Friday, September 24, 2010


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Are our Children Learning? What about Parents?

Today, ironically a day after Tanzania "received an award for better achievements in implementing the Millenium Development Goal on Education" (The Citizen: 21 September 2010), I attended the launch of 'Are Our Children Learning? Annual Learning Assessment Report - Tanzania 2010'. The report will shortly be made available at .

Expectedly, its statistics - as all 'factual' educational statistcs in the country are - were glaringly saddening. For instance, it was found out that whereas "all children in Standard 3 should be able to read at the Standard 2 story level, less than 1 in 3 (32.7%) can" (p. 1). The situation remains pathetic at Standard 7: "By the time they complete primary school, however, 1 out of every 5 children cannot read the Standard 2 level Story" (p.1). Mind you a total of 42, 033 children in 22, 800 households were assessed accross 30 randomly selected villages per district in 38 districts.

The situation is also drastic when it comes to English. The study found out that "less than 1 in 10 (7.7%)" children in Standard 3 "can read a Standard 2 story level" (p. 1). More worse by "the time they complete primary school, half of all the children (49.1%) cannot read a Standard 2 level English story" (p. 1) We are talking here of a very basic english paragraph - in fact a collection of simple sentences as one of the participants at the launch, Dr. Martha Qorro, highlighted!

Lest one argues, as one participant somehow argued, that the difference between Kiswahili and English comprehension in the findings of the study is very small and so, by inference, the call for teaching in Kiswahili as a Medium of Instruction is unfounded, it is important to stress Dr. Qorro's sharp observation. The paragraph and story they were required to read in Kiswahili, though at a Standard 2 level, was relatively much complex/harder - at the same level - as those they were required to read in English. Upon probing we were told that teaching experts thought if a much complex, albeit Standard 2 level, story and paragraph were given to the children it would be impossible for them to read let alone comprehend and, presumably, the researchers thought this would be impractical for the purposes of comparative assessment of levels.

What does all this mean as far as the Language of Instruction (LOI) in Tanzania is concerned? It simply means that if they had been asked to read a relatively equally complex paragraph and story in English they would have 'failed' miserably compared to the way they performed in Kiswahili. Thus it is still important to factor in LOI if we truly want to make our children learn and thus improve the glaring pathetic level of the state of quality of education in Tanzania.

Nevertheless, taken independently, these scores in Kiswahili and English comprehension reminds us that our education system as far as learning outcomes are concerned is so messed up. Another finding paint the same dim picture: "Only 7 in 10 primary school leavers can do Standard 2 level Mathematics" (p. 3). It is in this regard the following observation and conclusion from the report are so timely:

At present, in Tanzania and elsewhere, much of the focus is on provision of educational inputs, such as classrooms, laboratories, books and teachers, rather than learning outcomes, such as literacy, numeracy, writing, critical thinking and creativity. Since the evidence shows that the inputs are not being translated into learning outcomes, there is a need to realign focus-wide on achieving learning outcomes within ministries responsible for education, training institutions, curriculum development, institutions, curriculum development, examinations, teachers and schools assessment, measures of progress, and political commitments (p. 45)

My question though is: Have the inputs failed us or have we failed them? If teachers are indeed 'inputs' have we surely prepared and deployed teachers who can really teach? Or are we still 'inputing' teachers who are reflected by the 'outcome' of the picture above? In fact, as one of the participant said, it would be very interesting to assess teachers by using these same tests that were used on the children. We may find similar results like those that happened when certain teachers were asked somewhere to do the national examinations that they were meant to mark!

Nonetheless I totally agree with the report that "instead of doing more of what has been done harder or faster it may be time to do something different" (p.46). As for me something different would be to capitalize on one of the findings of the studies, that children with educated mothers tend to perform better - and more dramatically when that parent has attended secondary school. In fact the report found out that "in Standard 3 and 4 these children are five times more likely to be able to read a story in English and more than twice as likely to be able to multiply and read a story in Kiswahili." (p.5). These findings shows why the following point about the role of higher education that was stressed recently by Professor Mahmood Mamdani is so pertinent:

