policy studies. In this article, Frances Vavrus employs ethnography to investigate how these interactions play out in a Chagga community in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. She examines how the lives of secondary students in Tanzanian schools are affected by structural adjustment policies, adopted by Tanzania at the advice of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in three domains: access to schooling, opportunities for employment, and the risk of HIV/AIDS infection. She makes a convincing case for the importance of understanding the local setting in the development of international and national policy, and for investigating the impact policy change in non educational sectors has on educational realities. Vavrus’ research also provides a glimpse into the multiple local consequences of the policy of user fees for school access that were implemented over the last fifteen years in Tanzania and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. She concludes with a call for the research community to consider the benefits of ethnography in the development and evaluation of policy.
What Tanzania’s coffee farmers can teach the world: a performance-based look at the fair trade-free trade debate. Parrish, Bradley D; Luzadis, Valerie A; Bentley, William R. Sustainable Development, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 177-189, July 2005
Questions remain about the effectiveness of fair trade, especially in comparison with free trade approaches to development. Both strategies seek to benefit smallholder farmers in lower-income countries, who are vulnerable to declining and fluctuating commodity prices and rising production costs. This study examines two prominent, market-based interventions, Fairtrade certification and TechnoServe business development, as they are implemented at two coffee producer organizations in Tanzania. Qualitative and secondary quantitative data were collected using rapid appraisal methodology during three months of field research. The data were analyzed using the sustainable
livelihood framework. This study concludes that both intervention strategies yield potentially valuable results for smallholders in multiple domains, but each is distinctly suited to specific market
conditions. Implications of the study’s findings are discussed in terms of an emerging consensus on intervention strategies.
Appraisal of solid waste collection following private sector involvement in Dar es Salaam city, Tanzania. Kaseva, Mengiseny; Mbuligwe, Stephen E. Habitat International, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 353-366, June 2005.
This paper presents findings of a study, which was carried out in Dar es Salaam city, to assess post-privatisation of solid waste collection and disposal. Prior to the assessment, fieldwork studies indicated that current solid waste generation rate in the city is 0.4 kg/cap/day and total waste generation is within the range of 2,425 tons/day. This study also indicated that out of the total waste generated, a total of 957 tons/day is collected by the three city municipalities (231 tons/day or equivalent to 10% of the total generation), private solid waste collection contractors (592 tons/day or equivalent of 24.4%) and through recycling (134 tons/day or equivalent of 5.5%). These findings suggest that as a result of privatisation of solid waste collection activities in Dar es Salaam city, solid waste collection has improved from 10% in 1994 to 40% of the total waste generated in the city daily in 2001. The paper recommends that waste recycling and composting activities be encouraged since this approach is considered to be the right measure in attaining sustainability in waste management.
Does the integrated management of childhood illness cost more than routine care? Results from the United Republic of Tanzania. Adam, Taghreed; Manzi, Fatuma; Schellenberg, Joanna A; Mgalula,
Leslie; de Savigny, Don; Evans, David B. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, vol. 83, no. 5, pp. 369-377, May 2005.
Objective: The Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) strategy is designed to address the five leading causes of childhood mortality, which together account for 70% of the 10 million deaths occurring among children worldwide annually. Although IMCI is associated with improved quality of care, which is a key determinant of better health outcomes, it has not yet been widely adopted, partly because it is assumed to be more expensive than routine care. Here we report the cost of IMCI compared with routine care in four districts in the United Republic of Tanzania. Methods: Total district costs of childcare were estimated from the societal perspective as the sum of child health-care costs incurred in a district at the household level, primary health-facility level and hospital level. We also included administrative and support costs incurred by national and district administrations. The incremental cost of IMCI is the difference in costs of child health-care between districts with and without IMCI, after standardisation for population size. Findings: The annual cost per child of caring for children less than five years old in districts with IMCI was US$ 11.19, 44% lower than the cost in the other districts. Part of the difference was due to higher rates of hospitalisation of children less than 5 years old in the districts without IMCI. Not all of this difference can be attributed to IMCI but even when differences in hospitalization rates are excluded, the cost per child was still 6% lower in IMCI districts. Conclusion: IMCI was not associated with higher costs than routine child health-care in the four study districts in Tanzania. Given the evidence of improved quality of care in the IMCI districts, the results suggest that cost should not be a barrier in scaling up of IMCI.