Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)
THE AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGY NETWORK: REPORTS AND A REVIEW
edited by Felix Chami, Gilbert Pwiti and Chantal Radimilahy. Dar es Salaam University Press, 2004 (distributed in Britain by African Books Collective, Oxford); ix+187 pp. ISBN 9976-60-408(410)-4.
This is the fourth set of papers in the series, Studies in the African Past, produced in as many years by the University Press in Dar es Salaam. That in itself belies the common perception that effective scholarship, and serious publication too, are barely manageable locally. More than that, this series, reporting archaeological fieldwork in several countries of eastern and southern Africa – and in the present volume extending to West Africa – attests a range of recent endeavours directed from a number of universities, including Dar es Salaam, and should be setting an example to academics in certain other disciplines where the spirit of active research has become moribund. For archaeological initiative and enthusiasm over the last decade, Felix Chami of Dar has been prominent. His excavation campaigns on the Tanzanian islands, coast and hinterland – concentrating on the earlier Iron Age and what he identifies, albeit controversially, as ‘Neolithic’ up to 3,000 years ago – are reported in the preceding volumes, and followed here by a paper on Mafia island. True, the overall programme (both in Tanzania and in other countries, particularly Zimbabwe and Madagascar) has relied on outside support; and the preface of each volume routinely acknowledges the assistance rendered by aid and academic liaison bodies in Sweden. Apparently, this Swedish cooperation (led by Paul Sinclair at Uppsala University) has been essential for publishing costs in Dar es Salaam as well as for subventing the various archaeological projects and post-excavation laboratory work.
Doubtless for this reason, certain papers read like obligatory reports to satisfy the funding source, rather than scientific reference materials for use by fellow archaeologists or intellectual contributions to African history. It is not simply that these initial results need following up in an energetic and imaginative way – that’s always so – but rather that the significance of some of the findings, whether confident or tentative, is not sufficiently explored and explained in the context of current knowledge. Some of these fieldwork efforts might more suitably have merited summary newsletter listing at this stage (with a statement on where the finds and site records may be consulted); while others might, with due reflection and smoother presentation helped by more rigorous editorial guidance, have been passed to established regional or continental journals which constitute the body of mainstream reference in African archaeology.
As usual with archaeology, most of the contributions are accompanied by maps, line-drawings (of site plans, pottery etc) and photographs, in this volume in colour. The quality of reproduction achieved by the printer deserves commendation (the striking inconsistency of drawing styles notwithstanding). However, the relevance of individual illustrations is not always perfectly clear; in particular, it is little use supplying pages of potsherds without explaining, by correlation of captions with text and accompanying tables, their provenance and significant features. Equally confusing are misplaced keys to figures; while certain tables and photographs have been duplicated or had their captions swapped. The volume is graced with an index, but it is difficult to imagine that being needed by anyone using this rather short collection of barely connected studies.
For – despite the title, which repeats that of this Swedish-sponsored programme – the signs of an effective Network, in the sense of a collaborative endeavour in which the various local activities enrich the whole, are limited here. Certain contributors, notably Chami himself, do look beyond their immediate regions for archaeological comparisons and historical contacts (even if the geographical sweep of his arguments can be difficult to follow), while Shadreck Chirikure’s critique of a century of studies of iron-working is continental in scope. But some others betray a starkly parochial vision, and seem unable to locate their fieldwork except within maps of their own countries and their archaeologically irrelevant borders. A paper describing sites along the lower Zambezi in Mozambique is written as if the whole course of that great river and its vast drainage basin belong within the one country! Of course, those authors know better; but there’s a mental barrier to be surmounted if they are to both inform and be informed by a regional or Pan-African ‘network’. Blame this narrowness on the colonial legacy, perhaps, or on post-colonial government departments and national educational curricula; it remains a challenge for African studies – and not only history and archaeology – within Africa.
ZANZIBAR – MAY ALLEN AND THE EAST AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE. Yoland Brown. Eleventowns Publishing, Ruyton XI Towns, Shrewsbury, Salop SY4 1LR. Tel 01939 261121. P/b 248 pages. ISBN 0 9515015 1 8. £12.50 plus p&p UK £1.75, overseas extra.