The whole process [of declining university standards] was set into motion in the early 1990s when the Government succumbed to the pressure of the World Bank to cut funds to the university so as to increase funding for primary education. What the Government and the World Bank forgot was that you cannot expand the primary education sector without expanding university education because you need university products in building a strong UPE [Universal Primary Education]. The policy itself was wrong...You cannot have a successful UPE without a strong university system. Their policy was wrong because they assumed that you could let a university system collapse and it would not affect the primary system or secondary system or even the economy and other sectors. A university is like a power generating plant, generating intellectual power which feeds all sectors of the country including industries, businesses, education, health and indeed all other sectors. (Source: Sunday Vision: 21 August 2010)

Indeed we need to educate parents as their education trickle down to their children. The current national rate of adult illiteracy is too shameful - a far cry from the rate we had in the heydays of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere's rallies for Adult Education. As Salma Moulidi alerted us elsewhere, it has rose from about 10% to above 30% within a generation! If parents are such an important educational 'input' to the extent that even "children whose mothers have attended only primary school seem to have a small but significant advantage above children whose mothers have not been in school" (p. 5) as the report shows, we ought to invest heavily and urgently on their - yes, our - education. It is in this regard that I commend the launched report of considering "possibly even parents" (p. 46) in the part of their recommendation that state:

Our analysis and studies worldwide suggest that a core part of the puzzle may be to realign incentives - so that key actors system-wide are recognized for promoting learning" (p. 46).

Let our parents learn. That way our children will and shall learn. After all teachers are parents.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Demere Kitunga: Reading for Change


In a breezy garden in Dar es Salaam is Soma Book Café. The founder and manager is Demere Kitunga; an activist, a feminist and not least a storyteller. Her passion is to read, her aim is to inspire others to do the same.

"Siku moja Matimati, Sultani wa Mangati, Alivaa mayakuti, na vito vitanashati, Na kubebwa kwenye kiti, kwenye vichwa vya umati, Akaivinjarinti, mtukufu jalalati..."

The words are flowing in a melodic yet determined way from the mouth of Demere Kitunga, founder and manager of Soma book Café. It is Friday evening and a poetry session about the forthcoming election in Tanzania is taking place at Soma Book Café in Dar es Salaam.

Despite her stage fright, Demere is on a small stage in the café garden catching the eyes of the crowd while reading aloud a poem about leadership. Reading is her passion, and she wants to share her passion with others.

- Reading is learning. It broadens your scope of knowledge and experience; of other people, other societies, and other periods in history. And it gives you aesthetic pleasure to read, she says.

Demere, who describes her age as ‘fifty-plus’, is originally a publisher. Together with a friend she started Soma Publishing, and in 2008 Soma Book Café came to life. The aim of both initiatives is reading for development.

Besides being a publisher and a reading enthusiast, Demere is a feminist and human rights activist and co-founder of two NGO’s, advocating gender equality and reading, and of NAFASI Art Space, supported by the Embassy of Denmark.

- I am an activist in many ways. I advocate for things I find important and right. I fight for the right to knowledge, Demere explains with a confident look in her eyes.
Ever since Demere Kitunga as a little girl sat in the kitchen with her siblings and listened to her mother telling stories while she was cooking, Demere has been fascinated by the world of stories. After she learned to read, she would read books every day, and soon she had read all the books in the library of her school.

Her mission is to spread her fascination with stories to the people of Tanzania. When she opened Soma Book Café, it was with the main goal to stimulate a stronger reading culture in Tanzania.

- Most formal learning in this country teaches us to view books and reading as a terminal thing that ends up with a certificate and a grade in school. I want to teach the people of Tanzania that reading is an ongoing cultivation of mind and spirit, she says.

Continue Reading Demere's Call(ing) 'Reading for Change' at:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Akiwa Hoi Aomba Mahakama Dakika 20 Ili Ajibu Mashtaka - Ajali Iliosababisha Kifo Cha Dr Simon Eliezer Temu - YMCA 19 March 2010

Na Mwandishi Maalum, Moshi 17/09/2010

Mshtakiwa Bryan Alphonce Tawete mkazi wa Moshi leo alifikishwa mbele ya Hakimu wa Mahakama ya wilaya, Moshi mjini Mheshimiwa Kasebele ambapo alisomewa mashtaka katika maelezo ya awali tayari kuanza kusikilizwa.

Katika taratibu za mahakama, Bryan akiwa anapitishwa katika taratibu za maswali ya uhakiki wa jumla ya mashtaka matatu, ambapo aliyakana yote alianza kuonekana na wasiwasi mkubwa huku akitetemeka na kutokwa na jasho pindi alipohojiwa iwapo aliwahi kufikishwa kwa polisi wa onyo na mlinzi wa amani na kukiri makosa kwa maandishi , ambapo  pia alizidi kukana, lakini alianza kuomba apewe kiti, na kuanza kuuuma uma maneno huku akiomba apewe muda wa kupumzika na kuwa alikuwa akijiskia vibaya.

