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Monday, February 28, 2011

MHESHIMIWA RAIS NDIO TATIZO LA UMEME MMELIKUTA - MTALIACHA HIVYO MKITOKA?

IFUATAYO NI SEHEMU YA HOTUBA YA RAIS:

Hali ya Umeme

Ndugu wananchi,
Jambo la nne ni hali ya umeme. *Kama mnavyofahamu, hali ya upatikanaji wa umeme nchini ni mbaya. *Chanzo cha matatizo ni kupungua sana kwa maji katika Bwawa kubwa la Mtera. * *Hadi jana kina cha Bwawa hilo kimeshuka hadi kufikia mita 691.25 ambacho ni pungufu kwa mita 7. *Kwa sasa zimebaki *mita 1.25 tu juu ya kiwango cha chini kinachoruhusiwa kuendesha mitambo ya kuzalisha umeme.

Tarehe 15 Februari, 2011, Baraza la Mawaziri lilijadili na kuidhinisha mpango wa dharura wa TANESCO wa kukodi mitambo ya kuzalisha MW 260 za umeme. *Baraza limeitaka Bodi na Menejimenti ya TANESCO kuhakikisha kuwa mchakato huo unakamilika mapema iwezekanavyo ili kupunguza makali na athari za ukosefu mkubwa wa umeme kwa jamii na uchumi wa nchi. *Aidha, imesisitizwa kuwa pamoja na udharura uliokuwepo sheria na taratibu za manunuzi ya umma vizingatiwe. *Pia, wahakikishe kuwa mkataba wataoingia uwe ni wenye maslahi kwa taifa. * Vile vile, watoa huduma wawe ni makampuni yanayofahamika na yenye sifa stahiki na kuaminika.

Natambua kuwa Bodi na Mejemienti ya Shirika la Umeme, wanaendelea na mchakato wa kupata umeme huo wa dharura kati ya sasa na Julai, 2011.

Ndugu Wananchi;
Tulipopata tatizo kama hili mwaka 2006/2007 tuliamua kuwa tuanze safari ya kupunguza kutegemea mno umeme wa nguvu ya maji kwa kuongeza matumizi ya vyanzo vingine vya nishati. *Mpango umetengenezwa na utekelezaji wake unaendelea. *Tayari umeme wa MW 145 wa kutokana na gesi asilia umeongezwa kwa kugharamiwa na Serikali. Aidha, mwisho wa mwaka huu MW 160 zitaongezeka yaani MW 100 Dar es Salaam na MW 60 Mwanza kwa gharama za Serikali.

Bahati mbaya kutokana na matatizo ya fedha ya kimataifa, wawekezaji wa sekta binafsi wa kuzalisha MW 300 za umeme wa gesi asilia pale Mtwara walijiondoa. *Umeme huo ungekuwa tayari umeshaingizwa katika gridi ya taifa hivi sasa na kuondoa tatizo la sasa. *Wawekezaji wengine wamepatikana na mazungumzo yanaendelea vizuri. *Mradi wa Kiwira umecheleweshwa na mchakato wa kubadili milki na kupata mkopo wa dola za Marekani 400 milioni za kuwezesha ujenzi wa kituo cha kuzalisha MW 200. *Suala la kubadili milki limefikia ukingoni na mchakato wa kupata mkopo unaendelea kwa matumaini. *

Ndugu Wananchi;
​Waswahili wana msemo usemao “jitihada za mwanadamu hazishindi kudra ya Mwenyezi Mungu”. *Bahati mbaya sana tatizo la ukame limetukuta tena wakati mipango hiyo haijakamilika. *Miaka miwili ijayo hali itakuwa tofauti sana kwani miradi hii na mingine kadhaa itakuwa imekamilika na kulihakikishia taifa uhakika wa umeme.
*
Naomba ndugu zangu muelewe kuwa miradi hii huchukua muda kukamilika. *Mitambo huchukua muda kutengenezwa na ujenzi wa kituo nao pia. *Ingekuwa ni mitambo ya kununua tu dukani tungefanya hivyo na kulimaliza mara moja tatizo hili. *Tena lingeisha zamani na wala sisi tusingelikuta. *Subira yavuta heri.

CHANZO: HOTUBA YA RAIS WA JAMHURI YA MUUNGANO WA TANZANIA, MHESHIMIWA JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, KWA WANANCHI, 28 FEBRUARI, 2011

Experiencing Landless Rural Workers Movement

AN MST EXPERIENCE

By Marc Wegerif

The sun was setting as we arrived at the MST (Landless Rural Workers Movement - http://www.mstbrazil.org/) settlement of Itapeva, Brazil. The five of us stretched as we climbed out of the small Fiat after six hours on the road from Sao Paulo. I had been lucky to sit in the front passenger seat alongside our driver while Yara, a student who was our translator, was squashed between Eric, the Oxfam (http://www.oxfam.org)economic/ Justice Campaign Manager from West Africa, and Baha, a researcher with the land rights organization HakiArdhi (http://www.hakiardhi.org/) in Tanzania. We were here to find out more about the MST.

Earlier that day we had been in the MST office in Sao Paulo. The office in a nondescript house in a mostly residential neighborhood had been bought with the proceeds from a photo exhibition of MST pictures taken by a well known photographer. The lack of any signs of MST on or outside the house indicated the threat that MST remains under. Inside the house were neat offices with walls and shelves filled with MST posters and publications as well as gifts from comrades in other parts of the country and the world. We left a Tingatinga (http://www.tingatinga.org/index.html) painting from Tanzania to add more color to the collection.

Joachim who worked on International relations gave us an overview of the history of Brazil that led to the unequal land relations of today and the land occupations of the late 70s that were the precursor to the formation of MST in 1984. He explained the MST’s current main activities, successes, challenges and key principles: mass organization; independence from political or union organizations; no ‘Presidents’ or figure heads, rather collective organization built from the ground up; self criticism; permanent study; and work.

Now we were going to see for ourselves a little bit of the reality of life in the MST. We were warmly welcomed into the small office of the Itapeva settlement and met Adalberto, known in the area as ‘Bell’, who was to be our guide. As well as being the hub for the administration of the settlement the office also provided other community services and as we walked in we found a group of youth there surfing the internet. After eating Bell took us for a short drive around part of the settlement, his large farmer’s hands on the wheel of the small car had clearly seen many years of hard work.

A few kilometers away we found Agrivilla 1, also known as Bairro (Neighborhood) 13th May 1984, the date of the first occupation. Along the road were signs put up by the government advertising their support for the settlement, graffiti covered these as the MST resented the self promotion of the government and claimed the success of the settlement as theirs. The state’s first response had been evictions and they only later provided support when forced to. The MST had their own signs in each settlement noting the date of the ‘conquest’ of the land. Apart from the contested signs it was a neat village with rows of houses along a main road and down some side streets accommodating the hundred and seven families that lived there. This is also where the dairy operation, including cheese making, and the warehouses of the marketing and supply cooperative (COAPRI) that Bell runs is located.
We stopped on the way back at a shop in Agrivilla 4 (another MST settlement) run by one of the residents. The cold beer and the cool evening both enjoyed on the porch of the shop were most welcome after our long day. Several people from the village were also relaxing there and others passed, most greeting Bell on the way. With the assistance of our translator I talked with Lucas who had come to the shop with his daughter. Lucas had been a farm worker on this same land when it was owned by a Dutch company. He had been approached to join MST in preparing for the occupation of the land, but first did not think it would work out. Then he woke one morning to find hundreds of people arriving with flags and tools to work the land. The police were there also and after 30 days the occupiers were evicted. But they continued the struggle to get the land until eventually they succeeded. Lucas decided to join and is now glad he is no longer a low paid laborer on someone else’s land. He explained how he has his own house and works for himself on his 15 hectares where he grows beans, maize, soy and other crops. Some of these he sells, along with other farmers, through COAPRI that helps to get better prices for their crops.
The following morning we shared breakfast with students and teachers of the MST ecological agriculture college that is located in the settlement. We sat on rough benches of the dining room that had a roof and concrete floor, but no walls. The bread, butter, milk, eggs, jam and cheese we ate were all products of the settlement and the different cooperatives.
At breakfast we spoke to Eliana. She was born and grew up in the notorious favelas of Rio, the daughter of immigrants to the city from the North East of Brazil. When she left home as a young woman she went to the rural areas with her partner and became involved with the MST joining an occupation. She joined a number of different occupations, studied and now, still looking young and full of enthusiasm, she has been a militant in MST for 12 years and is part of a four person coordination group running the 3 year agriculture course. There are currently 31 students, all from MST settlements or occupations, who get taught by a variety of people drawn from within MST and different universities, many of them assisting at the college as volunteers. The students have to do practical work both in the field set aside for the college in the Itapeva settlement and back at their settlements and occupations. With frequent bursts of laughter Eliana explains how the college runs including telling us about the gender imbalance; there are 20 male students and 11 women. She does note though that the members of the Coordination running the course are all women.

