REVIEWS

Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

WHY PLANNING DOES NOT WORK: LAND USE PLANNING AND RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS IN TANZANIA. Tumsifu, Jonas and Nnkya. Mkuki na Nyota Dar es Salaam. 2007. ISBN 978 9987 449 682. pp360. p/b £29.95. Available through African Books Collective, P.O. Box 721 Oxford, OX1 9EN. www.africanbookscollective.com.

Town planning is struggling back into vogue after three decades of discredit. The World Planning Congress published a ten-point declaration ‘Reinventing Planning: a New Governance Paradigm for Managing Human Settlements’ in June 2006 that it took to the United Nations Third World Urban Forum in Vancouver for endorsement. The theme of UN Global Report on Human Settlements 2009 will be on ‘Revisiting Urban Planning‘. This return to planning is well overdue – but what sort of planning?

Physical planning in the rapidly growing urban areas of the developing countries of the South lost the plot in the 1970s when it became evident that the processes for determining and controlling land use by the public sector (local government) were being overtaken by the magnitude and speed of urban population growth and economic and social change. Private sector investors could not wait for, or be bothered with, the seemingly tortuous bureaucratic procedures entailed in obtaining planning permission. New migrants in search of urban opportunities could not wait for nor afford officially approved housing or licences to start enterprises. In short, planning and building standards could not be afforded, building permit procedures were too slow, town plans bore no relation to municipal budgets so they were rarely implemented, and there were not enough planning officers and building inspectors to ‘police’ new developments. As a result people, rich and poor alike, did their own thing and the authorities could not control them.

On the other hand, professional town planners saw themselves as the upholders of planning standards, procedures and legislation (that were largely inherited from former colonial administrations) that would ensure efficient, livable and beautiful towns to be proud of. They worked in ‘administrative black boxes’ that were secretive and exclusive and did not engage those who were ‘being planned’. Planning was seen as a technical process that ordinary people would not understand.

So, if there is to be a return to planning, what should the new planning be like? What should be its aims: control, promotion or both? Who should do it: planners, investors, citizens or all three? What is the interface between planning and plan implementation, or should there be no need for one? There are many glib and seemingly obvious answers to such questions, but in the real world of the cut-and-thrust politics of urban development they are far from easy to put into practice.

This is borne out by Tumsifu Jonas Nnkya’s new book ‘Why Planning Does Not Work? Land Use Planning and Residents’ Rights in Tanzania’, which is a fascinating and detailed analysis of planning, power and land rights in Moshi over the last thirty-years.

The story starts with a brief overview of Tanzania’s colonial planning inheritance, providing a lead up to the heady post-Arusha-Declaration times of “building a socialist and self-reliant egalitarian society” in Tanzania that characterised the late 1960s and early ‘70s. It saw the adoption of a national ‘growth-pole’ policy aimed at stimulating more “balanced development” away from the economic dominance of Dar-es-Salaam. Moshi was to be one of the nine regional growth-poles, for which it needed a new town plan that included significant extensions to the town boundaries, incorporating villages, previously under rural district administration. After two years of deliberation and dispute, the plan, which had been drawn up by “two non-resident planners and an engineer from the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development in Dar-es-Salaam”, was approved in 1975, setting the scene for the rest of this often disturbing but at times encouraging account of “government versus the people”.

Dr Nnkya probes, recounts and analyses the interests and strategies of the wide range of different interest groups and actors engaged in the processes of planning in Moshi and its implementation through a series of captivating case studies, starting with the new town boundary. He digs deep into the political interests of the town council; describes the dismay of villagers at finding themselves liable to pay new urban licence fees; reports on how the Ministry of Works discovered that the airport, for which it was responsible, had been turned over to housing, requiring the construction of a new one; and tells how a group of villagers charged the Town Council with trespass in the High Court in a case that took ten years to resolve.

Building upon these and other examples of the lack of consultation and transparency by those in authority, the book examines a range of different issues such as how the planners and public sector developers faced civil disobedience that prevented the demarcation of new housing plots; the official appropriation of land that was deemed to be “inefficiently used” by a psychiatric hospital for therapeutic farming, which ended up as luxury housing for senior officers of the administration, despite widespread media coverage and public protest; and how even when the Planning Department was requested to plan a neighbourhood by its residents, who had themselves paid for its survey, they were not involved or consulted about the new layout, which bore little relationship to what was on the ground or what they needed and was therefore ignored.