Awali akiwakilisha mashtaka hayo matatu pamoja na vielelezo, wakili wa serikali Mheshimiwa Mjalula alisema kuwa mnamo April 2010, mshtakiwa Bryan alikiri makosa yote matatu   katika kituo kikuu cha polisi mjini Moshi na pia kwa mlinzi wa amani, jambo lililomfanya hakimu amuulize mshtakiwa kama ana uhakika na majibu anayoyatoa ya kukana taarifa za polisi. Swali lililompa taabu sana kujibu na kuonekana akiweweseka. Hakimu alimruhusu apumzike kwa dakika 20.

Haikupita muda ilisikika sauti ya ndugu na dada zake Bryan kutoka chumba cha mahakama, kama alivyosema mmoja wa mashuhuda, "ghafla  tukasikia kelele za dada wa Bryan Alphonce Tawete akiita Bryan!!! Jamani Bryan!!! -  Bryan  alikuwa amelegea hoi, ndunguze wakambeba wakamtoa nje ya chumba cha mahakama alionekana akipepesa macho, wakamlaza kwenye upepo".

Wakati haya yakitokea, mjane Mrs Elisia Simon Temu alikuwepo mahakamani pamoja na mwanae Dr. Florence Temu na ndugu na jamaa wa karibu na familia. Mmoja wa watoto wa marehemu alionekana amevaa T-Shirt yenye picha ya Baba yake Mzazi Dr Simon Eliezer Temu. Dr Simon Eliezer Temu alifariki kufuatia kugongwa na gari alilokuwa akiliendesha mshtakiwa Bryan siku ya tarehe 19 Machi 2010, katika barabara ipitayo eneo laYMCA- Moshi. Pia wakili wa kujitegemea  wa familia ya Dr Simon Elizer Temu,  Advocate Jonathan Peter  na vijana wake walikuwa miongoni mwa waliokuwepo mahakamani hapo.

Dr Simon Eliezer Temu (77), akiwa mmoja wa Madaktari 12 wa kwanza wa Tanganyika huru, na mtaalam katika magonjwa ya Malaria na mmoja wa waasisi wa National Institute for Medical Research - NIMR, alifariki dunia tarehe 24-Machi 2010, takriban baada ya siku tano katika hospitali ya KCMC Moshi akiwa katika chumba cha wagonjwa mahututi yaani ICU.

Baada ya muda walionekana ndugu wa familia ya mshtakiwa wakishauriana na kurudi  tena mahakamani baada ya dakika kama 20 hivi, na ndipo walipomuhakikishia Mheshimiwa Hakimu Kasebele kuwa  Bryan yuko tayari kuendelea. Hakimu akauliza tena maswali yote, na mshtakiwa akayakana yote na kusema kuwa hajawahi kuandika maelezo yoyote polisi ya kukiri kosa.

Mnamo Machi 19, 2010, kwenye majira ya saa kumi na moja na nusu jioni, Dr Simon Eliezer Temu, akitokea kwenye matembezi yake ya siku, alikuwa akivuka barabara ipitayo eneo la YMCA Moshi, aligongwa na gari aina ya Suzuki Escudo T220 AYC - yenye nembo ya Chama Cha Waalimu Tanzania – kitendo kilichosababisha daktari huyo kuanguka na kuumia sana sehemu za kichwani, na kupoteza fahamu baada ya muda mfupi. Gari hilo  lililomgonga  lilirudishwa nyuma mara moja na kuonekana likimkwepa mwili wa majeruhi aliekuwa amelala kwenye barabara hiyo ya lami huku damu zikimchuruzika kutoka kichwani. Baada ya muda, Dr Temu alisaidiwa kupelekwa KCMC na raia wema akiwemo Kiongozi wa CCM Moshi Vijini Mh. Kingazi na Dereva wake na pia mtoto wa Katibu wa CCM Mkoa Kilimanjaro.

