REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

SEA LEVEL: A PORTRAIT OF ZANZIBAR. Sarah Markes. Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2020. 144 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-084-19-7. £27.00.

Sea Level book cover


I was very happy to be asked to review Sea Level: A Portrait of Zanzibar, as I had already seen wonderful glimpses of Sarah Markes’s work on Instagram, including the cover with its illustration of the iconic Old Dispensary on the seafront in Stone Town, Zanzibar. I lived and worked in Stone Town in the 1990s and saw the Old Dispensary being painstakingly brought back to life and splendour during its restoration by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture after years of neglect. The Old Dispensary is an example of how a building can be saved but it also illustrates the richness and multi-cultural nature of Zanzibari architecture. It seems a very fitting choice for the cover of a book which has the message of conservation at its very heart.

Sea Level follows on from Street Level, an illustrated book on the cultural and architectural heritage of Dar es Salaam, where Sarah Markes recorded the vanishing city centre with snapshots of daily life there. Both an artist and designer, the author has worked widely in East and Southern Africa on awareness campaigns, educational and environmental issues. She documents the cultural and natural heritage of places through her art and in doing so, hopes not only to raise awareness of their value but also to promote the need for their conservation. She says:

“My main aim in creating this book was to celebrate and record glimpses of this unique and beautiful place, and thus help inspire interest in its preservation.”

The illustrations in Sea Level are structured around the eight wards of Stone Town. The featured buildings are numbered so that a visitor can explore the streets visiting the various points of interest, which are linked to a GPS position. I immediately wanted to set off on a walk following the routes through the different areas. From the iconic waterfront view of old palaces and mansions at Mizingani, the Art Deco cinemas to the bustling markets and caravanserai – all the buildings have a story to tell. There are beautiful detailed line drawings but the author also uses shadow layering of photographs offering hints and echoes. The streets are alive with people too, going about their business in the town, shopping, a kofia seller scrolling on his phone, the hubbub of the dhow harbour, men playing bao. There is movement and vibrancy here – nothing is static. Small photographs are also used to zoom in on particular details, cleverly highlighting a point or focusing on a particular theme – the latticework on a balcony or detail on a carved door.

We hear about the history of Stone Town from its original settlement of mud and wattle houses to the stone buildings that followed Seyyid Said’s establishment of his capital there. The five main architectural traditions are highlighted with the layers of history and settlement of different people. There are cultural details too with the kangas and textiles, the feral cats, the spices and street seats. The details are incredibly rich and layered and I loved the illustrations of the various street light covers from saucepans to bucket lids and hub-caps. There is also a section on the natural heritage of the island, the importance of the forests and the reefs and the threats they face.

This all gives us a feeling of the mood, the vibrancy and the colour of life in Zanzibar. The smells and sounds of the place leap off each page. We are aware of the history, the monsoon winds, the people and trade and different religions that all combined to make the island so unique. Sea Level transports you there with the smell of the cloves and the taste of the freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. It also gives hope for the future with a list of organisations and NGOs who are working to help communities through education, heritage conservation and sustainable development.

In her preface, Sarah Markes explains how she was inspired by the work of the late John da Silva, a historian and watercolour artist who was also a passionate advocate of the need to protect and preserve Stone Town. I knew John well and feel sure that he would be happy to see how well Sarah is continuing his work. Sea Level captures the vibrancy, cultural diversity and uniqueness of Zanzibar. Sarah Markes writes of her hope of fostering interest in the preservation of Stone Town and initiating a gathering and sharing of stories which will be an important record of life there. Every rainy season more and more of Zanzibar’s unique old buildings are lost after years without maintenance or concern for their preservation. The partial collapse of the House of Wonders on 25 December 2020 shows that even the most iconic of buildings is under threat. Sea Level is an important reminder of what can be lost and what needs to be done.

Bethan Rees Walton
Bethan Rees Walton lived in Zanzibar from 1990-1996 and is the author of Images of Zanzibar (1996) with Javed Jafferji. After returning to the UK to study an MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, she now lives in Pembrokeshire and teaches yoga by the sea. She is currently writing a novel which is set in Zanzibar.

THE HISTORY OF KIZIBA AND ITS KINGS: A TRANSLATION OF AMAKURU GA KIZIBA NA ABAKAMA BAMU. F.X. Lwamgira (trans­lated by G.B. Kamanzi and edited by P.R. Schmidt). Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2020. xxxviii + 414 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-083-68-8. £35.00.

The History of Kiziba and its Kings is a very welcome addition to the literature on the Haya people, their culture, and their history. A translation of Amakuru ga Kiziba na Abakama Bamu, a book by the Haya scholar and chief Franciscus X. Lwamgira published in 1949, this volume gives readers a fascinating account of the history of Kiziba, one of several kingdoms established by the Haya people in what is now the Kagera Region of Tanzania. A collection of painstakingly researched and assembled oral records, it tells the history of Kiziba primarily through stories of the reigns of its kings, from the foundation of the kingdom until the period shortly after the First World War.

The importance of a history told through Haya voices cannot be overstated. Those interested in the Haya people and their culture have often relied on texts produced by European or North American observers. Some of these, such as Bengt Sundkler’s Bara Bukoba (1980), are invaluable sources produced by individuals with an intimate knowledge of the Haya people, but they nevertheless represent a body of literature written by outsiders looking in. This book, by contrast, provides a platform for indigenous voices, and allows for a better sense of Haya understandings of their own history. Whilst these sorts of local histories are more common in other parts of East Africa, particularly in Uganda, this book represents a novel and exciting development in the English-language historiography of the Haya.

The History of Kiziba and its Kings provides readers with a picture of a complex society in which a dynamic, competitive political arena was tempered by a culture in which ritual and tradition played central roles. Whilst it is unavoidably a history concerned primarily with Haya elites, it nevertheless allows for an understanding of society and the region more generally. The importance of the kings’ mothers, of ritualistic drums, and of the Haya clan system, as well as the names of places and things, are just some of the many things these stories shed light on. Importantly, they also provide an account of the challenges faced by Haya society as a result of the introduction of Christianity and German colonial rule.

There is much to commend in Galasius B. Kamanzi’s translation of Lwamgira’s work. Firstly, and most obviously, he has done an impressive job of translating into English a sizeable and complex piece of scholarship from a now largely forgotten form of the Haya language. Haya dialects have changed significantly since Lwamgira first wrote his book, so those of us with an interest in Haya history are very lucky to have individuals like Kamanzi to make accessible sources of knowledge which would otherwise be closed to us.

However, perhaps more significantly, Kamanzi has also been careful not to lose the centrality of orality in Lwamgira’s history. The subtleties of oral narrative are well preserved in the English translation, with the rhythms, refrains and constructions of the epic poetry which has historically played an important role in Haya culture coming across very effectively. That these are narratives to be remembered, recited and performed is evident, and the effect is both captivating and engaging. To capture effectively oral history in a written medium is an achievement in itself; to manage it even in translation is particularly impressive. Indeed, readers of this book cannot help but reflect on the different ways of knowing and remembering that oral cultures can teach those of us who are more familiar with written forms of knowledge.

Finally, Peter R. Schmidt, the editor of this translation, deserves credit for his very informative introduction to this edition. The history of the Haya people and their kingdoms is complex and often difficult to trace with many of the sources available. A few spelling and grammatical errors aside, Schmidt does an admirable job of contextualising both this particular work and its author, and of introducing those who may be unfamiliar with the history of this region to the oral traditions which characterise it. Overall, The History of Kiziba and its Kings is a fascinating, important book which should be added to the reading list of anybody with an interest in Haya history and culture.

Nico Brice-Bennett
Nico Brice-Bennett is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, researching the history of religion and socio-political thought in Tanzania, particularly among the Chagga and Haya peoples. Nico grew up in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania before moving to the UK in 2012 to study for a BA in Ancient, Medieval and Modern History at the University of Durham. Following this, he undertook an MPhil in African Studies at the University of Cambridge, before moving to Edinburgh in 2017. His research places a particular focus on oral history, as well as on the history of regionally produced Swahili-language newspapers.

THE AMPHIBIANS OF THE TANZANIAN FORESTS. Michele Menegon, John Lyakurwa and Simon Loader. A freely downloadable visual guide, Version 1.0, December 2020. 202 pp. Available online at https://www.researchgate.net/ publication/350820277_Amphibians_of_the_Tanzanian_forests

This sumptuously illustrated photographic guide to the frogs and caecilians of Tanzania’s forests is a very welcome addition to the literature on the country’s amphibians and their wonderful variety. The authors’ introduction underlines just how incomplete our knowledge of this diversity is: they estimate that around half of Tanzania’s amphibians remain unknown. As for those associated with its forests,

“The book includes a total of 152 species, for 117 of them, description and name have been published in a scientific publication. Of these species 111 are Tanzanian endemics. For about 20 of these formally described species, ongoing studies suggests that more than one cryptic taxa are included under that one name. In addition, we include in this book a further 35 species which have no formal name or published scientific account but which published studies or ‘grey literature’ have demonstrated to be distinct from already known taxa.”

At the same time, many of these species, both described and undescribed, are severely threatened by deforestation and other impacts of human activity, not least of which is climate change. The authors rightly emphasise that amphibians should be treasured and protected for more than their immediate usefulness to people, however their social and economic value might be calculated. Amphibians are integral to the tangled web of life, every thread and connection of which demands our care and attention, including best efforts at conservation.

This book represents an important contribution to that undertaking, and I look forward to updated versions of the current pdf. Otherwise, it’s worth downloading for its glorious photographs alone. It’s pleasing to see that the introductory sections have also been translated into Swahili, an increasing trend in guidebooks of this kind. It’s a pity, though, that so many newly described amphibians are still being named after a privileged minority, just when calls for the decolonisation of nomenclature are beginning to be heard.

Martin Walsh
Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs and recently became a member of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of East African Natural History.

Also noticed:
HISTORIA YA KIZIBA NA WAFALME WAKE: Tafsiri ya Amakuru Ga Kiziba na Abakama Bamu. F.X. Lwamgira (translated by G.B. Kamanzi and edited by P.R. Schmidt). Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2020. 476 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-083-69-5. £35.00.

A Swahili translation of F.X. Lwamgira’s Amakuru ga Kiziba na Abakama Bamu (1949), the English translation of which (The History of Kiziba and its Kings) is reviewed by Nico Brice-Bennett above.

Both translations are available from the African Books Collective (ABC) at www.africanbookscollective.com, as is Sarah Markes’ Sea Level: A Portrait of Zanzibar (reviewed here by Bethan Rees Walton) and the author’s earlier Street Level: A Collection of Drawings and Creative Writing Inspired by the Cultural and Architectural Heritage of Dar es Salaam (2011).

Readers may also like to peruse ABC’s current catalogue of books published in Swahili, which includes both fiction and non-fiction titles: see https://www.readafricanbooks.com/ and https://www.readafricanbooks.com/media/website_pages/catalogues/ABC_Swahili-2021_web.pdf. Recent offerings include Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s autobiography, Mzee Rukhsa: Safari ya Maisha Yangu (2020), which we hope to review in a forth­coming issue.
Martin Walsh

REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

MHOLA – THE UTOPIA OF PEACE: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION OF THE SUNGUSUNGU MOVEMENT IN TANZANIA. Per Brandström. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology 59, Uppsala University, Uppsala, 2021. 264 pp. (print and e-book). ISBN: 978-91-513-1114-2. Free download (and print purchase) via http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-429533

The Nyamwezi, and their closely related northern neighbours the Sukuma, occupy a large area of rural Tanzania lying to the south of Lake Victoria. Although only approximate population figures are available, they clearly con­stitute the largest cultural and linguistic group in the country, and the present study suggests that together they may number over 10 million.

The group has attracted a great deal of interest from anthropologists (including myself) and others which has been largely focussed on a remarkable vigilante movement which emerged in the area in the early 1980s. Since then, the village vigilante groups in question – known locally as Sungusungu and as Basalama (‘the people of peace’) – have had a complex history stretching over several decades.

The present study by Dr Per Brandström of Uppsala University attempts to pro­vide a detailed review of the history of Sungusungu and an account of some of the key values in Nyamwezi/Sukuma culture which have lain at the heart of the movement. It is difficult to imagine anyone more fitted to this task. In addition to his fieldwork and his formal academic training as an anthropologist, he has had the further advantage of having lived in the area as the child of Swedish missionaries, and he has deservedly acquired a well-established network of trusting and trustworthy villagers with whom he has been able to engage in full and frank discussion of the main features of the movement.

As his title suggests, Dr Brandström persuasively portrays the fundamental con­cern of the groups as the maintenance and restoration of mhola, ‘peace’ (within the community and ultimately within oneself and with the world). After a series of disturbances to social order around the beginning of the 1980s, a small group of elders came together on the borders of Kahama and Shinyanga Districts to try to develop a strategy to cope with the threats to local well-being posed by cattle rustlers and bandits and also witches. These last were mainly local older women. The outlines of the story of how the movement subsequently grew and spread like wildfire throughout the area and beyond is by now well known.

As Dr Brandström makes clear, Sungusungu has been a complex and changing phenomenon in the decades since those first beginnings, and as such many different approaches may be and have been legitimately adopted towards understanding it. Also, anthropology itself has multiple agendas, which do not always sit easily with each other, perhaps the most obvious being ethnographic documentation, generalisation and comparative study. Yet, each of these tasks constitutes a fundamental element of the discipline.

With the partial exception of Sufian Bukurura’s PhD dissertation, which is treated in some detail in the text, nobody has previously put together such a rich body of fieldwork material on Sungusungu as is presented here. Dr Brandström’s analysis brings out particularly well the need to recognise the multifaceted character of the material including the significance of communal feasting and sacrificial ritual, in the search for ‘peace’. One is tempted to refer to Max Gluckman’s work on ‘multiplex’ roles and relationships within commu­nities in this context, but this at once risks over-specifying and concretising the different political, economic and religious strands combined in these relations, and an approach through Talcott Parsons’ broad contrast between ‘specificity and diffuseness’ may be preferable. However this may be, we arguably need to be especially careful to avoid what I have elsewhere referred to as an inappro­priate sharpening of our analytic chisels when we might do better searching for the unifying glue provided by key cultural values, as Dr Brandström does here!

Overall, it is clear that despite one or two ‘blips’ – for instance on p. 24 he unfortunately misquotes my own discussion of the use of ideal types as refer­ence points in comparative analysis – Dr Brandström has produced a timely and impressive piece of interpretative ethnography which adds substantially to our understanding of Sungusungu and comparable vigilante movements. As such it constitutes a very welcome contribution to the existing literature on these topics.
Ray Abrahams
Ray Abrahams is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and a former staff member of the Cambridge Department of Social Anthropology (1963-1998). He carried out field research in the Nyamwezi and Sukuma area of Tanzania in 1957-1960, 1974-75, and 1986. He published an account of Sungusungu in 1987, followed by several papers and a book on vigilantism in compara­tive perspective (Vigilant Citizens: Vigilantism and the State. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1998).

IMPERIALISM AND DEVELOPMENT: THE EAST AFRICAN GROUNDNUT SCHEME AND ITS LEGACY. Nicholas Westcott. James Currey, Woodbridge, 2020. xvi + 243 pp. (hardback). ISBN: 978-1-84701-259­3. £60 (e-book £19.99). Tanzanian Affairs readers can purchase the hardback at the discounted rate of £39 by visiting www.boydellandbrewer.com and entering the code “BB135” at checkout.