The students, many of them young people, but also some older activists are going to graduate in the next month and then go to their settlements or to assist in other settlements. The training has focused on organic and ecologically sustainable agricultural practices that the MST promotes. They will be a key resource in the growth of the productive base that is so important to the lives of MST members and the life and dynamism of the movement itself.

After breakfast Bell squeezed his large frame into a small Volkswagen belonging to the cooperative and we set off driving through another part of the settlement. On the way we found the milk truck from the cooperative collecting milk from the containers left along the road by the different farmers. Bell explained that not all of the residents of the MST settlements are members of the cooperative, but some farmers from outside the settlement have joined the cooperative to benefit from its services.

In another village we found the one production cooperative (COPAVA) in the settlement. 30 families pooled their land and their agrarian reform grants to set up collective production, buying larger equipment and also setting up processing and storage facilities. The majority of families in the new settlement decided to farm their own land individually.

Gamil, who is a member of the Regional Directorship of MST as well as COPAVA, shared his experiences of the land occupations, evictions and life on the side of the road going back to the 1980s. “In the end it was worth it, I had been a tenant on someone else’s land and had nowhere else to go” he stated and also explained the importance of the camps and occupations as a place of learning and political formation. Gamil was less positive about the attitude of people today who “don’t have the same spirit of struggle”, some of this due to the political changes, which make people wait for the government to deliver and also the comfort of their lives now in the settlements.

Zezezinho, a squat muscular man, showed us around the farm that the cooperative owns. They grow wheat, rice, beans, maize and soy. They also produce and sell bread, vegetables, milk, pork and cachaça (a Brazilian cane spirit). We passed a large combine harvester in the yard and a building under construction where the cachaça is brewed, but with the extension will also become a refinery for producing their own ethanol for fueling their vehicles. We passed the animal stables and Zezezinho pointed out the boundaries of the farm including a small piece of forest on the other side of the valley that they are preserving as a place to walk and where the children like to play. At the other end of the property a row of small, but neat houses are almost completed. These are being built by the cooperative for their children, the next generation who have grown up in the settlement and are now young adults with their own families. They also have an herb garden where with over 90 species of herbs, some grown for medicinal use. Next to this they are planting a variety of indigenous trees and the all important football field as well as a preschool. At the end of the tour we stopped at the farm shop and some of us tried the cachaça, poured from a barrel on the shop counter.
Having seen the settlements that have now been in place for some decades we wanted to see an occupation. On the drive Bell told us a bit about himself. He is the son of a small farmer, but along with his brothers and sisters had no prospect to get enough land to live on. He joined MST and the occupations in Itapevo. He was encouraged in MST to study and got a first degree, now he is working on his Masters in Economics. The course is set up as a collaboration between MST and a University. When we asked him what he would do when he had the Masters he was adamant that he would continue to be a militant with the MST. For now Bell runs the marketing cooperative grappling daily with how to make farming viable for its members, in future he could be deployed to another task. As a militant he has not got land of his own yet, he gets to live in a simple house in the settlement and receives a small monthly allowance. More importantly the MST has given him a life and a purpose, he has no interest in another job and in any case he said the type of economics he was studying was not what the capitalist businesses wanted.

We were close to the occupation, I got out to open a gate and we went down a narrow farm track, then over the next hill we could see the black plastic of the typical MST camp and the MST flags on tall poles marking the beginning of their area. The shacks of the settlement were spread alongside the farm track providing homes for 42 families that are staking their claim to this land with their occupation, they have also taken other actions such as occupying the office of INCRA (the National Institute for Colonization [Settlement] and Agrarian Reform) for four days. MST have found out that this land, belonging to a University is not fulfilling its ‘social function’ as prescribed in the Brazilian constitution. The people using the land have got it corruptly and some of the land is not fully used. The families are all landless and are using this constitutional space to demand that the state allocate the land officially to them so that they can be secure there, improve their houses and invest in production. As Joachim had told us in Sao Paulo “our struggle is that the law will be implemented, fully accomplished”. These families have been organizing for years and occupied other land before, but they were evicted. Some families gave up and left, the less committed being weeded out through the hard life on the side of the road and in the camps, others like Nilsa have continued. They now have support from the local priest, the mayor and some of the deputies in the regional government and are hopeful they will soon be secured on the land.

Nilsa who is living in the camp with her husband and their five children is one of the coordinators. She showed me the cramped shack where her family sleeps and the collective kitchen that a different “nucleus group” takes responsibility for each day. The store room with its sacks of rice and beans and large containers of oil, has food mostly provided by settlements like the ones at Itapevo, but there are no luxury items. The water is collected from a natural spring a few hundred metres from the main camp.
It is the nucleas groups of around ten families each that run the camp and from each group put forward one women and one man to form the coordination for the camp. The camp Coordination, along with similar structures from the settlements, in turn send a woman and man to form the regional coordination and so on up to the state and national levels. This rooting of all leadership in the experiences of the camps and then the settlements is one of the keys to the success of MST. No leader can simply be elected to a senior position unless they have come through the struggles of occupation, and then when settlements are established the equally challenging struggles of production and economic survival.

Nilsa came from the north of Brazil where she lived in the slums and could not find work. Her brother who is part of the Itapevo settlement encouraged here to come and join the occupation. Despite the rough living conditions she is already extremely happy for her children and beams with pride as she watches them playing on the grass. The children are also now enrolled in school and are collected by a school bus in the morning. “It is much safer and healthier here. There is fresh air and space. There was so much drugs and violence where we lived before” Nilsa explained.
Our visit was short, but we got a good sense of some of the achievements as well as challenges of the MST. The life in the camps is not easy and maintaining the commitment to a larger social transformation is a challenge in the settlements where people have got the better life they struggled for. What stood out for me was that through the MST people who are outcasts in the capitalist society, so dominant around the world today, are creating lives of meaning for themselves. Through the tough years in occupations and camps and then in running the settlements those that have the resolve to stay with the MST and the struggle for land are shaping themselves and the society around them. They are creating more sustainable communities from the ecological production models used to the social organization that keeps them together. They have also, along with other social movements, been drivers of the leftward shift in Brazilian politics that has seen the rise to power of the ruling Workers Party (PT) under Lula De Silva’s leadership. The formation of the Workers Party was around the same time as that of the MST and Lula addressed the inaugural meeting of MST in 1984 and subsequent national congresses, but the MST has always remained staunchly independent. They support policies they like and still vociferously criticize the failures of the state, even under Lula’s leadership. Mass organization and occupations remain the key tactics.
The Tingatinga art work and South African Vuvuzelas we left behind were an inadequate gift for the generosity of the hard working people of the Itapeva settlement who had hosted us. As we took to the road the Fiat was even fuller than when we had arrived. As well as gifts of posters and educational materials we had received there were products from the land including cheese from Bell’s cooperative and of course a bottle of cachaça.
Marc Wegerif. February 2011
Oxfam Economic Justice Campaign Coordinator in Horn East and Central Africa

THE DAR ES SALAAM RENAISSANCE

The Dar es Salaam Renaissance

By Chambi Chachage

Dar es Salaam is abuzz. It’s giving birth to a novel artistic landscape. Well, at least new in scope.

