SIM-CardsI am ready! This is what was and is expected of me from the government as far as SIM-Card Tax is concerned. I as a citizen who understands why I should pay taxes I too say I am ready to pay it! I am ready to pay since it is only one of twenty (1/20) of my monthly expenditure on mobile or phone communication charges, if the supposed TCRA statistics of 2009 are something to go. Anyway I had only one SIM-Card that year. Today I have three of them. Don’t ask me why, that is my business. Mark you it is equivalent to Tsh.33.33 a day only!

We have been told several times that if you have a different opinion from what the government has, you have ill-motive, used by a politician to advance his interest, you have been sent by external factions to destabilize the country, make it ungovernable not lead-able! Yea that might be true since the one pays the piper select the tune, but unless the tune you is under the capacity and skills of the piper it will be played. But in this SIM-Card Tax issue yes we might have the ‘external factions’, those who are not within the class of few who want to do easy-to-do things like double taxing everyone else with a call-SMS handsets.

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In the recent two dialogues at the University of Dar es Salaam, two things came out. One, when you were once at the Hill it was obvious that you are first revolutionist, the eloquence of Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga, Prof Thandika Mkandawire and other international dons was at its best unearthing the role Cheche played some years back this was evident with Pan-Africanism dialogue with its precepts well based in the African socialism (Ujamaa: Binadamu wote ni sawa)

Two, with the education crisis in the country it was expected that the first group of people to either question the government and relevant authorities were young, energetic and free thinking Tanzanians at the Hill, students from all faculties of knowledge, this has not been the case instead we say they are more civilized than they were some years back where they were vibrant, at least they were called either philosophical sycophants.

It can be easily said that The Hill is behaving itself nowadays. That is a different story if you look at the way things look from inside. I mean giving it a long short observation that captures what generation is being born out of this yes boss class.

Behaving itself means, keeping quiet when all is not well. Save for the Union of University of Dar es Salaam Staff (UDASSA) which maybe because of being intellectual body and also it is affected by the aftermath of examination fiasco prepared a national dialogue on that.

Students are nowadays known not to rise above their lecturers’ conventional thoughts, that is, they need to be a replicate of them. Behaving as free and new breed of intellectuals is a crime which is no longer tolerated at least if you are a student at the Hill.

Today Tanzania is proud of some of the students who were stubborn at the Hill in 1960s/70s but we don’t want any more people who are stubborn because of their thoughts we only need those who make us go into deep sleep and start dreaming how we can swim or at least heckle at politicians in our classrooms.

Some of the actions that have created such clique of followers are; Creating rules that change the titles of students’ union leaders, 2009 starting from the Tanzania’s cradle of tertiary Education, the University of Dar es Salaam, the then minister for Education Prof Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe, circulated a guide on what Students’ governance should be like, stating the titling, and roles. The motive behind was to reduce the powers and influence of the students leaders, second was to trim the power of these organizations by making more of rubber stamping of decisions of the University management at the expenses of the students interests and needs. The students’ leaders and organizations need to reclaim their space once more.

Right to association and assembly, in 1970s magazine at the Hill ‘Cheche’ with most of the liberation thoughts and competing thoughts at the Hill. Its main contributors were mainly students and lecturers. Today even assembling at the Hill is illegal and you may face the full force of university by-laws. Do we have such forums ones again at the Hill? Do we have Revolution Square? Do we have students who can stand up for their rights? Do we have such ideological and intellectual discussions that can shape the country’s future?

Changing the rules of the game in the students’ politics, building active civil society is something which is not done overnight or at the age of voting. Civic engagement is done by doing not by theorizing, memorizing and maintaining the status quo just to be seen as disciplined student which does not result to award as it was in secondary education. Thanks for scrapping well behaved wards at the universities and at least it is not a requirement for success!

When the intellectuals, the degree holders keep quiet in the face of oppression what will the villager do? In a village with a professor who is always dead in his classroom and books and not seen as engaging people in serious discussions what will someone from Namtumbo who has nothing to loss but his poverty talk about?

HESLB Syndrome, another elephant in the house is the classification and grading students on how much they should be loaned based on where they studied, who their parents, or sometimes based on what studies they are pursuing. This has not only killed the spirit of unitary struggle among students but has also created the ‘THEY’ the rich and ‘WE’ the poor, the foundations of the nations are threatened from colleges to mosques and churches. So even if they have common interests what comes into their minds is the betrayal of one class against the other, their differences not their similarities as the citizens of this nation and second as students. Looking at their differences wipes the possibility of learning from their diversity to create common identity.

