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Why Did the Ujamaa Village Policy Fail? – Towards a Global Analysis

  • Zaki Ergas

Genuine efforts have been made in recent years to build a more egalitarian and just society in Tanzania. A ‘leadership code’ forbids senior government and party officials to have a second income from business interests or rents; a steeply progressive tax system reduces income differentials from a ratio of 1/100 before independence to 1/10 in the 1970s; a period of national service is obligatory for secondaryschool and university graduates; fairly successful attempts have been made to radically reform the whole educational system; and the major financial, industrial, and commercial enterprises have been nationalised. But 13 years after its inception in 1967, it is now generally acknowledged that the policy of creating ujamaa villages has failed in terms of what they had been designed to achieve: namely, the building of a socialist society in the rural areas of Tanzania where more than 90 per cent of the population lives.

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page 388 note 1 See Gillete, A. L., ‘Beyond the Non-Formal Fashion: towards educational revolution in Tanzania’, Center for International Education, University of Massachusetts, Cambridge, 1977;Auger, G., ‘Tanzanian Education Since Uhuru’, Institute of Education, University of Dar es Salaam, 1971; and Ergas, Z., ‘L'Économie politique du système éducatif en Tanzanie’, in Genève-Afrique (Geneva), 2, 1975, pp. 116.

page 388 note 2 For a good introduction, see Eisenstadt, S. N., ‘Convergence and Divergence in Modern and Modernising Societies’, in International Journal of Middle East Studies (London), 1, 1977, pp. 127.

page 388 note 3 This point has been convincingly made, for example, by Raikes, Philip, ‘Rural Differentiation and Class Formation in Tanzania’, in The Journal of Peasant Studies (London), 3, 1978, pp. 285325, and Shivji, I. G., Class Struggles in Tanzania (London, 1976).

page 388 note 4 In the course of their fraternisation, rich farmers and bureaucrats may drink a great number of bottles of beer, whereas most peasants have to restrict themselves to the much cheaper, locally brewed pombe. See Ergas, Z., Essai sur l'économie politique de l'éducation et le développement rural (Geneva, 1977), pp. 5782; also Cowen, M., ‘Differentiation in a Kenya Location’, University of Nairobi, 1972.

page 388 note 5 See Lofchie, Michael F., ‘Agrarian Crisis and Economic Liberalisation in Tanzania’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge), XVI, 3, 09 1978, pp. 451–75; and also Mbilinyi, M. J., ‘The Transition to Capitalism in Tanzania’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1974.

page 388 note 6 Many scholars prefer the term ‘class’ to élite. See Saul, J. S., ‘Tanzania's Transition to Socialism’, in Canadian Journal of African Studies (Ottawa), XI, 2, 1977, pp. 313–39, for a detailed analysis of the ‘bureaucratistic class’; Coulson, A. C., ‘Agricultural Policies in Mainland Tanzania’, in Review of African Political Economy (London), 10, 1977, pp. 74100, for the concept of the ‘ruling bureaucratic class’; while Raikes loc. cit. speaks of the ‘state class’.

page 389 note 1 This concept has been borrowed from Sklar, Richard L., ‘The Nature of Class Domination in Africa’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, XVII, 4, 12 1979, pp. 531–52.

page 389 note 2 The bourgeoisie has been qualified as ‘administrative’ by René Dumont, as ‘organisational’ by Irving Leonard Markovitz, as ‘managerial’ by Richard L. Sklar, as ‘state’ by Samir Amin, and as ‘bureaucratic’ by I. G. Shivji.

page 389 note 3 The theory of the ‘progressive farmers’ is based on the structuralist/functionalist school in sociology, developed by scholars like Bert Hoselitz and Talcott Parsons, and applied in the context of rural development by, for example, Rogers, E. M., Diffusion of Innovations (New York, 1967),Shoemaker, E. F., Communication of Innovation: a cross-cultural approach (New York, 1971), and Svenning, L. and Rogers, E. M., Modernization Among Peasants (New York, 1969).

