Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Meles Zenawi's Farewell to Young African Leaders

"There is a technical definition of madness. Madness is to do things over and over again but to expect different results. We have been doing this over and over again since the mid 80s expecting different results every time. Now this is unlikely to be because all African leaders are technically mad. I think that is happening because first, the balance of economic, political and diplomatic forces are such that maintaining the beaten track even if it’s a dead end, appears to be the only option. I think it is also partly because most African leaders are not that young. The main difference between me - Meles now - and Meles 35 years ago is that Meles 35 years ago, as a young person, had the courage and ambition to storm the heaven. Meles now does not have the same type of ambition and courage...Why, Why has the fear of God been introduced into Meles? I think it's partly because of the experience of defeats, the achievements, and the experience of life itself which makes a person wiser and at the same time less courageous and less ambitious. If we could combine the wisdom of age and the courage and ambition of youth then we can break out of a mad situation of doing over and over the same thing " - Meles Zenawi

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Biafra in Tanzania's Imagination - And Vice Versa

After reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun I wrote:  I have just finished reading your novel on Biafra this evening. Congratulation for a work well done. I am very much interested in the way Tanzania and Nyerere were/are perceived by the 'Biafrans'. Could you kindly share with me the imagination behind that story of  a 'Tanzania Bar' in your novel. 

When I finally met her, she pointed out that indeed Tanzania mattered a lot in the Biafran imagination. A lot of places and things were named Tanzania after Nyerere announced his country's controversial support for Biafra's secession. The stance was eloquently presented in a small booklet entitled 'The Nigeria-Biafra Crisis' by Julius K. Nyerere (4 September 1969). As I have noted in an article on African Unity at What Cost? his assertion remained Pan-Africanist as they were Anti-Imperialist. For him, in as much Tanzania wanted to see a federated Nigeria as a step towards a united Africa, it was not ready to support a war to keep Biafrans as part of Nigeria even against their will as that would be tantamount to letting a potential great exemplar of African unity become an African imperial power.

Interestingly, Biafra also became part of the Tanzanian imagination. A whole residential area was renamed Kinondoni Biafra. Maggid Mjengwa has given great publicity to this childhood neighborhood of his. The University of Dar es  Salaam, the then celebrated hub of revolutionary ideas and intellectual ferment, was not left behind. It even named one of its residences Biafra Flat.


It was puzzling to observe the shirts that Sunderland's players wore in their English Premier League's (EPL) game against Arsenal yesterday! According to Soccer Blog, the "invest in Africa" logo/advert is a campaign from Tullow Oil that sponsors the shirt. "In the modern world", the person responsible for striking the sponsorship deal claims, "investment in Africa is an opportunity for investment to bounce back into Sunderland and into the wider North-east". As we know, the annals of economic history has many a cases of how Africa has been Euro-America's shock absorber. Interestingly, the company's website has this update on Tanzania:

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Tuhamasishe vijana kuandika hususani wasichana...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

false comparisons and why?

False Comparisons and Why?

By Marjorie Mbilinyi

The speech is repeating a position that has been taken by our economists and policy makers many times, sometimes with reference to other countries such as South Korea or Vietnam. It is based on a false assumption, that the GDP is an adequate measure of development. It completely ignores the entirely different political economy/ies within each of the countries referred to; the high level of development of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation that had been reached eg by India in 1700s-1800s-1900s long before British colonization – hence the British strategy of destroying Indian textile manufacturing in order to open up the Indian market for textile goods from UK.  

True, there was uneven development in each of these countries, including Tanganyika, before colonisation; complex systems of agriculture had emerged in many locations along with basic manufacturing. However, the main commodities that were exported for example in the Indian Ocean Trade Complex were slaves and ivory, and to a lesser extent basic grains to support city states along the coast and on Zanzibar and Pemba.

We need to ask more questions of our GDP proponents.

We need to ask questions. For example, what were the major sources of capital accumulation in each country in 1961? What was the structure and composition of trade: domestic trade and export trade? Specifically in the agriculture sector: What proportion of agriculture relied on ox plough cultivation in each of these four countries, including Tanzania, in 1961? Tractor cultivation? Irrigated agriculture? What kind of class formation had developed over time in agrarian society? The entire nation? What was the structure of employment and livelihoods for women and men in rural and urban areas; and what proportion were [self]employed, waged labour, or working as unpaid family labour in household production? Within the category of waged labour, what proportion were employed on a regular permanent basis? Part-time or temporary? Casual labour? …. By exploring these and other questions it will become rapidly clear that the economies of our countries were not similar at all.

