Category Archives: books

Corruption in literature – some great reads

The great MG Vassanji, author of many of the best East African novels, was in Tanzania recently, and has shared his thoughts on Tanzania in a fascinating piece published in the Canadian magazine Macleans – “Tanzania: land of constant complaints.”

I’m not sure he has it quite right with the headline, since apathy, low expectations and just getting on with things are more my experience. An SNV study, for example, elicited a very different thought from a respondent: “What do we expect from our government? It is like the rain: if it does not rain we try to survive, when it rains we are grateful.” Continue reading

An Underwhelming (SMS) Uprising

The potential of mobile phones as a means of mobilising citizens seems to be the topic of the moment. As so often happens in the development world, a new idea is attracting a lot of interest, praise and funds. But is this attention justified by the evidence – have the early efforts to use mobile phones delivered?

A recent book, SMS Uprising, (published by Fahamu Books and Pambazuka Press with support from Hivos), documents several such programmes from different parts of Africa. The book describes itself as taking a “try this in your campaign” approach, encouraging others to adopt the same tools. So they must be confident in what they’re promoting. Continue reading