page 389 note 4 According to Finucane, J. R., local bureaucrats continue to make all decisions in Mwanza Region, despite central government efforts and official declarations to the contrary; Rural Development and Bureaucracy in Tanzania: the case of Mwanza Region (Uppsala, 1974).

page 389 note 5 The Ruvuma Development Association was dismantled with the approval of President Nyerere who apparently felt that all the villages of Tanzania should be progressing together (according to the so-called ‘frontal approach’), in order to avoid an aristocracy of élite villages. Be that as it may, the Government did not want some of the villages to escape from its control according to Brain, J. L., ‘Is Transformation Possible? Styles of Settlement in Post-Independence Tanzania’, in African Affairs (London), 76, 303, 04 1977, pp. 231–45.

page 389 note 6 The story is told in Africa South of the Sahara (London, 1976), p. 888.

page 390 note 1 See Villaume, L., ‘Literacy and the Adoption of Agricultural Innovations’, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, 1977, quoted by Harman, D., ‘The Experimental World Literacy Program: a critical assessment’, in Harvard Educational Review (Cambridge, Mass.), 3, 1977, pp. 444–7.

page 390 note 2 Education by dialogue raises the level of consciousness of the peasants and is action-oriented. Cf. Freire, Paolo, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Harmondsworth, 1970), and Cultural Action for Freedom (Harmondsworth, 1971).

page 390 note 3 Success in this field is hard to achieve, mainly because of the high drop-out rate of over 50 per cent, and the quick return to illiteracy after the end of the course; Harman, loc. cit.

page 390 note 4 Cf. Nyerere, Julius, Education for Self-Reliance (Dar es Salaam, 1967), a path-breaking document. But there is a very important caveat: education cannot be used as a tool for inducing revolutionary social change in societies still permeated by ‘capitalistic’ values, mainly because it is the educational sub-system which is determined by the wider social system and not the opposite. Thus, as Chamungwana, W. M. S. writes in ‘Socialization Problems in Tanzania: an appraisal of education for self-reliance as a strategy for cultural transformation’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1974, p. 23: ‘The educational system in Tanzania has little capacity to socialize our next generation to internalize Ujamaa values’. This crucial line will be analysed in a forthcoming article.

page 391 note 1 Tradition and modernity have long been debated by social and economic anthropologists who have analysed, inter alia, the conflict between various values – e.g. ‘reciprocity’ and ‘redistribution’ versus ‘accumulation’ and ‘profit’. According to Polanyi, Karl, Anthropology and Economic Theory (New York, 1959), traditional societies are not basically altered by modernisation. By way of contrast, Herskovits, M. and Harwitz, M. L., Economic Transition in Africa (London, 1964), believe that modernisation tends to ‘uniformise’ all societies.

page 391 note 2 Abraham, William, The Mind of Africa (London, 1962). For example: the rights and obligations attached to the institution of the extended family remained practically intact, even in big cities like Lagos or Kinshasa; and, it is still next to impossible for a young man to get a wife without the payment of an adequate dowry.

page 392 note 1 Raikes, loc. cit. pp. 295–9, makes an important distinction between ‘labour reserve areas’ and ‘commodity production areas’, a colonial heritage.

page 392 note 2 Gottlieb, M., ‘The Extent and Character of Differentiation in Tanzanian Agricultural and Rural Society between 1967–1969’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1972.

page 392 note 3 Raikes, loc. cit, p. 310, mentions the case of women in rural Bukoba ‘who are often still not permitted to stand in the presence of strange men visiting the homestead, and [so] the visitors are treated to the degrading spectacle of women shuffling on hands and hips to serve tea or drinks to the males’.

page 392 note 4 Daily News (Dar es Salaam), 28 08 1975.

