AGRICULTURE

by David Brewin

Charcoal and wood
Moves are underway to ban trade in wood and especially in charcoal in Tanzania in a government program to curb deforestation. Statistics from the Tanzania Forest Service Agency show that the country converts more than 370,000 hectares of forest to charcoal every year. But charcoal traders are opposed and saying that thousands of people who use charcoal or earn a living from producing or selling it will suffer. Poor households across Tanzania’s main cities and towns regard forests as a source of income, harvesting trees to supply growing markets for charcoal and timber. About 2 million tonnes of charcoal is consumed in Tanzania ever year, half of it in Dar es Salaam.

Sea cucumbers
The growing demand for sea cucumbers has prompted traders in Zanzibar to call for regulation of exports of this marine species. According to the East African they say that trade in the sea cucumber is unregulated on the island with poachers smuggling it to Asian markets. In China a kilogram of processed sea cucumbers can go for as much as $300 depending on the species.

Sea cucumbers are processed and exported either by sea or air to China, Hong Kong and Dubai, where the demand is high. Exporting to Asia via Ethiopian airlines costs $1.20 per kilo. To process the sea cucumbers, farmers boil them in hot water sprinkled with salt, then dry them on the shore. 1 kg of sea cucumbers shrinks to about 200 grams. The dried product is considered a luxury food item in many Asian seafood markets. The delicacy not only generates revenue but also contributes to food security among fishing communities. It is believed to have high nutritional and medicinal value and is used in China to treat health problems such as fatigue, impotence and joint pains. The harvest period lasts about seven months. There are about 1,000 species worldwide according the National Geographic Magazine.

Coffee levies
The Tanzanian government is scrapping 17 taxes and levies imposed on coffee as part of measures to boost production. The levies include coffee buying, processing and selling fees as well as marketing. Examples of fees include $1,000 for a licence to sell coffee, $20 for a permit to purchase parchment dry cherry coffee and $250 for a coffee processing licence. The country has put in place a 10-year development plan to raise the annual production of coffee. It is hoped that production will increase from about 50,000 tonnes 100,000 tonnes over the next four years

Coffee accounts for about 5% of Tanzania’s total exports and generates about $100 million per year. Tanzania is the fourth largest coffee producing country in Africa after Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Uganda.

Fertiliser pricing
Tanzania has set regulations for the importation and supply of cheaper fertilisers and appointed two firms to supply 55,000 tonnes of urea and diammonium phosphate. 50kg bags will sell between for $26 and $50.

The fertiliser deal was agreed upon between King Mohammed of Morocco and President Magufuli during the King’s tour of Tanzania in October. Tanzania plans to build a $3bn fertiliser factory in partnership with German, Danish and Pakistan industrialists.

Sweet potato laws
New efforts are underway to harmonise standards for sweet potato seed production, which is considered crucial in improving the quality, quantity and market access of the crop. New standards for production of the crop include ensuring that potato seed multipliers sell quality vine seedlings that are disease-free and that they are of the right variety and quantity. Margaret McEwan, a senior project manager for the International Potato Centre has been quoted as saying that the production of sweet potatoes had been hampered by virus diseases that affect the quality of vines. She said: “with the improved disease – resistant sweet potatoes farmers can produce between 12 and 15 tonnes per hectare compared with 4 tonnes using the existing varieties.” Sweet potatoes are the most important food crop in East and Central Africa after cassava and maize.

Tsetse fly eradication
The Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar are among pioneers to successfully use radiation against the tsetse fly, according to a report released by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM). This has been achieved through the nuclear-based sterile insect technique (SIT), a form of insect pest control that involves the mass-breeding and sterilisation of male tsetse flies using ionising radiation in special rearing facilities. The sterile males are released systematically in tsetse infested areas, where they mate with wild females, which do not subsequently produce offspring.

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TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

Arguments flare over Air Tanzania plane seized in Canada A new commercial aircraft, purchased by the government as part of President Magufuli’s efforts to boost the previously-ailing Air Tanzania (ATCL), has been seized in Canada by a construction firm in dispute with the Tanzanian government over a long-standing debt. The aircraft – a Bombardier Q400 – had been expected to arrive in Tanzania in July 2017, but remains in Canada at the time of writing. The Canadian firm, Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd, seized the plane in Canada over a $38 million lawsuit before it could be delivered by Bombardier Inc to the Tanzanian government. The claim stems from a 2010 compensation ruling by the International Court of Arbitration over a terminated contract to construct a road between Bagamoyo and Wazo Hill / Kunduchi.

The government plans to revive ATCL involve the purchase of at least six new aircraft, including one Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The new planes are reported to have been placed under the ownership of the Tanzania Government Flight Agency – a state-owned firm – to avoid possible confiscation of the planes from lawsuits related to Air Tanzania’s multi million-dollar debts from previous suppliers.

The seizure of the aircraft came to light after two opposition MPs, Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo) and Tundu Lissu (Chadema), asked questions about the late arrival of the new plane. Kabwe raised the matter on social media and then Lissu held a press conference. In response, the then acting director of Information Department

Services, Ms Zamaradi Kawawa, described the “Bombardier fiasco” as “dirty games” by some members of the opposition. “The government is aware that some of the opposition leaders are behind this. They hold malicious intentions towards efforts done by President Magufuli on bringing development in the country, but their days are numbered, their betrayal is intolerable,” she said, accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Lissu asked “who is patriotic between me and the government that didn’t want to tell its people about the court case and subsequent seizure of the plane? Who is sullying the image of the country internationally between me and the government which is failing to adhere to international standards and clear the debt since 2010?”

A few days later, Lissu was arrested and his residence in Dar es Salaam was searched by the police. Two weeks later, in early September, he was shot multiple times by unknown assailants outside his home in Dodoma. He narrowly survived the attack. (See politics section, this issue).

The government of Tanzania has appealed through diplomatic channels to the government of Canada to intervene to ensure the plane’s release and delivery to Tanzania. Further, the government has promised to challenge Stirling Civil Engineering’s claims in court. (The Citizen, Reuters)

Former ATCL chiefs found guilty
Two former senior officials of the same national airline (ATCL) have been found guilty of conspiracy, abuse of office and occasioning loss. Former Managing Director David Mattaka and his Chief Finance Officer Elisaph Ikombe were each sentenced to 21 years imprisonment or fines of TShs 35m each. They are expected to pay the fines. The trial magistrate, Victoria Nongwa, also gave the two convicts a one-month ultimatum to compensate ATCL with 143,442 US dollars (over TShs 320m), representing the loss they had caused.

