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Topic : Tanzanian Cultural Environment and Economic Growth  
  Tanzanian Cultural Environment and Economic Growth

It seems logical to believe that our culture must have a significant effect on our economic fate and prospects. But such outcome is interlocked with political behavior and economic decisions of the past ...Click here to read more

Comments From TAKNET Members
Gabor Z Siklosi  : Saturday, March 27, 2010    

Thank you for your comments.  It has been a pleasant experience to review the wrestling with the current challenges in poverty reduction and in attitude transformation.  I find the discussion very informative and interesting.  I'm very hopeful for the development of Tanzania with such thoughtful ideas being generated.

I'd like to submit these comments:
 On the influence of culture:  It is entirely possible and probable that the culture of the rural poor especially has been influenced from years of impoverishment.  It is hard to look beyond the day when you are barely keeping alive from the lack of resources.  This has to have a deep impact on the nearly 50% of the nation that is considered poor or impoverished.  The challenge is to somehow emphasize the definitions of what it means to be poor or to have a poor mindset, and to change that from the National scale all the way down to the rural individual.  Is it possible to adopt a National Motto of what it means to be Tanzanian?--and how RICH Tanzanians are just because they are Tanzanian? 
The insightful comments from Mr. Nganyanyuka point out the CORE ATTITUDES of that particular micro-nation that have enabled them to get momentum toward development.  It is possible to glean from this people group as well as others that are showing a propensity toward gaining momentum in development, sort those attitudes and key principles, and then develop a NATIONAL MOTTO FOR TAZANIAN DEVELOPMENT that can be promoted and adopted by all as THE MOTTO for what it means to be Tanzanian?  If those key principles would address some of the key challenges facing the nation and they are promoted in all ways and means--radio, newspaper, TV, Internet, billboards, etc--where the core message is sent out regularly and consistently; over time, the attitudes can be changed.
Those key MOTTO principles can be introduced as a part of the core curriculum in all schools at all levels and children can be brought up with that as their country's motto for being Tanzanian.
If all in the nation agree on the key principles--national unity results whereby people would unite under that National Agreement rather than ethnic, or political lines.
Strong economic growth results from hard work and smart work and united work and work that would enable all to benefit--not just a few at the top of the heap.
If the nation unites under a common theme of what it means to be Tanzanian--Rich in heritage, industrious, hard-working, sacrificial, devoted to the country's success, etc.
a common vision is developed and people unite for the common good of all Tanzanian's, not just their own special group. 

Thank you for your consideration of these thoughts.



Kabuje Furaha  : Tuesday, February 16, 2010    

Thank a lot Otto for your contribution on my idea, I would like add/respond few issues queried by you. On the aspect of TRANSPARENT IN BUDGETING (GOOD GOVERNANCE,  I would like agree with Otto that the level of awareness is still low in Tanzania, but this does not prevent us to appreciate that this (awareness) has been increasing at an increasing rate, which is a good sign!


The increase of awareness, In my view is contributed by engagement/involvement of various community members in development planning such as O&OD, District Agricultural Development Planning e.t.c, of which most of these plans comes from grassroots level.  May be the weakness I am seeing is, follow up on the implementation of these plans is weak, probably because everybody business is nobody business! And this is as result of our culture!


On the aspect of Employee evaluation, I woild like to respond as follows. For the puporse of academic, let me disclose my observation on OPRAS, basing on my three years experience working with Central government (please don’t quote), In my view, though OPRAS has been introduced several years ago, whereby an employee is evaluated following assignment given earlier, but so far it is ineffective because of the reason explained below;

  • In order to evaluate an employee especially under the government system, one has to have a contract of certain period of time of which given the resources , planned activities and time allocated, then efficient evaluation can be achieved. The system requires the employee and his/her boss to have cleary defined scope of work or terms of reference at the beginning of the contract. On contrally, currently there is no contract offered in the government to new or existing employee (with exception of retiree who may be given contract to extend retirement age).   Coupled with ‘business as usual’ trend, very few leaders in the government understand/evaluate their employee seriously, most evaluation are done at the end where there was no agreement on the scope of work, making the whole exercise inefficient ‘business as usual’.  

  • The OPRAS requires and employee to be given inputs/ resources especially financial for undertaking specified activities, but the resources are not handled to the employee according the given tasks. This eventually lead to under performance of the employee, but since the bosses are aware with the problem of the sytem, then it becomes business as usual in a sense that no serious employee evaluation is done.

