OBITUARIES

SIR JOHN FLETCHER-COOKE died in May 1989 at the age of 77. Mr. C.I. Meek writes about him as follows:

In Tanganyika John Fletcher-Cooke was successively Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Chief Secretary and Deputy Governor between the years 1956 and 1961. Holding these offices he was obviously deeply involved in the kaleidoscopic political changes of the last colonial years and equally clearly he had his full share of controversy whenever nationalist views clashed with those of the Government as they frequently did in those hectic days. John had a taste of this within weeks of coming to Tanganyika, when he found himself in New York to put the Tanganyika Government’s case to the UN Trusteeship Council while the views of TANU were put by its President, Julius K. Nyerere. But there were many much harsher exchanges later on when the two men fiercely sparred across the floor of the then Legislative Council, John as Chief Secretary leading the Government majority and Julius Nyerere speaking for the opposition. Yet for all the real issues and sharp words between them, there was no personal animus, and each, in the closing days of the old Legislative Council, paid generous tribute to the other.

Likewise, there was a considerable song and dance raised about the creation of the post of Deputy Governor (which Sir John filled) but it was the post and not the man that was the issue. TANU suspected that the creation of the post was a device to interpose someone between the Governor and the Prime Minister, while, for different reasons, Sir John himself found it the least fulfilling of the high offices he filled with such great credit.

John Fletcher-Cooke was intellectually distinguished and his clarity of thought was as apparent when he wrote a despatch as it was when he made a speech. He had extraordinary pertinacity, which could sometimes be vexatious to those with different views, but which was a blessing beyond price to anyone against whom he spotted injustice or unfairness directed, He was a loyal friend, a perfect host, he had much wit, and was always a man of courage.

He was not a ‘Tanganyikan’, as those who spent their service there felt themselves to be, for he had been variously posted to the Colonial Office, to the UN Trusteeship Council, to Malaya, Palestine, Cyprus. He was a prisoner of the Japanese during the 1939-45 war and anyone who has read his book ‘The Emperor’s Guest’ must be astonished at the magnanimity and tolerance with which he wrote of that experience. It exposed him, like many others, to brutalities which hastened his end and yet he could write of it without a trace of bitterness.

Tanzanians should remember Sir John with some gratitude, He was far more politically attuned than most colonial administrators, he found himself frequently pressed into attitudes of conflict with TANU, and thereby became, in difficult times, an admirable lightning conductor. Lightning conductors avert damage, and he made a worthy partner of the great Governor, Sir Richard Turnbull, under whom he served.

(Sir John is survived by his third wife, a son of his first marriage and a son and daughter of the second – Editor). Mr CHARLES (KIM) MEEK CMG entered service in Tanganyika in 1941. In 1959 he was Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Chief Secretary (Mr John Fletcher-Cooke) and from 1960 to 1962 he served as Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister (Mr Julius K Nyerere) and as Secretary to the Cabinet.

Mr. SAIDI KAMTAMWA, affectionately known as ‘Saidi Tanu’, was a relatively unknown person but the tribute to him in the Sunday News after his death in March 1989 filled a whole page of the newspaper. He was the first Tanu driver and drove the then Tanu President, Mwalimu Nyerere, all over the country (more than 100,000 miles he estimated) in the days when Mwalimu was fighting for Tanzania’s independence. During his final years he was a private businessman in Dar es Salaam. The Second World War saw Mr. Kamtamwa in the army. He served in Madagascar, Ireland, Ceylon and Burma. He started his official duties with Tanu on March 27th 1956, driving a second hand Landrover.

The deaths were also announced, in April 1989 of Mr. JAMES KIRKMAN, a pioneer of archaeological studies on the East African coast and, in May, of Sir DARRELL BATES who served in Tanganyika both before and after the Second World War.

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