The history of the Groundnut Scheme is so overwhelming farcical that the entire episode could easily be fabricated satire. If only it were so. Sadly, this comedy of errors did occur and makes for a deeply tragic tale. Nicholas Westcott expertly unravels the fall and fall of this extraordinarily ambitious project in Tanganyika on its road to becoming the largest, most expensive, and most disastrous development scheme the British Government had ever undertaken. Readers will be quick to draw comparisons to various large scale, government-run megaprojects in the present and recent past that could easily rival this title. This contemporary resonance is well expressed – particularly in the closing chapter, ‘Legacy and Lessons’ – and many governments would do well to learn the lessons still to be taught from the fields of Kongwa, Nachingwea, and Urambo.

In response to a global fats and oils shortage after World War II the scheme set out to convert three million acres of bush into the largest mechanized groundnut farm in the world. The scheme swallowed up the equivalent of £1 billion in four years (1946-50) and was not only a catastrophic failure but a political scandal. That’s the story in a nutshell, at least. But this was a complex chapter in Britain and Tanganyika’s shared history, and the intricacies of the saga are exposed in ‘Imperialism and Development’ through an impressive balance of engaging narrative and serious research. Westcott draws from a variety of sources to detail with precision how Britain set out to utilise the soil of its eroding empire to curb a potential margarine famine.

Westcott asks and answers several key questions. What happened? Why did things go so terribly wrong despite the inspiration and effort poured into it? How did this reflect the imperial project in the mid-twentieth century? What does it tell us about agricultural development and its transformation in Africa? And are there lessons we can learn of relevance today?

This was a remarkable failure that has received little scholarly attention despite its infamy. The expense (then £36 million) was written off after the project went from bad to worse, ultimately producing nothing. The most worrying realisa­tion from reading the book is how little has changed. Although it is hoped that at the very least, the lesson of ‘do not plant seeds where it doesn’t rain’ has been largely learned.

Westcott’s likening of this development disaster to a Greek tragedy is apt, and this is a ripping good read. It conjures up the atmosphere of the time and anyone who had friends or relations who were ‘Groundnutters’ will get a very clear impression of the scheme.

Nicholas Westcott is well qualified to spin this particular yarn with wit and academic aplomb. He first encountered files on the scheme at the National Archives (UK) in the late 1970s while a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, then writing a thesis on The Impact of the Second World War on Tanganyika, 1939–1951. This book has therefore enjoyed a particularly long gestation which accounts for its richness. Westcott will be well known to read­ers as the incumbent Director of the Royal African Society (since 2017) and draws insights from over three decades of diplomatic service, many of which were spent in Africa (including as High Commissioner to Ghana, 2008-11).
Jonathan M. Jackson
Jonathan M. Jackson is a doctoral student at the University of Cologne and is part of the German Research Foundation-funded Collaborative Research Centre 228: ‘Future Rural Africa’ (https://www.crc228.de). His thesis – Past Futures: Histories of Development in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania – will be submitted this year. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford (MSc, African Studies) and SOAS (BA, History and Swahili).

THE BOY FROM BOSKOVICE: A FATHER’S SECRET LIFE. Vicky Unwin. Unbound, London, 2021. xiii + 324 pp. (hardback). ISBN: 978­1783529063. £25.
To many colonial officials who worked in Tanzania during the last days of British rule, the name of Tom Unwin was very familiar. So too to many UN officials working in development during the 1960s and ‘70s. He was a gregari­ous character, great company, full of tales, and to all intents and purposes a quintessential Englishman.

But appearances can deceive. Drawing on a wealth of family papers and let­ters left to her when her mother died, his daughter, Vicky Unwin, has pieced together an extraordinary story of a man who completely reinvented himself. Arriving with his mother as a Jewish refugee in England at the outbreak of war, the lost ‘boy from Boskovice’ swiftly buried his past, adopted his new country and a new personality, and after impressive war service, became first a ‘Groundnutter’ and then colonial official in Tanganyika (as it then was), before working as a senior and influential UN official in South-east Asia for many years before his retirement in 1997. Like a chameleon, he had the capacity to adapt and blend effortlessly into his environment, with scarcely a backward glance at a past that became increasingly complicated as he slipped not only from one country to another but from one relationship to another.

Vicky Unwin’s account is fascinating as she uncovers secret after secret about her own father, able at last to challenge him with some of the secrets while he was still alive. It is worth the read for this story alone, which keeps you gripped to the end.

But for readers of Tanzanian Affairs it is the four chapters covering his time in Tanzania, from 1947 to 1964, that will hold most interest. He and his wife Sheila (Vicky’s mother) were among the first recruits to the infamous Groundnut Scheme and some of the very few who stayed with it until almost the end. The account here therefore has a real value in illuminating the work­ings of this hopelessly over-ambitious development scheme that promised to transform the country’s agriculture but which failed so spectacularly, it helped bring down Attlee’s government in 1951.

As the fate of the scheme became clear, Tom Unwin skipped lightly from farming to colonial administration, and became a District Officer successively in Mikindani, Mwanza, Tukuyu and finally District Commissioner in Kilwa – where they were visited, amongst many others, by the novelist Evelyn Waugh and became friendly (in Sheila’s case, very friendly) with the charming doyen of East African archaeologists, Neville Chittick.

From there he was transferred to Dar es Salaam and, as a member of the Secretariat, was given a job in the office of the new Prime Minister, Julius Nyerere, who later appointed him as the first Permanent Secretary of the Tanzanian Foreign Ministry. It is clear that his working relationship with Nyerere was both friendly and fruitful, and it would have been interesting to hear more about how he became such a trusted member of the PM’s senior team in so short a time – a testament to his charisma, competence and impeccable Swahili. But the account is understandably more from Vicky’s perspective as a young expat child in Dar at the dawn of independence.

Sadly, after the attempted coup and the union with Zanzibar in 1964, the last white officials were withdrawn. Tom Unwin returned to Britain and his career, and family life, followed other paths to other places.

In some ways the story of Tom Unwin is characteristic of Britain’s whole relationship with Africa: deeply committed, even affectionate, while there, not entirely understanding why it all came to an end, but then moving on to other places and other challenges, while a new generation of young Britons engaged with Africa in a very different way. This book provides one perspective on Britain’s past, well-written and fascinating in its own way. A recommended read.
Nick Westcott
Nick Westcott is Director of the Royal African Society and a Research Associate at SOAS. He first visited Tanzania in the 1970s, spending a year at the University of Dar es Salaam while studying for his PhD, then returned as the British Deputy High Commissioner in the 1990s, before being appointed Britain’s High Commissioner to Ghana in 2008-11. His history of the Groundnut Scheme is reviewed elsewhere in this issue.

REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

DEVELOPMENT AS REBELLION: A BIOGRAPHY OF JULIUS NYERERE. Issa Shivji, Saida Yahya-Othman, and Ng’wanza Kamata. Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam, 2020. xxiv + 1,101 pp. (hardback, three-volume box set). ISBN: 9789987084111. £90.

This amazing trilogy of books, long in the making, will add to the necessity for the study of Julius Nyerere as one of the most important philosophers, revolutionaries, writers, development theorists, politicians, leaders and human beings of the 20th century. The roster of endorsements for this three-volume set points to how extraordinary and important its publication is. Thabo Mbeki and Ngugi wa Thiong’o lead a list that includes some of the most significant figures in Tanzanian, African and radical scholarship and political life over the past half-century. That roster is also fitting given the prominence of the three authors, all of whom are associated with the University of Dar es Salaam. Each author took the lead with one volume (Yahya-Othman with volume 1, Kamata with volume 2, and Shivji with volume 3). The books fall (roughly) in chronological order. Volume 1, The Making of a Philosopher Ruler, builds from Yahya­Othman’s expertise in literature and linguistics (and Nyerere’s significance as a scholar and writer) to tell the story of his early life, family and friendships, and engagements with the scholarly world. Volume 2, Becoming Nationalist, covers the years from the birth of the Tanganyika African National Union (1954) to the death of Abeid Amani Karume (1972), centring on the emergence of Nyerere’s life as a national political leader. Volume 3, Rebellion without Rebels, the thickest of the three books, overlaps somewhat chronologically with the first two volumes but takes us through to the end – Nyerere’s death in 1999 – and into Mwalimu’s posthumous legacy.

Many people have written about Nyerere, and several biographies are well known, but this is the only one with an all-Tanzanian team of authors. All the authors knew Nyerere personally to varying degrees, and all three were steeped in the intellectual and political life of the Tanzania Nyerere created.

There is no way to comprehensively review the massive and complex content in such a brief review essay. Furthermore, I have little to criticise, given the awesome work in which the authors engaged – from interviews with a wealth of global figures and Tanzanians, including virtually all its leaders and Nyerere’s surviving boyhood friends and neighbours, to archival research that often included something more like archival hunting – and the thorough and nuanced writing. Rather than full summaries of the three volumes, I offer glimpses into key points of emphasis within each.

Volume 1 has few surprises for those familiar with Nyerere’s life story, but the emphasis toward his relationships with women and his (uneven) awareness of women’s issues and perspectives makes this volume stand out. Right from the first chapter, the reader sees this in a concentration on his relationship to his mother and eventual responsibility for her well-being in Butiama. Chapter 2, on “Family and Friends” begins with a long, deep segment on the “Mother of the Nation”, Nyerere’s wife, Maria. The attention to his long relationship with the Mary Knoll sisters as part of his sparring with his own Catholicism continues the emphasis on relations with women, alongside coverage of his romantic entanglements outside of marriage. The most fascinating relationship of all was with Joan Wicken, his long-term personal assistant and the “lady behind the throne”, author of most of his speeches and a deep influence for 34 years. Yahya-Othman brings a focus on another form of love – Nyerere’s love of books and of literature – to chapter 3, with analysis of his translations and his own books of essays. That flows seamlessly into chapter 4’s study of his “Scholarly encounters”. which is especially oriented around his relationship to “The Hill” (the University of Dar es Salaam, for which he served as an interventionist Chancellor during his Presidency), and its student leaders and faculty. What emerges in volume 1 is a well-rounded appreciation for Nyerere as a complex and flawed human being who loved and was loved by those whom he was closest to in life.

Volume 2 is the shortest and tightest of the three books. Consisting of only two chapters (which are admittedly 118 and 88 pages long, respectively), it is a page-turner, a breathless run through the heart of Nyerere’s political career. It begins before that career began, with a history of the African Association in Tanganyika and Zanzibar. We then see Nyerere’s emergence, first as TAA President and then as the leader transforming it into TANU. Tanganyika’s path to independence is often taken as a straightforward, non-violent one, certainly in comparison to that of its neighbours. Kamata’s volume should dispel such misreadings, as his journey through the search for the “political kingdom” (chapter 5) highlights the tensions both within and without TANU. He effectively explores the complexity behind the general understanding of Nyerere as a “moderate” voice taking apart the sense of any inevitability in the progress toward both independence and Ujamaa socialism. The intensity of the internal struggles within and opposition to the government between 1961 and 1964 in chapter 5 builds in chapter 6’s discussion of the union with Zanzibar. The best illustration of Kamata’s nuanced analysis comes in his succinct note on the events from January through April 1964 (Zanzibar’s Revolution, the Tanganyika Army’s mutiny, and the union): “events were moving so fast that it appeared they might all be part of a grand scheme. It wasn’t. In retrospect, they were all historical outcomes of a long period of grievances and injustices which now found expression in unpredictable places and forms” (pp. 119-120). Here and throughout the sweep of this narrative, Nyerere appears, as Kamata puts it, as “both a victim and an actor” (p. 120). Far from the mastermind of everything (the revolution and the union) and conniver with (fill-in-the-blank – British colonialists, American imperialists, Soviet communists), Nyerere – part victim, part actor – seemed to continually find himself stuck in a political morass for which he only bore or accepted partial responsibility, and out of which he seemed to navigate in the most expedient means at hand. This interpretation is particularly helpful for recasting Nyerere’s relationship with Zanzibar, from his presence at the creation of the Afro-Shirazi Party in 1957 to his intervention in the disputed 1995 multi-party elections there. Zanzibar and the union remained the largest “headaches” that Nyerere had in his political career. His culpability in the deaths of Kassim Hanga and Othman Sheriff (and others) are among the darkest stains on his legacy.

Volume 3 will likely be the portion of the trilogy to garner the most attention, in part because it is as long as the other two combined. At the same time, its narrative flows comfortably from the first two, and especially from where Kamata leaves us. Shivji returns the reader again and again to the disconnect between Nyerere as a man with unquestioned “personal integrity and moral probity” and Nyerere as a politician operating in morasses like those discussed above. It is fascinating to see, in volume 3’s first post-preface footnote, that former Zanzibar President Salmin Amour, claimed in an interview with the authors that Nyerere “learnt his politics from Gandhi and Machiavelli” (p. 1). Shivji’s first chapter (the trilogy’s chapter 7) places Nyerere in the global canon of political philosophy more broadly than that, but the image from that footnote lingered through my reading of Rebellion without Rebels. Here, we revisit several of the key events on volume 2’s timeline and key texts and boyhood moments analysed in volume 1 from that broader canvas. The contradictions of Nyerere’s life are not resolved, as they should not be. Shivji is perhaps uniquely positioned to analyse Nyerere’s place in relation to Marxism and radical political philosophy, and, unsurprisingly, there is a depth to this volume that is profound, yet subtle.

Chapter 8 deals with the Arusha Declaration, Chapter 9 with Ujamaa in practice, Chapter 10 with the Kagera War, and Chapter 11 with what Shivji calls the “Class War.” In each case, the contradiction appears, the flip-switch between Gandhi and Machiavelli. Chapter 9 reveals the reasoning behind the title for the trilogy, and the borrowing from Nyerere’s concept of “development as rebellion”: what Tanzania got, Shivji contends, was a rebellion without rebels, and where the workers “wanted to build socialism themselves, [but] Nyerere wanted to build it for them” (p. 231). To me, the most intriguing of these four big chapters is Chapter 11, which focuses on Nyerere’s last years as President, the struggles with the IMF, the merger of the parties, and the resurgence of Zanzibar’s autonomist and anti-union forces.

Nyerere, Shivji concludes, “left behind a legacy that has since haunted his successors and […] standards of political behaviour that have been hard to beat” (p. 405). The Swahili saying, ‘mtu ni watu’, a person is people, comes to mind at the end of the trilogy, for its conventional meaning and for a perhaps unconventional one. Nyerere is not Nyerere, by the conventional interpretation of the phrase, without all the people with whom his life was threaded, and this is easily read in this 1,100-page tome. But the trilogy brings home to me a different interpretation: Nyerere was many different people during his life. He was a brilliant thinker and charismatic orator, a pragmatic politician and a failed idealist, a humble moderate and a cut-throat rebel, a Christian and a socialist. And, as the final chapter declares, he was, of course, the founder and father of a nation, whose people he loved more than their political parties. As one of the countless westerners inspired to African studies and African philosophy through his example in my own life, I am grateful to these three authors for illuminating all these Nyereres in this trilogy.