A cursory look at http://www.everythingdar.com/ and other calendars gives a glimpse of what is happening in Dar on a daily basis. Of particular interest are the originality, novelty and locality of oratory and literary expressions. They remind one of the making of the Harlem Renaissance.

Just to recap; the Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that partly swept New York City in the early 20th century. It produced music luminaries such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and Duke Ellington. The movement also produced great poets such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay. It was in these times that the famous Apollo theatre came into being.

The works of these artists and artistes are still immortalized in the African imagination. Langston Hughes’ poem ‘A Dream Deferred’ continues to inspire critiques of the post-colonial ‘African Condition’ no wonder one voluminous biography is entitled ‘Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred.’ It is also not surprising that Ella Fitzgerald jazz song ‘Drop Me off in Harlem’ was also used as a soundtrack in the movie ‘Malcolm X’ starring Denzel Washington. And even today writers are still grappling with Countee Cullen’s poetic question: ‘What is Africa to me?’

Such is a fervour one finds in Dar to the extent that at the risk of engaging in a stereotypical linear comparison it is tempting to refer to all this as ‘The Dar es Salaam Renaissance.’ Of course the term ‘Renaissance’ is not as innocent especially when viewed in the context of what happened to Africa and the then so-called ‘New World’ after the European Renaissance. Yet it is a term that captures well the cultural awakening that tends to usher social change in any society.

It is in this regard that we need to pay close attention to what is happening in Dar’s cultural space for in it are seeds of a social transformation-cum-revolution. What do you see when you encounter youngsters with locally produced T-shirts with Kiswahili or ‘Kiswanglish’ messages such as ‘Harakati…’ and ‘Na-struggle…’? Or what do you hear when you listen to them rapping about societal injustice. Mind you these artistic products are not made by NGOs or donor money!

What is interesting is that this renaissance in Dar es Salaam is pulling people from all walks of life and age as it crystallizes a social consciousness necessary for societal transformation. The 'maiden' Pen &Mic event attests to that. It featured poetic expressions from the likes of Vitali Maembe, Saida Yahya-Othman, Fid Q, Langa Sarakikya, Walter Bgoya and Mzungu Kichaa. You can read a bit about the event or relive it altogether at http://vijana.fm/2011/02/09/pen-mic/.

Yet that is not the only space in Dar. There is Fanani Flava Poetry Club that meets every last Tuesday of the month at A Novel Idea Bookshop in Slipway. Who knows; maybe a century from now its blog at http://fananiflava.blogspot.com/ will be one of the leading archives of the Dar es Salaam Renaissance. Surely such a space need to expand lest it become, if not remain, elitist.

Last but not least there is Soma Book Café at http://www.soma.or.tz/ and it Soma Literary Magazine among yet many others that provide a space for fusing oral and literary consciousness. Interestingly, the upcoming issue of the magazine features Maya Wegerif whose poem ‘who tells our story?’ at http://mayawegerif.blogspot.com/ is a recipe for an African (cultural) revolution.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Honoring Our Departed Intellectuals: A Species Named After A Tanzanian Professor

A number of our great minds have gone unnoticed even in our Wanazuoni Forum. For instance, Prof. Ernest C. Njau, that forecasting maestro as this CV of his attests, died recently and one can hardly notice a public eulogy. It is thus touching to read the following honor bestowed on Prof. Said Kapilima and it is my hope that we will document the works of all these doyens who have attempted to help Tanzanians make sense of their world:

"An ancient cat-like crocodile ... has been discovered in Tanzania...The creature...has been named Pakasuchus kapilimai, meaning “Kapilima’s croco-cat”. “Paka” means cat in Ki-Swahili...“-suchus” comes from the ancient Greek for crocodile, and the species name “kapilimai” honours the late Professor Saidi Kapilima, of the University of Dar-es Salaam, a leader of the project that made the discovery" - Mark Henderson on Newly discovered ‘croco-cat’ provides link to Earth’s convergent evolution in The Times (05/09/2010)

Disclaimer:
Posting this does not mean in any way that I subscribe to the evolution theory that purpots that this world/earth is millions of years old.

People Have Spoken: The Voices Of Loliondo

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A PEACEFUL GIRAFFE CALLED TANZANIA

A Peaceful Giraffe Called Tanzania
It is indeed a marvellous creature. Seemingly slow in motion. Elegantly tall yet lowly. Peaceful.

That is how one may describe a giraffe. In a way the description is associated with Tanzania. For sure it’s a spectacular country. Apparently sluggish in action. Big yet impoverished. Tranquil.

No wonder the giraffe has been the de facto national symbol even before Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form Tanzania in 1964. It is equally not surprising that peace and tranquillity have been the mantra since the times of the founding father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Air Tanzania, the ailing national carrier, has a giraffe as its emblem. The women’s national team is even called Twiga Stars as in ‘Giraffe Stars.’ Ironically, the flag of colonial Tanganyika had a giraffe on it. Out of the ‘Big Five’ that inhabits this part of the world one wonders why British colonialists picked the gentle giraffe. Why not the roaring lion? Or the storming rhinoceros?

In the realm of national iconography the Americans have their predatory eagle. The Chinese have their fiery dragon. Even the ancients Babylonians and Greeks had their ravaging lion and raging leopard respectively. All attempted to reflect the boldness of their societies and states.

Could it be that Tanzania opted for a pacifying icon? Maybe the national building project was all about forging a cohesive community devoid of resistance? If not, why opt for the calm giraffe!

Interestingly, this history of the African giraffe iconography dates back to medieval times. Abdul Sheriff’s (2010) book on Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam cite an interesting anecdote on the subject. Tanzanians could get a lesson or two from it.

When the Chinese expedition in the 15th century saw a giraffe from the African coast in Bengal, Sheriff notes, it arose their curiosity. After persuading its owner to send the animal to China as a tribute, “it created a tremendous stir” there not least because the Chinese identified it with “the fabled k’i-lin or unicorn, an animal associated with an age of exceptional peace and prosperity.”

To them the giraffe “was a sign of Heaven’s favour and proof of the virtue of the Emperor.” Why? Because it “ate only herbs and did no harm to a living being.” They even eulogized it in poems. In fact in 1414 Emperor Yung-Lo who was behind Zheng He’s expeditions thus stated: “If the world is at peace, even without k’i-lins there is nothing that hinders good government.”

The irony is that the romanticized gentle giraffe never actually brought peace in the land of the dragon. Sheriff thus sums up what transpired in Yung-Lo’s Empire: “By the end of his reign, despite a procession of giraffes with just about every tribute mission, China was not at peace.”

If the dubious evolution theory is anything to go by then the peaceful giraffe called Tanzania is mutating into a restless creature. What has recently happened in Arusha is a tip of the iceberg. So are the numerous student protests across the country let alone the people’s rage at the power rationing and the inexplicable bomb explosions in Gongo la Mboto. These are signs of the times.

What is becoming a proverbial gentle giraffe is ironically resorting to what it does best when it is pushed to the limit –‘kicking with its large heavy hooves’. One wonders what will be kicked out.

© Chambi Chachage

Researchers and Journalists: Wrong Bedfellows?

Researchers and Journalists: Wrong Bedfellows?