Despite all of this, the book is not just a catalogue of horror stories or an account of conservative resistance to change. A picture of slowly evolving institutional change and effective public participation in Moshi’s planning and development is built up throughout the middle section of the book. This is largely achieved by the insightful and analytical introductions and closing summaries to each chapter and the reflective commentary that binds together the myriad of quotations from letters, minutes, judgements and the author’s his own discussions with those who had been involved. In the penultimate chapter Moshi rides gloriously into the sunset of the United Nations sponsored Sustainable Moshi Programme, hand-in-hand with citizen consultations and participatory decision-making in the planning and management of the town.

Throughout the book Dr Nnkya draws on the work of contemporary planning theorists and international experience to provide a coherent basis for his commentary and analysis, thus drawing out lessons for urban governance, management and planning of relevance to many African towns and cities, beyond the borders of Moshi and Tanzania.

The book is beautifully written in the fast-moving, easy-flowing traditions of the best of analytical investigative journalism, making it an exciting read for all those interested in the complexities of local politics and the creation of sustainable and just urban environments in Africa. We eagerly await Dr Nnkya’s next book, in which he promises to provide “an account of the changes that have taken … place in planning practice under political pluralism and a liberal economy”. This, we hope, will give a similarly exhaustive treatment to the first ten years of the Sustainable Moshi Programme – an example of the new urban planning.

Patrick Wakely

MEMOIRS OF AN INTERNATIONAL TANZANIAN. Al Noor Kassum. L B Tauris and Co. Ltd, London and New York 2007 Distributed by Macmillan Distribution Ltd, £24.50. p/p. 158 pages, including 12 of b/w photos and letter reproductions. ISBN 978 1 84511 583 8).

By current political memoir standards, this fascinating book is remarkably short considering that it covers a long and impressive career at the top of politics in pre- and post-independent Tanzania, with the (first) East African Community in Arusha and at the United Nations in Paris and New York – as well as doing much else besides.

Yet, this work by Al Noor Kassum – ‘Nick’, to those who know him – is a major contribution to 20th century East African history, the more so given the real scarcity of African political memoirs . There is something here for everyone. The book should be of special interest, though, to the modern generation of Tanzanians (who did not know Mwalimu Nyerere), and to all who have an interest in the decolonisation period in Tanzania and the country’s relationship with its East African neighbours.

Nick starts with his father’s migration from India to Tanganyika in 1896, and describes the development of his family’s businesses in colonial Dar es Salaam – including the grocery store that served the British Governor and which first brought the author into contact in the early 1940s with Julius Nyerere who, as a teacher at Pugu, used to shop there. He then describes his schooling in England before the outbreak of WWII, and in India during the war, how he qualified as a lawyer in London and subsequently established a legal practice in Dar. Nick’s increasingly close relationship with the Aga Khan and the leading role he played in the Ismaili communities in London and Tanzania are evidenced. He then documents his growing interest in educational reform – in 1954 the Aga Khan appointed him Administrator of the Aga Khan schools in Tanganyika – and his involvement in pre-independence Tanganyikan politics (first as a Town Councillor, then a Member of the Legislative Assembly, and from 1959 MP for Dodoma and Chief Whip of the TANU parliamentary party).

Continuing the catalogue of impressive public service, Nick then sets out his time as: Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Information (1961); Parliamentary Secretary of Industries, Mineral Resources and Power (1964); posts with UNESCO (1965) in Paris and New York, and then Secretary of ECOSOC (1967) in New York; Deputy General Manager of Williamson Diamonds (1970); EAC Minister of Finance and Administration (1972); and, for thirteen years, Minister for Water, Energy and Minerals (1977).

After leaving formal Government service in 1990, Nick has continued to serve Tanzania – as Chairman of the Dar es Salaam University Council, Chairman of the National Development Corporation, Chancellor of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (succeeding Mwalimu in that role in 1993), Trustee and Interim Chairman of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, and as the Personal Representative of the Aga Khan in Tanzania.

