|A History of Tanzania (Historical Association of Tanazania, 1997, 288 p.)|
Improvement and differentiation
In his paper Socialism and Rural Development, President Nyerere has suggested that traditional African societies had two special weaknesses. One was the inferior status of women; the second was poverty. This second weakness, he has argued, was the result of two things only. The first was ignorance, and the second was the scale of operations.1 Ignorance and disunity were indeed the problems of pre-colonial Tanzania. The previous chapter of this book showed that when Tanzanian societies tried to resist German invasion, they were defeated precisely because of these two problems: their ignorance, in the sense of technical inferiority, and their small scale, which led them to fight and be defeated individually. The Maji Maji rising was an attempt to solve these problems. The leaders of the rising tried to do this by the power of sheer faith. Their maji promised unity on a larger scale, and it promised to overcome technical inferiority by making European weapons powerless. Faith did briefly achieve the aim of wider unity, but the rising proved that faith alone could not overcome technical weakness. After Maji Maji, Tanzanians had to find other methods, more effective alternatives to the spear.
1 Julius K. Nyerere, Socialism and Rural Development (Dar es Salaam, 1967), 3.
This chapter is concerned with what Tanzanians did to solve the problems of disunity and ignorance during the years after Maji Maji. Most of their efforts were directed to finding answers to the problem of ignorance. They tried many solutions, but nearly all of them can be summarised by the word improvement. This meant the attempt to change people and societies in such a way as, it was believed, to make them both better in themselves and also more able to face their rulers on equal terms. The process was a gradual one which emphasized education, economic development, and the modernisation of local government. It was not dramatic in the way that Maji Maji was dramatic, but that does not make it either less interesting or less heroic. The heroes of Maji Maji were warriors and prophets; the heroes of the age of improvement were village school-teachers and shopkeepers, clerks and cotton growers. The experience of conquest and colonial rule led these men to believe that their societies were technically weaker than the Europeans. They therefore wanted to give their societies the things which, they believed, made Europeans strong. If that meant increasing the colonial impact on their societies, rather than resisting it, they were willing to do so. Sometimes they simply wanted to imitate Europeans. Usually they were more discriminating than that, but in either case their approach made it difficult for them to challenge colonial rule openly. In practice, although perhaps never in their thoughts, most Tanzanians in this period were forced to recognize the framework of colonial rule as a fact, and to concentrate on improving their positions within it until they could challenge it with some hope of success. They had to sacrifice their own freedom for that of their children. Nevertheless, there were limits to the sacrifices they would make. Even those most anxious to advance themselves within the colonial framework were determined to retain some control over the process. They wanted to make sure that the schools taught the necessary things, or that economic change took place on the right lines. Often they wanted improvement to happen more quickly than the colonial rulers wanted, and this could lead to conflict. Despite the absence of open warfare in this period, Tanzanians were not passive. The man who fought his way through school was not passively accepting colonial rule. Improvement was not normally something Europeans did for Africans. It was something Africans did for themselves.
Some peoples had better opportunities than others to improve themselves. They had more chance of going to school and getting desirable jobs, or their land was more fertile and nearer to a railway, so that they could grow and sell crops more profitably. During the age of improvement, then, some Tanzanian societies advanced, in terms of wealth and western education, much more quickly than others. As a result, Tanzanian societies were differentiated. Further, within a single society some individuals had better opportunities and more ambition than others. They lived closer to a school, or their parents were already educated and could teach them. Their relations held political power as chiefs or headmen, and could use this power to obtain further privileges. They cultivated the most fertile land or could acquire it. Most Tanzanian societies recognized some social divisions before colonial rule, hut during the age of improvement the divisions widened and deepened. Looking backwards, signs of economic class formation can be seen. Both for societies and individuals, the age of improvement was also an age of differentiation. The possible dangers of this were obscured at the time because everyone was under colonial rule. It was often assumed that any form of improvement, whatever inequality it might bring, was good because it all added to the general stock of skills which Africans could set against the skills of Europeans. Nevertheless, some Tanzanians in this period, either because they were unprivileged or because they had unusual social awareness, were alarmed by the divisions which improvement brought to African societies. Else where in this book Professor Ranger describes some of the protests they made.
Ignorance was not the only problem. Disunity was another. This received less attention during this period, because ignorance seemed at the time to be a more serious enemy. Nevertheless, the dream of unity which had inspired Maji Maji was never completely forgotten. Towards the end of the period new attempts were made to unite Tanzanians, using the new methods and ideas which improvement had made available. These attempts probably began seriously in 1945, so that is where this chapter ends, just as it begins with the failure of the earlier attempt at unity in 1907. However, the years from 1907 to 1945 were not the only time when Tanzanians were concerned to improve themselves. They always have been and will be. So the chapter sometimes goes outside these dates, for example to refer to attacks on ignorance during the nineteenth century, or attacks on inadequate education in the late 1940s. Further, some societies became concerned with improvement later than others; one or two have never been very interested at all. Nevertheless, it is true that the years from 1907 to 1945 were the period when improvement was the central theme in Tanzanian history, the chief source of change for the country as a whole.
This chapter is not a chronological history of the period. The process of improvement was personal and localised. It differed from one man to another and from one area to another. There was no single, overall pattern. Rather, the chapter tries to show the sort of changes, especially social changes, taking place in Tanzania at this time. It first describes the different ways in which Tanzanian societies responded to western education and missionary work. Then it looks at the beginnings of commercial agriculture and the changes taking place in the rural areas. The next section describes the growth of towns, especially Dares Salaam, and the organizations and ways of life which townsmen created for themselves. Finally, the chapter considers early expressions of territorial consciousness and attempts at territorial organization.
Response to education and Christianity
The previous chapter of this book asked why different Tanzanian societies reacted in different ways to European invasion. That is an important question, but for the later histories of the societies concerned it is probably more important to ask how they responded to the threats and opportunities brought by Christian missionary work and the educational activity that usually accompanied it. On this response very largely depended the character of the improvement which the society later experienced. Circumstances and responses were so varied that no all-embracing explanation is possible, but some generalizations can be made.
Missionaries could be useful to many societies. Large, centralised societies not totally organized for war could often profit from a literate administration, for which the missions could train staff. Some Tanzanian societies were already using Islamic teachers for this before Christian missionaries arrived. Thus when the missionary Ludwig Krapf visited Kimweri of Usambara in 1848, he found that the king has always Swahili about him who write his letters for him. He has two sons, also, who have become Mohammedans, and have learned to read and write.2 Despite this, Kimweri wanted more education. He urged Krapf to settle in Usambara as a teacher, preferably bringing a doctor with him as well. Nineteen years later Kimweris successor instructed another visiting missionary to demonstrate his teaching methods, and then permitted him to settle in an outlying district. Missionaries could also be seen as traders, although here a favourable response was less certain. The coast, for example, was obviously inhospitable for both religious and commercial reasons, and all missionaries more or less failed there. The Berlin Lutheran mission in Uzaramo, for example, had baptised only 382 converts by 1913, while it already had 2,226 converts in Unyakyusa at that date. The missionaries had been welcomed into Unyakyusa primarily as traders. Before they arrived in 1891, the trading system of Lake Malawi benefited only those Nyakyusa chiefs who lived on the lake shore. The missionaries wanted to settle further inland in the healthier highlands, and the highland chiefs welcomed them as traders. Hitherto, one explained, the whites had only visited the chiefs on the lake. Now they had at last come to him. That we [the missionaries] brought cotton cloth into the country was valuable; it was still better that our presence might deter the Magwangwara [Ngoni] from raiding.3 This statement illustrates another reason for welcoming missionaries: they could be seen as political allies. For this reason chief Merere of the Sangu corresponded warmly with Lutheran missionaries, for they seemed to provide a contact with the German forces which he wanted to use against his enemies. In a very different situation, the UMCA missionaries in Magila became allies of the Bondei in their attempts to maintain a degree of independence from the Kilindi rulers of Usambara.