We ‘don’t see eye to eye’. They ‘don’t trust us’. We ‘don’t mingle’. They ‘don’t respect us’.

These kinds of sentiments capture the way researchers and journalists generally feel about each other. They were even echoed in a recent Panos Eastern Africa Media and Researchers Training held in Tanzania. The rationale, as you can guess, was to bridge the gap between these groups.

As someone who straddles the two professions as the proverbial bat I relate to both parties. On the one hand I complain about the way some journalists present what I say or write as a researcher. Yet I am at the forefront of criticizing researchers who withhold their findings from those of us who write in the media. In fact I haven’t yet got hold of a report from a research that I participated in three years ago. The last time I asked for it I was told I will leak it as any journo!

Depending on your vantage point it is tempting to dismiss one side of the story. That is why it is so important to deal with the danger of a single story so eloquently exposed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her TED talk. What is a better way of doing so than juxtaposing storytellers?

So here we go with what was said in Panos’ journalists-researchers talk: “The researchers always take away our ideas and they always keep their documents from us”; “Most of the journalists like to report that which impresses the public and not research findings”; “Lot of their research work is never available to the public and as such they have zero impact”; “I think the issue of the interest is not an issue, I think it is about marketing their newspapers and satisfying the market”.

The contrast was thus further highlighted: “Researchers are wrong, they complicate their work, they have to come down and teach us what those findings are”; “It is not a matter of complexity, the journalists are more interested in politics but not the analysis of research probably because of the nature of where they work”; “Researchers are happier with the mystery of research terms”.

Yet somewhere in-between one could find this peg that can bridge the gap: “There is a missing link because a journalist must be empowered to understand research”; “The missing link is from both ways, the researchers have to package their reports in a more friendly way and the journalists must show interest in the process and appreciate the stories coming from researchers”.

Of course it goes without saying that the story is not as simple as that when it comes to bridging the gap between journalists and researchers. Beneath the carpets and behind the curtains there are forces that affect these relations. These include corporate, political and even individual interests.

Nevertheless it is important to challenge such interests as long as they interfere with public interest in the true sense of the term ‘public’ i.e. the people. That is the role of the committed journalist and researcher. After all we, the people, have the right to be informed in our own right.

We are often told ‘no research, no right to speak’. It is about time now we insist that ‘no communication, no right to write.’ Our researchers and journalists ought to be communicators.

© Chambi Chachage

Abdul Sheriff's Clarifying Rejoinder on China

...Thank you for a very interesting review of my book and your powerful recommendation...

One issue that has become quite topical, but frankly I was not working under that cloud at that time, was the rise of modern China. I feel that in your search for why China did not become imperialist in the 15th century and conquered the Indian Ocean before the Portuguese, you stop with the name China, rather than the mode of production in China at that time. I searched for answers not from Achebe or Morris who, from your quotes offer no explanation at all, but from historians of China, such as Wang Gungwu. China was a feudal society with a powerful landed class served by its powerful mandarins, jealous about their monopoly of power within China, Therefore they were hostile to the Ming expeditions which would have opened the way for the enrichment of the merchants and other classes, or further strengthen the Emperor. With the first opportunity, they forced the winding down of the adventure. The rest is ‘ifish’ history.

I do not think this analysis can be carried over to modern China which is emerging as a so-called ‘socialist/capitalist’ state that is at the stage of grabbing natural resources for its capitalist classes. I myself asked the question at one of the conferences at what stage China may embark on imperialist expansionism to protect its worldwide interests if they are challenged. But I do not want to enter into that debate, because it will require a more profound analysis of the current mode of production and the changed circumstances in the world, instead of joining the bandwagon of China-bashing based on rather shallow analysis that I have seen so far – and nor is that within my interest or competence.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reclaiming China's "Open Sea" Foreign Policy?


Reclaiming China’s “Open Sea” Policy? A Critical Reading of Abdul Sheriff’s ‘Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam’

By Chambi Chachage

“The Indian Ocean, perhaps more than even the Mediterranean, was an arena of open dialogue between people of many cultures and religions” – Abdul Sheriff

If there is one theme that runs throughout Abdul Sheriff’s (2010) 351 pages magnum opus Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam then it is unity. Yet it is a book about unity in diversity. Yes, cultural, political, commercial – and even religious diversity.

The book is a 14 years work of painstaking historical research. It is profoundly personal as it is political. “I grew up in Zanzibar”, the author intimates in its preface, and “therefore became conscious of the intermingling of the peoples of the Indian Ocean which underlay the cosmopolitan character of Zanzibar, of which I was myself a product” (Sheriff 2010: xiii).

As “one of the numerous dhow ports skirting the Indian Ocean” the Zanzibar in which Sheriff grew up “was almost transformed by the arrival of the monsoon dhows and sailors from Arabia, the Persian Gulf, India and Somalia” (Ibid). It is their intermingling with locals as lubricated by what Sheriff regards as cultural and religious tolerance that informs his take on the subject.

Four parts constitute the book: (1) Regional Partners; (2) Navigation; (3) Dialogue Across the Ocean; (4) The Cultural World of the Indian Ocean. In total it has 15 chapters. For the purpose of this review they are revisited with respect to the author’s nostalgia for the unity of an ‘open sea’.

Methodologically the author aligns himself with Fernand Braudel’s concept of longue durée, as applied in the Mediterranean, to explain how the Indian Ocean forged unity over a long period of time. He thus rejects the long-held assumption that the vast Indian Ocean economic system was absorbed by the Portuguese seaborne empire in the 16th century. Yet he reluctantly agrees with world-system analysts that this intervention marked the beginning of the modern capitalist world-system which littoral societies, as he painstakingly tries to show, have somehow survived.

To Sheriff, “the Indian Ocean before the coming of the Portuguese was a mare liberum where continental states rarely tried to control maritime matters” (Ibid. 7). In other words, it was an open sea whereby sailors in their dhows traded freely across the small port/city-states without the interference of major empires of the time. Interestingly, he uses the phrase “free trade” to describe such oceanic commerce. One such ‘non-interfering’ empire which he glorifies, not least because of its current western demonizers, is China. He thus romanticizes its then foreign policy:

By the fifteenth century the Indian Ocean commercial and cultural zone had matured, and it was the golden age of many of the city-states around its rim. Into this world two major incursions occurred from opposite directions, that of the spectacular Chinese expeditions from the east at the beginning of the century, and that of Portuguese from the west at the end of the century. While the Chinese expeditions were powerful armadas able, if they had wished, to conquer many of the small city-states, they generally abided by the long-held principle that the Indian Ocean was a mare liberum. The Portuguese, in contrast, were crusading conquistadors determined to capture the spice trade of the East through armed trading and trade monopolies. They initiated what has been called the ‘Vasco da Gama epoch’ in the Indian Ocean, although they were ultimately unable to monopolise the trade of the vast ocean (Ibid: 12).

