Archive for May, 1941

50 YEARS AGO

The following appeared in TA issue 39 (May 1991)

The following items come from the Tanganyika Standard in the period April July 1941.

THE WHITE MAN IN THE TROPICAL HIGHLANDS (Extracts from an editorial)
In the midst of the new and complex problems of the war it was like a soothing echo of the far off days of peace to find evidence in a recent publication that one of the perennial problems of pre-war times was still alive. Nobody, it seems, can get away with any suggestion that settlement in tropical highlands is not suitable – on physical and mental health grounds – for White men.

‘Trust the experts’ is a proverb which would have a good deal more weight if experts did not differ so frequently and so deeply. What one learned doctor says today you can almost invariably find two other learned doctors to contradict tomorrow. The ‘Great Sun Helmet Controversy’ is a case in point. The proportion of sun helmets to total headgear sold to Europeans in East Africa must have dropped immensely during the last 30 years and, at least as many doctors, sporting their own trilbies or panamas, have been in favour of the change as have been against it. The immense helmets that were ‘de rigeur’ are seen but rarely now, and almost invariably on the heads of old-timers who imbibed the medical opinion prevailing thirty years ago.

According to scientific theory, living in the tropics at great altitudes, ought to have some effect, probably deleterious, on Europeans. Some day scientists might find out what the effect is. In the meantime scientific caution demands that no risks should be taken. However, practical White laymen who come to Tanganyika find the country very good and go ahead with their settlement. What is more, they produce children and grandchildren who show no sign of degeneration – rather the contrary ….

TANGANYIKA’S BRITISH MANPOWER
The Director of Manpower, Sir William Lead, has announced in the Legislative Council that the number of unofficial male British Europeans of military age was, in June 1940, 949. The number not available for military service (missionaries, ‘protected’ subjects such as Cypriots) was 254; certificated’ Key Men’ fulfilling essential civilian tasks totalled 480 and the number who had joined the military forces was 215. The number of male officials was 930 of whom 171 were serving in the forces.

COCONUTS AND COMPENSATION (Extracts from an editorial)
In the midst of a world war a Tanganyikan Bill to check the stealing of coconuts seems of small moment but the Coconuts (Thefts) Ordinance caused, and rightly so, one of the most interesting discussions at yesterday’s (July 3, 1941) session of the Legislative Council.

Coconut thefts are very common. Plantation owners are compelled to pick their nuts before they are ripe in order to get ahead of the thief. But from unripe coconuts you cannot get good copra and copra is of value to the war effort. In the new Ordinance there will be delegation of power of arrest to persons other than the police and the setting aside of the principle of British justice that a person is innocent until proved guilty. A coconut estate owner will be able, in future, if he finds somebody in the plantation without a reasonable explanation, arrest and detain him, though, ‘not for longer than is necessary’. A person proved to be in possession of coconuts shall be deemed guilty of stealing them unless he proves himself innocent.

Canon Gibbons, nominated to represent Native interests in the Legislative Council, expressed reservations about the Bill but considered that, as a temporary expedient, it was justified. The question of compensation was also raised. Canon Gibbons said that the African, in his own customs, accepted the principle of restitution and reparation for theft but that this was neglected in British legal practice. Canon Gibbons said that compensation should be in kind. ‘Most Natives have a few coconut trees of their own’ he said.

IRAQUI ADVENTURES
To be captured by Iraqui rebels, to fail in an attempted escape by flying boat, to be machine gunned by the RAF while prisoner in an Iraqui lorry, to be led blindfold into a trench that he was told would be his grave, and, finally, to have had ‘not at all a bad month’ in an internment camp run by a pro-British Iraqui operating against his superiors’ orders – these were some of the adventures of Mr Henry Davidson, until recently a Tanganyikan resident employed by Imperial Airways. He had been transferred to Iraq a week before a pro-German Iraqui leader had seized power. After Britain defeated the new regime and an armistice had been signed, Mr Davidson was released unharmed.

FAREWELL TO THE GOVERNOR
On the occasion of the departure of the Governor, Sir Mark Young, at the end of his tour of service, the African publication KWETU wrote a valedictory in the form of an open letter to him. ‘It was you who deprecated the idea of officially addressing Africans without the courteous title of Mister; it was you who invited advice from this press in connection with the Tanganyika Development Committee; it was you who wholeheartedly backed Tanganyika’s financial contribution towards building Makerere College; it was you who thought of an African member to the Makerere College Assembly without our pleading for one. We honestly cannot thank you enough’.

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