Friday, November 27, 2015

A Profound Encounter: Remembering Sam Moyo

A Profound Encounter: Remembering Sam Moyo 

By Chambi Chachage

Sam Moyo is gone. A terrible car accident in India has robbed Africa of one of its finest sons. From Dakar to Dar es Salaam we are mourning the loss of such a profound professor and personality.

As tributes pour from Cape to Cairo, I am moved to share my brief, albeit, profound encounter with someone whose being combined a great sense of African brotherhood/sisterhood and intellectual rigor.

His name must have crossed my mind prior to our first meeting at the Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival Week at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). As a colleague of the later Professor Seithy Chachage at the Council for the Development of Social Science Research (CODESRIA), his name had to be familiar. It was splashed across publications and papers in our home's library.

To Chachage, Moyo was such an important voice. When the land crisis began to unravel in Zimbabwe, I was still an undergraduate student at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The situation was so mind-boggling especially when I got the  chance to debate it with my schoolmates who hailed from there. My decision to travel by bus from South Africa to Tanzania via Zimbabwe did not help me much to make sense of what was happening especially when I was almost left at the border because of being asked for a bribe.

Hence one of the papers that I tried to skim through to make sense of what was going on in what Mwalimu Nyerere once referred to as the 'Jewel of Africa' was Chachage's 'Zimbabwe's Current Land Crisis: Some Reflections on Its History'. Unknown to the skimmer in me then was that it drew heavily from Sam's work on the ground. He wrote it 2000 way before many scholars started to acknowledge, even if reluctantly, Sam's profound insights on 'land matters'.

Citing Sam Moyo's (1995) seminal book on 'The Land Question in Zimbabwe', Chachage concluded his paper in a 'prophetic tone':

 "One thing that is clear, as far as the Zimbabwe crisis is concerned, is the fact that land reform is necessary. Even the opposition party that campaigned against the constitutional change proposals concedes to this fact. More important, as the history outlined above demonstrates, is the fact that a government that abandons the policies of social provisioning and land reforms as a means to redress the historical imbalances is bound to land in the same problems that Zimbabwe is currently facing. Productivist positions and the Darwinist cynicism of the cult of the winner are dangerous in the face of naked inequalities. These forget that even broader economic perspectives suggest that land reform, as it happened in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, for example, 'lead to an income distribution structure and rural employment benefits conducive for a growing industrial sector.'  It is clear that without the resolution of the land question (which includes the national question in the case of Zimbabwe), the crisis will continue."

But it was only after I came to know Sam personally later on that I really got to appreciate his vast knowledge and willingness to share with those who thirst for it. If there is someone who has shaped my understanding of 'land problems' in Southern Africa then it is him.

Even though we both knew that we are not entirely in the same 'school of thought', he was patient, 'tolerant' and 'open-minded' enough to interact  with me without necessarily imposing his 'old Marxist' perspective on me. As I go through our exchanges I can almost sense the dilemma and zeal to uphold the principle of academic 'freedom' while  maintaining the urge for 'recruiting'.

When I asked 'Why are Marxists/Leftists obsessed with Class Analysis at the expense of Cultural Analysis?' he thus responded:

"As a self-proclaimed Marxist too, I have no problems with analysing culture; but I would think that one has to examine the dynamic structural and social conditions under which culture (which is not static) is produced or evolves. Moreover, many aspects of culture have an ideological value or purpose, and they can become commodified, and these tendencies make 'culture' amenable to various hegemonic projects, including the dominance of neoliberal imperialist agendas. But I admit many Marxists understudy culture, and even ignore its existence and purpose, when dealing with class analysis!"

Little wonder when I had to choose between two universities in the US to pursue my PhD studies in 2011, he tried to convince me to go to the one where a couple of his 'lifelong Marxist' colleagues were teaching.  In a humorous way, he pointed out that the other one is simply basking in its old glory like those folks who invoke their successful past as a cover-up for their present fall from grace. Yet after I had made a decision to go there anyway, he wished me luck after asking: "When do you go to the fountain of knowledge?"

Nevertheless that fountain did not really quench the thirst for the knowledge that Sam was busily disseminating in the 'Global South.' No wonder we were both so glad when I took a short course on 'The Political Economy of Natural Resources' in June 2015 at the Nyerere Resource Center (NRC/KAVAZI) in Dar. Little did I know that will be the last time I see him face-to-face and hear him give a lecture 'live'. Taken by his take on the 'Theory of Rent', I jotted the following comments on top of my head in an online public debate:

Someone - I think, Sam Moyo - has attempted to define financial outflows in terms of the rent theory's dichotomy of 'ground' and 'differential' rents. By doing so, one realises that there is thin line between the 'licit' and the 'illicit' or the 'legal' and the 'illegal'. To put it simply, in the context of the debate below, the TNCs/FDIs are 'licitly/legally authorised' to even collect (large) part/share of the (absolute) 'ground' rent from the land and natural resources that belong to the people/places they are 'investing' their 'capital' in. In this regard, I agree that this is not simply semantics. Preoccupation with the 'illicit' masks the 'licit'. Both are draining Africa(ns).

 After his 'heavy' lecturers all I wanted was to rush home to cool my brain. But he insisted that I join them for a drink and snack. It was our 'last supper'. Afterwards, I forwarded to all an article that we only passingly discussed in the course but which was not in the reader. His response to my email was brief but now so memorable:

"Thanks comrade Chambi. It was good to see you after so long!"