Naming and hanging, it happens that if a group of students plot to protest either decision made by their chancellors, lecturers or authorities outside the university like HELSB, they are named politicians, they are used to cause mayhem and disrupt studies, and they are suspended for studies, charged and sometimes convicted and expelled. This has become a monster killing the active society starting from its brains, the intellectuals.

For those who attended the dialogues might attest what I have just said that we are doomed if we think we are safe with sleeping minds at the Hill and other colleges in the country.

mlimani cityThere have been increased number of shopping malls and chains of departmental stores. They are good signs of growth of middle class and consumerism culture taking root in Tanzania. Out of this there is also increased tax base from big consumers. The evident has been with the introduction of EFDs with the sole of aim of reducing tax avoidance loophole. Technology usually take toll over common man, ATM once lauded by many has been new area where con-men use to steal from people’s bank accounts has made many resort to Mobile money services like M-Pesa likewise with EFD also brought new stealing behavior through the shopping malls who are good users of these devices even before their formal introduction by the taxman in 2010.
Electronic Financial Device
Three years down the lane after the TRA’s introduction of Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs) as an aid to tax revenue collections, especially in the area of value-added tax (VAT) collections!
The assumption was small business owners and venders were the major losers in this new trending way of creating bigger tax base. The second was customers and consumers, it is not hidden truth that initially, shopping at the Carrier Corps (Kariakoo) market, and you were either asked if you want EFD receipts or the manually written receipts. Claiming that the EFD receipts meant that you pay higher tax inclusive, manual receipts pay lower which means no tax cuts will be considered by the shop owner. The last stakeholder who was worried more was the government that compliance was headache due to the reluctant of business owners to accept it and ensure they pay tax.
According to information made available by the taxman at the end of 2012 shows that there was 40 per cent increase from a total of Tsh785,882.4 million in the 2009/2010 FY before introduction of EFDs to Tsh1,086,374.0 million 2011/12 FY. This is a laudable achievement so far. The 14,000 registered users of this device have developed Kleptomania within.
Kleptomaniacs within
Kleptomania has its den well built within the shopping malls. The stealing takes toll on customers who don’t bother to counter check the names of the products they buy and the price tags. The well educated or trained staff of some malls have taken advantage of the products they sale by overcharge customers. At the counter you will find these staffs struggle to decode the products selected from the display shelves by customers, if they get problem with it they retrieve earlier sales records of the same product or of different but related product and charge you higher.
Common reason being the name tags have not been charged for so long or you didn’t read and select carefully. This is cheating, stealing from innocent people and yet sometimes they pay less tax by overcharging customers. Biggest mistake can be questioning such differences and why sending wrong price tags to deceive customers, it is not unfortunate for a guard to ask you leave or else you are stubborn and wasting others time to be served, it not normal for people in this land of plenty to question.

Reasons for Price tags and Name tags
The tags are meant to reduce time for bargaining, maintain consistency, and facilitate self service and to reduce the energy used by few staff moving from shelf to shelf. In Tanzania it is not surprising to realize that the price and name tags are nothing but a tradition that is not taken seriously, where many shelves will be having either outdated tags, over priced tags, or underpriced tags and made to pay in many cases higher than what you saw as a tag.

It is easier to still for Customers in Shopping malls than at vendors where people have time to ask.
The assumption is that shopping malls are located distance a part from small retail shops, or in some big posh air conditioned buildings people, some walk distance to be served in the cafés located therein, people who visit supermarkets aren’t good bargainers, they believe that supermarkets sale quality products compared to those being sold at Manzese or Tandika markets. Another assumption is customized packaging bags which sometimes add value and that when you pay for the service, keep all that in mind.
This might be true as I have always been warned by a friend who is a regular visitor of these new joints that if you want enjoy air-conditioned buildings, see some well dressed people, admire imported products and pay for all that go to supermarkets but if you want to contribute to the wellbeing of poor vendors go to Manzese the same product different same quality, but different package and price go to Mlimani City Mall, Quality Centre or Shoppers Plaza.

