Friday, August 28, 2015


Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania in Swahili, this is a country that has undergone many transformations and many name-changes down the years, its modern history beginning with the Portuguese after Vasco de Gama established their presence there. In the 19th century, when it was Zanzibar, it was the centre of the Arab slave trade, with (the figures vary depending on who you are reading) at least 65%, and possibly 90% of the population sold into slavery, as many as a million people in total. With the exception of Zanzibar, most of the country was conquered by the Germans as part of German East Africa, and then became a League of Nations British Protectorate, though one small area, the Kionga Triangle, was included in the part given to Portugal as Portuguese East Africa. That land later became Mozambique, while the remainder became Tanganyika in 1961, and then independent under the same name in 1962. In 1964 the Arabs were kicked out of Zanzibar and the two merged, the Tan from one being added to the Zan from the other to create Tanzania, though Zanzibar retains considerable autonomy within the union, having its own President and its own Parliament.

Lacking almost everything in the way of natural resources, it was committed to collectivisation through cooperative farming and nationalisation of all industries, plantations, banks and private companies, when its first President, Julius Nyerere, issued what is known as the Arusha Declaration - the establishment of "Ujamaa", the Swahili word for "brotherhood" or "extended family", though it was understood to mean, and was intended to mean, Socialism. Predictably it failed, leaving Tanzania at the bottom of the list of the world’s poorest nations, a situation not helped by its commitment to joining the fight to oust one of Africa's worst ever dictators, Idi Amin of Uganda – a noble cause, but crippling economically.Since Nyerere's departure in 1985 there have been moves to open the economy, though sadly there is very little there to open, other than the Serengeti National Park, where you can shoot elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo or rhino if you are so minded, and Kilimanjaro National Park, where you can more peacefully climb Africa's highest mountain, and follow the road towards multi-party democracy.

Marks for: 6 for effort

Marks against: 2 for (lack of) achievement

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

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