Britain’s connection with the slave trade will be in the news again with the forthcoming bicentenary of an Act of parliament abolishing the Atlantic Slave Trade. Yoland brown’s book focuses on the other side of Africa and especially on Zanzibar, once the centre of the East African traffic in the human commodity, traces of which lingered on well into the twentieth century. The central figure in a book with a wide canvas and a remarkable cast including Dr David Livingstoe and his fellow African bound missionaries and explorers is the eponymous may Allen. She, a Shropshire “lass”, an archdeacon’s daughter, at the age of 40 found herself as the first qualified medical missionary to work in Zanzibar, heading a small team of two other nurses, in December 1875.
Her story as told by Yoland Brown was gleaned from 67 letters she wrote home over the next six years starting with one published in a Shropshire local paper in January 1876, and the rest in the journal of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) established as a direct result of one of Livingstone’s public lectures about his experiences in Africa. These fascinating glimpses of life in 19th century offshore Africa, the remorseless grind of establishing a Christian mission in unpromising circumstances. The uphill task of converting and looking after former slaves, the ambivalence of the local authorities as represented by the charismatic Sultan Barghash in dealing with the mission in the aftermath of the closing of the once infamous slave market as a result of the ruler’s (reluctant) signature on the anti slavery treaty which bore the name of Sir Bartle Frere, the Chairman of the investigative Special Mission (and a former Governor of Bombay). Frere’s hand in eventually persuading the Sultan (who not unnaturally feared the total collapse of Zanzibar’s economy) to sign on the dotted line was somewhat strengthened by the presence of four British warships and one American in Zanzibar harbour. Despite having been faced down by the British, Sultan Barghash was generally supportive of the UMCA mission except that he strongly opposed any attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Interesting as is the story of May Allen’s tireless endeavours, it is the graphic (and well illustrated) account of the horrors of the Africa-wide slave trade and the efforts of missionaries and missionary/explorers to bring it to an end which gives this book its particular fascination. We revisit familiar tales of the travels of Dr Livingstone and those of many other lesser known African travelers who faced almost unbelievable hardships on every page, many succumbing to tragically early deaths, attempting to pursue a Christian civilizing mission to bring the denizens of the Dark Continent to salvation, and to frustrate the work of the Arab slave traders. The tale of the mission is also seen in the context of the growth of the British presence in Zanzibar, particularly the career of Sir John Kirk, British Consul on Zanzibar for many years who had finally persuaded Sultan Barghash to sign the anti slave document with the words “ I have not come to discus but to dictate”. Perhaps a suitable epitaph for many Imperial pro-consuls of that time.
I strongly recommend this well written account of penetration of Africa and of missionary endeavour at the Zenith of Imperial Britain. If you read nothing else just look at chapter 30: “Qualities needed to be a Missionary”. Substitute “District Officer” for Missionary and many of our older readers may find themselves back on familiar territory and a bit misty eyed besides.
The above review is reproduced, with permission, from “The Overseas Pensioner” #91, April 2006, the journal of the Overseas Service Pensioners’ Association.
WIDE HORIZONS: TALES OF A NON-TRAVELLER IN TANZANIA – by Roger Philpott
Pp215. ISBN 1-4208-9381-5 (Sc). Available directly through Authorhouse website (authorhouse.co.uk) and costs £8.99 plus p & p. Or from Amazon at £12.99 plus p & p.
This is a light-weight, entertaining book by someone who spent two years with his partner teaching at an International School in Iringa. It is written in the form of a journal and is conversational in style. Having also spent two and a half years teaching in Tanzania at, more or less, the same time, I appreciated and enjoyed his accounts of some of his experiences – travelling on the dala-dala, the lack of time awareness, the gentleness and friendliness of the Tanzanian people.
Nowhere, however, does he indicate the level of schooling (primary or secondary?), the age of the pupils or the syllabus used (the standard Tanzanian syllabus or an International version?). Some of my own experiences in helping to start a girls secondary boarding school in a remote part of central Tanzania were diametrically opposite to his; for example, the girls were immensely proud of their uniform and always kept it immaculate. Status and dignity were all important in this poor region of subsistence farmers – as also was formality.
Some omissions in the book surprised me. Although he digresses from the diary style to talk about Nyerere, he does not mention Nyerere’s far-sightedness in wanting primary school teaching to be in Kiswahili thus establishing a common language between the many tribes. Nor does he mention the crippling effect of the Debt at the time he was there.
