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Development and Progress as Historical Phenomena in Tanzania: “Maendeleo? We Had That in the Past”

  • Robert M. Ahearne

Academic discussions of development continue to grow, yet critical engagements with communities affected by development interventions remain limited. Drawing from life history interviews conducted in southern Tanzania, this article details the varied experiences of development interventions among older people and how these affect broader understandings of progress. Many juxtapose their negative views of ujamaa villagization with more positive recollections of previous interventions (especially the Groundnut Scheme), which are infused with what is described here as “development nostalgia.” Perceptions of the past clearly inform the social, political, and economic aspirations forwarded today, with the richness of the constructed narratives adding further nuance to existing depictions of Tanzanian historiography.

Bien qu’il y ait de plus en plus de discussions académiques sur le sujet du développement, les engagements critiques avec les communautés touchées par les interventions de développement restent limités. À partir d’entretiens basés sur des expériences personnelles menés dans le sud de la Tanzanie, cet article détaille diverses expériences d’interventions de développement auprès de personnes âgées et comment cela contribue à une compréhension plus large du progrès. Bien des personnes juxtaposent leurs points de vue négatifs de la villagisation Ujamaa avec des souvenirs plus positifs des interventions précédentes (surtout, le système de l’arachide), qui sont imprégnées de ce qui est décrit ici comme “le développement nostalgie.” Les perceptions du passé nous renseignent clairement sur les aspirations sociales, politiques et économiques transmises aujourd’hui, la richesse des récits construits ajoutant des nuances supplémentaires à la représentation existante de l’historiographie de la Tanzanie.

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Ahmadi, Shaibu, age 68, farmer and driver, Mikindani, June 29, 2009.
Aisha, Ali, age 65, farmer and sisal cutter, Mikindani, February 10, 2010.
Ali Ahmadi Chap, Chap, age 80, Mozambican (lived in Dihimba since the civil war), retired fisherman, Dihimba, July 12, 2009.
Ali, Adeni, age 80, port worker and farmer, Mikindani, May 15, 2009.
Asha Hassani, Barakati, age 68, farmer (whose family was forced to move during villagization), Dihimba, May 8, 2009.
Fikiri, Selemani, age 80–85, farmer, Mikindani, October 9, 2009.
Hamisi, Musa, age 75, worked on railway construction, a former CCM ward executive and an entrepreneur, Mikindani, July 22, 2009.
Hadija, Selemani, age ∼80, farmer and shop worker, Mikindani, November 25, 2009.
Mohammedi, Kidume, age 85, wage laborer on railway line for the Groundnut Scheme, April 24, 2009.
Mohammedi, Hamisi, age 85–90, tool maker, retired farmer, and wage laborer on the Groundnut Scheme, Mikindani, March 4, 2010.
Mohammed, Masoudi, age 70, farmer, former CCM village chairman, railway builder and port worker, Dihimba, June 8, 2009.
Mohammedi, Musa, age 65–70, carpenter and farmer (son of a railway worker for the Groundnut Scheme), Dihimba, January 29, 2010.
Mzee, Nguruwe (pseudonym), age 73, forestry expert, gardener, and NGO translator, Mikindani, April 10, 2009.
Salumu Hassan, Sululu, age 72, village chairman, retired farmer, worked on building the railway, Dihimba, September 8, 2009.
Selemani Abdalla, Likolo, age 66, CCM ward chairman, cashew nut farmer and former fisherman, Mikindani, July 25, 2012.
Shuwea, Mohammedi, age ∼90, farmer and migrant from Lindi (moved to live with family during villagization), Dihimba, April 22, 2009.
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African Studies Review
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