On 20th October 2011 the Presidents of Tanzania and Uganda, as distinguished alumni, officiated when the University of Dar es Salaam celebrated its Golden Jubilee. The University College established on 1st July 1961 with one Faculty (Law), three teachers and just 14 students has grown into the University which now has several campuses, over 1,000 teachers and more than 15,000 students. One of the earliest achievements of the new Government led by Chief Minister Nyerere, the college was (like Makerere University College in Kampala) ‘in special relationship’ with the University of London, awarding London degrees but teaching an appropriate local syllabus. In its first session the tiny college had a Principal, Professor Cran Pratt from Canada (who had taught at Makerere), a Registrar/Secretary, Jock Snaith (former DC Arusha), a Librarian (Harold Holdsworth) and a Law Faculty with three Oxford graduates (Professor A.B. Weston from Australia via Canada, William Twining, previously lecturing at the University of Khartoum, and Patrick McAuslan, who had West African experience) and 14 students, from Uganda and Kenya as well as Tanganyika, pioneers of legal education which colonial governments had neglected. This small team built a solid foundation for the Law School and University, developing an extensive library, attracting international visitors and establishing a strong tradition of local teaching and research.

TANU, the ruling party, had just completed a new building on Mnazi Moja as its headquarters but lent this to accommodate the college until in 1964, after a rapid building programme, the college became multidisciplinary and moved into its first fine buildings on `The Hill’ at Ubungo. On 1st July 1963 the University of East Africa came into being, composed of the University College, Makerere and Nairobi University College. When in 1964 President Nyerere presided, as Chancellor of the University, at the first Graduation Ceremony, held in the open air at the college, he conferred London LL.B. degrees on those first 14 graduates, and also an honorary degree of the new University on Dr Louis Leakey, celebrated for his discovery of Zinjanthropus in the Olduvai Gorge.

The college was transformed into the University of Dar es Salaam on 1st July 1970.

Jim Read

Jim Read is Professor of Comparative Public Law in the University of London (SOAS). He was a senior Lecturer in Law at University College, Dar es Salaam in the 1960’s.

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