Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kitabu cha Historia ya Chai

Leo nimenunua kitabu, A Brief History of Tea, cha Roy Moxham, nilichokiona jana katika duka la vitabu la hapa chuoni St. Olaf. Nilivutiwa na taarifa kwenye jalada la nyuma:

Behind the wholesale image of the world's most popular drink lies a strangely murky and often violent past. When tea began to be imported into the West from China in the seventeenth century, its high price and heavy taxes made it an immediate target for smuggling and dispute at every level, culminating in international incidents like the notorious Boston Tea Party. In China itself the British financed their tea dealings by the ruthless imposition of the opium trade. Intrepid British tea planters soon began flocking to Africa, India and Ceylon, setting up huge plantations. Workers could be bought and sold like slaves.

Maelezo haya yalinisisimua nikaona sherti nikinunue kitabu hiki. Niliona wazi kuwa kitanielimisha kuhusu mengi tusiyoyajua juu ya chai, kinywaji ambacho wengi tunakitumia. Mambo hayo ni pamoja na uchumi, historia, siasa, na mahusiano ya jamii, na mahusiano ya mataifa.  Kitabu hiki kimenikumbusha kitabu cha Sidney Mintz. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History, ambacho kinahusu sukari. Iwe ni chai au sukari, ni msingi wa kutafiti na kuelewa masuala mengi. Tafakari ya aina hii inanikumbusha pia Karl Marx, ambaye alitafakari kitu kinachoitwa bidhaa ("commodity"), akathibitisha jinsi bidhaa inavyobeba mambo mbali mbali ya jamii, ikiwemo mahusiano ya binadamu.

Nimeanza kusoma A Brief History of Tea na kujionea jinsi mwandishi alivyo na kipaji cha kujieleza. Ameanzia na maelezo ya maisha yake, alivyokuwa kijana u-Ingereza, akawa amechoshwa na maisha ya kule. Katika kutafuta fursa nje ya nchi yake, aliweka tangazo gazetini, na hatimaye akaajiriwa kuwa afisa katika shamba la chai Nyasaland, ambayo leo ni Malawi. Hapo ndipo yanapoanzia masimulizi ya kusisimua na kuelimisha yaliyomo katika kitabu hiki.

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