Hapo awali April 2010, kufuatilia tukio hili la kugonga na kukimbia yaani 'hit and run', na baada ya mazishi ya Dr Temu nyumbani kwake Mamba Komakundi - yaliohudhuriwa na mamia ya watu, Polisi wa Usalama Barabarani na Upelelezi Moshi, chini ya uongozi wa Mkuu wa  Polisi wa mkoa Kilimanjaro Bwana Lucas Lifa Ng'hoboko, waliendesha msako mkali na upelelezi kwa kushirikiana na  familia ya Dr Temu na jamii waliweza kufika nyumbani kwa Bryan ambaye ndiye mshtakiwa, na kumchukuwa kwa mahojiano kituo cha polisi cha mjini Moshi kabla ya kumfikisha mahakamani hapo. Gari aina ya Suzuki Escudo yenye namba za usajili T220 AYC, mali ya Chama Cha Waalimu, lililokuwa limeegeshwa katika hotel maarufu mjini Moshi ijulikanayo kama Keys Hotel, lilichukuliwa na kupelekwa katika kituo cha polisi kwa uchunguzi zaidi.

Marehemu, Daktari Mstaafu (77), ameacha mjane, watoto wanne, na wajukuu 4.

Kesi itasikilizwa tena tarehe 19/10/2010 mjini Moshi.
Picha Kuanzia Juu

1. Gari Linalohusika na ajali
2. Picha ya Marehemu
3. Picha ya Marehemu
4. Picha ya Mjane na Binti wakati wa Mazishi

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kijijini Kwetu Kunazidi Kubadilika! (Kuendelea?)

1. 'Wazawa' wa Kijijini Kwetu Wameanza Kurejea Kuwekeza

2. Soko la 'Uasili' (Kiete) Lasogezwa Kupisha Soko la 'Usasa'

4. Barabara ipitayo Hifadhi Mpya ya Taifa Mkomazi Inajengwa

5. Matrekta Yameanza Kutumia Lami Iliyoanza kuwekwa Kijijini

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Asasi ya Tanzania Youth Vision Association (TYVA) imezindua rasmi mradi wa kuhamasisha vijana kupiga kura unaoitwa; “KIJANA NA KURA YAKO 2010”. Uzinduzi huo umefanyika Shule ya Makongo jijini Dar es Salaam. Asasi hiyo itaendeleza harakati zake katika shule nyingine za jiji la Dar es Salaam na Mkoa wa Pwani. Pia asasi itaenda kwa vijiwe/kempu vya vijana mitaani kuwahamasisha vijana.

Sambamba na kuwafuata vijana walipo, asasi pia imezindua blogu ya na kundi katika mtandao wa kijamii wa Facebook kwa jina la “Kuelekea Uchaguzi Mkuu 2010”.

Mradi huu ni wa kujitolea, unaendeshwa na vijana wenyewe pasi ufadhili wa wahisani ama shirika lolote. Lakini, inashirikiana na mashirika yaliyotoa machapisho ya Elimu ya Mpiga Kura kusambaza kwa vijana.

Tunawahamasisha vijana wote watembelee mitandao na kuchangia kwa habari, picha n.k.

Kijana Jitokeze Kupiga Kura 2010!

Frederick Fussi,

Katibu Mtendaji -Tanzania Youth Vision Association

Yet Another Accolade for 'African Writing'!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Philosophy Conference in East Africa 2010

18 - 20 NOVEMBER 2010

As the Conference Organizers, we are happy to inform you that we are preparing for the another Philosophy Conference in East Africa to be held at Blue Pearl Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on the mentioned dates. This conference is a continuation of the Philosophy Conference in East Africa – Towards Critical Thinking, Professionalism and Democracy – event held at Regency Park Hotel (Dar es Salaam, 18 - 20 November 2009).

The theme of this year's conference is:


The topics include, but are not restricted to:

1. Philosophy in Africa today
2. Philosophy in Civic Ethics
3. Philosophy and the Youth
4. Unity and Religious Diversity
5. Global and International Justice
6. Issues of Transitional Justice
7. Human Rights from a Global Perspective
8. Philosophy and the Law

We invite applications from interested individuals who wish to participate and present a paper on any of the topics above. Please indicate the provisional title of your talk in your application. Applications should be sent to by 30 September 2010.

The Conference fee is USD 200 per participant which will cover – breakfast, lunch, evening coffee and stationeries for three days. Participants will have to cover their own accommodation and transport expenses. Conference fee should be deposited to PHATA account at CRDB BANK-UDSM BRANCH, A/C NO 01J1089241000. For those who wish organizers to arrange their accommodation at the Blue Pearl Hotel should inform us for further arrangements.
For East African participants with no institutional funding:

We are currently negotiating funds to cover some of the expenses of those participants who are unable to secure funds from their own institutions. Should your participation depend on us providing funds for your attendance, please notify us on your application.

