Archive for Issue 95

INFLATION RISES AND FALLS

In his 2008/09 budget the Finance Minister projected that the inflation rate would be controlled at below 7% by the end of June 2009. As previously noted in this section of TA the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) is primarily charged by law with maintaining price stability. Hence, they have declared on their website that inflation is their enemy number one. Since they are yet to name their number one friend or rather the ideal inflation rate, it would probably be safe to consider the projected rate as their targeted rate.

However, in 2008, the average inflation rate was recorded at 10.3% with the highest rate being 13.6% in December. By the end of June 2009 it was 10.7%. With such a wide divergence from target one may wonder whether it would be safe to conclude that BoT is failing in its primary objective!

In the June 2009 biannual Monetary Policy Statement the BoT only promises to restore and maintain a low and stable inflation rate which begs the question “what is a low and stable inflation rate or is it a moving target? From previous experience on price stability, particularly the period of falling inflation from 1995 to 2005, a 5% rate would appear to be the ideal to ensure stable prices without jeopardizing economic growth.

The BoT tends to adopt a post mortem-rather than a pro-life approach to reporting, be it monthly or annually, their reports focusing only on what has happened and not what is likely to happen and how they intend to achieve their set targets. The future will be shaped rightly or wrongly by the choices we make today. These choices can sometimes be difficult and may be painful as we witnessed when the government chose to pay foreign debt in the early years of Mkapa’s presidency. In the end the rewards in debt relief, good creditworthiness, increased budgetary support, low inflation rate, sustained economic growth, etc did however justify those choices.

It is high time for the BoT to set out not only why the inflation target could not be met but what they intend to do to achieve it. This will also allow them the chance of bringing to government’s attention the direction of fiscal policy and its potential impact on inflation.

Tanesco (the national electricity company) is still malfunctioning and the government is still unable or unwilling to reform it. There is increasingly heavy reliance on thermal electricity generation to meet increasing demand which leads to high energy costs and provides an erratic supply.

To sustain a projected GDP growth rate of above 7% would require an increased demand for energy and, as western countries’ economies starts to grow, there would be an upward pressure on the oil price which, in turn, would have a further negative effect on the value of the shilling and hence energy and transportation costs and food prices.
With all this in mind the chance of containing inflation at the perceived ideal rate of 5% without transparent, pro-active and coherent policies, which clearly set out a medium to long-term inflation, this outlook is remote.
Joseph Sabas

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REFUGEE CAMPS CLOSED

All refugee camps in Kagera Region were officially closed on September 30 in a ceremony in Ngara witnessed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The buildings and other facilities were handed over to the respective local authorities for use as they wished. Only an estimated 100,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees now remain in Tanzania in two camps in Kigoma Region. Since 1995 the UNHCR has extended more than $5m in support of the refugees in Ngara District alone. The UN agency commended the Tanzanian government for its role in accommodating more than 600,000 Burundi and Rwandese refugees and also contributed $20 million for rehabilitation of the camps for future use – The Guardian.

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LOLIONDO

Disputes over land are occurring all over the world. In Tanzania the land rights issue of most significance at present, which is attracting the greatest interest among human rights activists and overseas donors, is the long standing dispute over land occupancy in part of the Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LGCA). Exacerbating the whole situation is the serious drought which has been affecting the area for some time.

Hunting
In 1992 the government leased over 4, 000 square kilometres of the LGCA to the UAR Sheikh, Brigadier Mohammed Abdulrahim Al-Ally, for hunting purposes through the Ortello Business Corporation (0BC). It is understood that members of various Arab royal families and businessmen spend weeks in Loliondo each year, hunting antelopes, lions, leopards, and other wild animals. The company wants the villagers evicted from the area ‘under their control’ for the good of the ecosystem and to make it possible for hunting activities to run smoothly.

However, the villagers have vowed not to leave what, in their view, is the rightful land of their ancestors. Since the lease was signed there has been a gradual eviction of the largely Maasai pastoralists resident there. However, things came to a head in July 2009 with reports that the government’s police field force unit had set fire to as many as 200 extended homesteads displacing an estimated 2 – 3,000 people from homes they had occupied for many years. Some being burnt down allegedly to protect the company’s right to the land.
This provoked a public outcry.

