I am writing to correct and clarify some points in John Arnold’s review of Ralph Ibbott’s book published in the last issue of Tanzanian Affairs (issue 110, Jan to April 2015).
Firstly, the correct title of the book is: Ujamaa – The hidden story of Tanzanian’s socialist villages (and not, Ujamaa – The hidden story of Tanzania’s economic development from the grassroots).
Secondly, the reviewer uses the words co-operative and collective interchangeably, which confuses the history. The Ruvuma Development Association was a self-governing collective. It was not and never called itself a co-operative, a completely different set up in the Tanzanian context. Co-operatives introduced by the State were operating at the same time as the RDA was thriving, and were limited largely to marketing the produce of peasant farmers. They were often corrupt and not under the control of growers who were found to be very discontented (Cranford Pratt, 1976).
In contrast, in the RDA villages every member had an equal right to participate regularly in decision-making. Further, everyone – women, men, sick and elderly – received an equal share of the food produced and of any income raised. All able-bodied adults worked on the communal farms, where necessary after fulfilling other responsibilities, as collectively agreed.
Solveig Francis (on behalf of the Ujamaa Working Group, Crossroads Books)
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