2 J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researches, and Missionary Labours (London, 1860), 279.
Different political circumstances could lead African rulers into a hostile attitude towards missionaries. The Haya chiefs, for example, long opposed all mission activity, probably because they had seen the chaos it had brought to neighbouring Buganda. Where missionaries arrived almost simultaneously with the German government, they often faced special problems. The White Fathers arrived in Mbulu immediately after an unsuccessful revolt. They settled in a sacred grove where they were boycotted for two years before they moved elsewhere. Then they were boycotted again. In this case, however, there was probably also a strong spiritual opposition led by the established Iraqw religious leaders. This must have happened more often than it is now possible to demonstrate. For example, the Lutheran missionaries who had been so warmly welcomed into Unyakyusa almost immediately came into conflict with the local cult of Mbasi, a conflict which also led to a boycott of the mission and may have been at the root of armed conflict between the Nyakyusa and the German administration in 1897. Whatever their secular usefulness, missionaries were primarily a spiritual challenge. Many societies resisted this challenge, but some welcomed it. Not only for the slave had the rapid changes of the nineteenth century been both bewildering and oppressive. East Africa in the 1880s was ripe for revolution, and millennial promises were not new to Tanzanians. Thus chief Matola of Newala told the first missionary he met that he expected him to rid the country of witchcraft. Moreover, Christianity, like Islam before it, offered membership of a wider community than existed in Tanzania. It was noted in rather isolated Unyakyusa in the 1930s that this integrative aspect of the church had a wide appeal: In sermons in village churches the fact that their congregations were praying together with congregations of other tribes and denominations was repeatedly mentioned by African pastors.4
3 A. Merensky, Deutsche Arbeit am Njassa (Berlin, 1894), 200.
4 Monica Wilson, Communal Rituals of the Nyakyusa (London, 1959), 171.
Early missionaries probably had less impact on the societies they met than did the African Christians whom they invariably brought with them, and on whom they greatly depended. The Lutheran missionaries in Unyakyusa, for example, were long unable to talk directly to anyone save their South African and Malawian followers. UMCA missionaries relied on freed slaves whom they had educated in Zanzibar, the Holy Ghost Fathers on similar men from their settlement at Bagamoyo, and the Benedictines on people trained at Kurasini. Such men became the first teachers, and their skills - as indeed the whole process of education - fascinated adventurous young people:
Next morning I saw the other children gathered in a large hut, saying together A, B, C, D.... over and over again with an older boy in front leading them. I was attracted and thought it was a song - but actually it was the first school in our Diocese.5
5 Reminiscences of the Revd. Canon Kolumba Yohana Msigala of Chilonji... started in July, 1955, USPG archives (London), UMCA D/3.
It was above all the young who were attracted to the early missions, so that acceptance of education and Christianity often appeared almost as a revolt of a whole generation against its elders. The first African teachers and catechists believed that they were the prophets of a new society. Meetings of elders and established religious leaders were only clubs of malcontents and reactionaries, wrote one catechist in Buhaya, while my house was the meeting-place of the young, of simple and eager hopes for a better future.6 Such ardent men rarely understood a distinction between education and religion, although this was later to be an important area of conflict. One future priest strikingly recalled the confusion of motives which led him to the mission:
One day, when we came out of school, we said: Lets go on till we really know, and another said: Lets go on till we wear the cross; for by now we knew that he who wore the cross (a catechumen) was one who really knew his teaching.... The next morning we told the teacher that we wanted to be taught for the cross, and he was very glad and he taught us, and at the end of the month... we were made catechumens.7
6 Nicolas Mugongo, Les Mémoires dun catéchiste noir, n.d., Kipalapala Pastoral Centre.
7 Manfred Mabundo, An African David and Jonathan (Westminster, n.d.), 14.
Where missions were established before colonial rule became effective, African rulers were careful to maintain their own control over mission activities. The Kilindi ruler for some time prohibited missionaries in Bonde from building a permanent stone church. When he at last agreed, the king said he had no quarrel with us, ... but that he claimed to be chief of the whole country, as his grandfather was.8 In Meru two missionaries were killed when they took land without proper permission. Partly in reaction, to insecurity, these early mission stations were often ruled with iron severity. Magila, for example, had its own police force, and when its pupils complained of shortage of food during a famine, they were all reminded that all they had was by free gift and if any were discontented they could go to their homes.9 To leave the first missions was easy for some, and many did leave when they found the discipline intolerable. Others had less freedom. Many of the early pupils at Mkuzi station in Bonde, for example, were brought by their fathers, who received a cash sum which they had to repay if they wanted to interrupt their childrens schooling. Not only was discipline strict, but most missionaries, whatever their origin, shared certain European ideals of right behaviour and were anxious that their converts should conform to them. When the first Christian marriage was celebrated at Magila, the missionary noted:
The parents, male and female friends, bride and bridegroom, all sat together at the same table and ate together. The bride and bridegroom sat together at the top of the table, and the two fathers at the bottom. This is really a great move, and a far reaching advance. The bidding defiance to many a custom.10
8 A. E. M. Anderson-Morshead, The History of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, I (6th edn, London, 1955), 154.
9 Magila log-book, 16 May 1884, Tanzania National Archives, Dar es Salaam [TNA].
10 Ibid., 29 August 1887.
11 Ibid., September 1895.
The tendency for mission work to divide African societies was especially clear among the missions established after colonial rule. These often expanded much more quickly than the older missions. In part this was clearly a response to conquest. The headman of Lukuledi told the first Benedictine missionaries in his area that he would not obstruct them: Anyone who does not realise that the present time belongs to the Europeans has the understanding of a child. Therefore I tell you that my children can come to you and learn in the European manner. I shall not hinder them.12 The most astonishing success of all was experienced by the Benedictines who arrived in Peramiho in 1898. They baptised their first convert within six months and their first headman after four years. By 1903 their central school had 150 pupils, including a son of each paramount chief. In part this success was due to the skill of the missionaries, but it was probably also a result of the secular, questioning character of Ngoni society, and of the impact which had been made on Ngoni minds by the demonstration of firepower which the Germans had conducted when they entered Ungoni in 1897. At first complacent towards the mission, Ngoni leaders later realized the divisions which it could bring to their people. The very clear orientation of the Maji Maji rising against missions and their converts throughout southern Tanzania is evidence of an attempt to re-unite societies which were beginning to break up. They will kill anyone they find with European clothes, a Christian teacher was warned when advised to take the maji.13
