This appeared in TA 32 (Jan 1989)

Fifty years ago Tanganyikans knew that a major war was threatening Europe. The Tanganyika Herald of 1939 included the following news items.

January 21. The East African Indian Congress passed the following resolution yesterday; ‘This conference is of the opinion that H.M. Government should not bargain with Germany on the fate of Tanganyika; that the future of that territory should be decided on the principle of self-determination by the peoples residing in the territory and that, in the meanwhile, the administration should remain on the basis of British mandate under the League of Nations as at present.’

February 3. In a report from a correspondent in Britain: ‘The activities of the Tanganyika League have been well received here. At any rate most intelligent people here now know where Tanganyika is on the map – which in my experience is quite a new thing. The ordinary man is, I think, opposed to giving the Territory away to Germany. But the Tanganyika League should not relax its activities; rather should it increase and intensify them. Absolute security is far from being won.’

February 25. Quoting from the News Review of London: ‘On orders received from the Chancellery, the Berlin Colonial League has started classifying Germany’s colonial claims. The details are to be included in a report which will form the basis for Germany’s first demand. It will probably be for the return of Tanganyika which is needed for its sisal, cotton, timber, rubber, coffee, ivory, wax, leather and skins. The draft report also states that the number of German farmers in Tanganyika has grown from 400 in 1931 to 4,000 in 1939. All were said to be members of the German Colonial League.’

February 25. At a meeting of the Executive Council of the Joint East African Board in London it was revealed that the Council of German Jewry had stated that it was disinclined to organise Jewish settlement in Tanganyika.

April 1. Under the heading Town Gossip: ‘I have heard it said that Tanganyika is the safest place in East Africa because the Germans will not throw bombs here when they have it in their minds that they would be destroying a country of which they hope to be the owners.’

April 22. It has been decided to carry out an experimental blackout in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday evening when all lights must be switched off between 9.30 and 10.30 p.m. Sirens will sound at nine p.m. An observer will cruise over the town in an aeroplane to report on the experiment.

May 5. The well known Indian advocate, Mr. D. M. Anjaria addressed a meeting of nearly 1,000 people in Dar es Salaam and explained about air raids, bombs, gas, precautions for the safety of buildings and measures already taken by the government.

May 5. With a view to accelerating the raising of the additional company of the Kings African Rifles which was announced on Friday. Certain officers of the KAR Reserve of Officers have volunteered for service pending the arrival of regular staff from England.

May 12. The people of Zanzibar have been warned that in the event of an air raid it will be necessary to evacuate the town. Zanzibar possesses 800 vehicles and all of them will be used under Government supervision. The population should start constructing shelters at Shamba.

May 20. Under the title ‘German Land in Africa’ the first of a series of films is being shown in Germany. In the film German settlers at work in Tanganyika are described as model colonisers and the natives are depicted as awaiting with impatience the return of a German administration. It is remarked that ‘the German has a hard hand but a soft heart – the Englishman a soft hand but a hard heart’.

May 27. Nazi attitudes to Indian settlers in East Africa have been made the object of a special article in the Deutscher Kolonialdienst. It states that Indian settlers are a serious danger to the vital interests of Europeans. They are accused of acquiring properties from Germans after the Great War at a fraction of their true value.

June 3. H.E. the Governor has stated that ‘the conviction is now, I believe, widespread, that whatever may be the terms of any settlement between H.M’s Government and another power, it is not within the bounds of possibility that the handing over of Tanganyika Territory will be included in those terms.’

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.