The history of women's involvement in political movements and struggles for independence in Tanganyika: 1950-1961

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University of Dar es Salaam
History, and particularly history of Africa, has been the history of male's activities in African communities. This is in accordance with the prevailing historiography, which however needs rectification for more objectivity. The truth is that a community is a community of men and women. The role of each in a community is determined by the identity of each in that specific community, which is historically constructed and determined by the level of historical development. Therefore the nature and roles assigned to men and women in a community is never static and in analysing its historical specificity must be taken into account. The significance of the roles performed by men and women must be analyzed in relation to the identity of that particular group in the community as a whole. In this thesis the role of women in the struggle for Independence is presented within that conception. The point being that women's involvement at every historical conjuncture must be seen in the way this group identified itself in the community and how the community identified it. Thus, the involvement in one historical conjuncture may be totally different from another, but yet be of equal importance and significance from the point of view of the movement itself and the community as a whole. Women in every community are distributed across all social and economic classes. In their efforts to make history, African women have been conscious and aware of their problems, interests and concerns. Women in colonial Tanganyika for example, were highly disappointed by the racial segregation, humiliation and exploitation which resulted from the British colonial rule. Some of the things which angered them include Africans being forbidden to practice traditional agricultural methods, such as bush fallowing, intercropping and open-land grazing. Moreover, Africans employed by the colonialist were paid low wages and were not treated equally as their non-African counterparts. Such mistreatment in their own motherland was never tolerated. It was in this context that women in Tanganyika were compelled to be involved in the struggle for Independence. These struggles started in the early 1950's and ended in 1961, when Independence was attained. During this time, women bought and sold political parties' membership cards, attended meetings, gave speeches, contributed funds to support the struggles, cooked and served food to the leaders of the movements, sung songs which mobilised the Africans to join the struggles and above all, performed security duties. The nature of women's involvement was shaped by women's identities which were re-gained, re-defined and re-shaped in relation to the nature of British colonialism in Tanganyika. So this thesis on the involvement of women in political movements and struggles for Independence is placed against its pre-colonial setting, British colonial socio-economic relations and 1950-1961 independence struggle. The group's social identity is always related to specific activities performed by women or a particular woman and against the specific results of those activities. The study is, divided into five chapters as follows: Chapter one deals with the introduction from which the theoretical framework, encompassing the problem, the purpose, the scope and the significance of the study are given. A review of literature, research methodology and delimitations also come in this chapter. Chapter two is concerned with precolonial and colonial social and economic system in Arusha. In this chapter, traces of some pre-colonial women's identities and their socio-political involvement get a deeper treatment: The cases of Meru and Iraqw women are revisited. Chapter three, deals with the British colonial social economic relations and the way they affected the transformations of women's identities. Chapter four then looks at the involvement of women in struggles for Independence from 1950-1961, in Tanganyika. And the final chapter (i.e, chapter five) is essentially a summary and conclusion.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF HQ1236.N33)
Women in politics, Tanganyika, 1950-1961
Nchimbi, R.J (1995)The history of women's involvement in political movements and struggles for independence in Tanganyika: 1950-1961, Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam