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Danish PhD student on Nyerere and "Vijiji vya Ujamaa"

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by EMT, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. EMT

    EMT JF-Expert Member

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    There is a Danish PhD student researching on land rights and land reforms in the Sub-Saharan Africa. This time he has come up with a blog post entitled "Nyerere, Operation Vijiji and Violent Land Administration". Here we go.

    NYERERE, OPERATION VIJIJI AND VIOLENT LAND ADMINISTRATION

    I am always cautious when I write about Tanzania's first president, Julius Nyerere. When you are dealing with people in the same league as saints - there are people in Tanzania working for Nyerere's beatification - you better tread carefully. People are feeling strongly about him and you may easily be misunderstood. In that way Nyerere is a bit like Jesus. You are not supposed to criticise him. And, you can find quotes by him to support almost any point of view you can think off.

    In this blog post, I do not aim at criticising Nyerere. But I would like to shed some light on an aspect of the big politicians' oeuvre that most Tanzanians' prefer to forget: Operation Vijiji. The ambivalence most Tanzanians feel towards this grand project of social engineering of his is reflected - involuntarily - in Professor Issa Shivji's article
    The village in Mwalimu Nyerere's thought.

    In the article from 2009, Shivji manages, on the one hand, to praise the ruling party, the government and Nyerere for the ‘tremendous achievement' in carrying out villagisation and, on the other, to blame an American, capitalist consultancy firm, MacKinsey, for villagisation's failure. Tellingly, Shivji prefers discussing the vision behind Operation Vijiji and ignoring its fatal consequences.

    Operation Vijiji has received surprisingly little academic attention. I have only found a few academic articles analysing aspects of these villagisation processes of the 1960s and 1970s, and, so far, no larger, authoritative account of the whole period. That is a shame. The project shaped the Tanzanian countryside in unforeseen ways. During my research in the rural areas, I have met people whose houses were burnt and who were forced to move during villagisation. Some people still have ‘sleeping' claims on the land they, or their parents, lost back then. The effects of Operation Vijiji, in other words, are still felt today.

    One of the articles I have come across is
    Tanzania's Operation Vijiji and Local Ecological Consciousness by Yusufu Qwaray Lawi, who analyses its implementation in Iraq land in Northern Tanzania. Interestingly, he describes how villagisation met widespread resistance, often based on local knowledge about the ecology of the area. People knew that some places were unfit for settlement. But the bureaucrats did not listen and resorted to the use of force to make people comply. Sometimes people were even told to relocate to sacred places or ancient burial grounds.

    A similar scathing critique is delivered by Leander Schneider in
    Freedom and Unfreedom in Rural Development. He focuses on the role of Nyerere. And whereas there has been a tendency to excuse Nyerere and blame the bureaucrats for the use of force, Schneider is unrelenting. He traces Nyerere as a driving force, increasingly impatient with the peasants' lack of enthusiasm for his ideas about ‘participatory' development in the Ujamaa Villages. In 1972-3, apparently, the President gave up voluntarism as a guiding principle when he declared that the stage of explaining and persuading…is really ending everywhere (p. 363).

    The same year, after a party conference he stated that The issue of living in Ujamaa villages is now an order (p. 371). Nyerere also put immense pressure on the bureaucracy and did not hesitate removing his local representatives, the Regional and Area Commissioners, if they did not deliver on villagisation (p. 367). Nyerere was a paradox, Schneider concludes: …villagisation reveals that the President was central in driving rural development into increasingly coercive directions, which, at other times, he so forcefully spoke out against (p. 347).

    There is no doubt that Nyerere made priceless contributions to the peaceful development of Tanzania. People in neighbouring countries envy the Tanzanians for that. I am also convinced that his zeal for improving the livelihoods of the rural poor, who made up the majority of the population, was genuine. To acknowledge the more problematic sides of his presidency, outlined above, does not make Nyerere a less important president. All politicians make mistakes. But it may make him more human.

    Source: Nyerere, Operation Vijiji and Violent Land Administration - Land Affairs
     
  2. EMT

    EMT JF-Expert Member

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    Chambi Chachage's response to this was as follows

    HAVE TANZANIANS FORGOTTEN FORCED VILLAGIZATION?

