Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Andikia Toleo Maalumu la Chemchemi/Contribute to the Special Issue of Chemchemi - 30/11/2010

Kwa niaba ya wahariri wa Jarida la Kitaaluma la Chemchemi, nawatumia wito huo hapo chini wa kuandika katika toleo maalumu la miaka 50 ya Afrika/On behalf of the the editors of Chemchemi: Fountain of Ideas, I forward to you the call below to contribute to a special issue on Africa at 50. Unaweza kuandika makala/mada yoyote isiyozidi maneno 4,000 kwa Kiswahili au Kiingerea kuhusu hali au mwelekeo wa kisiasa, kiuchumi, kijamii, kiaendeleo na kitaaluma wa Afrika toka nchi zake zilipopata uhuru kwa wingi takribani miaka 50 iliyopita/You may write any article/text that does not exceed 4,000 words on Africa's political, economic, social, developmental and intellectual trajectory since many of its countries became independent about 50 years or so ago. Mwisho ya kupokea makala ni 30 Novemba 2010/Deadline for submission is 30 November 2010. Itume kwa/Send to:

Prof. Issa Shivji: issashivji@cats-net.com; Dr. Adolf Mkenda amkenda@udsm.ac.tz ; Dr. Opportuna Kweka: kweka@udsm.ac.tz ; Jacqueline Mgumia: jhm11@albion.edu ; Walter Luanda: walterluanda@udsm.ac.tz; Chambi Chachage: chambi78@yahoo.com

Chambi Chachage - Mhariri Mwalikwa/Guest Editor

This and next year many African countries, including Tanzania (Tanganyika) will be celebrating 50 years of their independence. Next year the University of Dar es Salaam will be celebrating its 50 years. Half a century is not a short period even in the life of a nation, more so in the case of a university. This is the occassion to look back, take stock and critically reflect on 50 years since we reclaimed our sovereignty and our right to think for ourselves. On this occassion, the editors of Chemchemi have decided to bring out a special combined issue (No. 4 & 5) of Chemchemi.

The special issue will be both in English and Kiswahili. We are now inviting articles in either language on any topic relevant to the theme. Where did we begin? Where are we at? Where is uhuru? What have been our problems, successes? What is our place in the global world today? What is the direction of our development? How do we assess various political and economic “experiments” tried out in Africa, in Tanzania? How do we periodise and understand 50 years of independence?

What is the state of higher education today? What have been the debates, discourses and discussions at the University fo Dar es Salaam, among African intellectuals? Can we look back and say: yes, indeed we played our role? Or have we abdicated our responsibility as the mirror of society? Where is the vision – Pan-Africanism, Freedom, Dignity – of the first generation of African nationalists? You may choose any topic/theme of your interest on which you believe you can make a contribution. Your contibution may be in the form of an article, or a review article based on a book or books, or a short story, poem etc.

1. Articles should not exceed 4000 words. They should be written in simple, clear style. Please minimise the number of footnotes. You may append a short list of references/bibliography at the end of your contribution.

2. An electronic copy of your contribution should reach the editors (whose emails are in the cc line) by November 30th, 2010. The special issue will be launched during the 3rd Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival week beginning April 12, 2011.

We are expecting that you will respond enthusiastically in the great intellectual tradition of progressive debates which was the hallmark of the Hill.

Issa Shivji
Adold Mkenda
Opportuna Kweka
Jacquiline Mgumia
Issa G. Shivji
Mwalimu Nyerere University Professor of Pan-African Studies
University of Dar es Salaam
P. O. Box 35091
Dar es Salaam - Tanzania
Tel: 255-(0)22 - 2410 763
Cell: 255 (0) 754 475 372
Res. 255-(0)22-2118 620
email: issashivji@cats-net.com

Monday, June 28, 2010


Sunday, June 27, 2010


Go Ghana Go!
Go Gyan Go!

Bring on Uruguay!
Bring on Suarezy!

Viva Vuvuzela Afrika
Viva Jabulani Afrika!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Profu Profesa nakwita, kimya shii umeshata
Wapi tutampata, wa namnayo kwa chapa?
Komredi twatafuta, mwenzetu wapi kapita?
Haroub wa Othman, utakumbukwa daima

Maendeleo na sheria, elimu lijipatia
Siasa, demokrasia, huko kote lipitia
Vitivo vingi liingia, taluma ajazilia
Usomi hiki na kile, katu sio kile kile

Haki lipigania, wanyonge wanamjua
Demokrasia lililia, Afrika inatambua
Usafi lilipalilia, ubaya liutumbua
Usomi sio maskuli, ni kutenda vile vile