An explanation for China’s seemingly aborted imperialism, however, remains elusive. Elsewhere a notable literary critic of imperialism, Chinua Achebe (2011), explains it this way: “The Chinese had their chance to emerge as the leading nation in the world in the Middle Ages, but were consumed by interethnic political posturing and wars, and had to wait another 500 years for another chance.” Following Diamond Jared, Ian Morris (2011) thus resort to geographical shifts:

Particularly, two inventions the Chinese come up with in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries have enormous implications. These are working oceangoing ships and working guns… They spread like wildfire. Within a few generations, the techniques that make this work have spread from China to the furthest fringe of backward Western Europe… Once you get the oceangoing ships; all of a sudden an important geographical fact abruptly changes its meaning. To get from northwest Europe to the Americas is about 3,000 miles sailing with the wind across the Atlantic. To get from China to the Americas is about 6,000 miles sailing with the winds that you have to take…Other things being equal, Europeans are simply twice as close to the Americas as the Chinese are. I suggest … that, given time, it seems inevitable that sooner or later there would have been a discovery and plundering and colonization of the New World from East Asia. But they don't have time, because the Europeans are simply twice as close…There are other factors as well involved of course…

In a way Sheriff’s explanation anticipates Achebe and Morris’ ones though it seems they hardly consulted each others. For instance, in tandem with the former, he notes that in 1424, by the end of the reign of the Emperor Yung-Lo who was behind Zheng He’s expeditions, “China was not at peace” (Sheriff 2010: 310). After noting gleefully that while Portuguese “crawled down the west coast, taking nearly a century to reach Malindi on the East African coast in 1498, it took Admiral Zheng He just over a decade to reach the same port in c. 1418, beating them to it by nearly 80 years”, he seems to agree with Morris by stating that the “difference was because while the Portuguese had to explore every inch of the way in terra incognita, Zheng He was cruising through a known world of the Indian Ocean that had been traversed by Iranian, Arab, Chinese and Indian dhows and junks, and charted by their navigators, for hundreds of years” (Ibid. 292).

Thus the move by what is regarded as the greatest navy the world had ever known to will itself to extinction within a hundred years is a fodder to the historian’s ‘if’ conjectures. No wonder to an advocate of its then foreign policy that “fateful decision” is thus lamentable: “But eventually the Chinese decision was to expose not only China but also the whole of the Indian Ocean, which had grown to largely peaceful trade for hundreds of years, to the rapacity of Portuguese armed trading without a credible response” (Ibid. 311). But, again, what if China did not retreat at all?

Naturally, another 'force' that the author attempts to defend from the ongoing western demonization is Islam. Interestingly, it ties perfectly well with his defense of the then Chinese foreign policy not least because the admiral he seems to so much admire, Zheng He, was “from the line of Muslims who had migrated from Bukhara in Central Asia during the Mongol Yuan dynasty six generations earlier, and his grandfather and father had both apparently performed the Hajj” (Ibid. 294) and “his own Muslim background facilitated his dealings with rulers of many Islamic as well as Hindu states” (Ibid. 297). His last expedition was even earmarked for Mecca.

It is not surprising then that Sheriff dedicates a whole chapter to the Indian Ocean as arguably ‘A Muslim Lake’ and therein he devotes a whole section on The Hajj – A Great Unifier and another one on Trade and Tolerance alongside The Hajj and Commerce. Of course as a scholar Sheriff is careful enough to present alternative critiques of such significations. After citing as varying sources as Ali Bey al Abbasi, a Spanish nobleman originally named Domingo Badia y Leyblich, who fervently witnessed the great gathering at Arafat in 1807, and Malcolm X, who changed his name to Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabbaz after his enthusiastic pilgrimage in 1964, on the Hajj as “a wonderful institution in the interest of strength, unity and spiritual power of Islam” he cautions:

The exuberance of Ali Bey is understandable, but thousands of pilgrims from the four corners of the Muslim world obviously could not all speak Arabic. They spent only a few days or weeks in the Holy Cities and spoke at least forty languages, according to Burckhardt, […] even if they all prayed in the same devotional language and shared in the emotional unity of a single religion (Ibid. 248-249).

Nevertheless thereafter Sheriff maintains one of his main points; that Islam was – and is still – favourable for cultural, commercial and even religious tolerance in the Indian Ocean as elsewhere. As he puts it in regard to understanding the complex intersection of Islamic and maritime histories in relation to commerce: “Under what has been called pax Islamica in this sense over the vast region, merchants of all nationalities and religions generally found security and protection” (Ibid. 257). No wonder therein he is bold enough to join in this conclusion:

Hodgson rightly concludes, Islam ‘came closer than any had ever come to uniting all mankind under its ideals’, and represents ‘one of the most thoroughgoing attempts in history to build a world-wide human community.’ […] This was even more true in the Indian Ocean (Ibid. 258).

Time will fail me to review, among others, the chapters of the book on The Dhow; The Iranian Interval; The Era of Sindbad; Madagascar: ‘People who have come from the Sea’; Slave Trade and Slavery in the Indian Ocean: The Zanj Rebellion. Nor will space allow me to critique its sections on Piracy; The Superimposition of Roman Trade; The Persian Gulf: The Periplus' ‘Blind Spot’; Slavery in Islam; Hadhramaut: The Geography of Migration; The Swahili: ‘Oriental’, ‘African’, or Schizophrenic?; Mappilas: ‘Sons-in-law’ of the Monsoons and so forth.

So the best you can do, gentle reader, is to get hold of the book and navigate through its fascinating pages. Perhaps along the way you will untangle the mystery of why the mighty China, despite its then Sino-centric view and solicitation of tributes, it did not conquer half of the world that was within its grasp. In the meantime you could as well join in this conclusive eulogy:

Zheng He’s tablet in three different languages by the admiral of the then most powerful superpower, addressed to three different gods but making exactly the same offering to all of them, is difficult to interpret other than as a fine example of the cultural heritage of the Indian Ocean world before the coming of the Europeans (Ibid. 319).

China is back in the global stage with a bang. So is Islam as it grows steadily across the intolerant West. In the long run will the resurgent China entrench itself as an ‘empire without imperialism’? What about Islam – will it entrench itself as a global ‘religion without religionism’?

Introducing Norah Owaraga's Official Website

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

LEST WE FORGET/ILI TUSIJE TUKASAHAU 16/02







17 February 2011:
A Day After Bombs Exploded at Gongo La Mboto

17 Februari 2011:
Siku Moja Baada ya Mabomu Kulipuka Gongo La Mboto

"Every person has the right to live and to to the protection of his/her life by the society in accordance with law" - Article 14 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977

"Kila mtu ana haki ya kuishi na kupata kutoka katika jamii hifadhi ya maisha yake, kwa mujibu wa sheria" - Ibara ya 14 ya Katiba ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania ya Mwaka 1977

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MILIPUKO TANZANIA: 'KOSA NI KURUDIA KOSA'!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Remembering AC Jordan with CAS at UCT

I first came to know about AC Jordan when I was a student at the Center for African Studies (CAS) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The CAS professorial chair in African Studies is, at least up to now, named after him. By the time I joined the centre as a postgraduate student the first AC Jordan Chair, Professor Mahmood Mamdani, had contentiously left - if not pushed to leave - after what has come to be known as the 'Mamdani Affair', an experience I attempted to review elsewhere. Interestingly it was while attending classes held by Professor Brenda Cooper, the second AC Jordan chair, that I made sense of why the name behind it matter to Africanists.

She introduced us to Phyllis Ntantala's book 'A Life's Mosaic', publicly available online. In it a whole chapter is dedicated to one Archibald Campbell Mzolisa. As you can deduce from the initials of his names, this was non other than AC Jordan. His was indeed a remarkable life of an intellectual in the then Apartheid South Africa. His love for and commitment to African Studies, or the Study of Africa if you may call it, was unquestionable. This is how his wife, Phyllis, captures it:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LAND GRABS-CUM-ACQUISITIONS IN TANZANIA

PowerPoint Presentation Accessible At The Link Below:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hatma ya Barabara ya Kaskazini ya Serengeti Imeshaamuliwa bila Mjadala wa Ripoti ya EIA?

Ripoti ya EIA ya barabara ya Serengeti (kama ndiyo ripoti rasmi) inachanganya na inatoa tahadhari kuwa kuna hatari ya vitu na matukio fulani kutokea baadae ambayo si mazuri kwa hifadhi na uendelevu wa maliasili/rasilimali ya Serengeti (fuatilia: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0210-hance_serengeti_road.html). Pia tukiangalia lugha inayotumika, inaelekea kuwa uamuzi wa kujenga barabara hiyo ulishafanyika siku nyingi tu.

