The ujamaa arrives at the G7 Agriculture meeting. And Julius Nyerere, the father of Tanzanian heritage, would have been proud of his fellow citizens. Because the declaration of the seven industrialised nations regarding agriculture must not be forgotten, but cultivated.
“Ujamaa” means “extended family” in Swahili and is the word used to describe the concept or programme that Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania from 1964 (the year it gained independence from Great Britain) to 1985, tried to implement in his country.
Rural socialism takes centre stage at the G7 Agriculture Meeting
“Ujamaa” is a concept based on the need to give life to a form of African development that is founded on community. A development that prioritises the common and shared possession of resources and their fair distribution. Today, this system has become a model that was even recalled and celebrated during one of the world’s most globalised summits, one of the symbols of the concentration of wealth and resources themselves: the G7.
During the course of the last meeting between the seven ministers for Agriculture representing the planet’s seven most industrialised powers, a meeting that was held in Bergamo from 13 to 15 October, ample space and attention was given to family farming and Tanzania as an example of successful development, able to value its human and natural resources.
The Bergamo declaration
As a final result, the G7 Agriculture Meeting signed a declaration in which countries promise to lift 500 of the 815 million men, women and children who still go to bed without having eaten enough out of poverty. To do so, the declaration cites the need to increase “agricultural cooperation, the development of research partnerships and the transfer of knowledge and technology” in Africa “where 20% of the population suffers from food poverty”.
This is why Italian minister and president in office of the G7 Agriculture Meeting, Maurizio Martina, talked about “an open G7” that saw the participation “of young people, NGOs, farmers, institutions and associations that offered interesting insight in terms of our comparison work with other ministers”. And he concluded by relaunching “the challenge to truly guarantee every human being’s right to food at any latitude”.
About Elinuru Palangyo, mother and farmer
Of the protagonists, Elinuru Palangyo really made an impression. Palangyo is a farmer from Arusha, in north Tanzania, with more than ten years experience in the organic field. She is a mother of five. In true “ujamaa” style, she does not own land of her own, but a family field that produces different sources of income, like the small-scale packaging and selling of organic foods, mainly cassava and potatoes. Palangyo wanted to send leaders a very humble message: “We don’t ask the powers that be for great investment, but investment that focuses on our needs”.
There are those who are already working in this regard today. Well-known Italian TV presenter Patrizio Roversi, the face of Italian TV show Linea verde, has been a voluntary ambassador for what’s happened in Tanzania, also thanks to the work of those in the tertiary sector. “It is a model to show to the world”, confirms Roversi on the website Cefa c’è e fa that hosts the diary of the journey Roversi made as he followed Bolognese NGO Cefa, which has been working for 45 years to combat hunger and poverty by helping the poorest communities to become self-sufficient in terms of their food.
From Nyerere to Cefa
“All this has a history, it started long ago – Roversi tells Agronotizie – when the first Cefa workers arrived in Tanzania. Political mediation formed the basis […], with the president of Tanzania, Nyerere, as well as a close relationship with the local Catholic church”.
Who would have guessed, back in the days of No logo, that international cooperation and agricultural socialism, diplomacy and Christian charity would burst onto the political agenda at one of the summits that has made capitalism and the exploitation of resources its trademark. And yet knowledge and awareness have ensured that, years later, the theories of those who were once silenced by extremism have become solutions to pursue. At least on paper.
“My presence here serves as an example of how important it is to listen to the voices of small-scale farmers. As a woman and a small-scale farmer – concluded Palangyo in front of the seven ministers – I face important challenges each day: climate change, the spreading of new diseases, of new animal species that threaten our crops, flooding and drought”. For this reason, Palangyo asked for nothing more than infrastructure “capable of adapting to these conditions”. A clear message that should inform the G7 powers, and not only them, that their goal is not to encourage profit for a few, but a decent life for all.