Peter Temu is an economist who has taught in Kenyan and Tanzanian universities, served in the Tanzanian government, and advised the UN in various capacities. His Tanzania: My Country as I see it is an edited version of a series of articles that originally appeared in The Guardian from 2008-2009.
It starts by asking whether Tanzania is really all that poor. Temu dislikes the label for how it disempowers people and upholds the west’s stranglehold on economics. Temu believes that Tanzania is rich in natural and people resources but that these have been mismanaged. A question that comes up time and again is, ‘Why are we not moving forward?’ You can sense his frustration as you read – there are lots of ‘shoulds’ in this book!
Despite the straightforward writing style, much of the economics stuff went over my head. However, Temu’s discussion encompasses a range of aspects of life in Tanzania: agriculture, infrastructure, health, leadership, tourism, aid, education, law and order, etc. Of interest to me was that amidst such breadth, there was very little mention of religion, apart from an attack on witchcraft as backward and a suggestion that religion is positive for people’s quality of life because it gives them good values to live by.
Here are some of his comments that I found particularly relevant to our context. This is not an endorsement of these comments, but rather another exercise in listening to Tanzanian voices. Read more