I would be remiss in reviewing this triple-decker biography if I did not note that the books are beautifully designed and produced. Mkuki na Nyota has been a mainstay of African publishing for several decades, but this trilogy may just be its best achievement in artistic and production qualities. The authors plan a 4th volume focused on Nyerere’s global role as a ‘statesman of the South’, and it is awaited with great anticipation.

Garth Myers

Garth Myers is the P.E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT USA, where he also directs the Center for Urban and Global Studies. He is the author of five books and over 80 book chapters and articles, as well as co-editor of two volumes of scholarship, the vast majority of which concerns African urban development, with a special emphasis on Tanzania.

Given widespread interest in the Nyerere trilogy, and its importance for Tanzanian Studies, here are some further thoughts from our editor:

In this three-volume work, Issa Shivji, Saida Yahya-Othman and Ng’wanza Kamata have compiled a remarkable biography of a remarkable man. Their meticulous research – drawing on a wide range of previous scholarship, documentary sources and an impressive list of interviewees – shines through from beginning to end.

Without doubt, the three writers greatly admire their subject, most of all for his personal integrity and egalitarian political philosophy. But they are not blind to his flaws.

They engage at length with the most obvious contradiction in Nyerere’s life and work: the sometimes-glaring gap between the liberalism he espoused and the highly illiberal actions he took himself as leader (or allowed to happen). Preventive detention of political opponents and the use of paramilitary force to relocate millions of citizens into villages are a long way from the ideals Nyerere expressed when he said “I believe in freedom because I cannot think and develop without freedoms. This must be true of every human being.” On this, Nyerere’s own justifications are presented – which essentially boil down to pragmatic appeals to the greater good – but challenged. Nyerere’s arguments in favour of constitutional provisions giving himself what were essentially dictatorial powers are described as “defending the indefensible”, and Nyerere’s lack of respect for freedom of association as “blatant” and “disingenuous”. Without ever spelling them out, the authors clearly have views on the relevance of this history to present-day Tanzania.

The authors, however, may well take issue with my describing this as the most obvious contradiction, as their primary interest lies elsewhere. In the third volume, Shivji argues that “the central contradiction of Nyerere’s ideology” was the assumption “that socialist transformation will be achieved through class collaboration rather than class struggle.” There is no doubt that this biography’s critique of Nyerere’s economic policies – Ujamaa in particular – comes firmly from fellow travellers on the left. There is a lot of value in this: criticism of a particular form of socialism in practice by critical friends allows for a lot more subtlety and nuance in the analysis than the broad-brush dismissals of those on the right.

Nevertheless, at times, this leads the authors into some odd assumptions about their readers’ prior knowledge. It is assumed, for example, that readers will understand fine distinctions between variations in socialism, such as what is meant by a party of cadres and a vanguard party. Marxist scholars surely would, but many others will not. In contrast, they explain the term neoliberal economics in very basic terms.

More seriously, the authors’ perspective also means that they ignore some of the most widely heard critiques of Ujamaa. Tanzania’s economic difficulties of the 1970s and 1980s are not blamed on a lack of competition or incentives – as many (particularly international) analysts have argued – but on a combination of mismanagement and corruption on the part of parastatal leaders, interference from neo-colonial powers and other international economic pressures. These factors surely played a major role, but at the very least, serious engagement with the right-of-centre critiques would have been useful. This perspective is, after all, hardly immune to criticism.

Away from economics, one further contradiction is arguably not given sufficient attention: Nyerere’s attitude to women. His progressive (for the time) writing on the subject is discussed, but there is little on his actions – either as a reputedly inattentive husband and father or in the public sphere. It is not mentioned, for example, that the first post-independent cabinet was all-male. It included neither Bibi Titi Mohammed nor Lucy Lameck, who were respectively more experienced and better educated than some of the appointees. Similarly, Nyerere’s later treatment of Bibi Titi passes largely without comment. Having previously been at the forefront of the independence campaign, she lost her seat in parliament in 1965, concluding that this was at least in part because those at the top did not want her to win. In 1967, she was hit hard by the Arusha Declaration’s leadership code that blocked party leaders from renting out property. She spoke up against the code and resigned her positions, then three years later found herself convicted of treason, on the basis of evidence that other observers consider far from watertight. In short, it looks a lot like Bibi Titi was brought into the fold when it was useful to do so, then unceremoniously dumped when she became a potential rival.

There are other matters, too, where more detail would have been welcome. The high-level politics of the independence campaign are covered in depth, but there is much less on the grassroots movement. There is little on Nyerere’s (highly successful) efforts to build a nation out of many different tribes, or on his use and promotion of Swahili as a means to this end. And while his post­retirement influence on specific political decisions is discussed, there is almost nothing on his ongoing, posthumous place in the public imagination.

Nevertheless, this is nit-picking. And asking for more from a work this length is a sign of how well-researched and well-written it is – this reader did not want it to end. This is a hugely impressive work, one that adds greatly to scholarship on Nyerere and the modern history of Tanzania. It is fascinating when engaged in the details: on forced villagisation, the deaths of Kleruu and Sokoine, the 1964 mutiny, the Ruvuma Development Association, the war with Uganda, and the tensions with CCM’s Zanzibar contingent. But it is equally so when exploring matters of philosophy and ideology. No glib conclusions are offered, but the evidence has been gathered in meticulous detail and is presented and discussed with immense respect and admiration for their subject.

It has clearly been a labour of love to produce. In my case at least, it was a labour of love to read as well – hugely enjoyable, thought-provoking, and consistently fascinating.
(Reproduced and adapted from https://mtega.com/2020/07/julius-nyerere­development-as-rebellion-some-thoughts/).
Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor is the Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.

UNDER-EDUCATION IN AFRICA: FROM COLONIALISM TO NEOLIBERALISM. Karim F. Hirji. Daraja Press, Ottawa, 2019. xxii + 294 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1-988832-35-7. CAD $26.00.

Following his 2018 book on The Travails of a Tanzanian Teacher, Karim Hirji has published a collection of critical essays on Under-Education in Africa. This is not a direct sequel to the previous one volume, though both are unified by their concern with what he regards as a decayed educational inheritance. Professor Hirji’s experience as a teacher-cum activist makes him a vigorous exposer of instances of under-education, and he doggedly pursues evidence of the perpetuation of colonial and neocolonial thinking in Tanzania.

Hirji is saddened by the current state of affairs, and complains that “the youth of today have little hope for a good future”, as they succumb to a disorientated and unresponsive educational milieu, marred by rote memorisation and dominated by the effects of the profit-making that was introduced by the policies of economic liberalisation and privatisation. Against the prevailing passivity, Hirji recommends mending the flawed educational system by revitalising critical thought, creativity and freedom of expression. He cites progressive intellectuals of the 1970s and 1980s such as Walter Rodney, Abdulrahman Babu, Haroub Othman, Ali Mazrui, Dan Nabudere, Justinian Rweyemamu, Lionel Cliffe, John Saul, Issa Shivji and others as commendable examples.

At the start of the book, Hirji asks “How can education serve the interest of the common people and contribute to the development of a just human society?” He argues that high quality education should not be measured in terms of the number of schools and colleges alone, but must “foster the growth of creative, intellectually mature and astute individuals”. Under-education in his terms is fostered when a nation poorly regulates the expansion of the education system, relying heavily on external funding, and allowing low-quality education linked to a negative attitude to locally-produced knowledge. The result is a fertile ground for corruption, nepotism and unemployment, major features of injustice in an educational context. At the same time, he sees current higher learning systems in Tanzania and Africa at large as merely bookish endeavours that only produce docile minds.

By articulating and critiquing under-education in this way, Hirji joins others like Professors Noam Chomsky and Patrick Loch Otieno (PLO) Lumumba who have similarly advocated for change in education systems that inherently stifle creativity and independent critical thinking in leaners. All these progressive theorists vehemently abhor mindless and meaningless forms of teaching and learning, and Hirji adds an important historical dimension to the analysis of under-education, writing in his characteristically lucid narrative style and weaving in his own experience and memories.

This book will be of interest to readers in search of critical perspectives on education in Tanzania and Africa more widely. It invites the policymakers, teachers and students of today to erase their ‘ideological blinders’. For fellow citizens and observers of Tanzania, it elucidates the ideology of ‘education for self-reliance’ in practice. And, as an authoritative text on under-education, it makes an important contribution to the debates on transformative education and knowledge production in Africa as a whole.

Ahmad Kipacha
Ahmad Kipacha is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business Studies and Humanities at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha. Together with Mwanaaisha Jambo, he has recently published a collection of critical Swahili poems, Mkiya wa Mbuzi (Lulu Press, 2019).

REVIEWS

Edited by Martin Walsh

INTO THE EYES OF LIONS. Graham Mercer. Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp, 2020. viii + 326 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1838592-295. £10.95.


Into the Eyes of Lions has a title and cover suggesting that safaris and animals are at its heart. The very first line of the introduction gives us an insight into the intrepid spirit of the author, as he tells us he “got out of the car and started walking towards the lions”. He goes on to admit it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do, but at the time he was testing a theory of lions’ flight reactions, which the young lioness he met in Mikumi confounded. It sets the tone of many of the adventures to come.

The man walking towards the lions was Graham Mercer who grew up in an industrial town in Lancashire in the 1940s and whose interest in wildlife started early. At first, he explored the fields near his home and the skylarks, butterflies and ancient woodlands he saw set the foundation for a lifelong passion for nature and the outdoors. He came to understand the natural world as a “wonderland” and something that was entwined with his own nature. He was further inspired by his father’s stories of the tigers he had seen while serving in India during the Second World War, and increasingly it was the big cats that fascinated him. At this time, seeing them in the wild felt “unimaginable” and a “thing of dreams”, but the book goes on to recount how this became a reality for him.

His adventurous spirit led him to join the navy and here fate intervened as the Antarctic survey vessel he had been assigned to was transferred at the last moment to the tropics and so the author found himself in Mombasa. Soon afterwards he was on his first safari heading towards Kilimanjaro in a Peugeot 404 and later exploring the Tana Delta on foot. A further leave saw him being shown around by both Desmond Vesey Fitzgerald, a field scientist and honorary warden of Ngurdoto (later incorporated into Arusha) National Park and Ian Douglas Hamilton, a zoology student and authority on elephants.

After leaving the navy, a teaching job at the International School of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam came the author’s way and his first priority was to find a “safari­worthy” car he could afford. Anyone who has been on safari in Tanzania might raise an eyebrow to hear that the author settled on a Renault 4. The car is immediately tested by an arduous journey to camp in Ruaha where one of the party met a lion on his way to the latrine, luckily surviving to tell the tale, as the lion was equally as surprised. We hear about various car troubles – no hand brake, no clutch and in the Serengeti, a loud grumbling from behind the car revealed out of the dust not as a following vehicle but one of the back wheels actually coming off and rolling past.

I particularly enjoyed some of the more anthropological sections of the book such as when the author spent a night with Maasai at an enkang after giving some warriors a lift. He also recounts a visit to a Datoga village where he learned about a ceremony to honour an important man who had died six months earlier and after which the settlement would be abandoned. He met Hadzabe hunter-gatherers still living as their ancestors had, yet with the awareness of modern life encroaching on them, observing wistfully “that I was witnessing the beginning of the end of their time on Earth”.

These are digressions though and the heart of the book is firmly set on the many safaris that the author went on with friends and his wife, Anjum. The excitement and thrill of being out in nature surrounded by wildlife are palpable, anecdotes are vividly recounted, and the author was clearly extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of Tanzania. Graham Mercer realised how fortunate he was to have had so many adventures in Tanzania’s National Parks and game reserves while they were still well off the beaten track and before the advent of mass tourism. On a trip to Mikumi towards the end of the book the author sees how much things have changed with modern cameras and vehicles and he sees himself suddenly, like the Hadzabe, as a “figure from the past”. The book ends as it begins with a lion sighting and there is a sense of poignancy as the author wants “to commit that last, lingering look to my memory”.

I enjoyed revisiting many of Tanzania’s wildest places in the company of the author and recommend the book to anyone interested in safaris, wildlife and the experience of a life well-lived, following one’s dream. Graham Mercer’s obituary can be read in Tanzanian Affairs #126, pp. 45-46.

Bethan Rees Walton
Bethan Rees Walton lived in Zanzibar from 1990-1996 and is the author of Images of Zanzibar (1996) with Javed Jafferji. After returning to the UK to study an MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, she now lives in Pembrokeshire and teaches yoga by the sea. She is currently writing a novel which is set in Zanzibar.

A GARDEN GUIDE TO NATIVE PLANTS OF COASTAL EAST AFRICA. Anne H. Outwater, Ilana M. Locker, and Roy E. Gereau. Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2019. iv + 252 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-083­98-5. £40.00.

It was nearly 25 years ago, but how vividly I recall my disappointment when the young plants, an assortment of vegetables and ornamentals that I had tenderly grown from seeds, slumped and then gave up the ghost altogether. I had brought the seed packets back with me upon my return from a leave spent in Denmark and planted them in my little garden in Mbweni, on the southern outskirts of Zanzibar Town. Unfortunately – or, rather, fortunately! – none of the plants survived. In any event, I should have known better than to (attempt to) introduce alien and potentially invasive species, working as I was on a forest conservation project on Unguja and also having lived some years earlier in rural Pemba, where I had taken enormous delight in the few square kilometres of original indigenous forest remaining on the island. It was one of those blind spots with which many are afflicted.

Even a quick skim through A Garden Guide to Native Plants of Coastal East Africa, which grew out of a Roots & Shoots children’s club project, will obliterate any gaps in awareness regarding the critical importance of not putting alien plants into one’s coastal East African garden and instead promoting native species to the greatest extent possible. The figures are both impressive and dismal. The Swahilian region – the term the authors apply to what is also known as the Zanzibar-Inhambane Regional Mosaic, a strip of coastal forest extending from southern Somalia to southern Mozambique – has about 1,750 endemic plant species, yet 90% of the original vegetation of the region has been destroyed. The remaining 10% exists mostly as small, isolated patches.

The lead author is polymath Anne H. Outwater, a nurse at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences whose research and practical work spans homicide, tropical and infectious diseases, mental health, the potential role of beekeeping in reducing violence, and more. Co-author Ilana M. Locker has a background in biodiversity conservation and education. Roy E. Gereau, Tanzania Program Director at the Missouri Botanical Garden, is the only professional botanist among the three authors.

The core of the book is a section presenting 60 native species that are particularly suitable for garden planting. This part is sandwiched between chapters describing the coastal forest and its loss (which began with human settlement and greatly accelerated with colonial “asset stripping”), how and why foreign plants were introduced and the havoc they have wreaked, and related topics. Of practical value to the amateur gardener is a chapter explaining in detail how to go about propagating, planting and caring for native species in one’s garden.

The book opens with a suitably solemn statement by Tanzania’s Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and Environment, the Honorable January Makamba. This is followed by a warm foreword by Roots & Shoots founder and esteemed primatologist, environmentalist and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, whose association with Tanzania goes back 70 years.

In spite of my long-term interest in, and research related to, nature conservation in Tanzania, I had no idea how dire the situation was for indigenous plant species before reading A Garden Guide to Native Plants of Coastal East Africa. The negative impact on the wildlife that depends on these vegetation communities cannot be underestimated. I urge anyone with a garden in coastal Tanzania, or in other countries along the eastern African seaboard, to educate him- or herself by reading this book and to follow its sound advice.

