News and Reviews
Stella Manyanya, the Regional Commissioner for Tanzania’s Rukwa Region, made a special plea last week for reducing the number of deaths of pregnant women. She issued her appeal to regional leaders at a meeting in the city of Sumbawanga, the historic center of the Fipa people—who traditionally had interesting ways of advancing the health of women.
According to a news report on Tuesday last week, Ms. Manyanya said at the meeting, “it is very unfortunate that as we sit here today, a pregnant woman and a child are dying due to preventable diseases. We have to ensure that such deaths are controlled.”
Dr. Emanuel Mtika, the Acting Regional Medical Officer, said that 55 women had died due to complications during their pregnancies last year, and in the first quarter of this year the figures were even worse: 26 deaths were recorded for just three months. He attributed the deaths to a variety of causes, such as obstructed labor, malaria, sepsis, and excessive bleeding.
The doctor indicated that the regional government has formulated plans for addressing the problem, with a goal of lowering the rate of maternal deaths from the present 138 per 100,000 live births to 90 per 100,000 by next year. He discussed improvements to medical delivery services and the construction of more health centers and dispensaries as appropriate approaches for the regional government to take.
Dr. Mtika also said that 473 children under five years of age had died in the region last year due to such causes as pneumonia, anemia, and malaria. He said the government has set a goal of reducing the infant mortality rate from the present 3.3 per 1,000 children to two per 1,000 by 2015.
“The government is keen to ensure that more lives are saved through improved health delivery and construction of health facilities including dispensaries in rural areas where most Tanzanians live,” he concluded. A newspaper editorial about the development praised the speech by Ms. Manyanya as “a brilliant, highly commendable move by the regional leader who is also a political luminary.”
The traditional Fipa people, of course, had nothing that would compare with the advances of modern medicine, but their approaches to promoting the health of pregnant women are revealing nonetheless. Willis (1980) wrote that when a pregnant women died, the other women of the community would take out their anger on everyone else.
One of his informants, an elderly man named Rafaeli Ntwenya, told Willis how Fipa women reacted when they were stressed. In the words of the Fipa gentleman, “on the death of a pregnant woman in labor …, all the women of the village run wild: it is as though war has broken out. They tear off their clothes and go naked, painting their faces like soldiers with red cosmetic (inkulo). They run about flourishing their hoes and axes. They seize and kill goats and even cows and plunder the fields… (Willis 1980, p.6).”
Obviously, Fipa women in former times were quite capable of making known their intense frustrations about the lack of effective maternal health care, but it is not clear how they express their anxieties today. While there is little doubt that Dr. Mtika’s approach is more effective than painting faces and killing goats, the traditions that Willis reported were important aspects of the dualistic beliefs of their society.
The Ju/’hoansi don’t worry about arguments from climate change deniers: they absorb the news, live with fickle rainfalls, and try to preserve their way of life. In fact, their society has adapted to uncertain water sources for millennia. They do not need to be convinced that adjusting to changing climate conditions is essential if they want to continue living in their rural settlements in arid northeast Namibia.
So they are taking action. The Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia (NNDFN), an organization run by and for the Ju/’hoansi, is participating in a grant proposal to the European Union that will help them address global climate change. Two news stories last week explained the nature of the grant and the specific intentions of the Ju/’hoansi for the uses of the money—presuming the EU does fund the proposal, which appears likely.
The project was announced during the 18th Namibian Rangeland Forum, held at a private resort in the eastern part of the country called the West Nest Lodge. Participants from rural Namibia, Europe, and as far away as Australia heard Mecki Schneider, chair of the Livestock Producers Organization, a Namibian group, present the details of a proposed N$11.6 million (Euros 820,000) project which will initiate a National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS) for the nation.
A news report in the New Era, a Namibian newspaper, indicated that the purpose of the EU grant was to improve rangeland management, with a special focus on halting deforestation and meeting the effects of global climate change. Mr. Schneider emphasized that conditions for raising livestock in Namibia can be difficult, considering the country’s highly variable rainfall, soil erosion problems, and declines in the productivity of the rangelands. “These challenges are further increased by climate change,” he added.
