RAILWAY ENGINEER – GEOGRAPHER
Gillman of Tanganyika 1882 – 1946. The life and work of a pioneer geographer. B.S. Hoyle., Gower Publishing Company, Aldershot, 1987. 448 pp
This book has the unmistakeable feeling of a labour of love about it. The life and work of Gillman clearly has a consuming interest for the author, and, although it is Gillman’s contributions as a pioneer geographer which was perhaps uppermost in the author’s mind as he wrote the book, there is no doubt that he has succeeded in writing a book of wider appeal. Gillman was, after all, an engineer by training and spent much of his professional life working in railway construction and administration in Tanganyika. In addition, Brian Boyle is keen to place Gillman’s life and work in the social context of the time, and does this successfully at a number of places by quoting from Gillman’s diaries on his thoughts and Observations on colonial Tanganyika.
Like most of the pioneer geographers in the early part of this century, Gillman received no formal training in the subject, but like many, he had a good eye for landscape observation and an enquiring mind, especially on the question of man-land relationships. Hoyle attributes the start of Gillman as a geographer to his ascent of Kilimanjaro in 1921, which provided the basis for a paper which he presented to the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1922. From this eventually developed his three main geographical interests, which went on to dominate his writing in the future, namely the problem of soil erosion; the provision of reliable water-supplies; and population issues, especially interrelationships with the first two. Indeed, probably his best known contribution to geography was the population map of Tanganyika published in 1935, although Boyle maintains that the vegetation map published in 1949, years after his death, was probably the finest of his achievements. But Gillman’s geographic interests were wider than man-land relationships however: for example, Gillman, the railway engineer, recognised the importance of the railway in promoting regional economic development, and not just simply as an exploitative mechanism.
As his reputation as a geographer grew internationally. Gillman did not, however, forget his Tanganyika roots. He was heavily involved in the establishment of Tanganyika Notes and Records in 1936, and in the establishment of what was then the King George V Memorial Museum, opened in 1940, the fore-runner of the National Museum of Tanzania. However, more significantly, Gillman was of the view that knowledge should be of practical value; in Tanganyika’s case, it should therefore contribute to what we would today call the development process. Indeed, it is this and especially his consuming interest in man-land interrelationships which make Gillman a geographer ahead of his time. Perhaps where his weakness lay was in not developing new methods for geographic enquiry which might have given even greater insight into some of the issues he raised.
This reviewer enjoyed the book, and not just as a geographer. Some of the old photographs and re-drawings of old maps were fascinating; the book is well-referenced and well-indexed for those wishing to go further; and the text is generally interestingly written, although the density of type-set on some pages seems daunting. A weakness was perhaps the feeling that the picture of Gillman the man was still a little hazy. For instance, how did a complex set of personal circumstances (born of a British father and German mother, educated in Germany, but English by nationality (sic)) influence his attitudes towards life in a country which was first German and subsequently British. At the very least, it would seem that there must be some confused loyalties. Perhaps Gillman was too private a man to put any such thoughts into his diaries.
Overall, this is a worthwhile read, and this reviewer is sure that many of the Society’s members will enjoy it.
RURAL MEDICAL AIDS
The Effects of Finnish Development Cooperation on Tanzanian Women. Report 2 – 1985 B. Finnish Aid to the Tanzanian Health Sector. Paivi Kokkonen. University of Helsinki, Institute of Development Studies. 1986.
In the early 1970’s Finland made a major contribution to the health sector in Tanzania by constructing eleven training schools for Rural Medical Aids (R.M.A.’s), which have been responsible for training three quarters of this grade of health worker in the country. Each R.M.A. is based at a dispensary, which provides primary health care for an average population of 6-7,000. The R.M.A. is assisted by a Mother and Child Health Aide (M.C.H.A.), a Health Assistant, and in come villages by unpaid Village Health workers. The R.M.A. is supported by the District Medical Officer, who is based at the District Hospital and is responsible for up to four Health Centres (each with a few beds, and a Medical Assistant in charge), and up to 20 Dispensaries. The work of the dispensary health team is directed mainly towards preventive measures, which include adequate water supplies, sewage disposal, and nutrition. In addition to home visits, maternity and child health clinics, the R.M.A’ s provide simple treatment for the diarrhoeal diseases, for common conditions such as malaria, and for the relief of pain. More serious clinical problems are referred to health centres or hospitals.
