New Book! Ujamaa – the hidden story of Tanzania’s socialist villages


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The great 20th century movements for national independence were to end the scourge of Western occupation with its theft of human labour and natural resources. The disastrous regimes that followed wiped from view all that these movements achieved.

In UJAMAA, Ralph Ibbott tells two hidden stories:

How in 1960s Tanzania the Ruvuma Development Association (RDA) was created – 17 self-governing villages working the land communally. Men, women and children together organized production, distribution, housing, education, childcare, healthcare, without recourse to foreign loans. The extraordinary President Nyerere had proposed ujamaa or African socialism – economic development on the traditional principle that all worked and all benefitted – but updated to overcome poverty and women’s subordination. Ujamaa became a reality in Ruvuma. People came from near and far to see this developing caring society that built on independence to bypass capitalism.

How the politicians, threatened by the autonomy and success of villagers, banned the RDA, defeating Nyerere, and reopening the door to party control and ultimately to a new colonialism.

Ralph and Noreen Ibbott and their four young children lived in Litowa, RDA’s lead village, from 1963 to its destruction in 1969. They worked with the villagers but took no part in formal decision-making. This is the account of the RDA’s rise and fall as they lived it.

An astonishing story of grassroots power and creativity, and of the principles of ujamaa – which can be applied anywhere.  We can all learn from ujamaa and from Ralph Ibbott’s clarity and commitment.
SELMA JAMES, Global Women's Strike, Introduction

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Published by: Crossroads Books 020 7482 2496