Laura Imbuwa, the program officer for the EU delegation, expressed her enthusiasm for the goals of the project and confirmed the likely signing of the agreement for the grant to Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
The other article in the New Era described the enthusiasm of the delegation from the NNDFN. It reported on a speech to the conference by two of the delegates. Gabriel Hipandulwa, the Programme Officer of the NNDFN and Kahepako Kakujaha, the Nyae Nyae Livestock Consultant for Planning and Grazing, explained the implications of the project for the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, the nearby N≠a Jaqna Conservancy, and the Ju/’hoansi and !Kung farmers.
The two men said that the purpose of the project is to “adapt land use to reduce the vulnerability of the indigenous San communities in Nyae Nyae and N≠a Jaqna conservancies to the impacts of climate change.” The focus of their presentation was on the threat the people feel from the changing global climate. The speakers said that the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia intends to reassess and, as much as possible, to change land uses, to reduce overgrazing, to minimize late-season hot fires, and to support local communities as they adapt their livelihoods so they can continue to survive as a viable society.
The rest of the speech by the two men gives details about the specific objectives of the NNDFN: to integrate management planning, maximize food security, and minimize the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of the Ju/’hoansi and !Kung communities. They also indicated that the NNDFN wants to improve crop and livestock production and to minimize the generation of carbon dioxide from hot, late, rangeland fires.
In addition to highlighting the awareness of the Ju/’hoansi about the importance of trying to deal with global climate changes, the news stories prompt the reader to wonder why the NNDFN is so current in its thinking, so willing to adapt and modify the approaches taken by people who still retain their love for at least some of their ancient hunter-gatherer traditions.
The Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia has a website that begins to explain why the organization is so far ahead of many other groups. It has a mission to “support and empower the San people in Namibia to improve their quality of life economically and socially including land and human rights and the sustainable use of natural resources.” The website provides a lot more information about the objectives of the organization, the history of the Ju/’hoansi people, and some of their achievements to date.
An in-depth description of the NNDFN is presented in Chapter 7 of Biesele and Hitchcock (2013), which carefully describes the history of the organization. The book gives clues as to why forward thinking about an issue like climate change can be expected, for the authors examine the problems, as well as the successes, in the history of the group.
The NNDFN, founded by non-Ju/’hoansi people in the 1980s, went through several decades of growing pains: changing names, identities, leadership and staffing. Those changes were the result of better perceptions of ways to support the Ju/’hoansi, especially the judgment that their greater involvement with the wider affairs of Namibia would benefit the people. The organization also changed from one dominated by expatriates into one run and staffed by Ju/’hoansi themselves.
Problems arose because the organization had established its base of operations at one place, but difficulties of transportation among the Ju/’hoan settlements meant that jobs and benefits went primarily to people living near there. The leaders decided to move to another location which was much nearer to the main east-west road through the middle of the Ju/'hoansi territory.
When the staff and facilities had all moved by early 1991, problems came up again: difficulties of housing, perceptions of favoritism, jealousies, and then sicknesses. The authors carefully explain the attempts to smooth out the problems, especially a major split in the staff in 1992. For a while, the organization ceased to effectively function.
But the Ju/’hoansi way of handling conflicts—carefully talking out issues, then singing and dancing to reaffirm their unity—ultimately prevailed. They eventually healed the rifts of 1992 and have continued to develop a spirit in the organization consonant with the feisty, confident attitudes of the Ju/’hoansi people themselves.
News and reviews of publications relating to peaceful societies—and sometimes to related topics—are normally posted here on Thursday mornings (U.S. time) and are kept on this page for one week. Older news and reviews for 2014 are listed below, and ones from previous years are listed on the News and Reviews 2004-2005 page, the 2006 page, the 2007 page, the 2008 page, the 2009 page, the 2010 page, the 2011 page, the 2012 page and the 2013 page. All stories are also included in the News and Reviews Subject Listing. Recent ones are listed at the bottom of each society entry in the Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies, after the heading: Updates: News and Reviews. News and reviews about peacefulness in general are referred to from the bottom of the Facts page, while news stories about this website are linked from the About This Website page. News and Reviews can also be found with the Google search bar.
