Archive for May, 1938

50 YEARS AGO

This appeared in TA 30 (May 1988)

Too much old school tie
“Tanganyika is no fairy land. It is suffering from too much old school tie”. So wrote the Tanganyika Herald in its issue of 5th February 1938. It quoted extensively and prominently from some writing it had discovered in an Oxford newspaper by a Mr. John Balfour who had recently returned from a 10,000 mile African tour.

Hr. Balfour wrote: “The Administrative Officer’s life is to sit in an office from 8.30 to 12.30 and 2 to 4 doing sums, writing memoranda and reports just as he did for examinations at school. At 4 o’clock sharp he puts down his pen, has tea and then plays golf, tennis or football. The British magistrate adjourns his court even though in the middle of delivering a judgement. At sundown the officer sips whiskies and sodas and plays bridge.

From the lowest officer to the Governor, from the Governor to the Colonial Office, the administration is a machine in which no single cog can budge until a group of others has been started. Individual action brings frowns. An academic system of rules is pinned on the board like the rules of a public school.

An official with 15 years experience complained to me that he had less power, responsibility and money and more interference than when he started.

The Administration is grossly overstaffed. In a certain specialised department 66% of the expenditure goes to pay the official’s salary; another hefty slice goes to the native subordinates.
But if staffs or salaries were cut down public school boys would not consent to be colonial administrators. The job would not allow them to lead the lives of leisured sportsmen from four o’clock onwards ……

Inciting Zanzibar Arabs
The ‘Tanganyika Opinion’ in its leading article of February 25th 1938 wrote that: “The British Resident in Zanzibar has fully maintained the honoured traditions of British diplomacy (fithina) in his recent speech at the Arab Idd Baraza. As all the world and its wife knows, the whole trouble about the clove trade in Zanzibar originated with the formation of what is called the ‘Clove Growers Association’ (CGA). To judge from its nomenclature, one would suppose that it is an association of the actual clove growers. But it is nothing of the sort and the leading lights of the CGA have as little to do with the growing of cloves as we have with the growing of potatoes. It is a body bossed by the representatives of British commercial interests in Zanzibar for the express purpose of ousting the Indian traders from the clove market. It has created an unjust monopoly so that the growers of cloves will have to content themselves with selling their produce to the CGA willy-nilly at prices much lower than they would have realised in a free and competitive market.

When this CGA was first brought into being the clove growers of Zanzibar (both Arabs and natives) strongly resented it but, being mostly an inarticulate and unorganised people, their protest could not take any tangible form.

The Indian traders were made of sterner stuff. Being an intelligent and self-respecting people they had no alternative but to resist the Government’s Clove Decrees and, as they knew that India was a large importer of Zanzibar cloves they naturally sought the assistance of their motherland. India accepted the challenge and has decided to maintain a boycott of Zanzibar cloves until the Government abolishes the CGA and recognises the principles of free trade”.

The article went on to quote the speech of the Resident [President ? post editor] in which he indicated that the Government was considering a change of policy. He did not believe that (although he admitted that they had a grievance) the Indians would want to be in permanent antagonism with the Government and with their Arab and Swahili fellow citizens as all were suffering from the effects of the boycott.

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