Urban Life, Rural Thinking: incomplete urbanization and strategy of survival (the case of Dar Es Salam, Tanzania)


Oxana Ivanchenko, Anastasia Banshchikova


The paper explores particular features of incomplete urbanization in Dar es Salam, Tanzania. It studies the lives of people, who have just moved into the big city, as well as the lives of the second or third-generation immigrants from countryside and rural districts. In the first part of the study these features are treated using the anthropological and historical methodology; in the second part attention is paid to respondents’ perception of life in megapolis compared to those in native villages. Features of incomplete urbanization include: creation of informal settlements, formation of living community and city space by means of its inhabitants (just as in the villages); employment in the informal sectors of economy, small-scale commerce or small-scale services requiring no education or highly specialized skills (for example, growing and selling of fruits and vegetables, just as in the villages); establishment of mutual help groups (instead of relatives’ and villagers’ help, now absent); use of the social commitment power instead of legal power, importance of family and person’s own reputation; appeal to moral authority of group leaders instead of calling the police in case of conflicts; patrolling and securing the territory of informal settlements by units of people’s militia at night (in coordination with state police). It is clear that these practices have emerged in the big city hand in hand with migrants from rural regions. Incomplete urbanization and its trends can be treated as a result of insufficient state support of the poor, but in some ways it continues and even develops social relations, which existed before colonization and then were additionally enhanced during the nation-building and implementation of Julius Nyerere’s “ujamaa” concept after Tanzania gained independence.


Tanzania, Dar es-Salaam, urban communities, mutual help groups, incomplete urbanization, internal migration, uswahilini




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