Dispatches from Dar, RCA In-House, Series

Dispatches from Dar: Getting to Tanzania

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By Mpuga Rukidi, Uganda:

Writing from Dar es salaam

For the next couple of months, I will be at the University of Dar es Salaam, pursuing my masters. Throughout this time, I will endeavour to let you know anything that catches my eye. See how I think about you, dear reader?

The University of Dar es Salaam is an interesting place and is full of history. Started in the 1960s and has taken a significant place in the history, not just of the United Republic of Tanzania, but of much of East and Central Africa. Consider, for example, the role that that university played in the history of my country, Uganda.

My president was a student at this university in the 1960s. It is said he almost got expelled from here thanks to his overtly, politically radical views. You may be interested in knowing that his undergraduate dissertation, for a BA degree, was about violence to achieve political means or something in that direction.

The university is also important for the role its academics have played in shaping contemporary political and legal thought not just in East Africa but the rest of the continent. The West Indian academic Walter Rodney, famed for his How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, taught here for some time. Mahmood Mamdani, he of the Good Muslim Bad Muslim and other books about contemporary Africa, taught here. Dani Nabudere, one of Africa's most prominent political theorists, also taught here. Even presently, the university is home to some of the region's most prolific academics. The university has a proud history of sociological and legal research and its academics are some of the most prominent in East Africa.

Tanzania is equally important in the history of East Africa, if not the whole continent, at least with respect to a number of aspects. The country was instrumental, together with Ugandan exiles, in ousting Idi Amin. The story of Bakombozi, a Ugandan version of the Kiswahili Wakombozi liberators, is almost cast in the Ugandan folklore. Many national liberation movements in Africa called Tanzania home.

Will I be writing about academics? Not really. I will be writing about everyday things; the people, the place and anything that catches my eye. But these will be just dispatches and, true to their name, they will be short. There will be music in there, the food and everything that you expect to see in a new place. I should let you go now as I work on my next dispatch. In Kiswahili we say, Kwaheri (Goodbye).

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