Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)
LAW AND JUSTICE IN TANZANIA: A QUARTER OF A CENTURY OF THE COURT OF APPEAL EDITED BY Chris Maina Peter and Helen Kijo-Bisimba. Dar-es-Salaam: Legal and Human Rights Centre and Mkuki na Nyota Publishers. 2007. xx plus 382 pages. ISBN 9987 449 43 3. £29.95.
The Court of Appeal of Tanzania was established in August 1979, after the demise of the respected Court of Appeal for East Africa. Approximately twenty-five years later the Court celebrated its Silver Jubilee in style, with speeches by leading figures (including the Presidents of Tanzania and Zanzibar), a procession, dancing, and a seminar on the Court’s performance. This substantial volume includes photographs of the celebration and of almost all of the judges in the history of the Court, but the bulk of it is devoted to sixteen thoughtful papers on the history, achievements, and challenges of this admirable institution.
Part I contains four celebratory speeches; Part II chronicles the establishment and work of the Court; Part III considers in detail the Court’s contribution to three specific areas of law; Part IV looks more broadly at the Court in relation to Codes of Judicial Conduct, its role in safeguarding the Rule of Law and Human Rights, and the possibility of establishing (or re-inventing) an East African Court of Justice. Part V considers the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct and the prospects for standardising the criteria for admission to practice law in East Africa.
Taken together these scholarly essays suggest that there is much to celebrate about an institution that has survived a number of pressures and difficulties. Since Independence Tanzania has been especially fortunate in its Chief Justices __ Telford Georges, Francis Nyalali, and, currently, Barnabas Samatta. Each of them has provided strong leadership and commitment to the ideals of the Rule of Law. This book brings out the stability of the Court, its seriousness in facing challenges to its independence, its integrity, and its technical competence. There is a touching dedication to seven former members of the Court of Appeal (including Chief Justice Nyalali) who had died during the twenty-five years of its existence, four of them in 2003.
However, this is not just a work of self-congratulation. H.E. President Mkapa dwelt on the theme “Tanzania needs a Tanzanian judiciary, not one from Mars”. He identified four problem areas: delay; costs and other obstacles to access to justice; maintaining judicial independence; and the need for continuous vigilance about corruption, both within the judiciary, and in the Court’s contribution to the general “fight against vice”. Each of these issues is addressed in subsequent papers. There is also a robust response by Justice Mfalila to the criticisms made by Professor Issa Shivji in 1985 that the judiciary had been timid and mediocre in its dealings with the Executive.
For lawyers, this book is a mine of information about procedure, leading cases, and the legal foundations of the Court, including appendices with full texts of some of the basic documents. For non-lawyers some of the detail may be too technical, but they may find much of interest in James Read’s overview of appellate courts in East Africa and in the chapters dealing with judicial conduct, the independence of the judiciary, and the prospects for East African co-operation.
Nicely produced, readable and informative, this volume is worthy of the occasion. Having commended it, I should declare an interest. Several of the authors are my former colleagues and students. However, the majority are too young to have been taught by me __ so I can claim at least a degree of independence.
BAGAMOYO – TOWN OF PALMS Graham Mercer. Pub. Graham Mercer, 2007 pp 96 Available directly from the author at email@example.com £9.00 plus p&p.
This is a book packed with good things for anyone interested in the history of the Tanzanian coast. Graham Mercer has spent 30 years in Tanzania, the majority as a teacher at the International School of Tanganyika in Dar es Salaam. He is now a full-time writer and photographer with thirteen books and countless magazine articles to his credit and it is his skill as a travel writer that comes to the fore in this book. He traces the development of Bagamoyo from its earliest beginnings to the present and uses it as a starting point to explore aspects of Tanzanian history and culture.
Kaole, three miles to the south east, was the 13th century precursor of Bagamoyo, the new Swahili town which came into its own in the 19th century with the arrival in Zanzibar of the Omani Sultan Seyyid Said. He created a commercial empire with Bagamoyo, a mere 20 nautical miles away, as the main port on the East African coast. Ivory tusks and slaves were what he was after, and thousands passed through Bagamoyo en route to Zanzibar.