12 Cyrillus Wehrmeister, Vor dem Sturm (St Ottilien, 1906), 38.
13 Ibid., 186.
There were two periods of rapid Christian expansion in Tanzania between 1907 and 1945. The first began after Maji Maji and was especially noticeable in the south, where famine made many people dependent on the missions and where it is reasonable to suppose that indigenous religious beliefs had suffered a severe loss of credibility through the failure of the rising. The Benedictine mission at Kwiro near Mahenge, for example, had 93 Christmas communicants in 1906; seven years later the number was over a thousand. Shortly before the rising the Berlin Lutheran schools throughout the country had nearly a thousand pupils; by 1913 they had 12,000. This expansion was not solely a result of the rising. It happened, much less dramatically, in the north as well. Between 1903 and 1912 the numbers of both baptized Christians and schoolchildren in the Magila area doubled, although the mission had been at work since the 1870s. It seems that after Maji Maji Tanzanians increasingly resigned themselves to working for the time being within the colonial framework, and realised that education was the key to success within it. In this sense, the age of improvement had opened. This period, too, saw the institutional hardening of the mission structure. Many converts - especially the priest or teacher - experienced serious discrimination for the first time, as the missionaries began to adopt some of the racial attitudes of the increasingly dominant white society. One missionary noted the consequent resentment among theological students at the turn of the century: The men say that the English priests do treat them simply as servants - and that the Ministry cannot develop along these lines at all. And they are specially angry at the way the upcountry clergy hand over spiritual offenders to the Germans, to punish.14 By this date there were other jobs available for the abler men, and some missions lost many of their African staff in this manner. Other converts chose more open defiance, like the teacher at Magila who, when asked how his actions could be reconciled with his teaching, replied that he taught many things which he did not believe.15 This was individual protest; coordinated attack on the mission structure would come only later.
14 Frank Weston to Maynard Smith, 21 March 1900, UMCA A/1/XVII.
15 Magila log-book, 4 June 1911, TNA.
The First World War brutally checked the improvement which had begun after Maji Maji. Germans arrested British missionaries and maltreated their converts; Britons deported German missionaries and suspected their converts. I became very poor since the war, wrote a priest in Bonde. I came back and found even my house and Church were broken down.16 In many areas a few African teachers held things together as best they could. If we do not receive priests to lead us, wrote a teacher from the shores of Lake Malawi, we shall write a letter to the Holy Father, that he may send us priests. We feel deep resentment because we have no priests.17 It was not the demand that had fallen off, but the mission ability to supply it. The White Fathers who ran Peramiho after the war baptized 800 people and admitted more than 2,000 catechumens, but still felt that they had been unable to meet the need. Ungoni is another Uganda, one commented as he left.18 Once normality was restored in the 1920s, expansion was very rapid indeed. During the single month of August 1924, the Benedictine Vicar Apostolic confirmed 1,374 people in Peramiho and another 895 in Lituhi. Kwiro parish had some 1,000 Christmas communicants in 1913, the same number in 1923, but three times as many in 1933.
16 Petro Limo to Duncan Travers, 2 April 1922, UMCA A/5.
17 Fr. J. Baur kindly gave me a copy of this letter written in 1919 by Mw. Cassian Homahoma.
18 I owe this reference also to Fr. Baur.
The period from about 1923 to 1935 was the high point of mission activity and influence in Tanzania, so far as the impact on African societies is concerned. One sign was the vast expansion of village schools throughout the country, the bush school which was the visible symbol of a communitys commitment to improvement. By 1929 the Benedictines had more than 700 village teachers in southern Tanzania. The mission structure was vast and still scarcely challenged; the village pastor still prepared for a life of devoted and unspectacular service. I wish I could write about self-support, the ablest UMCA priest, Samwil Sehoza, wrote in 1922,
we have it in our minds, but we have not quite found out the best way our people could learn. We have tried many ways as well as teaching them, but we have not found a way which will last, but in teaching them we always try to put it in front. I hope we shall succeed in the end. But many people who are anxious to see the result of their labour very often write in despair about it. I think it is only forgetfulness on their part that Africans move very slowly, and it will take many years before they fully understand their share in the work of the Church. But I do not think we ought to despair for the slowness of the present generation of Christians. Everything is new to them - religion, civilization and its many new temptations.19
19 Samwil Sehoza to Duncan Travers, 30 September 1922, UMCA A/5.
The first major attacks on the missions and their educational systems began in the mid 1930s. The African National Church, which Professor Ranger describes later in this book, reached Rungwe in 1935. In about the same year Ngoni students first protested openly against the missions lack of facilities for post-primary secular education. This issue brought grave conflict between the people and the mission systems in many of the more advanced areas of the country. The great expansion of primary education in the 1920s, and its improvement in quality, had given rise to demands for further instruction. To these most missions were distinctly unsympathetic, believing that it was not their responsibility and that post-primary secular education could only create a detribalized and irreligious élite. The issue became most bitter on Kilimanjaro in the early 1940s, when the Chagga chiefs began to feel that primary education was no longer a sufficient means of improvement, and when mission work was again interrupted by war. The chiefs demanded that control of education should be transferred from the missions to the native authority, even at the latters expense. It was the first frontal attack in Tanzania on a system that increases the Mission possession of schools and control over education and the life of the people and diminishes that of the Government and the Native Authorities.20
20 Mangi Mwitori Petro Itosi Marealle to Director of Education, 20 May 1950, TNA 69/148/2/90.
The struggle for higher education belongs to the years when improvement was changing into nationalism. For the present, it has been shown how, in the years after Maji Maji, the aspiration for improvement had led to a vast expansion of education which inevitably had a deep impact on African societies. The impact was unequal, because the access to education and the response to missionary work had varied from area to area. Some parts of Tanzania - Masasi, Njombe, Ulanga - had far more educational facilities than job opportunities, and became great exporters of primary school teachers. Other areas were increasingly concerned with post-primary education. Others again were still experiencing the first impact of a primary system in the 1930s. Nevertheless, despite these variations, in all areas save the most remote a new element was emerging in society, with new skills and new ambitions to challenge the old order.21
21 I must thank my colleagues, Dr. John McCracken and Dr. Arnold Temu, for advising me on certain aspects of mission history, although they are naturally not responsible for my conclusions.
Improvement and inequality within the tribe
Education was one of the chief sources of improvement in Tanzania in the first half of the twentieth century. The second, which often went together with it, was commercial agriculture, especially the growing of cash-crops for the world market. Of course, this was never the most important type of agriculture. The production of food for consumption at home and for local exchange has always been the basis of Tanzanias economy. Historians know little about this, especially about the way in which the production of food-crops has changed. Until they do know about it they cannot really understand what has happened in the rural areas of the country. Not very much is known about cash-crop agriculture either, but there is rather more evidence, and it is at least possible to indicate some of the changes which it brought to the countryside.
