In Surrogates of the State: NGOs, Development, and Ujamaa in Tanzania, Michael Jennings delivers an account of the role NGOs, particularly Oxfam, played in supporting Tanzania's government economic policies. In addition, the author provides an account of the historical background on the Ujamaa policy and subsequent failures in implementation of the Ujamaa policy.
This book is an excellent resource to students, educators and anyone interested in understanding not only the role that NGOs played in the development process in Tanzania, but also Tanzania’s attempt to achieve economic progress in the time period spanning between the late 1960s and early 1980s. In reviewing this book, the main criteria included the organization, content and reference sources.
The author kicks off the book with an account of the role and the history of NGOs, detailing the spirit of volunteerism and charity as the driving force propelling the NGOs. The author then takes the reader on the expansion (both financial and operational) of NGOs through the years. The book shows not only an appreciation of the role NGOs as agents of development, but also accounts for the factors that led to the formulation of the Ujamaa policy, the implementation failures that followed, and how NGOs (knowingly or unknowingly) supported the Ujamaa policy.
Michael Jennings is a Lecturer in international development and East African politics at the Centre for Development, Swansea University. A major focus of his work has been the role of voluntary agency activity in development in East Africa, including NGOs, missions, and faith-based organizations. He has worked extensively on the role of civil society in development and has research interests in health issues in sub-Saharan Africa.
The author has organized the book in somewhat a chronological order, allowing the reader to understanding the origination and development of the NGO movement while deliberately focusing on Oxfam. The author also takes a chronological progression of economic policy formulation in Tanzania, key players, and strategic changes immediately after independence to early 1980s.
Regrettably, it takes the author up to the middle chapters to address the main topic – which is proving how NGOs became surrogates of the Tanzanian state. The author also provides historical details that some readers might find unnecessary. Nevertheless, the author supported such detail by making reference to external sources that could be traced to vouch the author’s arguments and conclusions.
While the author attempts to prove how NGOs in Tanzania, such as Oxfam, essentially became surrogates of the state by supporting the official economic policy (Ujamaa) through narrowing of the opportunities for independent action and reinforcing the official paradigm, the author surprisingly provides an explanation to the reasons behind the authoritarian style of governance that is currently a contention point between the incumbent government and opposition parties, some NGOs (such as HakElimu) and other political activists.
With a current explosion of NGOs in Tanzania, this book is definitely a good resource in understanding the history of NGOs and the role NGOs has played as development partners in Tanzania. It is also a good resource for anyone interested in gaining an understanding of Tanzania’s attempt to attain economic progress through the Ujamaa policy and why the Ujamaa policy failed.