Community Policing: International Patterns and Comparative Perspectives

By Dominique Wisler; Ihekwoaba D. Onwudiwe | Go to book overview

3
Reforming Community,
Reclaiming the State
The Development
of Sungusungu in
Northern Tanzania

SUZETTE HEALD

Contents
Introduction57
War Without to War Within59
Kubiha: Man and Myth66
The Second Iritongo: “We Have Found the Medicine for Thieves”69
The Quiet Revolution74
References78

Introduction

In the 1980s, a Kuria village in the far northwestern region of Tanzania, near the Kenya border, declared its secession from the state and hoisted the skin of its totem animal, the leopard, as a flag.* This act of defiance remains emblematic. Yet, it is remembered not as a time when the state was overthrown, but as a time when the thieves “ruled.” This was no peasant rebellion in the normal sense, but the outcome of simple plunder, fueled by the returning militias after the Tanzania/Uganda war of 1979. The violence that was then set in train did, however, prompt peasant reaction and the formation of

* I am very grateful to the Republic of Tanzania for giving me research clearance. I would also like to thank Dr. Masanja of the University of Dar es Salaam and Dr. D. Ndagala of the Ministry of Culture for their help and advice. I am also extremely indebted to the many people in the regional and district administrations of Shinyanga, Mwanza, and Mara who facilitated the research, as well as many other individuals and sungusungu committees who agreed to be interviewed in the course of the research in 2002. I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the Crisis States Program of the London School of Economics (LSE) who funded the research. An earlier version of this essay was published as Domesticating Leviathan: Sungusungu in Tanzania. LSE: Crisis States working paper, series 1, no. 16. 2002: www.crisisstates.com and a shorter version as: State, law, and vigilantism in Northern Tanzania. African Affairs 105, 265–283, 2006.

-57-

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