Commercial agriculture had existed in Tanzania before the German invasion, especially along the coast, where crops like rice, sugar, and copra were produced for export to Zanzibar and other parts of the Indian Ocean market, both by Arab-owned slave plantations and by Swahili-speaking peasants. One of the effects of German invasion was to destroy this complicated coastal economy and to ruin many small ports, in rather the same way as the import of metal goods and textiles from Europe and Asia destroyed many tiny local industries. Travelling down the German coast from Pangani to the Rufiji, wrote an intelligent governor in 1907,
one finds only one place that has progressed under German control, viz. Dar es Salaam.... Comparatively large places like Pangani, Sadani, and Bagamoyo have retrogressed.... A whole list of medium-sized places... have practically lost all importance. Such places are Mkwaja, Winde, Mbweni, Mbwamaji, Kisiju, Kiumangao, Nyamsate, Msindaji, and others. Ruins of many stone houses bear testimony to the former nourishing condition of these places.22
22 Rechenberg to Reichskolonialamt, 15 July 1907, Deutsches Zentralarchiv, Potsdam, RKA 1056/48-56.
Despite their destructive effects on the coast, the Germans were generally anxious to encourage African commercial agriculture, except where it would interrupt the labour supply to European farms and plantations. German industrialists, in particular, felt themselves to be at the mercy of the world market in tropical raw materials and were anxious to find sources in their own colonies over which they would have better control. For up-country farmers the most important stimulus to commercial agriculture was the building of railways along which they could export cash crops. During the German period, three of the most productive areas of modern Tanzania began to export commercial crops: Sukumaland, Buhaya, and Kilimanjaro. The Sukuma cotton industry began early in the 1900s when a settler established himself in Nera chiefdom and arranged a share-cropping scheme with local headmen. Young Sukuma settled on his land, received free seed, and sold him the cotton very cheaply. The settler then exported it to Europe along the Uganda Railway. Around 1906 the Sukuma were tired of this unprofitable system, and instead the government began to encourage, and often to compel, the people to grow cotton as a peasant crop. The Nassa chiefdom was the first to benefit, and then, as one Sukuma remembered, other chiefdoms seeing the profit in it began to demand seed as well.23 163,334 pounds of raw cotton were exported through Mwanza during 1911. This enthusiasm for cash crops was also shown in Buhaya, Coffee had long been grown in this area, where the berries were used by the chiefs for ceremonial purposes. Coffee was first exported in 1898, and a few years later, when the Uganda Railway reached Lake Victoria, the Haya chiefs began to grow it in large quantities. In 1905 Bukobas coffee exports earned Shs. 51,564; in 1912, Shs. 749,079. Partly because they had a traditional monopoly, and partly because they were supported by the Germans, the Haya chiefs obtained most of the early profits from coffee-growing. They invented a quasi-feudal form of land tenure called nyarubanja to obtain much of the best coffee land, turning the peasants into tenants and taking a large proportion of their coffee crop. This is a very good example of the way in which improvement could intensify old inequalities. Very much the same happened on Kilimanjaro, where coffee was introduced by missionaries during the 1890s. Seedlings were given to friendly chiefs, and catechists took the crop with them as they spread over the mountain. The coffee was sold to coastal traders who took it to Mombasa and Tanga. Again the chiefs and their courtiers had the best opportunities. Joseph Merinyo, son of the chief of Moshis war leader, remembers that he began to grow coffee in 1907. Chief Marealle I was said in 1909 to have 15,000 coffee bushes in Marangu, although this was probably an exaggeration. An example of the resulting inequality is the fact that the Germans permitted the Chagga chiefs to distribute vihamba (clan lands), which they had not been able to do before.24
23 History... through the eyes of Kiyumbi, native of Mwagalla, 1931, in Maswa District Book (Area Office, Nyalikungu).
24 Here, as elsewhere in this chapter, I have taken much information from unpublished work by Dr. G. A. Maguire on Sukumaland, Dr. R. A. Austen on Buhaya, and Mr. E. A. Kirimia Msella and Mrs. Susan Rogers on Kilimanjaro.
In the early years of British rule, the first cash crop farmers began to organize themselves, chiefly in order to secure better terms from those who bought their crops. For example, twenty-one cotton growers in the Morogoro area organized themselves into an African Cotton Planters Association in 1934, in order to support or depend upon one ginnery only.25 Meru and Arusha coffee farmers organized rather earlier, in the late 1920s. By 1931 their association had some 700 members and planned to appoint paid officers. Its main function was to improve the quality of the crop and to coordinate marketing. Shambaa coffee farmers organized in 1932, electing a committee to negotiate a selling price with local buyers, erect a storehouse, weigh each members crop, and pay him the appropriate portion of the total sale price. The association had 200 members in 1938. These growers associations were often the first modern organizations in the rural areas. They were formed by the most progressive farmers, and were necessary because tropical products for the world market could not be marketed successfully by each individual grower.
25 Rules of the African Cotton Planters Association Morogoro, 1934, TNA 61/450/12.
Sometimes the chiefs were prominent members of these growers associations, but more often they were not. This was strange when it is remembered that chiefs were often the first to grow cash crops. The reason was that during the 1920s the British government reorganized the system of tribal government throughout Tanganyika. Their policy of indirect rule was designed to restore so far as possible the tribal institutions as they had existed before European invasion, and then gradually to adapt these institutions to the new demands of colonial rule. At first, most Tanzanians seem to have welcomed this move, which often gave them more systematic local government than they had experienced under the Germans, but gradually the system produced serious social tensions. One of the reasons for this was that by selecting the tribal leaders from legitimate families the British created an officially-favoured group in each tribe. This group generally acquired more and more of the benefits which came from improvement. For example, Tabora School, founded in 1925, accepted only the sons of chiefs and headmen for the first ten years. Other privileges which the native authorities might obtain were official salaries, more frequent agricultural assistance, preferential treatment by traders, and sometimes even a car or a lorry. When the British introduced coffee-growing into Bugufi in the late 1920s, for instance, they first gave 1,500 coffee trees to the chief, 1,000 to a leading headman, and 75 to each lesser headman. With this European support, the tribal leaders could often impose their views in a more authoritarian manner than had been possible before colonial rule. Consequently, people began to resent the privileges gained by those who had official favour. This was especially so among the progressive farmers, who often found themselves in commercial competition with the chiefs, and who, because they were often also educated people, felt that their ability deserved more recognition than it received under the indirect rule system. Growers associations became the natural centres of opposition to chiefly privilege.
