Church and State in Tanzania: Aspects of Changing Relationships, 1961-1994

By Frieder Ludwig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF UJAMAA POLITICS

12.1. Ujamaa Villages and Resettlement Programme

The first Ujamaa villages were founded in the Ruvuma region in southern Tanzania shortly after independence. Members of the TANU Youth League were the driving force behind this initiative. Influenced by Nyerere's demand that the rural population, sparsely distributed over a wide area, should join together in villages and, stimulated by his Ujamaa philosophy which had been developed since 1962, they were convinced that it was preferable for people to live and work in a community rather than as individuals in competition with others, and that this measure would also alleviate poverty. In 1963, 14 of these villages which had been spontaneously created, joined together to form the Ruvuma Development Association. Litowa, the oldest Ujamaa village, became the centre of this association.1

These villages were at first organised in the way of a grassroots democracy. They did not submit to the control of the district and regional officials. In the first place, the farmers received the support of Nyerere, who by-passing the bureaucrats, granted them special rights and resources and supported them in conflicts. Kate Wenner, a young Canadian woman who lived in Litowa for a year, published her experiences of joint labour, regular village assemblies, the Ujamaa meals and other activities in her book Shamba Letu. She reported how the President inspected a field of tobacco on a visit after the rumour had spread that the farmers of Litowa, ignoring the instructions of the Ministry of Agriculture, had left too little space between the plants. Nyerere questioned a farmer about this:

”We measure off a yard between the plants”, Kalikenye answered. This
was just as the Ministry of Agriculture required. “Are you sure?“—”Of
course. We mark it off with year measures before we plant.” Nyerere
reached into his pocket and pulled out a tape measure. He must have

1 R. Ibbot, “Ruvuma Development Association”, Mbioni (III, 2, Dar es Salaam,
1966, pp. 3–43), summarized in: G. Baumhogger et al., Ostafnka. Reisehandbuch Kenya
und Tanzania
, (3rd ed. 1981), pp. 432, 433.

-125-

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