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January 14, 1962 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1962-01-14
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A First-hand Report on a New U.S. Experiment

-Life's Meaning May Be Discovered
From a Strange Force-Here's a
t e eee j Chaima

Peace Corps in


AS COLLEGES and universities close out
their first term, the first Peace Corps
volunteers are scraping their chairs over
a concrete classroom floor in Tanganyika,
finishing the last phase of their training
program. This last step consists primarily
of Swahili language study and practical
orientation to Tanganyikan life; con-
ducted by the Tanganyikan government
at, the Tengeru Natural Resource School
in the northern province.
Their schedule and that of many stu-
dents in America is much the same-
classes begin at 8:30 in the morning and
end at 4 in the afternoon. The nights are
filled with study, letter writing and the
promise to themselves to get more sleep
the next night. An hour exam every Sat-
urday morning is preceded by Friday
night cramming and followed by the usual
excuses from those who were the low
scorers. This routine will continue for
seven weeks, after which the Peace Corps
members will pick up transits, slide rules
and mapping devices, and head for all
parts of this eastern African "Cinderella"
The Tanganyikan training site is as
different from -their American training
location as Texas (where they spent the
summer) is different from the Catskills,
in terms of physical geography. They are
training in the most desirable living part
of Tanganyika. Situated at about the
same altitude as Denver, the Tengeru
school looks up to 15.000-feet, one-time
volcano Mt. Meru to the north, and to the
east Mt. Kilimanjaro's glacier-covered
Kibo peak is visible on clear days some 50
miles distant.
The Tengeru school is a 1,000-acre ex-
perimental farm which is designed to turn
out much needed agricultural officers by
teaching the basics of scientific, farming,
livestock care, insect and plant disease
control. It also houses the training facili-
ties for prospective community develop-
ment personnel. The Peace Corps training
at Tengeru falls within the scope of the
last category.
The rolling countryside is lush with
tropical flowers, exotic trees, birds
splashed with bright colors and terraces
of Tanganyika's third largest export, cof-
fee beans, which are shaded by tall pa-
paya and banana trees. Because of vol-
canic influences in the. area, the dark,
fertile soils support a variety of tropical
foods, and the altitude helps keep the
temperatures in reasonable check so that
typical American garden produce is avail-
able most of the year. The nights are cool
and the rains usually fall at predictable
times of the year, but few days lack sun-
Even though Tengeru is three degrees
south of the equator, the Southern Hemis-
phere's winter months make wool blankets
and sweaters necessary during the evening
and early morning hours. Peace Corps
members are not subjected to tempera-
tures above 90 degrees as they -were at
their El Paso training area. This is not the
normal pattern throughout .Tanganyika,
for it packs as much weather variety in
its 362,000 square miles (equal to Texas,
Louisiana and Arkansas combined) as
does the whole United States.
x *
Corps installation is Arusha, some
nine miles to the west. This is a center for
game safaries and is one of the most mod-
ern towns in eastern Africa. Movie houses,
drug stores, camera shops, auto agencies,
an amateur theatre, rugby and cricket
matches on Saturday afternoons blend
with the age-old African market and
. banana thatch huts on the town's out-
skirts to bring the contrast of 1961 Africa
into a remarkable capsule.
A town of some 10,000 people, it is
roughly 20 per cent European (British,
Swiss, Greek, Scandinavian, German and
Polish, to name a few of the nationalities),
50 per cent Asian (mostly Indians who
comprise the town's mercantile class) and
30 per cent African (almost entirely one
tribe, the Warusha). This division in itself
Is unique, since only four per cent of the

