A history of bubonic plague in north-eastern Tanzania, 1920s – 2004

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University of Dar es Salaam
This dissertation is a historical examination of the outbreaks of bubonic plague in north-eastern Tanzania from the 1920s to 2004. It investigates the causes and governments measures and efforts to eradicate the bubonic plague and explore how the people of north-eastern Tanzania perceived the disease. The evidences for this study come from oral interviews and archival records. The study presents three main findings: first it argues that the way the indigenous people understood the causes of the disease varied from the colonial governments understanding. These variations made it difficult to solve the problems because the measure taken and implemented ignored one segment of the society. For instance, on the one hand the local people associated the outbreak of bubonic plague with magic and witchcraft, divine power, marriage, and ethnic conflict. On other hand the colonial and post-colonial governments thought that local people were the source of the outbreaks of bubonic plague through their failure to control their environment and the poverty which made them to have poor quality houses, poor storage of agricultural products and infestation by rats. Second, the study has found that colonial and post-colonial governments devised strategies to eradicate the disease, which included quarantine, environmental cleanness, provision of public education and medication. Furthermore, the dissertation highlighted how a holistic approach between colonial and local people perspectives is necessary in order to permanently eradicate the bubonic plague. In that regard the implication of this dissertation is that research into social history is made richer by considering the social understanding of the disease and acknowledging the contradictions involved rather than propagating only a biochemical explanation of the disease as the sole perspective in dealing with bubonic plague.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF RC179.T34M766)
Plague, History, Tanzania, North Eastern, Tanzania
Mtoi, P. (2017) A history of bubonic plague in north-eastern Tanzania, 1920s – 2004. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.