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January 05, 2010


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Black Mage

I can't wait for this. Tanzania strikes me as very interesting, on a superficial political level at least. It does seem like every African country has had a distinct political experience since independence, mixing and matching different forms of dictatorship with different economic policies with different ethnic mixes, with most sadly leading nowhere good.

Tanzania seems to represent something of a darker route for Senegal -- Senegal without an Abdou Diouf. It's never had a coup, which sets it apart, and while Nyerere was never exactly a democrat he was certainly preferable to most African rulers. But disastrous economic policies and high levels of corruption (although, to his credit, Nyerere was never himself tainted) seem to have resulted in a nation which, although peaceful, isn't nearly as wealthy as perhaps it should be.

And then there's Zanzibar, which is another kettle of fish entirely, and which HAS seen brutal repressive dictatorships and massive electoral fraud and which has a history more connected to the Indian Ocean than Africa. It's bound to be fascinating. I envy you.


My father, a civil engineer, spent quite a bit of time in Tanzania in the late 70s through the 80s. His first project, as I understood it, was to estimate how much electricity they would need for the next 25(?) years and the various options to meet that need. Subsequent visits were to investigate possible dam and hydro-electric sites. I'll point him to your blog entries in case he has any comments to add.

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