The Peace Corps' lodging at Tengeru

110,000'people in Tanganyika's largest city
and capital, Dar es Salaam, are European.
Still, the bustling little town of Arusha
is reminiscent of American Midwestern
towns in the early 1900's, if pictures and
descriptions of that era are accurate.
Earlier in the year, in fact, the town's
population twittered with the excitement
of an eight-month visit by a Hollywood
motion picture location crew which was
filming a John Wayne thriller entitled
"Hatari" (Swahili for "danger") in its
streets. Raw, half-constructed buildings
blend with the newly-completed, ultra-
modern glassy ones to give the town a
frontier feeling which is supplemented by
the few paved streets and skimpy traffic
controls. But the town may be expected
to outgrow its frontier stage. In the words
of its own town clerk (comparable to an
American city manager), "Arusha will
triple its population in the next few
But with this energetic atmosphere
around them, the Peace Corps volunteers
have to be reminded that their location is
unlike 90 per cent of the country, and that
what is true for the rich northern prov-
ince may be the reverse for the other
areas where they will eventually be posted.
The reasons are plain: the bulk of tech-
nological development has centered in
areas most similar to temperate zone con-
ditions, where diseases such as sleeping
sickness and malaria can be controlled
most easily and where communication
has been simplest to establish. These con-
ditions are present most fully in the
northern province. As a result, the volun-
teers have hot and cold running water,
electricity, daily mail deliveries and a
half-hour morning tea break (British in-
fluence is strongly felt in Tanganyika,
which was a British-administered United
Nations trust territory until granted its
independence Dec. 9).
Nevertheless, the Peace Corps is taking
several precautions which are foreign to

most Americans. All drinking water is
boiled; malaria prevention pills and mos-
quito nets become habitual; rigid sched-
ules of innoculations and booster innocu-
lations against cholera, yellow fever,
typhus and tetanus must be followed.
Dysentary of one sort or another is a
foregone conclusion for both those who
are traveling a great deal in the bush and
those who have a permanent location.
Parasites abound and wait for the careless
person who walks barefoot or neglects to
iron his clothes to kill the mango flies
(which collect on drying clothes and lay
eggs under the skin of the unsuspecting
Yet again the broad contrast in today's
Africa comes to mind when one hears or
reads about complicated medical opera-
tions performed in African hospitals
which compare favorably with many in
the United States.
volunteers begins by walking a mile
and a quarter for breakfastking asmall,
white-washed mudbrick, banana-thatched
restaurant on the shores of a small crater
lake, appropriately dubbed the "Lake
Duluti Tea Room." The road to the tea
room winds through the living area for
unskilled workers who are employed on
the school's labor lines, between cornfields
and coffee "shambas" (orchards) and
along the shore of the tree-linedlake
which looks like any lake in the Waterloo
State Recreation Area west of Ann Arbor
(before the advent of speed, boats, beer
cans and cottages). Large water birds soar
leisurely over the surface of the water
haphazardly looking for fish, or rest
sleepily on limbs of fallen trees near the
As the afternoon sun warms the Ten-
geru classrooms, the student's mind drifts
to this little lake, -so inviting for a swim.
The lake, like much of the great Nile
River to the north, however, is infected
with a debilitating, dysenteric disease-
producing parasite, the schistosoma which
is commonly called "bilharzia." Steps are
being taken to rid this pleasant little
lake-which had hippopotamuses in it
until a few years ago-of the disease and
provide facilities for bathing, picnics and
Sunday afternoon outings for the "Aru-
sha" (non-Africans).
This walk to the little tea room is not.
without the flavor of truly African Africa,.
however, for the road serves as a cattle
patch for people who keep their cattle
within their family yard at night and
graze the animals elsewhere during the
day. The passing scene includes little boys
herding the cattle, barely able to see over
the beasts' backs; a butcher slaughtering
his daily meat supply on a concrete slab;
women carrying anything - five-gallon
cans of water, large bundles of roof
thatch, firewood-invariably with a small
child strapped behind their backs. Both
Americans and Africans smile, exchange
"Jambo!" with each other, and the friend-
ly attitude of the Tanganyikans easily