September 18, 2014. The Fate of the Lost Franklin Expedition
September 18, 2014. The Trap of Rural Thailand [journal article review]
September 11, 2014. The Ladakh Project: An Audiovisual Mashup
September 11, 2014. The Peaceful Ju/’hoansi Mistreat their Dogs
September 4, 2014. Amish Hate Crimes Convictions Reversed
September 4, 2014. The Baybayin of the Buid
August 28, 2014. Inuit Plural Marriages
August 28, 2014. Zapotec Women Push Changes [online magazine article review]
August 21, 2014. Violence in a Yanadi Community
August 21, 2014. Frog Woman and Her Moral Code [anthology chapter review]
August 14, 2014. San Hunters Versus Botswana
August 14, 2014. Conflict Resolution and Gender Equality in Lepcha Society [book review]
August 7, 2014. Amish Self Concepts—Prisoners Relate their Experiences
August 7, 2014. Inuit Self Concepts—Are They Satisfied with Life? [journal article review]
July 31, 2014. Conviction for Corruption Upheld against Flosse
July 31, 2014. Uses and Customs in Oaxaca [online magazine article review]
July 24, 2014. Schooling for the Semai
July 24, 2014. Political, Religious, and Community Tensions in Ladakh [journal article review]
July 17, 2014. Rural Thai Children Threatened by Absence of Parents
July 17, 2014. Official Concern for Birhor Wanes
July 10, 2014. Police Remove Yanadi before Modi Visit
July 10, 2014. Children Learn to Be Peaceful the Batek Way [anthology chapter review]
July 3, 2014. Amish Volunteerism
July 3, 2014. Birthday Wishes for Glenn Paige
June 26, 2014. Atlas of Inuit Trails
June 26, 2014. The Challenges of Lepcha Identity [journal article review]
June 19, 2014. Nubians Waiting for Fair Treatment
June 19, 2014. Homeless Fipa Children
June 12, 2014. Huarime Festival in a Piaroa Community
June 12, 2014. Soups and Such from Hutterite Kitchens
June 5, 2014. Zapotec Affected by Wind Project
June 5, 2014. Reports of Violence in Thai High Schools [journal article review]
May 29, 2014. The Birhor and the Bees
May 29, 2014. Traditional Ways on Huahine
May 22, 2014. Lancaster County Amish Consider Leaving
May 22, 2014. Rat Hunting Holiday on Tristan
May 15, 2014. Ladakh Makes the Effort to Vote
May 15, 2014. A Visitor on Ifaluk
May 8, 2014. Yanadi Abandon Traditions, Modernize
May 8, 2014. Inuit Sale of Game Meat Questioned—and Defended
May 1, 2014. Paliyans Proud to Vote
May 1, 2014. A San Complains about Rotten Treatment
April 24, 2014. Birhor Boycott National Elections
April 24, 2014. Kadar Boycott National Elections
April 17, 2014. Hutterite Colony in Japan
April 17, 2014. Raging Violence, Nubians Versus Arabs
April 10, 2014. Paliyans Exploited in Tamil Nadu
April 10, 2014. Storytelling Preserves Traditions of the Lepchas
March 27, 2014. Presentation on Tristan Coming to Toronto Area Library
March 27, 2014. Philippine Conference Promotes Indigenous Languages
March 20, 2014. Proposed Port Threatens Yanadi Villages
March 20, 2014. A Jewish Scholar Visits an Amish Family
March 13, 2014. Seminar Presentation on Rural Thai Culture
March 13, 2014. Ladakh Political Status Challenged
March 6, 2014. Inuit Languages Celebrated
March 6, 2014. Rules for Maintaining a Peaceful Society [journal article review]
February 27, 2014. Zapotec Linguistics Analysis
February 27, 2014. Schooling for the Lepchas
February 20, 2014. Endangered Species and the San
February 20, 2014. Drive-by Horse Shooting
February 13, 2014. Nubians Recognized in Egyptian Constitution
February 13, 2014. Inuit Sex Trafficking
February 6, 2014. The Semai of Pos Betau
February 6, 2014. New Dictionary for Ju/’hoansi Children
January 30, 2014. Preserving Lepcha Culture
January 30, 2014. Rural Thai Culture of Rice Farming
January 23, 2014. Hutterite Colony School Burns Down
January 23, 2014. Batek Suffering from Logging
January 16, 2014. The Tamaraw and the Buid
January 16, 2014. G/wi are Being “Treated Like Dogs”
January 9, 2014. Central California Zapotec Festival
January 9, 2014. Birhor Poverty Finds Relief in a Picnic
January 2, 2014. A Semai Christmas
January 2, 2014. Nubian Recognition in New Egyptian Constitution