Cultured States, Youth, Gender and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam by Andrew Ivaska

Jane M M By Jane M M, 5th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Society, Politics & Philosophy

How much do you know about the culture of Tanzania? I came across this book about cultured states,youth and gender written by Andrew Ivaska. I have never been to Tanzania but upon reading this book,i feel like i have already been there.

Cultured States, Youth, Gender and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam by Andrew Ivaska

Ivaska has contributed immensely in the understanding of Tanzania’s capital city Dar es Salaam during the post-colonial era particularly around 1960s .This was a time when Tanzania’s government wanted to forge a relationship between national identity and public culture. The rich culture which Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania insisted on building, is still very alive even today. Of particular interest in this text is how Ivaska utilizes a post-colonial approach to uncover the dilemma of identity along gender lines, age and state power at an important time to the citizens of Tanzania. The post independent moment around 1960s also witnessed a lot of political struggles not only in Tanzania but other parts of the world. Most African countries attained their freedom from the colonial authorities around that time. Civil rights movement in the United States of America, black student’s movement as well as women movements took place around 1960s. A critical look at this moment in history reveals a time of self-organizing, rejuvenation and a new beginning.
Ivaska argues that it was around this moment in Tanzania that modernity started manifesting itself. This was a complicated situation where the state was caught up in the dialectic of being committed to modernization while at the same time preaching culture to its citizens. The issue of modernity therefore brought a sense of dilemma to the nationhood because how do you define a country that is both modern and yet culturally authentic? One way through which modernity was explored was by the different modes of dressing by young urban women. They would wear miniskirts, shorts, wigs and apply skin-lightening creams. The miniskirts however were very controversial, some people would argue that they did not portray true culture and were a shaming. The issue led to various parties demonstrating against the mode of dressing by women. Campaigns were led by Tanzania’s ruling party youth league to outlaw miniskirts and other indecent fashions as decadent affronts to Tanzania’s national culture.
The struggles addressed in the text are gendered because women are the targets by both the state and the youth .The city where campaigns take place becomes the imagined space and the site for struggle. Struggles between opposers and the opposed; rulers and the ruled; men and women each trying to prove the other wrong. From Ivaska’s argument, it’s clear that women’s rights were not respected and if anything, they did not have them. Women were supposed to dress in a respectable manner and in a way that showed strong adherent to the culture. The societal expectation towards women’s behavior was very high and failure to adhere to the set rules was a taboo. Of course this culture was established by men with the aim of dominating the women. One of the pressing issues, that is worthwhile finding answers to is ‘why the style wars’. Ivaska unveils profound anxieties about increasing female mobility and economic power which many young men feared came at their expense and the pursuit of women’s rights to the city through their claims to modernity. The situations of women in Tanzania symbolize the reality of how women in other parts of Africa struggle to make choices which don’t appeal to men. Even after independence, the same trend continues. Women’s place in the society is not recognized .They are perceived as subjects who should be dominated by men. When they transgress beyond the set boundaries by the society, they become a threat to men.
Cultured States, Youth, Gender and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam by Andrew Ivaska can be found on


Culture, Customs, Gender Inequality, Gender Issues, Politics, Youth

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author avatar Jane M M
My areas of focus include issues facing women, family and friends stories, children experiences, personal life experiences,daily events around the world among others.

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