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Some Swahili Political Words

  • Carol M. M. Scotton

Extract

A Strongly charged Swahili political vocabulary has emerged in Tanzania, which sharply distinguishes persons and nations, in both domestic and foreign affairs, as being either for or against Tanzania's policies. The implications of the selection and usage of this vocabulary are considerable in any assessment of political trends in Tanzania, since language and culture are certainly related. Not only does language reflect cultural patterns, but language also imposes its patterns on culture.1

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Page 527 note 1 Most writers have concentrated on demonstrating how culture appears to be reflected in language. But on the other side of the relationship, the fact that language not only communicates thought but helps to shape it, should also be emphasised. For an earlier study of some Swahili political words, see Whiteley, W. H., ‘Political Concepts and Connotations’, in St. Antony's Papers (London, 1960).

Page 529 note 1 Swahili is not only the official language of Tanzania, but is in fact widely used by all classes and racial groups both on the mainland and in Zanzibar, as well as in other areas in East Africa. Since Swahili has traditionally been the language of commerce and the second language of all the diverse peoples of Tanzania, its status as the first language of the new nation has never been seriously questioned.

Page 529 note 2 The 30 Tanzanian Africans interviewed in Dar es Salaam were selected from different regional, educational, and economic backgrounds. The questionnaire was considered only incidentally, since the number of responses was limited. Uhuru, one of the two daily Swahili newspapers of Dar es Salaam and generally considered more or less official because of its T.A.N.U. sponsorship, was looked at most closely. All issues of March 1965 were checked and other issues from November 1964 toJune 1965 were spot-checked. (Uhuru's daily circulation is about 8,000, but one copy is commonly passed around among many readers.) A number of issues of Ngurumo, an independent Dar es Salaam daily, and some of Kweupe, a daily published in Zanzibar, were also checked. All issues of Vigilance Africa, a self-styled ‘socialist fortnightly review’, published in both English and Swahili (the Swahili apparently being a translation of the English) were also surveyed, from its inception in December 1964, up to the end of March, 1965.

Page 529 note 3 A Swahili proverb says, ‘Mvunja nchi ni mwana nchi’ – ‘the destroyer of a country is the son of the country’.

Page 530 note 1 Lakini narudia tena kusema kwamba mafanikio yote haya yametokana na ushirikiano mwema baina ya wananchi na Serikali yao’. Uhuru (Dar es Salaam), 6 01 1965.

Page 530 note 2Bwana Shaba alisfu juhudi ya Askari Police no akazidi kuwaomba wazidishe ushirikiano na Wananchi katika kujenga taifa letu’. Ibid. 3 April 1965.

Page 530 note 3Kufanya kazi ya kujitolea ni kushiriki katika kazi yo yote ambayo haina malipo yo yote binafsi isipokuwa kwa manufaa ya wote, mathalani kujenga shule na kadhalika’.

Page 530 note 4 ‘Sisi hatuoni kwamba TANU ni chama cha watu wachache wanaojiona bora bali twakiona kuwa ni chama cha wananchi wote ambacho raia ye yote mwenye nia nzuri anaweza kuingia ili aweze kushiriki katika kuendesha serikali’. Taarifa ya Tume ya Rais juu ya Kuanzishwa kwa Serikali ya Kidimokrasi ya Chama Kimoja cha Siasa (Dar es Salaam, 1965), p. 15.

Page 531 note 1 ‘Gazeti la Mwafrika lilizaliwa enziya ukoloni wakati kikundi cha wananchi kilipoamua kulianzisha: madhumuni yake yakiwa kusaidia viongozi wa TANU na raia katika jitihada ya kudai uhuru wa nchi hii. Kwa sababu hii gazeti hili lilipendwa sana na viongozi hao pamoja na wananchi weayewe.’ Mwafrika (Dares Salaam), 31 12 1964.

Page 531 note 2Hatua hyo ingepata kibali cha wananchi Waafrika na hakika kibali cha zaidiya weupe 52,000 ambao walipinga katika kura na wale walikataa kupiga kura wakati wa refurandamu dhaifu ya Smith miezi michache ilyopita.’ Uhuru, 18 December 1964.

Page 531 note 3Kila mwananchi safi afahamu kuwa Tanzania haitajengwa kwa misaada; hasa misaada ya Mabeberu. Itajengwa kwa nguou zetu wenyewe. Nguuu Zetu sisi wananchi.’ Ibid. 2 March 1965.

Page 531 note 4 An interesting use of political vocabulary, and of party funds, has been the creation of the Mwananchi Development Corporation, and its numerous eponymous subsidiaries, such as the Mwananchi Publishing Co. Ltd. (which produces The Nationalist and Uhuru), the Mwananchi Engineering and Contracting Co. Ltd., the Mwananchi Trading Co. Ltd., etc. Other, private firms are listed as Mwananchi this and that in the current Tanzania telephone directory, obviously hoping to acquire a favourably disposed public.

Page 532 note 1Neno, hili ni neno ambalo hutumika sana na watu ambao wana mawazo ya kisiasa. Kalika siku chache zilizopita za matembezi yangu mtu mmoja aliniamkia kwa heshima—na heshima hiyo alinionyesha wazi akisema, “Je? hujambo, mwananchi.” Nami nilimjibu, “Sijambo, Shikamoo”; Naye papo hapo aliitikia na akaniambia, “Je? Mwananchi, unaweza kunionyesha wapi ipo Office ya Shirika la Usafirishaji ?” Nami nilimwelekeza, na akaniambia, “Ahsante, mwananchi. Kwaheri.”