The court found that while discharging their duties in 2007, the two intentionally abused their positions by inviting tenders to supply ATCL with 26 motor vehicles without approval of tender board, by procuring the motor vehicles from a Dubai-based firm without conducting competitive tendering, and by authorising payments for purchase of the motor vehicles without a formal procurement contract.

Tanzania purchases new radar equipment
The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), has signed a TShs 61 billion contract with the French firm Thales Air Systems to install a new surveillance radar system. The system will involve installation of new equipment at four airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar es Salaam), Kilimanjaro International Airport, Songwe Airport in Mbeya and Mwanza Airport.

The Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Makame Mbarawa, spoke at the signing ceremony, explaining that a shortage of the relevant equipment in Tanzania has meant the eastern triangle portion of the country’s airspace is currently being monitored by Kenya. He noted that this has been denying TCAA up to $1m in fees annually from airlines using that portion of the airspace.

TCAA director general Hamza Johari said the project was part of wider efforts to secure the country’s air space. He added that TCAA would purchase the radars with internally sourced funds, of which 45% would be from the authority’s various sources and the government will provide the remaining 55%. He explained that the French firm won the tender through competitive bidding which involved five bidders.

New railway law
The Tanzanian Parliament has passed a new law – the Railways Act, 2017 – which will, among other things, enable the establishment of a new railway company, the Tanzania Railway Cooperation (TRC). The new company will be responsible for handling all rail matters including transportation services, developing, promoting and managing infrastructure assets in the country. The new law also facilitates the disbandment of Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) and the Rail Assets Holding Company (RAHCO). “All the contracts and agreements entered by TRL and RAHCO will be accommodated into the new company that means even the debts that the two entities had,” said Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Mbarawa. He added that the new law will replace the 2002 Railways Act.

Bulldozer goes to work around Ubungo

Tanesco building and Morogoro Road, Ubungo (Paul Scott. wikipedia)

President Magufuli has directed that the Tanesco headquarters building on Morogoro Road in Ubungo, Dar es Salaam must be demolished as it encroaches on the road reserve. The 10-story building is located within 90m of the centre of the road, in contravention of the Road Reserve Act. On the other side of the road, a boundary wall for the offices of the Ministry of Water also encroaches, and has already been demolished following the President’s instruction.

Potential demolition of the Tanesco building was raised in 2011 while President Magufuli was Ministry of Works. He had then instructed the National Roads Agency (Tanroads) and Tanesco to demolish the building, only to find himself overruled by the then Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda.

Demolition of the building has become more urgent as the space is required for construction of a new $88m flyover interchange at Ubungo, similar to the interchange already under construction at TAZARA. Around 1,300 houses, public buildings and houses of prayers have been demolished this year by Tanroads to pave the way for the expansion of the Kimara-Kiluvya section of Morogoro Road.

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Prize for Dr Malecela
Tanzania’s Dr Mwele Malecela has been awarded the 2017 Kyelem Prize in recognition of her work in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Dr Malecela, now serving as a Director in the World Health Organisation (WHO) African regional office, was previously director general of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanzania. She was fired from that position by President Magufuli in December 2016, the day after she told the media there were signs that the Zika virus was present in Tanzania.

Dr Malecela’s prize was received on her behalf by Dr Upendo Mwingira, the NTD programme manager in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. “It’s a real honour to have Dr Upendo receive the award on my behalf! Thanks Tanzania NTD Programme, it’s our collective success!” said Dr Malecela.

The Kyelem Prize is awarded by the NTDs research coalition (CORNTD), a group of researchers, programme implementers and their supporters with a shared goal of optimising elimination of NTDs. The prize is named after the late Dr Dominique Kyelem, a medical doctor from Burkina Faso who worked tirelessly in combating NTDs. (The Citizen)

Innovation in malaria prevention
The London Times recently published an article by Kate Wright about what it described as ‘Trojan cows’ and the worldwide campaign to defeat malaria. A biotech company is going further than the use of nets or insecticides to thwart the mosquitoes that carry malaria from person to person. They have now begun using livestock doused in human scent to lure mosquitoes to their deaths.

In much of East Africa livestock such as cows and goats often live alongside people. These animals get malaria. Mosquitoes tend to prefer sucking blood from humans. A potent cocktail of four or five human odour compounds has now been developed that can be sprayed on to animals so that they can develop their own alluring ‘eau de human’ rather than ‘eau de cologne’.

The concept has been tested on a small scale where researchers conducted experiments in which they go into a greenhouse, and then, together with the goats, face the mosquitos, noting where each one landed. The researchers found that mosquitos were attracted to the goats sprayed with a common worming medicine that also kills mosquitos. The mosquitos can thus be persuaded to bite cows or goats that will kill them and prevent them from spreading malaria. (The Times)

Malaria past and present
A new study has found that the prevalence of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is at the lowest point since 1900. A team of researchers led by Professor Bob Snow of the Centre for Tropical Medicine & Global Health at Oxford University, spent 21 years finding and analysing data from over 50,000 surveys of malaria prevalence from across Africa.

The study found an overall decline of 24% in the number of children infected with malaria between 2010 and 2015, and a 40% drop between 1900 and 1929.

“Investment in malaria control in Africa has been sporadic in the past,” said Professor Snow. “The world has seen a reduction in malaria over the last 15 years, based largely on the use of treated bed nets and antimalarial drugs. If we take our eye off the ball, then rising drug resistance and falling control will lead to the sorts of increases we saw in the 90s.”