Protest on completion of Danish-aid project
Danish Ambassador to Tanzania, Bjarne Sorensen addressed hundreds of pastoralists in the district at the handing over of the ‘Ngorongoro Pastoralist Project ‘Ereto’, a 15-year project that had aimed to fight poverty and improve the lives of the people in Ngorongoro. The project has recorded significant progress in key issues like water supply, animal health-care, restocking livestock, establishing women’s economic groups and HIV/Aids awareness. The Ambassador said that through consultation with others, he had been able to see and hear that evictions and burnings of bomas did indeed take place. “I would like the Government to be open in this dialogue to secure the rule of law.” The violent evictions had overshadowed the support Denmark had been providing to the Maasai communities in the area. Sorensen criticized the Government for not ending the evictions and added that the evictions were a matter of great concern to the Danish people, European Union member states and the African Commission on Human Rights. “ I call on the Government to stop all the evictions and associated actions,” he said. “With regret” he went on “it seems that our support to Loliondo District through ‘Ereto’ has failed as, apparently, an environment of fear and intimidation now seems to exist.” However, the ambassador said he remained convinced that the government would continue to support sustainable improvement where conservation and development were promoted hand in hand.

Later, over 50 victims of the forced evictions, at a meeting in Dar es Salaam, urged the Government to immediately stop the operation and help them with basic needs like water, food and health facilities. They lashed out at the government for treating them inhumanely and accused the police and district authorities of teaming up with OBC to illegally remove them from their ancestral land.

Government reaction
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Shamsa Mwangunga said that investigations had begun to establish the root cause of the problem and find a lasting way out. She was officiating at the handing over ceremony of the Danish aided project. She called on all concerned “to have trust in the government’s intentions” of ensuring that justice would be done. It was part of the government’s responsibility to ensure that legal investments were adequately protected while also safeguarding the interests of wananchi “without allowing a few individuals, organisations or institutions to foment unrest.” She revealed that the government would very soon embark on land use planning in Ngorongoro District, ‘with a view to clearly demarcating land for use by local residents and as wildlife protected areas’.

Parliamentary investigation
As concern mounted, parliament resolved that an investigation would be conducted by one of its committees in the eight villages which were affected by the eviction operation. Then local human rights activists under the Feminist Activists Coalition (FemAct) expressed their intention to offer legal aid to the victims in litigation against the government. 100 witnesses had been lined up to testify. “We will file a criminal case against those who were involved in the burning of kraals and harassment of Maasai residents in the area, and a civil case to seek compensation for property which was destroyed during the operation,” they said.

On September 12 disgruntled villagers staged a peaceful march to the State House in Dar es Salaam for an audience with President Kikwete but their mission was not successful. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has also sent a written request to President Kikwete to intervene – from the Guardian and many other sources.

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ALBINO KILLERS SENTENCED

The High Court, sitting in Shinyanga specifically to preside over cases involving albino killings, delivered its first judgment on September 23. It sentenced to death three accused persons including the husbands of two wives for abducting and killing a young boy. The wives said they saw severed legs being recovered from a nearby bush which one of the accused had been using for soothsaying.

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APPROACHING 40 MILLION

Reacting to the news that the population of Tanzania (presently approaching 40 million) was growing by 3% and would, therefore, by 2025 have grown to 80 million, the Head of the Tanzania Family Planning Association (UMATI) said that little effort was being made to address family planning issues. The fertility rate during the last two decades was equivalent to six children per woman. He criticized the government and donors for investing more efforts in tackling HIV/Aids and forgetting other areas like family planning which also affected the economy. Collective efforts were needed in addressing family planning issues to arrest the country’s rapid population growth. He said that 40% of the Association’s budget came from the government and the rest from donors. The 2008/09 contraceptive budget was estimated at 9.2bn/- but only 3.5bn/- was released in 2009. The procurement process took six to eight months to identify suppliers and arrange delivery – Guardian

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POLICE SUCCESSES

The police have had increasing success in dealing with violent armed robberies which took place during 2009.
Eight people have appeared in court on 14 charges following the July 31 robbery with violence at NMB Bank’s Temeke branch.