Usomi si pesambele, usomi huduma mbele
Usome si kile kile, usomi hiki na kile
Ndio maltiprofeshenale, msomi namna ile
Lipokuwepo Harubu, liyafanya yote hayo

Usomi jamiitaa, uvunguni sio pake
Mkandala shule paa, nyumba enda uezeke
Jamii ipe kupaa, wanyonge na wainuke
Angekuwepo Harubu, nahaya angeyasema

Usije kuone tope, msomi ulikalie
Usije kuziba kope, motoni waungulie
Sije geuka upande, haki zao chukuliwe
Angetoa kawosia, nahaya angeyaamba

Huyo ndiye Harubu mapumzikoni
Haji hasauhuliki vitabuni
Nauliza nyi wasomi wa nchini
Mwafanyani mkumbukwe Tanzaniani?

Usomi pesambele na makelele?
Wasomi waibia wala matembele?
Uige vyake Harubu vipaumbele
Yani huduma mbele na utu mbele

© Immaculate Dominic

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Udadisi-ng Pan-Africanism in the Zeleza Post

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Biden, Kenya and the Diplomacy Gap

[Caroline Chumo writes:] It was interesting how little criticism I could find online on Biden's trip to Kenya of last week. So here is my take on it...

As the USA goes about its diplomatic activities in East Africa, and American people go about life as usual, the two can be strangely distinct. Last week US Vice President Joe Biden visited Kenya. At the same time, observers of US culture and race relations circulate the latest documentary film from the home front about race: “Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity”.

I thought the race film was done well and speaks to the pain many Americans feel due to identity politics and social inequality. The California Newsreel’s new film asks whether white identification with Hip-Hop “reflects a new face of racial understanding in white America or [reinforces] an ugly history”. Hip-Hop culture in all its manifestations and evolving race relations are indeed life as usual in the USA. I wonder what the world knows now about this side of the US as the anti-American wave continues to grow.

In Kenya last week VP Biden gave the usual type of speech (text, video), praising Africans for resilience and stating the obvious (i.e. corruption is bad, education is good, a new Kenyan constitution is important, and Somalia and Sudan represent huge security threats). With my mind on the new race film I thought it strange that foreign American diplomats don't give American citizens much mention, let alone the daily struggle some Americans face. My hope is that more reflection on social problems in the US will transform US relations with the rest of the world.

I started writing a commentary on the situation, on the premise that Biden's presentation in Kenya represented the worst in American diplomacy - patronizing and boastful - but ran into a problem when I looked up his profile online.

It turns out the man is famous for making outrageous statements, including occasionally using swear words in speeches. But he is still widely respected among American liberals for his leadership in the US Senate on foreign affairs and the US justice system. Benefit of the doubt made me try to take passages such as this one from his Nairobi speech with a grain of salt:

My prayer is that very soon after you [Kenyans] make these momentous changes that are needed, we'll be talking about not what we [Americans] can do for you, but what we can do with you, because you have begun to realize the great potential you possess. The change is within your reach. The same change that occurred in other parts of the world, including Iraq, can change here.

Is it just me or did Biden compare Kenya to Iraq?

So now I am confused. Is the speech Biden's own work? Or did a strategic communications specialist at the US Ikulu prepare or edit it? You would think a public official with a track record for making embarrassing comments would have someone looks at his speeches before showtime. Or does the trust of the Obama administration in Biden's goodwill deafen them to the nuances of delivery?

While Biden and the Obama administration are said to be proponents of diplomacy, the patronizing tone as shown in Kenya is confusing. While American foreign relations is supposed to serve the American people, that message is often lost in "translation". In fact not once at his major Kenya talk did Biden share the struggles or dreams of everyday Americans. The result is that through expressions such as the film on race inequality in America, and official US diplomatic activities, multiple faces of the US come forward. Why the contradicting dichotomy? Let's get together to unite the two. US diplomacy may be more palatable to broader audiences if its communication is clear.

© Caroline Chumo

Monday, June 7, 2010

Who Built Kilwa's Swahili Civilization - Arabs, Africans or Arab-Africans/African-Arabs?

I have just arrived from Kilwa (Lindi). While there I got the same feeling I get every time I see the ruins/residues/remnants of Swahili Civilization - in Mikindani (Mtwara), Bagamoyo (Pwani), Chumbageni (Tanga) and Msasani (Dar es Salaam). The questions that bothers me are: Who built the Civilization(s)? How come we can hardly see their remnants in these areas building at least the same type of architectures/structures? Why do people residing in these areas construct (supposedly weak) muddy houses instead of (presumably strong) stony ones as it was the case in the (glorious) past?

