BISHOP GRESFORD CHITEMO (82), who was born in Kilosa, died on All Saints Day 2009. He served as the first bishop of the Diocese of Morogoro from 1965 until his retirement in 1987 and from 1988 to 1995 he was head of African Evangelistic Enterprise, based in Nairobi. He was a spell-binding preacher, and hundreds in many different countries came to faith through his ministry. He was courageous in defending those in trouble and confronting oppression, even in high places, and missionaries found him an accessible and sympathetic listener, who yet had the wisdom and confidence to make his own decisions. He built especially warm relationships with coastal Anglicans whose tradition was very different from his. Thank you Roger Bowen for this – Editor.
Professor Emeritus DAVID KIMBLE has died aged 87. He started work at the University of Dar Salaam in 1962 as Professor of Political Science and within the year he had set up, and found funds for the Institute of Public Administration – a completely new direction then for an African institution. He also established a programme of training for diplomats from newly independent countries at the Institute – from ASAUK Newsletter No 57
St. Stephen’s Church in Gloucester Road, London, not far from his basement flat, was filled on 21st August last year, for a service of thanksgiving for the life of THOMAS RANDAL SADLEIR, a founder member and, at one time, a committee member of the Britain-Tanzania Society who died on August 11 at 85 years old.
Those of us who knew him realised how much we were going to miss his larger than life personality but it was fascinating to hear from his grandson Nicholas a fund of highly amusing anecdotes which entranced the congregation and, secondly, from his son Gerald, who had clearly inherited his father’s eloquence.
I first met Randal 45 years ago when the wife of an officer at the Ministry of Agriculture’s HQ in Dar es Salaam suddenly collapsed with a brain tumour and the couple had to leave Tanganyika. The officer had been producing a popular weekly radio programme called Mzee Simba (modeled on ‘ the Archers’), and I had been producing a monthly magazine called Ukulima wa Kisasa (Modern Farming) which was circulating in Musoma and surrounding districts. I was told to leave Musoma and report to Dar es Salaam immediately to take over the radio programme and to develop the magazine to cover the whole country. The journey, by Lake Steamer and train, took nearly three days and I was told on arrival to have my first radio script ready ‘by Thursday.’
It did not take long to find the person who would be able to help. He had started the first Swahili newspapers in Tanganyika and had become editor of both of them, as well as most of the government’s public relations material. It seemed that everybody knew him and, in the media world, he knew everybody. Although he was about the same age as me, he soon became almost a father figure and played a major role in preserving both my career and my sanity.
Many obituaries have been published.
The Daily Telegraph wrote: ‘He was one of the last generations of colonial administrators; at 27 he was the youngest district commissioner (in Handeni) and stayed on, at the request of President Nyerere, for 13 years after independence. Speaking to a nationalist rally in the early days, Nyerere had declared that Kutawaliwa ni fedheha and Sadleir probably saved him from prosecution, and the country from probable turmoil, by pointing out to the authorities that this meant “It is a disgrace to be ruled” rather than “We are ruled disgracefully”. The two became close friends, drinking companions at the Cosy Cafe, and Sadleir acted as an intermediary between Nyerere and the new Governor, Sir Richard Turnbull, assisting at what proved to be an unusually harmonious transition.
Randal was he was fond of the old Irishism: “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough”. On his death, one of his many friends remarked: “If you were lucky enough to know Randal, you were lucky enough.”
Mwalimu Nyerere noted ruefully that Sadleir’s sympathy for the nationalist cause before independence was matched only by his forthright opinions of Nyerere’s Government after it. Sadleir was always an unconventional spirit. Mwalimu Nyerere, in rare understatement, called him “unusually individualistic”, while Lord Twining, the then Governor, remarked that he would never make a civil servant because “you are neither civil nor servile”. To diehards in the colonial establishment, Sadleir was an Africanist eccentric; but his integrity, humour and generosity of heart were universally recognised.
In the Swahili language he discovered a lifetime’s fascination that he translated into a real affinity when he served as a very young officer in the King’s African Rifles. Around campfires, Sadleir spoke to his askaris and mastered their tongue, creating a bond that went far beyond command. In Africa and its people he found humanity and, he said, never again felt quite so at home.
He remained an admirer of Nyerere the man, long after his abilities as a ruler were being brought into question. He left Tanzania in 1973, still incurring official disapproval — he pointed out that the ruling TANU party took a tougher line on law and order than the colonial administration.
Cyril Kaunga, at one time head of film making in Tanzania, writes from Tabora: ‘I remember one day in 1959 when he was going on a picnic, with some of his staff, to Bagamoyo. I decided to join the group in order to see the place where our “grandfathers were sold and chained to iron poles” as he put it. He was always jovial with a high sense of humour. As he went to start his Peugeot car Randal noticed that he had no ignition key. Yet the car started and when we asked how he could start it without the key, he looked at us with a side look and said “I am a conjurer, you know.” We learnt later that the car had one button only for ignition and engine start. After visiting the slave market place we expressed anger and hostility at what we had seen. Randal in his Anglicized Kiswahili remarked, “Hii ilikuwa biashara shenzi kabisa” He spoke Kiswahili using English pronunciation – funny but always interesting to listen to. He was endowed with human qualities of high value. He was sympathetic to the poor and their struggle in the fight against the deadly enemies of our nation. Randal Sadleir is dead in body. To me he continues to live forever.’
The first edition of his fascinating book ‘Tanzania. Journey to Republic’ revealing as it did, a remarkable power of memory, soon sold out. It is a very good read and will ensure that he is remembered – David Brewin