They were charged with murdering a security guard and a police officer and stealing over Shs 61 million. Some of the accused also appeared in court charged with stealing a vehicle on June 21 at Magomeni, a car valued at Shs 6 million on March 31 at Mwananyamala, and the robbery of a motorcycle and vehicle, both valued at Shs 25 million, at Changombe. With the exception of the murder charge, the accused pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Three of the accused asked the court to allow them to seek treatment for injuries allegedly caused by torture while in police custody. The request was rejected and they were told that their offences were not bailable and that they would receive treatment in remand.

This is the third time in three years that police have detained suspects they have subsequently appeared in court charged with murder and armed robbery after raids targeting the NMB Bank. On April 20, 2006, armed gangsters waylaid bank vehicles at the Ubungo traffic lights in Dar es Salaam and made off with tens of millions of shillings after killing two people and injuring several others. Sixteen people are facing murder and armed robbery charges at the High Court.
On July 11, 2007, robbers struck at the Bank’s Mwanga branch in Kilimanjaro Region, and killed one person before fleeing with Shs 234 million. Eleven people, including several Kenyans, have been charged in connection with the robbery – The Citizen.

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OBITUARIES

BISHOP GRESFORD CHITEMO (82), who was born in Kilosa, died on All Saints Day 2009. He served as the first bishop of the Diocese of Morogoro from 1965 until his retirement in 1987 and from 1988 to 1995 he was head of African Evangelistic Enterprise, based in Nairobi. He was a spell-binding preacher, and hundreds in many different countries came to faith through his ministry. He was courageous in defending those in trouble and confronting oppression, even in high places, and missionaries found him an accessible and sympathetic listener, who yet had the wisdom and confidence to make his own decisions. He built especially warm relationships with coastal Anglicans whose tradition was very different from his. Thank you Roger Bowen for this – Editor.

Professor Emeritus DAVID KIMBLE has died aged 87. He started work at the University of Dar Salaam in 1962 as Professor of Political Science and within the year he had set up, and found funds for the Institute of Public Administration – a completely new direction then for an African institution. He also established a programme of training for diplomats from newly independent countries at the Institute – from ASAUK Newsletter No 57

St. Stephen’s Church in Gloucester Road, London, not far from his basement flat, was filled on 21st August last year, for a service of thanksgiving for the life of THOMAS RANDAL SADLEIR, a founder member and, at one time, a committee member of the Britain-Tanzania Society who died on August 11 at 85 years old.

Those of us who knew him realised how much we were going to miss his larger than life personality but it was fascinating to hear from his grandson Nicholas a fund of highly amusing anecdotes which entranced the congregation and, secondly, from his son Gerald, who had clearly inherited his father’s eloquence.

I first met Randal 45 years ago when the wife of an officer at the Ministry of Agriculture’s HQ in Dar es Salaam suddenly collapsed with a brain tumour and the couple had to leave Tanganyika. The officer had been producing a popular weekly radio programme called Mzee Simba (modeled on ‘ the Archers’), and I had been producing a monthly magazine called Ukulima wa Kisasa (Modern Farming) which was circulating in Musoma and surrounding districts. I was told to leave Musoma and report to Dar es Salaam immediately to take over the radio programme and to develop the magazine to cover the whole country. The journey, by Lake Steamer and train, took nearly three days and I was told on arrival to have my first radio script ready ‘by Thursday.’

It did not take long to find the person who would be able to help. He had started the first Swahili newspapers in Tanganyika and had become editor of both of them, as well as most of the government’s public relations material. It seemed that everybody knew him and, in the media world, he knew everybody. Although he was about the same age as me, he soon became almost a father figure and played a major role in preserving both my career and my sanity.
Many obituaries have been published.

The Daily Telegraph wrote: ‘He was one of the last generations of colonial administrators; at 27 he was the youngest district commissioner (in Handeni) and stayed on, at the request of President Nyerere, for 13 years after independence. Speaking to a nationalist rally in the early days, Nyerere had declared that Kutawaliwa ni fedheha and Sadleir probably saved him from prosecution, and the country from probable turmoil, by pointing out to the authorities that this meant “It is a disgrace to be ruled” rather than “We are ruled disgracefully”. The two became close friends, drinking companions at the Cosy Cafe, and Sadleir acted as an intermediary between Nyerere and the new Governor, Sir Richard Turnbull, assisting at what proved to be an unusually harmonious transition.

