DAVID LIVINGSTONE. LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS. 1841-1872. Editor: T Bolmes. The
Livingstone Museum in association with Multimedia, Lusaka, the Indiana University Press and James Currey, London. 1990. f. 30.
This selection of letters and documents, many of them previously unknown or unpublished is without doubt a major contribution to Livingstone scholarship and also an important footnote to the history of African exploration. It covers four areas of Livingstone’s life and travels: the early years (]841-1853), the Zambezi Expedition (1857-1864), the Interlude in Brilain (1864-1865) and finally, the Last Journey of Livingstone (1865-1872).
It is obviously the concluding section which is of most interest to serious students of Tanzanian history and affairs but, unfortunately, though the time-span covered is long the letters during this period are few and far between. There are very many gaps so that we simply do not know what Livingstone was doing or thinking in any detail for much of his time In Tanganyika as it was then called. But one must be grateful for small mercies. There is sadly no letter or document here which describes 1n Livingstone’s own words anything of his famous meeting with Stanley at Ujiji. If there had been it might have thrown a valuable light on an encounter which has probably been seen with at least some distortion, through the eyes of Stanley alone. But there is a lot of detail of the last great journey and one feels something of the strain and loneliness of the explorer’s life in its last phase.
Livingstone’s desperate search for the source of the Nile, which grew more feverish with each passing year, is brilliantly recorded in his own words. ‘I hope’ he writes with eagerness, ‘I am not premature in saying that the sources of the Nile arise from 10 to 12 South – in fact where Ptolemy placed them. The Chambezi is like the Chobe 40 to 50 yards broad … but the country is not like that at all .. it is full of fast-flowing perennial burns .. . we cross several every day … and crossed the Chambeze in 10 34 South”. This was written near Lake Bangweolo on 8th July 1868 and in the same letter he gives vent to some of his frustrations. He complains bitterly of much needless annoyance by two blockheads, the busybodies on the Council writing ‘instructions for my guidance and demanding all my notes – copies if not originals’. This, of course, is only one of many quarrels with his official sponsors in Britain, and there 1s considerable sadness as well as anger in his comment in another letter – ‘all who serve me will have a good lump of wages to show. When I have finished I shall have nothing except empty fame and sit down as a slave and copy my notes for the gaping busybodies of the Council’. How many of the world’s finest composers, artists, writers and creators would echo that comment!
There are marvellous insights into his life and character in these closing years, full of grim humour and superb courage. In a letter of 1872 to W. C. Boswell sent from what he merely describes as ‘Tanganyika’ he wriites, ‘Did I dream that Baker had all his guns taken away from him by niggers of whom he speaks so contemptuously – I could not pitch into even slaves without being certain of finding them all gone through the first night afterwards, but he thrashed them and the Arabs and they carried him meekly while I have to tramp every step I go.’
This is the last letter but one and to some extent the iron has enterred his soul. The accumulated effects of so much labour, hardship and privation, quite apart from the sheer loneliness of this final march, had taken its inevitable toll. And as he makes his way by grim determination from Southern Tanganyika to the borders of the country now known as Zambia, the threads of his life begin to unravel. But they are marvellous letters, full of description of the natural landscape and the African scene he had made so much his own. And we must be very grateful for them and to the editor, Timothy Holmes, for giving us the opportunity to hear Livingstone the man speaking directly of the land he loved and yet sometimes cursed – the land which seemed not to want to let him go.
An excellent book and probably more moving than any mere book ABOUT Livingstone could possibly be.
FOOD INSECURITY AND THE SOCIAL DIVISION OF LABOUR IN TANZANIA 1919-85 by Deborah Fahy Bryceson. Macmillan/St Antony’s College, Basingstoke and London. 1990.
This solid book brings an impressive range of material to bear on the problems of food supply in Tanzania. The author has been writing on related subjects since the mid- 1970’s. As a result the volume has a sense of drawing together many themes: the roles of women in production and reproduction; the nature of patron-client relations in Tanzania; the relationships between peasants, markets and the state.
The many short chapters are gathered into six substantive parts. We start with a statement of the problem ‘Roughly 85% of Tanzania’s population live in rural areas and derive a liveliehood directly from the soil, yet the country has experienced repeated shortfalls of food supplies during this century’ (p 1)
Various theoretical approaches to food supply within historical development are applied to this paradox. Particularly interesting here is the inclusion of Preobrazhensky’s prophetic views on the extraction of surplus from peasants by the state in the Soviet Union, which, as Bryceson notes, became the strategy in the Tanzania of the 1970’s
PROJECTS OF THE PEOPLE OR FOR THE PEOPLE: A LOOK AT VILLAGERS’ PARTICIPATION IN THREE PROJECTS IN TWO VILLAGES IN TANZANIA by J. Mannion and E. Brehony. Public Administration and Development . Vol 10. No 2. 1990
This paper examines the extent to which Villagers participated in three Irish NGO-supported projects (in forestry, agricultural extension and oxen training) at Ismani in Iringa Region. The conclusion of the study was that there was very little involvement of the villagers and that while village government leaders were involved by the project organisers often they did not reflect villagers’ views. Although democratically elected the elections were ‘often shabbily run affairs’ with the first twenty or twenty five names mentioned being elected by a voice vote.