This Conference is hosted by the Philosophy Association of Tanzania (PHATA) in collaboration with: The Philosophy Unit, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies -University of Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Philosophy - Makerere University Uganda; Mores – Research Project /Social and Moral Philosophy -University of Helsinki, Finland.

We look forward to receiving your applications within the given deadline.

With kind regards,

Alex Manonga
Chairperson -PHATA

For general enquiries, please contact:

Alex Manonga
Philosophy Association of Tanzania
c/o Philosophy Unit,
University of Dar es Salaam
PO Box 35042 Dar es Salaam
Tel. +255 75 460 2489
Fax. +255 22 241 0648

Annamari Vitikainen
Social and Moral Philosophy
Dept. of Political and Economic Studies
University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 50 415 4933
Fax. +358 9 191 29273

Following the Philosophy East Africa Conference held in Dar es Salaam on 18 -20 November 2009, it was proposed during the Conference that there should be established national organisations within East African States that would stimulate growth and development of philosophy in the region.

I am happy therefore to inform you that, for the case of Tanzania, the Philosophy Association, has successfully came into being, officially, on 24 February 2010.It currently operates under the Philosophy Unit, University of Dar es Salaam.

The following are some of its objectives:

- To bring together different scholars for the purpose of building foundation of philosophy in Tanzania
- To exploit the opportunity of scholars being open to new ideas more than at any other time before, and to appreciate their importance in building a just and equitable society .
- To provide an opportunity for young thinkers to grow by exposing them to wide range of issues.
- To conduct and participate in research carried out on issues related to philosophy.
- To encourage and assist where necessary students to study Philosophy.
- Assist the government and other development partners on provision of civic education to create more awareness on philosophy of democracy, human rights, rule of law and good governance to youths.
- Develop and promoting African philosophy by encouraging use of Kiswahili as language of learning Philosophy.

I hope to receive your suggestions and, or support for the achievement of these objectives.

Thanking you in advance

Yours truly,

Immaculate Dominic
Secretary General

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Presidential Solutions to Land Reform in Africa

The recently ended presidential roundtable held in Dar es Salaam under the auspices of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC) at Boston University has elicited the exchange below between one of its discussants and the then chairman of the then Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Tanzania - chip in and let the debate continue beyond the inner (presidential) circle!

Notes from the African Presidential Round Table: Leadership Solutions to Land Reform in Africa

I was invited to attend this event held in Dar es Salaam on 30th and 31st August and participated as one of the discussants, amongst quite a lot of others. My immediate neighbors at the table - Anver Versi (editor of African Business and African Banker magazines) and Moeletsi Mbeki (one time journalist, now best known as Thabo’s brother, but also big business man, his company Endemol is behind Big Brother Africa) – gives some indication of the type of people participating.

Amongst the ex President’s attending were Kenneth Kaunda and John Kufour. Benjamin Mkapa also a key player not least due to his role in the UN’s Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (CLEP).

The main speakers were: Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, University of Pennsylvania, giving a context input entitled Demographics and the Implications for Land Reform; Hernando de Soto, Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), who under the title The Key to Capital Formation and Poverty Reduction presented his same basic and simplistic argument about the importance of legible registration of the property of the poor in order to unleash the value of the capital they have and bring them into the modern capitalist world; and Klaus Deininger, World Bank, who talked on The Political Challenges of Land Reform, but actually focused on the agricultural potential in African on a macro level calculated largely from satellite information and experiences of land titling/registration in Ethiopia and Rwanda (Important initiatives for empirical research), he did at least give a more honest sense of the complexities of land reforms.

Amongst other omissions none of them talked about those excluded (land registration is by definition as much about the exclusion of others as the strengthening of the rights of some), or the power relations that will determine who benefits whether you have land registration or not. These power relations play themselves out at the level of international relations between countries and the level of household, in particular with regard to gender relations.

This is clearly a class project and a fairly sophisticated one. The event was largely USAID funded, I saw Coca Cola and Chevron logos as well, and clearly had a neo-liberal and capitalist modernization agenda. Papers on land grabbing that I copied and gave to the organizers to circulate somehow were not circulated. While there was some, limited, space for us privileged to be at the table to talk, there was no space in the programme for a proper input of an alternative view point, or one that may be critical of de Soto and the World Bank.