Helle V. Goldman
Helle Goldman did her doctoral anthropological fieldwork in rural Pemba, Zanzibar, in 1992-93. In 1996-97 she was a consultant with a conservation and development project in Unguja, Zanzibar, and since then has been publishing the results of collaborative research on the role of the leopard and other wildlife in Zanzibari culture. She was most recently in Zanzibar in the summer of 2019, when she was in Mzambarauni, Pemba, following up on her earlier work there.

CHRISTIANITY IN CENTRAL TANZANIA: A STORY OF AFRICAN ENCOUNTERS AND INITIATIVES IN UGOGO AND UKAGURU, 1876-1933. Mwita Akiri. Langham Publishing, Carlisle, 2020. xxvi + 409 pp. (paperback). ISBN: 978-1-78368-778-7. £28.99.

British visitors to Tanzania will surely notice the ubiquity of religion, predominantly Islam at the coast, and Christianity in the hinterland. In central Tanzania, the subject of this book, the seeds of the Anglican Church were sown by missionaries who arrived in Mpwapwa and neighbouring districts in the early 1870s. Their exploits are well recorded in archives and written histories.

But that is only half – less than half – of the story. Bishop Mwita Akiri’s painstaking research has shown that they could have achieved little or nothing without initiatives taken by the indigenous people. Most of the chiefs gave the missionaries a kind welcome. Some built classrooms for them and urged youngsters to attend lessons as a means of gaining economic and political advancement, even though they themselves, as polygamists, rain-makers and guardians of the tradition, felt unable to accept baptism.

Missionaries needed local linguists to help them communicate. They trained school teachers who were ostensibly under missionary direction, but who in practice used imaginative illustrations and formulated strategy beyond the ability of the foreign missionaries. In the forced absence of missionaries during the Great War and on other occasions, the church, so far from declining, grew numerically and spiritually.

After analysing the culture and religion of the Gogo and Kaguru, Akiri shows that some missionaries mistakenly thought the people “had no religion and no idea of a god”, so tried to suppress local traditions among the converts – but this was always a losing battle. “Missionaries borrowed from the societies they came from, not from traditional African models.” Converts accepted Christianity on their own terms, but were attracted by the missionaries’ love, gentleness and desire to identify with the people. They were seen to be different from the German colonial authorities. Indigenous wives and “Bible women” played a key role in teaching both adults and children, even though the culture of the Church Missionary Society of the time saw women as marginal at best. Early converts from Islam showed special gifts of leadership.

Akiri traces the development of educational policies of both mission and government and shows how they moved from conflict to collaboration. Syllabuses for training teachers and clergy are outlined and show a failure to adapt to African thinking. But in spite of the requirement that passing exams was a condition for ordination, in practice academic success was often dispensed with in favour of spiritual maturity, and the ministry of lay people found to be more effective than that of “qualified” clergy. Akiri believes that the church urgently needs to learn lessons like these from the past in order to be more effective today.

Akiri’s many informants, some in their late nineties, expressed surprise at how much they could remember and gratitude that at last someone was interested in their stories. Using these unique sources, Akiri presents a balanced picture which neither glamourises missionary heroism nor sees only missionary paternalism or even contempt of indigenous culture. He has shown how the earliest church was built by teamwork.

The book suffers from the lack of an index, but readers who have lived in Tanzania will find it of absorbing interest. It revives many old memories.

Roger Bowen
Roger Bowen taught theology in Tanzania from 1965 to 1978. He was editor of the Swahili Theological Textbooks programme and has written Mwongozo wa Waraka kwa Warumi. In retirement he was chair of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.

EDUCATION IN TANZANIA IN THE ERA OF GLOBALISATION: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES. Joe L. P. Lugalla & Jacob Marriote Ngwaru (eds.). Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam, 2019. 308 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987083435. £ 30.00.

This book was produced as a collection of conference papers for the National Education Conference of the Aga Khan University – Institute for Educational Development, East Africa in 2016. The papers, from an eminent collection of Tanzanian researchers, are well-written. There is a wide range of topics covered, including the need for coordinated education system reform, evidence of impact from early childhood education programmes, the (unintended negative) effects of the “Big Results Now” approach in prioritising exam performance, assessment of inclusive education provision in Tanzania, the role of ICT in higher education, the role of ICT in creating a more open democracy, and more.

Many of the papers aimed to assess the status quo regarding the different areas covered. Unsurprisingly, most of the chapters concluded that current provision is inadequate, education is under-resourced, and teachers need more and better training. They also highlight the lack of trust between different stakeholders in education.

One of the more innovative papers explores the value of “making”, and advocates bringing design thinking and physical design programmes into teaching and learning to make students better equipped to solve real life problems and develop skills for deep learning.

Another raises the question “how can the national strategy on inclusive education (2009-2017) be implemented … when there are so many inclusivity challenges?” And indeed, many of the papers failed to answer the question of how the very many challenges raised for their respective area might be overcome. In general, the book covers many more challenges than opportunities, and it is not really clear how the opportunities might be taken up, given the resource constraints.

You can’t help but wonder whether this slightly dry and academic publication makes a difference to anything on the ground in Tanzania. While several “killer stats” are included about the poor state of education and at least the writers are honest about the many challenges, there is still a lack of urgency in their writing. It can’t be “business as usual” and we should be calling for radical overhaul of an education system which is delivering such poor outcomes for its citizens.

Naomi Rouse
Naomi Rouse edits the education pages of Tanzanian Affairs.

REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

MY LIFE, MY PURPOSE: A TANZANIAN PRESIDENT REMEMBERS. Benjamin William Mkapa. Mkuki wa Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2019. xii + 320 pp. (paperback). ISBN-978-9987-083-03-9. £20.00.

My Life, My Purpose is the memoirs of Tanzania’s third president, Benjamin Mkapa. President Mkapa takes the reader on a journey from his childhood in rural Mtwara to post-presidential semi-retire­ment. He is not reluctant to offer opinions on a range of topics along the way.

The book can be split roughly into two halves. The first half details Mkapa’s rise to the presidency. Among other things, he discusses his edu­cational journey, his time as a newspaper editor, his work as President Julius Nyerere’s press secretary, and his role as foreign minister. Often in political memoirs, these sec­tions can be a preamble before the most interesting parts begin, but this is not the case with Mkapa. His decision to write for a general audience, not necessarily familiar with Tanzania, means that he explains a lot of interesting social and political history while covering his life story. Combined with a very clear writing style, this makes these early chapters very engaging.

In this section, Mkapa shares many stories about Nyerere and their time work­ing together. Indeed, one of the stated objectives of the book is to present a new perspective of his former mentor. However, he ultimately fails to leave the rather well-trodden ground of universal praise (often described as hagiog­raphy), and it can feel like the reader is being given a picture of Nyerere the myth rather than Nyerere the complex human.

The second half focuses on Mkapa’s time as President. Much of this section is dedicated to detailing the wide-ranging reforms that his administration introduced as a response to Tanzania’s precarious economic position, which generally represented a shift from socialism towards capitalism. Perhaps out of necessity, the book loses some of the flow of earlier chapters as Mkapa increases the level of detail while explaining who did what during this ambi­tious policy programme.

This half also deals with some of the criticism that Mkapa faced during his time as President. He offers explanations as to why he thinks his leadership style was sometimes described as arrogant or dictatorial. He also dedicates a section to addressing the various corruption scandals to which he was linked. His response to criticism about being too close to the IMF and World Bank is particularly well thought through, although there remains a tension between Mkapa the socialist in the first half of the book and Mkapa the capitalist in the second half, which is never satisfactorily resolved.

One of the major objectives of the book, which was written due to encourage­ment from the UONGOZI Institute, is to inform and inspire new leaders. As a result, the memoirs contain a lot of advice about how both leaders and those setting out on their careers should conduct themselves. In much of this discus­sion it is unsurprisingly Nyerere that is presented as a role model. Mkapa also draws on his experience to give frank and often insightful views on recent developments in fields such as the media, the civil service and democratisation.

As is generally the case in political memoirs, Mkapa uses this book as an opportunity to defend various aspects of his legacy. In doing so, he is able to point to several major improvements in key developmental indicators during his time in office, which are further outlined in a statistical appendix. However, some of his other points are less persuasive. He exaggerates the success of some plans, initiatives and newly created agencies, downplays a few of the issues that reflect badly on him, and occasionally presents weak excuses for poor performance in specific areas.

Nonetheless, this book will be of interest to most readers of Tanzanian Affairs. Mkapa’s memoirs span the whole history of Tanzania as a nation, and he was involved, in some capacity, in many of the country’s most significant events. Insider accounts such as these are most welcome.
Robert Macdonald
Robert Macdonald is a Teaching Fellow at the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh.

AFRICAN ISLANDS: LEADING EDGES OF EMPIRE AND GLOBALIZATION. Toyin Falola, R. Joseph Parrott, and Danielle Porter Sanchez (eds.). University of Rochester Press, Rochester, NY, 2019. vii + 432pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-58046-954-8. £110.00.

In his manifesto Africa Must Unite, Kwame Nkrumah stated that ‘Africa with its islands is just one Africa’. Yet scholars of ‘the continent’ have tended to overlook Africa’s offshore islands. The editors of this volume set out to redresses this problem. In their intro­duction, they stake out a theoretical framework through which we might understand island societies’ relationships with the continent and across its sur­rounding oceans. Arguing that studies of African islands have hitherto been too one-dimensional by focusing on single case studies, they call for a more com­parative approach. They contrast the role of West Africa’s islands in forming a stepping-stone to an ‘Atlantic World’ driven by European intervention with the multi-layered histories of cosmopolitan exchange in the Indian Ocean. African island communities played a significant role in the slave trade, as either staging-posts for onward transoceanic passage or sites for plantation labour (or, as in the example of Zanzibar, both). The pros­perity derived from the slave trade and slave labour provided the financial basis and incentive for further intervention into mainland Africa. Yet although these islands – especially those which lay only a short distance offshore – maintained close relations with continental societies, their maritime connections shaped the emergence of distinct cosmopolitan and creole cultures.

The first half of the book contains chapters on islands dotted around the West African littoral: the Canaries, São Tome and Príncipe, Canhabac Island, Bioko and Annobón, and Cape Verde. The second half concerns Eastern Africa and includes studies of the Mascarenes, Madagascar, and Comoros. Given the remit of Tanzanian Affairs, this review concentrates on two chapters on Zanzibar. As the editors acknowledge, Zanzibar is among the most extensively studied of Africa’s islands. Two established authorities on coastal East Africa, William Bissell and Jeremy Prestholdt, neatly illustrate why. While neither author romanticises Zanzibar’s past nor denies the violence of slavery and its legacy, both underline the significance of the island’s global connections in producing a vibrant cosmopolitan society. Both also follow recent historical trends in focusing on urban life in Zanzibar town, rather than rural Unguja or Pemba.

In his succinct sketch of the history of a ‘monsoon metropolis’, Bissell explains how patterns of Indian Ocean trade and migration led to the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepôt. He traces the development of the Omani Sultanate and the boom years of nineteenth century, built on the bedrock of the slave trade and plantation labour. However, the legacies of slavery and the socioeconomic inequality between the island’s ethnoracial groups polarised Zanzibari society under British colonial rule. This paved the way to the revolution of 1964 and the inward turn of the racial socialism which followed. The neoliberal present has reconfigured these relationships yet again, as Zanzibar emphasises its cul­tural heritage within an Indian Ocean world in remodelling itself as a tourist destination.

Prestholdt’s chapter focuses on how the imports from across the globe which saturated Zanzibar in the nineteenth century were converted into local social capital. Drawing on a rich array of evidence, he argues that the Omani era brought the end to traditional sumptuary practices. These were replaced with a new consumer culture that prized the ostentatious display of imported goods. A similar dynamic could be observed in the slave trade. Although most of the slaves brought to Zanzibar were put to work in the plantations, a small but significant number were used by their owners as status symbols, often adorned with expensive clothing and jewellery. However, freed slaves also turned to new clothing styles in an attempt at self-definition in response to their former status of subjection. A commodity culture which inscribed local meaning into global trade networks thereby marked the performative lifestyles of Zanzibari elites and the lower classes alike.

This is a hefty volume, both in terms of its weight and price tag. Although several more thematic contributions provide useful points of triangulation, the chapters do inevitably read in places like isolated studies. Nonetheless, schol­ars from various disciplines and regional specialisations will gain much from drawing comparisons between them. Taken together, they present new angles for interrogating the historical geography of Africa and its global connections.
George Roberts
George Roberts is a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He obtained his PhD from the University of Warwick in 2016. His interests include the contemporary history of East Africa and the global Cold War. He is presently completing a book manuscript on ‘revolutionary Dar es Salaam’ in the 1960s and 1970s, while also undertaking postdoctoral research on decolo­nisation in the Comoros.

KIDAISO: SARUFI NA MSAMIATI. Josephat Rugemalira, Ann Biersteker, Deo Ngonyani, and Angelina Nduku Kioko. Twaweza Communications Limited, Nairobi, 2019. viii + 224 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9966-028-95-2. (price not given.)

It is a great pleasure to see the publication of Kidaiso: Sarufi na Msamiati, the first ever ‘Daiso Grammar and Vocabulary’ to be written in Swahili. The Daiso (Wadaiso) of Mkinga and Muheza districts are close relatives of the coastal Segeju (Wasegeju) of Tanga, and so are also known as the highland Segeju. This text greatly interests me because I belong to the Segeju community mater­nally and have worked for almost a decade to document the oral history and other cultural aspects of the two interrelated groups. For these personal and scholarly reasons, the publication of this book has been very exciting.

Kidaiso: Sarufi na Msamiati presents previously unpublished information on grammar, vocabulary and ethno-history. The book has three parts. The first outlines the sound system and grammar of the Daiso language (Kidaiso). At the beginning, the authors present one of the key findings of their research. They note that the language is undergoing a transformation from seven to five vowels. This is especially noticeable in the difference between generations. Whereas older speakers use seven vowels, younger speakers under 30 use only five, while the generation in between, including people in their fifties, is in the process of changing from one practice to the other. This has important impli­cations for language preservation and revitalisation programmes and where interventions might be targeted.

Sections on nominal and verbal morphology are followed by a list of 25 prov­erbs. This includes Daiso translations of popular Swahili proverbs like mkulima mmoja walaji wengi, which means that a farmer is usually one person, but the eaters are many. Some proverbs seem to be unique to Daiso, such as moji mrasa uwonewa diakani, meaning that it is easier to spot a taller arrow in the quiver. This proverb is interesting because coastal Segeju I spoke with in Tanga told me that their kin from the highlands are skilled in archery and that in the past this assisted them in intra-clan conflict, such as the famous rivalry between the Boma and Kamadhi at the turn of 18th century. The second part of the book comprises a vocabulary of Daiso nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives with their Swahili and English translations. The list is extensive, running from pages 49 to 148, and offers a wonderful resource not only for scholarly research but also for trainers in indigenous language programmes. The third and last part (pp. 149-223) reverses the order of this vocabulary, translating from English into Daiso and Swahili. This will be useful in helping to determine the impacts of language contacts and national language policies such as the promotion of Swahili in Tanzania. The book concludes with a short list of references used in the study.

