A meticulous study of the social and environmental challenges facing Tanzania.
Economist and policy-development analyst Temba (Three Hundred Years on Kilimanjaro Mountain Area: Vol. 2, 2017, etc.) is now retired from Tanzania’s Civil Service. However, his familiarity with the Kilimanjaro region’s resources and climate has led to this admirably thorough report on changes in the region, particularly since the end of colonialism. For instance, water shortages and problems with pesticides and pollution are on the rise; deforestation has led to desertification, and the Kilimanjaro snowcap has reduced in size by 82 percent between 1930 and 2000, the author notes. These environmental issues, along with government corruption, have perpetuated poverty, he says; meanwhile, poor sanitary conditions have exacerbated health risks. Increasing tourism revenue has been helpful for the country, Temba concedes, but also contributes to various types of pollution—from plastic to noise. German colonists’ feeling of having found an idyll in Tanzania (then called Tanganyika), accounts for the book’s title, and Temba draws a timeless, metaphorical message from the Book of Genesis: Ignoring rules can lead to environmental degradation. Temba sets up a parallel between Adam and Eve eating the fruit of “the tree of life” and people exploiting resources and polluting the environment today. The author even discusses sources of “personal pollution,” such as bad breath. The book’s theological overlay feels unnecessary and sometimes distracting, particularly in lines such as “Thanks to God, Tanzania has discovered huge natural gas deposits.” Moreover, it feels overlong and repetitive, especially regarding population and pollution. Chapters on global concerns, meanwhile, fall well outside the book’s scope. The work would have also benefited from a stronger copy edit; missing punctuation and odd phrases (“However low-profile caused a lot of fear”) are persistent issues. Although it is important to draw attention to local ramifications of an environmental crisis, this overly detailed study may only be of use to experts on the region.
An encyclopedic but somewhat uneven guide to Kilimanjaro’s ecology.