Much in this book is politically engaging. I was especially fascinated by Nick’s accounts of: Nyerere’s forthright defence of the 1967 Arusha Declaration (responding to the big unease it caused many leaders, who lost their privileges) and the Ujamaa villages programme; of the suspicions Tanzania generated regionally and internationally during the Cold War by its growing relationship with China (especially with the construction of TAZARA); of his analysis of the multiple reasons for the break-up of the first East African Community and how the lessons learnt have been applied in the construction of the new EAC; and of the way he helped develop Tanzania’s mineral and Songo Songo gas resources, kept the country supplied with essential oil imports at a time when Tanzania could not afford them, and spear-headed the most rapid expansion of the national electricity grid that the country has ever seen.

Nick’s description of more personal happenings are equally engrossing – such as: the attitude in pre-WWII England to an East African Asian schoolboy (a rare sight in those days); of his eight-day journey home on the last flying boat to Tanganyika after the declaration of war, meeting the founder of the Boy Scouts, Baden Powell, on the way; of how he nearly joined the British Royal Air Force in India; of the colourful Independence Day celebrations in Tanzania in 1961; of the Zanzibar revolution, the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, and other aspects of the Mainland’s relationship with Zanzibar; of how he rose to senior positions within the UN, and the ‘tussle’ between UN Secretary General U-Thant and Nyerere in 1970 over whom Nick should next serve; of his family’s reaction in 1971 to the nationalisation of their properties; of how he out-manoeuvred the secretive management of Williamson Diamonds (then dominated by De Beers) to get Tanzania a better long-term deal in the diamond industry; of his conversations with Mwalimu each time the President appointed him to the various senior public positions he held; of his meetings (as EAC Finance Minister) with Idi Amin, at the time the Ugandan dictator was expelling the Asians; of Mwalimu’s anger when Amin’s troops invaded Tanzania in November 1978 and of the President’s bitterness at Kenya’s stance; of the protracted saga over the Sunday driving ban (but no mention of the equally dubious fuel ration card system!); of how he performed an informal intermediation role in the 1980s between the Government and the World Bank/IMF when they were at logger-heads with each other; of the stressful months at the end of 1983 when a British newspaper alleged he was complicit in secret and corrupt oil deals with apartheid South Africa (wholly untrue allegations that were eventually fully retracted and compensated); and of his astonishment at not being re-appointed a minister in President Mwinyi’s drastic cabinet changes in 1990.

Nick documents his friendship over the years with Benjamin Mkapa – who wrote him a sympathetic letter in 1990 after he was dropped from the Cabinet and who, in the Foreword to the book, describes Nick as a ‘towering figure in the Asian community’ who ‘has made a contribution to the building of the nation of Tanzania that should speak volumes’.

In the moving and more personal final chapter, Nick reflects on the character and legacy of Mwalimu Nyerere (whom he admired greatly and quotes extensively throughout the book), and on Tanzania’s future. He concludes with paragraphs about his family and his association with current President Kikwete.

I happily declare an interest, and also make a suggestion. As he kindly acknowledges in the book, I worked closely with the author throughout the 1980s when he had ministerial responsibility for Water, Energy and Minerals. He was a dynamic, able and likeable minister, who performed well on both the domestic and international stages. It was a challenging and exciting period, bridging the Nyerere-Mwinyi Presidencies. Had space permitted, there is much more that he could have written.

My suggestion is that the author should consider having his book translated into Kiswahili, so that its contents can become more accessible to all Tanzanians.

My only disappointment with the book (apart from several unexpected typographical errors) is that it is too short! Nevertheless, I hope it will encourage others in similar leadership positions, in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa, to record for posterity their own personal experiences of the Independence era.

Roger Nellist

INDEPENDENT? TANZANIA’S CHALLENGES SINCE UHURU: A SECOND-GENERATION NATION IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD. Knud Vilby, Uppsala, Nordiska Africainsitutet, 2007. Pp.213. ISBN 978-91-7106-590-2.

Based on a series of interviews with former and current political and party leaders, community leaders and ordinary citizens, this book seeks to re-assess the Nyerere legacy from the perspective of those who were there at the time. It also seeks to examine how Tanzania’s past interacts with current structures of globalisation in shaping the country’s current and future prospects.