In one case studied there was no great enthusiasm to be a ‘ten-cell’ village leader (these leaders had the main responsibility for implementing the projects but were not part of the decision making process) because the previous ten cell leaders had all been fined for not implementing government policy, a policy which required Villagers to plant two acres of sorghum.
The main factors influencing participation by Villagers were described as the strength of the leadership, the sex (males were more involved), age (older people were more involved), marital status (married people being more involved), literacy and adult education (literate people were more involved). The authors conclude with these words: ‘Perhaps Camus best sums up what participation is attempting to do:
Don’t walk before me I may not follow
Don’t walk behind lie I may not lead
Just walk beside me and be my friend.’
THE SERENGETI. LAND OF ENDLESS SPACE. L. and S. Lindblad. Elm Tree Books. London. £ 25.
This is a coffee table book of many splendid photographs interspersed with four articles by people who are much involved professionally with African wildlife: Alan Earnshaw, Keith Sh8ckleton, Sandy Price and Lisa Lindblad. It is not a book to use in order to obtain details of flora and fauna or statistics 8bout present-day Serengeti but it 1s a pleasure to read and to look through leisurely, and it does convey a lot of information in some depth.
The first article, ‘Ash, Rain, Earth, Fire’ covers the pre-history of the area including the geological formation and how our ancestors lived. It begins, of course, with an imaginative account of how the footprints discovered by Mary Leakey in 1976 came to be made 3.6 million years ago. The fact that the scene has changed little over 4 million years adds to the mystique of the area. ‘Consequently the great web of life on the savannah, the whole intricate network of interrelationships between soil and vegetation, vegetation and herbivore, herbivore and carnivore, has coevolved over an immense span of time.’
The second article, ‘Cycled Rhythms’, deals with animal life. We should remember that in 1890 Rinderpest struck East Africa and in two years about 95% of wildebeest and buffalo died. It was not until the early 1960’s that this disease was eliminated. This makes the great migration of today all the more remarkable. The point is also made that the herds cross the border into Kenya’s Masai Mara and remain there for four months. ‘The Serengeti-Mara cries out for a unified management , with power and courage, a level horizon, sufficient sense of urgency to bury national and tribal prejudice and see the place for what it is – a wild heritage’
The third article, ‘Preserving the Serengeti’ traces the human management of the Park. In 1929 900 square miles were set aside as a lion sanctuary by the colonial government which was somewhat alarmed at the excesses of hunters. All legal hunting was stopped in 1937. In 1940 the Serengeti, including the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands, was made the first National Park in East Africa. In the 1950′ s there followed some debate between government and conservationists culminating in 1957 in the final setting of the Park’s bound8ries. The Ma8s8i were then banned from the Central Highlands. In 1975 they were banned from cultivating in the Crater area and the Olduvai Gorge.
Various names which we need to remember are mentioned such as Professor Grzimek and his son Mich8el; Miles Turner, the first and long-serving Warden of W. Serengeti; and, Dr G. Schaller who writes the Forward to this book. George Schaller is quoted as having introduced ‘conservation biology’ which seems to me what our attitude today should be. He says ‘The biologists collect scientifically precise information about the ecosystem … we take this knowledge to direct conservation of resources, to help human need, to help local people to sustain the environment.’
The fourth article is a brief history of the Maasai connection with the Serengeti, learned through personal friendship with a Maasai elder. There is inevitably a thread of sadness running through: ‘When you take a nomad’s land away you are altering so much more than a pastoralists lifestyle .. . you are erasing his stories, the collective memory of his culture, the map he must give his children so that they can find their way back to themselves.’ But perhaps it is the same for all of us to some extent as we become more and more city folk. It is just that the Maasai, also the Ndorobo and others, are nearer to the event.
George Schaller says: ‘At least once in a lifetime every person should make a pilgrimage into the wilderness to dwell on its wonders and discover the idyll of a past now largely gone … There dwell the fierce ghosts of our human past, there animals seek their destiny, living monuments to a time when we were still wanderers on a prehistoric earth. To witness that calm rhythm of life revives our W8rm souls and recaptures a feeling of belonging to the natural world. No one can return from the Serengeti unchanged, for tawny lions will forever prowl our memory and great herds throng our imagination. ‘
This is a good book to read before making that special visit to the Serengeti, and even if you are unable to go at all.