Page 532 note 2Vyama vya Ushirika na moshirika mengine ni lazima yatumie uwezo huu na kuwahimiza wananchi pamoja najamii za kiasia zilizomo nchini humu kutumia utaalamu wao.’ Uhuru, 25 March 1965.

Page 534 note 1Siku hizi katika mji wa Stanleyville, Wananchi wamelazimishwa na majeshi ya Tshombe kuvaa vitambaa vyeupe vya kuonyesha kama wao ni marafiki wala hawamo katika mpango wa kusaidiana na majeshi ya wananchi kuikomboa Kongo.’ Uhuru, 5 December 1964.

Page 534 note 2Hivi karibuni Serikali ya mabeberu wa Kiamerikani imekiri kwamba inatunia upepo wa sumu (gas) kuwaua wananchi wa Vietnam.’ Ibid. 29 March 1965.

Page 534 note 3 Jambo la maana zaidi ni namna Wananchi wa Algeria walivyoanza kupanga mipango ya kuondosha matatizo makubwa.’ Vigilance Africa (Dares Salaam), 1 01 1965.

Page 534 note 4 Serikali ya Wananchi Wa Uchina imelauma sana hukumuya vifungo vya miaka kumi kila mmoja vilivyotolewa na Serikaliya Brazilkwa watu saba ambao ni raia wa China.’ Uhuru, 92 12 1964.

Page 534 note 5 The Standard (Dar es Salaam), 29 03 1965.

Page 535 note 1Tunapoongea juu ya mwanasiasa tunamaanisha kuwa yeye ni mmoja mwenye kushiriki au kupendelea siasa ya Serikali yake.’

Page 536 note 1Kila mwanasiasa hufikiri kwamba kila atembeapo ni lazima awe na fimbo mkononi.’

Page 537 note 1 See Nyerere, Julius, Ujamaa, the basis of African Socialism (Dar es Salaam, 1962).

Page 537 note 2 Many Africans in Tanzania think of mabepari as a word applied exclusively to those Asians who have made substantial profits as businessmen in East Africa, but the word is certainly applied to other groups as well.

Page 538 note 1…wamerudi na sifa kemkem kwa chama cha NUTA na Serikaliya Tanzania kuhusu maendeleo tulyofanya nchini mwetu katika kuondoa ukoloni, ukoloni mamboleo, ubeberu na ubepari.’ Uhuru, 6 March 1965.

Page 538 note 2Tshombe amekuwa katibu mwenezi na Ubeberu na Ukoloni Mamboleo katika Afrika.’ Ibid.

Page 538 note 3 Kuwepo manuwari za Kiamerikani katika bahari ya Mediterranean kulitumiwa kuhatarisha uhuru wa nchi za Afrika Kaskazini na kutaka kuzilaimisha zifuate mwendo wa kibeberu wa Kiamerikani.’ Kweupe (Zanzibar), 26 05 1964.

Page 538 note 4Karibu silaha zote kubwa zilizomo Afrika ni mali ya Mabeberu, hasa wale Mabeberu waliomo katika lile genge la kihuni la NATO, yaani Marekani, Waingereza, Wafaransa, Wabelgiji, Wareno na Wajerumani Magharibi.’ Vigilance Africa, 1 December 1964.

Page 538 note 5Wanegro wameanzisha vyama vyao vya kupigania haki zao wakiwa raia wa Amerika. Wanapofanya maandamano kupinga vitendo vya ubaguzi huwa wanaandamwa vikali na Police wanaoitumikia Serikali ya Marekani Mabeberu.’ Ibid. 4 February 1965.

Page 539 note 1 ‘[NUTA] Mkutano umeazimia na kulaani vikali ubepari na ukoloni mamboleo unaoendeshwa na Serikali ya Salazaar.’ Uhuru, 31 March 1965.

Page 539 note 2 Marekani ni mwenye bidii kubwa kabisa na ni mwerevu kabisa katika kukusa ukoloni mamboleo kwa silaha hizi, wabeberu wa kiamerekani wanajaribu kwa jitihada kubwa kuponyoka makoloni na milki za wabeberu wengine ili kujiwezesha kutawalia dunia nzima.’ Watetezi wa Ukoloni Mamboleo (Peking, 1964).

Page 540 note 1Ni wazi kuwa mipango hiyo ya kuitwa ‘misaada’ si misaada ya faida kwa wananchi, ni mbinu za Wakoloni na Mabepari za kuendeleza dhuluma zao. Huo ndio ukoloni mamboleo.’ Kweupe, 14 May 1964.

Page 540 note 2Tutakaribisha urafiki na vyama vyote vya Ulimwengu ambavyo vinafuata siasa ya Kidemokrasi na siasa yenye kupinga Ubeberu na Ukoloni. Mabepari wa nchi za nje wanataka kutumia umaskini wa Tanzania kwa kueneza siasa zao na Wananchi wametambua siasa hyo na hawakubali kudanganywa na siasa hiyo.’ Uhuru, 26 March 1965.

Page 541 note 1Tanzania bado ina matatizo. Maadui wetu—Ujinga, Umaskini, na Maradhi bado wapo. Wabeberu nao wanoongeza jitihada zoo za kuleta fujo humu nchini. Wanazidi kuendesha minong'ono ya kuchonganisha watu.’ Ibid. December 1964.

* A graduate student of the Department of Linguistics, University of Wisconsin, who spent nine months in Dar es Salaam in 1964–5, with the assistance of a National Defense Education Act graduate grant from the U.S. Government and a Ford Foundation Area and International Studies grant.

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