Next time watch out, you will pay for what you did buy or use, this is new style in Bongo shopping malls.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Tuesday, August 21st 2012


Information reached the Coalition of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) in Tanzania since last week is that Barrick Gold (BG) has resolved to sell its 74% stake in the Africa Barrick Gold (ABG) to the Chinese state owned China National Gold (CNG). The media in the United Kingdom (UK) and Tanzania quoted the Barrick Gold and ABG executives as confirming to have started negotiations with CNG, which may culminate in the latter’s total acquisition of the former.

Publish What You Pay Tanzania Coalition Position
Now that ABG prepares to exit the country is something to worry Tanzanians; firstly, it relates to the Government competence to enforce ABG payment of 20% capital gains tax. The capital gains tax refers to gains from the disposal of Tanzanian assets by non-residents, which is charged at 20% on the realised net gains. PWYP-Tanzania is reliably informed of Tanzania Government failure to recover capital gains tax from Placerdome when Barrick Gold bought the goldmines from the former. We remind and urge the Government to set the strategy that will ensure recovery of 20% capital gains tax and corporate tax arrears from ABG simultaneous with CNG acquisition of the ABG goldmines.

Secondly, PWYP-Tanzania is worried whether the Government has grasped lessons regarding achieving the goal of free fiscal regime offers to foreign large scale mining companies. It is perplexing and inconceivable for the Government to offer free tax incentives to richer multinational corporations, than Tanzania – bankrolling the multinationals to make profits and later exit at their will without paying significant taxes to the Government. We remind and urge the Government to immediately change the tax incentive regime offered to foreign mining companies, starting with entry of the China National Gold once it acquires the ABG.

The Tanzania PWYP coalition considers tax incentives offered to foreign large scale mining companies unjustifiable. The coalition looks forward to see a competitively, transparently and accountably transacted ABG/CNG deal.

Background information
ABG is cross listed at the London and Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange Markets with the total value of US$2 billion. Since Initial Public Offer (IPO) launch in March 2010, ABG has only operated in Tanzania where it owns and operates four Large Scale Gold Mining (LSGM) projects in the names of Bulyanhulu Gold Mine Limited, North Mara Gold Mine Limited and Pangea Minerals operating Tulawaka and Buzwagi goldmine projects. Barrick Gold bought Bulyanhulu Gold Mine and North Mara Gold Mine from Placerdome of Vancouver Canada 8 years ago. Barrick Gold is also a Canadian Company. All ABG goldmine projects are in the Lake Victoria zone; the regions of Shinyanga, Kagera and Mara.

The Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TEITI) reports published in 2011 and 2012 expose ABG’s tax payment history. The reports show ABG does not pay the 30% corporate tax obligation to the Government. A statement quoting ABG Chief Executive Officer, Mr Greg Hawkins, end of March 2011 indicated ABG’s net profit rose 237 per cent during 2010 to US$222.6 million (over 330bn/-) from US$66 million in the previous year – meaning Tanzania would have received US$ 66.78 million had ABG paid its 30% corporate tax obligation. ABG has benefited from the foreign investment incentive package – the free fiscal regime awarded to foreign mining companies.

About Tanzania Publish What You Pay Coalition
The Tanzania Publish What You Pay Coalition is part of the global network of civil society organizations that are united in their call for oil, gas and mining revenues to form the basis for development and improve the lives of ordinary citizens in resource-rich countries. Since it was launched PWYP maintained mass mobilization of civil society organizations to campaign collectively at international, regional, national and local levels for greater transparency in the extractive industries. Since 2002 when it was launched by a group of 6 London-based NGOs, PWYP has evolved into a global network of over 630 civil society organizations, large and small, in 59 countries in Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe and Australia. National coalitions established in 38 countries, with 23 in Africa, are actively campaigning for extractive industries revenue transparency.

The Concern for Development Initiatives in Africa (ForDIA) hosts the Tanzania Publish What You Pay coalition.