Randal was he was fond of the old Irishism: “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough”. On his death, one of his many friends remarked: “If you were lucky enough to know Randal, you were lucky enough.”

Randal Sadleir with the late Mwalimu Nyerere

Mwalimu Nyerere noted ruefully that Sadleir’s sympathy for the nationalist cause before independence was matched only by his forthright opinions of Nyerere’s Government after it. Sadleir was always an unconventional spirit. Mwalimu Nyerere, in rare understatement, called him “unusually individualistic”, while Lord Twining, the then Governor, remarked that he would never make a civil servant because “you are neither civil nor servile”. To diehards in the colonial establishment, Sadleir was an Africanist eccentric; but his integrity, humour and generosity of heart were universally recognised.
In the Swahili language he discovered a lifetime’s fascination that he translated into a real affinity when he served as a very young officer in the King’s African Rifles. Around campfires, Sadleir spoke to his askaris and mastered their tongue, creating a bond that went far beyond command. In Africa and its people he found humanity and, he said, never again felt quite so at home.

He remained an admirer of Nyerere the man, long after his abilities as a ruler were being brought into question. He left Tanzania in 1973, still incurring official disapproval — he pointed out that the ruling TANU party took a tougher line on law and order than the colonial administration.

Cyril Kaunga, at one time head of film making in Tanzania, writes from Tabora: ‘I remember one day in 1959 when he was going on a picnic, with some of his staff, to Bagamoyo. I decided to join the group in order to see the place where our “grandfathers were sold and chained to iron poles” as he put it. He was always jovial with a high sense of humour. As he went to start his Peugeot car Randal noticed that he had no ignition key. Yet the car started and when we asked how he could start it without the key, he looked at us with a side look and said “I am a conjurer, you know.” We learnt later that the car had one button only for ignition and engine start. After visiting the slave market place we expressed anger and hostility at what we had seen. Randal in his Anglicized Kiswahili remarked, “Hii ilikuwa biashara shenzi kabisa” He spoke Kiswahili using English pronunciation – funny but always interesting to listen to. He was endowed with human qualities of high value. He was sympathetic to the poor and their struggle in the fight against the deadly enemies of our nation. Randal Sadleir is dead in body. To me he continues to live forever.’

The first edition of his fascinating book ‘Tanzania. Journey to Republic’ revealing as it did, a remarkable power of memory, soon sold out. It is a very good read and will ensure that he is remembered – David Brewin

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REVIEWS

Edited by John Cooper-Poole

WIELDING THE AX: STATE FORESTRY AND SOCIAL CONFLICT IN TANZANIA
, 1820-2000. Thaddeus Sunseri Ohio University Press, 2009. ISBN 978 0 8214 1865 9. P/B. £22.95.

This is very well researched work on a topic of considerable contemporary importance in relation to forest utilisation and conservation. It is especially good on the wide range of historic use of the coastal forests in particular, not just for material resources, but also for social and ritual purposes by local people. It is also valuable in tracing the development of forest products such as copal and rubber in the 19th century and the subsequent transformation in wealth and status of those who controlled this trade, especially led by the Germans, who introduced scientific forestry to the management of the mangroves, for example.

The writer claims with justification that it was the latter which played a fundamental role in the subsequent Maj-Maji rebellion in the early years of the 20th century, while the post WWI years saw the replacement of the authority of the chiefs by an organised state forest service, followed by an attempt to move people out of the forests and into more controllable villages elsewhere This background work is therefore impressive and forms a unique assemblage of material.
The main thesis and conclusions are more questionable. A hint is given by the constant misuse of the word ‘colonial’ applied to the period of British administration, not over a ‘colony’ but what was a Trusteeship Territory. This is not semantic nit-picking, since there is much castigation of the governing authority (not excluding the post-independence government) for ignoring the rights of local people to the forest; latterly, the targets become international conservationists with their biodiversity agendas, in which the Tanzanian state has been complicit.

