'We'd Rather Be Exploited than Ignored'. Is Nostalgia for the Colonial Groundnut Scheme Reflected in Contemporary Perceptions of Natural Gas Extraction in Southern Tanzania?
Posted: 16 Apr 2013
Date Written: April 16, 2013
As part of the ‘Second Colonial Occupation’ in the late-1940s the British government embarked on an agricultural project in the south of Tanganyika territory, the infamous Groundnut Scheme. This is conventionally recalled as an embarrassing moment in British colonial history, and one of the principal examples of colonial folly. Nevertheless, based on life history research conducted in Mtwara, the region most closely involved in the project in modern-day Tanzania, this paper argues that the Groundnut Scheme had a significant impact on the perceptions of development held by older people nearer to the coast (Mikindani and Mtwara Town, as well as Dihimba toward the interior). Many elders argue that these opportunities and this level of infrastructure are, however, absent today. While it is accepted that the Scheme was a form of (colonial) exploitation, elders argued it was preferable to ostracism in one of the least well connected and poorest regions of Tanzania. In this paper I aim to compare this historical understanding of development with the arrival of what might be seen as neo-colonial influences today, in the form of multinational gas extraction. Overall, this paper seeks to address the extent to which nostalgia for past interventions, now understood as ‘development’, is reflected in contemporary perceptions of ‘outsiders’ exploiting natural gas deposits.
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