Service in Tanganyika
Trevor Jaggar in his review of Charles Meek’s delightful book “Brief Authority” may perhaps have unintentionally misled your readers when he wrote, “Several (of those who ruled Tanzania while it was administered by Britain) felt moved to record their experiences. First there was Randall Sadleir in 1999…”
Your readers may wish to be reminded that Randall Sadleir was by no means the first to publish the story of his service in the district administration of Tanganyika in the years before Independence. The earliest of the series on my bookshelves is John Cairns who published his experiences in “Bush and Boma” in 1959. He was followed by E. K. Lumley with “Forgotten Mandate” in 1976, J. A. Golding with “The Golden Years” in 1987, Frank Burt with “Nakumbuka” in 1989, William Helean with “Bed in the Bush” in 1991, Tim Harris with “Donkey’s Gratitude” in 1992, and John Lewis-Barned with “A Fanfare of Trumpets” in 1993.
Then after Randall Sadleir’s admirable publication, there came Michael Longford with “The Flags change at Midnight” in 2001 – the fattest of all the books with some beautiful illustrations, and Donald Barton with “An Affair with Africa” in 2004. No doubt there are others, and together they demonstrate a deep love of the country and a profound commitment to its welfare in the years before Independence.
Trevor Jaggar comments: ‘Excellent. I am delighted to learn about all these other books. In the time left to me, I must try and read some of them.’
Low birth weights
I appreciated No 101 Tanzania Affairs received today. Shedding light inter alia on Julius Nyere’s firm position re Whitehall policies towards independence movements in Southern Africa.
Addressing electricity deficits in Tanzania justifiably is well covered in your current issue. Less is generally known about the impact on low birth weight (LBW) of electricity black outs, reference abstract of paper below. LBW predicts subsequent short stature (stunting and underweight) and inferior adult productivity. Stunting for several reasons remains too high in Tanzania.
Abstract of paper on Transitory Shocks and Birth Weights: Evidence from a Blackout in Zanzibar. October 7, 2011: Do transitory economic shocks affect health? I show that an unexpected, month-long blackout in Tanzania caused a temporary drop in work hours for workers in electricity-dependent jobs. Using records from a maternity ward, I document a reduction in birth weights for children exposed in utero to the blackout, and an increase in the probability of low birth weight. The reduction is correlated with measures of maternal exposure to the blackout. Blackout-induced declines in maternal nutrition and maternal stress are the most likely causes. The blackout also increased births, but selection into pregnancy cannot fully explain the drop in weights.
Per Eklund (from Sweden)
A little comfort
My wife and I enjoy reading about Tanzania but feel that your scribes, mainly experts in their subjects, often forget, or do not appreciate, that the UK and Tanzania are essentially different. In the UK we are self-seeking individuals, even when trying to help others, while Tanzanians are members of groups; clans, tribes. They owe loyalty to others. Frequently we in the West complain about corruption, forgetting that in the Tanzanian culture the “big man” owes a debt to his supporters, what some writers refer to as “the politics of the belly”. The interesting discussion is as to the level at which this politics becomes genuine cor¬ruption. However after reading Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari, and various books by Alexander de Waal I am increasingly concerned about the effectiveness of large scale aid which provides much money but fails to ensure that local people are involved and trained.
On a recent visit I had the privilege to attend a child welfare clinic at a rural dispensary. The mothers, all of whom had been in their fields earlier, had been home, washed and changed themselves and the children and it was a delight to see the toddlers walking to the dispensary proudly carrying their medical records in plastic bags. While the checks were being made I wandered into the village. It was 11 am but the men of the village were already gathered around the beer pot, cheerfully solving the problems of the world. I was kindly invited to join them. During the course of our chat I remembered that local courts had been abolished after uhuru. I enquired as to how they solved disputes about field boundaries or repayments of dowry. I was interested to be told that they had three elders who dealt with such matters and that if they needed to appeal, there was another senior man who dealt with such matters for a larger area. And I did not have time to ask the next questions. How were they chosen? For how long did they serve? How were they remunerated? Were there similar groups in other areas? Would they be useful leaders in DEVELOPMENT situations where too often projects fail for lack of influential leadership.
Mention of development leads me to note that in the last two years the Tanzania Development Trust has supported a number of initiatives. I wonder whether it would be possible to review some of the earlier projects to see if they achieved their objects or what were the reasons for their failure.
Professor Kim Howell (Dept of Zoology and Wildlife Conservation, University of Dar es Salaam) writes to inform readers that the journal “Tanganyika Notes and Records” which later became “Tanzania Notes and Records” is now available online at www.tanbif.org The project to make the journal available was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), and is dedicated to the memory of Alan Rodgers who worked tirelessly to document Tanzania’s flora and fauna as well as serving on the editorial board of Tanzania Notes and Records.
Thomas Molony at the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, is looking to get in touch with anyone who personally knew Julius Nyerere during the period up to when he was teaching at St Francis College, Pugu. He is interested in the period when Mwalimu was in the United Kingdom (1949-1952), and before he left Tanganyika in 1949, and is restricting his research up to 1953. Please contact him at Thomas.Molony(AT>ed