Category Archives: Tanzania

A blueprint for all that was most harmful to development

The currency was called ‘pictures of Nyerere’

Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania, writes Dalrymple,

illustrated best and most clearly the politicisation of life that foreign aid promoted.

It was regarded by silly Western intellectuals as

a beacon to Africa, if not to the world. Mwalimu, or Teacher, was admired because of his apparently modest manner and lifestyle. Because of the uncritical high regard in which he was held, the economist Peter Bauer called him ‘St Julius’.

What had Teacher taught, and what were the miracles that St Julius had wrought? The country

was impoverished, with young men walking around in Western women’s coats, sent out in bundles by charities from Europe. There was nothing to buy. The currency was called ‘pictures of Nyerere’. Everyone was thin except for members of the Party of the Revolution, who were inclined to be portly. You could tell a party member in the countryside by his girth.

Party of the Revolution

Dalrymple explains that every 10th household had a 10-cell leader,

a man whose certificate of political reliability it was necessary to secure even for a child to continue beyond a certain age at school. This became a system of bribery that reached into the tiny interstices of life. It created, in conditions of penury, a cadre who were not only the eyes and ears of the régime, but loyal to it for the small advantages it gave them. (One thinks here of Freud’s phrase, the narcissism of small differences.)

Nyerere

was adept at talking the language of left-wing European intellectuals, while blinding them—in all conscience, not a very difficult thing to do—to the natural consequences of the forcible collectivisation of peasant agriculture and the removal of millions of people from where they were living, on the supposition that it was only thus that equal and equitable development could take place while the government provided the population with its inestimable services.

The maintenance of this system required tyranny and corruption even on a micro-level. Dalrymple had a patient, an Indian trader,

who had contracted tuberculosis in a Tanzanian prison, to which he had been sent for six months during one of Nyerere’s so-called economic crackdowns, conducted by the army to search out people who had supposedly dealt on the so-called black market (which Bauer would have preferred to call the open market). My patient—one of a class of admirable people, small merchants who had begun their careers by bringing a few simple consumer goods to remote rural areas where it was still possible to be attacked by a lion, and who had gradually reached a modest prosperity—had been found to be in possession of six cups and saucers for which he did not have a receipt.

Foreign aid paid for this iniquity. (Dalrymple also was a small beneficiary of the aid, buying his first house from the proceeds.) The collectivisation

was predictably such a disaster, economically, that there was only one solution: more foreign aid. 90% of the people lived on the land, but still the population could not feed itself, and produced practically no cash crops, they being subjected, if grown, to forced requisition by state marketing boards.

Nyerere recognised the nature of his system when he explained why he refused to devalue the currency.

Such a devaluation would have destroyed his powers of political patronage, for access to foreign currency to favoured persons was a way of ensuring their loyalty. ‘And I would lose everything I have,’ were Nyerere’s precise words.

 

African hero

With Olof Palme

The evil of Julius Nyerere

Dalrymple points out that the Tanganyikan dictator was cultured enough to translate Julius Cæsar and The Merchant of Venice into Swahili. His influence, however, was

almost wholly pernicious.

He was able to preserve his reputation for sainthood in rich countries, and especially in Scandinavia,

because he shrewdly realised that, to assuage its guilt for its colonial past, the West had need of an African hero.

Pauperisation of an already poor country

He also recognised that his audience

would be far more interested in what he said than in what he did.

Such an audience of Western dupes

had no interest in the reality of the Tanzania he had created.

The aid-and-development racket

Bonanza for British firms Bonanza for British firms

Dalrymple explains (from 21:05) how he was once a beneficiary of pork-barrelling.

He was a doctor for a roadbuilding project in Tanzania. The experience

turned me against foreign aid. I saw that it was a corrupt way of subsidising inefficient British companies.

Postcard from Moshi

Writing from the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, an elated Dalrymple writes that the Tanganyikans are 'the best-mannered people I have ever met'

Writing from the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, an elated Dalrymple affirms that the Tanganyikans are ‘the best-mannered people I have ever met’

Darling of the development economists

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 07.29.59Julius Nyerere, writes Dalrymple,

maintained his country quite unnecessarily in the direst poverty, to the hosannas of most development economists, especially Scandinavian.

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‘Millions dead, freedom unknown and nothing to show for it’

That is socialism, says Dalrymple. Milksop, Western, populist, vote-grubbing, ‘democratic’ socialism, of the type practised by Harold Wilson or François Hollande, entails, Dalrymple points out, the — at first mild — ‘replacement of the impersonal allocation by price, by allocation by political influence’. As for full-throttled socialism, as practised, for instance, by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it is theoretical fantasy and absurdity. It can only be imposed, Dalrymple notes, by force. The result in socialist countries was (is, in the case of North Korea and Cuba) ‘disastrous’. It has been murderous and very often genocidal, for socialism, as Michael Wharton famously described it, is like ‘a great road, stretching to infinity across a barren, waterless waste. Along it trudge half the peoples of the world, bowed, manacled, parched, exhausted. By the verges lie the gaunt wrecks of crashed and burnt-out nations; and skeletons picked clean by vultures and bleached by a pitiless sun’. Socialism, Wharton wrote, involves ‘the death of freedom, the enslavement of the masses, the withering of art and culture, the restless, ruthless hunt for scapegoats, the aggressive folie de grandeur of dictators’. Only a tiny number of fantasists deny that socialism was and is like this. But these fantasists, traitors and apologists for tyranny — the foremost example is the disgusting Alger Hiss — whether they be spies, fellow travellers or sympathisers, these ‘enemies of the open society’, have wielded, and continue to wield, very great power inside the Western establishment, indeed in one sense they are the Western establishment.

The Britons to whom Stalin was and is a god

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E.J. Hobsbawm: awarded the CH for services to Stalin apologetics

What are they like, the apologists for tyranny, the supporters of Mao or Hitler or Stalin, the defenders of the gulag, the enemies of a free and open society, the admirers of terror and genocide, the ones who want to see what Orwell called the ‘boot stamping on a human face — forever’? What are creatures like Eric Hobsbawm really like?

Dalrymple brings out some of their attributes in the course of an account of a visit to North Korea as part of a delegation to the World Festival of Youth and Students.

I was accepted as a member [of the delegation] because…I was a doctor who had practised in Tanzania, whose first president Julius Nyerere was a close friend and admirer of Kim Il Sung.

He describes some of the delegates.

They were hard-faced communists, who dressed tough and cut their hair short so that their heads should appear as bony as possible. I overheard one of them describing a demonstration he had attended in England, in which there had also been a member of Amnesty International with a placard.

‘I went up to him and said, “I don’t believe in that bourgeois shit.” And he said, “Do you think political prisoners should be tortured and killed, then?” “Too fucking right, I do,” I said.’

The person to whom he related this charming little exchange laughed. What I found frightening about the pair of them was that their faces were contorted with hatred even as they laughed, and when they talked of killing political prisoners they meant it. They were members of a little communist groupuscule for whom Stalin was a god, not in spite of his crimes but because of them.

A spot of knee pain

Dalrymple writes that In Tanzania in 1986,

I found what seemed to be the [country’s] only functioning storm-drain… and fell down it, severely injuring a knee….The journey to the mission hospital in the back of a pick-up truck over sixty miles of rutted laterite road was one of the more agonising experiences of my life.