Exploitation Paradox: Sao-Hill Forest Plantation and the Indigenous Community Livelihoods in Mufindi, Tanzania, 1970s to 2010.

Andrea Azizi Kifyasi


This paper discloses the fundamental paradox of independent African states, which promised to be pro- “poor” (wanyonge), consultative, and consensual – the reality of centralised, bureaucratic and disciplinarian governance committed to communities’ livelihoods. It shows that nationalistic goals of using surrounding resources to improve peoples’ wellbeing, fronted by political elites in most independent African countries, were hardly realised. Indeed, numerous development projects launched to mitigate economic and social hurdles that faced the people aroused great expectations. Yet, the failure of the projects to improve peoples’ livelihoods resulted in great despair. The paper uses Sao-Hill Forest Plantation, which was among state development projects espoused by the Tanzanian government soon after independence, to illuminate the ways in which local communities’ expectations turned to desperation. It shows that, prior to the establishment and expansion of the plantation, the government assured the surrounding communities of social and economic benefits. However, the study reveals that the indigenous communities marginally benefitted from the yields of the plantation. Communities’ weak bargaining power and lack of political will were behind the despair. The paper integrates archival, oral, and secondary sources to contribute knowledge to studies examining resources and the wellbeing of the adjacent communities.


Sao-Hill, Forest Plantation, Indigenous Communities, Livelihoods, Mufindi, Tanzania.

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