«Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining settlements Prospecting a mineralized future Deborah Fahy Bryceson* January 2014 wider.unu.edu World ...»
WIDER Working Paper 2014/008
Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining
Prospecting a mineralized future
Deborah Fahy Bryceson*
World Institute for Development Economics Research
Abstract: Over the last fifteen years many African countries have experienced a ‘mining takeoff’. Mining activities have bifurcated into two sectors: large-scale, capital-intensive production
generating the bulk of the exported minerals, and small-scale, labour-intensive artisanal mining, which, at present, is catalyzing far greater immediate primary, secondary and tertiary employment opportunities for unskilled African labourers. Youth residing in mining settlements, have a large vested interest in the current and future development of mining. Focusing on Tanzania as typical of the emerging ‘new mineralizing Africa’, this paper, examines youth’s role in mining based on recent fieldwork in the country’s northwestern gold fields. Youth’s current involvement in mining as full-fledged, as opposed to part-time, miners is distinguished. The attitudes of secondary school students towards mining as a form of employment and its impact on economic and social life in mining communities are discussed within the context of the uneasy transitions from an agrarian to a mining-based country, from rural to urban lifestyles, and the growing scope and power of foreign-directed, capital-intensive, corporate mining relative to local labourintensive artisanal mining.
Keywords: Africa, artisanal mining, education, employment, generational change, gold JEL classification: O17; O18; Q33; R23 Acknowledgements: Data findings from the Urban Growth and Poverty in Mining Africa (UPIMA) study funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (RES 167-25-0488) empirically support this paper. I am grateful to the Tanzania UPIMA survey team: Dr Jesper Bosse Jønsson (field coordinator), Dr Crispin Kinabo, Mike Shand, Elard Mawala, as well as the Urban Foundation sponsoring my Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Glasgow. Thanks go to Mike Shand for his data processing and mapping work.
*University of Glasgow, email@example.com This study has been prepared within the UNU-WIDER project ‘Prospects for Africa’s Youth’, directed by James Thurlow and Finn Tarp.
Copyright © UNU-WIDER 2014 ISSN 1798-7237 ISBN 978-92-9230-729-5 Typescript prepared by Lisa Winkler at UNU-WIDER.
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the financial contributions to the research programme from the governments of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) was established by the United Nations University (UNU) as its first research and training centre and started work in Helsinki, Finland in 1985. The Institute undertakes applied research and policy analysis on structural changes affecting the developing and transitional economies, provides a forum for the advocacy of policies leading to robust, equitable and environmentally sustainable growth, and promotes capacity strengthening and training in the field of economic and social policy-making. Work is carried out by staff researchers and visiting scholars in Helsinki and through networks of collaborating scholars and institutions around the world.
UNU-WIDER, Katajanokanlaituri 6 B, 00160 Helsinki, Finland, wider.unu.edu The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). Publication does not imply endorsement by the Institute or the United Nations University, nor by the programme/project sponsors, of any of the views expressed.
1 Introduction Over the past decade, a clutch of studies of African youth has focused on urban male youth’s role in national and local political economies (Trudell et al. 2002; Abbink and van Kessel 2005;
Honwana and de Boeck 2005; Burgess and Burton 2010). Cast against a backdrop of unemployment and economic cutbacks, they tend to be portrayed as dissident urbanites disillusioned with the post-colonial state (Burgess and Burton 2010). Male youth, earning a bare economic survival in the informal sector, are seen to be prone to incipient violence, including vigilantism under the sway of one or another ‘big men’ or political parties, with destabilizing influences on the political and social order of the nation-state and city as exemplified in Kenya and West Africa (Anderson 2002; Meagher 2007; Jua 2010).
This paper questions the behavioural characterizations of African youth as either overly materialistic, alienated and nihilistic in reaction to their diminished economic prospects relative to that of their parents’ generation; or alternatively forced or willingly in the pay of self-serving big men needing youthful strong-arm militias to back their policies or challenge rivals during elections or other decisive moments of power politics. In either case, the agency of youth is seen as thwarted or controlled by an older commanding generation.
Honwana (2012) has developed a notion of African youth’s ‘waithood’, a period between childhood and adulthood in which young people are in a state of suspension before gaining adult responsibilities and rights, while nonetheless, acquiring political awareness and forming a critique of the context in which they live. Many feel their generation has been marginalized by corrupt, clientelist political elites and voice resentment against nepotistic practices. Most youth shun formal politics and are hesitant to become politically vocal for fear of being penalized by their elders and persons of authority.
After decades of economic stagnation, the 21st century has witnessed changing fortunes for SubSaharan Africa’s economies, particularly those with mineral wealth. The existence of widespread poverty in a continent abundantly rich in mineral resources is paradoxical. Apart from a long history of mineral extraction in Southern Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana, it is thought that the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa has barely scratched the surface of its mineral wealth. At the turn of the century, a rapid rise in demand for mineral resources prompted primarily by industrializing countries, led to a surge in foreign corporate investment in African mining.1 Over a third of the major metallic mineral-producing countries in the world are currently African (ICMM 2012). According to the World Bank (2012: 11), twenty-one African countries are already pegged as ‘middle-income countries’ with another ten in line to achieve that status by 2025. These are encouraging economic projections, but will they translate into improved work prospects and living standards for today’s youth? In the following, I probe this question via consideration of the attitudes, expectations, and agency of youth revealed in recent survey findings from Tanzanian artisanal gold mining sites.
Tanzania has an impressive mineral endowment including gold, diamonds, several types of precious stones, and recently discovered off-shore natural gas reserves. Most attention is focused on the expansion of large-scale mining investments, which involves employment of thousands of mostly well-educated and skilled personnel. On the other hand, the artisanal mining sector is highly labour-absorptive with hundreds of thousands actively engaged as miners or raw material 1 Existing mining companies from South Africa, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom were joined by China, India, and Brazil as new entrants in African mining.
processors of minerals, responding to a proliferation of mineral rushes over the last couple of decades (Bryceson et al. 2012).