Interesting in the way this is being run is the race dimension with almost all the main organizers, the US government representatives, and a lot of the academics and students being African American. The former US Ambassador to Tanzania, Charles Stith, runs APARC. The positive dimensions to the advancement of African and African American leaders and a solidarity with the diaspora should not blind us to the class project clearly being driven, even if with some of the best intentions, in this case.

MKURABITA, the property and business formalization programme in Tanzania was referred to quite a bit by de Soto and others as something of a success. It strikes me that there is a need for much stronger empirical research on what is happening - working and not, from the perspective of the excluded as well as included – with land in Tanzania under the land laws that have been in place for about ten years now as well as experiences in other countries like the one Deininger was referring to. We need to grapple with the challenges of formalization versus informal, individual versus communal, in the context of the encroachment of ‘empire’. We need good empirical research to inform discussions on this and what can work in the interests of people in the region.

The discussions were certainly interesting and I did manage to make some inputs, put land grabbing on the agenda, pointed out the importance of issues of power relations, and circulated to some participants documents on land grabbing as well as some critiques of de Soto’s thesis.

It was positive to see that some African leaders and officials are also looking at the land issue more critically, were concerned with land grabbing, and were not just buying the line from the organizers and de Soto. More worrying was the close friendliness of some of the leaders with de Soto and the general, all too common, cozy relations between the rich and the political leaders at this type of exclusive event.

There were quite a lot of students from Universities in Africa and USA as well as some academics. Good to expose students to these issues, important to try and give a balanced and more critical perspective.

This forum is one that is potentially influential given the influential people there, the media coverage (front page story in Tanzania today), and they are talking about how to make it more influential by strengthening links with current leaders.

It was useful to speak to people from the Land Policy Initiative that has been writing the Framework and Guidelines On Land Policy In Africa as well as others from the African Union (AU) working on land issues.

The final version of the Framework and Guidelines On Land Policy In Africa is going to printers soon and is due to be discussed and launched at the AU Agriculture Ministers meeting in Lilongwe Malawi 28-29 October. I believe this will be a good opportunity for lobby and media work on land and food issues.

The AU is also starting to draw up policy guidelines on pastoralism. There may be a consultation end September in which people from pastoralist organisations should be invited.

A highlight was Kenneth Kaunda, one evening, singing a love song and talking with feeling about HIV/Aids and the death of his son from Aids.

Marc Wegerif, 1 September 2010.
(I write in my personal capacity)

Preliminary Reaction from Professor Issa Shivji

Thanks Marc for this excellent notes and assessment of the 'jamboree of the big'. I couldn't agree with you more that this issue is centrally a CLASS project and very central to the new wave of primitive accumulation. In effect, in a continent of small producers - whether agriculturalists or pastoralists - the so-called privatization and individualization of property in land (which in effect is what de soto/world bank project is all about) is the 'royal road' to dispossession. And this has been shown again and again in all the so-called experiments of this type of land reform. Kenya's consolidation and registration programme of the 50s, which was a political response to the armed struggle of the Land Freedom Army (or the so-called Mau Mau is a classical illustration of what (undiluted) ITR (Individualization, Titling and Registration) does in Africa.

Mwalimu Nyerere's famous "mali ya taifa' ['national property' ]response to the proposals of the colonial government in the late 50s was precisely an answer to exactly the same proposal (ITR) made in the Report of the East African Royal Commission (1953-54).

What has been put forward as a novel and profound idea by Hernando de Sotto and supported by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Madeleine Albright, among others, is actually nothing new and dwarfed by the far more profoundly and empirically based arguments of the Royal Commission.

When the de sotto team first came to Tanzania, one of theirs from the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) came to see me. He thought he had come here to write on a clean slate. When I told him that his ideas were outdated by at least 50 years and that there has been an enormous debate on ITR in this part of the world since the Royal Commission, he was both surprised (because he didn't know anything about the Royal Commission) and, I guess, offended. His ego was hurt because I told him in so many words that they, at the least, ought to have examined what had been done on the issue - even as a background - before they set on the path of recommending land reform.

One does not have to go as far back as the 50s of the last century. 20 years ago when the Land Commission published its report we had another round of debate on this issue. Even that has been forgotten. Unfortunately, our activists and NGOs too, like politicians and consultants, have short memories. You hardly hear people recalling these important interventions and debates in the fora they participate in.