This report attempts to evaluate the effect which this provision of R.M.A.’s has had on the health of a few selected communities; and particularly on the health of the women. Whilst conclusions are necessarily subjective, the report does focus on some of the reasons why, in spite of the provision of buildings and training schools, the level of health care remains less than satisfactory. The reasons include lack of resources and problems connected with the social and cultural environment.
Lack of money has limited supplies of books, and fuel for reading Lamps, refrigerators and transport. Consequently, vaccines and drugs are often in short supply. Since this report was written, the introduction of the Extended Programme of Immunisation (E.P.I.), and of the Essential Drugs Programme (E.D.P.) both of which are funded externally. has improved this situation in some areas. Shortage of cash in the family means inadequate clothing to protect children in the wet windy weather of the Southern Highlands where the temperature sometimes reaches zero and where open fires all too often result in horrifying burns in babies and in epileptics. Lack of money has also contributed to the difficulty of implementing the practical period of training which is spent in a village community. Whilst the proportion of funds allocated to the primary health care sector in Tanzania is said to have increased in 10 years from 20% to 40%, more than half of the recurrent health expenditure in 1980 was devoted to the maintenance of hospitals. The author states that the cost of building one 200 bed hospital is the equivalent of building 15 health centres, and that the cost of training one doctor (physician) is the equivalent of training 24 R.M.A.’s.
The author believes that the R.M.A. school curriculum has instilled a suitable emphasis on preventive as compared with curative activities. Most R.M.A.’s who were questioned appeared to be well motivated to participate in the Maternity and Child Clinics, and to supervise public health and health educational activities in the villages. However, she suggests that the curriculum should include an introduction to the social and behavioural sciences. Oddly, there is hardly any reference in the report to the influence of the traditional healers and birth attendants in the community; nor to the large volume of psychological and psychosomatic illnesses, of which the R.M.A. should be made aware, and whose treatment the R.M.A. may with advantage share with traditional healers.
The report suggests that the relatively poor health of women (as indicated by out patient attendances) is a consequence of the status of women in the village community. In addition to the burden of raising a large family, women are said to be responsible for 70% of food production, 100% of food processing. and 80-90% of fetching fuel (wood) and water. Except where women earn money for themselves by brewing beer, the man handles money earned from the sale of cash crops. He may, (and often does) spend it on himself (in the form of alcohol) rather than on food and clothing for his children. The author describes the disturbing paradox that, in such families, malnutrition is more apparent than in those families that grow subsistence crops. It is suggested that the health team should play their part in promoting family spacing, projects which would save women’s labour and ways in which women could earn money for themselves – other than brewing beer.
The status of women in society is also partly responsible for the small proportion of women R.M.A.’s (4-25% in different training schools).
Many of the villagers who were questioned about their perceptions of the health workers’ functions, stated that they looked to the M.C.H.A. for preventive services (clinics, immunisation, etc.), but to the R.M.A’s for curative services. However, I was delighted to read that “overall R.M.A.’s hold a positive perception of women”!
On the whole therefore, the project found that Finnida’s contribution to the health of women through the development of R.M.A. training schools, has produced the necessary infrastructure in the form of buildings and suitably motivated personnel, but that implementation of the objectives has been hampered by lack of funds and by the prevailing negative status of women in the community as a whole. P.M. Weston, FRCS.
“ENERGY FOR ALL”. Researched, written, designed and produced by Martin Bibby and colleagues. Published by the Development Education Centre, 38 Klrkgate, Cockermouth CA13 9PJ
The Britain-Tanzania Society has recently received a series of booklets from the Development Centre in Cockermouth, Cumbria. The booklets are basically intended for use in secondary schools in Britain but because the intention is to take a global view of energy requirements there are many comparative references to the developing countries, including several references to Tanzania, which will be of interest to readers of the Bulletin.
