This appeared in TA issue 35 (Jan 1990)

The following extracts are from the Tanganyika Standard in the early months of 1940.

The members of the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) expressing the aim of the Chagga people to help the Government to win the war so that they can live in peace and happiness under King George and the British flag, have given Shs 20,000 to help the war effort. The money has been made over partly to the Red Cross Fund for the benefit of African troops and partly invested in War Loan.

The cordial and grateful appreciation of the Government is being conveyed to the KNCU for their public spirited and munificent action.

Despite increased expenditure of £15,000 due to the war and an expected decrease in customs revenue because of wartime restrictions, Zanzibar is budgeting for a surplus of £10,000 in 1940. This is largely due to a sharp increase in the price of cloves, Zanzibar’s 1940 revenue is estimated at £445,000 and expenditure at £435,000.

His Excellency the British Resident said that customs tariff incidence is not satisfactory. Poorer people eat imported food, wear imported clothes, smoke imported tobacco and therefore contribute a quite disproportionate share of total revenue, he said. On the other hand, the richer classes, European and Asiatic alike, whose expenditure on foodstuffs and other necessities represents a negligible fraction of their total expenditure, at present contribute much less than is their just due …. The Government has therefore decided not to increase indirect taxation but to introduce instead a new measure of direct taxation – income tax. (Income tax was also introduced in Tanganyika at the beginning of 1940 – Editor).


Mr. A. J. Wakefield, Tanganyika’s Director of Agriculture, had some cheerful things to say at a recent meeting in London … Tanganyika was more fortunate than some other colonies because its major industry, sisal, was a ‘priority war need’ he said. Scarce shipping space was always made available for sisal.

Speaking of the official policy to ‘produce to the limit’ he said that there was a risk of unsold surpluses in some crops because of lack of shipping. However, the tea surplus (over local requirements) would be bought by the UK Ministry of Food; coffee would be exported to existing markets in South Africa, Canada and the USA; an expected surplus of groundnuts would be sold to South Africa, a nearby market requiring little demand on shipping. It was also expected that India and Japan would buy most of the cotton out turn and the Middle East offered a market for oilseeds.

Tanganyika had been importing some £60,000 worth of maize from Kenya but the new policy was that Tanganyika must become self-supporting in maize.

Provincial Commissioners in their annual reports for 1939 were in agreement that most Africans had been little disturbed by the start of the war. But many had unpleasant recollections of the previous war when thousands had been conscripted by the Germans for porterage and road making; many had also had much of their food supplies and livestock commandeered. What appeared to have impressed Africans most had been the rapidity and lack of any kind of trouble attending the internment of enemy aliens. In the Southern Highlands Province 90% of the plantations and farms had been in German hands – they had employed some 8,000 Native labourers (There was considerable debate in the newspapers at this time as to whether the term ‘Native’ should still be used for Africans – Editor). There had therefore been immediate financial loss to Natives due to dislocation caused by the outbreak of war but the early action taken by the Government to assume control of enemy property had saved the economic situation from complete collapse.

But the inhabitants of a remote village in Tunduru district had ‘suffered stage fright’. The villagers had killed off all their chickens ‘so that the invading Germans would find no food’. There had also been a few cattle raids by the Masai against the Wasukuma. The Masai assumed that the authorities would be too busy with the war to deal with them.

A summary of the translation of a letter to his friends at home written by an Askari of the 1st Battalion of the N, Rhodesian Regiment explaining about Tanganyika included the following: Bad roads; good beer (made out of bananas); the men wear long Khanzus, even those who are not houseboys; the women wear lots of brass and beads; the sun is very hot; and, we are having the best food we have ever had; maize meal and rice, groundnuts and salt, sugar and tea and lemons and sometimes onions and always plenty of meat. ‘So we are sending this message to Hitler: It is he who has brought this about, this very good food, better than the food in Germany – so we are laughing at him very much’.

The Indian owned ‘Tanganyika Opinion’ on March 1st 1940 asked the question on its front page – What happened in Tukuyu. It wrote: A harmless Indian barber, Barber Jagjivan, plying his humble clippers found himself one fine day recently asked to accompany a Police Inspector, ride on a lorry laden with African peasants and taken to the Boma in Tukuyu. We have asked the authorities more than once what happened. Let us look at the facts as it is commonly believed that Jagjivan was taken to the Boma because of some indiscrete remarks he had dropped about the war. We are prepared to advise our readers that, at the present time, they should exercise great discretion in what they say or do in relation to the war …… We must be taken into confidence. Instead the authorities are stolidly silent. Why?

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