While there is good evidence that in recent years both international organisations and state government have all too frequently sidelined the interests of local people, there is insufficient recognition of the need for some degree of control over peasant exploitation (not least with modern equipment) for the long term benefit of all. The question revolves around who should have ultimate power over the allocation of land for forestry and forest reserves, but this work does not address that most intractable of issues.
James McCarthy

BECOMING MUSLIM IN MAINLAND TANZANIA, 1890-2000 by Felicitas Becker. Oxford: OUP for the British Academy, 2008, 364 pp. ISBN 978 0 19 726427 0. £50.

Dr Becker has followed up her doctoral research on S-E Tanzania with a magisterial treatment of the spread of Islam in the Lindi region. Starting from the pre-colonial period, a time of raiding, migration and slave-trading, she shows how ‘big men’, well-armed and involved in coastal trade, controlled and exploited the local people. Few people converted to Islam until after the Maji-Maji war, not because of Arab influence but because they sought protection and social progress during the disruption which lasted until Indirect Rule in 1927. Islam brought a new egalitarianism in place of the exploitation of earlier times.

People could become Muslim without abandoning traditional practices. Some were attracted by the social festivals introduced by the Sufi tarika. Becker traces the foundation of mosques, followed by madrasas, staffed by village waalimu who taught their followers to recite the infallible Qur’an. They and the missions respected one another because both promoted dini, more progressive and authoritative than anything jadi (tradition) could offer. Islam was more accommodating to local tradition than Catholic missions which, unlike the Masasi Anglicans, made few advances in this region. At any rate, Islam became numerically dominant by the 1950s and was instrumental in modifying the region’s matrilineal customs. Chapter 4 throws light on the common complaint that Muslims are educationally disadvantaged compared with Christians.

Muslims often took leading roles in the independence struggle, but afterwards lost influence, being regarded as ‘provincial’ or uneducated compared with the new political leadership. Their inability to influence the ujamaa movement was a symptom of this. In the last twenty years they have felt even more marginalized, partly due to the rise of the Ansar, young Muslim reformists, some of whom have returned from Arabic studies in Saudi to preach a strict Islam modeled on the ways of the Prophet. They are impatient both with government and with the relaxed syncretism and popular sufism of mainstream Muslims – yet (just like fundamentalist Christians returning from studies in USA) fail to understand the need for religion to be contextualized to African needs and culture. There are however indications that the two sides will reach compromise as the Ansar mellow and the mainstream understand the Qur’an better.

The many transcripts of interviews with locals are likely to appeal to readers of TA, so is the account of Muslim and Christian education, and of the growing self-confidence of today’s post-Iranian revolution Muslim youth. Briefer reflections on the Maji-Maji war and the Groundnut Scheme will also interest the non-specialist. But do not expect any simple theories – Becker is scrupulous in deducing no more than the evidence will allow. This does not make for light reading, and some specialist knowledge of anthropology and Islam is required of the reader. The content belies the title – this volume covers only one very limited region of Tanzania. Both Muslim and Christian phenomena are different in other regions.
Roger Bowen

G. THOMAS BURGESS, ‘RACE REVOLUTION AND THE STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN ZANZIBAR: THE MEMOIRS OF ALI SULTAN ISSA AND SEIF SHARIF HAMAD, Ohio University Press, 2009. 978 0 8214 1852 9 p/b
ISBN 978 0 8214 1852 9 Distributed by Eurospan Group 01767 604972 www.eurospanbookstore.com

This extraordinary book is not yet available in Tanzania, nor in Swahili, but requests are beginning to trickle in for copies to be shipped, photocopied, begged and borrowed by those who have heard of its explosive contents. I bet it won’t be long before an enterprising newspaper serializes the two life stories it chronicles.

Professor Burgess of the United States Naval Academy presents the authorized biographies of two leading Zanzibari figures both of whom have had a front row seat at the tumultuous political events of the last half century on the Isles. Ali Sultan Issa, a key figure in the revolution and in Amani Karume’s revolutionary government, and Seif Shariff Hamad, Minister of Education, Chief Minister, political prisoner and now Presidential candidate of the Civic United Front (CUF), Tanzania’s largest opposition party. But it is the first account that will cause the most controversy.

Hamad recounts with authority and balance his years in the Zanzibar government of Aboud Jumbe and Ali Hassan Mwinyi. The details of his arrest, detention, and the power struggles within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (party of the revolution) will be of real interest to historians and political pundits. However, parts of the later chapters sound more like a CUF manifesto.