Pia najiuliza, kwa nini mamlaka husika hazichukui hatua za kuujulisha umma (open and informed public communication) na kuutoa wasi wasi uliopo . Tuone hizo ramani, barabara itapitia wapi, idadi ya wakazi watakaoguswa na suala hili sehemu zote ambapo barabara (z)ita pita, matatizo na machungu ya wananchi wa maeneo husika tuoneshwe n.k. maana si wote tumefika huko na wala kuyajua yote kwa undani. Uwazi unasaidia kuondoa mashaka!

Ni ukweli kwamba maendeleo wakati mwingine yanaleta migongano na kusababisha kufanyike uamuzi mgumu ama mzito lakini vigezo vyote na njia zote lazima ziangaliwe. Mwalimu Nyerere aliyaona haya na alifanya maamuzi magumu. Tujikumbushe yaliyomo katika Manifesto ya Arusha (Sera ya Wanyamapori ya Tanzania 1998) ya 1961 na nakuu maandiko yafuatayo -

" The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These Wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration but are an integral part of our natural resources and of our future livelihood and well-being.

" In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children's grandchildren will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.

" The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower and money and even look to other nations to co-operate in this important task - the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well.

Mwalimu na wenzake waliyaona haya na walijua kuwa kutatokea masuala kama haya na kutoa rai kwamba tutafute njia zote na misaada yote ili kuwezesha kuhifadhi na kuitumia vema maliasili yetu. Aliona kwamba hili si tu suala la maendeleo ya sasa ama ya leo, ni vile vile ya baadae, na ya watu wetu wa baadae. Tusipoteze dira kwa kusema huu ni mgongano kati ya uhifadhi na jamii au watu fulani, tuangalie pande zote (japokuwa inawezekana kabisa kuwa huu ni mgongano kati ya uhifadhi/maendeleo endelevu na watu fulani fulani!).

Nikijaribu, kwa mfano, kuangalia tena ile 'ofa' ya Benki ya Dunia ya kusaidia kujenga barabara ya kupita kusini mwa Serengeti ingeweza kukubaliwa na kuwasaidia waishio huko, na bado tutafute njia nyingine za kuwafaidisha wale waishio maeneo yaliyopo kaskazini au mbali na huduma muhimu na masoko. Kwa nini tunatumia njia ya "either/or'? Haiwezi kuwa vinginevyo? Kwa nini tusikae pamoja, kama alivyosema Mwalimu katika Manifesto ya Arusha na tutumie utaalamu wetu na juhudi zetu zote (ndani na nje) kuyawezesha yote yafanikiwe?

Ni kweli kabisa lazima tuangalie manufaa ya wananchi/raia wetu, na hasa kama hawa ambao wamepigwa chenga na maendeleo kwa muda mrefu, lakini pia ni busara kuangalia jinsi ya kutunza rasilimali ambayo ina uwezo wa kuwasaidia kiendelevu raia hao hao, sasa na baadae.

Mradi huu unatia wasi wasi kuwa henda ziko agenda za ziada, sijui. Lakini natumaini hiyo ripoti itajadiliwa wazi na watu watapewa muda wa kutosha wa kuisoma na kuijadili, pamoja na kwamba mamlaka kuu zimeonesha kwa maneno na vitendo kuwa penda usipende barabara hiyo itajengwa tu. Sawa ijengwe, lakini baada ya kutafuta 'best possible alternative/option.'

Swali lingine la kujiuliza, nini maana ya kuwa na Idara zinazosimamia taratibu za EIA au kujiwekea taratibu za EIA na serikali yenyewe kuzikwepa? Nikijaribu kusoma 'alama za nyakati' inaelekea huenda pasiwe na nafasi ya mjadala rasmi tena juu ya suala hili, na hivyo kupoteza nafasi ya kutafuta muafaka mzuri kwa pande zote.

Najiuliza, je huu ni mgongano wa maamuzi ya kitaalam dhidi maamuzi ya kisiasa n.k.? Ni wazi pia ni maamuzi yanayofanywa na rika lililopo hapa sasa dhidi ya marika yanayokuja. Tumetafakari kupatikana kwa manufaa kwa marika yote?

Tuyatafakari.

Sina zaidi kwa leo [...] nilipenda tu kuyawasilisha haya kwako na tutafute nafasi ya kuyajadili kwa mapana na busara, bila jazba. Maliasili ni yetu na nchi ni yetu.

Wasalaam

[Mdau wa Rasilimali/Maliasili Zetu]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Against Disestablishment of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT)

Find below a collective statement in response to a move towards disestablishment of the Centre for African Studies (CAS) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) from concerned students. Also find further below a revised version of a paper that the UCT CAS Director presented at the launch of the African Studies Centre (ASC) at the University of Michigan in 2009. In this regard kindly "be advised that the Faculty Forum, which will discuss the Centre's impending closure, is scheduled for Friday, 25 February, 14:00-15:30 in the [Archie] Mafeje Room, Bremner". Apparently "students have not - at least as of yet - been invited to attend or to speak at the event". They need your urgent support. Amandla! Awethu!
Does Post-Apartheid UCT Need a Centre for African Studies?

As students and indeed clients of the University of Cape Town (UCT), we have chosen UCT for its reputation as a world-class African university. Prior to and during our time at this world-class institution of higher learning, we invest our time, energy, financial resources and intellect, not only to our own work and careers, but to enriching the faculties, departments, clubs and organisations to which we belong. Of course, this is how educational institutions function, which is why were are baffled, appalled, angered, enraged and deeply disappointed by the university’s administrative decision to disestablish the Centre for African Studies without our input or consultation. We include our response and position here, hoping that our voices will be heard and taken seriously.

Our question is simple: Does post-apartheid UCT need a Centre for African Studies?

As students in support of the Centre, our resounding “YES!” is obvious. We affirm our support of a uniquely multi-disciplinary department that cultivates critical intellectual work, which interrogates the study of Africa, the African Diaspora and the global South; a department that centralises Africa and its varied, nuanced and many times disparate intellectual histories and ways of knowing in order to challenge disciplinary paradigms and the relations between power and knowledge production.

With this in mind, we are struggling to comprehend the proposed disestablishment of the Centre for African Studies. The Centre has produced groundbreaking work, dynamic partnerships with other universities and is regarded very highly around the globe. It plays a pivotal role in questions that continue to haunt postcolonial, post-apartheid South Africa, and is placed uniquely to examine just what it means to be a South African tertiary institution committed to the ideals outlined in the South African Constitution.

Among the many questions asked at the Centre are those that encourage us to reflect on and question ourselves and our relationships with others. These are not merely academic questions. Rather, they inspire us to examine critically our own identities and how and why we are represented in particular ways. Through this lens, we are given the space to discuss openly what knowledges are accepted as equal, and how power, institutional and otherwise, operates.

Whilst we understand and respect the autonomy of the university as set out by statute, we believe that as students of a South African university, we will suffer losses (material, intellectual and otherwise) if this closure goes ahead. It will damage the reputation of South African universities abroad, as we will be seen as an African university that does not believe that the scholarship of Africa is important.

Crucially, the question is one that centres on issues of transformation at UCT. As we see it, UCT does need the Centre for African Studies, but can the Centre for African Studies exist in post apartheid University of Cape Town? This is a space of hope that asks us to imagine different ways of being. It is a challenge that is urgent and one that UCT, in its apparent quest for transformation and Afropolitism must accept and support.

Concerned CAS Students

Advancing African Studies in an African University

Often and again, I am asked the question: why a Centre or Institute of African Studies in an African University ? Would the academic study of Africa not be mainstreamed within the disciplines in an African university? Why then retain an anachronism from the ‘ancient’ past of colonialism and apartheid? I realize that each African university – in all good conscience - will have to answer that question for itself, but there is still a serious question here that requires more than blanket dismissal.