page 393 note 1 For more details, see Hydén, Göran, ‘Ujamaa Villagisation and Rural Development in Tanzania’, in ODI Review (London), 1, 1975, pp. 5372; and Coulson, loc. cit.

page 393 note 2 According to the theory first developed for Latin America, notably by Celso Furtado and André Gunder Frank, the T.N.C.s create a ‘dualistic’ form of growth in which the modem sector develops an ‘ivory tower’, cut off from the rural areas, and the traditional sector which remains largely undeveloped. See Seidman, Ann, ‘The Inherited Dual Economies of East Africa’, in Cliffe, Lionel and Saul, John S. (eds.), Socialism in Tanzania, Vol. 1, Politics: an interdisciplinary reader (Nairobi, 1972), pp. 4164.

page 393 note 3 Called the ‘iron laws’ of self-reliant economic development by Thomas, C., ‘The Transition to Socialism. The Issues of Economic Strategy in Tanzanian-type Economies’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1972; see also his Dependence and Transformation: the economics of the transition to socialism (New York, 1974).

page 394 note 1 Cf. ‘Market Report on Tanzania. Where the Tide is on the Turn’, in Trade and Industry (London), XXIX, 14 10 1977, pp. 87–9; and Grimond, J., ‘Back to Back: a survey of Kenya and Tanzania’, in The Economist Special Supplement (London), 226, 03 1978, pp. 126.

page 394 note 2 These giant projects have been severely criticised at the University of Dar es Salaam by supporters of small-scale rural industrialisation who advocate the use of both human and material local resources. ‘Small’ has become ‘beautiful’ not only in the West, but also in developing countries.

page 394 note 3 In fact, it appears that agreements were signed in 1978 for a grand total of U.S.$1,800 million, of which 140 million came from the World Bank, 250 million from Sweden, 143 million from Canada, 73 million from the U.K., etcetera. A consortium managed to raise 250 million for the Mufindi Paper and Pulp Project. Cf. ‘Emphasis on Industrialisation’, in Africa (London), 07 1979, pp. 118–22.

page 394 note 4 See ‘Tanzania Survey’, in New African (London), 03 1979, pp. 5569.

page 394 note 5 There were some exceptions: in 1977, the output of corrugated tin roofs was 30 per cent higher than in 1976, konyagi (the Tanzanian brandy) was up 43 per cent, and the production of shoes by 64 per cent.

But not long ago a report revealed that of 300 parastatals subjected to checks by the State Accounting Office, 56 were unable to show any balance sheets at all, and more than 150 had other grave shortcomings in their book-keeping. ‘A grotesque situation arose when one parastatal, the Power Company, had to issue threats to a number of parastatals and the Police Department to the effect that their electricity would be cut off if they did not pay their long-overdue electric bills.’ See Karashani, F., ‘On National Economy: the year that was’, in Daily News, 29 12 1977, and Gudel, S., ‘Report from Tanzania’, in The Swiss Review of World Affairs (Zurich), 2 05 1978, pp. 1115.

page 395 note 1 In the meantime, the old market of Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam had been replaced by a new commercial centre: the move entailed the resettlement of some 80,000, and ‘an important organic tie between the poor people of the countryside and the poor people of Dar es Salaam was destroyed’. Cf. Santos, M., ‘Revue et cauchemar: problèmes spatiaux de la transition aux socialisme: le cas de la Tanzanie’, in Revue Tiers-Monde (Paris), 75, 0709 1978, pp. 563–72.

page 395 note 2 Daily News, 23 November 1978. For example, in the Dodoma Region, 69 of them ‘generated an income of 35 Million Shs. making a profit of 14.6 Million Shs.’. Ibid. 14 November 1978.

page 395 note 3 ‘Tanzania: awaiting the harvest’, in Time Magazine (New York), 13 03 1978.

page 395 note 4 Karashani, loc. cit.