The financial boost provided by the Global Fund has, since 2005, led to one of the largest drops in malaria infection prevalence witnessed. However, gains made after 2005 have stalled since 2010. A decline in funding, coupled with increased insecticide and drug resistance, are the main obstacles to the elimination of malaria in Africa. (The Conversation)

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EDUCATION

by Naomi Rouse

PM invites proposals on education policy
The government has invited ideas to reshape education to better contribute to national development goals. “Tanzania Towards Industrialisation” under the theme: ‘Rethinking Education for Self-Reliance Policy.’ At a national symposium, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said “The government is ready to receive suggestions from experts, stakeholders and members of the general public on restructuring of our education system to match our current development goals to transform Tanzania into an industrial economy.” The symposium comes amid increasing demand for serious reflection on the state of education, and public discontent with performance of formal education at all levels. (Daily News)

Free education sees sharp rise in exam candidates
There was a significant rise in the number of Form 2 and Form 4 exam candidates this year, attributed to the increased retention of students after the Free Education Policy. The number of Form 2 candidates increased by 86,780 to 521,855, of which nearly 52% were girls. The number of Form 4 candidates increased by 141,779 to 1,195,970. (The Citizen)

Girls shine in Standard 7 exam as overall pass rate increases
Overall passes increased by 2 percentage points this year, to 72.76%. A total of 662,035 registered candidates out of 909,950 pupils, who sat for the Primary School Leaving Examination this year passed. 70% of girls taking the exam passed and 75% of boys. 10 candidates were disqualified for cheating. (The Citizen)

Sanitary pads fund will help girls realise their dreams
Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) is leading the call for the government to establish a fund for providing sanitary products to girls. Research by TGNP shows that girls are missing between three and seven days of school every month due to inadequate sanitary provision. “It is a huge concern,” said Ms Grace Kisetu, Activism and Movement Building Manager at TGNP. “There are no sanitary towels, even locally made ones, to help these children, most of whom come from poor households, and some of whom experience their menstrual period for the first time,” she noted. Besides lacking adequate funds, she says public schools across the country also lacked pain killers for delivery to needy pupils. A resident of Kipunguni, Mr Suleiman Bishangazi, suggested that the government should allocate 5 cents from the sale of a litre of fuel to a special fund for schoolgirls’ sanitary pads across the country. Mr Bishangazi expressed optimism that the arrangement would have positive outcomes similar to the ones related to rural electrification, water supply and road constructions. The net result, he said, would be assuring thousands of children of learning opportunities. (Daily News)

UDSM gets new Vice Chancellor as Prof Mukandala retires
President John Magufuli has appointed Professor William Anangisye to succeed Professor Mukandala as Vice Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam. Prof Anangisye was previously Principal of Dar es Salaam University College of Education. (The Citizen)

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TOURISM & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

by Mark Gillies

Action in Maasai land dispute
Newly appointed Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamis Kigwangalla, has terminated a 25-year-old hunting concession with a company owned by the United Arab Emirates royal family and launched investigations into the dealings of the company and former tourism ministers.

The Minister ordered the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to arrest and investigate Isaac Mollel, executive director of the Ortelo Business Corporation (OBC), for trying to bribe him and his predecessors. Dr Kigwangalla also called for the investigation of former ministers. This includes Lazaro Nyalandu, who was recently lambasted by the Minister after having defected from CCM to Chadema citing concerns at the government’s direction under President Magufuli.

Dr Kigwangalla said OBC will never be awarded another hunting licence, and suspended director of wildlife Alexander Songorwa for allegedly creating a syndicate of government officials in the ministry who have been compromised.

Prior to Kigwangalla’s appointed, long-running tensions between the Maasai community and government authorities in Loliondo and the Serengeti flared up in August 2017. An estimated 185 homes were burned in an act of forced eviction, according to a Danish NGO, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).

“We must speak out about the land issue,” said Lilian Looloitai of Cords Limited, an Arusha-based rights group. “The government has not taken the proper measures to educate and communicate what their intentions are for the land. They are told, ‘You can’t cross this land, it belongs to the government, you can’t cross this land it belongs to investors’. We are not certain, we are not stable – as a community, as a society – and it is affecting our future.”

In 2012, there were claims that the government wanted to force Maasai pastoralists off their land to allow hunting activities on land bordering the Serengeti National Park. In response, the government shelved plans to create a “wildlife corridor” of 579 square miles. President Kikwete promised in 2014 that evictions would not take place.

Shortly after his appointment, the new Minister gave an interview to The Citizen newspaper that offered rights and conservation activists hope. “I heard about the violation of human rights that occurred in that area including houses of residents being torched and women being raped,” he said. “So, I have said as the minister I will not promote the dispute further as it only serves to entrench hatred of the people we seek to serve against their government.”

“Some livestock were seized on the villages’ land during an operation of establishing the buffer zone,” he added. “I said you seized these livestock in the game controlled area of Loliondo and you have not seized them according to the law. So, get them (livestock) back to the residents and I suspended that operation. The animals seized within the Serengeti National Park would be fined according to the law.”

Just days later, the OBC concession was terminated, Songorwa suspended and PCCB called in.

Bids invited for Steigler’s Gorge hydropower dam project
The Ministry of Energy and Minerals has invited bids for the construction of a hydropower project at Stiegler’s Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve, despite opposition from conservationists.

The government considers the project on the Rufiji river in the UNESCO-designated reserve as vital in its bid to diversify its energy mix and end chronic electricity shortages.

The project would more than double the country’s power generation capacity. With an installed capacity of at least 2,100MW, the new dam will dwarf other hydropower dams in Tanzania, including Kidatu (204MW), Kihansi (180MW), Mtera (80MW) and Pangani (68MW).

The conservation group, WWF, called on potential investors, banks and
construction companies not to participate in the project, at least until a full Strategic Environmental Assessment has been carried out. “WWF wants the true impacts of the dam to first be assessed and the World Heritage Committee to give its approval. The proposed dam would endanger the livelihoods of 200,000 local people and the reserve’s rare wildlife, such as elephants and black rhinos, would be placed under even greater threat.” “Companies who become involved in the project run the risk of significant reputational damage,” said WWF campaign manager. “We are asking investors, banks and those in the construction industry that work on dams to add Stiegler’s Gorge to their risk register.”

President Magufuli’s office said in July that the long-delayed hydroelectric plant would be built “to speed up the development of the country”.

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

Government resists mounting pressure to kickstart Katiba process The appointment in April 2017 of Prof Palamagamba Kabudi as Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister was seen by many to be a catalyst to restart the process of making a new constitution. This expectation was enhanced further when he indicated soon after his appointment that a resumption would take place soon.

At the time of writing, however, there has been no progress at all. There remains a growing concern of human rights abuses in Tanzania which has led to criticism that a new constitution should be high on the priority list. CCM MP Lazaro Nyalandu resigned both as an MP and a member of the party on 30th October, citing these alleged human rights abuses and a lack of separation of powers amongst the three pillars of the state: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. It is understood that he plans to join Chadema.

The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) has demanded that preparations for a new constitution should start now. Similar appeals to the government have been made by the Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) and representatives of over 80 civil society organisations.

Opinion survey on constitution by Twaweza

Meanwhile, a recent survey by Twaweza suggests that two thirds of Tanzanians want a new constitution.