Let me turn now to the historical and cultural material presented at the start of the book. The authors provide a brief but intriguing history of the Segeju which helps the reader to situate them geographically and historically. The authors locate the historical Segeju in what is now Kitui County in Kenya. The Kamba community in eastern Kitui, they inform us, speak a dialect called Thaisu (Kithaisu) which resembles that spoken by the highland Segeju today, that is Daiso (Kidaiso). The close resemblance between these two names is not coincidental, and the authors go on to explain why there are two communities in north-east Tanzania that claim Segeju identity but speak different languages.

We are told that in the 16th century the Segeju crossed the Tana River and moved down to towards Malindi and Mombasa on the coast. Because of their military prowess, they became engaged in local wars, ultimately leading to the division between the highland and coastal Segeju that we see today. Having come to the aid of a Digo chief, one group married Digo wives and adopted their language, speaking a dialect called Kisegeju, now extinct and replaced by Swahili. Another section ventured into the foothills of the Usambara Mountains in what is now Tanzania. This group kept their language, Daiso, intermarried with Sambaa and Taita, and made their home in places like Bwiti and Daluni.

This historical account, supported by linguistic data, aligns with existing oral histories, especially those researched by local historians, most notably the late Mwalimu Pera Ridhiwani, whose widely known manuscript Mila na Desturi za Kabila la Wasegeju provides more detail about the earlier history of the Segeju. It also tallies with my own research, including an account that I col­lected among coastal Segeju in Mnyanjani, Tanga, which mentioned the Kamba explicitly as the Segeju’s kin, and the providers of the cattle that they now pos­sess. Kidaiso: Sarufi na Msamiati does not provide any detail on the linguistic similarities between Thaisu and Daiso and this would be interesting to explore further. How close is the eastern Kamba dialect to Daiso? What about other languages and dialects in the region? Does a comparison of vocabulary relating to livestock keeping support the oral histories?
Such questions could help scholars further determine the relationship and correlations between linguistic evidence and oral history, building on the com­parative linguistic research on Daiso and its past already undertaken by Derek Nurse and Martin Walsh. The publication of Kidaiso: Sarufi na Msamiati opens an opportunity for us to revisit old questions, as well as providing an important foundation for new multi-disciplinary research to begin.

Mohamed Yunus Rafiq
Mohamed Yunus Rafiq is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at New York University in Shanghai. His research interests include religion, public health, and human/non-human intermediaries. He is currently writing a book that examines the popularity of religious leaders in development projects aimed at rural Tanzanian populations. He lives and works in Shanghai, China, and Bagamoyo, Tanzania.

REVIEWS

Edited by Martin Walsh

SOCIAL MEMORY, SILENCED VOICES, AND POLITICAL STRUGGLE: REMEMBERING THE REVOLUTION IN ZANZIBAR. William Cunningham Bissell and Marie-Aude Fouéré (eds.). Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2018. xx + 385 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-08-317-6. £28.00.

Political revolutions are, by their very nature, contested events, and liable to remain the subject of conflicting interpretations long after they have turned the existing order upside down and spun it around. This is especially so when they have been violent in their making and then evolved through further cycles of violence and repression, leaving large numbers of people dead and even more traumatised and intimidated into silence. The Zanzibar Revolution is a case in point, and this edited volume, published in association with the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA), grapples with collective and individual memories of the events of 12 January 1964 and their aftermath, and the continuing reverberations of these in the everyday life of Zanzibaris both home and abroad.

Social Memory, Silenced Voices, and Political Struggle begins and ends with reflections on the official commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the revolution in 2014, firstly in the editors’ thought-provoking introduction (‘Memory, media, and Mapinduzi: alternative voices of revolution, fifty years later’), latterly in a series of 15 black-and-white photographs by Ania Gruca (‘Capturing the commemoration: a documentary photo essay on the 50th anniversary of the revolution’). Anniversaries provide the islands’ government with a regular opportunity to reproduce its founding narrative, just in case its name (Serikali ya Mapinduzi ya Zanzibar, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar) and longstanding slogan (Mapinduzi Daima!, Revolution Forever!) weren’t reminder enough.

As the introduction makes clear, people aren’t necessarily listening, but carry their own understandings of the revolution and the events surrounding it. An increasing number of these divergent narratives have been made public in recent years, and have been pored over and debated by scholars, including some of the contributors to this collection. Although it doesn’t set out to supply a definitive account of the revolution that reconciles different views, many of the essays in this book include information that adds significantly to the critical historiography of the Zanzibar revolution and related political and social developments in the years and decades which followed the overthrow of the fledgling regime that preceded it.

Following the editor’s introduction, Roman Loimeier’s chapter (‘Memories of the revolution, patterns of interpretation of the 1964 revolution in Zanzibar’) provides an excellent overview of historical events and their different interpretation by Zanzibaris and others, including academic historians. This is followed by two fascinating chapters that illuminate important biographies: Ann Lee Grimstad’s ‘The voice of the revolution: remembering and re-envisioning Field Marshal John Okello’, and G. Thomas Burgess’s ‘Memory, liberalism, and the reconstructed self: Wolfgang Dourado and the revolution in Zanzibar’). The next two chapters provide new insights into the impacts of the revolution on marginalised island communities: Nathalie Arnold Koenings’s ‘ “For us it is what came after:”: locating Pemba in revolutionary Zanzibar’, and Makame Ali Muhajir and Garth Andrew Myers’s ‘Uncommon misery, relegated to the margins: Tumbatu and fifty years of the Zanzibar revolution’.

Gavin Macarthur (‘“Glittering skin”: race, rectitude, and wrongdoing in Zanzibar’) and Kjersti Larsen (‘Silenced voices, recaptured memories: historical imprints within a Zanzibari life-world’) both use contemporary ethnography to examine how cultural memories of the revolution are expressed and embodied in private and public practices and performance. These chapters focus on the everyday experiences of Goans and others in Zanzibar whose world was overturned by the revolution. They are followed by Nathaniel Mathews’ discussion of the transmission and transformations of traumatic memories of the revolution among Zanzibaris who fled to Oman (‘Memory, history, and the nation among the grieving cosmopolitans: Omani-Zanzibaris remember the Zanzibar Revolution, 1964-present’).

In ‘Africa Addio, the revolution, and the ambiguities of remembrance in contemporary Zanzibar’, Marie-Aude Fouéré’s explores the dissemination and reception of the notoriously racist “shockumentary” that purports to show disturbing and bloody scenes from the first week of the revolution, including bodies on the beach and mass graves. This chapter was first published in an academic journal in 2016, but is well worth a second outing. It is followed by the book’s penultimate chapter, Ahmed Rajab’s refreshingly personal reflection on ‘Healing the past, reinventing the present: from the revolution to Maridhiano’, the latter being a reference to the political reconciliation which produced a Government of National Unity in 2010-15, before the next contested election and resumption of the usual partisan hostilities.

As this summary of its contents suggests, Social Memory, Silenced Voices, and Political Struggle covers a lot of ground, and is both compelling and informative. Unlike some collections, it is well conceived, and its contributions address a set of closely interlocking themes in interestingly different ways. Although it only scratches the surface of a vast topic (Interpretation Forever!), it will surely inspire future researchers to explore further. A degree of unevenness can be forgiven, though plain-speaking readers may be put off by some of the lapses into academic gobbledygook and Swahili speakers perplexed and dismayed by the unchecked claim (repeated from another source) that the literal meaning of kishuka (“little cloth”, i.e. loincloth) is “bird shit”. But these are minor stains on the overwhelming integrity and value of this book.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business Studies and Humanities, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Arusha, Tanzania, and the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.

Also noticed:
PEMBA: MUHANGA WA SIASA. Ahmed Omar. Zanzibar Daima Publishing,
Bonn, 2019. vii + 28 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-0-359-50463-3. £18.86.

As its title suggests (Pemba: Victim of Politics), this book is a critical political history of Pemba island. The author, a biology and geography teacher from Wete, draws on his experience as a supporter of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), interviews with other Pembans, and an eclectic variety of published sources to outline the history of the island from precolonial times to the present, with a focus on its political vicissitudes before, during and since the Zanzibar Revolution. Following a preface by the poet and publisher Mohammed Ghassani and a brief introduction, the main text is divided into 19 chapters, followed by more than four pages of references in a somewhat idiosyncratic order. The book is well produced and has a striking image of bicycles bearing sacks of charcoal on its cover. It is one of 15 works published on the enterprising Ghassani’s self-publishing platform (https://mohammedghassani.online/zanzibar-daima-publishing/) and is available from different commercial sellers.

Martin Walsh

BUILDING A PEACEFUL NATION: JULIUS NYERERE AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SOVEREIGNTY IN TANZANIA, 1960-1964. Paul Bjerk. University of Rochester Press, Rochester NY, 2018. xvii + 374 pp (paperback). ISBN 978-1-58046-935-7. £25.00.


This book, first published in 2015, has now been reissued as a paperback. The hardback was originally reviewed by Robert Macdonald in Tanzanian Affairs Issue 113 (https://www.tzaffairs.org/2016/01/reviews-74/) and his review is reproduced below:

The immediate tasks facing those African governments which took power of newly independent states during the 1960s were to establish political control and limit neo-colonial interference; in other words. to establish sovereignty. This was not easy. Economic and administrative capacity was limited, and creating a stable political consensus was difficult in the absence of unpopular colonial rule. To complicate matters, external threats were posed by instability in neighbouring countries and by increasingly interventionist superpower policy in the context of the Cold War. The way in which the TANU government under the leadership of Julius Nyerere was able to negotiate these challenges and create a foundational sovereignty during the period 1960-64 is the subject of this book by Paul Bjerk, an assistant professor of history at Texas Tech University.

One major limitation facing any researcher investigating post-independence Tanganyikan government policy is that many of the official records from this period remain confidential. In addition to interviewing dozens of key protagonists, Bjerk has attempted to bridge this gap by presenting the contents of a wide range of diplomatic correspondence in which key issues are often discussed frankly. Indeed, the fact that the references and bibliography in this book run to almost 100 pages is testament to his substantial archival research across several countries.

In the introduction, Bjerk states that his book is not intended to be a biography or evaluation of Nyerere. However, sections on Nyerere’s education and his development of Ujamaa ideology – and indeed the book’s subtitle – at times create a contrary impression. Although other figures such as Oscar Kambona and Rashidi Kawawa receive plenty of attention, Nyerere is firmly situated as the book’s key figure, perhaps inevitably given the central role he played in policy formation during this period.

Bjerk’s work is structured thematically, starting with a focus on domestic sovereignty. He evaluates, in turn, measures to limit the threat posed to Nyerere’s government by opposition parties and labour unions, the origins of Ujamaa ideology, early attempts at villagisation, the 1964 mutiny and, finally, the creation of the national youth service. Throughout this section, Bjerk skilfully shows that sovereignty is not simply imposed from above but rather it is the product of social mediation in which both elite and non-elite discourses play important roles.

Bjerk then turns attention to the projection of external sovereignty through foreign policy. He discusses the way in which the Tanganyikan government sought a balance between its principled positions, for example its support for independence movements in Southern Africa and its desire to maintain a non-aligned position in the Cold War. This section also contains a chapter on the Zanzibar Revolution which shows that an American intervention had been imminent before Union with Tanganyika was finally agreed.

Casual readers may find the more academically complex parts of this book off-putting, for example the theoretical sections contained in the introduction and conclusion. However, Bjerk’s work will provide an invaluable resource for those engaged in the academic study of the immediate post-independence period in both Tanzania (Tanganyika) and Africa more broadly.
Robert Macdonald

Robert Macdonald was awarded his University of Edinburgh PhD in 2018 for a dissertation on Voter Behaviour in Tanzania: A Qualitative Study of the 2015 Elections.

REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

A NEW HISTORY OF TANZANIA. Isaria N. Kimambo, Gregory H. Maddox, Salvatory S. Nyanto. Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2017. xviii + 224 pp. (paperback). ISBN. £22.00.

A History of Tanzania, the forerunner of the book under review here, appeared in 1969. Edited by Isaria Kimambo and Arnold Temu, it was emblematic of a rich vein of historical scholarship emerging from University College, Dar es Salaam, during the country’s first decade of independence. The editors argued that their book met a long-standing demand for a history of Tanzania, since “most of the fragmentary material in print has either ignored or distorted the history of the Africans themselves.” The so-called ‘Dar es Salaam School’ emphasised the responsibility for Africa’s historians to provide a ‘usable past’, as Terence Ranger later put it, for liberated peoples in an era of post-colonial nation-building. Introducing their book, Kimambo and Temu sounded a cau­tionary note. “As research continues and more information is unearthed”, they conceded, “it will be necessary to reinterpret, improve, and expand the views presented in this volume”.

Five decades on, A New History of Tanzania offers a timely update to the original volume, which is now out of print. The late Isaria Kimambo, who passed away last year, is here joined by Gregory Maddox, a professor at Texas Southern University in Houston, and Salvatory Nyanto, a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam and doctoral student at the University of Iowa. They aim to provide an introduction to the history of Tanzania, in the space of a little more than two hundred pages – no easy task.

The book is divided into some twenty chapters, split into five sections. The first two deal with the development of societies in Tanzania to circa 1800, smashing old yet persistent myths by demonstrating the dynamism of migration and state formation in precolonial East Africa. The third section positions the nineteenth century as a period of transformation, as the region become more deeply connected with global processes of trade. Section four explores the German and then British occupations, African resistance to colonialism, and the rise of nationalism. The final part addresses the rise and fall of socialism in independent Tanzania, bringing the narrative to a close with the economic and political liberalisations of the 1980s and 1990s. The volume closes with reflec­tions from Nyanto on the evolving historiography of Tanzania, and the sources and methods that have underpinned it. Throughout the authors remain attentive to the regional and global dimensions to these processes of change: as Nyanto puts it, “Tanzania’s history has not occurred in splendid isolation” (p. 197). In writing this book, the authors have confronted several significant challenges. How to compress centuries of history of a vast area, populated by heterogene­ous peoples, into a single, concise volume? Which developments to foreground as the motors of historical change and which, though the subjects of whole monographs themselves, must be covered in a single paragraph or handful of sentences? Inevitably, this leads to difficult choices and some unevenness. It might be asked, though, as to whether the Maji Maji rebellion against German colonial rule might merit more than a single page, as it does here. There is also little said about Tanzania’s cultural history. Another challenge confronting the authors is the problem of synthesising into a single book the corpus of historiography on Tanzania, which has evolved and expanded in a range of directions since the publication of Kimambo and Temu’s original edited volume. Each chapter is helpfully accompanied by a short bibliography, offering guidance for further reading. Unfortunately, apart from Nyanto’s concluding essay, the selection tends towards earlier scholarship published in the 1960s and 1970s. While this attests to the longevity of some of this work – all too often overlooked by historians writing today – it does give parts of the text a somewhat dated feel, especially once the story encounters the rise of TANU and the nation-state. Finally, given the book is in part intended as a reference volume, it would have been helpful for it to have included an index. This remains, however, a useful book for newcomers to the rich past of the land that has become Tanzania.
George Roberts

George Roberts is a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He obtained his PhD from the University of Warwick in 2016. His interests include the contemporary history of East Africa and the global Cold War. He is presently completing a book manuscript on ‘revolutionary Dar es Salaam’ in the 1960s and 1970s, while also commencing postdoctoral research on decolo­nisation in Comoros.