Bagamoyo was also the gateway to the interior for Victorian explorers such as Burton and Speke, Cameron, Thomson and that controversial character, Henry Morton Stanley who set out from there to find Livingstone and whose caravan was fitted out by the young Sewa Haji Paroo, one of Tanzania’s forgotten early philanthropists. The book has also much to tell of the still thriving Holy Ghost Mission, founded in 1868,with the blessing of Sultan Seyyid Majid, to shelter freed slaves.
The arrival of the Germans spelt the beginning of a long twilight of decline for the town. There are graphic accounts of the German occupation and the Swahili resistance under the leadership of Abushiri and its brutal suppression by Hermann von Wissmann. The decision by the Germans in 1891 to make Dar es Salaam the capital of their new colony and the abandonment of a plan to build a rail link to Bagamoyo hastened the decline.
The author has made countless visits to Bagamoyo over the years with groups of International School students and the final chapter of the book is a description of the town as it is today. On the whole it is not a happy picture: historic buildings are crumbling, there is unemployment, thieving and drug abuse and there is the threat of insensitive new development. But since the completion of the new tarmac road from Dar es Salaam the town is experiencing something of a renaissance. New beach hotels have sprung up along the northern extension and Graham Mercer is still hopeful that Bagamoyo will rise again.
This is an entertaining book written with great affection for “the town of palms”. At the same time it is full of interesting information for the visitor with two useful maps and more than seventy illustrations and photographs taken by the author who designed and published the book himself. The enduring magnetism of Bagamoyo shines through.
THE AFRICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION held its 50th Anniversary Meeting in New York City, October 18-21, 2007, on the topic “21st Century Africa: Evolving Conceptions of Human Rights.”
Among the several hundred papers offered, sixteen were presented on Tanzanian topics; six of the most relevant ones are listed below:
Natalie Bourdon, Michigan State University, “Coercive Harmony? Realizing Women’s Rights through Alternative Dispute Resolution in Dar es Salaam’s Legal Aid Clinics.”
Allison Loconto, Michigan State University, “Corporate Social Responsibility in Tanzania: Challenges and Opportunities.”
Dean McHenry, Claremont Graduate University, “Are Unity and Human Rights Compatible? The Continuing Impact of the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar on Human Rights.”
Michelle Bourbonniere, Stanford University, “The Akivaga Crisis: Radicalism at the University of Dar es Salaam.”
Donna Tonini, Teachers College, Columbia University, “The Wide Divide Between Primary and Secondary Education in Tanzania: Do Development Policies Help Promote Human Rights to Education, or Hinder Them?”
Rehema Kilonzo, University of Minnesota, “When a Solution Becomes a Problem: The Role of State Development and Forced Evictions in Tanzania.”
The program with more information about the meetings and ASA organizations and activities can be viewed at:
JULIUS NYERERE, Humanist, Politician, Thinker. Various authors. Translated from the Russian by G.Petruk. Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam.2005. ISBN 9987 -417-51-5, ISBN-139987-417-51-3. PP.70 + photos.£11.95.
This booklet is a collection of papers delivered at a conference at the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences dedicated to the memory of Julius Nyerere in January 2000, shortly after his death. The views expressed of Mwalimu are generally objective and well-balanced, overall very favourable but recognising some faults, mitigated by his rare willingness to admit mistakes. One suspects that in the pre-Glasnost era the praise might have been less fulsome. The Soviet authorities must have had high hopes when Nyerere came to power as a committed Socialist and especially when he introduced the one-party state (albeit with the most un-Soviet feature of a choice of candidates). . But as a Christian Socialist Nyerere had little sympathy with the Soviet model. And whatever attraction he might have felt for the Soviet Union as the defender of World Socialism largely evaporated with the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Arkadi Glukhov, who was Counsellor at the Soviet Embassy at the time, records the frigid reception given to the Soviet Ambassador when he called on Nyerere on instructions to explain and defend the invasion; and the appearance next day of an unsigned newspaper article denouncing the invasion but, with a typical Mwalimu touch, expressing sympathy with the Ambassador for having to deliver such an unpalatable message.