The point about de soto is neither an issue of formalization nor legalization. By that, if de Soto means legal/statutory recognition of customary titles/ownership (because customary is informal to him), then that is exactly what was recommended by the Land Commission and has also been done by the Land Acts (Hati za Mila ['Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy'] are formal, for all intents and purposes they are statutory titles). But de soto wants a particular type of formalization under the western/capitalist legal regime of ITR. In fact, his team was very disappointed and frustrated by this so-called Hati za Mila etc. (I think HAKIARDHI [Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI) can attest to that.)

I agree with you that these ideas must be expressed in different fora. But I think this roundtable may be a good opportunity to work towards organizing an alternative roundtable, as a straight counterpoint to the de soto/world bank/presidential roundtable. These guys can then be invited, just as they invited you, and students and academics, (of course as tokens). Perhaps this could be coordinated with colleagues in Kenya and Uganda and also the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS) Summer School. (You may also invite, if you like, this gentleman reverend Charles Stith!!)

Oh! I have gone beyond a short note of thanks. Pardon me.

But before I close, I think, there are also new elements that should be duly taken account of when we launch a new round of debate on ITR or formalization etc. And these new elements include; (1) of course, land grabbing; (2) "discovery" of Africa as the most endowed land to feed the world (never mind that it cannot feed its own people; who are every day of the Lord bombarded with ads to buy their bread and margarine and maize- mealy from supermarkets -comparative advantage - since the productivity of the African peasant is abysmally low, not to speak of his/her proverbial laziness!). (3) land for biofuels spearheaded by Brazil, where the ruling class in consort with imperialism is destroying its Amazons and its inhabitants); (4) "new" forms of accumulation under neo-liberalism driven by speculative capital (e.g. development of futures in commodity - food).

We have very good radical political economists from India and elsewhere who could do excellent expose of these issues.)

Ok, Marc, let's continue conversing. To kick off, you may wish to circulate your notes and my response more widely.

Kambi za Vijana Ifakara/Kilombero - Kulikoni?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kagame on Ujamaa, Imidugudu and Stubbornness

Paul Kagame, the resolute leader of Rwanda, had the following to say about 'Africans and our Ways' when interviewed by Jenerali Ulimwengu - You can read the whole interview in The Citizen (1 September 2010: 10 -11)
Let nobody tell you lies. These people don't want (Africans to move out of their poverty). They will always say the right things, but when it comes to doing they will always...keep us...and it's really unfortunate that Africans don't understand this. The West, this developed world, don't want us to get out of poverty, because we must remain beholden of them; and they must always be the do-gooders who (do things for you). If you break out of that, or if you are seen to be breaking out of that, you are committing an offense (and you will be punished)....

And I'm saying this from real practice. For me I've come to believe this because I've seen it, I've experienced it. It comes from many things. It's like they are saying, these stubborn Rwandans, by that they are saying, these stubborn Africans. And it's even dangerous because you may infect others with this spirit of being rebellious, doing things your way. I believe it, I experience it, I confront people on this everyday....

I don't even bring it up except where it really concerns what I'm doing because it keeps bringing up other backlashes. Then they will bring up human rights...repression...they divert you from doing what matters to you, explaining yourself everyday...Oh, someone fell off his bicycle and died. We are not sure whether there wasn't a police hand or a government hand. So they create these suspicions so that everyday you are caught up in explaining yourself....

When our officials in the ministry of finance and elsewhere meet with these middle level officials of these powers they are always asked: Why are you doing this? Why didn't you tell us? And...we respond by saying, why do we have to tell you? Why must we first clear it with you? They say they are our partners, but at the same they also own us and own these processes....

In 1995, when we talked about imidugudu (local assemblies) we were told...oh, you see you are going to force people to live together, you are bringing Ujamaa that failed in Tanzania...and we said, no, we are not bringing Ujamaa, and whatever Ujamaa was, we are not interfering with land and property...we are not taking anything away from anybody. We went to the extent of telling them, but even you, in Europe and other places, you live in imidugudu. We overfly all these areas and we see imidugudu. So what's wrong when we also want to do it? And even Ujamaa if it was the choice of Tanzanians, what is wrong?

Then later on, surprisingly, they turned around and accepted it, only giving it another name, these so-called millenium villages.

The same people who were opposed to our concept have it under another name. Actually they have seen that where we established imidugudu, they have served people well....

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