    The "Danish PhD Candidate researching land rights and land reforms" in the so-called "Sub-Saharan Africa" never ceases to amaze me with his 'revisionist history'. This time he has come up with a blog post entitled 'Nyerere, Operation Vijiji and Violent Land Administration'. There are strange claims that make me wonder if doing doctoral studies entails concocting a revised history to make one appear as if s/he has something new to say!

    Writing in his blog known as 'Land Affairs' the researcher makes this claim: "Most Tanzanians prefer to forget operation vijiji?" But which Tanzanians is he really talking about? Virtually everywhere I have done research on land conflicts in the last seven years or so the year 1974 keeps coming up because it still has implications on the Tanzanians in the present - how can they then forget? I recall even asking my grandmother what she remembered about Nyerere and her response included 'Operesheni Vijiji'!

    While in Kilwa in Lindi and Kilolo in Iringa researching 'land grabbing/grabs' that moment was invoked again by villagers in relation to how it continued to add conflictual nuances to the land tenure problems intensified by larg-scale land investments to the extent that the repetition even made me think of writing an article entitled '1974 in the Tanzanian Imagination'!

    Yet our new found expert on land affairs goes on to make claims that can hardly be justified:

    Coincidentally yesterday I was quoting from this same article/chapter by Issa Shivji in my paper on Mahmood Mamdani's conception of decentralized/centralized despotism as applied to Africa in general and Tanzania in particularly. The article that the travelling researcher dismissively quote from has been of particular interest to me because out of so many texts that Shivji has produced that is the one I and my co-editor, Annar Cassam, chose to include it in the Pambazuka News' Special Issue on Mwalimu Nyerere that was subsequently published as an edited book entitled Africa's Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere as it did not simply hailed him uncritically.

    Nowhere does Shivji ignore the obvious fatal consequences of Operation Vijiji as it is claimed. The quote below that the researcher apparently used to make his outrageous claims by no means ignore such consequences that Shivji has also covered agitatingly in many of his publications on land including the 1994 report from the Presidential Commission on Inquiry into Land Matters that he chaired in 1992.

    "As we know, the decentralisation programme of the early 1970s, which abolished local government and was planned and implemented at the behest of the American consultancy firm MacKinsey...was a failure of no mean proportions...One of the dubious achievements of the decentralization was the implementation of the forced villagisation of the 1970s, Operation Vijiji" -The village in Mwalimu Nyerere's thought

    Now does the new land explorer want the seasoned land rights activist and lawyer to enumerate all those "dubious achievements" associated with forced villagization to qualify himself as not ignoring its fatal consequences? Or does he want him to recycle the passage below from his 2009 book entitled Where is Uhuru? Reflections on the Struggle for Democracy to show that he has not forgotten what forced villagization did to Tanzanians?

    And if that is not enough does he have to recite again this passage in his media articles collected in his 2006 book entitled "Let The People Speak: Tanzania Down the Road to Neo-Liberalism" to convince the doctoral researcher that villagisation still matters?

    The 1972-74 villagisation was carried out without regard to the existing land tenure system and without any legal instruments to enable such an exercise. In fact, it was assumed, openly or covertly, that land belonged to the president ('ardhi ni mali ya taifa na Rais ni Baba wa Taifa!') and, therefore, he could do with it what he wished. In the political conditions of that time, people went along with it, forcibly or otherwise (Shivji 2006: 180)

    Does one need to reproduce over and over again 'violence phonographically' to appear that s/he is not ignoring the suffering that his/her fellow citizens/subjects went through? Is that the way a nation heals - by replaying a tragedy graphically and frenziedly lest they forget? A people need such a reminder about their history that is not ancient but an actual lived reality?

    The researcher, alas, seems to have found a new minefield of research to the extent that he makes the shameful claim below about the dearth of literature on forced villagization even though he has never even bothered to ask some of the key researchers and main research institutes/organizations on land rights in Tanzania about such literature - it was even a pity to learn that there can be a land affairs researcher who get to present papers in credible conferences and write working papers on Tanzania in a respected series whilst making sweeping claims about the state of the literature on land without visiting the physical archival library of Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/HAKIARDHI)!