Issa, on the other hand, a self confessed drunkard and philanderer, seems to relish the telling of all the sordid details of his outlandish life story without regard for the reputation of his former colleagues, the revolution or even himself and his family. The blisteringly honest account is liberally peppered with the phrase ‘may Allah forgive me,’ and with good reason. Issa’s racy life: multiple marriages; pot-smoking while Minister of Education then Health and his encounters with key figures of the twentieth century such as Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Tse Tung, Che Guevara, and Nikita Khruschev make his account highly readable. But the picture that emerges of the revolution and the post-revolutionary government is truly compelling. He describes houses being nationalized on his personal whim, policies such as forcing the youth to join work camps and nationalizing imports cooked up overnight while the completely inexperienced ministers had the power to imprison and kill, at will. These young revolutionaries appear drinking and dancing while the rest of the population survives on rations and forced labor. According to Issa, it seems they tried to govern according to socialist principles but really had no idea what they were doing at all.

Prefaced by an excellent introduction that demonstrates mastery of Zanzibar’s tangled history, this book will be a key text in Tanzanian history for many years to come.
Ben Rawlence

WHERE HUMANS AND SPIRITS MEET: THE POLITICS OF RITUALS AND IDENTIFIED SPIRITS IN ZANZIBAR. Kjersti Larsen. Social Identities series, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford, 2008. x + 173pp (hardback). ISBN 978-1-84545-055-7. £37.50.

Spirit possession is a fascinating cultural phenomenon, and has understandably attracted a lot of attention from ethnographers and others entranced by its beguiling blend of the spiritual and the exotic. Approaches to the study of possession vary along a continuum from the theory that it provides (mostly) women with a crafty means of ensuring that their menfolk pay them greater attention (not least by having to pay for expensive treatments), to the belief that spirits are real and that understanding of possession is only possible through personal experience of it. Most contemporary anthropologists take a middle course by arguing that there’s more to possession than cynical manipulation, and that description and analysis must start from an acknowledgement of the raw reality of spirit possession to those involved. This may seem like a fudge to sceptics who don’t believe in spirits, but it preserves respect for the beliefs of others and allows for careful exegesis.

The islands of the Western Indian Ocean and the countries around its rim are home to a spirit possession complex that coexists with Islam (and other religions) and has spawned its own minor academic industry. Kjersti Larsen’s book is a welcome addition to this burgeoning literature. It is based largely on her doctoral dissertation (Where Humans and Spirits Meet: Incorporating Difference and Experiencing Otherness in Zanzibar Town, University of Oslo, 1995) and provides a detailed account of spirit possession and its rituals in Zanzibar town, focusing in particular on the significance of the gendered nature of spirits and their self-identification as members of different ‘tribes’ (Swahili makabila) or racial and ethnic groups. When men and women are possessed, the possessory spirit (sheitani) typically identifies itself by name and ‘tribe’ to those present, often in response to interrogation by a local doctor or medium (mganga). The tribal affiliation of the spirit determines the type of treatment and actions appropriate to it, and draws together people who have been inhabited by spirits belonging to the same category.

Drawing on her extensive experience of possession rituals in urban Zanzibar, Larsen describes these and related practices at length. She provides a sensitive account of people’s experiences of possession and the ways in which they relate to their spirits. It is refreshing to read an account like this in which some of the uncertainties and differences of opinion about spirit possession are highlighted: indeed many Zanzibaris are themselves deeply sceptical about this phenomenon and question the sincerity of fellow townspeople and villagers who claim to host spirits and in some cases (involving masheitani ya ruhani, Arab and Muslim spirits) have regular sexual relations with them. Some readers will find the theoretical sections of this book, and the introductory chapter in particular, heavy going. But stripped of anthrospeak, the author’s view of possession as the dramatization of other identities, enacted through mimesis (imitation) and at times lightened by parody, seems eminently reasonable. There may be a lot more to spirit possession than role playing, but acting up is certainly a large part of it.