page 396 note 1 About the difficulties encountered during the initial period, 1967–70, see Proctor, D. (ed.) ‘Building Ujamaa Villages in Tanzania’, Studies in Political Science No. 2, University of Da es Salaam, 1971, and a number of other University papers, including: Kavura, D., ‘Problems and Prospects of Establishing Ujamaa Villages in Kibondo District’, 1970;Ellman, A., ‘Progres Problems and Prospects in Ujamaa Development in Tanzania’, 1979; and Rald, J., ‘Ujamas problems and implementation: experiences from West-Lake’, 1971.

page 396 note 2 Sumra, S., ‘Problems of Agricultural Production in Ujamaa Villages in Handeni District University of Dar es Salaam, 1975, Corruption in the villages appears to be relatively widespread For example, at Nyakabanga those responsible for the co-operative unabashedly declared that they had built a structure with a roof surface of only 15′ × 12′ at a cost of Shs. 30,000: ‘This apparently made the people hostile to any joint project, for it is daylight robbery’. Bugenge, J. et al. , ‘The Nyarubanja System and Ujamaa Villages Development in West-Lake Region University of Dar es Salaam, 1976, p. 49.

page 397 note 1 Uma Lele thinks that the anti-communal attitudes of the villagers is revealed by the fact that many thefts are committed in the collective shambas; The Design of Rural Development: lessons from Africa (Washington, D.C., 1974), p. 74.

page 397 note 2 Phillipson, G., ‘Sociological Report on Some Ujamaa Villages in Njombe District’, Department of Sociology, University of Dares Salaam, 1972.

page 397 note 3 Mapolu, H., ‘The Social and Economic Organization of Ujamaa Villages’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1973. Apparently absenteeism is a problem reportedly even in Butiama, the village of President Nyerere himself.

page 397 note 4 Angwazi, J. and Ndulu, B., ‘An Evaluation of the Ujamaa Villages in the Rufiji Area, 1968–1972’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1973.

page 397 note 5 Moody, T., ‘A Comparative Study of Six Ujamaa Villages in Karagwe District’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1972.

page 397 note 6 Phillipson, op. cit. The railway was completed at the end of 1977.

page 398 note 1 The standard excuse for shirking manual work was that public servants had ‘other more important duties’ – I was told at the University of Dar es Salaam that this included ‘sitting around for hours drinking beer’.

page 398 note 2 Bugengo, op. cit.

page 399 note 1 Proctor, op. cit. pp. 48–54; ‘Peasants Demand Refund for Ten Cows’, in Daily Nation (Dar es Salaam), 12 03 1973.

page 399 note 2 Finucane, in the course of his long stay in the Mwanza Region, was able to observe this phenomenon; op. cit.

page 399 note 3 Sumra, op.cit. p. 3.

page 399 note 4 von Freyhold, M., ‘The Government Staff and Ujamaa Villages’, East African Universities Social Science Conference, Dar es Salaam, 12 1973.

page 400 note 1 Raikes, P. L., ‘Ujamaa and Rural Socialism’, in Review of African Political Economy, 3, 0510 1975, pp. 3352.

page 400 note 2 In Changalikwa, for example, D.D.P.C. officials undertook to support the villagers with supplies of foodstuffs for three years because sisal, their main crop, takes a long time to mature. But the promise was not or could not be kept; Proctor, op. cit. pp. 48–64.

page 400 note 3 For example, the famous Upper Kitete village, located 120 km from Arusha, in one of the most attractive parts of the country. For a humorous, albeit cynical report, see the Daily News, 22–24 August 1973.

page 400 note 4 Boesen, J., ‘Development and Class Structure in Smallholder Society and Potential of Ujamaa’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1973.

page 401 note 1 It was later alleged that the farmer had also been gravely insulted by Dr Wilbert Klerruu, who had previously been the Provincial Commissioner of Mtwara in the south where he had launched a big ujamaa operation involving some 750 villages. His assassination in Ismani on Christmas day in 1971 was used as a pretext to expropriate all the land there in order to establish ujamaa villages. See Awiti, A., ‘Economic Differentiation in Ismani, Iringa Region: a critical assessment of response to the ujamaa vijijini programme’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1972.