The book is very easy to read and makes no claim to be a serious study. Indeed, it is more about the author than about Tanzania and there are very few paragraphs which do not centre around “I” or “we”. Nevertheless, it is a superficial but entertaining book provided one accepts it for what it is.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN TANZANIA AND SOUTH AFRICA ( LOITASA ). Eds.Birgit Brock-Utne, Zubeda Desai & Martha Qorro, E & D Ltd., Dar es Salaam, 2003. Pp ix + 222. ISBN 9987622534. £19.95. Distributed by African Books Collective Ltd., Oxford (email@example.com )
The twelve chapters of this book are revisions of papers presented at the 2002 launch of the five-year LOITASA project. They form the first part of an investigation of education policies and practices in Tanzania and South Africa with respect to the language of instruction ( LOI ). This research project was motivated by long -standing concern over falling educational standards in Tanzanian secondary schools and the upper grades of South African primary schools. Earlier research suggested that the major reason for this decline is that students are trying to absorb new concepts through an inadequately – mastered foreign language, albeit a language to which they must all have access.
The Introduction outlines the experimental part of the programme: a pilot-study in the earliest school grades in which subjects are normally taught through English i.e. the first two years of secondary education in Tanzania and years four – six of primary education in S. Africa (Cape). The plan was for selected classes to be taught two subjects through Swahili and Xhosa respectively. Control classes would be taught in English.
The book covers many of the historical, political, socioeconomic and psychological factors which impinge on the LOI question. Several of the papers concerned with Tanzania (this review’s main focus) note the relationship, over the last forty years, between changes in the political climate and shifts in the status of Swahili, relative to English. That Swahili could be considered a possible candidate for use as the LOI of secondary education is, to a great extent, attributable to its official promotion during the 1960’s and 70’s, for integrative and mass-mobilisation purposes, and the consequent functional expansion and linguistic development that has followed. It functions successfully as the LOI of primary school education.
The observational and other research quoted in some of the chapters dealing with Tanzania suggests that secondary school students are disadvantaged twice over: by the serious inadequacy of the teaching of English (as a subject ) in primary schools, leaving them unprepared for secondary education, and secondary teachers’ own inadequate command of English. Much explanation of new concepts is done in Swahili or a mixture of Swahili and faulty English. The unfortunate results of this situation are also evident in university students’ written work.
The results of LOITASA’s pilot project (2007/8?) should indicate whether it would be pedagogically justified to phase in Swahili as the LOI of secondary education, and also, perhaps, how it might be managed. But the decision would be a political one, and the authors are well aware of the competing demands on education budgets. Ironically, what might make such a decision acceptable to ambitious parents, for whom quality education tends to be equated with English, would be a well-resourced commitment to strengthen the teaching of English as a subject. Upgrading the language skills of specialist English ( as a subject ) teachers is likely to be a more manageable task than attempting to improve the English of most secondary-school teachers in the country.
The mini-biographies of the authors of this book indicate a wealth of experience and expertise in education and language issues. All their contributions, each with a useful list of references, are thought -provoking and well worth reading.
EMANCIPATION WITHOUT ABOLITION IN GERMAN EAST AFRICA c. 1884-1914: Jan-Georg Deutsch. Pub. James Currey, 2006. UKPP: 978-0-85255-985-7 £17.95 Paper, 978-85255-986-4 £55.00 cloth.
Jan-Georg Deutsch’s account of the changing nature of slavery in German East Africa starts with a paradox. While Germany, unlike its colonial neighbours, did not legally abolish slavery, the number of slaves in German East Africa nevertheless declined dramatically over the colonial period from a high of around 400,000 in 1898 to a point where the British could declare in 1923 that slavery did not exist in Tanganyika. Deutsch argues the reasons for this decline are to be found not in colonial policies, but in structural changes in the colonial economy which gave slaves the opportunity to renegotiate their status.
The first of the book’s three parts deals with pre-colonial slavery. Structured around a comparison between the interior and the coast, it draws out similarities and differences within experiences labelled as ‘slavery’ and shows how slavery changed over the nineteenth century. The second part addresses German colonial policy, first in Germany, then in Africa. Finally, Deutsch demonstrates that although European powers justified colonial rule through claims to be saving Africa from the scourge of slavery, anti-slavery policies were of less direct importance than broader economic change and the actions of slaves themselves.
This is a social history of Africa firmly situated in a tradition of scholarship which stresses African agency as the primary force shaping historical change. Yet it does this while paying full attention to the colonial sources, both those produced in Germany and in German East Africa, sources which have been under-utilized by historians to the detriment of our understanding of the period. This is an important contribution to our understanding of the history of German colonialism in Tanzania which rewards careful reading.