  • To the best of my knowledge, OPRAS was one of the system proposed by the World Bank, with the aim of making the publ;ic sector efficient in service delivery. So, I am afraid it was adopted as it is without modifying to fit with local environment.




Festo E. Maro  : Sunday, February 14, 2010    

I have read the contribution from different members and I have found they have substance in it only that presentation has loose ends. The focus should be pinned on cultural environment and national culture policy; the two needs to be tightly fasten up with experiences on the grounds. I give my upper hand for the experiences mentioned by members but along the way in bid of making a point, they lost and mix with other discipline. The most featured discipline is human resource management systems and governance. The former is used for molding employee’s behavior in an organization and not necessarily the culture of the nation.

I acknowledge the subtle difference existence in discussing governance versus individual’s attitudes while at the back of mind someone thinks discussing culture. Governance in simple terms means working ethically in democratic environment. But this doesn’t mean transparent, accountability and participation is a culture. In some culture secrecy is a norm and categorization based on age is a way living in some communities. In short when we discuss about Tanzania cultural environment reflect on national cultural policy and pick out issues relevant for discussion in which you think we can improve the or enhance the policy. Or identify existing or untapped opportunities in our culture that can contribute to the economic growth. If you wish to grasp the national culture policy search Google using these key words “Tanzania national culture policy”.

I hope we will hear from you on a more focused discussion before the closure of the topic!kindly welcome all!


Otto Matern Muba  : Thursday, February 4, 2010    
  Time used in productive work:
Thank you Kabuje Furaha;
I read your commment between the lines
-suggested the solution for Presenteeism as follows:
-Introducing effective employees perfomance evaluation System as an option
KABUJE FURAHA;The whole option you have provided is a good solution but little bit you are not sure of OPRAS whether effective or not I would See it from inception side if OPRAS see employee in control side it always attract strenge feeling from employee point of view and will mean burden they will find the means to dodge (It is rather autocratic)this COMPEL ME TO ASK YOU TO PERSUE WHETHER opras IS EFFECTIVE
STILL join you if they put it right it can be a good option.

Kabuje Furaha: you have also mentioned Self descipline ;i agree with you but condition to attract self descipline (it is contigent) the same employee can behave defferently based in different environment we need to attract self descipline by creating good working environment ;here commitment strategies to human resources management is the KEY be it at individual or other mentioned levels.

TRANSPARENT IN BUDGETING (GOOD GOVERNANCE) YOU MENTIONED BUDGETING AND EXPENDITURE THIS IS UNQUESTIONABLE the only issue is the right strategy to put this in place is ongoing strategy working are we flexible enough to change where it due

Commmunity need to be active and Pro active
Kabuje Furaha:
This is the key ,only to notice the level of awareness of the people is matters level of understanding yes they ask questions whichg kind of question ?are they told activity done or promised do they have the basic knowledge of what they are asking so that they cannot be distorted from reality are they made of expectation ? i think we need to start from creating community awareness iam afraid the level of awreness is low that attract easier deception,civic education is the Key

Kabuje you have Mentioned about community follows issues and make accountability at the district level Kabuje there are confusion in accountability at the council level mult accountability ;exacutives is appointed at the same time is told to be accountable to the council as mgt structure indicate but how in such ambiguity be possible if elite get trouble how about ordinary member of community a good example is the recent action of councilors trying to evict DED from their office they do so but they have no such power structurally that why if councillor agree that DED should be accountable what will be the reaction of her/his appointing authority

hopefully Kabuje you will have something more to add dont hesitate

Omari Mwinyi Khamis  : Thursday, February 4, 2010    

The time one spends for productive work in office or in the field actully depends on daily basis.What we are supposed to is to teach our students work discipline ,responsibility and accountability.When they leave school or University and start working these three important things namely discipline,responsibility and acountability have been alreadly planted in their blood veins and they will work effectively.In 70’s Tanzania government had a testing work period for all employees and was a 6 months to one year.When employed you were given your leader who will guide you in the various job moments and afterwards your work was evaluated.Your leader used to send reccommendation to your manager for promotion.