Ever reading and learning, Sam asked me to email him copies of some of the articles in the course reader that he did not have in his collections. I promised to do so. But the procrastinator in me kept getting on my way. Feeling guilty, I sent him a quick email to let him know I will do so asap. Alas, his "Thanks" was the last email I got from him. For five months I travelled across three continents with the scrap paper below that I had jotted down names of the authors of those articles. While I was finally feeling like fulfilling the promise I had made, unknowingly to me, he was laying in a hospital bed fighting for the life yet in him and breathing his last.
Mahmood Mamdani's tribute to his friend Sam, like that by Dzodzi Tsikata and Ebrima Sall, on behalf of CODESRIA, and Ian Scoones', have touched a sensitive nerve about "the politics of knowledge production and its recognition" on and in Africa(ns). No matter how modest one may be, it hurts the intellect to experience it firsthand. After all, even the bravest of firebrands are humans too. Yes, they think but they also feel. So was the Sam who penned these touching words after I forwarded to Wanazuoni's listserv in 2009 an article entitled The second scramble for Africa starts:

 "Now that all these people are saying what your dad and I wrote about since the 1990s on land alienation, I feel sad that they are the ones being credited for the discovery, simply because they have the audience and new 'facts'. The green book was about this, synthesizing the ensuing events. What is our knowledge management process?"
Yet he was generous enough to give credit where it was due while maintaining both a critical eye and empirical stance without being clouded by scholarly jealousy as evidenced in these comments about Legitimating common property in Africa and the Nobel Prize:

"Yes its a good article and the prize is well deserved. But this perspective is not new in the literature on land in Africa, although the point needs to be repeated until many more people recognize it. You might be interested to know that I used Ostrom's perspective in my 1995 book on Zim land, and that it has been an important influence on some aspects of my subsequent writings. We ordinary scholars have long accepted this perpective, it is the rightwing scholars, various elites and their donors who have refused to acknowledge this view for long. Incidentally I was the sole author of the ECA booklet referenced by the writer of the posted article, and am one of the 7 co-authors of the recently published AU guidelines, which the writer wrongly claims were done under the guidance of Okoth Ogendo."

Under such a skewed political economy of knowledge production and recognition, it is high time that we acknowledge our African scholars and their groundbreaking works. It is so refreshing to read, among others, the tributes that Bella Matambanadzo, Alex Magaisa and Godfrey Massay have written to their mentor and friend, Sam. It is a testament to his profound intellectual nurturing and sharing.

Deservingly, in memory of his role the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS) that he co-founded is now considering renaming the annual summer school that it holds in collaboration with institutions like the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/HAKIARDHI), the Sam Moyo Annual Agrarian Summer School. May his fiery Pan-African legacy live on and on.

Farewell Comrade Sam. We will keep the torch burning. Amen.

Professor Sam Moyo: A mentor and a true friend

Professor Sam Moyo: A Mentor and a True Friend

I met Prof. Sam Moyo for the first time in 2009 at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). At that time, I was in my last year of law school and he was there for two occasions. The first one was during Mwalimu Nyerere Festival Week which was organized by Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair on Pan African Studies, then chaired by Prof. Issa Shivji. And the second one was during the Council for the Development of Social Science Research's (CODESRIA) meeting. In both occasions, Sam - as we simply called him - was a speaker who, in a special way, inspired most of us. My meeting with him was brief because he was very busy. 

In January 2010, barely two months after my graduation, I sent him an email requesting for an opportunity to volunteer for CODESRIA or the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS). Sam was at that time the President of CODESRIA and the Executive Director of AIAS. He told me he would like to meet and discuss with me about my request in two weeks when he would be in Dar es Salaam for the Annual Summer School on Agrarian Studies. He asked me to contact the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/HAKIARDHI) to see if it is possible for me to attend the school. I did not attend but met him at the hotel in Kunduchi where the fist sessions were held. 

When I arrived there at around 4 pm, he was talking to Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata over a cup of coffee. He excused her and came to me with a big smile and gave me a firm handshake. We sat and started talking. He inquired about by academic background and my career plans. Then he told me about CODESRIA and AIAS and how I can link with such institutions while working in Tanzania. He advised me to contact HAKIARDHI and promised to give my resume to Dr. Ngwanza Kamata, who was the Board Chair of HAKIARDHI. 
It was Professor Moyo who introduced me to HAKIARDHI, the organization that was co-founded by his comrade, Prof. Shivji, with the objective of advocating for land tenure security of small scale producers in Tanzania. I had followed with great interest its work of since January 2010 and had applied two times to work with them as a volunteer. In October 2010 I was called for an interview and was hired in November 2010. I worked there for four years and came to develop the passion for land rights and agrarian studies. 

Sam became my mentor. He read all papers I wrote and advised me to write along a theoretical and ideological framework. I visited him at his house in Harare in December 2012 where we had a long and interesting discussion on how to write scholarly papers. In September 2013, I attended the Land Justice Conference where, together with Prof. Moyo, we were plenary speakers. I was so proud and humbled to be a speaker alongside him at such an international gathering officiated by the then Prime Minister of Tanzania and attended by the former President of Tanzania and the Minister for Lands. 
My last meeting with Sam was in June this year when I was attending a short course on the Political Economy of Natural Resource organized by Nyerere Resource Center (NRC/KAVAZI LA MWALIMU NYERERE) in Dar es Salaam. Sam taught us  the Theory of Rent. We had very informative and enriching discussions during seminar sessions. Sam would tirelessly listened to all our questions but before he responds he would ask me or any of our group members “what do you think?”. Then he would respond in a way of summing up the discussion.

 Sam encouraged me to attend Agrarian Summer School next year in January. I promised him that I will attend and looked forward to having an interesting discussion with him. It is my intention to keep my promise of attending. But, alas,  having n interesting discussion with him there is impossible. He is no more!