The various types of fuel in common use in Tanzania are described and their advantages and disadvantages are analysed. An interesting comparison between charcoal making in Cumbria (which continued until 1945) and in the developing world is made, together with descriptions of three stone cooking and a wood burning stove constructed by students of Whitehaven School during a visit to Tanzania in 1986. Many members will remember the accounts of the students’ activities during that visit. Apparently the stones in the three stone cookers are heated to 400 degrees centigrade. Of interest, too, is a table of “Wood as % of total energy consumption” by countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Tanzania at 94% is easily the heaviest consumer of wood which means that electricity, coal, kerosene and petrol only account for 6% of the total energy consumed. However, various new developments are discussed including a biogas plant at Moshi.
AI though the Tanzania references occur in several different booklets, the general impression is of a very well organised global survey of the various types of energy and its associated problems of food production, diet and conservation which involves equally the industrial as well as the non-industrial countries.
Copies of the booklets can be obtained from: Cumbria Schools World Development Project,
Development Education Centre,
38 Kirkgate, Cockermouth,
Cumbria CA13 9PJ
SLAVES, SPICES AND IVORY IN ZANZIBAR. Abdul Sheriff. James Currey, London; Heinemann, Kenya; Tanzania Publishing House; Ohio University Press, Athens. Cased copies £25; Paper £9.95
When I was asked to review this book I pointed out that I was a very slow reader and that the time I was being given for the task was, by my standards, very short indeed. The answer was that not only did it read very easily but that the subject matter was so fascinating that I would not want to put it down. Both suppositions have proved true and I must say that everything about the appearance and format of this welcome book whets one’s appetite for what one hopes is to come: the clarity of the print, the ease and grace of the language, the range and quality of the tables and illustrations. By the time one has finished the Preface and Introduction one feels totally at home and very anxious to proceed, as the author has put his cards on the table to such an extent that one feels one can trust him. One knows that a Marxist view is being taken and can therefore make whatever allowances one needs to accommodate it in one’s own mental processes and historical background.
The cover of the book states that it provides a wealth of detail and meticulous analysis to assist in an understanding of the rise of Omani Zanzibar and its changing place in the world economy. This it certainly does.
There is an occasional overuse of jargon cliches, words and phrases: “ruthless” Portugese, “valiant” defenders, “liberated” country, “corrupt” monopolistic system, not to mention endless “social formations”. The “anti-slavery sentiments” of the Foreign Office which one would have presumed to be laudable, are, surprisingly stigmatised as “rabidly anti-slavery”; and when the author likes his source it is “stated” or “confirmed”; when he doesn’t (as on p42) it is “alleged”.
He is sometimes tautological, as on p.128 (“the commercial empire was economically vibrant but structurally fragile. Its economy was essentially commercial”); sometimes repetitive (same page: “Both the productive sector ……. and the transit trade sector were primarily dependent on international trade” ….. “Both sectors, however, were almost entirely dependent on international trade.”)
A fairly considerable amount of background knowledge is a great help. “Kimweri” appears out of the blue on p.173 and vanishes immediately, without trace; there will be not a few readers who have to pause and ask themselves who this can be. The Sangu appear for the first and last time in one reference on p.177; one wonders who they might have been. And even with a word like “Kazembe” it is not always easy to adjust promptly to the use it is being put to, whether person, position, place or people.
The organisation of the material and the marshalling of the arguments occasionally drop from the high standard of the work as a whole, as in the latter part of Chapter 2, where one is all too frequently told of the “hurricane of 1872” and the overproduction of cloves.
One would like a deeper analysis of some of the scorned slavery figures, like the 20,000 Capt. Moresby reports waiting in Zanzibar in the 1820’s.
While being willing to accept, for arguments sake , that it is movements rather than men which provide the groundswell of history, one cannot help but notice that by Chapter 5 it is individual men who make the running all the way.
In spite of appearances to the contrary, these are all comparatively small criticisms of a book which has been a real pleasure to read (and review), where the argument develops easily and is built up with a wealth and breadth of detail which adds to the general conviction. The index, notes and bibliography are excellent.