THE TRAVAILS OF A TANZANIAN TEACHER. Karim F. Hirji. Daraja Press, Montreal, 2018. xvii + 227 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1-988832-09-8. £2.88. (Free ebook: https://tanzanianteacher.pressbooks.com/)

When the Guyanese scholar and activist Walter Rodney published an article about ‘disengagement from imperialism’ in the first edition of the University of Dar es Salaam student periodical MajiMaji in 1971, few suspected that this was only the prelude to something much bigger. Rodney approached one of the members of the editorial board, a hitherto obscure Maths lecturer called Karim Hirji, and asked him to review the early chapters of his draft book. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa was published to great acclaim the following year.

In addition to reviewing Rodney’s work, Hirji also contributed to MajiMaji himself. His ‘School education and underdevelopment in Tanzania’ (1973) was a powerful empirical paper that chimed with Rodney’s idealism. The manifesta­tions of underdevelopment were a recurring theme in the writing of both men.

Four and a half decades after the first publication of Rodney’s magnum opus, Hirji reaffirmed his adherence to his idol’s revolutionary trajectory by publish­ing The Enduring Relevance of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (2017). The young Rodney and Hirji were together at the University of Dar es Salaam between 1966 to 1973 and shaped the radical milieu that academicians-cum-liberators such as John Garang and Yoweri Museveni were schooled in, along with other ardent members of the University Students’ Revolutionary Front (USARF) on The Hill in the early 1970s.

The retired Professor Hirji has recently released The Travails of a Tanzanian Teacher. In this new work, as well as of exalting his former colleague, Hirji reminds us not bury the revolutionary socialist cause that he espoused. He has crammed this book full of facts and reminiscences, eleven chapters with numer­ous black and white photos of colleagues and students from the period 1969 to 1982, together newspaper headlines and excerpts, and a diary (timeline) of July 1972’s student upheavals at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Using first person narration and less of the jargon that he has employed elsewhere, this is an invigorating memoir of Hirji’s early life and teaching dedicated to his students and their causes at the various institutions he taught at in the socialist Tanzania of the 1970s. In the process, he demonstrates his utter discontent with the pedagogical underdevelopment of Tanzania since those times and the heyday of Rodney, and delivers a sharp critique of the discon­nected form of the current knowledge and skill delivery system in the country.

Hirji utterly abhors the contemporary spoon-feeding methodology that he sees as negating the critical nurturing of minds that his own teaching has always aimed at. Furthermore, his negative impressions of a visit to Zanzibar in 1971 are a stern reminder that it is too early to turn from the spirit of Rodney’s ideal­ism and his will to build a just society disentangled from the roots of imperial­ism and racism that have been imposed on it.

Hirji unapologetically skewers unpatriotic attitudes in his provocative yet immensely engaging prose. Like Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972), The Travails of a Tanzanian Teacher is a book deserving our attention.
Ahmad Kipacha

Ahmad Kipacha graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1994 with a Masters in Applied Linguistics, and received his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London in 2005. He is currently Senior Lecturer at the School of Business Studies and Humanities of the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha (2012-), teaching courses in the humanities, research communication, leader­ship, ethics and governance. He has researched, published and taught on African culture and languages, religion and development, social entrepreneur­ship and innovation leadership.

CHOWEA: KIFAHAMU KIKAE LUGHA YA WAMAKUNDUCHI. Rukia
M. Issa. Intercolor Printers Zanzibar, Zanzibar, 2018. iii + 168 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9976-5241-0-9. (No price given.)

CHOWEA


As many of the readers of this bulletin will know, there’s more than one variety of Swahili. They include a string of old dialects, some of them barely cling­ing to life in scattered locations on the Indian Ocean coast and islands, from Somalia in the north to Mozambique in the south. Some of these, especially those spoken at the extremes of this distribution, are so different that they warrant classification as separate languages. Others, like the village-based vernaculars of rural Unguja (Zanzibar) island, shade imperceptibly into one another. The differences between all them, meanwhile, are being eroded by the spread of Standard Swahili and speech habits that were originally based on the parlance of Zanzibar town.

The good news is that after a long period of postcolonial fallow, research and writing on the Swahili dialects has been picking up, especially in Tanzania. One of the beneficiaries of this has been Kikae, “the old language” of Makunduchi, the village in south-east Unguja which is best known for its gloriously photo­genic, much-visited and now over-politicised Mwaka Kogwa or New Year festi­val. Although Kikae is already the subject of a full-length linguistic description (by Odile Racine-Issa) and two printed vocabularies (by Haji Chum and the scholars at the Baraza la Kiswahili la Zanzibar, BAKIZA), I was very pleased to find a copy of this new locally-published book by Rukia Issa in the Masomo Bookshop in Zanzibar.

As its title implies, Chowea: Kifahamu Kikae Lugha ya Wamakunduchi (‘Speak! Understand Kikae, the Language of the Makunduchi People’), is a primer of the local dialect, a kind of Teach-Yourself Kikae. This is a fascinat­ing addition to the literature, its most endearing feature being the focus of each chapter on a particular aspect of village life and the vocabulary associated with it. Beginning with greetings, it includes chapters on cooking and food, clothing and hairstyles, relationships and marriage, sickness and death, and much more besides. I especially like the sections on cultural themes that don’t often find their way into linguistic studies: insults, traditional medicine, and the vocabu­lary of the Mwaka Kogwa festival itself, to cite just a few.

I’ve written elsewhere about one of my favourites from the chapter on traditional medicine. This is the phrase “Jumba la ndege Mnana”, “The weaver bird’s nest” (literally “large house”), which is glossed “Likichomwa hufanywa mafusho na kufukizwa mgonjwa mwenye maradhi hasa yanayo ambatana na shetani”, “When burnt it produces healing vapours used to fumigate a sick person, especially someone with an illness associated with a posses­sory spirit” (p. 91). A subsequent exam­ple corrects and expands the phrase and illustrates its use: “Jumba lya ndege ya mnana kavu hutendwa mafuso ya wana. Jumba la ndege aina ya mnana lililo kavu hufanyiwa mafusho ya watoto” (p. 96). In other words, “The dry weaver bird’s nest produces medicinal fumes for treating children”.

Mnana is the name of the African or Eastern Golden Weaver, Ploceus sub­aureus. The subspecies aureoflavus is a highly gregarious and common bird on the island that typically builds a tightly-woven oval or spherical nest with grass or reed strips. Breeding can occur at any time of the year, and disused dry nests are presumably readily available. I’m unaware of any other record of their use for fumigation, or indeed similar practices being reported elsewhere, but stand to be corrected. This is just one example of a phrase in the book that has intrigued and left me wanting to know more.

I confess that I haven’t tried to use Chowea to learn Kikae, not yet anyway. But I’m certainly hooked on its lexical delights. It’s wonderful to see this kind of work being published locally. The only downside is that books like this are difficult to obtain outside of Tanzania, and in this case, Zanzibar. It is, however, worth making the effort, not least because publishers in the country are strug­gling to stay afloat in the face of recent regulatory impositions. Along with enterprising authors and self-publishers like Rukia Issa, they need as much help and encouragement as they can get.

Martin Walsh
Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs and has drawn part of this review from his East African Notes and Records blog.

Also noticed in Zanzibar:

THE WORLD OF KISWAHILI LANGUAGE: ULIMWENGU WA LUGHA YA KISWAHILI. Amir Ali Mohammed. Medu Press, Zanzibar, 2019. ii + 57 pp. (paperback). (No ISBN number or price given.)
This is the latest booklet from a prolific local author whose Zanzibar Ghost Stories (first published 2000; 2nd edition 2006) is perhaps his best-known work. It’s a short introduction to Swahili, written partly in the form of a phrase book for tourists, but also including an entertaining section of Swahili proverbs and their rather free English translations. I found this on sale in Gizenga Street where the genial Amir Mohammed can usually be found sitting in the same spot in the late afternoons.

JOZANI NATURAL FOREST: ZANZIBAR TREASURES IN WILD.
Yusuf H. Kombo. Zanzibar, 2017 (revised edition). vii + 28 pp. (paperback).
ISBN 978-9976-89-827-9. (No price given.)
KUNGA ZA MANYAKANGA. Yusuf H. Kombo. Zanzibar, 2018. vii + 28 pp.
(paperback). ISBN 978-9976-89-827-9. (No price given.)

Yusuf Kombo, a Bangor-trained forester and Zanzibari herbalist, is another prolific author and publisher of his own booklets. I found both of these on sale at the reception desk of Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. The first, which was originally published in 2014, describes 46 plant species and their local medicinal uses, some of which come with warnings to the effect that they must only be prescribed by experienced practitioners. The second booklet is a novel about traditional girls’ initiation, the “teaching of the instructors” referred to in its title. More information about these and other publications by Yusuf Kombo can be found on the many blog sites that he has begun.
Martin Walsh

REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

TAKEN FOR A RIDE: GROUNDING NEOLIBRALISM, PRECARIOUS LABOUR, AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN AN AFRICAN METROPOLIS. Matteo Rizzo. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2017. xx + 216 pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-0-19-879424-0. £55.
Much like Matteo Rizzo, one of the most abiding memories of my first trip to Dar es Salaam (in 2006) was the seemingly endless network of patched-up, dilapidated minibuses emblazoned with colourful messages (that I was unable to understand at the time). And yet Taken for a Ride gives the reader a chance to demystify the mass transportation system in Tanzania’s major port and commercial city, and should appeal to anyone with a passing interest in major conurbations in sub-Saharan Africa.

This book draws on rich ethnographic accounts over at least seven separate periods of fieldwork, between 1998 and 2014. It goes into forensic detail to offer a rich historical tapestry of the provision of transport in Dar es Salaam. This begins with a discussion of the socialist period after Tanzanian independence (1961), and subsequently outlines the impact of the deregulation of what was previously a tightly regulated, state-run transport system in 1983. An explosion of private alternatives to cover an unmet demand saw the emergence of the daladala (minibus) system, a significant focus of the book.

One of the more impressive aspects of this book is that it manages to situate the opening up of transport in Dar es Salaam in two ways: 1) as part of the broader global ascent of neoliberalism, and 2) as part of the more specific political economy of Tanzania. For example, argues Rizzo, the speeding and overloading of daladala is a result of deregulation, as well as the economic reality of exploitation of bus workers by bus owners who demand high fees and leads the former to work very long hours. Yet a lack of viable employment alternatives leads Rizzo to connect this specific discussion of transport workers in Dar es Salaam to Mike Davis’ famous text Planet of Slums (2006) and his description of urbanisation in the Global South as marked by the creation of ‘cities without jobs’ (p. 3).

Rizzo’s historical overview also demonstrates that while daladala provide a vital service in light of chronic shortages in public transport provision by the state, they serve to question the neoliberal logic that favours private operators in unregulated markets. The process of deregulation, of course, went far beyond the transport system and represents a broader shift in Tanzanian political economy during the 1980s. Rizzo, however, goes beyond generic analysis by ‘grounding neoliberalism’ within the specific context of public transport provision in Dar es Salaam. It is noteworthy that the book concludes with a discussion of the Bus Rapid Transit Project, a recent public-private initiative that presents the latest attempt to change the dynamics of transport in Dar es Salaam.

Aside from the specifics of the transport system, Rizzo also details the complexities of labour mobilisation and the different class positions and identities held by drivers, conductors and fare collectors within daladala. While each of the chapters remain refreshingly concise, they still offer incisive analysis of: the differential experiences and related class positions of bus owners and workers; successes and failures of unionisation; and the specific and varied work trajectories of daladala workers. Rizzo sees the main contribution of the book is ‘the investigation of how “classes of labour” fare in the context of bus public transport’ and in order to do so he draws from what he describes as ‘undogmatic Marxist work on informal labour’ (p. 14).

The deliberate emphasis on the material and the economic realities of the transport network and its workers, and the laudable commitment to Marxist analysis perhaps leaves a rich period of longitudinal ethnographic research underexplored. This also leads to a bit of ‘straw man’ argument when it comes to the discussion of postcolonial theory, obscuring some the contributions made to the discussion of African cities that are not always divorced from material reality (especially in the work of Achille Mbembe). Not only does the text ‘ground’ neoliberalism, but it also emphasises a truly ‘grinding’ set of economic realities for most people in Dar es Salaam today. Indeed, I wholeheartedly embrace Rizzo’s general view that being exploited by (global and local) forms of capitalism is generally preferable to being excluded.

This book contributes a great deal to broader discussions about the politics of labour, informal economies, and class formation in African cities and is embedded and specific to the context of Dar es Salaam. While clearly an academic text, this is an easy book to read and will be of interest to a wide audience. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone engaging in urban life in Africa, and especially in Tanzania.
Rob Ahearne

Rob Ahearne is a Senior Lecturer in International Development at the University of East London. He has years of experience of living and working in the Mtwara region of southern Tanzania. He first spent a year there in 2006-07, where he helped to establish a small NGO working closely with three rural primary schools. He conducted fieldwork in Mtwara region in 2009-10 and was awarded a PhD at the University of Manchester in 2011 for a study of alternative life histories among older people. Rob has continued to conduct research in southern Tanzania, with a focus on incipient processes of natural gas extraction. He has published in various academic journals and regularly contributes pieces about contemporary Tanzanian politics to The Conversation.

TRACES OF THE FUTURE: AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF MEDICAL SCIENCE IN AFRICA. Paul Wenzel Geissler, Guillaume Lachenal, John Manton and Noémi Tousignant (editors). Intellect Books, Bristol, 2016. 256 pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-78320-725-1. £21.50.

Material studies, African history, and medical anthropology merge in this unique text, which is best be described as an archaeology of colonial biomedical research and futures in sub-Saharan Africa. Historians and anthropologists who study Africa have tended to engage with healing, medicine and bioethics in one of two ways: through stories of imposed colonial medical knowledge and systems on African societies or through the entanglements of Western-style medicine and traditional African healing in modern therapeutics. This volume is different, even playful, in that it successfully treats the material debris of, and present memories about, colonial medical programmes and projects to reflect on time, temporality, past failures, and contemporary disenchantment.

The book further addresses how underemphasised sources – materials and reflections from interviews – can make intimate and powerful stories that imbricate the past, present, and future to grapple with the metaphorical excavation of “past futures”. By doing so, the editors and contributors confront standard academic ways of knowing the world that emphasise linear histories dependent on purely archival sources. What they discover is what many archaeologists have known for some time: that materials (including their durability and wear), when considered alongside other historical sources, help to democratise pasts (contra the top-down perspective of French historian Pierre Nora) and to collapse time on itself (so there is a presence of many times at once).

The lead section of the book (pp. 9-38) outlines the volume’s theoretical foundations and its approach. To achieve the collective goal, the editors and authors articulate five case studies, one each from Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania. They build collages of evidence from architectural ruins, laboratory equipment from the 20th century, formal texts, field notes, interviews, and photographs. From this, they make narratives that are intended to elicit emotions about ‘progress’ and life-and-death in the tropics. The book is an interrogation of time and power, à la Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination, a well-regarded book edited by Ann Laura Stoler.

The lieux de mémoire captured by the authors of Traces of the Future subverts Nora’s treatments by bringing into clear relief Africans’ expectations of modernity across a tumultuous period. In Traces, most interviewees frame colonial medicine as a failed intervention. In many ways, the overall volume is illustrative of “dark heritage”. Its primarily visual orientation, including numerous glossy colour photographs, helps the reader to understand medical research and bioethics in Africa during the period from the 1940s to the1960s. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the chapters motivate the audience to reflect in affective ways on the roles that states, institutions, and scientists (may) play in past and future vulnerabilities.