The papers contain other intriguing snippets of information about Soviet-Tanzanian relations. Tanzanian soldiers returning from training in USSR had to undergo political retraining before going back to their units. And Nyerere, on his two visits to Moscow, was received by neither Brezhnev nor Gorbachev, a surprising omission in view of the Soviet leaders’ punctiliousness in welcoming African leaders of much less eminence and importance He had of course denounced the Russian invasion of Afghanistan as well as Czechoslovakia.
In one of the more interesting papers Vladimir Ovchinnikov, a Swahili scholar, pays tribute to Nyerere’s often overlooked contribution to the Swahili language – his promotion of it as a national language, his excellent translations of three Shakespeare plays (an astonishing achievement considering that at the age of twelve he knew nothing of either language) and his correspondence with Swahili poets in verse.
In the opening paper Eva Lilian Nzaro, the Tanzanian Ambassador in Moscow, describes Mwalimu as “a modest man ….of the highest integrity, incorruptible and he did not mince his words”. In 1975, when Idi Amin was elected President of the OAU, Nyerere boycotted the OAU Heads of State meeting and publicly denounced Amin as “a black fascist and a racialist murderer”. One wishes that he was still around to express an opinion on his former protégé Robert Mugabe.
“DAR ES SALAAM: HISTORIES FROM AN EMERGING AFRICAN METROPOLIS”: edited by James R. Brennan, Andrew Burton and Yusuf Lawi: 279 pages, published in 2007 by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers at P.O.Box 4246 of Dar Es Salaam in association with The British Institute in Eastern Africa at P.O.Box 30710 in Nairobi. ISBN 978 9987 449 70 5. £24.95
All its life, Dar es Salaam has been a vibrant and whirling kaleidoscope of tribes, races, creeds, colours and cultures, constantly doubling its size and renewing its energy and variety in a heady mixture. It is time to write the history of its first hundred years. I approached this new book therefore in the hope that it would bring together all the threads; and in the first 75 pages, James Brennan and Andrew Burton survey Dar es Salaam’s growth. They cover many economic, demographic and social aspects in the colonial and immediate post-colonial times and provide an important contribution to the basic history of the city.
Their account is followed by a series of papers on specific subjects; city regulation; “urban forestry”; land use and housing; the police; drinking and the bars; the football teams; feminine employment and emancipation; dancing and clubs; hip-hop and rap. The sub-title describes these reports as “histories”. That may be too grand a word, but the collection is certainly of a high academic standard, full of useful data and valuable insights, occasionally written rather too densely for my taste, but always relevant and interesting. This compendium brings together a great deal of important information about one of the fastest growing and most significant cities of Africa as a whole.
The origins of the book go back to a 2002 Conference of the British Institute in Eastern Africa on “Dar es Salaam in the Twentieth Century”. Senior academics presented the results of their research to the Conference and then prepared them for publication here. Rather than a complete history of the metropolis, the book thus offers us a set of building blocks. This is immensely useful but leaves some tantalizing gaps in the record.
Inevitably most of the research relates to fairly brief periods in the city’s life – and where the authors update their reports they tend to do so briefly and cursorily. We do not therefore receive any information how Dar es Salaam is facing the new century with all its massive challenges and opportunities. There is little about the development of municipal government in the city and how the townspeople have responded to the challenges of administering the city. There is something but not enough about the city’s schools and how education has shaped and been shaped by Dar’s peoples. There is nothing about the growth and interaction of the many faiths among Dar’s inhabitants, nor of the religious, social and cultural behaviour of the rapidly-growing African professional and entrepreneurial middle class. Let us hope this publication will soon be followed by a fuller and complete biography of the metropolis.