Despite these appeals, on 9th November Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa reaffirmed the government’s previous stance on this issue, in that it is not high on their list of priorities. In response to questions put to him in Parliament he replied that “after satisfying ourselves that the provision of social services has reached the ideal standards, especially in the rural areas, that is when we will resume the exercise of completing the new constitution-making process”.

One factor is cost. It would cost several billion shillings to continue with the constitution review process, whereas the government would rather allocate those funds for what they consider to be more important projects.

How long it will take to bring social services to “ideal standards” is anyone’s guess and open to very wide interpretation. Some of the more cynical political commentators would say that it is merely a way to avoid the issue. Once again, it looks as though we will have to wait a very long time for any change to the status quo.

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SPORT

by Philip Richards

Focus on Commonwealth Games 2018
In April this year, some of Tanzania’s Commonwealth Games “greats”, including Filbert Bayi, carried the Queens Baton on its journey through the streets of Dar. In doing so, they sought to inspire young Tanzanians preparing for the 21st Commonwealth games to be held in the Gold Coast, Australia in April 2018, and to set the bar for hopeful athletes to emulate past success.

Filbert Bayi has held the Commonwealth Games 1500m record for 43 years, since the Christchurch 1974 Games. He led from the start and commanded victory over the home crowd favourite, John Walker. In doing so, Bayi set a new world record and changed the tactics of middle-distance running.

Alphonse Simbu


Athletics Tanzania announced that their athletes will set up camp in November in Lushoto, Tanga. Bayi himself is quoted as saying that whilst they do not lack talent and potential, unless they prepare well, Tanzania’s athletes will return home empty handed. He singled out Emmanuel Giniki (5000 metres) and Alphonse Simbu (Marathon, Bronze at this year’s IAAF World Championships in London) as hopefuls for medals. However, there is a suggestion that Simbu may skip Gold Coast 2018 in order to prepare for the London Marathon where he will hope to improve on the creditable 5th place in the 2017 race; if this happens, it will clearly hurt the nation’s hopes.

The other sports where Tanzania will look to do well are in boxing, swimming and table tennis. This has been helped by the inter-governmental “sports diplomacy” initiative whereby the country has secured support from leading nations in each sports area in order to raise performance. In table tennis, the country sent 5 players out to a 3-month training camp in Beijing in November underwritten by the Chinese government. Under a similar scheme, it is hoped that athletes will train in Ethiopia and boxers in Cuba as part of their preparation. Tanzania is being represented by 4 swimmers including Sonia Tumiotto who won 14 gold medals in this year’s Africa Swimming Federation (Cana) Zone 3 Championships, and who studies and trains at the St Felix School in Southwold, Suffolk (see TA 117).

Unfortunately, it would appear unlikely that Tanzania will be represented in the Commonwealth Games Paralympics as they failed to attend any qualifying events.

Juma Mohammed Hamisi, who lost his leg in a bus accident and now plays for Tanzania’s junior wheelchair tennis national team, was featured in the UK Guardian. The team qualified for the wheelchair Tennis World Cup in Italy, but were sadly unable to attend for financial reasons.

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TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

by Donovan McGrath

The dinosaur of Dodoma John Magufuli is bulldozing the opposition and wrecking the economy

Economist.com (UK): Critically ill in a hospital in Nairobi, Tundu Lissu, the chief whip of Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, is a lesson to those who would criticise the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli … On September 7th Mr Lissu was gunned down in broad daylight near his house in … Dodoma, after returning from a session in parliament. The attempted assassination came just two weeks after he was arrested – for the sixth time – for such things as insulting the president… “This cowardly attack on one of Tanzania’s most fearless and prominent politicians raises concerns about the safety of all dissident voices in the country, at a time when space for dissent is quickly shrinking,” said Amnesty International … Tanzania, a country of 55m people … is rarely seen as one of Africa’s problem cases. Unlike Congo, Uganda or Burundi, it has never had a civil war or a military dictatorship… Yet, over the past two years, since the election of John Magufuli, Tanzania’s descent into autocracy has been stunning. It is a lesson in how when the presidency is strong and other institutions are weak, a single bad leader can set a country back many years… Mr Magufuli, who is nicknamed “the bulldozer”, impressed many when he came into office by cracking down on corruption. But his economic ideas have a whiff of the “African socialism” of Julius Nyerere, the country’s founding leader, who declared a one-party state, nationalised factories and forced peasants at gunpoint onto collective farms. Donors had to step in to prevent mass starvation… Mr Magufuli is not as ruinously radical. But he has caused traffic to collapse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s main port, which serves six countries, by imposing a huge tax on goods that pass through it. Ships have simply gone to Kenya instead. More startling still is Tanzania’s dispute with Acacia, a British gold-mining firm. The government claims that its two mines have been producing more than 10 times as much gold as they declared (which would make them the two largest gold mines in the world, by far). Preposterously, it says the firm owes taxes of $190bn, or roughly four times Tanzania’s annual GDP… Other firms worry they may be next. Petra Diamonds closed its mine in Tanzania in September after the government seized a parcel of diamonds it was exporting. And on October 9th Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian cement billionaire, accused Mr Magufuli if scaring investors away… What will happen now? There are few constraints on Mr Magufuli. With the opposition neutered, the ruling party remains mostly unchallenged. Mr Magufuli’s allies in parliament have even suggested extending the presidential term from five years to seven. Tanzania suffered wretchedly under one bull-headed socialist. It cannot afford another. (19 October 2017)Thanks to Roger Bowen for this item – Editor

WWF slams down Stiegler dam plan

Morning Star (UK): The World-wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released a report … warning that the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric dam, intended to electrify [Tanzania], would threaten wetland and put 200,000 fishing jobs downriver at risk. Tanzanian President John Magufuli … said  for the sixth time – for such things as insulting the president. in parliament. The attempted assassination came just two weethat the dam and resulting reservoir will cover only about 3 per cent of the Selous region the WWF says will be devastated. But the environmentalists dispute his figures… (5 July 2017)Thanks to Jeremy Jones for this item – Editor

 

This Young Woman is Fighting Poverty in Tanzania by Teaching Women to Make Clothes