This conflict was most bitter in the two most developed parts of the country, Kilimanjaro and Buhaya. It was not a conflict between rich and poor, but a conflict between two wealthy groups, one with official status and the other without it. The conflict was over which of the groups should have control of the improvement of the tribe - improvement which each group wanted, but which each thought it was best qualified to carry out. It was a conflict between competing modernizers. On Kilimanjaro, the struggle centred on the Kilimanjaro Native Planters Association, an organization founded in January 1925. Its president was Joseph Merinyo, an educated man and early coffee farmer who was perhaps the most able tribal modernizer in the country. The KNPA was primarily a marketing organization, which sold through a single agent and thereby obtained monopoly advantages. By 1927 it had 10,894 members. But the Association was also concerned more widely with the improvement of the Chagga; one of its rules, for example, was that no member might mortgage his land to a non-African without the Associations permission. These wider interests brought the KNPA into opposition first to the government and then to the chiefs. In 1928 it opposed a government proposal to register all Chagga landholdings. The government retaliated by suggesting that the Association should be merged with the native treasury, which meant subordination to the chiefs. The Association refused, but in 1931 its finances collapsed during the international depression and the government replaced it by the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union. This was still a relatively democratic body, but its local primary societies often seemed to be unduly influenced by the chiefs. Meanwhile, the world price of coffee fell, and when the chiefs ruled in 1935 that the KNCU must have a monopoly of all coffee grown on Kilimanjaro there were riots in some chiefdoms, which turned into angry demonstrations against the chiefs.
This conflict on Kilimanjaro illustrates the type of political action taking place in the rural areas of Tanzania during the age of improvement. It was local politics centering on control of tribal development. The Chagga concerned themselves with territorial affairs only when they felt their local defences to be insecure, as in 1929 when, fearing amalgamation with Kenya, the KNPA asked for representation on the Legislative Council. Local politics were the politics of defence, imposed on the Chagga by their concern for improvement, their bitter experience of European rule, and their justified fear of European settlers. The Chagga, one official noted,
has been taught to believe that the European non-official is out for his own ends at any cost, and he looks forward with fear to the day when an unofficial majority dominates the local government. He is definitely afraid that such a government would tear lip existing agreements and embark on a fresh course of land alienation, and for this reason he wants to keep his affairs as far as possible out of the hands of Government.26
26 L. A. Pennington, The Political tendencies of the Wachagga, January 1931, TNA SMP 19126/1/24.
To keep ones affairs out of the hands of government, while maximizing local development, was the aim of most tribal improvers in this period.
In Buhaya, German invasion took place in 1890. The Germans were resisted by several chiefdoms, among them Kiziba on the northern border with Uganda, but they found a staunch ally in chief Kahigi of Kianja, who wanted to use them to enlarge his own authority. Kahigi gradually extended his power during the German period, acquiring wider territory and becoming a leading coffee grower. While all the Haya chiefs tried to prevent the entry of missionaries into their countries, only Kahigi was permitted by the Germans to exclude them. While Kianja was favoured, the defeated Kiziba was neglected by the government until 1900. But as the diplomacy and violence of the 1890s changed into the improvement of the 1900s, the relative advantages of Kianja and Kiziba also began to change. While Kianja was still without education, Kiziba had obtained it from the unwelcome missionaries. These concentrated on the members of the Ziba aristocracy, and by 1914 a new generation of literate aristocrats peopled the Ziba court and provided staff for both the mission and the government.
There is no more striking evidence that the age of improvement had reached Buhaya than the fact that by the 1920s seven of the eight Haya chiefs were baptized Christians, whereas in 1914 not one had been. Primary education and coffee growing were changing Haya society. Precisely at this moment, however, the British chose to consolidate the powers and privileges of the chiefs through indirect rule. Thus buttressed by British support, the chiefs soon found themselves opposed by a typical organization of the unofficial tribal élite, the Bukoba Bahaya Union. This was formed in 1924, largely by government clerks in Bukoba, for the establishment of an institution for the development of our country and for the seeking of a system for the simple way to civilization to our mutual advantage.27 The simple way to civilization was a combination of literary education, coffee, and equality of opportunity. The Union came into conflict with the authorities in each of these fields. Seeking equality of opportunity, it strongly opposed the nyarubanja land tenure system by which the chiefs enriched themselves at the expense of their subjects. Believing literary education to be the key to equality with Europeans, the Union protested when the only secular post-primary school in Buhaya was transformed into a bad agricultural school during the depression of the 1930s. Its main concern, however, was coffee-growing, and the story of its involvement in this field illustrates very clearly the economic and social problems of a developed area in the 1930s. The Unions most energetic leader was Klemens Kiiza, a Ziba aristocrat educated by the Roman Catholic mission. Early in the 1920s, Kiiza founded a Native Trading Company in Bukoba. In 1928 he added a coffee-hulling business, and in 1931 he acquired land on which to erect a coffee-curing factory. He estimated the cost of this factory at Shs. 22,000, an indication of the resources now available to wealthy Haya. By 1934 Kiiza was heavily in debt, his factory badly hit by the international depression. At this point he first came into direct conflict with the colonial structure, for in order to secure a loan to meet his debts he needed freehold ownership of his land, and this, as an African, he could obtain only under special conditions. He eventually gained freehold tenure, but then found that the factory would not pay unless he moved it elsewhere. For this he needed a licence which he could not afford. It was now 1936, and in the meantime Kiiza had organized a Native Growers Association, partly, to supply coffee to his factory. The government considered this a swindle. In the same year, the chiefs enforced new rules governing the cultivation of coffee. The farmers protested against these rules. They found leaders in the Bukoba Bahaya Union, and a series of riots took place which resulted in the Unions temporary collapse and the imprisonment of some of its members. Kiiza lost his hulling licence, and the bank from which he had borrowed money demanded immediate repayment. After several years of struggle, Kiiza was forced to offer his factory to his Asian creditors to prevent himself becoming either a debtor for life or a beggar.28 However, he now found he could not sell the factory, since the government refused to license any Asian to run it. Kiiza finally managed to sell in 1946, after four years continuous negotiation.
27 Bukoba Bahaya Union petition, 13 July 1924, quoted in Ralph A. Austen, Native Policy and African Politics: Indirect Rule in North-west Tanzania 1889-1939, Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1965, 324.
28 Klemens Kiiza to D.C. Bukoba, 2 March 1942, TNA 71/433/140.
This story is told in detail because it shows very clearly the problems which faced an energetic improver in this period: lack of capital, Asian business competition, international economic uncertainty, official suspicion, the necessity and danger of organizing the farmers, and governmental paternalism which restricted enterprise. Even those like Kiiza who gained most during the age of improvement found that they could not gain all they wanted. They too were hemmed in by the structure of colonial rule.
Buhaya and Kilimanjaro were both areas which developed quickly, and where local politics centred on who should control improvement and who should benefit from it. Both the chiefs and their opponents were modernizers. In most areas of Tanzania, improvement was a much slower process, and here politics took different forms. Often the chiefs were both the wealthiest, most progressive, and best educated members of the community, as was usually the case, for example, in Usukuma and Unyamwezi. In these areas, the chiefs were almost the only spokesmen of their people to the colonial government, and politics often took the form of a relatively progressive chief competing for popular support against the more conservative members of his own family. A rival group of modernizers emerged in these areas only in the late 1940s. Other areas experienced little improvement of any kind and grew increasingly angry about it. For there was a politics of unimprovement as well as a politics of improvement, and in some ways this was the most radical politics of all. The best example is Upare.