SWAHILI MEDICAL DICTIONARY AND PHRASE BOOK. M.J.F. Cooper. Published online and available through www.medicalswahili.org.uk. Pb. 200 pages. £8.95. Also from the author at 2 Drax Avenue, Wareham, Dorset BH20 4DJ.
The book is intended for medical students and other clinicians working in Swahili. It includes an introduction to the Swahili language and sections on diseases, parts of the body and important phrases for history taking and examination. Although standard Swahili is used, examples of colloquial language.
TANZAN TALES. E.Cory-King. Rabbit Books, 6 Chaplin Grove, Crownhill, Milton Keynes, Bucks MK8 0DQ. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. ISBN 1-904500-50-1. pp 176. p/b. £11.95. Also available in three mini-books each priced at £4.99.
The author collected these tales while being raised as a child in Africa. She would sit and listen attentively as the servants Mohamadi, Ramadhani and Karol related these centuries-old stories.
The author heard these tales so many times that she remembered them by heart and would sit and tell them to her mother who wrote them down in her German tongue in four diaries.
Once in England the author decided to translate them into English in order that a new generation of English children could enjoy these stories that have delighted African children for so may years.
The book is attractively illustrated, mainly in colour.
Some recent Journal articles:
Mbuligwe, S.E. and Kaseva, M.E. Pollution and self-cleansing of an urban river in a developing country: a case study in Dar es Salaam. Environmental Management, 36(2), 2006, pp. 328-42.
Zimmerman, A. “What do you really want in German east Africa, Herr Professor?” Counterinsurgency and the science effect in colonial Tanzania. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 48(2), 2006, pp. 419-61.
“Women do what they want”: Islam and permanent contraception in Northern Tanzania
Keefe, Susi Krehbiel. Social Science & Medicine v. 63 no. 2 (July 2006) p. 418-29
Based on fieldwork in Ugweno, Tanzania, this research explores a case that contradicts popular understandings and representations of Muslim African women-specifically with respect to reproduction and family planning. Building on case studies of women who articulate their motivations regarding contraceptive use in general, and sterilization in particular, I argue that religious (and, in this case, Islamic) values and reasoning are fashioned pragmatically. The study was based on in-depth, unstructured and open-ended interviews with 40 women (20 of whom had been sterilized), as well as men, religious leaders and hospital workers. Women (and men) in Ugweno construct reproductive lives that challenge overly deterministic understandings of the relationship between religion and contraceptive practices. It was found that perceptions of Islamic rules about family planning are inconsistent. Individuals are able to define their own approach by manipulating the rules and resisting them.
Colonial Legacies and Postcolonial Authoritarianism in Tanzania: Connects and Disconnects
African Studies Review v. 49 no. 1 (April 2006) p. 93-118
A commentary on Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, a book by Mahmood Mamdani. In this book, Mamdani contends that a tendency toward authoritarianism, even “despotism,” in post-independence African government can be seen as an institutional legacy of late colonialism. Drawing on an analysis of the experience of Tanzania, the writer examines Mamdani’s colonial legacy thesis and advances two main arguments. The first is that the thesis that the postcolonial Tanzanian state was linked to its colonial predecessor through an institutional legacy cannot be maintained given the significant breaks in the state’s institutional organization; and the second is that state elites’ political imagination is a key factor to consider when examining the roots of postcolonial authoritarianism.
‘Something else to burn’: forest squatters, conservationists, and the state in modern Tanzania
The Journal of Modern African Studies v. 43 no. 4 (December 2005) p. 609-40
Since 1990, forest policy in Tanzania has been predicated on an agenda of biodiversity preservation combined with privatization that demands the expansion of state oversight over forests and woodlands. This agenda seeks to prevent peasant intrusion into forest reserves to burn charcoal for the urban market or to expand fields for agriculture. As such, it represents a departure from over 100 years of state forestry that sought to exploit forests for domestic consumer and development needs and to compete in export timber and charcoal markets. Indeed, recent evictions of peasants from forest reserves and ongoing tensions between villagers, the state, and conservationists can be directly attributed to pressure from local nongovernmental organizations to protect forest reserves and to expand forest conservation into previously unreserved lands.
Vice President Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein launched a ‘Corporate Tanzania Guide on Business and Investment’ at Movenpick Hotel in Dar es Salaam on October 28. The 232-page document that the Minister for Planning, Economy and Empowerment, Dr Juma Ngasongwa termed as ‘a must read publication on Tanzania’ highlights key aspects and opportunities in the country’s economy. It covers agriculture, solid minerals, infrastructure, banking and finance, foreign affairs and tourism – Sunday News.