Written by Bubelwa Kaiza


Dar es Salaam.General Election results usually draws a lot of interest, more so because of the “winner takes all formula” and the concern whether the outcome caters for equal representation of all people of diverse interests and classes in the society.
They bring forth questions like: Is the president-elect the face of the nation? Is the electoral fair? This is what I am going to discuss here as I propose how Tanzanians can come up with the desirable Constitution.
The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977 has a provision regarding the election of the president in Article 41 (6), which states: “…any presidential candidate shall be declared duly elected president only if he has obtained majority of votes”.
The clause explains that the electoral system that the country adopted for presidential election as First Past the Post (FPTP) whereby anyone who garners the simple majority votes [Art.41 (6)] becomes the winner regardless the number of people who voted.
Observing the Tanzania electoral system of “First Past the Post”, it is possible that even if the candidate is favoured by less than 10 per cent of the total voters, he/she becomes the president regardless of the narrow or less support she/he has.
Since the union of the two sides of the United Republic of Tanzania on 26th April, 1964, it is fortunate that no winner has landed less than 50-plus of the total votes cast even after the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1992.
It is claimed that in the Kenya’s first multiparty general election of 1992 the then president, Mr Daniel Moi, won by less than 30 per cent of the total votes cast amid claims of vote rigging in his favour, therefore his legitimacy was questioned.
He only remained the president on the basis of a legal technicality, which explains Kenya’s rough transition road to multiparty politics and rigorous-cum-suspicious succession politics. All these are an outcome of an electoral system that can easily be manipulated by the powerful or incumbent.
Back in Tanzania, the 27th January, 2001 and the 2005 political disturbances in Zanzibar were caused by the distrust caused by both the politico-historical memoirs and the doubt emanating from the winner takes all (First Past The Post) electoral system.
The Mwafaka I and II did not bear fruit and the distrust came to be resolved only by the Zanzibar 2010 Constitutional Amendment that paved the way for Government of National Unity formed after the 2010 General Election.
The same electoral system has been used to define the selection and voting into office other elective posts like the “mtaa”, which is the smallest urban unit of local government which is equivalent to a village, chairperson-ship, Councillor, members of the House of Representatives and MPs, where whoever wins in an electoral district becomes the bona fide representative in the country’s lawmaking bodies.
Such an electoral system leaves room for manipulation and under-representation of some voters whose favourite candidates is “defeated” by just a few votes by the luckier candidate.
In the run-up to the 2015 elections and the current constitution review process and public opinion taking, people should suggest what electoral system they want to ensure equal representation. Why, today we have constituencies like Ubungo in Dar es Salaam with over 500,000 residents while some constituencies in Zanzibar have less than 5,000 residents, which raises the question of equality in terms of representation.
This type of electoral system can be of use if applied in electing the president where there isn’t a winner in the first round of voting. In that case, a second round or run-off is conducted; this would establish the “50 per cent plus one rule”.
The Kenya’s 2008 and Zimbabwe’s 2009 coalition governments were formed to ease tensions and the environment which allowed “the winner takes all” scenarios without runoffs or proportional sharing of power.
The nomination of women’s Special Seats MPs uses a different electoral system called Proportional Representation (PR) where the parliamentary seats are divided among political parties in the ratio of total votes cast during the general election (URT Constitution of 1977 Art.78 [1] and Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar Constitution of 1984 Art. 67[1, 2]).
Taking the example of the 2010 General Election where CCM got 65 per cent, Chadema got 24 per cent and CUF got 9.8 per cent of the votes corresponds to (CCM,67; Chadema 25; and CUF 10) number of women special seats allocated for them by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) respectively and the same is applied by Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Proportional representation (PR) electoral system, if well managed, enables equal representation of voters in the law and decision making bodies in the land, where seats are allocated in relation to the votes a political party garners.
It also reduces individual-based politics and gives precedence to issues based where political parties will be scrutinised in terms of their manifestos, not aspirants. It can also give room for legislation which will enable easy recalling of irresponsible MPs and representatives at whatever level they serve.
The PR system reduces the monopoly of a party by few individuals with command of financial power. It also gives room for representation of different groups in the society at equal rate, where the list presented by the party must be arranged in terms of age, minority groups’ representation and gender balance must be observed to ensure equal representation and justice is done.
PR also ensures succession processes are easier and people are nurtured not depending on their economic influence but age and capacity to articulate issues affecting them.
In the FPTP method with simple majority voters use their democratic right only once in five years if we are to maintain the five- year tenure in the new constitution.
Even if the representative is not discharging his duties, he will still be there and may be sure of going back to Parliament because he can buy off poor voters by his wealth, PR will eliminate this by bringing the power to the people.
With the changing trends in the voting system and the need for representation of the different groups in Tanzanian societies, PR might prove successful.
With meaningful change in the political and electoral landscape in Tanzania, there is a need for live debates on the electoral system that is appropriate and will bring about equitable representation.