 That was Prof. Sam Moyo, a good mentor, teacher, pan African intellectual, and a true friend. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Politics of Knowledge Production & Recognition

"Sam's major scholarship was in the field of agrarian studies. Always unassuming, he seldom talked of his own scholarly work unless someone raised it first. For me that occasion came in 2008 when the London Review of Books invited me to write a piece on Zimbabwe. The land reform was the big issue at the time. I pulled together whatever studies on the subject I could lay my hands on. Three sources stood above all others as original and reliable: one from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, another from the University of Western Cape and then Sam’s work at the African Institute of Agrarian Studies in Harare. As I read these sources, and the press reports on their findings, I learnt something about the politics of knowledge production and its recognition in the public sphere. Two facts were crystal clear to me: one, that Sam had been several steps ahead of the others; and, two, that his work was the last to be recognized. It was almost as if the press went by a rule of thumb: when it came to ideas, the chain had to originate in a Western university, and the link go through a South African institution, before it came to an African researcher. I discussed this with Sam. He smiled, as if to say, what’s new?" - Mahmood Mamdani Remembers his Friend and Comrade Sam Moyo
"You lent your brilliance to the environmental think tank Zero, pulled us into the Senegal based Codesria and introduced us to people who wore Dashiki shirts as a form of political expression. People whose papers you had photocopied for us to read. This was before computers. It was the time of type-writers. Your scrawl was impossible to decipher, but we knew that if we didn't figure out your handwriting, there would be trouble. You could not abide intellectual laziness. On Boodle Road, in Harare's Eastlea suburb you set up the African Institute of Agrarian Studies (AIAS). It was nothing short of a bold move. This was Zimbabwe in the early 2000s when land invasions were at their apex. Nothing could deter you. Not physical threats, nor slurs to your name. And who can forget the raid of your home office in Borrowdale. You put your ubiquitous cigarette to your mouth and shook your head. 'Why did they have to mess my papers up? I had order here'. I would look at the piles and piles of papers you had and wonder what kind of order you meant. Your office was a project for a neat freak" - Bella Matambanadzo: An Ode in Memory of Chimusoro Sam Moyo
"Certainly in the last 15 years, as the debate around Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform has continued, Sam’s contributions – and those of his colleagues at AIAS – have been essential. Their district level study published in 2009 preceded our book, and set the stage for a more mature, empirically-informed debate that (sometimes) has followed. Sam has often been inaccurately pigeon-holed as being on one ‘side’ or another. But his scholarship is far more sophisticated than this. In Zimbabwe’s land debate nearly everyone at different times disagreed with him, but they all listened. Whether inside the state and party, among opposition groups or with the World Bank and other donors, no one could ignore what Sam had to say. And his influence in seeking a more sensible line has been enormous. But Sam’s scholar activism was not just focused on Zimbabwe. He was frequently invited by governments, social movements and others around the world, and particularly in southern Africa. His experiences in Nigeria, teaching at Calabar and Port Harcourt universities, were influential too, giving him a wider perspective than many. His on-going contributions to South Africa’s land debates have been important also, as he shared Zimbabwe’s lessons. More broadly still, he was central to a wider engagement with agrarian studies from the global South, offering a challenge to those who argued that the classical agrarian question is dead. From the perspective of peasants, social movements and struggles across the global South, it certainly is not. Together with Paris Yeros in Brazil and Praveen Jha in India, and as part of a wider collective of Southern scholars linked to the journal Agrarian South, he has made the case for a revived agrarian studies, in the context of land grabs and intensifying capitalist exploitation across rural areas" - Ian Scoones: A Tribute to Sam Moyo – A Giant of Agrarian Studies
"In 2006, I received a surprise invitation from the Transnational Institute, which is based in Amsterdam. They wanted a person, preferably a Zimbabwean scholar to give the inaugural lecture held in memory of Basker Vashee, their former long-time director, who had also hailed from Zimbabwe. They invited me to come and give the lecture. Totally out of the blues for me! They explained to me that I had been recommended by Professor Sam Moyo. Apparently, Professor Sam Moyo had been selected to give the lecture, but for some reason that he could not control, he was unable to attend. So he had recommended that they invite me instead. They said they had not hesitated because they trusted Sam’s word – if Sam Moyo said get Alex, we had to come and get you, they said. Such was the measure of trust and confidence that Sam Moyo enjoyed internationally. That added some pressure because then, I couldnt afford to disappoint the great Prof Sam Moyo, could I? That would be a betrayal! But here is the point. Prof. Sam Moyo and I had never actually met. I “knew” him through his great works on land, which I had relied upon in my own studies, as indeed many have done, and more will do for generations to come. But I had no idea that he knew me or my work, let alone that he held me in such high regard as to recommend me to such a lofty station. I was just a little guy starting out in academia. It was truly humbling. And so I went to Amsterdam and gave the lecture. I shall dig it up – it’s probably there on the TNI website. Afterwards, he wrote thanking and congratulating me for the lecture, which apparently had been very well-received. I was pleased that I had lived up to his estimation, that I had not disappointed him. It was very humbling. I had always respected the man for his work but now my respect extended to a whole new personal level. Thus our personal relationship commenced. He was now a friend, too" - Alex Magaisa: Prof Sam Moyo: An Intellectual Icon and Fine Gentleman
"Sam was Africa’s leading intellectual voice on land and agrarian transformation. Over long periods when there was little policy interest in land reforms, he and a few other scholars kept the issues alive through rigorous empirical research and theorizing about Africa’s land and agrarian questions in the context of globalization. Throughout an intellectual career that spanned decades and produced a massive body of work, he consistently championed the rights of Africa’s smallholders as well as its landless and dispossessed communities and chronicled the struggles of agrarian social movements for equitable land rights. He followed up his research with engagements with policy makers, civil society organisations, research networks on agrarian issues as well as social movements. He was much in demand in Africa and beyond as a policy advisor on land and agrarian issues. Sam showed great courage in his robust engagement with Zimbabwe’s land reforms. He charted a course of independent research which eschewed sensationalism and illuminated the scale and significance of land redistribution represented by the Fast Track Land Reform Programme which saw over two hundred thousand Zimbabwean households acquiring land for their livelihoods. In spite of the fact that this was for a long time a very lonely undertaking, which incurred the disapproval of the different sides of the debates on Zimbabwe’s land reforms, he was much respected and admired not only within CODESRIA, but in the wider community of progressive intellectuals within the global south for his consistency and the quality of the evidence he produced to back his positions. The growing acceptance of Sam’s positions in the wider land and agrarian studies community sadly failed to give him full credit for his pivotal role in changing the debate about Zimbabwe’s land reforms" - Dzodzi Tsikata & Ebrima Sall - CODESRIA: Tribute to Professor Sam Moyo, a Great Intellectual, and a Man of Integrity