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY Of AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA AND TANZANIA. Bruce F Johnston. Food Research Institute Studies. Vol XXI . N03. 1989.
This paper is based on a chapter of a forthcoming book on the political economy of agricultural development and structural transformation by Bruce Johnston and others commissioned by the World Bank’s Economic Development Institute and supported by the Stanford Research Institute. On the basis of this paper the book should be a must for all followers of the effects of political ideology on agricultural and rural development. The paper presents an excellent and comprehensive summary/comparison of the differences in the rate and nature of agricultural development in Kenya and Tanzania over the past three decades, analyses clearly the differences in Government ideology and resultant agricultural sector policies and their effects and discusses why the Governments of Kenya and Tanzania chose such different approaches to development.
There are similarities in their physical and agricultural characteristics, colonial background, dominance of agriculture in their economies, total populations (Tanzania 22 million, Kenya 20 million) and amount of aid received. However, they have important differences, notably the population growth rates (3.8 to 4.0% in Kenya and 3.2 to 3.4% in Tanzania), the degree of colonial commitment to agricultural research and infrastructure (much greater in Kenya) and the transport networks (relatively poor in Tanzania and good in Kenya).
The major difference however has been the in the economic performance. In Tanzania the growth in per capita GNP increased at an annual rate of 0.9% between 1965 and 1984; it was US$ 210 in 1984 but since (and perhaps contrary to the author’s expectations) has declined to USS 120 in 1989. In contrast, Kenya’s per capita GNP increased at an estimated 2.3% between 1965 and 1984; it was US$ 350 in 1984 and US$ 380 in 1989. In short, in Tanzania the economy underwent a worsening crisis in the seventies which, by 1982, brought the economy of the country to the brink of economic collapse, a deteriorating food situation and shortages of all types of goods. By contrast, Kenya achieved considerable economic success over the same period.
The author maintains that internal factors (ie ‘unfortunate government sectoral and macro-economic policies’ would have given rise to the crisis and difficult food situation even without the exacerbating effects of some external factors (ie: the sharp rise in oil prices, the breakdown of the East African Community, the Uganda War and poor weather conditions). These ‘unfortunate’ policies adversely affected the six ‘I s’ necessary to influence agricultural production, namely: incentives, infrastructure, inputs, institutions, initiatives and innovations.
The causes of these adverse effects were, in summary: a) excessive bureaucracy and authoritarian intervention by government officials who lacked confidence in small scale farmers and their decision-making abilities; b) compulsory villagisation (ujamaa); c) disruption of agricultural marketing by government, leading to a deterioration of production incentives; d) a proliferation of parastatals; e) a large budget deficit (due to investment in industry, regional expansion of health, education and water supplies and financial assistance to ailing public corporations /parastatals).
In Kenya the dynamism of the rural economy was a result of the favourable government policies which positively affected the six ‘I s’ referred to above. The main reasons were, in summary: a) the emphasis on small farm production; b) the development of cash crops by smallholders ie: tea, coffee, sugar, cotton, pyrethrum and modern dairying; c) the essential point that the choice of what to grow was left to individual smallholders; d) the continuity of policies and smooth transition from colonial to independent rule (despite the Mau Mau emergency of the 195O’s and independence in 1963) due to the influence of Kenyatta and British civil servants; e) the benefits of greater colonial involvement in agricultural research; f) innovations such as policies for arid and semiarid lands and self-help ‘Harambee’ activities in relation to improvement of rural social services; and, g) greater expansion of secondary education.
The essential differences between the two countries were therefore the greater ability of smallholders to earn cash in Kenya and the lack of government intervention in Kenya as compared with excessive public sector interference and inappropriate and unstable agricultural policies in Tanzania.
The reasons why the respective policy makers chose different approaches clearly lie in ideological differences. In Tanzania the main aim was removal of inequality (through socialism). In Kenya the government favoured accumulation of wealth (through capitalism) rather than its redistribution. In Tanzania the dominance of a bureaucratic class with vested interests in enlarging control over agriculture had a negative effect on small farmers and muzzled local initiatives. In Kenya official government policy was to permit civil servants to engage in private business activities. This capitalist elite has a strong self interest in a prosperous agricultural economy.
As regards the future the author concludes that in Kenya, due to basic problems of high population growth and lack of additional good agricultural land, agricultural growth and the agricultural economy may deteriorate; due to problems of inequity he accepts that political instability may arise. Tanzania’s economy however is likely to improve as a result of macroeconomic policy reforms adopted in 1986, devaluation, and liberalisation of the marketing of agricultural products so as to positively affect producer incentives.
Overall, the paper provides a compelling analysis of the changing patterns and ups and downs of development in which the lessons for emergent agriculturally dependent economies are clear although the whole picture is far from complete.