    Did the researcher ever bother to revisit the archive of the African Review of Political Economy (ROAPE) that is 'littered' with academic articles on - including those written during the context of - villagization? Has he bothered to do a literature review of the books - including those that are out of print yet accessible through various channels - that were published by the then Tanzanian Publishing House (TPH) in the 1970s and 1980s? And does he even try to read Tanzanian novels such as the one that I cited in the quote below from an article I wrote or maybe they are not of an academic genre for doctoral studies? Could it be his ranting is a simple shortcut to get rebuttals that would give him a clue about references?

    "It is not surprising then that the negative effects on the dignity and autonomy of those who were forcefully collectivized into villages are engraved in our collective consciousness. In imaginative ways that clearly borders the reality of non-fiction vis-à-vis the fantasy of fiction, they are reflected in cultural works such as Claude Mung'ong'o's (1980) Njozi Iliyopotea i.e. ‘The Lost Vision' and Chachage's (1981) Sudi ya Yohanai.e. ‘The Tragedy of John, which appeared in the aftermath of enforced villagization.

    This paradox of development is summed up well by Africa's first Nobel Laureate for Literature in his muse on Culture, Memory and Development:

    "On the one hand, Ujamaa was evolved from certain principles of traditional social organization which had emerged through cultural evolution. On the other hand, violence was done to this obviously organic process by uprooting cohesive communities, relocating then in comparatively modernist villages where social amenities and access to centralized organs of development could be provided. The effect of this on the existing cultural security, itself a non-negligible factor and agent of productivity, was underrated. We are speaking here of a quantity beyond sentimental attachments. Century old and tested modes of production were abruptly interrupted; the results was, even in Nyerere's admission, not the developmental model it was expected to be. Let me add by the way that I was, and still am, a believer in the basic philosophy of Ujamaa; indeed, I eulogized it in a poem. That aspect of interrupting, in such artificial way, the cultural cohesion of a community was however, one which remained for me, frankly, troublesome (Soyinka 1992: 205)" - norrag


    Howard Stein who, together with Kelly Askew, have been researching land titling in such villages in the last three years or so do not even dare to make such sweeping claim that the doctoral researcher makes as if he has really exhausted the Tanzanian archive. Why? Because Stein is very much aware of the literature on the subject given the fact that he was living and lecturing in Tanzania when it was hotly debate and written about. In fact he co-edited a book in 1992 that has chapters that address the forced villagization problematic. No wonder an article with some of the preliminary results fom their ongoing research has this passage:

    "Although Iringa has a reputation for having been a particularly heavy hit area for forced villagization, we had reason to believe that there remained some traditional, pre-Ujamaa Hehe settlements in the more remote areas of the Udzungwa Mountains. To our surprise, we could not locate even one" - http://policydialogue.org/files/events/SteinAskew-Rural_Land_and_Property_Rights_in_Tanzania.pdf

    It is actually very difficult to meet any scholar of Tanzania who does not associate, even if it is in passing, Nyerere and forced villagization. Similarly it is very hard to get a book on Tanzania, whether political or historical, that covers 1970s yet does touch, even if it is scantly, on the issue of forced villagization. Now how can such a preoccupation escape our rising Africanist researcher? Maybe the clue is in this introduction of his to another post:

    "Some days, I find reports on my desk which are so thick that I'm about to give up before opening them. In particular, scholars and activists working within the land grab business tend to produce this type of reports. It is as if they believe that the multitude of words, the length of the list of abbreviations, and the sheer number of pages can transmit the sufferings experienced by the local communities, whose land has been illegally acquired by investors or expropriated by the state. The Tanzanian policy analyst, Chambi Chachage, has produced a couple of this kind of reports. I have had them on my desk for quite a while, wondering if I would ever get to read them. Over the last couple of weeks I did. It turned out to be rewarding and thought provoking reading" - A Crash Course in Tanzanian Politics, Please! - Land Affairs

    In the quest to come up with new findings in a path that is well trodden own can do a lot of injustice to those who have passed before. As much as critical revisionist history is important in debunking conventional historiography it is not an excuse to make dubious claims that masquerade as authoritative scholarship. Maybe the professor who advises his doctoral students not to rush to present/publish before they really have something to say has a point.
     