The question gets asked in several ways, and the spectrum of ways of asking runs from the puzzled ignorance of some scholars to the condescending arrogance of some others. These major attitudes at the ends of the spectrum encapsulate the ways in which the question crops up and they deserve attention. There are those who ask it with a genuinely puzzled ignorance of what these institutes really do – like asking a scholar in a Centre for American Studies or Canadian Studies what they really focus upon. Here the implicit assumption is this: amid the proliferation of disciplines where the study of Africa (or America or Canada ) is done, what is it that you really do that is different from these? This is the benign, truly intellectually inquiring form of the question. In instances such as this, being located within a Centre for African Studies within an African university, I pause and patiently explain, rather like other scholars in niche intellectual fields tend to do. And, I feel this current of satisfaction when I have been able to do this.

However, others ask the question with a tone of knowledgeable confidence that African intellectual production or – as more often the case – intellectual production on Africa has become recognized beyond the need to band together to defend and legitimize it. There is often this sneering tone in the asking that is somewhat bothersome for its insinuations; a tone that one discovers sooner rather than later is laden with the arrogance of the expert in the clichéd and conventional. Here the question is not about what you do, it is not really a question seeking an answer but one to which the answer is already presumed to be known. To appropriate what the theorist Frantz Fanon says about “the fact of blackness,” the question comes loaded with history, battered with tom toms, already predetermined from without. At this point, you are tempted to throw the question back at your dishonest interlocutor with the contempt it deserves. But then you realize that those who have been short changed by the history of knowledge production do not have the luxury of silent rebuttal. So here we go again.

Underlying this second manner of asking the question is the conventional wisdom that African Studies emerged out of the marginalization of Africa within the disciplines. Since, Africa was not present at the ‘tea party’ where the fragmented self-understanding of knowledge was consolidated in disciplinary formations, there was no African history, literature, sociology, philosophy, etc., to speak of. African Studies, by this partial historical understanding, became the holding house for all those denigrated knowledges that had been excluded from scholarly attention, the ghetto within the ivory tower. Against this historical background, the coming of political independence and liberation should surely mean that the study of Africa has been mainstreamed within the disciplines and therefore the rationale for a Centre of African studies should invariably disappear. A Centre for African Studies in these postcolonial times is therefore seen as an anachronism, a retrograde retention from the past, something that should be shed like the evolutionary tail. If you have been finally let through the democratic door of knowledge, why lock yourself out? This, in a nutshell, is the summary of this attitude.

As condescending as this may seem, let me say once again that this is the more benign form of this second approach. There are of course the more extreme, dramatic expressions of this which I often refer to as the conspiracy and contamination theories. These range from claiming that African Studies is the creation of the CIA, a field constructed and consolidated by white males as a form of surveillance of an area of the world, either as a handmaiden of the civilizing mission or as agency of ideological control. Between the righteous pontifications of right and the pretentious liberalism of the left, you are given a plethora of historical evidence of how contaminated African Studies is as a field of scholarship. What is often left unsaid in most of these positions is the contaminated origins of all of the fields of knowledge that we all find ourselves in. More importantly, they ignore the agency of African intellectuals themselves and those Africanists not beholden to these agencies of control who located themselves within this field and, in conflicted and contradictory nature of all such undertakings, push forwards its frontiers.

We need to remind ourselves as often as we can that the struggle against marginalization and objectification within the domain of knowledge was not simply a struggle for seamless integration, as the liberal mind likes to think. It was more fundamentally a struggle for epistemological decolonization, to use the lofty phrase of anti-colonial nationalism; it was a struggle to interrogate and reconfigure the enabling paradigms and methodologies that undergirded the entire enterprise of disciplinary knowledge as it evolved within the academy. Nationalist leaders of all hues never tired of insisting that the struggle against colonialism was not simply a political struggle but also a knowledge project. Insisting on the agency of the subjugated means more than just a little more African history or a touch of African literature here and there; it involves re-examination of the protocols through which historical or literary knowledge is produced and their deep rooted foundations in exclusion and Othering. For those of us who have been beneficiaries of that earlier struggle, we need to be reminded that now, more than ever, that project has become more imperative.

I began by saying that every university in Africa has to answer for itself. At the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town , my colleagues and I have tried to place that question and the knowledge project it entails at the centre of our intellectual work. We have sought to claim this epistemological space built on the recognition that what a university really transmits is not only the various contents and objects of knowledge but that the manner in which the objects of knowledge are ordered and organized matters. It is the authority of this ordering that certifies us as universities and as academics and this, ultimately, is what we transmit to our students and to future generations. All the elaborate bureaucratic structures that we erect around what we do revolve around this central function of universities.

In the courses that we teach we endeavour to prioritize and problematize the production of knowledge about Africa, be it within the disciplines, in public culture, and in the intellectual and popular cultures that constantly generate ‘facts’, representations, and images of Africa. We insist that there is a canon of work ordered around these issues that should and must be the object of intense theoretical attention in its own right beyond the fractured offering available elsewhere.

[Harry Garuba is director of the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town . This is a revised and edited version of a paper presented at the launch of the African Studies Centre at the University of Michigan in March 2009.]

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Josie Fanon's Revolutionary Algeria Reloaded: Once more, O Frantz, the 'Wretched of the Earth'!

As winds of revolutionary change sweeps across Algeria after blowing over Tunisia and Egypt we are reminded of the late Josie Fanon:

Friday, February 11, 2011

TAHRIR SQUARE'S EQUIVALENT IN TANZANIA?

Photos on 'Tanzania' in the UK National Archives

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

MTOTO WA BIBI - GRANDMA'S CHILD

Mtoto wa Bibi

Chambi Chachage

“Ukimgusa Mwanamke Umegonga Mwamba” – Wanawake Wapigania Uhuru wa Afrika Kusini

Bibi yangu mzaa mama anaitwa Mkunde. Bibi yake mzaa mama alijulikana kama Shode. Hivyo huyu Bibi yangu aweza kuitwa Mkunde Binti Orupa Mwana Shode.

Kisa cha maisha ya wanawake hawa ni kiungo muhimu katika historia ya familia yetu. Kwa kiasi kikubwa wamekuwa mwamba ama msingi ambao mama yangu, Demere, amejijenga. Kile walichokifanya wote hawa ni mhimili mkubwa katika maisha yetu.

Orupa Mchikirwa alimlea Mkunde katika kipindi ambacho Wakoloni na Wamishionari walikuwa wameingia katika Milima ya Upare ama Vuasu kama ijulikanavyo katika lugha ya Chasu. Kilikuwa ni kipindi kigumu katika jamii za Kiafrika. Sina hakika kwa nini walimuita Mchikirwa yaani aliyezirwa. Ila ni hakika jina la Orupa lilitokana na yule Orpa aliyekataa kwenda nchi ya ugenini pamoja na mkwewe Naomi kwenye kile Kitabu cha Biblia cha Ruth. Mkulu Orupa hayupo nasi kimwili leo ila bado ni nguzo yetu. Kumbukumbu yake hutusaidia kudumisha udugu.

Sijawahi kujumuika katika kusanyiko lolote la wajukuu, vitukuu , vining’ina au vilembwe vya Mlala Orupa Mchikirwa ambapo hatajwi. Kwa kiasi kikubwa yeye ndiye aliyekuwa mama wa mama yangu, dada na kaka zake pamoja na binamu zao. Pamoja na shida kubwa zilizokuwa zikimkabili bibi huyu mjane bado alihakikisha kuwa walio wake hawalali na njaa. Hata wageni wake alihakikisha wanashiba pia.

Inasemekana wakati hali ya ukame ilipozidi na ugumu wa maisha kumuelemea alifunga ‘mshanga’, yaani kamba, kiunoni ili apunguze makali ya njaa na aweze kulima kwa ‘kikumbu’, yaani, kijembe chake, ili kuwe na chakula nyumbani kwake.

