18 December 2012

Tanzania: Korean Rekindles Ujamaa Spirit in Rural Area

I WAS in Mkuranga District last week to assist Rev. Joshua Lee (a rural development activist in the country) to get some photos for the remarkable event involving eight delegation people from Korea.

The delegation was in Tanzania for three days to see and evaluate seven different projects funded by Saemaul Udong Training Centre from Korea.

The projects were implemented four years ago in Njia nne and Mfurumwambao Villages in Coast Region. Njia Nne and Mfurumwambao Villages are 55 kilometres from the Dar Es Salaam City Centre.

I was there to witness how wananchi practise the movement for change in their villages by themselves through selfreliance cooperation as a society. Frankly speaking, when I visited the place previously, I laughed to myself because even the founder of Ujamaa Villages himself, the late Mwalimu Nyerere, once said:

"If you stand before the people and talk about Azimio la Arusha and Ujamaa, you may appear crazy." But over time, I have come to the conclusion that we can stand together as wazalendo -- patriots -- and revive the hitherto moribund Ujamaa Village System and revive the spirit of villagisation.

Every achievement has its starting point. The residents of Mkuranga District are mostly from the Zaramo community. They are mostly poor, owing to their disinclination towards agriculture. Many of them practise small scale agriculture, producing cashew nut and growing also some vegetables, but only for subsistence.

The four year-success story began with a visit of Mr Ann, Sung-Il to Njianne and Mfrumwambao villages of Mkuranga District. Mr Sung-ll was the project's manager of a department of International Cooperation, Korea Saemaul Undong Movement Centre, Korea in March 2009.

With their characteristic spirit of "I can do it" the villages developed the riverbed farmland in December 2009. Henry Clemens, Mkuranga District Commissioner and Ibrahim Kaduma, a member of the United African University of Tanzania Founding Committee and former Tanzania minister, underwent training at Korea Saemaul Central Training Centre.

Before the diplomatic relationship was established with Republic of Korea (South Korea), Tanzania had a close relationship with North Korea too. Saemaul Undong Movement began after Tanzania established a diplomatic relationship with South Korea.

Therefore, Saemaul Undong Movement seems to be easily accepted as Tanzania's national movement. Saemaul Undong Movement can be beneficiary to both Korea and Tanzania because Tanzania is seeking to have a national development model while Korea is looking for a globalization of Saemaul Undong Movement as an alternative type of aid system.

Saemaul Undong can be defined as conviction that anything can be done and the will that we can do it. Saemaul Undong is a struggle for a better life, not only for the individual but also for the benefit of the society as a whole. Wealth is not only a material concept, but also a mental one. It is important not only for the people to lead better lives but also for their descendants as well.

It is a project to build a foundation for a better life. A better life for the family and neighbours, along with society and the nation is the goal for Saemaul Undong. The 3 main values for Saemaul Undong are diligence, self-help and cooperation.

Diligence leads to sincerity. The phrase, "An early bird catches the worm," shows that diligence leads to sincerity, a value that doesn't allow for falseness, hypocrisy and vanity. Self-help defines one's fate based on one's effort.

The proverb, 'Heaven helps those who help themselves' shows that one is the master of one's fate. One has to be totally independent and must not ask for help from the outside. Cooperation is based on a pursuit for community growth. "Two heads are better than one."

All this proves the value of cooperation. In the late 1960s, the Korean society was uprooted by differences in ideas and ravished by poverty. The per capita GNP at that time was 85 dollars. The majority of Korean people barely had enough to buy food. The 5-year economic plan that started in 1962 started to show results, and from the 1970s, the Korean economy began to take off.

Due to this economic expansion, young people started flocking into the cities. In the 1960s, the government worked in increasing production of foodstuffs. Until 1970, eighty per cent of the rural communities had grassthatched roofs, and 80 per cent lighted their homes by oil lamps, not electric light. A total of 35 thousand rural villages received an average of 355 sacks of cement for free.

The projects were under the sole custody of the village council. 16,000 villages, which are more than half of all the villages in the rural area, showed major improvements. The majority of the projects were carried out by village funds and self-labour.

During the second year of the nationwide project, villages which made considerable improvement were supplied with extra 500 sacks of cement and a ton of steel wire by the government. The government decided to help villages, which helped themselves.

Due to Tanzania's excellent leadership in the international diplomatic society, the success of Saemaul Undong Movement in Tanzania has expanded to other African and third-world countries. Tanzania possesses abundant natural resources including minerals, vast fertile land, and abundant rainfalls.

Tanzania is a stable country in political, social, religious, and cultural point of view even though she is a multi-tribal country and has a religious structure that could cause tension between Christianity and Islam.

Tanzania is at an excellent position in diplomatic leadership and the national economic growth rate is almost 7.0 per cent. Nevertheless, a significant portion of the national budget is relying upon foreign aids and the people's lives are at an absolute poverty.

Tanzania needs a nation's model that can maximize the national resources of Tanzania, which can help Tanzania escape from the foreign-aid dependent system. Tanzania needs a revolutionary change in evaluating themselves that can save the country from the defeatism, which was caused by the oppression from the colonization by Arabs and Europeans as Korea experienced due to the forced occupation by Japan.

The change in thinking about themselves will propel the recovery of their damaged self-esteem and accelerate the revival process of the country. Tanzania needs to throw away the negative fatalism which arose naturally from the poor living conditions and to take the experiences to establish rich living conditions through developing the abundant natural resources and environment.

Tanzania needs to find out a way to overcome the poor life of each individual and the country as a whole even though she has been an excellent mediator for the conflicts between the countries and accomplished successful social solutions in tribal and religious issues in her own territory.

Tanzanians need to become a responsible and independent people for the prosperity of their own country in the future instead of criticizing each other or passing all responsibilities over their government. Owing to its spirit, Saemaul Campaign in the country can bridge the gap left by Ujamaa Movement, which united various peoples of the nation.

Application and adoption of Korea Saemaul Undong Movement to Tanzania seem to be probable because the situation of Korea at the early stage of the movement is similar to the Tanzania's current social situation.

Saemaul Undong Movement can be developed to a practical national movement, which can build up the selfesteem of Tanzanians, whose national spirit is exclusive to foreigners despite the strong dependency to the foreign aid. Operation Vijiji has received surprisingly little academic attention.

I have only found a few academic articles analysing aspects of these villagisation processes of the 1960s and 1970s, and, so far, no larger, authoritative account of the whole period. That is a shame.

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