Next, we need to ask what purpose is served by making these false comparisons?

Monday, August 6, 2012


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Land Acquisitions and the Politics of Renaming


By Chambi Chachage

In May 2006 InfEnergy Tanzania Limited agreed to buy 5835 hectares of land in Tanzania at the purchase price of USD 2,550,000. This private company incorporated with limited liability in the country only came into being in September 2005. However, InfEnergy UK Limited is also named as the purchaser in the land sale agreement indicating that the former is a local subsidiary.

This craft of renaming companies is at the heart of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Tanzania. It is generally used to circumvent the laws of the land that restricts and prohibits foreign ownership of land[1]. Renaming can also be used to disguise investors’ original intentions.

According to the Annual Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 30 June 2008 of the African Agricultural Capital Limited (AAC), one of the companies that enabled InfEnergy to acquire an estate and financed its initial development phase in the country, this foreign-cum-local “was established in Tanzania to exploit the opportunity to create biodiesel businesses in developing markets”. “However”, AAC further noted, “in the light of” of the then “recent increases in food prices, the business is now committed to growing only food crops (predominantly oil palm and rice) in the short term and will review the potential production of biofuels periodically”. It also observed that “through its Tanzania subsidiary Kilombero Plantations”, InfEnergy had “acquired a substantial estate (about 8,000 hectares” at Mngeta in the Kilombero Valley” and that it had “established an oil palm nursery” and planned “to plant 7,500 hectares to oil palm (net of infrastructure) over the next five years”. “During the development phase”, AAC noted, it “will also cultivate rice and other food crops on the estate”[2].

The UK-cum-Tanzania company indeed acquired from the Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA) an estate that constituted: Farm No. 411 Mngeta, with all its buildings, measuring 5818 hectares; all parcel of land and buildings opposite Mngeta farm on the side of TAZARA railway measuring about 7 hectares; all parcel of land, with buildings therein, located in Isamo and in near the Chimbi Falls on the Mngeta River (where there is a hydro-electric power station and a dam) that measure about 30 hectares; and a number of movable assets and equipment.

It also presented itself as primarily interested in biofuel. IIED study in 2009 that interviewed Mr. Carter Coleman and described him as the Director of InfEnergy UK Ltd presented the company as cultivating “rice while growing oil palm”[3]. In WWF’s 2009 study that consulted and described Carter Coleman and the “Managing Director” and Graham Anderson as the “Business Development Director”, InfEnergy is presented as a biofuel company “owned by Capricorn LLC, a USD $5 billion Silicon Valley SRI and a large UK based investor”[4]. The company has now been renamed and thus described in the AAC website: “Agrica Ltd was established in Tanzania in September 2005 to exploit the opportunity to create biodiesel businesses in developing markets. Given the current global debate about food security, food versus fuel, the company is committed to growing only food crops (including vegetable oils) in the short term and will review the potential production of biofuels periodically”[5]. But the biofuel narrative has changed. (Cf. http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/18822 and http://udadisi.blogspot.com/2011/10/jk-what-did-kpl-show-you-and-what-did.html)

It is now rebranded as a company that was started in 2005 to develop “sustainable agribusinesses in Africa”. Its rationale for doing so in East Africa is no longer presented as biofuel but, rather, “the near absence of commercial farming, the high prices and the large and burgeoning demand of their internal markets—a region where the consumption of staples is rising with fast-growing populations; where in some countries 95% of current production is from inefficient smallholders with limited access to inputs or modern farming methods; and where high import tariffs are entrenched by the necessity of maintaining a rural economy and food security”. Its rice project in Mngeta farm that commenced in 2007 is celebrated as the largest in the country and in October 2011 President Jakaya Kikwete paid it an official visit[6], declaring Kilombero as one of the three districts that the government will support to take the lead in producing rice in the country.[7] In May 2011 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) his government showcased it as a model farm in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT)[8], a public-private partnership with international partners such as Diageo, DuPont, General Mills, Monsanto, SAB, Syngenta, Norfund, Unilever, USAID, Yara International, the Irish Embassy, AGRA and FAO[9]. 


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The level of APOBEC3G (hA3G)-related G-to-A mutations does not correlate with viral load in HIV type 1-infected individuals. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses

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Sunday, August 5, 2012


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Social Change and Health in Tanzania

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