Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nuggets for Thought

1. We have talked about development in this blog several times – and I think it is emerging as a major theme here – but we have not clarified what we really mean by development and when, and under which circumstances, would we know that we have attained it.

What is supplied as development by majority of my fellow bloggers here is a more specific form of the Western model of societal transformation – i.e modernization. The premise of this thinking, which is I think is quite proper, is that at one point, all countries were backward but some countries, those that we now call “the West” or “the North”, managed to overcome this backwardness, and that all countries, including Tanzania, can move from this state only if they adopt appropriate interventions. The reigning paradigm, and the reason we remain hopeful about the future, is that the current state of uneven development between the West and the rest is transitory and that sooner or later we will catch up – through creating favourable [policy and political] conditions within our countries and by ensuring that appropriate interactions exist between us and the developed. Almost instinctively, most people points to ideal characteristics of the West as the ultimate destination of our social transformation. In essence, this says that the development of the backward parts of the world means having them become Western – in trappings and in social organisation. But, of course, different societies have different social structures and psyche that defines what progress is, and these have not always facilitated the success of interventions towards Western model of development. So, what did the leaders and “development partners” do to overcome this? They worked towards creating social structures and a new psyche identical to the Western ones.

I leave for the debate what development means, but the point I want to make is that development is a political process, going together with the development of the polity, not immune to political interests, and that it is not an autonomous process independent of culture and the way state and social institutions operate. Also, simple logic dictates that those who have “developed” before us would be experts on how to attain development and seeking their “advice” or “assistance” is only rational. But now we know that this logic is faulty.

2. Fine, let us say that the entire Third World eventually catches up, just as we hope, and all of us lead an affluent life. But, seriously, given that mother earth is currently under tremendous strain because of overconsumption by people in developed countries, can the entire world realistically and sustainably live in affluence? How will we manage when the entire global population is aspiring to a modern life – including possession of four-wheels drives, spacious cribs, etc – which necessarily produces unmanageable waste? In any case, do we have enough resources to sustain global affluence? Of course some would say that technology and innovation will provide solutions but I think there limits to that. This is something benign but very serious in my view and we need to think about it.

3. I alluded to a bit in my earlier point about the role of culture in advancing or impeding development. Normally, this is a sensitive subject with most people becoming politically correct in maintaining that culture has nothing to do with development. But I am told that, even in our underdeveloped countries, there are tribes that are “inherently progressive” than others. In Tanzania, people mention Wachagga, Wahaya, na Wakinga (there may be others). In Kenya, people mention the Kikuyu, in the Congo they say people from the Kasai province have these attributes, in Nigeria the Igbos are pointed out. It is said that these people work hard, are thrift, value education and tend to progress more than others despite difficult social and political circumstances faced by everyone in our countries. Is this true or is it simplistic way of looking at society and extrapolating larger conclusions on the basis of the vocations of choice or circumstances by these tribes?

4. Back to modernity, and what it means. I have noted the existence of activist groups, particularly in the West, to protect the lifestyles of the indigenous people in different countries (like the Hadzabe, the Masai, the Amazon forest people, etc). Certainly, as the society moves to modernity (as we see it through the reigning paradigm), the lifestyle of indigenous groups cannot be sustainable (Or can it?). It is not an accident or it is not by choice that the Masai now move into cities and towns in hordes – serving as porters in hotel entrances, security guards, pimps, or working in hair saloons – literally denigrating the notion of Morani/Masai pride and heroism. It is because modernity – schools, roads, farms, etc. – is encroaching on their pastures. It is because, in the type of the economy we are pursuing, you can no longer roam with your cows and graze communally wherever you want – people want to own land, fence it and make capital off it – and you certainly cannot keep cattle just for pride. So, what to do? Certainly we must not allow the Hadzabe to exist just for travel photography or for anthropology research?


Iddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iddy said...

Let me begin by saying this, Tanzania need a sustainable development in economic and social activities. The word sustainable development means it’s the development which ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. That definition summarize the question which you posed concern “what if the whole world develop”.

Now going back the theme of the article, let me start by saying this “Tanzania can’t wait to have a sustainable social and economic development”. However, Tanzanian needs to architect a strategic plan which will thrive development according to our Tanzania environment. We can not adopt the Western development definition and apply into our country, that will be total insane. That is the reason I don’t believe on MKUKUTA and MGDs, because the architecture of MKUKUTA copied almost everything from MGD which was based on “one fits all strategy”.