Three editorial matters should be considered for the next edition. I would strongly recommend the addition of a bibliography – the notes at the end of each chapter are informative but I would have liked to know much more about the main sources used by the authors and editors. Secondly, a number of Chapter Five’s notes are missing. Black mark. Thirdly; the index has gaps – too many of the key names are absent.
A special delight are the recitations by Werner Graebner and Alex Perullo of Swahili songs popular in Dar es Salaam some years ago. I enjoyed particularly Kwanza Unit’s “Msafiri” as reported by Alex Perullo: “Mimi msafiri bado niko njiani. Sijui lini nitafika. Naulizia watu kule ninakokwenda, Sijui lini nitafika”. Werner Graebner records the charming words of Mlimani Park’s song; “Kassim”: “ulipkuwa huna kazi, Kassimu, we; ulikwa hutoki nyumbani. Sasa umepata kazi, ndugu yangu we, nyumbani huonekani!” He quotes too the Rhythm Makers’ cautionary tale of 1950 which just about sums up the book as a whole: “Dar es Salaam ni mji mkubwa we, una furaha na vitisho vingi we.”
THE ARAB CHEST. Shiela Unwin. Arab Publishing Ltd 2006. ISBN 10: 0 9544792 6 2; ISBN 13: 978 0 9544792 6 8. Hardback, pp144. 258 x 200 mm. lavishy illustrated in full colour. £25.00.
This beautifully produced book offers a fascinating triple insight into the stories histories and connoisseurship of an artefact that is perhaps little known in Europe and America, but which embodies a history of relationships that define a world. The Arab chest is a piece of furniture, but that bald statement doesn’t do justice to the importance of the chest in domestic life, nor to the elaborate decoration and patterning that bear witness to the importance of the artefact in the social life of the Arab and East African world. That the book has found a publisher at all is surprising in this time of increasing difficulty for Africanist authors, that the book is so stunningly presented is commendable for all concerned.
Shilea Unwin’s book begins unconventionally however. The opening chapter is a wonderful history of an individual’s relationship with a region, particularly with Kenya and Tanzania. The social history of collecting has a place in material culture studies, but Unwin’s opening chapter is also a history of British Colonial relationships, the social connections between the myriad cultural groups that found themselves thrown together in East Africa after the second world war and as the author herself puts it – a quest that was to range over the Arab world and its littorals.
The second and third parts of the work move away from the personal (although the author’s voice is always seemingly present – cajoling and offering advice), and offer a fascinating way of dealing with history through material culture. Part two of the book is not only about the Arab chest, but also the way in which the chest inhabits a history of Arab trade relations across the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The section offers a form of shortened Longue Duree, within which the material artefact is central, but which also touches upon a host of connections. The illustrations in this part of the book are wonderful.
The third section deals with the connoisseurship of the chest. It offers a comprehensive comparative analysis of different chests, detailing their provenance, regions of origin, types of wood, hinges and brass work. It is a seemingly definitive guide, one supplemented by an appendix on repair and wear, which may prove useful to owners or dealers.
Running throughout all three sections of the book is a clear, at times very personal, devotion to the object. The anthropologist Evans Pritchard once said that material objects were the chains along which social relationships run. Sheila Unwin has demonstrated this dictum in this beautiful book, tracing the run of relations across oceans, through the domestic sphere and into her own life.
Browsing through a bookseller’s Christmas list I came across “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TANGANYIKA” by Harry Campbell. Subtitled “The Place Names that History Left Behind” it apparently tells the story of where they came from, what happened to them, and where they are to-day. Could have been a good stocking-filler! Pub. Portico, ISBN 9781906032050.
Due to illness the publisher of TANZAN TALES (rabbitbooks.com) by E Cory-King, reviewed in our last issue (#88), has ceased business. The author hopes to have further copies printed, which will be available direct from herself at E. Cory-King, 23 Ventnor Road Portland, Dorset DT5 1JE, England. Tel: 01305-826799 E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org