  3. Nyani Ngabu

    Nyani Ngabu Platinum Member

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    Where's my boy C when you need him?
     
  4. EMT

    EMT JF-Expert Member

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    Who? I have provided a link to this Ph.D student to come on this thread, may be your Boy C will provide him/her with some info on this matter?
     
  5. kookolikoo

    kookolikoo JF-Expert Member

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    that was nyerere the visionary genius. always evokes conflicting sentiments when one is reviewing his pursuits.
     
  6. EMT

    EMT JF-Expert Member

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    Conflicting sentiments are unavoidable, but when a doctoral researcher claims that there are little academic attention on this subject, one has wonder to whether s/he came to Tanzania as a researcher or a tourist.

     
  7. kookolikoo

    kookolikoo JF-Expert Member

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    i concur with your submission.
     
  8. J

    Jasusi JF-Expert Member

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    Nadhani suali tunalopaswa kujiuliza laymen style ni kama huu mtindo wa sasa wa kuchukua ardhi iliyokuwa inamilikiwa na Watanzania na kupewa raia wa nje eti ni mwekezaji ndio utakaotusaidia Watanzania kujikwamua kiuchumi.

    Migogoro ya ardhi inayosikika hivi sasa Arumeru. Mbarali, na hivi karibuni itasikika tena Sumbawanga baada ya Agrisol kupewa ardhi ya bure, ni matunda ya uongozi wetu kutupilia mbali vision ya Julius Nyerere. Hata badala ya kusahihisha pale Nyerere alipokosea, tunajitahidi kufuta kila kitu alichosimamia, hata kama kilikuwa na maslahi kwa Watanzania wote.
     
  9. kookolikoo

    kookolikoo JF-Expert Member

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    rufiji kisarawe nako kuna migogoro ya aina hiyo.
     
  10. Mzee Mwanakijiji

    Mzee Mwanakijiji Platinum Member

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    over forty years later can we say that Ujamaa villages failed? Well, kuna mahali popote ambapo waliunda vijiji vya ujamaa ambao baadaye waliamua kurudi kwenye makazi yao ya zamani au kuamua kutoka kuishi kwenye maisha ya kijiji na kwenda kwenye kila mtu na makazi yake? Ni vijiji vipi vya ujamaa ambavyo watu wameondoka baada ya kushindwa?
     
  11. EMT

    EMT JF-Expert Member

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    But are you one of these people?

     
  12. H

    Haika JF-Expert Member

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    huu ndio mtazamo wangu pia
     
  13. simplemind

    simplemind JF-Expert Member

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    Sidhani watu kuendelea kuishi vijiiji vya ujamaa ndio ushahidi wa mafanikio ya operation vijiji. Grinding and vicious rural poverty to date is a stark remainder of a failed social experiment. At any rate people couldnt go/return 'home' cause there was no home to return to and one had to stay put or migrate to Dar kuchuuza bidhaa.
     
  14. Viper

    Viper JF-Expert Member

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    mjadala utakuwa mtamu pale ma anti nyerere watakapouvamia...! nasubiri usogee sogee! ndipo nichangie!
     
  15. MTAZAMO

    MTAZAMO JF-Expert Member

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    Binafsi ningeomba debate hii iwe kwenye lugha ya Kiingereza kuwasaidia international reserchers wanaopotosha mambo mengi sababu ya kuzaliwa na chembechembe za u Capitalism wa kimarekani!

    Kazi kwenu wanahistoria na hasa wanazuoni! Wapi Dr Kitila Mkumbo, Faiza Foxy and Kichuguu?
     
  16. R

    Rasmus New Member

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    It is an interesting debate. Below is my reply, which I wrote a couple of days ago on Chambi Chachage's blog, but which has not been published yet. Below that, I have inserted my response to an anonymous author who commented on my blog this morning. Since I do not publish anonymous comments, but I replied via email.

    My response to Chambi Chachage:
    Dear Chambi,

    Thank you for your very insightful reaction to my blog post about Villagisation and land administration. You obviously know a lot about the topic - a lot more than I do.