The interviews highlight official (and especially Mwalimu Nyerere’s) thinking behind key policies, most notably: Ujamaa; nationalisation policies; universal primary education in the 1970s; the decision to abolish cooperatives; and the economic reforms began after Nyerere’s departure in 1985. In relying on key players in these decisions – figures such as former Vice-President Rashid Kawawa, Nyerere’s former private secretary Joseph Butiku – Vilby offers an interesting account of how policy was formulated, debated and contested within government and party. In listening to the voices of farmers, religious leaders, and former regional officers, the book explores the impact and contradictions in the implementation of those policies. There are also interesting chapters on corruption, HIV and AIDS, and agricultural development in Tanzanian policy.

The absence of Zanzibar from the story is a serious gap, ignoring some serious political fractures which are crucial to Tanzania’s story today. The narrative can at times feel disjointed, and too much emphasis is perhaps placed upon the issue of population growth. But ultimately this book is a satisfying first-person account of Tanzania’s post-colonial history.

Michael Jennings

EAST AFRICA ART BIENNALE EASTAFAB 2007:
Exhibition catalogue prepared by Yves Goscinny, 2007. Dar es Salaam. ISBN 9987–8975-5–X. p/b pp 216 with many colour images; cost: £20 plus postage (in EU: £10). In East Africa, available at La Petite Gallery and Novel Idea Bookshop, Dar es Salaam; Tulifanya Gallery, Kampala, Uganda and RaMoMA (Rahimtullah Museum of Modern Art), Nairobi. Overseas, available directly from the author or PO Box 23165, Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Related publications: ‘Tinga Tinga, Popular paintings from Tanzania’ ‘2003 East African Art Biennale’ and ‘2005 East African Art Biennale’, each at £20 plus postage.

Back story. In 1998 Yves Goscinny initiated a project ‘Art in Tanzania’ whose primary purpose is to hold a bi-annual exhibition which showcases and documents contemporary art in Tanzania. For example, in 1999/2000 it featured the works of 36 local artists including established movements of Makonde sculpture and ‘Tinga Tinga’ painting. This marked a fresh start in strengthening the local infrastructure for development in and through the visual arts. ‘Fresh’ because public art in Tanzania has had little strength, nguvu since the golden years of Professor/Artist Sam Ntiro, Commissioner of Culture (1962-72) and the inclusive Society of East African Artists.

2007 East Africa Art Biennale: EASTAFAB. Since 1998, the platform for visual art has expanded considerably due to overall betterment in East Africa and, in Tanzania, and specifically, to the energy and focus of Mr Goscinny. Now, he is Executive Director of the Biennale Association which held its third international exhibition in November 2007, in Dar es Salaam. The organizers selected more than 100 artists from 26 countries, while concentrating on five: Uganda, Tanzania, Cuba, Kenya, Mauritius. The resulting, very interesting range of regional and international art works offers stimulating comparisons for art-making as well as for the conditions for art in the global South. The especial focus on art from Cuba is a fruitful product of cultural exchange.

The Catalogue. Like an album of snapshots and ephemera this attractive publication for the 2007 EASTAFAB conveys the sensibility of a purposive selection, herein, for modern art practices relevant to Tanzania. While the bulk of the catalogue is visual material, it is more than a book of pictures. Its contents generously reach out to the viewer-reader: visually and verbally.

Visually, there is a wonderful variety of images across the range of two-dimensional mediums, techniques and styles of representation by more than a hundred makers, most of whom live in the global South, while those from Europe tend to be ‘intimate outsiders’– who have long-term commitments to Tanzania. While some works employ ‘African’ clichés such as a market or hunting scene painted boldly in bright colours, the majority of entries are individualized, imaginative and well-composed works that have the capacity to engage the beholder’s gaze.

Verbally, there is a peppy introduction, basic information in alphabetical lists by artist and country, two large sections which present the individual artists and several short essays. Two sections, one for seasoned artists and the other for emerging artists, consist of information about each artist. Overall, the text inputs are uneven, which I appreciate is part of the story, but sometimes, they are not translated (which is more tantalizing due to use of penmanship, below). In a few cases there is no text, apart from an image of a work. Many artists (40) wrote their statements by hand. As an aesthetic device, handwriting links artists to each other with the effect of lessening differences in their backgrounds while it also creates warmth between the artist and the reader.