Author: Joseph Ogana a Project Officer with Agenda Participation 2000

Source:  The Citizen Sunday August 5th, 2012


The 2011 was also the when the East African the highest casualties and deaths if we are to go by just few accidents witnessed, 200 people lost their lives from MV Spice Island wreckage and  fire caused by gas explosion in the slums of Nairobi claimed more than hundred lives.

The famine at the horn of Africa was severe with food protectionist policy reigning in Tanzania. Food security has been a good deal for politicians in the region and Tanzania in particular during elections. This isn’t a mere story taking into consideration what has been happening during party primaries be it CCM, CHADEMA or CUF, or during by-elections and general elections.

There have been claims of food portioning to electorates so that certain aspirant to win nomination votes or election votes to be a representative. These things aren’t accidental but well planned taking into consideration what a leader ought to be. In his book Art of Leadership Banerje, A.K, on principles of leadership is, ‘know your people and look out for their well being’ and as per Tanzania politicians with silent food insecurity they use food portioning to lure votes.

Such incidences have been very common in rural settings where getting a day’s meal have been always a problem, posing the question of food security. The Bottom Billion of Paul Collier are the billion people worldwide suffering from hunger and starvation which Zitto Kabwe’s paraphrasing it into Rural Bottom 30m. The phrases used by both of these people with different profiles, level of understanding and calibers must have make us as a nation raise a red flag to signal danger of famine and starvation related problems, poor school performance, poor ability in thinking and creativity among citizens, increased suffering of citizens from preventable diseases that are caused by poor nutrition.

I bet you that if you want see the face of real Tanzanians go rural! I mean visit some strange villages where you have not been, where you know nobody, where you feel free to ask any question, where you will be saved pieces of prejudices, where you will be seen like a messiah of hope, where you are the only smart guy, the only one wearing clothes with colors that can be identified from far, where  you are the only one who knows what piped water or even bottled water is,  the only person from the City, preferably Dar es Salaam, maybe the only person who can give little description of what what is the city life is like but especially where Magogoni, statehouse is and how reach to there.

During elections we blame wananchi of being ignorant to the extent of being lured into voting our opponents just by being offered plates of spiced- rice (pilau) or even T-shirts that they are being given. I think we don’t understand the major problems people have in the rural settings, their problems are beyond the leaders they want but it is more of what Ngugi wa Thiongo called one his play This Time Tomorrow where a woman by the name Wanjiku like many independent Kenyan women and men who fought for independence were being evicted from the houses most of which were made of tins, one the earliest mama ntilies living by selling soup.

These voters of which in most cases are rural residences, they are the ones who votes overwhelmingly compared to their urban counterparts who in most cases are vocal and vote less! The people who determine the leadership of most African countries Tanzania inclusive are those in the rural. But those who are taken change from time to time like chameleons are the urban dwellers that are always urbane in their ways of leaving, thinking and deciding you can’t count on them, when you want people walk in the streets because of urban life frustrations, there they are!

Does someone out there understand all these are the issues which need to be addressed for a country to change and move forward? Making reference to the political transformation form one party state to multiparty state in 1992 which was smooth in Tanzania compared to Kenya in 1992, Uganda in 2006 and even Zimbabwe it is because the bottom millions of rural remained loyal to the ruling party. The rural populace was not well acquainted with what was happening in the urbane world of towns.

It is very depressing to see how many people suffer from hunger neither because of the prolonged dry spell or drought, nor because the country can’t feed its populace but because the roads, rail infrastructure and the National Strategic Grain Reserve aren’t well equipped and enabled to rescue the situation. It is within the Tanzanian borders where people live by one meal a day, it is at the same magnitude that we find citizens especially the bottom millions of the rural are highly lured to vote for the most expedient leaders who have no plans and aren’t able to articulate and defend their electorates against corrupt leaders instead they are voted in to eat, if I were to use Swahili “wanapigiwa kula,food vs kura,vote”. May be to use Michel Wrong’s book to describe the situation after elections is ‘It is Our Time to Eat.’

The solution to the problems of the bottom billions and rural millions is to ensure investments in food security, infrastructure that will enable distribution and redistribution of basic human needs especially food with the long effects healthy nation, healthy brain, active and creative nation.

Being Young in East Africa: Perceptions, Expectations and Reality.

by Ahmed Salim

It has become patently obvious that the world’s youth are having a significant influence on the political, economic and social future of society. The ‘Arab Spring’ across North Africa and the Middle East was a dramatic demonstration of their power. The surge in Africa’s middle class is in no small part, driven by the consumption of the continent’s youth.