Glamour.com (USA): Boke is from a remote part of Tanzania that is beautiful but impoverished. By the time Boke was nine, both of her parents had died and she and her sister were sent to live with their grandmother. The grandmother meant well, but struggled to care for the girls, leaving Boke to look after her sister and the home. That took a toll on her education, and even though Boke is a bright girl, she never graduated from primary school. Now 20 years old, Boke lives at City of Hope, an incredible children’s home and school for underprivileged children in Tanzania. At City of Hope, Boke has found stability and even become fluent in English, but she was still too far behind academically to graduate from high school like most of the students at City of Hope aim to do. Instead, Boke is learning a specialized skill that she hopes will guarantee her a stable future: She’s learning to sew. City of Hope was founded by John Chacha and Regina Horst, an improbable husband-wife team. He grew up on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, she was a Canadian-American Mennonite… In 2007, they opened City of Hope in Ntagacha, a region of western Tanzania that was then rife with violence. Today the campus is home to more than 100 orphans, plus a clinic, a primary school that enrols 450 students, and a new secondary school that enrols another 50. John Chacha died in an automobile accident in 2015 while travelling to enrol a student in secondary school, but City of Hope has continued to grow and thrive with Regina at the helm. And now Tenzi Chacha, John and Regina’s daughter, is rounding out the curriculum at City of Hope by adding a new program she calls SEW, for Sewing Empowers Women. Tenzi has been interested in sewing and fashion since middle school, and realized that sewing could be useful for women in Tanzania… (8 December 2017) 

 

Tanzanian President Magufuli pardons child rapists

BBC.co.uk: Children’s rights activists have condemned the pardon of two child rapists by the Tanzanian president. Kate McAlpine, director of the Arusha-based Community for Children Rights, told the BBC she was “horrified but unsurprised”. John Magufuli made the pardon in his independence day speech … Singer Nguza Viking, known as Babu Seya, and his son Johnson Nguza, known as Papii Kocha, were pardoned for raping 10 primary schoolgirls… The president selected a group of prisoners to be released, who he said had corrected their behaviour. Ms McAlpine said the pardon illustrated Mr Magufuli showed a “lack of understanding about violence against children”. She linked this latest speech to his June announcement where he banned pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school (see TA118). “He has a blind spot when it comes to recognising children as victims. Pregnant schoolgirls are pregnant because they are victims of violence.” … Child rape cases in Tanzania tend to be dealt with between families, or rapists have been known to pay off police and court staff, Ms McAlpine said… (11 December 2017)

 

Barrick cedes gold assets in effort to settle Tanzanian dispute

Financial Times (UK): This dispute has been going on for some time (see TA117 and TA118) … when the Tanzanian government banned the export of unprocessed ores in an effort to boost the domestic smelting industry. It then accused Acacia [of which Barrick owns 64 per cent], one of Africa’s largest gold producers and Tanzania’s largest private employers, of illegally under-reporting its shipments and of tax evasion.  After a series of talks, Barrick’s chairman John Thornton and President John Magufuli finally reached an agreement. Extract continues: Barrick Gold has agreed to cede 16 per cent of Acacia Mining’s three mines in Tanzania to the state and pay $300m as the first step towards settling a six-month dispute over its subsidiary’s operations. Acacia’s Tanzania operations in the three mines, which produce mainly gold but also copper, will be managed through a new company with all “economic benefits” being shared equally between the London-listed miner and the government, the two sides agreed in a deal … The government’s share will be delivered in the form of royalties, taxes and the 16 per cent free carry interest in the operations, Barrick said. The agreement does not settle a $190bn tax dispute between Acacia and Tanzania; the $300m is a “gesture of good faith”, Barrick said and would be paid by Acacia. Acacia’s shares soared 20 per cent on the news of the deal but they are still 60 per cent below where they were before the dispute began. President John Magufuli of Tanzania wants to wring a greater share of mining company proceeds, which he says are too generous to the companies and the result of contentious practices under previous governments. He has also targeted Petra Diamonds, another London-listed miner… Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and one of the biggest investors in Tanzania, accused Mr Magufuli of compromising foreign investment. “They’ve scared quite a lot of investors and scaring investors is not a good thing to do,” he said… (19 October 2017) – Thanks to Jeremy Jones for this item – Editor

 

Tanzania’s anti-corruption government is stifling the “Swahili Wikileaks”

Quartz magazine (New York) online: Maxence Melo is a man who knows the insides of Tanzania’s courthouses all too well. In 2017 alone, he has appeared in court about 51 times he says, accused of obstructing justice, operating an unregistered website, and refusing to reveal the identities of users who shared sensitive information. Melo, 38, is the co-founder of Jamii Forums (JF), a popular Swahili social media networking site that is part whistle-blowing platform and part citizen journalism outlet. Since it was founded in 2006, he has been harassed, threatened, detained, interrogated, and at one point barred from travelling abroad. And over the last two years, as president John Magufuli’s government tightened its grip on both the digital and traditional media spaces, Melo has become the poster boy for the crackdown… The clampdown has taken on a new significance as the government recently introduced a law that would give it unfettered powers to police the web. The proposed Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2017 calls for the registration of blogs and online forums, orders internet cafes to install surveillance cameras, prohibits material deemed as “offensive, morally improper” or that “causes annoyance,” and recommends a fine of 5 million Tanzanian shillings ($2,230) or 12 months in jail for anyone found guilty. Observers and activists have argued that some of the definitions provided in the law are ambiguous, violate individual privacy, curtail citizen’s right to free speech and expression and go against the spirit of an open internet… Be for he left power in 2015, former president Jakaya Kikwete signed a cybercrime law – informally known as the “Jamii bill” – that gives authorities powers to jail those who offend the president or publish false information… The panoply of laws scapegoating digital media outlets is also targeting traditional outlets like newspapers. [In 2017], both Mwanahalisi and Mawio newspapers were banned in Tanzania for one and two years respectively …  (12 December 2017)

 

No pain relief, no running water: the perils of childbirth in Tanzania

Eva Paulo with her baby daughter, Neema Nkwaya, one day old, at home in Nyarugusu (both photos Sameer Satchu for WaterAid)

Guardian (UK) online: ‘Natural birth’ is the only option for many women here, and though dedicated midwives do their best, the risk of infection – and sepsis – is high. Extract continues: At the Nyarugusu medical dispensary in north-west Tanzania, Eva Paulo, 23, is in her 36th hour of labour… “This is too much,” she says, as another contraction racks her. “I don’t know why it’s taking so long. And the midwives, they don’t tell me anything.” It is, of course, a universal complaint of women in labour the world over. But for many women in Tanzania, “natural birth” isn’t a preference or an accomplishment – it’s the only viable option. Paulo is about to give birth for the fourth time in the most basic hospital conditions imaginable… While the staff will do their best, Paulo will receive no pain relief, no foetal monitoring and no medical interventions. The lack of doctors means caesarean sections are not performed here. Another problem – from which so many others stem – is a lack of water. There is no running water for hand-washing, sterilisation or laundry. Toilets are filthy, squat outhouses a short walk from the building. Each morning, staff at the clinic buy 20 jerry cans of water from a local vendor for 500 shillings (about 16p) each, for basic cleaning. The money comes out of their own pockets, which is significant for nurses who earn less than £200 a month.  Because of this, pregnant women are required to arrive with their own water… Without water, the delivery room cannot be properly cleaned between deliveries, of which there are several each day… (2 October 2017)

