Friday, August 10, 2007

RTF: Ujamaa v. Free Market

I am just trying to add some pizzazz to my reflection. So this is what I am going to do. I am coming up with what I call Random Thoughts Fridays (RTF). I plan to rant on anything that crosses my mind on Fridays.

I just want to point out stuff that could look meaningless, but with some degree of significance or curiousity.

My wife calls me crazy. According to her, what she meant is that I am not a lunatic, but rather I am ahead of most people she knows. Well, that was what she said…but could it be she meant something else now that I am thinking about it?

Anyways, let’s forget about her. She married me though (Honey, you are stuck with me whether I am a lunatic or not).

This is what crossed my mind today: do you know that the Ujamaa policy lasted shorter than free market economy in Tanzania? The policy was crafted in 1967 and officially came to an end in 1985 when Mwalimu Nyerere stepped down as the president of the United Republic of Tanzania.

That was only 18 years of experimentation. And the policy tanked. Nyerere ran out of Ikulu.

As I am blogging today in 2007, it has been a cool 22 years since Tanzania embraced economic reforms, specifically embarking on a free market economy. Yes, that is 22 years and counting. If we have to look at longevity as a sign of a policy’s viability, Ujamaa was not a viable idea. Period.

Thinking more of it, the policy wasn't only utopian, it created this culture of ineptitude that Tanzanians are still dearly paying for.

I couldn’t just help wonder some more, could it be that the late Kambona was genius than Nyerere for being against Ujamaa, now that we have the 20/20 vision looking back?

This is all random so don’t shoot me. As I said, this is RTF!

Enjoy your weekend.

9 comments:

Hiza said...

Ujamaa seems to me too vague, even flaccid, in its practical implications and, in any case, for Nyerere, to be rather less central to his thought, in the long run, than
the hard-nosed analysis that actually came to provide the underpinnings for his own socialist practice.

Anonymous said...

You are right Free Market has been in Tanzania for that long. I think the question is not whether Free Market lasted longer than ujamaa or not, I guess the question is what did they bring to Tanzanians! Ujamaa raigned 17 years and preserved our natural resources, Free Market... well is free market every thing is almost free in Tanzania. Anybody can go to Tanzania now (Free Market Era), sign bogus contract and have all they want.

Jaduong Metty said...

@Hiza
You couldn't be more right..

@Anony
C'on sir/madam!

Didn't I say that Ujamaa brought with it a culture of ineptitude that Tanzania is still dearly paying for? Could we say that Ujamaa preserved our natural resources or Ujamaa simply denied us the tools and skills to fully utilize our natural resources?

What has signining stupid contract got to do with the viability of Ujamaa v. free market?

I can't really see how the inability of our leaders' to properly manage our resources is attributed free market. I'm welcoming your schooling on that one. Honestly.

wayne said...

Let's give Mwalimu some credit. One thing Ujamaa did accomplish in the era of African independence was to build a national unity and a national identity (let's set Zanzibar aside for this discussion - and focus on Tanganyika). African independence was followed (in many cases) by coupe after coupe after coupe, resulting in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths - most often deaths of civilians - women & children more so than military combatants. Tanzania has experienced relative peace, tribal toleration, no successful military coupes. So maybe (just maybe), Ujamaa was the right way to go for some amount of time until the nation began to mature to the point to then move towards open markets, etc... In the early days of post-independence / post colonialism, most African nations needed some moral and identifying glue to hold together countries that were artificially created by colonial boundaries. Perhaps Mwalimu was the right glue at the right time - but maybe (probably), it is time to move on and mature as a nation
I suspect I have opened a can of worms here, but I was just thinking out loud.

Magdalena said...

I think Ujamaa had good intentions... but don't shoot me either!
Magdalena
www.tanzaniafinancials.com

Anonymous said...

All I am saying is Nothing has changed for common mbongo either in Ujamaa or Free Market eras.

Mbwana said...

Ujamaa also built on the culture of cooperation and stability Nyerere wanted- Although economically it was devastating, we should forget it was part of the plan to unite the many tribes in a country rich with diversity of peoples. Other countries may have embraced freemarkets earlier and got good economic growth, but they inevitably had to deal with fighting, bickering and some cases bloodshed in squabbling for resources (oil, diamonds etc...).

Jaduong Metty said...

@All,
Jamani, jamani, jamani. I was just randomly thinking. Lakini, even with that, I didn't bring Ujamaa v. Free market comparison looking at ALL factors. This is what I said, and you can go back and read:

"If we have to look at longevity as a sign of a policy’s viability, Ujamaa was not a viable idea"

Key word: Longevity.

In Tarime today (and that is in Tanzania and very close to Nyerere's hometown) folks are still killing each other using arrows and machettes. Such tribal conflicts existed even during Ujamaa heyday. Furthermore, the Zanzibar conflicts didn't start following the introduction of free market.

People tend to forget the role of the utani tradition in Tanzania. As subtle as this tradition is, it has played huge role in uniting Tanzanians. And the tradition was neither introduced by Nyerere nor TANU.

Besides, wasn't Ujamaa based on Africa's own existing traditions?

Anonymous said...

Wayne,
That is one of the fact that most of us pretend to overlook when it comes to what Nyerere was able to accomplish in his life time. we even forget he was a human being!