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Now/Today: Condolence Meeting for Sam Moyo

A light in our midst is extinguished today.
A luminary in the struggle for justice.
An intellectual.
An idealist.

Sam Moyo,
a man of wisdom, patience, enthusiasm , humour and wit.

A great heart.
Generous with his time,
his knowledge,
his laughter,
his vision.

We mourn the loss of such a man;

Whose commitment transcends the creed
of individualism and greed.

Whose life is a monument to engagement in his cause:
A challenge to the status quo.

We mourn the loss of such a visionary.

Sam Moyo,
Our Mentor, Professor, Inspiration and Friend.
You have given substance to our thoughts,
Strength to our activism,
Passion to our cause.

Your ideals and example stand forever as beacons of light in our minds.
They give us hope and courage to continue the struggle you pursued with such conviction.

You have changed our lives and your spirit remains forever a part of us.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Farewell Comrade Sam Moyo

"Our friend, comrade and brother, Sam Moyo, passed on just a couple of hours ago. He was involved in a terrible car accident in Delhi on the night of 19th November... I am totally devastated. We have lost one of our great comrades, utterly committed, most unassuming scholar and an absolutely decent human being. What more can I say!" - Issa Shivji (22 November 2015)

"Thanks comrade Chambi. It was good to see you after so long! Cheers" - Sam Moyo ( 25 June 2015)

Sam Moyo contributed to the cause of agrarian reform with a deep commitment to social justice and activism.

Prof Sam Moyo. A towering academic, researcher & writer. A Fearless thinker, independent minded & very warm human being. Our very Own.

Africa has lost another greatest thinker/scholar/intellectual activist: Prof Sam Moyo is no more. May his soul rest in peace!

Am saddened to hear about Prof Sam Moyo's tragic passing in Delhi after an accident, Zimbabwe has lost a fine son, mwalimu wa walimu MHSRIP

Prof lent a measured voice to the Land Reform debate in Zimbabwe. MHSRIP

Any being active in the positive education & upliftment of a ppl is worthy of reverence. Rest In Power Prof Sam Moyo

Sad to hear of the death of Prof Sam Moyo A humble academic and beyond.MHDSRIP

Many sons of the soil pass on in Zimbabwe without seeing the freedom they worked for. Sam Moyo .

"An unimaginable loss has happened. Our phenomenal intellectual pan African giant on land issues, Professor Sam Moyo, has died following injuries sustained during a terrible car accident in New Delhi, India. We are in disbelief. We are waiting for him to come home. We feel ripped apart with pain. We grew up following you in our townships. We nicknamed you Sekuru 'Chimusoro', the one with the very big head. All our parents wanted us to be exactly like you....Our great tree that bore so much fruit. Yes we would laugh, but you would steer us to talk about the thing that mattered most to you; and even if we did not know it then, to us. How to fully reclaim the land that was stolen by the colonial forces....Throughout your life, you carried your intellectual smarts with so much ease. In the beginning we would all look at each other unable to write down some of the big words and theories you used. And yet you persisted. Sharing your knowledge with us, crafting an epistemology around land and agrarian rights. Together you showed us why land was a critical resource for women to have ownership and control over....When we tried to call you Prof, you would smile and say, 'vafana vangu, ndinonzi Sam - my youngsters, I am just Sam.' It didn't matter that you had 'eaten many books' as the saying used to go. You would listen to our elementary theories, nurture us with love and suggest, 'let's write a policy brief on this subject. That's how we will change the world'....Thank you for giving us so much of you Sekuru Chimusoro. Siyabonga Moyondizvo. We will forever carry you in our hearts. Broken as they are by your untimely and devastatingly painful death. Alone, so far away from the homeland you fought so hard for" - Bella Matambanadzo: An Ode in Memory of Chimusoro Sam Moyo

Friday, November 20, 2015


"This edited volume is about the rekindled investment in the figure of the first president Julius K. Nyerere in contemporary Tanzania. It explores how Nyerere is remembered by Tanzanians from different levels of society, in what ways and for what purposes. Looking into what Nyerere means and stands for today, it provides insight into the media, the political arena, poetry, the education sector, or street-corner talks. The main argument of this book is that Nyerere has become a widely shared political metaphor used to debate and contest conceptions of the Tanzanian nation and Tanzanian-ness. The state-citizens relationship, the moral standards for the exercise of power, and the contours of national sentiment are under scrutiny when the figure of Nyerere is mobilized today" -