If the Employee Performance Appraisal System does not function as it should be it can be due to many factors such as corruption in the government system or company.I remember being given students from University of Dar es Salaam for field training at Sekenke Goldfield and after training I was asked by STAMICO to recommend some of the students to get employment with STAMICO.What I did was I gave them a sort of test field work and I trained them theoretically in geophysical exploration.Afterwards I interviewed them in a friendly manner and I could find out those who were not capable of starting their employment with STAMICO.



Kabuje Furaha  : Thursday, January 28, 2010    

I would like to comment on the time used on productive work. Introduction of effective employee performance evaluation systems could be a good option in accounting time used in productive work i.e. an employee is given resources various king of works and then be evaluated after a certain period of time. This usually is accompanied with a kind of contract which depending the level of performance attained at the end of contract, one may be promoted of redundant. We are aware that the government of Tanzania has introduced Employee performance Appraisal System (OPRAS), but not sure how effective it is.

At an individual level, self discipline is important at work and home. Changing the mind set on life and work in areas where there is shortcomings is quite important


On the aspect of pattern of skewed spending habits that has also affected public spending, this could be reduced or solved through being transparent on the process of public budgeting and expenditure. The community needs to be pro active and active follow up of issues related to their development. People appear to be awakening, take an example of recently move by the people where national leaders are stopped to be asked question related to their development matters- this has happened in Mbeya and Mtwara to the President and Prime Minister respectively. What I am saying, is people need not to wait for the national leaders before they come out. But they need to follow up issues by making electives and executives at district level be accountable.

Kabuje F.


Festo E. Maro  : Monday, January 11, 2010    

On behalf of myself and TAKNET management I would like to wish you Happy New Year!! In this New Year we planned to introduce many other topics which are center to the economic development of the country. Keep on visiting your favorite forum for critical discussion.

I wish to express my thanks to all contributors who have made discussion alive. I was in silence watching the discussion flow.  I learnt it’s very interesting to read the experiences from different sources and the flow of argument between contributors. However if we refocus to the topic guiding questions you will realize most of our discussions have answered the first and third objective extensively but the second objective still needs lot of your contributions. I encourage you to focus on what can be done in the policy domain to facilitate positive culture that enhances the performance of institutions.


Deogratias Peter Mutalemwa  : Thursday, December 24, 2009    

Dear All,

 Apronius has  raised two quite pertinent points regarding (i) the time used on productive work  and  (ii) the pattern of our skewed spending habits that has also affected public spending. Let me ask contributors to suggest  how public policy action can  influence  positive changes in these two areas


Omari Mwinyi Khamis  : Wednesday, December 23, 2009    

“The white mentality which I don't sometimes accept is that blacks don't want to work, never punctual, and don't spend their resources carefully? Is that correct? Studies have indicated that most People in coastal areas (especially men) work very few hours and spend the rest of their time playing Bao. This is part of their culture and in some studies”

That the Black people don’t want to work is not really correct.After living in Scandinavia almost 36 years I have found that out some of  the so called “White people” are very leasy and like only to receive monthly allowance from the social office. Yes before indipendence the coastal pepole used to spend ours in playing Bao but Mzee J.K.Nyerere came with a slogan “USIWE KUPE UJITEGEMEE” and after that we could find that the coastal people reduced the Bao time.However, I do agree that most of Tanzanias don’t have a monthly budget plan and spend too much money for wedding.The wedding in the coastal area could take as long as one week. But I have seen nowadays the bride and bridegroom do get gifts that could help them begin their life.


Omari Mwinyi Khamis  : Sunday, December 20, 2009    

We have different tribes in Tanzania and every tribe has its own cultures.This is beneficial to us and can combine these different good “cultures” and sort out the bad ones. What Mr.Furaha has narrated concerning Kilwa fishermen it applies to all coastal villages in Tanzania. About 50 years ago as a child I used to visit my fathers village of Moa in Tanga region. All his relatives were fishermen and I used to follow them to the sea. But they only went to the sea when they were in need of the money and not otherwise. Some of them had coconut farms and were cultivating rice etc. Therefore they had different type of jobs.The Moa villagers were not poor by that time before 1961 and during the period 1961- 1979. I visited the village in 2008 and I could find out that they had not progressed and are in poverty! Why? Probably they can handle economy!

Actually our Tanzania (african) culture is very rich and is not a source of our poverty but corruption is the source of our poverty. In Europe for example, parents have to pay a lot of money just to send their children to day-care centre/kindergarten.Whereas in Tanzania(Africa) our grandparents take care of their grandchildren free of charge.This means the grandparents are helping in our home economics.