The chapter on Amani Hill Research Station in northeast Tanzania addresses how the site’s roles and representations of it have been appropriated and negotiated through time up to the present. From 1902 onward, the Amani facility was shaped by German, French, Soviet, East African, and then Tanzanian influences and interests. Past African participants and their descendants hold conflicting memories of it as a symbol of potential decolonised futures where Africanised medicine was anticipated to better meet the needs of patients and citizens. Images of dilapidated buildings and objects – as if frozen in time – in ruined laboratories at Amani accompany documents intended to elicit emotion and stir reflection in the reader. As the authors demonstrate well, material traces carry forward glimpses of stories to be renegotiated in present and future circumstances. These traces also often become the subject of rumour and innuendo.

The editors and authors of this chapter and the whole volume accomplish their goals, but there are also some concerning discordances and absences. It is worth considering whether the text treats objects as the perfect postcolonial subject, in that materials are interpreted in a way that validates the interpretations of Western-trained scholars. Why, instead, is there not a more substantial engagement meaningfully linking materials to people? The two primary types of sources – materials and oral reflections – in most instances seem to be overly disconnected rather than more fully entangled. Does this tendency in practice replicate a colonial gaze instead of critiquing it?

Two other observations deserve mention. It is unfortunate that the book does not quote more from archaeologists who work in Africa, and especially Africans who are archaeologists. There is a substantial global literature on entanglements among materials, memories, temporalities, and futures authored by archaeologists, including Shannon Lee Dawdy, Joost Fontein, Webber Ndoro, Ferdinand De Jong, and Alfredo González-Ruibal. Secondly, it is interesting that the historians and anthropologists who guide the volume promote “being with the past”. Archaeologists have long practised their craft in this manner. They work on landscapes, interact with people and materials, and so forth, while historians have tended to remain in archives, often never visiting the places or communities which they write about.

In fact, “archaeology” was considered a bad word among historians decades ago, including in the History Department at the University of Dar es Salaam. To Marxist historians there, archaeology was not considered a topic that engaged the present and future needs of Tanzanians. Moreover, in general archaeology was treated as a handmaiden to history. During the last two decades, historians and cultural anthropologists have begun to recognise the importance of materials to remake historical interpretations and representations from more inclusive perspectives.

In Traces of the Future, colonial science and its future orientation take on new meanings under changed circumstances in five areas of the continent. Under the deft artistry of the editors and authors, readers will realise the potential role of contemporary archaeology to dig deep in an era of disenchantment.
Jonathan R. Walz

Jonathan R. Walz, PhD, is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Chair at the SIT-Graduate Institute in Vermont, USA. His scholarly interests include the history and anthropology of eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean. He is currently stationed in Zanzibar, where he leads graduate and undergraduate programmes on human livelihoods, coastal ecology, and climate change.

Also noticed: THE SWAHILI WORLD. Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Adria LaViolette (edi
tors). Routledge, London and New York, 2018. xxv + 672 pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-138-91346-2. £136.

Let me begin by declaring an interest: I received a copy of this doorstopper because I contributed one of its numerous chapters. I’ll therefore confine this unsolicited notice to a broad outline of its contents and a few additional observations.

According to the publisher’s enthusiastic blurb, “The Swahili World presents the fascinating story of a major world civilisation, exploring the archaeology, history, linguistics, and anthropology of the Indian Ocean coast of Africa. It covers a 1,500-year sweep of history, from the first settlement of the coast to the complex urban tradition found there today. […] This is the first volume to explore the Swahili in chronological perspective. Each chapter offers a unique wealth of detail on an aspect of the region’s past, written by the leading scholars on the subject. The result is a book that allows both specialist and non-specialist readers to explore the diversity of the Swahili tradition, how Swahili society has changed over time, as well as how our understandings of the region have shifted since Swahili studies first began.” And that’s just an extract.

The introductory chapter by the editors, archaeologists Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Adria LaViolette, is followed by 55 others. Part I, “Environment, background and Swahili historiography”, comprises seven chapters including discussions of Swahili identity, genetic ancestry, and the early history of the Swahili language. Part II, “The Swahili Age”, is divided into sections on “Origins and early emporia”, “Swahili urbanism”, “Daily life”, “Trade and connectivity”, “Objects of exchange”, and “Swahili architecture”. While some of the 36 chapters in this part of the book are thematic, others deal with particular locations, including different settlements on the Tanzanian coast and islands. The third and final part, “The early modern and modern Swahili coast”, includes 12 chapters, divided between sections on “Colonial domination and the rise of Zanzibar” and “The contemporary coast”.

The Swahili World is one of a series of such tomes in the “Routledge Worlds” series. The publication of large multi-authored collections of this kind is a growing trend. Although the original recommended retail price was a wallet-shrinking £170, new hardback copies can now be bought online at not much over a third of this price, and the e-book is cheaper still. This is still a lot of money, and I must admit that one of my incentives for contributing to volumes like this is so that I don’t have to pay for them. The book was actually in my hands at the start of November 2017: Routledge, like other commercial publishers, have adopted the annoying practice of forward-dating so that their books seem to be hot off the press even as they are cooling down. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to reading it.

Martin Walsh
Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.

REVIEWS

edited by Martin Walsh

BARABAIG: LIFE, LOVE AND DEATH ON TANZANIA’S HANANG PLAINS. Charles Lane. River Books, Bangkok, 2017. 264 pp., 156 illustra­tions (hardback). ISBN 978-6-1673-3985-6. £40.00.

BARABAIG: LIFE, LOVE AND DEATH ON TANZANIA’S HANANG PLAINS

Land grabbing, the large-scale acquisition of land for agricultural and other forms of investment, is, quite literally, big business in Africa. Dubbed ‘the new scramble for Africa’, this is most often associated nowadays with Chinese commercial interventions on the continent, though it also takes many other forms, some driven by transnational corporations. At national level, it typically involves collusion between powerful government actors and private sector interests, especially when one has captured or is manipulating the other. Tanzania, alas, is no exception, and has its own sorry history of land and conservation grabs, including ongoing examples that have featured in this bulletin. Following land distribution in Zanzibar and forced ‘villagisation’ on the main­land, the single most significant land alienation to make international news was the eviction of Barabaig livestock herders from their pastures in Hanang District to make way for a Canadian aid-funded wheat growing scheme. The negative impacts of this were documented and brought to the world’s attention by Charles Lane, an Australian researcher who first came to Tanzania in the mid-1970s to work as a volunteer and aid worker. Lane had a long association with the country before he chose the Barabaig as the subject of his University of Sussex PhD, a choice inspired in part by an article by Oxfam Press Officer Derek Warren (‘Aid grows a crop of problems’, The Guardian, 2 December 1983).

As its schmaltzy subtitle suggests, Barabaig is very different in style from Lane’s earlier writing about the people of the Hanang Plains and the campaign to redress the wrongs done to them [See TA 24, 35, 47, 51 and 57]. “This is the story of my time with the Barabaig. Not the outcome of my academic research, but a personal account of warmth and wonder, humour and humility, gallantry and gore. I tell it for the Barabaig, for they deserve to have it told. […] They need to be better understood by those who have condemned them as killers and aimless wanderers unworthy of attention. Indeed, the whole world needs to know about the Barabaig, their ancient culture and way of life before it is lost forever. In telling this tale, I hope I have done them justice.”

Barabaig opens with a double foreword by the Director of Survival International, Stephen Corry, and Guardian journalist George Monbiot. Following Lane’s introduction, the text is divided into three main parts. The first two, ‘Early Days’ and ‘Becoming Barabaig’, are lavishly illustrated by photographs from Lane’s fieldwork, and describe his introduction to Barabaig life and some of the most striking elements of their social life in the late 1980s. Lane doesn’t gloss over his cultural naiveté, and there are plenty of self-deprecating anecdotes of the kind that fill anthropologists’ conversations and memoirs, including perhaps too much information about toilet habits.

The third part, ‘Fight for Rights’, about the struggle on behalf of the Barabaig, was the one I enjoyed the most, and I wish that it had come sooner and occupied more of the text. Lane is refreshingly honest about the successes and failures of the campaign and legal proceedings, while a postscript summarises recent developments and his feelings on a return visit with his family. Barabaig isn’t the first coffee-table-plus-campaign book that has been written about a belea­guered indigenous group in Tanzania, and presumably won’t be the last. I’m not a fan of the hybrid format and its uncomfortable relationship with exoticising and ‘white saviour’ narratives, but hope that it does lead more readers to engage with this and other campaigns against the land grabbing that is blighting so many lives. I certainly finished reading this handsome volume wanting to know more, not to mention wishing that I had Charles Lane’s campaigning instincts and flair.

Martin Walsh
Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.

INCREASING PRODUCTION FROM THE LAND: A SOURCEBOOK ON AGRICULTURE FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN EAST AFRICA. Andrew Coulson, Antony Ellman and Emmanuel Reuben Mbiha. Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es salaam, 2018. 294 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987­08-156-356-5. £30.00 (Available from A.C. Coulson, 8 Innage Rd, Northfield, Birmingham B31 2DX, for £20.00).

This is a very important contribution to any discussion of agriculture, food and rural policy in Tanzania. The quest for a sound agricultural strategy has been a key theme in Tanzania since independence, but a really effective and sustained strategy has proved elusive. As this book shows, the enthusiasm of the post-independence government for mechanised settlement schemes quickly ran into the ground in the late 1960s, and by the mid-1970s had been replaced by very large-scale ‘villagisation’ in which at least five million people moved into ‘ujamaa’ villages. In turn this strategy was more or less abandoned in the late 1980s as the World Bank and other donors’ insistence on total privatisation became the dominant theme. The net result in 2018 is an unsatisfactory mix dominated by large- to medium-scale companies and small, mainly independ­ent farmers.

It is the latter who are the subject of this book, which does a remarkable job in identifying and explaining the constraints and opportunities which small farmers face. This analysis goes on to discuss ways forward from the farm­ers’ perspective, a very rare approach seldom achieved in the many books and pamphlets on African agriculture published over the last fifty years. It is in the tradition of William Allen’s pathbreaking The African Husbandman (1965).

The target audience is students and young practitioners in agriculture in Tanzania and so there are several chapters devoted to the factors of production and basic explanations of the limits to output. However, they are interpolated with fascinating case studies of fifteen individual projects – from the Dakawa Rice Farm, to the Upper Kitete Co-operative, and the Tanga Fresh (dairy) project. These really tell the story of what has worked and what has failed, not neglecting to explain that some success stories – such as potatoes in Njombe

– have been driven by farmers largely on a ‘farmer to farmer’ basis. These cases should make the book of interest to a wider audience of policy makers in government and the donor community.

The impact of new research and technology is a recurring theme. Irrigation is considered in its various forms from low key stream diversion to trickle (or drip) irrigation. Whilst several of these are rated as one of the keys to the future, their limits, set by the physical context, are also recognised. There is a chal­lenging chapter on agricultural research and the role of local and international (e.g. IITA) research centres and their limited impact, mainly ascribed to a lack of mechanisms for dissemination (a debatable point). Scepticism is applied to the role of genetically modified crops which are perceived as being a largely corporate product, a position which downplays the role of CGIAR centres in developing GM crops and the fact that this work is funded by a large range of donors including philanthropic foundations quite divorced from companies.

The book recognises very effectively the external constraints on farmers and points out that the majority of small-scale farmers have at least one family member working in the local economy on either an informal or formal basis. Even with this supplementary income, small farms need to access marketing, credit and ‘extension’ advice – and seldom obtain all three, a major failure of government policy.

It suggests that female-headed households do not necessarily earn lower incomes, in food or cash, than male-headed households and indicates that this distinction, widely considered to be valid in the past, is now breaking down.

The message of this book is that farmers should adopt a blend of proven tradi­tional agricultural technologies (such as intercropping) and modern strategies which conserve the soil (notably conservation agriculture) and new variations of cropping systems which build in trap crops and intercrops to deter pests. Systems which integrate livestock and crops are rightly considered to be essen­tial. At a political level, strategy should be geared to integrating public health and nutrition into food and agricultural policy – as is increasingly accepted worldwide. These issues should make the book of interest to a wider audience of policy makers in government and the donor community.

The analysis and recommendations are clearly applicable across a range of countries, although readers outside Tanzania may be reluctant to engage with the specific case studies. But the authors, all with deep experience, have cre­ated a highly readable book which deserves to have a real impact at the ‘farmer level’ – always their objective.
Laurence Cockcroft

Laurence Cockcroft is a development economist who has worked particularly on African agricultural issues since 1966, including work for DevPan and TRDB in Dar es salaam in the early 1970s. From 1985 to 2012 he was respon­sible for the programme of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in Africa. He is also a co-founder of Transparency International and was Chairman of its UK Chapter from 2000-08 and has written two books on international corruption.

LEADERSHIP AND CONFLICT IN AFRICAN CHURCHES: THE ANGLICAN EXPERIENCE. Mkunga H.P. Mtingele. Peter Lang, New York, Bern, 2017. xxii + 266 pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-4331-3294-0. £69.95.

If abuse occurs within a community, should it be covered up to preserve the reputation of the community, or be exposed to deter recurrence? A highly topi­cal question, and Dr Mkunga Mtingele opts for the latter course in this book: ‘African leaders have to change their way of thinking and their style of leader­ship. Change will not come if the truth is not told.’

His study tells the truth about six conflicts relating to leadership within the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT), with occasional comparisons with other countries. His main case-study concerns the marginalisation of the Sukuma, the biggest tribe in Tanzania, in the diocese based in Mwanza. He is well qualified to speak on this topic, with his legal training, and twelve years as Executive Secretary of the ACT, followed by international experience with the United Bible Societies. He surveys sociological analyses of leadership and conflict in the first three chapters and uses them to interpret his field research.

He identifies numerous roots of such conflicts, beginning with the superior attitude to Africans taken by many colonial rulers and Western missionaries and often inherited by their indigenous successors in leadership. When chiefs were abolished in 1963, it was easy for local bishops to step seamlessly into their shoes, at least in the minds of their fellow tribespeople – and people were demanding a bishop of their own tribe which led to conflict in regions of mixed ethnicity. Tribalism seems worse in the church than in the nation.

Imported church traditions also led to conflict, though to a lesser degree, between evangelicals in the hinterland and Anglo-catholics at the coast, though there were also examples of warm partnership. Mtingele describes what he calls ‘the Episcopal-Syndrome’ as ‘ambition for status, wealth, authority and power (SWAP)’. It creates authoritarian bishops and fearful, sycophantic underlings, leading to loss of trust and to conflict. Many ACT clergy live in abject poverty – no wonder they aspire to be elected bishop and may go to any lengths to achieve it – the polar opposite of the model of Jesus Christ. The author resisted many attempts to make him a bishop – no doubt disillusioned by the episcopal models he met. This reviewer believes Mtingele’s research is relevant to Anglicans everywhere. Conflict was aggravated by accusations of witchcraft; by the silence of lay people when clergy were fighting one another; by the inadequacy of diocesan constitutions; and by the use of adversarial methods rather than the African tradition of decision by consensus.