shows through any curiosity they may
have for the foreigners.
The meals at the tea room are a sharp
contrast to most dormitory meals or other
institutional food which Peace Corps
volunteers might have expected. Conti-
nental in both setting and flavor, the
meals teach them how to use the utensils
of a nine-piece table setting, how to ea4
meals of several courses served on white
table cloths and how to remove excess
soup with white table napkins. They can
practice their rudimentary Swahili on the
African waiters, who patiently reply in
Swahili while knowing that an English
answer would speed up the conversation
THE PEACE CORPS orientation pro-
gram includes not only language
training, but also visits to various govern-
ment and private programs for improving
the living standards and' agricultural
level of the Tanganyikans. Since between
80 and 90 per cent of the people are
farmers, the government recognizes that
it must give them a great deal of farming
help while at the same time attempting
to diversify the economy with industry,
tourism and commerce. The field trips are
supplemented by talks with government
officials, educational officers and experts
on Tanganyikan anthropology and poli-
The pressing study, however, is langu-
age. Even though English is taught in the
schools beginning at the third-grade level,
Swahili forms the backbone of inter-tribal
communication and is the principal ton-
gue of the country. Spoken by almost all
of the Tanganyikans, Swahili is a must
for anyone working outside the towns or
dealing with villagers.
Comparatively easy to learn, Swahili is
more regular than English, has a smaller
vocabulary and possesses a simple sen-
tence structure. Because of these proper-
ties and the excellent instruction of the
course's leader, James Lewton-Brain, the
volunteers can read and write simple
sentences by the time they take the first
test-five days after the first class. An
average of three hours a day is spent on
language study.
The tape-recorded conversations are
employed and students are encouraged to
use their developing skill on the African
students at the Tengeru school. The
morning tea break is one time available
for this, and it is the only time during the
day that the volunteers have direct con-
tact with Africans, who in this case are
fluent speakers of English as well as
Swahili. The course will close with a
three-hour written examination. Serving
as a skeleton course for future growth,
the emphasis of the language course is on
written work and the individual is ex-
pected to increase his skill in Swahili-
especially the spoken word-on his own
after the completion of formal classes.
One o fthe few Europeans who speak
Swahili as well as most educated Africans,
Lewton-Brain has been in Tanganyika
for 10 years as a field officer with the
British Agriculture Department and late-
ly with the Community Development De-
partment of the Ministry of Local Govern-
ment. His knowledge of origins of words
and idiomatic usage, as well as tribal
customs and taboos, has won him the
respect of both his students and his Afri-
can associates. He is currently the ex-
aminer for the Higher Swahili Language
Examination which is required of all
Europeans and Africans seeking to ad-
vance in the civil service ranks. A slight,
wiry man in his late 30's, he combines
the intensity of a man working for a
cause (the improvement of the Tangan-
yikan peasant's life) with the informality
of a man wh would climb rugged Mt. Meru
on a day's notice (the trip takes 15 hours).
* * *
BUT SEVERAL basic questions have not
yet been discussed. What is the Peace
Corps doing in Tanganyika, and can they
be expected to fulfill the hypothetical
and working goals of the Kennedy ad-
ministration's experiment with young
American technical personnel? How close-
ly will the Tanganyikan unit follow the

