Archive for January, 1938

50 YEARS AGO

This appeared in TA issue 29 (January 1988)

German propaganda in Tanganyika
The Tanganyika Standard (March 5, 1938) reported on a question that had been asked in the House of Commons in London. “Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the intensification of German propaganda in Tanganyika which was of an anti-British character and urged the transfer of the territory to Germany”. The Minister replied acknowledging the existence of some propaganda of the nature specified but added that the Government of Tanganyika had the matter under constant observation and would take any measures to deal with it which appeared requisite.

Seeing the country again after twenty years
The London representative of the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours, a Mr. W.M. Hardy, was reported in the Tanganyika Standard of February 12th 1938 to have been visiting Tanganyika after an interval of 20 years. He noticed a few changes.

“The development of the gold mining industry has taken place since my day” he said, “as have the immense strides in aviation with the regular internal and trans-Africa services. Dar es Salaam has grown out of all knowledge and the number of buildings and fresh enterprises seems to be legion. As you know however, it is trifling things that strike one on returning to a place. One that surprised me (especially in the towns) is the tendency for people nowadays to dispense with sun helmets and even with hats altogether. In my day, no one would have dreamed of going on the street without a helmet or other cover.

The Wachagga Unrest
The Indian owned ‘Tanganyika Opinion’ in its leading article on February 4th 1938 attacked it’s contemporary – the Tanganyika Standard which it considered to be a Government mouthpiece.

“Our local European contemporary has at last been constrained to admit what we have been saying all along that, contrary to the statement by the Government that the recent riots in the Kilimanjaro area were the outcome of the mischievous activities of a handful of irresponsible agitators, there was widespread unrest among the native coffee growers …. and that the riots were the acts of a people who were driven to desperation owing to their inability of having a legitimate grievance redressed.

It is unthinkable that the omniscient Government with its costly ramifications throughout the length and breadth of the country can be unaware of the reports of victimisation etc which reach the much humbler organisations represented by the Fourth Estate. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that the Government are fully aware of the malpractices of certain Chiefs but to be under the necessity of condoning them. And Why? We can only refer to the second part of King Henry IV in which William Shakespeare records the following dialogue:

Davy: I beseech you Sir, to countenance William Visor of Wincot against Clement Perkes of the Hill.
Sha1 (Mr. Justice Shallow); There are many complaints Davy against that Visor; that Visor is an arrant knave, on my knowledge.
Davy: I grant your worship that he is a knave Sir, but yet, God forgive Sir, but a knave should have some countenance at his friend’s request. An honest man, Sir, is able to speak for himself, when a knave is not. I have served your worship truly, Sir, this eight years; and if I cannot once or twice in a quarter, bear out a knave against an honest man, I have very little credit with your worship. The knave is mine honest friend, Sir; therefore I beseech your worship, let him be countenanced.
Shal: Go to; I say; he shall have no wrong.

The point of comparison is obvious. Granting that the Chiefs are in the habit of harassing the population, they nevertheless squeeze out the taxes from them and fill the coffers of the Government … therefore the Government must needs overlook their misdemeanours and countenance them. A Government that has mainly got to depend on Native taxation for its costly and extravagant top-heavy administration cannot afford to be over nice in such matters.

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