 

Police arrest woman in Tanzania over video of her kissing and embracing a female friend in crackdown on homosexuality

Mail (UK) online: … The woman, who police said resides in the north-western Tanzanian town of Geita, was arrested after a video circulated on social media showing a woman kissing and hugging another woman and presenting her with a ring… Tanzanian president John Magufuli’s government has stepped up a crackdown against homosexuality since coming into power in 2015 and threatened in June to arrest and expel activists, as well as de-register all non-governmental organisations that campaign for gay rights… The arrest of the woman in Geita was thought to be the first arrest of a lesbian suspect in the recent crackdown and police sources said authorities were also searching for the woman who was given the ring in the video clip… The clip drew condemnation on social media platforms in the socially conservative nation, with some Tanzanians condemning the celebration as immoral… (2 December 2017)

 

Dramatic moment when workers use a bulldozer to free five wild elephants after they fell into a pit while looking for water in Tanzania

Mail (UK) online: … The herd – three adults and two baby [calves] – were discovered in a small trench in Rungwa Game Reserve, dehydrated and unable to escape. Manyoni natives from the Singida region quickly alarmed employers from Chinese construction company Sinohydro. The construction workers were located about 40 km from the reserve, and were asked to assist with saving the trapped elephants. The multinational firm dispatched engineers and a bulldozer, more than an hour later, they brought with them a construction digger to help with the operation… The pit was so small that the elephants pushed each other in panic. After a gruelling five hours of continuous effort, a female elephant and her baby were the first to stumble out of the pit. Two others followed them later. Liang Jifeng from the Tanzanian Department of Sinohydro Bureau 13 confirmed to Chinese news agency Xinhua that they were remarkably saved but one adult elephant died from a lack of water… (3 October 2017)

 

Cows and chickens cause spat between Kenya and Tanzania

Mail (UK) online: A diplomatic spat over cows and chickens has worsened already frosty ties between Kenya and Tanzania, with Nairobi lodging a formal protest against its neighbour, the foreign minister said … The latest impasse between the two east African nations began … when Tanzania seized and auctioned off 1,300 cattle which had wandered across the border to graze in a region where herders typically pay little heed to frontiers. Then … Tanzania seized and burnt alive 6,500 chicks that had been brought into the country by a trader, fearing they would spread disease… Kenyan traders have complained of mistreatment by Tanzanian immigration agents which has sparked protests at the border, and tit-for-tat trade jabs have seen the two nations blocking the import of various goods from either country… Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, increasingly criticised over his iron-fisted rule, warned Kenya that any livestock wandering into his country would be confiscated… (8 November 2017)

 

Journalist Reported Missing in Tanzania

New York Times (USA) online: Dodoma, Tanzania – A news organization in Tanzania says one of its journalists is missing after he was kidnapped from his home. Francis Nanai, executive director of Mwananchi Communications Limited, said … their reporter Azory Gwanda, 42, was reportedly kidnapped Nov. 21 in Kibiti town near the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam… Gwanda had published a series of stories on the mysterious killings of civilians and police officers in the area. Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said the police are “shocked” by the news of the missing journalist… (4 December 2017)

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OBITUARIES

by Ben Taylor

The editorial team is sorry to inform you that Hugh Wenban-Smith, a contributor to Tanzanian Affairs for many years, has sadly passed away. A full obituary will follow in the next issue of Tanzanian Affairs.

Dedicated conservation activist, Wayne Lotter (1965-2017), was murdered by an unknown assailant in Dar es Salaam on August 16, 2017. His taxi from the airport was stopped by another vehicle at the junction of Chole Road and Haile Selassie Road in Masaki. Two men opened his car door, one of whom then shot him. The police are reported as saying they believe he was deliberately targeted for his work. Three people have been charged with the murder. Wayne leaves behind his wife Inge, daughters Cara Jayne and Tamsin, and parents Vera and Charles Lotter.

Originally from South Africa, Wayne had become a leading and innovative conservationist in Tanzania, but his work made him well-known in global conservation circles around the world. Born in Johannesburg, he spent much of his childhood on safari in Kruger National Park. He studied for a master’s degree in nature conservation at Tshwane University in 1990, and spent many years as a ranger in South Africa before shifting his attention to Tanzania.

In recent years, Lotter’s primary focus was the Selous-Niassa corridor in Southern Tanzania, where much of the slaughter of elephants had been taking place. An estimated 60% of Tanzania’s elephant population were killed between 2009 and 2014.

Rather than simply bolster policing efforts, Lotter recognised that a more intelligent approach was needed to address such a complex problem. With two colleagues, he founded the Protected Areas Management Solutions (PAMS) Foundation, and recruited a network of informants in poaching areas who would track both elephants and suspected poachers. When the poachers were then arrested, so much was known about their movements that it became much easier to convince them to provide information on those higher up the chain.

This intelligence-led approach worked. In five years more than 2,000 poachers were arrested. More significantly, the rate of poaching was cut dramatically and the elephant population began to stabilise. And partly as a result of his efforts with PAMS and with the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigations Unit in Tanzania that he also helped to establish, several key figures in the poaching and ivory business were arrested: the so-called “The Queen of Ivory”, Yang Fenglan, and Boniface Malyango, also known as “Shetani Hana Huruma” / The Devil With No Mercy, who is said to have killed or ordered the killing of 10,000 elephants.

Of course, this meant that he knew his life was in danger. He received multiple death threats. “My deepest condolences to Wayne’s family and all those at PAMS Foundation for this senseless loss,” said Prince William, patron of the conservation charity, Tusk. “Governments and NGOs must win this fight for the sake of all of us, especially those in communities whose livelihoods are being plundered by murderous criminals.”

Renowned primatologist, Dame Jane Goodall, described Wayne as a hero of hers and a hero to many. “If this cowardly shooting was an attempt to bring the work of the PAMS Foundation to an end it will fail.

