Accepted Paper:

Crime and community policing in northwest Tanzania: innovative youth strategies  


Daivi Rodima-Taylor (Boston University)

Paper short abstract:

Novel forms of vigilantism have emerged in Tanzania-Kenya borderlands with the rise of certain commercialized forms of criminality. Informal cooperation in peacekeeping facilitates creative experimentation with local institutions of governance, creating new political spaces for the youth.

Paper long abstract:

The paper studies the rise of vigilantism and informal community policing in northwest Tanzania with a focus on a recent proliferation of certain forms of criminality, including commercialized cattle raiding, cultivation of illicit drugs, attacks on local gold mines, and other forms of lawlessness that affect the Kuria borderlands between Kenya and Tanzania. Informal cooperation both in peacekeeping as well as economic entrepreneurship in the local communities has emerged in the liberalizing post-socialist Tanzania in its contemporary form only in the last couple of decades. Diverse local cooperative activities draw upon existing cultural repertoires and traditional patterns of social organization - age grades and circumcision sets, various clan and lineage councils and secret societies, but also effect significant changes in those. The informal vigilante units and neighborhood courts display an intriguing tendency towards increased formalization, such as regularization of activities and routinization of procedures, pronounced importance of written by-laws, sanctions, and formal organizational hierarchies. This uneven and fragmented standardization that reveals an increasing emphasis on law and individual rights in local governance is situated within a pronounced relationality of Kuria freedoms and their notions of autonomy that are reproduced by the novel forms of cooperation. The paper explores how this hybrid character of the novel cooperative activities facilitates creative experimentation and innovation in local modes of dispute regulation and institutions of governance, and empowers youth in their negotiations with kin, community, and state authorities.

Panel P165
Novel spaces for African youth: creativity, entrepreneurship and political action