Economic and social relational ties associated with mineral production differ profoundly from those prevailing in Tanzania’s agrarian countryside. The country’s village settlements were and continue to be structured by a division of labour and decision-making that privileges the power of male elders. In contrast, mining areas are populated primarily by men and women in their peak economically active years between 15 and 45 years of age, who take an active part in decision-making, distanced from gerontocracy. Economic life of the mining settlement is premised heavily on muscular strength and youthful vigour. Mineralizing economies are inclined towards urban agglomeration, which is attractive to youth stimulating their creative energies as cultural trendsetters (Bryceson et al. 2012).
This paper addresses how the rise of artisanal mining is altering youth’s social relations and economic expectations and, it seems, providing an avenue for greater autonomy. Nonetheless youth mining or living in mining settlements confront constraints and trade-offs in their quest for decision-making autonomy and a new lifestyle. Despite the meteoric rise of mining over the last two decades, very little research on local economic and cultural change in mining communities has been undertaken. The attitudes and agency of mining settlement residents, and especially youth, remain largely undocumented. With this empirical gap in mind, this paper begins with a discussion of traditional occupational ascription and youth’s historical role in work migration to plantations, urban areas and now mines, before turning to brief background history on Tanzania’s mineralization, followed by consideration of data findings from the 2012 Urbanization and Poverty in Mining Africa (UPIMA) household survey of three Tanzanian artisanal and large-scale mining settlements and a 2007 survey of miners’ migration and career development at two artisanal settlements in Tanzania. Youth’s demographic presence in mining settlements is analysed alongside their educational and occupational activities. Through a content assessment of themes found in essays, poems, songs and plays created by youth for a ‘Life in the Mines’ (Maisha Machimboni) cultural festival hosted by the UPIMA research programme in July and August 2012, youth’s perspectives on daily life in their communities and the trade-offs they face in gaining autonomy and occupational choice. The conclusion summarizes the broad trends and youth’s future trajectory in artisanal mining.
2 Youth, autonomy, and occupational change in Tanzania
Tanzanian history over a century and a half testifies to male youth’s frontal role in economic sectoral change, as warriors, porters, and labourers strategically positioned over the country’s sparsely populated terrain during pre-colonial slave raiding2 and ivory porterage, associated with the Zanzibar sultanate’s commercial empire. Traditionally male youth served as warriors in tribal confrontations. With the rise of the ivory and slave trade, youth derived considerable freedom from gerontocratic authority in the course of their work. Ivory porterage was preponderantly based on paid labour and constituted the early beginnings of a territorial wage labour force (Iliffe 1979: 45; Rockel 2000).3 2 Iliffe (1979: 62-63) quotes the remark of Mirambo, the 19th century warlord and chief who terrorized the countryside with his extensive slave raiding: ‘We never take middle aged men or old men to our wars, always youth not yet troubled with wives and children. They have keener eyes and lither limbs’.
3 It was a period of exceptionally widespread political insecurity and economic upheaval due to predatory slave raiding taking place alongside the environmentally depleting pursuit of ivory. Many agricultural tribes retreated into palisaded settlements and young women and children lived in fear of being seized by slave raiders (Wright 1993).
Arab ivory traders relied heavily on a youthful cadre of specialized Nyamwezi ivory porters.
Historical accounts including that of Tippu Tip (Brode 2000), a renowned Zanzibari ivory trader, suggested that ivory porters were often undisciplined and unreliable, displaying a will of their own and large numbers to back the exercise of that will. While they earned wages and travelled enormous distances away from their home areas, nonetheless, it bears noting that one of the primary motivations for becoming a porter was a rite of passage: ‘Not one of them was allowed to marry before he had carried a load of ivory to the coast, and brought back either calico or brass wire. It was the tribal stamp of true manhood, at once making him a citizen and warrior.’ (Swann 1910 quoted in Rockel 2000: 179).
During the 1890s, the imposition of German colonial rule quelled the up-country violence and insecurity associated with slave raiding but engendered the widespread Maji Maji rebellion against German tax collection and colonial autocracy, involving thousands of young men in military activities. This was followed by military encounters between British and German-trained African troops on German East African soil during the First World War (Iliffe 1979). Reid (2010: 43) observes that the period witnessed ‘the emergence of youth as potentially more strident, militarized (in the loosest sense of the word) sociopolitical group, more willing than even in the nineteenth century to challenge older generations and engage in new patterns of intergenerational conflict’.
After the defeat of the Germans in the First World War, German East Africa became Tanganyika Territory, a League of Nations-mandated territory under British rule. Its economy combined European-owned plantations employing African wage labour, and peasant agrarian subsistence and export crop production of cotton, coffee, tea, and cashew. Approximately 50 per cent of the territorial wage labour force was deployed in European sisal production on the basis of the kipande system in which male migrant labourers were contracted to labour a year and a half to two years away from their home areas (Bryceson 1990). Although the colonial migrant labour system was diverting youthful male labour from peasant smallholder farming, colonial officials and African male elders saw it as an interlude in the life of young men facilitating home-focused income-earning for bridewealth payment. Heavy Native Authority sanctions against young women’s migration away from their home areas constituted the foundations for this labour management system (Mbilinyi 1989). Male wage-earning migrant labourers were afforded some degree of individual autonomy for male youths, but within the context of the demographic renewal of farming households in which rural patriarchs retained direct control over young women and indirect influence over young men. Not surprisingly, marriage and the setting up of autonomous households formed the dividing line between youth and adults.