NB: Read it at Google Books

Thursday, November 19, 2015


"Tarehe 20 Januari 1964 maofisa 15 wa Jeshi la Tanganyika (Tanganyika Army) lililorithiwa kutoka serikali ya kikoloni ya Tanganyika, Colito Barracks (Kambi ya Lugalo) waliongoza maasi ya kijeshi dhidi ya serikali ya Tanganyika. Kikundi kimoja kilikwenda Ikulu kutaka kumlazimisha Rais Nyerere kukubali matakwa yao. Haijulikani ingekuwaje kama kingefanikiwa, na kama Rais Nyerere angeyakataa madai yake. Lolote lingetokea na historia ya Tanzania na ya Afrika ingeathirika vibaya mno. Kwa ujasiri na ubunifu makini, Peter Bwimbo, aliyekuwa mkuu wa kitengo cha ulinzi wa viongozi, (Presidential Securty Unit) na mlinzi mkuu (Body Guard) wa Rais Nyerere, iliwahamisha Rais Nyerere na Makamo wake Rashis Kawawa, akawapeleka mahali salama, akawaepusha na hatari, pengine ya kuuawa. Hiyo ndiyo iliyoitwa Operesheni Magogoni. Katika kitabu hiki, Mzee Peter Bwimbo, kwa maelezo yake mwenyewe ametoa siri ambayo ni wachache sana waliyoifahamu; haya ndiyo maelezo sahihi ya mbinu alizotumia kuwaokoa viongozi wa nchi" -

NB: Kisome kwenye Vitabu Vya Google

Tuesday, November 17, 2015




Tangazo la Washindi:

Washindi wa tuzo mpya ya Mabati-Cornell ya Fasihi ya Kiafrika walitangazwa leo (Novemba 17, 2015). Lengo kuu la tuzo hii ni kutambua uandishi bora kwa lugha za Kiafrika na kuhimiza tafsiri kutoka lugha za Kiafrika kwa lugha nyingine, baina ya lugha za Kiafrika zenyewe kwa zenyewe, na pia kwa lugha za Kiafrika. 

Washindi wa kwanza wa tuzo hii ni:

Zawadi ya Kwanza ya Riwaya - $5,000: Anna Samwel Manyanza kwa Penzi la Damu

Zawadi ya Kwanza ya Ushairi - $5,000: Mohammed K. Ghassani kwa N'na Kwetu

Zawadi ya Pili katika utanzu wowote - $3,000: Enock Maregesi kwa Kolonia Santita (riwaya)

Zawadi ya Tatu katika utanzu wowote, $2,000: Christopher Bundala Budebah kwa Kifaurongo (ushairi)

Hiyo ni miongoni mwa miswada 65 iliyowasilishwa, na kusomwa na waamuzi 6: 

Riwaya - Dk. Farouk Topan, Prof. Sheila Ryanga na Prof. Mohamed Bakari. 

Ushairi - Bi. Rukiya Harith Swaleh, Prof. Clara Momanyi na Prof. Alamin Mazrui.

Waamuzi walisema kuwa, “ Wakitumia lugha inayovutia na iliyo muwafaka, na mara nyingine lugha cheshi, washindi walizungumzia maswala yanayozikumba jamii za Afrika Mashariki, kama vile utumiaji wa mihadharati na athari zake duniani; swala la jinsia – wanawake na haki zao; na ufisadi wa kisiasa. Huu ni ukweli halisi wa Afrika katika lugha ya Kiafrika.”

Washindi watakabidhiwa zawadi zao katika Tamasha la Fasihi la Kwani? (Kwani? Lit Fest) litakalofanyika Desemba 3, 2015 katika Klabu ya Capital mjini Nairobi, Kenya.

Sarit Shah, Mkurugenzi wa Mabati Rolling Mills Kenya alisema, “Kuongezeka kwa matumizi ya Kiswahili kuwa ni lugha kuu ya mawasiliano Afrika Mashariki hakuwezi kupuuzwa. Tunaamini kuwa lugha na tamaduni huboresha mahusiano ya kikazi na ya kibinafsi. Hapa Safal, hasa hapa Mabati, tunajivunia kuwa katika jamii hii inayoendelea kukua.”

Abdilatif Abdalla, Mwenyekiti wa Bodi ya Wadhamini, alisema, “Jambo la kufurahisha ni kwamba sehemu kubwa ya miswada iliyopokewa ilikuwa ni ya kiwango cha juu. Kwa sababu ya kanuni za tuzo hii, ni washiriki wane tu ndio wanaoweza kutunukiwa zawadi. Hata hivyo, ni matumaini yangu kwamba hao washiriki wengine hawatavunjika moyo, bali wataendelea kushiriki katika mashindano yafuatayo, na kwamba baadhi yao watafarijika kwa maandishi yao kuchapishwa vitabu pia. Yanastahili. 

Mukoma Wa Ngugi, mwanzilishi-mwenzi wa tuzo hii alisema, “Kiwango cha msaada tuliopokea kinadhihirisha kuwa kuna uhitaji, na pia uwanja mpana, wa kuandika kwa lugha za Kiafrika; na kuwa utamaduni wa Kiafrika wa fasihi unaweza kustawi katika lugha za Kiafrika, na kwamba lugha za Kiafrika zinaweza kukuzwa kupitia ufadhili kutoka Afrika kwenyewe.”

Lizzy Attree, mwanzilishi-mwenzi mwengine wa tuzo hii alisema, “Tunawashukuru wote walioleta miswada yao katika shindano hili, na tunatarajia kuwa tuzo ya mwaka huu itawahimiza waandishi zaidi kushiriki katika shindano la mwaka ujao.”