We may still feel a fear of "Asians," be- leader as long as the leader shows the
cause our ancestors were chased by the quality and excitement which is evidence
Huns 20 centuries ago. We certainly may of the charismatic force. The leader is
feel a cry of liberty that is 200 years old. therefore constantly called upon to give
It is no wonder that we should still such evidence. Here we find the ancient
feel the force of irrationality that dom- belief in the test of strength and the
mated .the whole life of our early an- miracle.
cestors. Looking into the eyes of the charis-
When we go to the opera and hear "Das matic leader we can usually prove the
Rheingold" we feel a force that is ori- existence of the charismatic force. But,
ented against' rational things; a force most importantly the fire in the leader's
that shows us life in an irrational way, eyes is merely the fire of our own charis-
through symbolism and myth. This force matic force, the fire of our own irra-
is the charisma we have received from tional desires.
our ancestors. If man has such a great love for the
We have seen that charisma is resident irrational, why has there been a ten-
in.us. We must now look to see how it dency to rationalize the world? Why did
evidences itself in the real world. To do man ever create bureaucracies and eco-
this we look to the charismatic leader. nomic systems when he truly desires to
worship charismatic gods and drink the
THE CHARISMATIC leader is the elixir of the irrational?
prophet. His word is believed without
question. His word is beyond rational in- PURE CHARISMA, as has here been
terpretation. It is the charismatic leader described. exists only for a short pe-
that states, -It is written, but I tell you rind of time. The charismatic leader can
otherwise. The leader is the athority n t ontiniie to nrove his strength or per-
without precedent; He is the God. His form his miracles for anv substantial
character is magnetic. All those that see Irnoth of time. People cannot continue
him feel the charisma emanating from their charismatic exerience without a
Christ were charismatic leaders. To see svetom which maintains the original im-
hris to see the irrational forces of pnke" that.lead them to break away from
God Hearisng stheratamiskinded ratinajty. Suh systems come under the
God. Hearing them, a fiame is kindled hr , 5of r elion, myth. nationalistic
which starts a fire within the indwidual sta'des and war. We come to a rationaliza-
and completely possesses him. He is r, a ndrIr ma l
shaken. Looking into the eyes of a char-
_ ismatic leader he knows he will follow his The charismatic leader is turned into
every command. the sorcerer, the medicine man, the priest
However, this charismaticymeader is no or the warrior. He transmits the char-
more than a projection of one's own isma to the people. If the original charis-
charismatic feelings. His soul becomes matic imulse was received after an at-
ours. He is what we want him to be. A god tack by the Huns, the rationalized char-
or a tyrannical, murderous madman ap- ismatic leader constantly reminds his
proaches the personality of the charis- followers of the evil time when the Huns
matic leader. For this is what we may attacked. To facilitate continued remem-
want him to be. For a leader is merely a brance of the charismatic impulse, these
mirror of the group that follows him. He leaders set up an hierarchy which uses
is merely a symbol to assure us that we symbos or gods (as in myths) to create
all believe in the same thing. The essence
of charisma can be seen in the charis- r>
matic leader, the leader who is merely
symbol, the "fuehrer" image, the image
of God, the mirror of the people.
Why, then, is there -a complete trust
in a charismatic leader? What is the na-
ture of the charismatic bond that once it
is created is not broken? Why does man
seek such a leader? For the answer to
these questions we must go back to the
rational world.
A MAN has a chance to utilize his char-
isma only when the order of society is
shattered-in times of depression and
suffering. It is here, when irrational
thoughts such as revolt and hate and war
are not scorned (due to the weakness of
the rational elements in society), that a
man gets a chance to bring forth his
charismatic feelings.
The charismatic leader is merely the
first person who cries out in pain, or the
first person who screams of hatred. He
immediately is joined by all the oppressed
people near him. From then on, he is 'a
leader of a growing movement. Each man
in the movement has discovered the irra-
tional. Life has some meaning to these
men for whom a war is a much more ex-
citing and living thing than life 'in a
boring peacetime grind. Once the charis- '
ma is brought out in the open in the form
of a charismatic leader, the people who
experience its effects dare not do any-
thing to upset the new situation for fear
of losing the feeling of being free from
the bonds of a rational world.
The trust between the charismatic lead-
er and his follower is absolute, because
the follower feels that the charismatic
situation is the first time he has ever
seen any meaning in life. He dares not
break the bond of trust which would lose
forever the most important and mean.
ingful moment of his lifetime.
It is, therefore, the irrational and the
exciting that man really wants.
He wants his life to have meaning. He
does not want to be a birth and death
statistic. Man wants the irrational. He
will continue to follow the charissmat ' Works of

an artificial, yet valid, charismatic ex-
The warriors set up a ruling caste
which eventually becomes a government.
This government creates war or Instills
the people with hate in order to recall the
original charismatic experience. We have
therefore gone full turn.
Charisma evidences itself in a revolt
against rationality. This charismatic spir-
it is transmuted into a system which en-
deavors to retain the original feeling. Pi-
nally the organization whose purpose it
is to continue the charismatic spirit be-
comes a rational heirarchal organization
such as the church or the state, the very
same rational institutions that the pure
charismatic forces rebelled against in the
first place.
* *
THE CHARISMATIC force is often
transmitted by appeal to the past.
Each of us has within us a remnant of
charismatic experiences which toolC
place many years ago. If a charismatic
leader refers to a past charismatic ex-
perience he may evoke the same feeling
in the present. Hitler tried to create a
society patterned after ancient Sparta.
To maintain the charismatic spirit the
Nazi movement established a virtual state
of war (first internally and then exter-
nally). This charismatic state was main-
tained because the people wanted it as
such. The war society was more alive than
a bureaucratic democracy. It is here that
we can find a reason for institutionalized
The irrational purges in Nazi Germany
are examples where terror of irrational
forces was twisted and perverted to serve
the convictions of a madman. Perhaps
Hitler used the charismatic fear of ani-
mals to have Jews killed like beasts and
maintain his image on the time-tested
principle of evoking charisma through
institutionalized terror.

National a
symbols are 1
the charisma
and all its se
another exar
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gone in an i'
amount of
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For instanc
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wish to demor
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unless we rec(
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rharismn froi
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tionalized fe
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results of eac
ing in his life
The search
nurtures chai
the trust in
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It is in the
can see ours
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charismatic 1
charisma. We
to our existe
This under


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