    My point with the blog post was not to criticise professor Shivji. My point was that he, in the article I quote from, is ambivalent when he evaluate Nyerere's presidency. There were good and bad sides about this presidency. Most of the Tanzanians I have met feel the same. But most Tanzanians tend to focus on the positive aspects. So do most of the newspaper articles I have read. That is very understandable. Nyerere is a towering figure in Tanzania' history and he contributed greatly to the country's development.

    When I discuss villagisation in the blog post, it is because I try to understand the consequences it may have on land administration today. That is the topic of the PhD I am writing. You may not find any of it new or interesting and I guess I can not do much to change that. The blog posts I write are reflections of my thoughts while I do my research. Only rarely are blog posts revelatory, particularly not to land experts. But I hope that they may provide new insights to people who are less knowledgeable about land affairs in Tanzania than you.

    I do not – unfortunately – have a Tanzanian grandmother I can quote. But I hope that some of the insights of an outsider may be of value anyhow.

    Best wishes,
    Rasmus


    This is my response to the anonymous author who critisised my lack of research and my qualifications as a PhD student:

    Dear….,

    Thank you very much for your comments. Normally I appreciate debate and comments and I would have been delighted to publish your comment too. But I only publish comments from people who dare tell their name. Do you have a name? If so, I shall put it in and publish your comment.

    Regarding your comments….well, you may be right, that I have not done my literature search properly. But… My idea behind setting up and writing this blog has always been to open up the research process. I believe that it can be of value to people both inside and outside academia to be more open about the reflections you do while doing your research. You follow ideas which end up not working. You research or read about aspects of your research topic that you would usually not publish in academic circles. You read books and articles, which are interesting, but end up not being part of your thesis. In other words, you make a lot of choices and you come across a lot of material which may be of interest to others. I believe it can be of value to be more open about these thought and processes. Academics are not oracles. And I believe that a blog is a good way of discussing some of the choices you make and reflect on some of the findings.

    Concerning the literature, I did a quick literature search on one of the big international search engines, which is supposed to be one of the best and which also includes more literature published in African countries than most other search engines. I probably could have been more thorough and Chambi's references shows that there is more literature out there. I never doubted that. I have discussed it with Chambi earlier: It is a problem that much of the material published in Tanzania earlier on is not registered electronically and do not appear in the international search engines. Having said that, I do not think that the references change my main point, namely the large authoritative account – a book – of the whole period is yet to be written.

    Kind regards,

    Rasmus
     
  17. CAMARADERIE

    CAMARADERIE JF-Expert Member

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    Mwalimu Nyerere....could you please RIP wherever you are? This fortnight wasn't good for you or was it?....''People'' deliberated on how and why you died and now on how you lived.
     
  18. Ndahani

    Ndahani JF-Expert Member

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    Wazungu wanataka kuondoa balaa la uchumi wao kwa kula vitu vya bure kutoka bara la Africa. Siyo wa kuwasikiliza hata kidogo. Hizi study tufanye wenyewe na makosa ya mtu kama Nyerere tuyarekebishe wenyewe. Tukizichukua hizi dozier zao, itakula kwetu.
     
  19. Ndahani

    Ndahani JF-Expert Member

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    Hawa wazungu wanataka kuikomboa Portugal, Spain, Greece etc kwa mafundisho yao mapya ya kwanini tuliwakataa miaka mingi iliyopita.
     
  20. m

    mzee wa wazee Member

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    Dear colleagues, i hardly comment in these blogs but with this topic i feel obliged to do so. I feel so pity for this Danish PhD student who tries to claim knowing much not only about Tanzania but Mwalimu with his vision and mission.

    To be honest, no Tanzanian will claim to be so let alone the so called researchers from outside who will only stay for a limited number of time in the country, actually spending most of it travelling around. This is what we always feel and face for those who are in the diaspora especially studying at various Universities, so much claims about what is going in Africa and Tanzania in this case.

    I sometimes wonder if we can have a policy through COSTECH that all research that is being done in Tanzania, its results should be communicated back or at least having the copies at the National library. It is only in this way that we come to learn what 'they' write about us. As for the Ujamaa policy, yes alot is written and said, unfortunately, there is a split, some are for and others against.

    Imagine what would the western researchers write or at least those who took or take their studies in the western universities, being supervised by the western professors.
     
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