Masharti ya Tuzo: 

1.Tuzo itatolewa kwa muswada bora ambao bado haujachapishwa, au kwa kitabu kilichochapishwa miaka miwili kabla ya mwaka wa tuzo, katika tanzu za riwaya, tamthilia, ushairi, wasifu, na riwaya za michoro. Jumla ya dola za Marekani 15,000 zitatolewa zawadi kama ifuatavyo:

Zawadi ya Kwanza ya Riwaya - $5,000 

Zawadi ya Kwanza ya Ushairi - $5,000

Zawadi ya Pili katika utanzu wowote - $3,000

Zawadi ya Tatu katika utanzu wowote - $2,000

2. Kitabu au muswada utakaoshinda utachapishwa kwa Kiswahili na shirika la uchapishaji la East African Educational Publishers; na diwani bora ya mashairi itatafsiriwa na kuchapishwa na Africa Poetry Book Fund. 

3. Sherehe ya kuwatuza washindi wanne, itakayohudhuriwa na washindi wenyewe, itakuwa Kenya. Washindi hao wataalikwa Chuo Kikuu cha Cornell, watakakokuwa kwa wiki moja; kisha wiki moja nyingine watakuwa katika asasi shiriki (ya Marekani ama Afrika) mwaka 2016. 

Shindano la Mwaka 2016: 

Washiriki wanaombwa kupeleka miswada ambayo haijachapishwa, au vitabu (riwaya, tamthilia, ushairi, wasifu, au riwaya za michoro), vilivyochapishwa kwa Kiswahili miaka miwili kabla ya mwaka wa tuzo, kwa: kabla ya Machi 31, 2016. Miswada ya maandishi ya nathari isipungue maneno 50,000; na ya ushairi isipungue kurasa 60.


Waamuzi watabadilishwa kila mwaka na kuchaguliwa na wadhamini wa Tuzo. 

Tarehe Muhimu:

Tarehe ya mwisho ya kupeleka miswada au vitabu ni Machi 31, 2016. Orodha ya kwanza itatolewa Julai 2016, na washindi watatangazwa Oktoba 2016. 

Kwa Wahariri:

Tuzo ya Kiswahili ya Mabati Cornell ya Fasihi ya Kiafrika ilianzishwa na Prof. Mukoma Wa Ngugi na Dk. Lizzy Attree mwaka wa 2014 ili kuendeleza uandishi bora kwa lugha za Kiafrika na kuhimiza tafsiri kutoka lugha za Kiafrika kwa lugha nyingine, pia baina ya lugha za Kiafrika zenyewe kwa zenyewe.

Tuzo ya Mabati-Cornell:

Kwa kiasi kikubwa, tuzo hii inadhaminiwa na Mabati Rolling Mills of Kenya (sehemu ya Kampuni ya Safal), Ofisi ya Makamu wa Mkuu wa Maswala ya Kimataifa katika Chuo Kikuu cha Cornell, Idara ya Masomo na Utafiti ya Afrikana

Mabati Rolling Mills: 

Mabati ni sehemu ya Kampuni ya Safal, inayotengeneza mabati katika nchi 11 za Mashariki ya Afrika na Kusini mwa Afrika.

Ofisi ya Makamu wa Mkuu wa Maswala ya Kimataifa katika Chuo Kikuu cha Cornell inatoa mwongozo na kusaidia katika kusimamia juhudi za kuzidisha shughuli za kimataifa Cornell. Lengo lake ni kushirikiana na shule, vyuo na vituo ili kuendeleza na kutekeleza mipango inayohusiana na shughuli za kimataifa za Chuo Kikuu hiki. Ofisi hii itaisaidia Halmashauri mpya ya Kimataifa, ambayo mwenyekiti wake ni Makamu wa Mkuu.

Idara ya Masomo na Utafiti ya Afrikana ni Idara ya Masomo na Utafiti ya Afrikana, mazingira ya kielimu, ya kitamaduni na ya kijamii kwenye Chuo Kikuu cha Cornell, Ithaca. 

East African Educational Publisher (EAEP) ni shirika mojawapo kuu la wachapishaji. EAEP linajitahidi kuyahusisha maadili yanayoonekana kama kwamba yanakinzana; yaani kuchapisha kazi za kiwango cha juu zinazogusia maswala ya kijamii, ya kitamaduni na ya kiuchumi, na wakati huo huo kufaulu kufanya biashara iliyo tayari kukabiliana na hali halisi na misukosuko ya zama za kiteknolojia. 

Africa Poetry Book Fund inaimarisha na kuendeleza uchapishaji wa sanaa za kishairi kupitia vitabu vyake, mashindano, warsha na semina pamoja na kushirikiana na wachapishaji, matamasha, mawakala, vyuo, vyuo vikuu, makongamano na vikundi vingine vinavyohusika na ushairi Afrika. 

Bodi ya Wadhamini: Abdilatif Abdalla (Mwenyekiti), Mukoma wa Ngugi, Lizzy Attree, Happiness Bulugu, Walter Bgoya, Henry Chakava, Chege Githiora, Carole Boyce Davies, Rajeev Shah, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o – na wengine watakaotangazwa baadaye. 

Twitter: @KiswahiliPrize

Kwa Mawasiliano:

Prof. Mukoma Wa Ngugi,

Dr Lizzy Attree,

Monday, November 16, 2015

Textbook Democracy?

Snapshots from Samuel Zalanga's take on Democracy:

All the people talking about democracy based on textbook or academic definition should square that with how democracy functions in the U.S. concretely and then see how it will work effectively in countries that have in many respects less resources. It is not wrong to start with the academically defined ideals of democracy but we should proceed to the trenches and see how things work. Even in ancient Greece, their democracy was full of contradictions. They denied many citizenship, and the democracy survived by colonizing other human beings. Socrates was sentenced to death through a "democratic process" that was not inspired by the pursuit of justice but envy and hate. This means democracy is not necessarily incompatible with the promotion of hate and envy, which have other consequences on society.

