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Summary and Review of "The Iraqw of Tanzania" and "Hunger and Shame"

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  1. Introduction
  2. Opinion
  3. Hunger and shame
  4. Conclusion

The Iraqw of Tanzania, by Katherine Snyder, is a detailed ethnographic account of the affects of Maendeleo (progress and development) on the Iraqw people of northern Tanzania, shaped partially by the struggle between the young and the old to capture the true essence of Iraqw culture. However, she argues that they are not squarely against modernization in their area instead they adapt and often take an active role in the process while questioning what modernization means to them.

[...] Those that were able to get a hold of some good land for coffee farming do not bother themselves with the needs of the petty poor, thereby breaking traditional Chagga kinship ties and often completely ignoring the tradition as a whole. On the other hand, the poor are extremely self judgmental, convincing themselves that they have sinned and allowing them to get stuck in a proverbial loop of shame. This loop is complicated to break with births occurring so frequently and families without growing resources, hence allowing for only one or two truly healthy children while the others starve and rot away creating more sorrow for the family and in turn more shame. [...]

[...] Considering this book was published in 2005, it would have been useful for Katherine Snyder to follow up with information about the aforementioned youth (from 1990) and what has become of them. For example, the whole discussion would be flipped upside down if many of the modern Christian youths of 1990, having absorbed enough cultural values from the elders, ?changed sides? and began recognizing the traditional points of view in life. Assuming that did not turn out to be the case, it seems that within a few generations, for better or for worse, maendeleo will be in full swing and it will probably be regulated by the new elders, who now hold majority Christian beliefs. [...]

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