page 401 note 2 Raikes, ‘Ujamaa and Rural Socialism’, loc. cit.

page 401 note 3 Sender, J., ‘Some Preliminary Notes on the Political Economy of Rural Development in Tanzania based on a Case-Study in the Western Usambaras’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1973. Quoted by Mbilinyi, op. cit. p. 36.

page 401 note 4 Awiti, op. cit. Cf. also the strongly Marxist approach of Shivji, op. cit. and ‘Peasants and Class Alliances’, in Review of African Political Economy, 3, 0510 1975, pp. 1018.

page 402 note 1 Rufiji was the first explicit application of the new ‘frontal approach’, a euphemism for ‘forced villagisation’. The valley floods of 1968–9 were used as an excuse to move all the inhabitants, including the wealthy farmers who were cultivating rice, to higher grounds where ujamaa villages were established. ‘Rufiji Operation’ was a disaster: the new communal farms failed, and the rice crops of the valley were lost. Coulson, , ‘Agricultural Policies in Mainland Tanzania’, pp. 92–3.

page 402 note 2 Ibid. p. 92.

page 402 note 3 See Luttrell, W., ‘Villagisation, Cooperative Production and Rural Cadre Strategies in Tanzania's Socialist Rural Development’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1971, for a detailed list of the resources allocated to the project, inter alia: 200 trucks for the transport of people and their belongings, 3,000 youths from the National Service to help to load, unload, and rebuild, as well as a regional tractor service, with 200 ploughs and important quantities of chemical fertilisers offered by the Dodoma Co-operative Union. See also ‘The Dodoma Operation is On’, in The Standard (Dar es Salaam), 16 07 1971.

page 402 note 4 Coulson, A., ‘Peasants and Bureaucrats’, in Review of African Political Economy, 3, 0510 1974, pp. 53–8.

page 403 note 1 ‘Block farming’ appears to be a hypocritical way of escape from the obligation of collective farming. Cf.Kjekshus, Helge, ‘The Tanzanian Villagization Policy. Implementational Lessons and Ecological Dimensions’, in Canadian Journal of African Studies, 2, 1977, pp. 269–82.

page 403 note 2 However, it must be remembered that many ‘Operations’ had started before December 1973, and that villagisation had been the object of N.E.C./T.A.N.U. activities for some time before the ‘big push’ decision was taken.

page 403 note 3 Coulson, ‘Peasants and Bureaucrats’, loc. cit.

page 403 note 4 Matango, R., ‘Operation Mara: the paradox of democracy’, in Maji Maji (Dar es Salaam), 20, 1975, pp. 1729.

page 404 note 1 Kjekshus, loc. cit.

page 404 note 2 The facts, unless otherwise stated are from Yash Tandon, ‘The Food Question in East Africa: a partial case-study of Tanzania’, University of Dar es Salaam, 1977.

page 405 note 1 According to Hatch, John, ‘Africa's Harvest of Hope’, in The Guardian (London), 11 02 1975, p. 14, the World Bank not only told President Nyerere that ‘he would have to modify his socialist policies as the price for his country's economic survival [but] virtually threatened to withdraw current and future aid unless he suspended his Ujamaa programme’.

page 405 note 2 The sources of finance are: $18 million from the I.D.A. (the World Bank's agency for low-interest loans), $5 million from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, $6·4 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and $8·7 million from the Tanzanian Government.

page 405 note 3 The fact that the World Bank apparently allocated more than $600 million worth of credits and loans to Tanzania in 1978, proves that the McNamara plans are being implemented; New African, March 1979.