The Germans, the British, and the missionaries all neglected Upare, being more concerned with Kilimanjaro and Usambara. During the 1920s, the Pare began to realize that their country was stagnating while their neighbours benefited from improvement. Only eleven per cent of Pare children attended school in 1938, while the total development expenditure of the Pare native treasury in that year was £400. Above all, the Pare had not found a successful cash crop. During the 1920s they tried coffee and affiliated with the KNPA, but the government decided that Pare coffee had no future, and the whole crop was uprooted. The Pare then turned unwillingly to cotton, but the climate made it very marginal; in 1937 they grew 1,207 tons of cotton, but in 1938 only 500 tons. The District Commissioner at this time detected a tide of gloom... creeping over Upare.29 The gloom especially affected the tiny minority of educated men. In 1935 those of North Pare had formed a typical rural improvement association, the Usangi Sports and Welfare Club. At first they concentrated on their football team, but by 1940 the teachers, clerks, and traders who were members of the club were concerned with the need for adult education and for some communal method of paying school fees so that more Pare children could go to school. The minutes of the club for the next year contain this revealing entry:
The members have been thinking on solving this problem:
(a) How is it that we people of Pare never use our efforts genuinely after starting something?
(b) What should be the solution?
2. Lack of faith.
4. Isolation (selfishness) - a dangerous disease.30
29 The District of Same, Upare: Native Affairs during 1938, TNA 19/6/1.
30 Minute book of the Usangi Sports and Welfare Club, 8 August, 1941 microfilm in TNA. I owe the translation to Mr. G. C. K. Gwassa.
While the club was considering this problem, the British administration came up with its own solution. The Pare wanted improvement. All that held them back was lack of money. Very well, let the Pare pay. Let them pay a local rate to the native treasury so that money would be available for the development of the whole tribe.
The suggestion was put to the Pare chiefs in 1941, and they responded enthusiastically. They also agreed that the rate should be graduated according to wealth, and for this they quoted a precedent, the mbiru tribute which had been paid to chiefs in the past and which had also been graduated. The new mbiru rate was introduced in 1943, each Pare being assessed by the local elders. Complaints soon followed. Mbiru, it was said, was merely a cover for the introduction of a European type of income tax. Moreover, tribute paid to old-fashioned chiefs was inappropriate to a modernized Upare and gave the chiefs scope for favouritism. Meetings were held all over the mountains and letters of protest were drafted by the educated young men. Meanwhile, the District Commissioner felt that the assessment method was arbitrary and ordered that property must be listed to give a fair basis for assessment. This especially offended traders and stock-owners, who had good reason to oppose the investigation of their assets, while many felt that mbiru had not brought the promised development. During 1944 the people organized a systematic opposition, and in 1945 they hired a lawyer, sought the help of Kenyan politicians, and refused to be assessed. At this point Paulo Mashambo emerged as a popular leader in South Pare and urged the people to march on Same to protest. As the marchers assembled the police arrested their leaders. Angered by this, the people went oh with their march and were joined in Same by columns from other parts of the mountains, until a vast crowd - some say 10,000 people - collected outside the District Office. And there they stayed. They made an orderly camp, their wives brought them food, and the people waited. When eventually they decided to disperse after two months, the whole structure of British rule in Upare was in danger of collapse, and mbiru was soon abandoned.31
31 I owe the whole of this account to Dr. I. N. Kimambo, although the interpretation is my own.
The mbiru demonstration was the most dramatic mass action in Tanzania since the failure of armed resistance, and it is the appropriate point at which to end this account of improvement within the tribe. For the demonstration showed what Klemens Kiiza also had learned, that the colonial structure set its own limits on improvement, and that the whole process of advancement must ultimately lead to a challenge to colonial rule. Mbiru was designed to stimulate improvement, but after forty years of alien rule and neglect, the Pare refused to put confidence in the good faith of the British authorities and their privileged agents, the chiefs. Inequality between peoples and inequality between individuals had gone too far. Advancement by the old means was no longer sufficient. In Upare, as in Buhaya, on Kilimanjaro, and throughout the country in the mid 1940s, the people were beginning to demand methods and speeds of improvement which colonial rule could not provide.
The townsman and his welfare
The grass roots of Tanzanian politics have been in the rural areas, in the peasants struggle for security, dignity, and equality. But the intellectual and co-ordinating centres of politics have been the towns. The most important of these was naturally the capital. Once a fishing village, Dar es Salaam was estimated to have a population of 19,000 by the end of the German period. The figure remained fairly stable until the later 1920s, but then the town began to grow quickly, and it has never stopped. In 1931 it had 24,000 people; in 1943, an estimated 37,000. Even at the latter date there were few industries. Dar es Salaam was essentially a capital and a port, with the great majority of its inhabitants employed in service occupations.
As a broad generalization, there were five distinct elements in Dar es Salaams African population in the 1930s. The smallest was the original nucleus of fishermen and cultivators, usually calling themselves Shomvi. Their much more numerous neighbours, the Zaramo, whose tribal area surrounded the city, provided a floating population of short-term, unskilled workers, usually numbering more than a third of the inhabitants. The next to arrive had been the first fully permanent townsmen, among whom two groups had a special position. One was the small body of retired askari from the German forces, many of them Sudanese or Nguni in origin, who claimed the prestige of professional soldiers. The second was a rather larger group of people who called themselves Manyema and came ultimately from the slave-raiding regions around Lake Tanganyika. Settled, clannish, and strongly Muslim, the Manyema built their separate mosque, owned many houses, and became an important core of permanent residents. Finally, there were two types of long-distance migrants: the unskilled labourers, many of whom were Nyamwezi, Yao, or Ngoni; and the small groups of skilled men from educational centres like Tanga, Moshi, and Bukoba. This, of course, is an oversimplification, for the towns most striking characteristic in the 1930s was the variety of its inhabitants.
Equally varied, no doubt, were their motives for living in the town, but here there is little evidence. Most were presumably target workers: that is, they visited the town in order to earn a fixed sum of money which they needed at home. A study of migrant labourers from Ungoni in the 1950s - the only detailed study available in Tanzania - found that the vast majority migrated in order to earn money to pay government tax. These were mainly unskilled workers, but the skilled immigrant was also in a sense a target worker, in that his aim was to save sufficient during his career to enable him to enjoy his retirement in his home area. For example, the most successful African civil servant of the 1930s, Martin Kayamba, eventually retired to his home near Tanga to become a chicken farmer. Permanent townsmen were a small minority, but they naturally had a deeper interest than others in urban affairs, and tended to be prominent in social and economic organizations.
By the 1930s, Dar es Salaam was quite rigidly segregated into racial areas: the European residential area to the north (zone I); the administrative and commercial centre, where the Asian inhabitants also lived (zone II); and the African residential area to the west and south (zone III). This division also shaped the character of the African quarter, which itself contained certain social distinctions. The main African residential area was Kariakoo. The eastern section of Kariakoo, especially New Street (now Lumumba Street), was the most desirable area in which to live, since it offered the shortest journey to work in zone II. Consequently, rents were highest there, the area contained many skilled workers, and it became the intellectual and political centre of the town for Africans. Kariakoo extended further westwards, and beyond that were areas which bad once been villages but which became suburbs when the population grew in the 1930s. The most important suburb was Ilala, a slum area in the 1930s, almost completely lacking in social services, police, or administration. Changombe was also becoming a suburb at this time, but areas like Magomeni, Buguruni, and Temeke were still outlying villages.