The conflicts he describes, often involving excessive violence, were a public disgrace, emptied the churches, reduced domestic income and international aid and diverted the church from its mission – yet paradoxically sometimes cre­ated new, smaller Christian groups more in touch with their immediate locality, leading to growth.

After pages of gloomy stories, Mtingele concludes with some gems of radical recommendations: better working conditions for clergy; centralised payment of their stipends; limiting tenure of episcopal office; detribalising episcopal appointments; more mergers of the evangelical/catholic traditions. Wisdom indeed, but can a body as conservative as the Anglican Church accept such challenges to the ‘path-dependence’ model which he has shown dominates its practice? The author is working on a basic Swahili version so that his findings may be accessible to Tanzanians. The foreword written by Archbishop Idowu-Fearon of Nigeria calls the book ‘disturbing’ but ‘important … for Africa as a whole and perhaps elsewhere as well.’

This is not, and nor does it claim to be, a balanced picture of the Anglican church. If it were, it would have to mention key figures like Roland Allen, Bishop Tucker of Uganda, Bishop Lucas of Masasi who campaigned vigor­ously, often fruitlessly, against missionary dominance. It would have to identify the East African Revival (1936 onwards) which, utterly indigenous and inde­pendent of, yet influencing, the whole Anglican establishment, brought life and growth to a flawed and sinful church – and knew how to handle conflict. It would also ask if and how the Bible, supposed to be ACT’s guide to life, is used to bring peace.

The many typographical errors are a distraction for the reader and unacceptable in a book at this price.
Roger Bowen

Roger Bowen taught theology in Tanzania from 1965 to 1978 and then at St John’s College, Nottingham. He was editor of the Swahili Theological Textbooks programme and has written Mwongozo wa Waraka kwa Warumi. In retirement he is chairman of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.

REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

IN AND OUT OF THE MAASAI STEPPE. Joy Stephens. BestRed, Cape
Town, 2016. x + 266 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1-928246-12-1. £24.50.

I was swept back to my days working in villages in Tanzania by Joy Stephens’ beautiful book about the Maasai, a Nilotic ethnic group, famously colourful, living in northern and central Tanzania. At various times I had the chance to talk to Maasai and found their perspectives refreshingly direct and their sense of humour engaging.

Stephens spent much time over a period of 14 years first setting up, and then visiting Maasai women’s groups, and latterly the women’s families. She helped the women use their traditional skills of beading to earn income for their families, and in this way got to know them. She writes passionately about their wisdom, their deep knowledge of their homeland and the skills they possess to thrive in a hostile environment.

The setting up of the women’s groups is described, and through this we become acquainted with several characters who appear throughout the book. She follows the development of the groups, recording the pitfalls, the unexpected outcomes, the frustrations and successes, with respect and humour but never patronising, understanding that with their very different outlooks, there will inevitably be difficulties as the women tackle the puzzles of modern capitalism. As well as this, interwoven in the text, she provides us with accounts of the history of the Maasai in Tanzania, through colonial times until now, their survival of repeated assaults on their way of life, and how colonialism negatively affected the role of women in Maasai society. There is a brief history of beadwork, and a description of the heart-breaking effects of the long drought of 2006.

Stephens finishes by wondering whether the Maasai will survive the tremendous changes and pressures that are encroaching upon their unique lifestyle, whether they can adapt, and worries that even people like her, trying to promote women’s rights, are part of the onslaught. It is a thoughtful, uplifting book full of insights, and made me want to return to Tanzania and spend more time with Maasai people before it is too late.
Kate Forrester Kibuga

Kate Forrester Kibuga lived in Tanzania for 15 years, working as a freelance consultant chiefly in social development. She carried out research assignments throughout the country and encountered Maasai on many occasions. She now lives in Dorchester, where she is active in community and environmental work.

SHIPWRECKS AND SALVAGE ON THE EAST AFRICAN COAST (Second edition). Kevin Patience. Short Run Press, Exeter, 2018. 300 pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-5272-1430-9. £15 (UK price including postage and packing, available from the author at saburi@hotmail.com)

This book – an updated second edition from the initial 2006 publication – offers a fascinating catalogue of shipwrecks, strandings and salvages along the East African coastline and interior Great Lakes. The ships in question are almost entirely major Western-constructed vessels, with no attention given to Arab, Indian or local Swahili craft. Excepting a brief survey of early modern Portuguese shipwrecks, most are British, German or Scandinavian commercial sea craft built in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The author, who has produced several shorter East African maritime histories, is himself a former salvage diver who worked in East Africa and the Persian Gulf since the 1970s. This expertise informs the author’s confident explanations of how each vessel came to be wrecked, damaged or stranded, and in particular what operations were necessary to repair, salvage or scuttle each recoverable ship. This makes for surprisingly interesting reading. Nearly every ship entry includes vital data on its construction and casualty location, a picture of the vessel, and a long paragraph – sometimes several paragraphs for the more interesting cases – that explains the ship’s history, service, damage, and ultimate fate. This includes 32 shipwrecks and 69 strandings and salvages off the Kenyan coast; 44 shipwrecks and 41 strandings and salvages off the Tanzanian coast; and 18 total cases in the Great Lakes. Organised alphabetically by vessel name, the book is best read as an encyclopaedia to be dipped into, although a few major themes do emerge across the entire book.

First, the two events that produced the most shipwrecks in East Africa were the Zanzibar hurricane of 1872, in which over 150 vessels were lost, and the maritime military engagements of the First World War. The latter provides the most dramatic material of the book. Much the best known of these historical shipwrecks is the SMS Königsberg, the German cruiser which, after leading one of the most dramatic naval hide-and-seek missions of the First World War, was scuttled in the Rufiji Delta in July 1915 after British bombardment, becoming an odd tourist destination before finally disappearing into the Rufiji riverbed in 1966. Even more curious are the First World War’s maritime casualties on Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria – Lake Nyasa (Malawi), puzzlingly, is not covered in the book. In all cases, the material legacies of these conflicts shape the maritime aftermath of this region – from Dar es Salaam’s long-congested colonial harbour to the repurposed commercial vessels of the Great Lakes.

Second, more recent wrecks have come at greater expense of human life. The most famous of these by far is the MV Bukoba, which sank in Lake Victoria in 1996 costing 869 lives. Other commercial ferries, often ill-suited for heavy commercial work, have produced similarly grisly results – the Kilindi-Mombasa ferry MV Mtongwe, which sank in 1994 leaving some 276 dead, and more recently the oceanic tragedies of the MV Spice Islander (2011) plying between Unguja and Pemba, and the MV Skagit (2012), plying between Zanzibar Town and Dar es Salaam, which left over 200 and 146 dead, respectively. The catalogue-entry nature of this book prevents any developed analysis of these trends, but it is fairly easy to discern the deadly combination of older, ill-maintained craft and inadequate regulation in these tragedies.

Finally, this book is effective in showing the more quotidian ways in which most ships come to be wrecked, stranded, and salvaged. Most ships in East Africa came into trouble not through violent weather or warfare, but rather through bungled steering, poor ship-to-shore communication, engine failure, fire, and internal explosions. Their repairs and salvages were unsentimental business decisions, though their remains survive as local landmarks and sites of underwater pilgrimages for intrepid divers. To behold the long line of container ships idling on the waters near Dar es Salaam has become a regular sight over the past decade, a reminder of the region’s rapidly growing global commerce and struggling infrastructure, and the irreplaceable role played by transoceanic commercial shipping. For those with more than a passing interest in history of commercial and military ships in the region, this book is a rewarding resource.
James R. Brennan

James R. Brennan is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois, and is author of the book Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania (Ohio University Press, 2012).

THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE INDIAN OCEAN: THE ANCIENT WORLD ECONOMY AND THE KINGDOMS OF AFRICA, ARABIA AND INDIA. Raoul McLaughlin. Pen & Sword Maritime, Barnsley and Havertown, PA, 2014 (reprinted 2018). xix + 276 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978­1-52673-807-3. £14.99.

How might a book with the title The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean be relevant to the 21st Century? Roaul McLaughlin, a classicist from Northern Ireland, barely studies this question directly until the very final pages of his book but then again, he hardly needs to because in reading about Rome’s trade with Africa, Asia and the Far East, the parallels with our supposedly modern world spring out from every page.

Described as “a wonderful book” by the Black and Asian Studies Association, McLaughlin makes a persuasive case that the Roman empire’s trading interactions, whilst they built upon already extensive contacts between Egyptian, Greek and Hebrew traders and their counterparts in Africa and Asia, were on a sufficiently greater scale as to create the world’s first wave of globalisation.

Rome’s seizure of Egypt opened up the empire’s route to Africa and Asia via the Red Sea. A Roman attempt to conquer what is now Yemen failed, but Roman navies controlled the Red Sea from their base in the Farasan islands, opposite what is now Eritrea. By the middle of the first century A.D. fleets of Roman ships were moving to and fro across the Indian Ocean using the seasonal monsoon winds. It is likely that some 120 ships made these annual voyages, some of them with 500 tons cargo capacity – the container vessels of their day. These ships traded as far south in Africa as what is now Tanzania; around the coasts of Arabia and across the Indian Ocean to the kingdoms of what are now Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. By the middle of the second century A.D. Roman ships were trading in the Ganges Delta of what is now Bangladesh and even around to the tip of the Malay peninsula. Merchant citizens of the empire – Italians, Greeks, Egyptians, Jews – lived and worked in probably all the great ports of India and Sri Lanka. Products from inner Africa which were exported either via the coast or along the Nile included leopard and lion cubs, elephants and ivory, exotic animals and hides, tortoise and turtle shell. Roman ships sailing down the east coast of Africa – Azania – stopped at several trading stations, a large island called Menuthias which was probably Pemba or Unguja (Zanzibar) and finally a port called Rhapta about 100 miles further south. It took vessels at least 60 days to reach this location which was nearly 3,000 miles from the Empire and which marked the limit of Roman trading voyages. Roman records say that Rhapta was managed by Arab traders and exported great quantities of ivory and turtle shell.

McLaughlin presents a huge amount of evidence that the wealth of the Roman empire was based on this trade. Import taxes on eastern goods provided as much as one-third of the empire’s wealth, and he argues that this was what paid for the Roman war effort, with the legions at their peak estimated to number 300,000 soldiers. In fact, it is humbling to read that Gaul, Britain and other provinces of the empire in northern Europe, about which we read so much in history books, were pretty much a drain on the empire’s finances throughout the period. In contrast, the empire obtained astonishing amounts of income and goods from Indian Ocean trade. Every year the empire imported 16,000 tons of pepper and cotton, 10,000 tons of spices, 360 tons of turtle shells and 560 tons of ivory (over 14,000 tusks). Rome became the first and pre-eminent consumerist society. Incense from Arabia perfumed Roman homes and temples, pearls from Sri Lanka and gem stones from India glittered on every wealthy citizen’s tiaras, rings, robes and even sandals (the original diamonds on the soles of their shoes). (Silk was another important commodity but this mainly came overland, and McLaughlin has examined this trade in another book, The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes).

The Roman empire had less in the way of products that the kingdoms of Arabia and Asia wanted, although there were considerable exports of such things as glass and wine. However, Rome did have minerals in fabulous amounts, especially silver, which came from mines in Spain, the Balkans and Egypt. Every year Roman merchant vessels exported vast amounts of bullion and coinage (which was minted with a guaranteed high silver content) to pay for eastern imports.

The other great empire of the day was the Han empire in China which was also at its peak at the same time. These two great powers knew of each other, although only at second hand. The Parthian empire stood between them and jealously guarded its position as middle-man on the silk roads. But in 165 A.D. Rome made direct contact with the Chinese empire by sending a delegation via what is now Vietnam. Trade was undoubtedly a major motive. An alliance to squeeze the Parthians between the two empires may also have played a part. And worries about the military capability of the mysterious Chinese had also begun to concern the Romans; Juvenal in his satires describes Roman women ambushing generals at fashionable dinner parties and demanding to know “what are the intentions of the Chinese?”.

This represents one of the great “what if?” moments of history; what if the Roman and Chinese empires had formed a direct trading relationship and even a political and military alliance?

We shall never know, because it went horribly wrong for both empires at the very moment of meeting. Global trade and contacts brought many benefits; it also spread one of the world’s most devastating pandemics, known in the West as the Antonine Plague. Whatever this disease was – possibly smallpox, possibly measles, possibly an unknown virus – it originated somewhere in East Asia and first spread north through Indo-China to devastate the Han empire. Chinese sources recorded how three in every 10 soldiers died and more were permanently incapacitated. The Romans, meantime, had moved against Parthia and had conquered what is now Iraq when suddenly their troops began to die in great numbers. The legions were recalled to Europe, and brought the plague with them. German peoples took advantage of the chaos and moved across the northern frontiers and the Roman empire began its long and agonised decline.

In a globalised world, all economies were in contact. The plague and chaos killed the miners who produced the silver and gold which Rome used to buy imports. Over the coming decades Roman currency was progressively debased until it was almost worthless. The decline of the mines, debasement of the currency, the death toll among merchants and mariners and decline in consumer demand dried up the trade with Asia. In turn, the regimes and dynasties with which Rome had established long-term relations in China, India, Persia and elsewhere, also began to collapse. McLaughlin describes how “by the second century A.D. the main regimes of the ancient world were so economically interdependent that the fate of one major economy was capable of providing the trigger for world-wide financial collapse and decline”.

At the very end of his book McLaughlin concludes that whilst international trade brought wealth and prosperity, “the forces that destabilised the ancient world economy are still in effect, including the reliance on finite resources for trade wealth and essential revenues. Mass population movements, natural disasters, wars and the threat of global pandemics still have the potential to diminish human progress. Ultimately, this is the significance of distant trade and the ancient world economy”.

John Magrath
John Magrath is a writer and researcher who has worked for Oxfam for over 30 years. In 1994 he worked in refugee camps in the Ngara District in northwest Tanzania. He has a particular interest in climate change and its impacts and implications, especially in East Africa.

A FIELD GUIDE TO EAST AFRICAN REPTILES (2nd edition). Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Harold Hinkel and Michele Menegon. Bloomsbury Wildlife, London and New York, 2018. 624 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1-4729­3561-8. £35.00.

This is the fully revised and updated edition of the comprehensive field guide that was originally published by Academic Press in 2002 as a hardback with a slightly different title and line-up of authors (Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Robert Drewes and James Ashe, A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa).

As the new Introduction explains: “Since that date there have been many changes in the East African herpetological field. New species have been found in East Africa and described. Existing species have been split, animals have been recorded in East Africa for the first time, range extensions for existing species have been recorded. As a result of systematic studies, particularly those based on DNA and other biological molecules, many species have been reclassified, regrouped and their scientific names changed; new relationships have been discovered.”
Like the first edition, this is an excellent guide: the update includes more than 500 species and is illustrated with 600 new photographs. Those of us who struggled with the incomplete guides that were available before Spawls et al. got to work, will be forever grateful. As a regular visitor to Zanzibar, my main gripe is that the islands are so small on the distribution maps that it’s often difficult to see whether particular species are present there or not – a bolder colour and/or arrows indicating presence would help. In some cases, the colour has been mistakenly omitted on these maps. The Flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis), for example, is shown as absent from the archipelago, whereas it is present on both large islands.

I also wish that lists of local names were included, as they are in some other field guides, like Roberts’ Birds of South Africa, and Henk Beentje’s Kenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas. Something to consider, maybe, for future editions.
Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.