page 406 note 1 About 4,000 village managers had been appointed by January 1978, while nearly 6,000 villages had established their ‘governments’ made up of five committees: finance and planning, production and commerce, education and culture, public works and transport, defence and security. All were expected to operate on a multi-purpose co-operative basis, especially as regards the acquisition of inputs and the marketing of outputs, while heavy equipment will be collective property: See Mongi, L. M., ‘The Importance of and Methods by which Popular Participation can be Increased in Development Decisions’, in Journal of Adult Education (Dar es Salaam), 1, 1977, pp. 17; also the Daily News, 15 Jaunary 1978.

page 406 note 2 Ibid. 21 Jaunary 1979.

page 406 note 3 See Feistritzer, W. T., Cereal Seed Technology (Rome, 1975), for details of the complex technology of artificial seeds.

page 406 note 4 A fertiliser factory was built at Tanga in 1972 by the German multinational Kloeckner after great difficulties due to climatic conditions, shortage of skilled labour, and the obligation to import all the equipment. Even when in full production the imported raw materials accounted for no less than 64 per cent of the total value of production. See Coulson, A. C., ‘Tanzania's Fertiliser Factory’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, xv, 1, 03 1977, pp. 119–25.

page 407 note 1 This is perhaps not as catastrophic as it sounds because, as a general rule, farmers are heavily in debt even in industrialised countries – for example, Swiss agriculture has a reputation of being the most indebted in the world, which does not keep it from being also extremely prosperous.

page 407 note 2 ‘The Role of International Agro-Industries in a New International Economic Order’, Summary Report of the I.C.P. General Committee Meeting, Rome, 18–19 February 1976.

page 408 note 1 Maletnlema, T. N., ‘The Importance of Nutrition in Socio-Economic Development: an overview of Africa’, Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre, 1977, p. 14, quoted by Tandon, op. cit. p. 44.

page 408 note 2 In the past, the bargaining between the transnational corporations and African régimes usually ended to the excessive advantage of the former – for example, between the Government of Ghana and the Volta Aluminium Company, controlled by Kaiser Engineers and Constructors, which subsequently became one of the world's leading producers of aluminium. See Ergas, Z., Le Projet de la Volta, Ghana… (Geneva, 1972), for details about how Valco managed to obtain one of the world's lowest electricity rates. For a more theoretical and comprehensive analysis of bargaining between African governments and transnational corporations, see Rothchild, D. and Curry, R. L., Scarcity, Choice and Public Policy in Middle Africa (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1978), pp. 151–86.

page 409 note 1 Andrew Coulson, ‘Agricultural Policies in Mainland Tanzania’, loc. cit. p. 74.

page 409 note 2 Managerial elites are part of their own national bourgeoisie, but in addition an international bourgeoisie is in the process of formation. Cf. Sklar, R. L., ‘Post-Imperialism: a class analysis of the multinational corporation expansion’, in Comparative Politics, 1, 1976, pp. 7592.

page 409 note 3 A violent protest took place at the University of Dar es Salaam in March 1978 against the material privileges of party functionaries: in reality, this was a thinly veiled accusation of corruption in the exercise of official duties. As a result of the riot, more than 300 students were expelled, including one of Nyerere's sons. See Gudel, op. cit.

page 410 note 1 A ten-day seminar in November 1978 at Kivukoni Ideological College on ‘Ujamaa Village Development in the Tanga Region’ was organised to help keep alive the fiction of the ‘frontal approach’, but it is perhaps significant that only one of the regional, district, or village leaders participated. According to the Daily News, 29 November 1978, reports of field research by students at the University of Dar es Salaam clearly showed that in most cases ‘communal activities had failed…grounded to a halt…or [were] running at a loss’.

page 410 note 2 For some examples, see ibid. 17–30 November 1978: Matatereka (elected best village in the Ruvuma Region) bought a lorry in 1976 ‘which completely transformed its economy’, while Mole (elected best village in the Tabora Region) acquired a bus for Shs. 394,000 thanks to a loan of Shs. 224,000 from Karadha. Co.

* Research Fellow, The Harry S. Truman Research Institute of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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