Growing Up with Tanzania: Memories, Musings and Maths, a Memoir
Author: Karim F. Hirji (2014)
Publisher: Mkuki na Nyota
Reviewer: Diana Kamara
It is a trip across time in Tanzania. It starts from the late years of doing what Mamdani (2013) refers to as ‘define and rule’, with its colonial politics of race and class; moves to the early independence years of trials and errors of establishing a socialist nation; and ends with the present politically justified capitalism. It is a story of a Tanzanian of Asian origin and his fixed and chosen identities, belonging and loyalties which evolve from and along with family, religion, education, friends, the nation, Pan-Africanism and, ultimately, solidarity with the human race.
From facts, personal experiences to well researched examples from Tanzania and around the world, the author invites us to look deeply at the head cracking contentious questions of education, language, policies and politics; and creativity in their magnitude of importance and roles in development. He offers, not solutions but alternative starting points of enquiry.
Being in love with Maths, Hirji encourages us to appreciate the beauty of his love. One will agree from reading that Maths can be both a fascinating and recreational personal experience as well as a functional and problem-solving discipline. Hirji will also make you crave for fruits and healthy homemade foods you know and put those you haven’t had in your to taste buds’ list.
I once heard that there is an age for storytelling that makes a man in his sixties qualify. He indeed takes his responsibility of a grandfather to tell us stories of how we came into being, the golden times and pitfall moments. He reflects on his despairs yet does not drown in them for there is hope. A few warnings too are included but, of course, with some useful advice.
For those with multiple identities, math-phobia or/and an interest in the history of Tanzania, you may want to read “Growing up with Tanzania: Memories, Musingsand Maths” as recounted by Karim F. Hirji.