Chakula kichache alichokuwa nacho hakukila bali aliwaachia wanawe na wajukuu zake. Yeye alibaki na mshanga na kikumbu tu mchana kutwa. Wale wajukuu wamekuwa madaktari, marubani, walimu na kadhalika. Mchango wake wanautambua.

Katika udogo wangu nililelewa na Bibi yangu Mkunde. Maisha yake hunifanya nitambue urithi alioachiwa na Orupa Mchikirwa. Ustahimilivu. Upendo. Utu.

Ninapowaangalia dada zangu, Mkunde na Rehema, bado nauona urithi huo. Japo tu kizazi cha nne kutoka kwa Koko Orupa Mwana Shode bado hatujapoteza mizizi yake.

Dunia inapozidi kujikita kwenye unyama nitauenzi urithi huu wa ‘Ujamaa ni Utu’.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

'Hatimaye' Rais 'Avunja Ukimya' Kuhusu 'Dowans'!

Dowans

Ndugu Wana-CCM na Ndugu Wananchi;
Jambo ninalotaka kulizungumzia sasa sikutaka kulizungumza kwa sababu Waziri Mkuu alishalifafanua baada ya semina ya Wabunge wa CCM na hata Mheshimiwa John Chiligati, Katibu wa Siasa na Uenezi Taifa alishalizungumzia. Sikuona umuhimu wa kufanya hivyo kwa sababu viongozi wenzangu hao wameelezea kwa ufasaha uamuzi wa Kamati Kuu na ule wa kikao cha pamoja cha Wabunge wa CCM.

Lakini, yapo maneno mengi ati mbona Rais yupo kimya sana, hatujamsikia kusema chochote? Niseme nini zaidi na hao wote wameshasema kwa niaba yangu. Wapo wanaosema nipo kimya kwa sababu nahusika na Downs na ati ndiyo mwenyewe hasa. Wapo wanaosema niko kimya au nashindwa kuchukua hatua, kwa sababu marafiki zangu wamehusika. Nawalinda. Kwa sababu hiyo, nikaona nami nisema angalau watu wanisikie lakini sina la ziada ni yale yale yaliyokwishasemwa.

Kwanza niseme wazi kwamba ule msemo wa wahenga wa akutukanae hakuchagulii tusi hapa umetimia. Napenda kuwahakikishia wana-CCM na wananchi wenzangu kuwa sina uhusiano wowote wa kimaslahi kwa namna yoyote ile na kampuni ya Dowans. Sina hisa zozote wala manufaa yoyote yale. Pia sina ajizi wala kigugumizi cha kuchukua hatua kwa sababu ya rafiki yangu au hata kama angekuwa ndugu yangu kahusika. Maamuzi yaliyofanywa na Kamati Kuu na Kamati ya Chama ya Wabunge wa CCM yalifanywa chini ya uogozi wangu. Ni uthibitisho tosha wa ukweli huo. Waliokuwepo kwenye vikao hivyo wanajua ukweli wa haya ninayosema. Ningekuwa na maslahi au hofu tusingefanya uamuzi ule.

Wana-CCM Wenzangu na Wananchi Wenzangu;
Kama mtakavyokumbuka tulipoingia madarakani nchi ilikuwa na tatizo kubwa la ukame mkali sana ambao haujawahi kutokea. Mavuno ya chakula yalikuwa mabaya tukawa na njaa kali na watu 3,776,000 walilazimika kuhudumiwa na Serikali. Aidha, mito mikubwa na midogo ikapungukiwa sana maji na mingine kukauka kabisa. Matokeo yake ni mabwawa yetu yote ya kuzalisha umeme yakakosa maji hivyo uzalishaji wa umeme ukaathirika vibaya sana na nchi ilikuwa gizani.

Ili kukabiliana na tatizo hilo ushauri ulitolewa na TANESCO nasi tukaukubali kuwa wakodishe mitambo ya kuzalisha umeme kutoka nje. Serikali tukaombwa kugharamia ukodishaji huo. Taratibu za kisheria zikafanywa, tenda zikatangazwa na washindi wakapatikana Aggreco, Richmond na Alstom. Kampuni za Aggreco na Alstom zilileta mitambo yao kwa wakati lakini kampuni ya Richmond ikawa inasuasua. Wakati huo huo maneno mengi yakawa yanazagaa kuhusu Richmond kutostahili kupewa tenda kwa sababu ya kutokuwa na uwezo kwa kampuni hiyo na kampuni hiyo kutokuwa hai. Ikadaiwa kuwa wamepewa tenda kwa sababu ya kubebwa na baadhi ya viongozi Serikalini. Maneno hayo yalifanya Wizara ya Fedha wasite kutoa fedha za kuanzia kwa kampuni hiyo. Aliyekuwa Waziri wa Nishati na Madini wakati ule alipokuja kuniomba niingilie kati ili kampuni hiyo ilipwe malipo ya awali (down payment) nikataa na kumwambia Waziri aachane nao kwani kampuni hiyo ni ya mashaka. Hivyo kampuni ya Richmond haikulipwa down payment, wakashindwa kutimiza mkataba. Maneno yakazidi kadri makali ya kukosa umeme yalivyoendelea kuuma.

Baada ya hapo kampuni ya Richmond ikauza mkataba wake kwa kampuni ya Dowans ambayo ilileta mitambo na uzalishaji wa umeme ukafanyika na kupunguza kabisa makali ya mgao. Tuhuma kuhusu Richmond ziliendelea kulindima mpaka hatimaye Tume ya Bunge ikaundwa na kugundua kuwa Kampuni iliyouziwa haikuwa hai na ni ya mfukoni. Hatima ya Tume hiyo tunaijua sote. Aliyekuwa Waziri Mkuu na Mwawaziri wawili waliwajibika. Zile tuhuma za yeye kuwa ndiye mwenye kampuni hazikuthibitika lakini aliwajibika kwa sababu yeye ndiye aliyetoa kauli ya kukubali ipewe tenda ili kuepusha nchi isiwe gizani.

Miezi kadhaa baadaye, likazuka sakata la Dowans ifutiwe mkataba kwa hoja kuwa wamerithi mkataba na kampuni ambayo haikupata kihalali mkataba wake. Kamati ya Bunge ilisema hivyo na wanasheria wa TANESCO pia walishauri hivyo. TANESCO ikavunja mkataba. Dowans hawakuridhika, wakashitaki kwenye Baraza la Usuluhishi kama yalivyo masharti ya mkataba waliotiliana sahihi. Madai yamesikilizwa na TANESCO imeonekana ni mkosaji hivyo wakatozwa fidia ya Dola za Marekani 64 milioni.

Taarifa hiyo imetushtua wengi. Niliuliza na kupewa ushauri mbali mbali. Wapo
waliosema lazima tulipe, wapo waliosema tusilipe, wapo waliosema tusiharakishe kulipa kwani kuna uwezekano wa kutokulipa kwa kutumia sheria. Uamuzi wangu ukawa tusiharakishe kulipa, tutafute njia za kuepuka katika kulipa. Ndiyo maana ya taarifa ya Mheshimiwa Chiligati na ile ya Waziri Mkuu.

Ni mzigo mkubwa mno kwa TANESCO kubeba, hivyo tufanye kila tuwezalo tuepuke kulipa. Tumewataka wanasheria wetu wasaidiane na wale wa TANESCO kuhakikisha hilo halitokei. Nataka kuwahakikishia kuwa na mie ni miongoni mwa wale wasiotaka TANESCO ilipe, hivyo kauli za kuhusika na Dowans inanishangaza maana nisingeamua hivyo katika Kamati Kuu na Kamati ya Wabunge wa CCM. Ama kweli akutukanae hakuchagulii tusi.

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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