Those who have been inspired by Wayne will fight on,” she said. “Wayne devoted his life to Africa’s wildlife,” read a statement released by the PAMS Foundation. “From working as a ranger in his native South Africa as a young man to leading the charge against poaching in Tanzania, he cared deeply about the people and animals that populate this world. Wayne’s charm, brilliance and eccentric sense of humour gave him the unique ability to make those around him constantly laugh and smile. He died bravely fighting for the cause he was most passionate about.”

The politician and former coach of Taifa Stars, the Tanzania national football team, Joel Nkaya Bendera (1950-2017) died in December at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

By some, Bendera will be remembered most for guiding Taifa Stars to the Africa Cup of Nations in Nigeria in 1980, the only time the team has ever reached the finals of a major international tournament. He also had spells managing Simba Sports Club, Young Africans (Yanga) and Tanga’s African Sports.

What differentiated Bendera from many soccer coaches Tanzania has had, according to journalist Attililo Tagalile, was that he combined coaching skills with a solid grounding in psychology. He believed that for any team to win a game, it was important that the played were as well prepared mentally as they were skilled.

Bendera later went into politics, and was elected as the MP for Korogwe Urban, representing CCM. He held the post of Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Sports from 2006, before holding various Regional Commissioner posts.

“Bendera was a brave and hard-working leader. He was very cooperative and always wanted to achieve tremendous success from the work he was doing. It is a big loss,” said President Magufuli.

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REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

POPOBAWA: TANZANIAN TALK, GLOBAL MISREADINGS. Katrina Daly Thompson. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2017. viii + 228 pp. (paperback). ISBN 9780253024565. $30.00.

In Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, the sites of Thompson’s research, there have long been stories of a mysterious shape-shifter called Popobawa (literally ‘bat wing’) which attacks people at night, mostly men but sometimes women, by sodomising them with its enormous penis. Such purported attacks can lead to panic and people seeking protection either by sleeping outside in groups or by recitation of the Koran, or both. Popobawa stories are not only recounted in Tanzania but have spread to other parts of Africa and beyond, including to a global audience interested in the supernatural.

In this book, Katrina Daly Thompson, Professor of African languages at the University of Wisconsin, who describes herself as a linguistic ethnographer, discusses her own research in the form of a series of interviews she conducted in 2009, as well as the available research of other people, academic or otherwise. One of her main arguments is that the telling of these stories need to be understood in a social context, with some knowledge of who is speaking as well as what they say. The failure of many outside commentators, including academics, to recognise this, is heavily criticised by the author. Single, overarching theories (meta-discourses) such as those which seek to explain the periodic panics in terms of political events are rejected. Thompson rather uses discourse theory to discuss the Popobawa stories at both the local and wider level, suggesting that understanding the meaning of the telling of the stories is rarely simple. Tellers of the tales may distance themselves, may claim to be sceptics, may claim to be authoritative. In short, people adopt different subject positions in their talk.

Thompson argues that the recounting of the stories, whether told seriously or in the form of jokes, breaks with local ideas about restraint and decorum, particularly in matters of sexuality, gender segregation and Islamic prohibitions on gossip. For these reasons, talking about Popobawa allows discussion around forbidden subjects such as male homosexuality or female sexual desire without apparently challenging them directly. It may thus be seen as subversive and solves the problem of customary silence on certain important matters. At the same time, such talk, with its many-layered meanings, fits with the way in which the Swahili language itself is most highly valued by its speakers, namely when it is allusive, full of metaphors and double-entendres – Kiswahili ndani (‘inside Swahili’).

In the latter part of the book, Thompson turns her attention to the global influences on the local: many Zanzibaris are well aware of western legends like Dracula and Batman, and capable of incorporating them into their own highly cosmopolitan culture. She also considers the ‘readings’ of Popobawa in films, tv programmes, websites and social media, even guide books, mainly produced outside of Tanzania, and particularly in the West. The tendency of most western commentators is to reduce the complexities of Popobawa to simple meta-narratives with single explanations.  Here the trap of ethnocentrism looms large: the premise is that westerners are rational and scientific, Africans are the antithesis of this. So there is a danger that a purported interest in and discussion of the phenomenon ends up confirming stereotypes about Africa and Africans.

Thompson thus argues that there is actually no difference between local speakers and western commentators since both recount the Popobawa legends for their own purposes. In her conclusion, she quotes one of her interviewees: ‘Popobawa yuko, kila mmoja anamchukulia anavyotaka’ (‘Popobawa is there, everyone interprets him as they like’).

This book provides a salutary case study for other ethnographers who might be tempted to take refuge in the simplistic, as in ‘some people say’. Thompson argues convincingly that ethnography must be dialogic and that the ethnographer should resist the temptation to impose his or her own authority, comments with which one can only agree. At the same time, I was left wondering: who was she for them? What did her interlocuters make of a white American, married to a Zanzibari, engaging in this particular topic of research?

Pat Caplan

Pat Caplan is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has carried out research on Mafia Island, Tanzania since 1965 and written several books and articles about the area.

 

MIKIDADI: INDIVIDUAL BIOGRAPHY AND NATIONAL HISTORY IN TANZANIA. Pat Caplan. Sean Kingston Publishing, Canon Pyon, 2016. viii + 191pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-907774-48-5. £50.00

Pat Caplan has been prominent in the anthropology of the Tanzanian coast since the publication of Choice and Constraint in a Swahili Community (1975), based on her doctoral fieldwork in Mafia Island in 1965-67. Her reputation as an insightful interpreter of Swahili society and culture became firmly established through numerous scholarly publications exploring kinship and descent, land tenure, gender, health, socialism, modernity, and other topics.

One notable book was African Voices, African Lives: Personal Narratives from a Swahili Village (1997), an account of the lives of members of a Mafian family, presented largely through their own (translated) words. Like Marjorie Shostak’s Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (1981) and Sarah Mirza and Margaret Strobel’s Three Swahili Women: Life Histories from Mombasa, Kenya (1989), it can be read as an attempt to ‘decolonise’ anthropological writing, that is, to let the subjects speak for themselves rather than to present their beliefs and experiences entirely through the anthropologist’s powerful theoretical lens.