I will surely want a functioning democracy, but what I mentioned about people being more concerned about conditions that guarantee them their welfare is well-documented. There is a Nigerian Professor who wrote a preface to one edition of this book written by Professors A. B. Assensoh and Yvette Alex-Assensoh: African Military History and Politics: Ideological Coups and Incursions, 1900 - Present. I forgot his name, but he made a very important point when he said the greatest dictator in Africa is "POVERTY." 

Many people in this forum did not or have never had an encounter with POVERTY. I am not blaming or accusing them. But such an encounter, if it is a serious one, can change one's perspective. I am sorry to say that poverty is the worse type of dictator of a human being's life. It takeover your mind, body and soul. It can kill. It can dehumanize you. I experienced it when growing up. 

I will argue that because of poverty, the average intelligence of many Africans is lower than what it should be. I say so because all the conditions discussed in the literature that help in nurturing a person's intelligence and enabling it to flourish are negated by poverty. Poverty is a serious problem in Africa. In many respects, it is chronic poverty. 

 It is good to have democracy but I still maintain that if democracy will not produce true dividends that address the basic needs of human beings, such people will prefer authoritarian regimes than that. Of course there are different types of democracies. The classification are there in the literature. The substance of majoritarian and proportional democracy are for instance different even in developed countries.

Note that even under colonial rule which we describe as oppressive, there were many areas of Africa where people's day to day lives were not directly impacted by colonial rule because of indirect rule. By and large most of them continued with their normal lives. Of course in the case of Nigeria, Lagos was a colony. In the same way, there are many authoritarian regimes that often in terms of the day to day functions, people pursue their normal lives and they do not notice any serious or notable difference. Of course the elites who are trying to compete for power will not experience that probably.

 For those that are from Nigeria, I will encourage them when they visit the country to visit some rural people or ordinary communities and ask them about how democracy is helping them. I did that and democracy for many ordinary Nigerian is organized robbery and deception. There is no emphasis on the provision of public goods; getting something depends on personal access or patronage which if you are not part of the machine, you will suffer. 

I was in Kenya two years ago and spoke at the chapel of a boarding school at Kibera. I was touched by the determination and maturity of the young men. But one of them told me that things have not been working, whether it is democracy or the simplistic idea that prayers are working, when people continue to do the wrong thing everyday. If anyone here wants democracy to be sincerely embraced, they should rather invest their energy in examining what can distort democracy and undermine it from helping people to address their basic needs. This is the great challenge. 

In my assessment, we will be underestimating and disrespecting the rationality of ordinary Africans, if we just assume that they should embrace democracy for its own sake when it is not working towards truly addressing their basic needs and human dignity. Indeed, we should be surprise if they did that, when it is not working for them. What is wrong with that. Is democracy God or their grandfather? It is about the substance of the political process, and not some general sweet claims. 

This challenge today in Africa is not an academic one of just making a case for democracy without substance or dividends. The challenge is a practical and moral question. It is not just about having a good constitution. It is about the mechanisms of getting the results of good governance that creates an enabling environment for citizens to pursue their aspirations. 

If Kagame as an authoritarian leader can provide that, Rwanda will do better than African countries that have democracy but doing nothing to promote the living conditions of their people. This is not making a case for authoritarianism, but it is about observing how things operate on the ground. It will be unfortunate for anybody or any country to think of making their president more or less permanent like in Zimbabwe. 

But note that the 11th hour on Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America, after more than 200 years of democracy and Enlightenment and more than 2000 years of Christian teaching of love. But it sounds very uncaring to just tell people to go for democracy when it is not addressing their needs. Just look at the statistics of poverty or income inequality in the U.S. for decades and then ask yourself, where did democracy go?

I remember Winston Churchill saying democracy is the worse form of government but for the others. I am not against democracy, but freedom of expression is not enough because it is misleading. Check the documentary film "The Persuaders" and see how corporate media manufactures truth. How can one have true freedom of expression in a media system that is dominated by corporations with their own corporate agenda and often they want to manipulate people's thinking. You may have the formal freedom to express yourself but there is no guarantee that your voice will be heard. 

The authors of the book "Poor People's Movement" based on U.S. history show that the democratic system under normal circumstances ignores the poor. It is only when the poor or socially marginalized manage to do something so crazy that they draw public attention and then some of the elites pay attention and start thinking of making concession. Otherwise the system just ignores them.

I will subsequently send information that I will encourage all those who want to pursue this issue seriously to read. I want them to answer one question: why with all the democracy in the U.S., yet, over the years there has not been only widening social inequality but the bottom fifth or so of the population have lost grounds in terms of what they earn as part of national income for decades. Is that what democracy should be or are we also experiencing "repressive de-sublimation?" Meanwhile the few at the top have become even richer. If democracy has CONSCIENCE per se, and after more than 200 years, why can't its conscience force it to amend these ugly realities that clearly indicate that American "democracy" is not working for all.

We can start with academic definitions of democracy or our personal wishes, but for me as a social scientist and sociologist in particular, empirical data and reality is very important. Whatever I believe as a starting point I will check the empirical world to see whether it holds.

I am also amaze at how some people embrace the talk about democracy in a very simplistic way and ridicule authoritarian regimes. Let me even push an argument further. The U.S. government especially in the South was up to 1964 an authoritarian regime, with rigid social structure based on what looks like a caste system. In theory it is a democracy, in practice, certain people were denied civil rights because of rigidity in the social structure. Women were denied access to certain spheres of the society. Blacks suffered segregation. Laws denied Blacks their rights. The U.S. presumably started making effort to become a true democracy since 1964 and unfortunately, when you watch the documentaries above, there is a silent takeover of citizens rights by corporations and ruling class interest. If it were not because of the push back of some civil society groups, the situation would have been worst. 

