nyerere on development and money

A few quotes from Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania.  He was a simple man, referred to by many as Mwalimu — the Swahili word teacher.  I think he had some great ideas that were mingled in with some that were not so great.  Anyway, here are a few of his thoughts on development and foreign aid:

It is stupid to rely on money as the major instrument of development when we know only too well that our country is poor.  It is equally stupid, indeed it is even more stupid, for us to imagine that we shall rid ourselves of our poverty through financial assistance rather than through our own financial resources.

Independence means self-reliance.  Independence cannot be real if a nation depends on gifts and loans from another for its development.  How can we depend upon foreign governments and companies for the major part of our development without giving to those governments and countries a great part of our freedom to act as we please?  The truth is we cannot.

What are your initial thoughts?

Now do this for me:  Think about smaller scale development work and projects being brought into the country by non-profits organizations and the like.  Think about missionaries coming to present the gospel in hopes of growing the kingdom.  Think about a beggar asking for food or money.  A young kid asking for help to pay for his mother’s hospital bills.

Now what are your thoughts?  What role should outside moneys play in development, missions, and life in general?  How can we be responsible with our giving?



Filed under development, giving and generosity, quotes

8 responses to “nyerere on development and money

  1. JMF

    My initial thoughts are, “yeah, that makes a lot of logical sense.”

    Here is something to consider: I think the U.S. is so rich and blessed is because of how we started.

    Let’s just say that Antarctica is the new “it” continent. Wealth and riches to all who can get there!! Who would get there? The Westerners, etc. that are already wealthy, resourceful, and likely intelligent.

    Same as America. Who could come to America? Those that were visionaries, intelligent, and wealthy.

    So, that was our original footing. And thus, I think we had a great start. It would be like starting a company with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Carlos Slim. You’ve set yourself up for success.

    Back to Africa. Imagine trying to start a company with a bunch of homeless guys as the founders. Likely, you aren’t setting yourself up for success.

    This is how I see the dilemma in Africa. You are trying to turn the ghetto into a country club.

    So, is this possible? I’m sure it is — but I’d think it would take at least three generations to start making headway. The current people in Africa (guessing/generalizations) are probably used to poverty. Probably used to having nothing. They probably don’t EXPECT anything.

    That being said, I’d say that the only hope is through education.

    Truly, I think what you are doing is perfect. Teaching farming, etc. I buy my food from a farm and they are practically self-sustaining.

    Let me just throw this out there, Brett: have you considered that maybe they are happy? Maybe they like the idea of scrounging up monies to care for their sick mother? Maybe that evokes sympathy, and that is something that the culture expects to give/receive?

    Perhaps they don’t mind missing some meals?

    I don’t know the answer to that. I just have a hard time thinking that a guy that wants to hustle can’t get any fruit from his labor. If a guy was truly hungry (not as much physically as intellectually) he could be absorbing as much farming knowledge from you as possible so he could do his own thing. He’d be finding out from you how to move forward.

    Maybe this is the case. Or, maybe they don’t care. And I don’t say that in an elite, “they don’t deserve anything” way. I actually find that mentality somewhat endearing.

    • good ideas, jmf. i think they’re an over-simplification, but worth giving thought to. i mean australia’s done pretty well for itself — and it was a bunch of criminals and crooks. california was a bunch of dirty, old gold diggers.

      to answer your questions, not many of the people i know are missing meals. the problem is more one of not eating nutritious ones, or not sleeping with nets and therefore getting malaria, or sleeping around and winding up with hiv, or having more children than they can possibly afford.. it’s mostly an education issue, with witchcraft and money both pretty heavily involved. so, while i’m sure it’s the case with some of the individuals i know, many of the problems don’t have to do with a lack of desire to experience better life.

  2. Ike

    In a recent interview with Spiegel Online International, the African economics expert addressed the question of well-intended development aid:

    Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

    Shikwati went on to explain the unintended consequences such aid has on the African economy:

    Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

    Shikwati’s answer? “Stop the aid!” That’s right, this African (like many others) believes the best thing the West can do for Africa is to allow Africans to take care of themselves. This is a tough message for many who have long thought of Africans as helpless and inferior. Anyone interested in this issue should read Shikwati’s interview.

    • corruption is rampant in african governments. i don’t think i agree with shikwati — that the answer is to stop aid altogether — but i do think it needs to be done in another way. i can’t imagine much of the money given is finding its way to the rural and poor of these countries. and if it does, it’s being used to give people things, rather than to teach them things. education is the answer, and that takes money; it’s still aid, but of a different type.

  3. A good book to read to help us identify, confront and overcome some of the issues your post touches on is *When Helping Hurts.* You can get information about the book by going to:

    Doing nothing is not an option in light of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 25. But there are ways to help that enable damaging dependency, and we need to avoid these.

    We all must acknowledge that change is hard. It is easier to be critical of the unwillingness of others to change than to confront our own refusal. For example, I am currently typing these words using a keyboard that was originally designed to slow the faster typists down. Those early typewriters were prone to jamming because of the key carriages arriving too quickly in the same space. Since jams slowed the typists too much, the keys were rearranged to reduce jams by scattering the keys that were used most often in words. With the advent of electric typewriters and now computers, we would benefit from a re-design. Actually, another keyboard was designed in 1932 that takes half as long to learn to use, allows typing at twice the speed and is twenty times easier to use than our QWERTY keyboards (named after the six letters in the upper left-hand row).

    Why don’t we change? Why won’t computer companies go to the more efficient arrangement? Why has America been so reticent to change to the metric system?

    There are at least five characteristics that individuals consider on a personal level in deciding whether or not to adopt a proposed change:
    1. Relative advantage–does the individual perceive the change to be worthwhile?
    2. Compatibility–is the change consistent with the existing values, past experiences and needs of potential adopters?
    3. Complexity–how difficult is it to understand the change and implement its use?
    4. Trialability–can the change be experimented with on a limited basis as a way of minimizing the perceived cost of making the switch.
    5. Observability–visibility of the results stimulates peer discussion of the proposed change.
    (Taken from Everett M. Rogers book, *Diffusion of Innovations* 3rd edition.)

    Agricultural changes will take place as potential adopters personally determine they are worth the time, money and/or effort required to change the way they normally do these things. You have mentioned their “fatalism” in earlier posts. This arises from their values. What are their past experiences and ancient stories that lock them into fatalism? How difficult will it be to understand the proposed change? Can these people try the changes on a limited basis? Setting up a model small plot farm near other small plot farms is likely the best option for addressing many of these issues, especially #5 observability.

  4. Pingback: a tanzanian celebration: song and dance for the president « aliens and strangers

  5. mcbenon

    yes what u say to some extent have got sense, but i want you to understand one thing; when an African leader say that foreign aid is not the only way to development, it does not mean that he or she is banning foreign aids totally. what i think is he or she is instead encouraging African population/people to work hard so that they may get rid of depending on foreign aid. for me i don’t understand why people always think negative. be the way why do developed countries want African countries to stay under their dominance? you should also understand that when these aids are being given there are some agreements u make and there are some tasks the president has to accomplish in order to receive these aids..we Africans we understand better than westerners. I would like to make it clear, African leaders when they say they don’t want to rely on aids, they mean that .. they wanna use that aid in order to step on onather level and then get rid of the dominance because once you are 70% under foreign aid it means the people of that country has no hope for the future… and i agree with african presidents who always reminds their people to work hard and be free from foreign aids.

    I agree with some people who say african leaders embezel government funds and some foreign aids, but not all… and those who do that are well known..

    Thank u for the blog

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