For the immigrant target worker, the problem was to find housing and employment. Dar es Salaam has always been a place of dreadful insecurity, but as the town grew rapidly during the 1930s social conditions worsened. According to a somewhat unreliable official report of 1939, twenty-five per cent of the estimated 6,000 adult male workers were unemployed at any time. Sixty per cent of those who were employed earned less than fifteen shillings a month. Only half the children of the town were at school, and about a thousand children under the age of fourteen were thought to be employed, at wages varying from two to four shillings per month, plus food. Many firms worked a 66 hour week. Some 3,200 houses accommodated between 20,000 and 25,000 Africans. Moreover, the town had no adequate administration. It was governed by a Municipal Secretary concerned primarily with the commercial zone. The African quarter was administered by an unpopular Arab liwali. Below him the administration changed almost from year to year, but the most common system was for the government to appoint a number of town headmen. According to the 1939 report, these headmen neither represented African opinion nor carried out their other duties. Lacking representation, effective administration, social services, adequate housing, or secure employment, the people of Dar es Salaam were forced to create their own society.
The world which the townsmen created was a world of organizations. Having left the community of the village, the townsmen created new communities in the form of clubs, unions, and other voluntary associations. Organization offered security in sickness or unemployment, friendship in loneliness, and common action to improve the conditions in which the townsmen lived. Most of these organizations are presumably now forgotten. Football clubs and dance societies, for example, seldom left records behind them. The great majority of those which can now be traced were tribal organizations. It is true that towns break down tribal divisions, but only in the sense that they give people new areas of contact with people of other tribes; they do not necessarily destroy the sense of community among those who belong to the same tribe. The immigrant coming to the town for the first time usually found he had fellow-tribesmen, probably relatives, who could help him in finding a room and a job, and generally introduce him to urban life. Further, some of the townsmans needs could only be properly satisfied by his fellow-tribesmen - his funeral, for example, if he died in the town. The first known organizations in Dar es Salaam were in fact tribal associations formed during the German period to bury members of the tribe who died in hospital. The Pogoro Association was founded for this purpose in 1912. Later organizations also had funerals as one of their main functions. A good example is the New Wanyamwezi Association, formed in 1936. Its general object was to join together and concern ourselves with every sort of human problem for the whole Wanyamwezi nation,32 but its main practical function was to locate and visit Nyamwezi in hospital and to arrange their funerals when necessary. Every member was required to pay ten cents whenever a Nyamwezi was found to be sick, and thirty cents in case of death, as well as the fifty cents monthly subscription. There were many Nyamwezi in the town, most of them unskilled, and their association was very typical of the large, all-purpose tribal organization, headed by a coalition of elders and educated young men - the young men wrote the letters while the elders arranged the funerals. Where a tribal group was smaller, it might federate with other related groups into a multi-tribal association. Such was the Ukami Union, which brought together members of the Kwere, Doe, Zigua, Kutu, Vidunda, Sagara, and Kami tribes for unity as in the past.33
32 Rules of The New Wanyamwezi Association - Dar es Salaam, encl. in Northcote to P. C. Eastern, 8 May 1936, TNA 61/450/40.
33 Mohamed Kawambwa and others to P. C. Eastern, 20 May 1944, TNA 61/561/1/1.
The largest tribal group in Dar es Salaam, the Zaramo, had special interests because their tribal area surrounded the town, so they created a special type of organization. The Wazaramo Union, founded in 1938 by the usual combination of elders and educated men, was mainly concerned to create unity between urban and rural Zaramo. It was an association for all Wazaramo tribes, to be in one unit, in Dar es Salaam and other outside of Dar es Salaam in the Uzaramo Districts.34 As one method of creating unity it collected shs. 20,000 to buy two lorries to run a transport service for passengers and agricultural produce between the town and the surrounding countryside. Like many tribal associations, it claimed to act as a progressive force to improve the tribal area, to construct the UNITY, BESTIR LIFT UP the Wazaramo and their country in the essential matters.35 By 1948 it claimed 30,000 members and had become a serious rival to the Zaramo native authorities.
34 Ali Mwinyimadi to Chief Secretary, 28 July 1938, TNA SMP 26027/1.
35 Mohamed Juma to Secretary for African Affairs, 9 September 1948, TNA SMP 26027/1/37.
Other tribes were represented only by small groups of skilled workers. These often tended to isolate themselves from the rest of the community in an attempt to preserve an élite position. One such organization was the Tanga Young Comrades Club. Here in Dar es Salaam, it was noted in 1938, the Tanga people have separated themselves off from the mass of Africans and have built their club to dance European dances or mbeni or their local dances.36 This élitism was criticized by other elements in the urban population. The people with the greatest immediate interest in African solidarity were retail traders who competed with Asians for African custom. It was they who in 1934 formed the towns most ambitious organization, the African Commercial Association. This was led by a Ganda shopkeeper named Erica Fiah, a remarkable man who read the pan-Africanist works of the American Negro leader Marcus Garvey as well as the publications of the British Independent Labour Party. Fiahs organization was originally designed for Waswahili engaged in trade in shops and markets,37 and began with 48 members, 16 shopkeepers and 32 stall-holders. By 1935 Fiah was planning up-country branches, and in 1936 he converted the organization into a welfare association in which Africans could invest their savings at three per cent interest, and which would always undertake to bury any African whether Christian, Mohammedan or Pagan who dies in Hospital or outside whether by sickness or by an accident, and who has no relatives in Dar es Salaam.38
36 Letter from A. B. Ramadhani in Kwetu, 4 November 1938. For the meaning of mbeni, see Professor Rangers chapter in this volume.
37 African Commercial Association, Dar es Salaam: Mbiu ya Kwanza, 1934, TNA SMP 22444/1/26. I am indebted to Dr. J. M. Lonsdale for information on Mzee Erica Fiah.
38 The Proposed By-Laws of the Tanganyika African Welfare and Commercial Association, encl. in Fiah to Northcote, 16 March, 1936 TNA SMP 22444/1/46-47.
Fiahs ambitions were not limited to funerals. His business interests as a shopkeeper quickly brought home to him the lesson that Klemens Kiiza was learning at the same date in Buhaya. The colonial system was itself an obstacle to improvement beyond a certain point, and Fiah is important as the first African in Tanzania to express this understanding vigorously and publicly. The remarkable newspaper Kwetu - subtitled the key to civilization - which he founded in 1937 repeatedly urged on its readers the view that effective improvement required political power as well as economic and educational advancement. In the rules of his welfare association, Fiah wrote:
Since the Africans are not represented in the Legislative Council, this Association, as the Central body, looking after the welfare of all Africans in Tanganyika Territory, would always watch carefully any laws proposed by the Government which may affect Africans and after proper consideration, would make such representations to Government, and Members of Legislative Council, as the Association consider proper in the interests of Africans...Every African is bound to obey the Association, whether he is contributing or not, just as he obeys the Government.39
Fiah represented an urban radicalism new to Tanzania, but he found little support in his own time. Even his early associates were frightened by his political activities, while the government was sharply hostile. Here, wrote the governor, we have a shopkeeper of doubtful antecedents... from Uganda who puts up byelaws which reek of politics and bad digestion, conflict with the liberty of the individual and the responsibility of Government to the people, and show signs of a desire to achieve influence and subscriptions.40 When the association failed to overcome this combination of apathy and hostility, Fiah abandoned it in 1939 and later interested himself in the affairs of the Dar es Salaam dockworkers, which were rapidly becoming the main issue in urban politics.