When I probed a couple of people in Kilwa they said it is the Arabs who built it and then left after their destruction. One of them even told me that recently one of the direct descendants came from 'Saudi Arabia' to check out the ruins of what his forefathers/mothers built. Now of course I am not an expert in Archaeology or Ancient History of Africa so I haven't really read and researched much about Swahili Civilization. But as someone who resides in these parts of the world and who is concerned with (developmental) connections between our past, present and future, I need to make sense of what happened and how it affects what is happening now and what will happen then. In sum, whither our now (impoverished) coastal areas?

Dr. Deborah Bryceson's Response
I am attaching a paper that doesn't answer your question about the differences in architecture, but argues strongly against the idea that Swahili culture was 'Arab' or alternatively 'African', but rather creole. And while the architecture has fallen by the wayside the language and urban cosmopolitanism of Dar as opposed to other East African cities is an important legacy. But I am sure many would not agree with my interpretation in one way or another!
Prof. Felix Chami's Response
You need to read more. We Africans do not read or look for literature. We bank on hearsays. There are too many documents published since 1970s showing that most of the Swahili coast monumental sites belong to Africans. For the most recent book see Chami (ed) 2009, Zanzibar and the Swahili coast from 30,000 years ago.You are welcome to my office for more literature.

Adam Lingson's Response
I too, am puzzled.

That such great structures were something in part or wholly erected by 'visitors' I take for granted; but more to is why didnt 'we' emulate or learn such great arts/sciences? Tumeweza kwa mfano kuiga (sorry i mean kufuata) such complex ustaarabu as their religion, hadi makanzu yao, vibaraghashia hata bakora nk, lakini kwanini ujenzi huu ulitushinda kabisa? Je walituficha?

It appears to me this continues today - Tunajifunza ufisadi na upuuzi wote wa kimagharibi, lakini tumeshindwa sana kujifunza uzalendo na maono ya mbali kwa maslahi ya taifa kama walivyo wamagharibi hawa. Kunani hapaaaaa BONGO!!!?
Mark Richardson's Response

Kilwa was founded by a Persian Prince Shiraz (not a local Bantu speaking Swahili) in 987.

Cape Town (Kaapstad) was founded by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652.

When Ibn Batuta visited Kilwa in in 1331, he found a lot of well dressed and wealthy black men there approximately 400 years after the place had been established.

If you care to visit Cape Town (Kaapstad) right now, (approximately 400 years after the place was established) you will find a very large number of wealthy and well dressed black men there - a president of the country amongst them - if you drop into "Tuin Huis" (just give him a little advanced notice).

Neither the Swahili speaking Bantu in Kilwa, nor the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele etc. speaking Bantu in Cape Town (Kaapstad) had any more to do with creating what was there than the contribution of directed muscle power.

All you need to do is use the same examples up and down the East Coast and throughout Southern Africa and you will be right on the button.
Rustum Kubwa's Response
Thats a good question Chambi, the actual truth is that, those buildings were constructed by swahili people who some had Arab blood in them, the swahilis built stone houses before the advent of arabs and this started north of east africa where a lot of evidence lies. Much of Gulf arabia never had stone buildings but scattered mud buildings with the exception of Yemen where the architecture is credited to have come from but much inferior to the swahili who used lime instead of mud, their only resemblance lies in the architecture, not materials. The art of limestone buildings goes back to the days of syrian golden years when damascus was the center of trade in all middle east they used lime for construction, so whether the architecture did come from syria is yet to be determined even though the swahili people did reach that far in trading, had the portuguese and the british not come to east africa, the swahili civilisation might have progressed to even higher heights. So in reality its the hybrid race of wangozi and arabs with an asian touch that created those buildings.

"It is pointless to argue whether it was essentially an African or Arab culture given that it would not have existed in the absence of one or the other. Furthermore, it is helpful to see the process of ethnic fusion in a world historical perspective. Swahili culture, as an outcome of creolization" [- Deborah Bryceson]

This satement in itself diputes Deborah's claim, the one thing a writer, a thorough one does is to first identify the original place of conception before, determining anything that concerns a proposed thesis, you cannot begin from the middle, you have first to claim a point of begining something lacking in her article, she concentrates much on Dar es Salaam, a very young settlement, than Kilwa, what she should tell us, is which was the first settlement for the swahili people along the coast of east africa, and what type of swahili was being spoken, what was it called then, because swahili is an arabic word not bantu, where was it first spoken. The second part is she should say when was the first arab migration to east africa, because judging by her writing looks very recent, till all avenues are exhausted then, only then can one confidently present such an article, i also have one but am not confident enough to present it as am still seeking new info because each new encounter goes against the old one. The swahili civilisation, to me, started north of east african coast between somalia and kenya, what gives more confidence is the mention of the legendary shungwaya empire which is supposed to have existed in the same area and the oldest manuscripts to date plus oral history from my grandfathers. What i am searching for at the moment is how it migrated south, what were the words used before the advent of arabs, not persians, where did they borrow those words from, which part or clan of the hinterland bantus.
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali's Response

………. And I guess she [Deborah Bryceson] would say that Arab civilization is also ‘creole’, having gained a great deal from African Egypt. Greek civilization is also ‘creole’ - having gained a lot from Ancient Egypt, at least according to the ancient Greeks themselves. The word creole is almost meaningless in discussing civilizations.

