Academic Pursuits Under the LINK
Karim F. Hirji
This chapter is based on my personal experiences in teaching and research at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Dar es Salaam during the year 1989. Not that these are in any sense unique. Far from it; similar tales can be elicited from most members of the academic staff, be they in medicine, science, the social sciences, or law. What is uncommon, however, is a public articulation and discussion of issues emanating from them. At most, they may be the subject of gossip and gripe in one's intimate circle. But such experiences reflect the state of the university, and they need to be debated in the open if a way out of our present predicament is to be found.
In January 1989, after an absence of eight years from Tanzania, I took up my present position at the Faculty of Medicine. Upon reporting for duty, I was given an office and a teaching assignment. So I briskly strode down to the departmental office and asked for some stationery--nothing extravagant, just a pen, a pencil, and writing paper. The looks my request elicited constitute my first encounter with the LINK.
The head of the department patiently conveyed to me that the annual departmental budget for purchasing such items was inadequate. It had, in fact, been exhausted long ago. I protested that given my salary, which had a purchasing power of about fifty U.S. dollars, I could not be expected to provide these things myself. When I looked around the office, I did see a few usable items. Surely, there were some to spare here, I thought. At that moment, the LINK came to my rescue. The secretary, after being beckoned to do so, brought out one of the nicest notebooks I have ever seen from a drawer. On it was inscribed "Kollegieblock," together with other undecipherable characters. Notwithstanding, I cherished the book and used it with care for six months. I later gathered that this was one of a few left over from a Scandinavian funded research project. The pen and pencil, however, I had to find elsewhere. The department had