The short essays concern socially- and politically-implicated art: art for society’s well-being and share the specific innovations of three projects taking place in East Africa. EASTAFAB’s guest artist Bruce Clarke discusses the relationship between political commitment and art making, based upon wide concepts of art and his own reality of political violence in South Africa and Rwanda. He pursues his own practice of mixed media and collective endeavors like the Garden of Memory in Rwanda for which each victim of genocide is being symbolized by incised stone (query absence of an image of the Garden). The two other projects use painting and drawing therapeutically to assist people who have crises to handle: ‘Positive Bodies’ involves the painting of ‘body maps’ as part of a process to assist people in coming to terms with HIV-AIDS in Kenya and ‘Childsoldiers’ similarly uses drawing with teenagers who have experienced violence related to child soldiers in northern Uganda.

This cornucopia of evidence is vast and raw, being neither homogenized, nor perfectly edited, nor uniformly anglophonie. Its shortcomings and mild unruliness are part of its charm which, involve rather than annoy the viewer-reader. In fact, the criteria for good practice differ between catalogues and books. For art catalogues, the basic criteria are coherent and comprehensive coverage for the artists with clear reproduction of their work; on these terms, EAST AFRICA ART BIENNALE EASTAFAB 2007is close to exemplary.

The book itself is a pleasant object and has delighted colleagues (at SOAS and the BM) who have said “what a beautiful cover”, “how apt an image for a biennale in Dar”, “how well it is produced”, “a big book from Tanzania”, “is it for sale in London?”!! The front and back cover display a panorama landscape photograph of a tranquil beach scene with the title handwritten in the foreground sand EAST AFRICA ART 2007 BIENNALE. This image immediately conveys the character of EASTAFAB: (i) its locality in the tropics that in turn reinforces its perspective from the South; (ii) its topicality — sand letters are like a snapshot, indicating its ‘moment’ in time, (iii) its openness — an expansive view of art practices in the region and toward those which have resonance with Tanzania. Overall, this catalogue is of better quality than the art books produced by art organizations in Nairobi and Kampala.

May this review raise an issue for the Britain-Tanzania Society. If the membership would like to advance awareness of art in Tanzania, here is a small suggestion. Could we use the platform of the Society’s annual Christmas card to share an apt image by a local artist, possibly via the Biennale Association?

*Readers are welcome to the exhibition “Positive Bodies” 17 April – 21st June 2008 at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Russell Square. Also, nearby, the British Museum’s permanent display kanga includes works by veteran painters Mohamed Charinda and Robino Ntila, Sainsbury Africa Gallery (Rm 25).

UTENZI, WAR POEMS, AND THE GERMAN CONQUEST OF EAST
AFRICA Swahili Poetry as Historical Source. Jose Arturo Saavedra Casco.
2007. $29.95
This book examines Swahili narrative poetry that in spite of being available in published editions for many years, has not previously been studied from an historical perspective. The poems were written on the eve of the First World War by the authors who were all residents of the Swahili coastal towns of mainland Tanzaniaformerly Tanganyika Territory. This poetry narrates the stories of episodes in the wars of conquest, fought between the German colonial forces and indigenous Africans. Most of the poems belong to a literary genre known in Swahili as utenzi, whose oldest preserved samples date from the eighteenth century. This genre originally depicted epic themes linked with the prophet Mohammed and the heroes and martyrs of the Muslim faith. The poems were first preserved only by oral means, being subsequently recorded in manuscript form in the Arabic script. This poetry was recited in public during local religious festivities, or on other civic occasions. During the nineteenth century this poetic style was increasingly applied to philosophical and didactical subjects, and by the second half of the nineteenth century the first historical poem was written in Mombasa. The German conquest of East Africa is the event that has inspired more poetic works of this kind than any other event in the modern history of the region.
Among the poets were those who depicted the horrors of the war, but others were enthusiastic in their praise for the establishment of the German rule.

The book includes a study of the historical context in which the poems were produced, and the social origins of the poets who composed these works. This enables the reader to understand better the opinions and views expressed in the poems. The study proposes that this kind of historical poetry represented a unique, indigenous manner for the transmission of historical accounts of the conquest from the perspective of the Swahili, and not simply a repository of facts already registered and discussed by Western scholarship.

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