The civilization was fundamentally African. I thought this matter was settled long ago. See the video, AFRICA: A History Denied.

‘How come we can hardly see their remnants in these areas building at least the same type of architectures/structures?’ Chambi Chachage

Unfortunately civilizations do not necessarily grow in a linear format. Some probably do. Most don’t. I guess you would doubt that ancient Tanzanians were producing steel in antiquity, but generally lost the capability to do so by the 1960s.
Prof. Abdul Sheriff's Response
You have raised a very fundamental question not only about the Swahili civilisations, but of all civilisations – who indeed built the monuments of all these civilisations – but I am not sure you start with the right hypothesis. You ask ‘Who built Kilwa’s Swahili civilisation - Arabs, Africans, Arab-Africans/African-Arabs?’ The dominant concept in all four is race.

One thing that we know about the history of the East African coast from the very first written account is that it has been visited regularly with the monsoons for more than 2000 years by traders and sailors from across the ocean. As we know from history, sailors in most cultures have been predominantly males, and they spread their wild oats wherever they went. As the Periplus of the first century says: ‘Arab skippers and agents who, through continual intercourse and intermarriage, are familiar with the area and its language.’

We also know from the Kilwa Chronicle that the first Shirazi ruler of Kilwa married the daughter of a local chief, and therefore the next ruler was Shirazo-African, if you want to stick to the race criterion. But in reality he was a prince of the mercantile ruling elite, and a creole, as Debbie Bryceson has said, if you still think the racial categorisation is an important historical consideration.

We are all familiar with the trilateral categorisation of the Zanzibar population between Arabs, Indians and Africans that dominated, and unfortunately still dominates our thinking of the recent history of Zanzibar. However, a recent genetic study of the Zanzibar population has shown that while 35% of the people, (even more than what censuses had been telling us), had inherited their genes from their immigrant fathers, 98% of them had had also inherited their genes from their Sub-Saharan African mothers. All this makes a mockery of our racial understanding of the history of the Swahili civilisation. But what should be the correct question to ask?

And this reminds me of the famous poem by Bertolt Brecht (‘A Worker Reads History’, quoted in H. Kjekshus, Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History, London: James Currey, 1st ed. 1977:

Who built the seven tower of Thebes?
The books are filled with the names of kings.
Was it kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go?

The history of civilisations is not the ‘biography of great men’ and their monumental residences, but the complete account of all the people, their way of life, their production and consumption, their culture in its widest sense, beliefs, etc.

On this count our history and archaeology have indeed been guilty of almost total preoccupation with ‘Men and Monuments of the East African Coast’ (the exact title of a book by the colonial archaeologist of Kenya James Kirkman) The best of archaeology that is being done now does try to document the whole way of life of the people that can be preserved materially, although in some cases it is still dominated by the colonial paradigm of race, and that which is exposed to the tourist public is still predominantly monuments of the rulers.

It does not require a genius to realise that stone houses formed only a small percentage of the total habitations in the Swahili towns. A detailed list of the houses at the end of the 19th century showed that there were four huts for every stone house in the Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’ before the British moved out the huts to the Ng’ambo ‘native quarter.’ In this sense, the so-called ‘Stone Town’ is not a Swahili conception of urbanisation (as some anthropologists have begun to believe), but a British colonial creation.

Some archaeologists have begun to systematically excavate the mud and thatch houses of the poorer classes in between the stone houses in these towns in Pemba, and even the in the villages surrounding these Swahili towns on which they thrived (see Adrea Lavilette’s works). Some of the research may try to do genetic study of the people, and we should not be surprised to see that even in these poorer huts and villages there were people whose parents may have been immigrants who were either not rich merchants to start with, or were impoverished in the course of history and lived with the people with whom they intermarried, as can be historically seen with the ‘Arabs’ in Pemba in more recent times.

The fundamental question to ask, therefore, is not the race of the people who built Kilwa, who have been undergoing a continuous process of miscegenation (creolisation), but the class structure of the Swahili towns. In this sense, why is it difficult to say that the monuments and much else was built by the Swahili people of Kilwa as a cultural entity? Anything else is racial chauvinism, whether it is of the colonial rulers or of the new ‘African’ ruling classes to rewrite the history in their own image.

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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