In addition, if the government introduce economic subjects in secondary schools it can help in building a ground foundation for the future Tanzania. Our school leavers could be able to handle their economy as well as the economy of our country if elected to responsible posts in government/companies.

We have received AID fron Scandinavian Countries(Sweden,Denmark and Norway) from 1961 to date 2009 and ask yourselves where has all that money gone?It could help a lot if it were forcused on povert reduction but not on corruption!We can’t blame our culture as a source of our poverty.Tanzania has profound wealth, forests,minerals(gold,tanzanite,uranium,limestones,nickel,diamonds) and we are still poor! Is this a joke or what.Has Kenya all these things? Why are they rich and we are poor? Ask yourselves and ask our Leaders the same questions!





Kapongola Nganyanyuka  : Thursday, December 17, 2009    
  I agree that economic development is determined by the way people live and that is what we usually term as culture. The discussion on this issue can never end but for today I would like to give few examples of best practices I have witnessed in Tanzania. May I first warn that what I am going to share here shouldn’t be considered as a bias to some ethnic group. However, I am prepared to be corrected.

My example goes to the Chagga tribe. I have been doing my own observations on the lifestyles of the Chagga people. There is no worry that the Chagga are believed to be one of the economically developed people in Tanzania if not the first. No scientific proof to this effect, however, I believe one will prove me correct if did so (may be this can be a new area for research). There may be other reasons to why the Chagga are who they are today but I believe that the following cultural traits must have contributed. The first and fore most is the culture to have long term economical goals mainly focused on financial dependency. Apart from long term goals, the Chagga are believed to have annual goals and are required to report on achievements at every end of the year. Usually the reporting is done in meetings with other family members during Christmas (when every Chagga would feel uneasy if failed to visit Moshi during that time). This helps in monitoring and reflection of ones economic development.

On the other hand, the Chagga are also renowned as champions in education. The Chagga realized the importance of education long time ago. They are the instigators of ward secondary schools that we are witnessing being introduced in other parts of the country in the recent years. Moshi has had a good number of schools for a quite sometime and we now witness its effects in higher learning institutions (a good number of Dr. and Professors are from Chagga tribe) and all arenas where education is prerequisite for entry (including all public and private offices and institutions).

Another Chagga’s cultural trait that is helpful for economic development is the urge for independency and discouragement of dependency. The Chagga do not entertain staying with jobless members of the family. More specifically, the Chagga discourage the issue of staying with members of the family without “business like” arrangements. I am very sure this is a controversial issue to most Tanzanians including myself but I believe you will all agree with me that taking care of relatives reduces resources for savings and investment. I have myself benefited from extended family but its effects on economical development can not be ignored.

The fourth trait of Chagga people is help for each other that allow them to have a bigger social capital. It should not be understood that other tribes do not help each other; they do but not to the scale of the Chagga especially to matters related to business. Social capital is one of the important factors in business - one major and proper method towards economical development. For example a Chagga may convince all his work colleagues to visit a drinking joint promising good barbeque but in the end realizing that the joint is owned by a brother. Worse still, the barbeque is no better than the one provided by other joints. At times the barbeque may be well prepared, however, the efforts to bring customers to a brother’s joint is what is most important.

I have a feeling all these traits are helpful towards economic development and the same can be realized if instilled to the rest of Tanzanians as they have worked with the Chagga. It should also be understood that other tribes have positive cultural traits that are supportive to economic development. We need to document all best practices that have helped people to achieve economic growth. The research institutions and the business community are best placed to initiate researches and documentation of best practices that have contributed to economic growth. The media can also play a big role in researching and disseminating the information. Let’s share them in order to better our efforts towards economic dependency.

Kabuje Furaha  : Friday, December 11, 2009    

Dear Colleagues

I thank the initiator for choosing this topic. I would like to associate the culture to the norms and value that a particular community has. Though it might need enough time and energy, the culture can be transplanted and change another community, and still work well in the sense of contributing to economic prosperity.

