Accepted paper:

Trust in being Ujanja: The business practices and fellowships of urban petty traders in Tanzania


Sayaka Ogawa (Ritsumeikan University)

Paper short abstract:

I argue the trust in being Ujanja (cunningness) through analyzing their unique business practices and fellowship of urban petty traders in Tanzania. I explore how petty traders exercise Ujanja to create the "trust" which enables them gambles their life on the possibility of the uncertain situation.

Paper long abstract:

The various difficulties in the process of Tanzania's rapid urbanization, such as inadequate social amenities and the increase in unemployment, number of squatters, and crimes resulting from poverty, are faced by other African countries as well. Most urbanites sustain their lives by conducting unstable, informal businesses. There is, thus, great uncertainty in urban Tanzania. Urban petty traders in this time of uncertainty tend to develop peculiar knowledge; the Swahili word for this knowledge is ujanja, which refers to cleverness or cunningness. Analyzing the unique credit transaction system and fellowship of urban petty traders in Tanzania, this paper discusses the trust involved in ujanja. The credit transaction system described in this paper is called Mali Kauli and is operated by middlemen and retailers. This system enables traders to carry on their businesses. It also plays a positive role in building mutual trust in relationships where the possibility of trickery is high. In this paper, we show how traders do not always try to reduce the business-related uncertainty by establishing strong social relationships and stringent rules to avoid betrayal. In contrast, they regard the uncertainty of their relationships and urban life as resources against which they can cultivate trust. On the basis of the trust they build, they gamble their lives in the possibility of uncertain situations.

panel G20
Trust in super-diversity