Where Humans and Spirits Meet does not claim to be comprehensive or definitive, but it complements other accounts of possession in Zanzibar (notably Tapio Nisula’s Everyday Spirits and Medical Interventions: Ethnographic and Historical Notes on Therapeutic Conventions in Zanzibar Town, Saarijärvi, 1999) and draws attention to important aspects of this complex phenomenon. A fuller analysis, including a deeper understanding of the particular ‘tribal’ identities ascribed to spirits, can arguably only be undertaken in the context of a historical and comparative study of possession in the wider region. Larsen’s book lacks this broader perspective, but in company with other monographs and articles on spirit possession in this part of the world provides important ethnographic evidence for the larger task. Perhaps more surprisingly it also lacks reference to the most extraordinary set of encounters between Zanzibaris and spirits in recent years: the modern Popobawa panics that began with a vengeance in 1995 (see Tanzanian Affairs 53, 1996). This is perhaps explained in part by the timing of the fieldwork for this book (1991-92 and 1997). But there is no excuse for the multiple misspellings of Swahili in the text and glossary of what is otherwise an attractively produced volume.
Martin Walsh

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LETTERS

A nation in darkness
It does not need an advanced economic degree to understand, that no nation can ever claim economic progress where there is no reliable supply of energy, especially in this age. More than ninety percent of Tanzanians have been in darkness since the beginning of time, and little has been done to correct the chronic power rationing problem, while our leaders are taking advantage of the situation by continuing to line their pockets at the tax payer’s expense.

Our leaders are testing people’s will and resolve. Richmond, and Dowan masterminds have plunged the nation into darkness while themselves leading utopian lifestyles. They may never face justice for their criminal offenses.
The common man, the poor and the powerless, who can’t afford expensive generators, and do not reside in the affluent parts of the city where power is never off, have been left to dance to the tune of power rationing year after year. What a shame for a nation blessed with many rivers, abundant fossil and renewable sources of energy sufficient to power the entire nation yet leaving its people in despair, and constantly in darkness.

More than 90 percent of Tanzania’s population has no access to electricity. What plans do our politicians have in place to harness renewable sources of energy after most non-renewable sources are depleted?

It will be very dangerous and extremely expensive to pipe gas from Kilwa – Songo Songo to the Dar es Salaam, Ubungo power plant, a tiny facility surrounded by a huge population. Such undertakings can be done in Kilwa (at the source where space is unlimited ) and electricity could then be transported to wherever it is needed within the country, instead of exposing the population to danger, and burdening the nation with such a huge cost.

Research centers, communication facilities, factories and other businesses need constant and reliable energy supply to meet their production quotas, to retain the labor force; pay workers, and be able to compete in the domestic and international markets. The current environment of two to four working hours a day of a couple of days a month of electricity cannot foster economic progress. The country needs reliable electricity, full stop.

Tanzania is not lacking the financial ability to provide energy to her people. Billions are spent on expensive Land-Cruisers, unwanted and outdated Radar, the losses involving the EPA, the Richmond and Dowans fraudsters. This would be sufficient to bring to an end, the decades-old power problem.

The problem is simply the management; irresponsible, no vision, thinking of today and not the future.

I have never comprehended what the Minister of Energy does. Neither do I understand what TANESCO is for, because its leadership is still the same year after year. Commissions that have cost tax payers billions of shillings have been set up and their findings have never been implemented. The individuals implicated with fraud are still free, yet the petty criminals are paraded daily in the judicial system.

Our leaders must forgo their hefty sitting, training, and travel allowances. In other parts of the world, people pay to attend meetings, yet in our country our leaders must be paid to attend training which is very bizarre considering the fact that our economy is a donor dependant one.

The parliament must act swiftly to turn on the lights for all Tanzanians, otherwise the nation will continue to remain in the darkness with her economic future in limbo.

Unabated continuation of grand corruption will push the nation to a point of no return. Our politicians must read the signs on the wall, telling them clearly, that the nation is rapidly descending into the dark ages, as the voices of the tax payers finance their lucrative positions shouting ‘TURN ON THE LIGHTS’.
Hildebrand Shayo


Tanzanian Notes and Records

My mother Sheila Unwin has a large collection of Tanzania Notes and Records going back to 1934 which we need to dispose of. As they are of great historical interest can you advertise them free to a good home in the next newsletter. You may remember she recently published a book ‘The Arab Chest’.
Vicky Unwin. E-mail: <contact the editor for Vicky’s email>>

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