The journey to the land of development won’t happen overnight, I always saying you can’t measure development by counting the number of skyscrapers in Dar or any other major city. Instead you look at things like Healthcare, economic growth ( the growth which trickle to the bottom, and not the one which majority at the bottom are financed the luxury of the few on top), good education (not through increasing the number of secondary and tertiary school without increase the number of teachers), clean water for everybody and etc. All these sectors can’t develop over night, it need a process AND THAT IS WHERE TANZANIA FAIL.

The only way forward to archive all this kind of sustainable developments is through holding people accountable on their actions. For instance since I was high school leaking of NECTA exam was some kind of tradition, what surprise me is the senior officials at Baraza la Mitiani la Taifa still have their jobs. So, if we want to archive development in the education sector, then these individuals should be fired because they failed to manage that particular department. The same action should be taken in healthcare facilities such as Muhimbili and so forth.

To my understanding I total believe the Mwalim/post Mwalim generation (my father generation) failed to archive a sustainable development. However, am still optimistic when it comes to my generation X Z. I believe this generation can flip Tanzania development into 360. However, that will happen if and only if we will decide to change the way things are executed in Tanzania. If we will decide to become nationalist and patriotic then we can archive the goal that my father generation failed to archive. We will be able to send people to school no matter what kind of family they’re coming from, we will be able to treat patient without to care for their family surname. And last we can reclaim the Tanzania dream for everybody. Every now and then I asked my self how can Botswana archive so much in so little time and Tanzania failed? How about South Korea?

Again, I always like to finish with the question: Can government it self deliver all these kinds of developments? Or should each individual cheap in their contribution? How can we transform our culture which believe that government should do everything into the culture which believe on everybody should do their part?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Iddy about Sustainable Development, however there are other issues i would like to add on.

When i look at the Tanzanian community in the early and middle adult age, i see a wave of acculturation that is luring people to want to adopt the American way of life or development under the scope of the west. This perspective can be beneficial in certain ways but also detrimental in many ways.

Positively, the Western values foster a sense of drive and the mentality that "you can do anything you put your mind to". We can gain abundance in ideas and a wealth in strength as people can stand together and work together to achieve common goals for the betterment of our societies and fearlessly stand up for what they believe in, be it their identities, countries, personal accomplishments and everything under that umbrella.

On the other side of the coin, i think that this group which is going to shine the light of the future has been crippled. Crippled by information, shortcuts in life and desires to accumulate financial prosperity quickly. One major difference between our fathers and us is that they had work ethic. Now, my query or a free bee for people to think about is this: is it better to have great ideas and noone to implement them or have great ideas and the work ethic to execute them? We young people need to put our laptops down and liberate ourselves from the amount of time we spend on the internet looking for ways to make a quick breakthrough so that we retire early. Please dont get me wrong, i am not against the great benefits we have received in the technological era. I think we need a balance. It is time to go out and do the work. If we are going to sit and all wait to come up with ways to make quick money, who is going to do the work? We shall be building a nation like the US with a wealthy 1% and the rest of the people lagging. We need to come up with ideas but also get dirty with the work. If we are planning to come up with ideas and have Mkulima do the work in the village so that we can cash in the credits and the financial reward, hatufiki popote....

VIJANA, TUANZE KAZI. part of the reason these people in the US and other developed countries have gone far is because people here dont choose jobs. Bongo kila kijana anataka kazi ya Deski. Who is going to drive the trash van every weekday and who is going to sweep the roads on the streets? We need to get above those ideologies or indoctrination that some jobs are better than others. We need to recruit vijana wanaokula bangi barabarani and train them, certify them to build houses and get them compensated and get them engaged. Since i am marginalized about how the decisions in the government are made, i would not call the government out but i think that we have misprioritized enough. Why cant we circulate the funds and pay people good wages for jobs that will build the economy..Pay the teachers, pay the farmers.(look at John Deers in Iowa: one of the best companies to work in, great compensations for farmers), pay nurses, pay construction workers...i hope with the right incentives, people will work. When i say incentives i dont only mean money, train people, educate them, health insurance coverage etc.

With this said, going back to January's article. It is clear that even the Maasai have realized that with the way things are going, we are are going to have to move to the city otherwise we are not going to get ahead. Sasa if Maasai's were getting compensated sufficiently, i think they would keep doing what they know best!(this is an assumption that may be far fetched, however it is plausible and definitely a possibility).

Encourage young people to work, work, work, wako watu in developed countries wanabeba you think if you paid them to do the same with the same pay in bongo wasingefanya!? Please let us educate each other.