Caplan’s latest book, Mikidadi: Individual Biography and National History in Tanzania, can be viewed as a further probe in this direction. Published first in a Swahili language edition (2014) and now in English, it tells the story of Mikidadi Juma Kichange, a Mafian whose lifetime spanned the colonial era, Independence, Ujamaa socialism, neoliberalism and the (still ongoing) transition to multi-party democracy. Mikidadi was both ordinary and extraordinary. His background and achievements were modest, and the values and beliefs he held were representative of his society. Yet he was unusual in his intuitive understanding – while still a boy – of Caplan’s anthropological endeavour, and also in the stubbornness of his drive to better himself, his relatives and his community.

The book is a gut-wrenching tale of thwarted ambitions and missed opportunities. At the same time, it is a profoundly hopeful story of survival, compassion, staying true to one’s principles and transcending cross-cultural barriers. It comprises excerpts from the sizeable correspondence between Caplan and Mikidadi that accumulated in the four decades before his death, supplemented by diary entries, interview transcripts and field notes. In between, Caplan puts the material in historical, cultural and personal context. She does not try to make herself invisible in this account, but instead transparently considers her role in Mikidadi’s life and that of the larger community. Nor does Caplan burden the reader with anthropological analyses that would use Mikidadi’s words and experiences merely to illustrate academic theory.

As Caplan explains, her priority in retirement is to disseminate what she has learned over many years to a wider audience that includes non-specialists as well as the subjects of her research. With that aim, she has produced a website about Mafia and participated in making documentary films for general audiences. Mikidadi is another product that aims to make Caplan’s work accessible to non-anthropologists, not least Mafians. The book hints at the challenges this involves. For example, when visiting Mafia, it had been Caplan’s practice to screen the 1976 BBC documentary she helped make about the village she worked in. However, decades later, community members became concerned that the film showed women dressed immodestly according to newer, more restrictive standards of Islam. One young woman remarked, “What was the matter with those people then? Didn’t they have any clothes?”

Mikidadi was similarly scandalised by a photograph of an underdressed infant in African Voices, African Lives. He felt that Caplan should not publicise the book locally because “Mohammed” – the book’s pseudonymous central subject – would, as Mikidadi expresses it in Mikidadi, “regret that things that were hidden or secret had been revealed. For example the burial of a corpse or the circumcision of a man are things that are not known to women.” Caplan’s research and publications had put formerly restricted knowledge into the public realm, potentially compromising the local reputations of particular individuals who were locally recognisable in spite of the use of pseudonyms.

Caplan and Mikidadi struck up a rapport early on and their relationship was carefully tended by each of them through the ensuing years. But in some respects, they were unequal partners. Caplan travelled easily between Europe and Tanzania, while Mikidadi’s life-long dream of visiting Europe never materialised. Many of the letters quoted in the book include requests for money or equipment that Caplan could only partially fulfil. Both Mikidadi and Caplan were opponents, in their own ways, of social inequality, while they also negotiated inequality in their own enduring and genuine friendship.

In the past, communities studied by anthropologists generally had little idea of the outcomes of their guests’ research and often did not benefit from it. Anthropologists today want to give something back, such as knowledge in the form of books or videos in the local language, material assistance of different kinds, even legal advocacy. Yet this poses practical challenges and moral dilemmas, which Caplan’s Mikidadi addresses but does not entirely resolve.

Helle V. Goldman

Helle V. Goldman did her doctoral 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 2017, when she and Martin Walsh served as advisers for a documentary film about the Zanzibar leopard.

 

IN SEARCH OF LIVING KNOWLEDGE. Marja-Liisa Swantz. Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2016. xiv + 250 pp. (paperback). ISBN 9789-9877-53-40-6. £23.00.

Marja Liisa Swantz is a Finnish anthropologist who has been working on Tanzania since the 1960s. In Search of Living Knowledge is a kind of ethnographic memoir, a self-conscious reflection by the author on her life’s work over more than 50 years – as a researcher, a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam and later as an academic at the University of Helsinki involved in a number of Finnish-supported development interventions in Tanzania.

She is best known in anthropology for her work on Zaramo ritual and symbolism, first published in the 1970s. She is also a foundational contributor to the diverse body of practices which fall under the umbrella label of participatory research. This book is an attempt to bring both contributions together through an account of the author’s personal journey as a researcher seeking not only to understand the life worlds of those whom she is studying, but to engage with them in the process of understanding the issues they face as a collaborative endeavour which can promote change. Swantz shows how knowledge is not fixed but ‘living’, for researcher and those with whom they work. Cultural meanings change over time and there are important generational differences in the ways that culture is experienced. Much of this change is conscious. Critical reflection is thus foundational to cultural change and to the local instantiations of development, issues examined at some length in the text.

Swantz presents cogent musings on the problematic of anthropological methodology and the uses and beneficiaries of the kinds of anthropological knowledge generated through conventional practices of ethnographic fieldwork undertaken by an individual anthropologist. She is less clear about the ways in which the kind of inter-subjective engagement she claims to practice has affected her own perceptions and relations with informants in the longer term. We do get a sense, however, of the author’s longstanding engagement in Tanzania and her ideological commitment to an anthropology which prioritises informants’ understandings at the same time as it has to find ways of dealing with the ways in which these undergo inevitable change. Participatory research is important for Swantz because it offers a way of including research subjects as active agents in the process of knowledge production.

Swantz became involved in social research in Tanzania at a time when participatory approaches were being developed by diverse researchers within and beyond the country. This book presents a fascinating account of the history of participatory research in Tanzania and the intellectual struggles at the University of Dar es Salaam and beyond it over the place of Marxist analyses as the frame through which research was to be conducted or a potential analytical tool to be used according to the empirical findings research produced. These struggles came to a head in the first large scale participatory research project carried out in Tanzania, which Swantz directed, leading to irreconcilable splits within the research team, comprising a mix of Tanzanian and foreign researchers. Swantz shows how the Jipemoyo initiative informed the design of another participatory initiative supported by the Finns through a large scale rural development intervention in Mtwara, for which Swantz was a professional adviser. The successful use of participatory approaches to local level planning in these projects contributed to the eventual inclusion of a form of participatory planning within the local government system.

A limitation of the book is the inadequate presentation of context. There is very little background information which would help the reader situate the claims which Swantz is making or contextualize the historical accounts she presents. Despite this, the book is an important addition to the contemporary history of social institutions and social research in Tanzania, providing an insider account of the evolution of participatory research approaches in rural development and an insight into the political factionalism which structured social research and analysis in the 1970s and 1980s.

Maia Green

Maia Green is an anthropologist who researches issues of social and economic change and development organisations in Tanzania. She works at the University of Manchester and is the author of The Development State: Aid, Culture and Civil Society in Tanzania (2014).

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