I will encourage anyone interested to explore Herbert Marcuse's concept of "REPRESSIVE DE-SUBLIMATION" which he developed to characterize a situation where people on the surface are free, but in reality, through the process of the way the system operates, they are repressed. The average American citizen has no time to figure out what is truly happening in the country. Even some professors do not. They are too busy. 

The ordinary American is bombarded with information and to even know the truth he or she will spend an inordinate amount of time to do that, and the system keeps him or her extremely busy working many hours for sake of increasing productivity, paying the bills etc, such that he or she is so tired. When he or she is tired, the little free time he or she has is spent resting or looking for entertainment provided by the same corporate system that kept him or her busy. 

The corporate media analyzes his or her mind with some lifestyle consumption that encourages him or her to work harder until they die pursuing something called "The American Dream" which for many has become a nightmare. C. Wright Mills long ago talked about how the media conditions the citizen on what to expect, what not to etc. etc. There is nothing I have said here in critique of American democracy that Robert K. Merton did not say in his theory called "Social Structure and Anomie." I read it as an undergraduate and thought he was calling for a socialist revolution, but the author of the piece said, it was just a liberal critique of American social structure.
The problem sociologically is, what factors can enhance or make accountability realizable and what can prevent it? Are there things we can do to increase accountability? One can list many in the context of Nigeria or Rwanda. In a sense, what this means is that it is not enough for us to throw the concept of democracy out there as a solution without paying attention to the process and specifics. People who are powerful and feel entitled to privilege will always try to circumvent accountability using many reasons: religion, gerontology, patriarchy, security as in Rwanda, etc,. etc. In the literature, one major thing that can make authoritarianism work well is if the autocrat is committed to a sense of vision for his or her people. 

We do not want autocrats, whether it is Kagame or whoever, but the reality is that many African countries have a long way to go if we look at the situation on the ground. Authoritarian leaders that have a sense of honor restrain themselves from doing certain things, while politicians that do not have a sense of honor can create conditions that destroy many lives. It is not that one loves authoritarianism but given what happened in Northeastern Nigeria, for anyone that cares to listen to the real stories, what does democracy mean to the people? The people will prefer democracy of course, but, it has to work, it has to prove itself. That is why Thomas Hobbes said in The Leviathan that, without peace and stability, there will be no foundation for civilization. One does not have to be powerful before he or she can create havoc. They only need to be cunning as we saw with the insurgency in Iraq after U.S.declared winning the invasion.

Given the realities we face and the fact that some assume Nigeria is a democracy but actually it is in the ambiguous category, the time has passed when we can just be talking about democracy or check and balances in theory without paying attention to what specifically makes that possible. The average Nigerian politician feels once in charge, he or she can use his power and often, ignoring the constitution except in cases that are obviously unacceptable. Ideally, the citizens should rise up against that but in many cases as Charles Tilly argues, the process of modern state formation in Africa is different from that of Europe.
Part of my concern also is that we are discussing this as if there is only one type of democracy or authoritarianism. For instance in Africa, here is how one book I have classifies the types of democracies that we have: 

a) Liberal Democracy

b) Electoral Democracy

c) Ambiguous

d) Liberalized Autocracy

e) Unreformed Autocracy.

Some scholars add "competitive authoritarianism." There is a book with that title.

There are examples for each of the five types. But I do not have the time to provide further information. Each one of them has a problem. Kenya for instance is just an electoral democracy. I have attached a page that can help anyone interested to pursue the issue further. To understand why things are this way, we have to pay attention to the social context or structure of each society to know why things happen the way they do. Just focusing on the ruler as such, makes me feel like this is a kind of personality-oriented type of analysis since the focus is on the idiosyncrasy of a person called Kagame, and not the complex process that produced the person and the political situation.
I thought I will share the attached human development indicators for Nigeria and Rwanda. Given what Rwanda has gone through, and given how Nigeria has much more resources, and is blessed with a democracy that is presumably working because there is no a "Kagame," Nigeria should be doing exceedingly better.

Each report is six pages. I encourage the reader to print it out or open two screens so as to patiently compare the indicators. The impression one gets is that in many respects, Nigeria even with democracy is sometimes a big for nothing since her human development indicators are not necessarily highly better than that of many other countries. 

And in my assessment the result here is even looking better because Nigeria's human development indicators are better as a country, than when you dis-aggregate it by regions. If the North is only compared with Rwanda or other countries, the situation will look terribly bad. 

You wonder where all the democracy in Nigeria went with regard to human development. The Nigerian mass media is vibrant, there is fierce competition for power, no life president etc. But that these have translated into human development for all is not true. And given this, it will sound simplistic to just continue to be shouting democracy without going deeper into how to make the system really translate into concrete benefits for especially the poorest of the poor. Any government, whether authoritarian or democratic that fails to meets or attend to its citizens' basic needs and promote their human dignity will run into problems.
Although it is also true that often people who desire to lead a country have a larger than normal ego. Is that not true? Kagame needs to be held accountable. I am with you on that. But on the broader question of democracy equals development, and authoritarianism equals underdevelopment, the literature on these are far more complicated. I wish there were simple answers. I wish Nigeria was way ahead of Rwanda in terms of human development because Nigeria has been more democratic than Rwanda. I want some empirical data to be part of the discussion. The human development figures of some parts of Nigeria if dis-aggregated make democracy for many meaningless. The real question and challenge is how to make democracy really have dividend for all the people and not to argue the cease abstractly.

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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