In East Africa, the population of children under the age of fifteen increased from 53 million in 2005 to 61 million in 2010. To put it in perspective, this 8 million increase is the population size of Burundi. East Africa’s youths (15-34) was estimated at 48 million (45% of the total population) in 2010. This is expected to grow in the next 20 years to 82 million people. By 2030, 75% of East Africa’s total population will be under the age of 34 in 2030. (For more see SoEAR2012).


Defining institution or country Youth age range
UN General Assembly-15-24
World Health Organisation (WHO)- 10-19
African Union-15-35
Rwanda(National Youth Policy)-14-35
Tanzania(National Youth Development Policy, 2007)15-35
Uganda (National Youth Policy, 2001) 12-30

A person leaves childhood and becomes a youth earliest in Uganda (12 years) and latest in Kenya (18 years). Youth ends earliest by the WHO definition (19 years) and UN General Assembly (24 years). The oldest youth are to be found in Rwanda and Tanzania, and by the African Union definition. The transition between childhood and adulthood is longest (22 years) in Rwanda, and shortest (10 years) by the WHO and UN General Assembly definitions.

A lot of research has been done concerning the youth in East Africa and the main focus has been on three issues: education and training, access to health services (specifically sexual and reproductive health) and jobs. These are the conventional issues, but there are others as explained by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) that explore how poor and vulnerable youth in Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan view their prospects for the future, and how this is influenced by their struggle and success at transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Another survey on Uganda and Rwanda by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) expands on unconventional youth issues as well.

Some key insights from the findings and analysis of these surveys are as follows.


While a formal definition of youth, based on age, may be used to inform a set of official rights and entitlements from the state, such as access to health and education services and protection from harm and deprivation, the social definition is bounded by the set of family and community responsibilities expected from the individual. In Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, marital status is central to whether one is socially defined as a youth or as an adult, and this perspective is prevalent across the region. If formally one crosses into adulthood at the age of 26 (Burundi), 30 (Uganda) or 35 (Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda), socially this happens when one gets married. So one can remain a youth, in the social sense, as long as one is not married even if one is beyond the formal age range of youth.

The ability to marry and establish a household is strongly influenced by the individual’s economic and financial capacity. In Rwanda, the requirement to build a house to state-regulated specifications of location, size and roofing materials raised the ‘social price’ of adulthood. While different economic forces are at play in South Sudan, the resulting increase in the price of dowry (cattle) similarly raises the social price of adulthood in that country. Interestingly, for Burundi youth, the price of adulthood seems to be more affordable as society there has taken a pragmatic view to the considerable economic challenge of starting a family.


The IYF and USIP surveys suggest that poor youth in Rwanda are largely resigned to their fate, those in Burundi being somewhat more energised and entrepreneurial and those in South Sudan display an elevated level of entitlement. Interestingly, the authors attribute the different attitudes between Rwandan and Burundian youth to the strength of the state.

It would appear that in Rwanda’s case, a very strong state with a penchant for detailed social engineering may be having the unintended effect of severely circumscribing its young people’s opportunity space. Burundi’s weaker state apparently leaves its youth with a wider range of options to meet their objectives and aspirations. If one takes the view that poor youth who are optimistic about their life chances are preferred to peers who are despondent and resigned to their fate, then Rwanda’s strong state may, in this narrow sense, actually be counterproductive.

In this same vein, it is worth examining the extent to which the state can (or should) determine the ‘price’ of adulthood, given that this is an important determinant of young people’s sense of achievement. The example of the South Sudanese Shilluk King’s decree limiting dowry to 10 cows per marriage is instructive and may be worthy of emulation. He has set an upper limit to the ‘social price’ of adulthood and it would appear that this has allowed more women in his community to cross that all important threshold. In contrast, by requiring that new houses (and households) be established in a prescribed manner in Rwanda (in imidugudu, with a minimum size and roofing materials), the ‘official price of adulthood’ in Rwanda has been raised. This may be resulting in more ‘informal’ marriages, a form of quasi-adulthood accompanied by a hint of social disapproval. Whether the reduction of the ‘official price’ through the relaxation of the requirements (e.g., the recommended size of the new house) would lead to an expansion in the demand for socially acceptable adulthood is an interesting research question. Read the rest of this entry »