Colonialism and underdevelopment in Kigoma region, Tanzania: a social structural view



    1. University of Toronto
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    • †I would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council and the Rockefeller Foundation that made the research and analysis possible. My thanks go to many colleagues and students at the University of Dar es Salaam and the University of Toronto who aided the research by direct participation and by providing useful commentary. The revision of this paper owes much to commentary on the earlier version offered by Henry Cooperstock, Harriet Friedmann, Leslie Howard, Nancy Howell, Martin Klein, Charles Tilly, and Barry Wellman. I would also like to thank the editor of this Review, Raymond Breton, and two anonymous reviewers, for their careful reading and judicious suggestions.

  • *This is a revised version of Colonialism and Social Structural Change in Kigoma Region, Tanzania, ‘a paper presented at the Canadian Association of African Studies Conference, Halifax, February 1974.’ Portions of this paper are taken from Social Networks and the Geography of Opportunity: The Case of Kigoma Region, Tanzania, a paper presented at the Third International Congress of Africanists, Addis Ababa, December 1973, written with Leslie Howard.


This paper examines the impact on the social structure of Kigoma Region, Tanzania, of the imposition of British colonial rule and the coercion of the population to work for the plantations and other enterprises established under British auspices. As a consequence of indirect rule and economic exploitation, the networks of the ruling stratum were strengthened, while those of the commoners fell apart. These structural changes led to the creation of a crime-ridden society that became less egalitarian and less conducive to individual well-being. The paper concludes with some observations on the social dimensions of underdevelopment.

L'article examine l'effet de l'imposition du régime colonial britannique et de la contrainte au travail dans les plantations et autres entreprises établies sous les auspices britanniques sur la structure sociale de la Région du Kigoma, Tanzanie. Les conséquences du contrôle indirect et de l'exploitation économique ont renforcé les réseaux de la strate dominante alors que ceux des gens ordinaires se sont désintégrés. Ces changements structuraux ont donné naissance à une société remplie de crimes qui est devenue moins égalitaire et moins favorable au bien-être individuel. Quelques remarques sur les dimensions sociales du sous-développement terminent l'article.