I would like to cite one example I came across recently. I had interviewed few numbers of farmers in Rombo – Kilimanjaro and fishers along Indian Ocean coastal, Kilwa ditrict in particular. A good number of the interviewed persons said, if they get abundant fish harvest they usually stop fishing for while and have enough time for leisure or participating in other community functions.  So in this case one fisherman may rest for three monthes or more doing unproductive leisure so as to spent the saving made. Its when they went out of money, then they get back to the ocean to continues with fishing activities. When you take a look on their households, I noted they are also lacking even the basic domestic assets such as bicycles, radio, TV and the like. On contrally, in farmers in Rombo continues with farming even they obtain bump harvest, the profits gain is used to invest in other areas.

There are two things I learned from this;

1.       Culture affects the working habit of an individual or society. In a certain big project working country wide, the coastal community such as of Kilwa district accepted the Income generating sub projects at a much slow rate as compared to inland district of Kilimanjaro region. One would say that Kilimanjaro districts had much thirst for development as compared to kilwa community. But the fact lies on culture, value and norm that are in the particular society and this may fuel or reduce poverty level of a particular society/individual.   

2.       Culture tends to affect on the way people view or understand the development. Despite of being exposed to different kind of development, sometime cultures tend to affect the mind set of an individual with regard to development. Regardless of how much one earns, he/she may not consider advancing in any area!!

There are also the issues of discipline, either working or general life discipline? Here I am referring to getting the job done in quality manner!! This contributes to poverty reduction in households. But again I am asking, is the discipline part of culture?

Probably adoption of policy that encourages intermingle of different communities, e.g different student to be allowed studying away from the district where they are coming (local district), doing business across different societies would reduce the culture effect in poverty reduction. Generally intrusion of different culture which is good can helps to kill the bad culture.


Kabuje F.L.

Economist - MLDF


Emmanuel Patroba Mhache  : Wednesday, December 9, 2009    

The initiator of this debate thought big in the sense that he tried to reflect the importance of culture in economic growth. Culture includes the people’s life style and it’s those styles which can influence economic growth positively or negatively. I remember when I was a child my parents used to work in groups or in cooperatives. They organized themselves into different socioeconomic activities such as digging dams for irrigation together and in those days they were harvesting a lot and they had money. In my village for example it is not possible to see those dams nowadays. Everyone is working on his/her own. The culture of togetherness disappeared.  


Agro-forestry is very important for environment. People in Moshi are used in this type of activity. When you look on aerial photos of 1960 to 1980s the area was very green. Coffee and banana are grown under trees. And this has helped the people to conserve their land, and from trees they get firewood, timber, building poles and fodder. This is the culture of the people which preserve the environment and give people income as the result economic growth.


Julius M. Limbitu  : Friday, December 4, 2009    

Thank you for selecting this subject. Culture involves what people value in terms of custorms, beliefs, aspirations, the meaning of life, perceptions, among other views. It is very much relevant to economic growth because for the people to produce, they need to be motivated. The best and sustainable motivation comes from within, that is from ones cultural values.

For example, the habit of working, like type of work, duration of work, commitement to efficiency and effectiveness in work, are all dependent upon the inner culture values. Since it is a fact that work transforms other factors of production to achieve economic development, the culture is a key element in the whole process. Culture also translates into issues like accountability and ethical values that determine the quality and benefits of economic development.

Therefore, this is a very helpful theme that will benefit our community.

Thank you.

Julius M. L.

Festo E. Maro  : Thursday, December 3, 2009    

Dear TAKNET members welcome once again in the forum where we ponder developmental essentials. This time we introduce a topic on ¡§cultural environment and economic growth¡¨. At a glance the title seems far from economic growth or as an important aspect for economic growth after all its rarely been emphasized at national level. We only hear agriculture, tourism, export trade, manufacturing and SME sectors as important for growth. It also known that corruption is enemy for justice and development. We rarely heard about culture and our behavior are important for poverty reduction and economic growth. We also never hear how cultural environment has been part of our current status of under development. This time we want you to incline more on our individual and institution values, behaviors, norms, customs and tradition not in isolation but how they interplay with economic development of our country. As you think aloud what you would like to contribute in this topic, kindly think around the following questions

--  Does our culture contribute to economic impoverishment of individual persons? What can be done at the policy level to mitigate this phenomenon?

-- What can be done in the policy domain to facilitate positive culture that enhances the performance of institutions?

-- Can you give examples of Best Practices in our cultures that should be promoted vigorously (and show how) because they will contribute to strong economic growth?


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