40 MacMichael, minute, 26 June 1936, TNA SMP 22444/1/69.
The first occupational organizations among the workers of Dar es Salaam were welfare associations very similar in character to those formed on a tribal basis. In 1937, for example, some forty dockers - three of whom had known similar organizations in South Africa - formed an African Labour Union. Members were to pay a subscription of a shilling a month, in return for which they would receive assistance in illness, distress, or unemployment. The constitution urged that every member should learn to read and write, for which the Union would employ a teacher, and that every member should implicitly obey his employer and attend at his work before the prescribed time in order that he may not be late.41 This form of friendly society was probably more common among ambitious workers than the records now reveal, but it faced the same problem as Erica Fiah: the colonial structure set limits on improvement, as much on the earnings of an industrious docker as on the profits of an a spiring businessman. Fiahs answer was a demand for political representation. The workers answer was the strike.
41 The African Labour Union: Umoja wa Wenyeji Watumishi wa Kazi, etc. Sheria na Kanuni za Chama, encl. in Mrisho Sultani to Chief Secretary, 7 August 1937, TNA 61/14/14/1-2.
The President of TANU, Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere, appearing before court in 1958 as a result of his fight against imperialism.
(Photo obtained from TANU Headquarters, Dar es Salaam)
The President of the United Republic of Tanzania mixing the soil from the two parts of the Republic on the first Union Day, in April 1964, as a symbol of the union which was forged.
(Photo obtained from the Tanzania Information Services, Dar es Salaam)
Students marching in Dar es Salaam in support of the Arusha Declaration, February 1967
(Photo obtained from the Tanzania Information Service, Dar es Salaam)
The President receiving a group of young people who had marched all the way from Arusha to Dar es Salaam in support of the Arusha Declaration; the late Seth Benjamin who was among the marchers died on the way before reaching Dar es Salaam
(Photo obtained from the Tanzania Information Services, Dar es Salaam)
Doubtless there had been local strikes on sisal estates and elsewhere before the 1930s, and there is a recorded strike of joiners at Kwiro mission in 1924, but the first major strike in Tanzania took place in Tanga in 1937, when 250 wharf labourers left work for two days. Two years later dockers in Dar es Salaam, Mombasa, Tanga, and Lindi came out in turn for higher wages. The Dar es Salaam strike lasted eight days. It mainly involved casual workers on daily rates who demanded wages of two shillings a day, a midday rest, sickness and accident compensation, and better treatment by their overseers. We do not like to be kicked and to be pushed or abused during the working-time, they protested.42 The employers refused any concessions and threatened to recruit a new labour force, so that the men went back without any substantial gains. Four years later, however, the dockers struck again with much greater unanimity and discipline, and this time they met the full weight of colonial authority. The strike began on 23 August 1943, when some 800 workers came out for better terms. Casual workers demanded three shillings a day, while permanent workers asked for wages of shs. 40-45 a month, sick pay, old age pensions, a free midday meal, fourteen days leave a year, and a cost-of-living bonus to meet wartime prices. After two days the District Commissioner threatened to invoke Defence Regulations, which made work in the docks an essential service where all disputes must be taken to arbitration. The strikers ignored the threat and boycotted the next meeting he called. A tribunal of enquiry was appointed, but still the men would not return, and by 28 August there was open hostility to the township authorities. On the road coming home, noted the Provincial Commissioner, a man shouted to the Jumbes, These are the coolies who are making trouble, next week you will have the cooks to deal with.43 After ten days, when the majority of dockers were still out, the government invoked Defence Regulations and began to arrest strikers. 103 were given suspended sentences. At the same time the tribunal reported, recommending considerable wage increases for skilled workers. The men returned after a strike of a fortnight which had achieved fair success.
42 All Coolies, Dar es Salaam, to D.O. Dar es Salaam, 19 July 1939, TNA 61/679/5.
43 Notes by E. C. Baker (P.C. Eastern), 28 August 1943, TNA 61/679/32.
The militancy of the dockers affected other workers in Dar es Salaam. While the 1943 dock strike was on, a group of domestic servants threatened to come out as well unless an employment agency was provided for them. The threat was not carried out, but it led to the first organization of domestic workers. The Union of Europeans Boys was formed in January 1944 to press for fixed wages and hours, weekend rest, severance payments, and a union-controlled employment agency. By March the leaders had gained nothing and the mood of their followers, as they described it, was absolutely disappointment and murmuring.44 Long negotiations led to a meeting with the Chief Secretary in February 1945, the results of which were described by the president, Salehe bin Fundi, a at meeting of 200 members:
Government agreed to their suggestions in principle, and... they would receive the assistance of a European who would... carry out their orders... Salehe continued by saying. Are you happy now? We are happy, the crowd replied.
Yes, retorted Salehe; the Serikali have two ways of doing things, one good and one bad, and if they choose the latter and lock up all committee members next time they call us and tell us that we are teaching you wrongful ways, what are you going to do?
If that happens we shall refuse to work.
No, said Salehe, if you do not know, I will tell you. In such a case, all of you, boys employed by Europeans as well as those employed by Indians, should go to the Chief Secretary and ask to be locked up.45
44 Saidi Kupakupa and others to P.C. Eastern, 13 March 1944, TNA 61/679/1/18.
45 Intelligence Report, Meeting of Native Domestic Servants at Mbuyuni wa Simba Mwene, Tuesday the 13th February 1945, TNA 61/679/1/32.
It was the year and the technique of the Mbiru demonstration - passive resistance. In both cases there was a new sense of solidarity, a popular commitment which had not been shown since the days of Maji Maji. Members should not cheapen themselves as regards wages paid to them by their employers, declared the rules of the Boys Union; each man must remember what befalls another will react on him.46 If all the domestic servants in Dar es Salaam were to court arrest, the British would indeed be in trouble.
46 Hizi ndizo Sheria za Chama Chetu cha Maboi, 16 January 1944, TNA 61/679/1/15.
In the towns, as in the rural areas, the hunger for improvement had brought organization, and organization had brought solidarity. Increasingly the people were ready not only to learn and to petition, but to act. Now they needed co-ordination and leadership.
The dream of unity
During the forty years that followed the Maji Maji rising, Tanzanians struggled to solve the problem of ignorance in their societies. The struggle has been described here as a drive for improvement by means of education and economic development. Tanzanians found that improvement required organization, so they created a wide variety of organizations designed to promote it. Organization led in its turn to solidarity with other members of the organization, a solidarity expressed dramatically in strikes and in rural demonstrations like the Mbiru incident. These strikes and demonstrations showed also that by the 1940s the struggle for improvement was bringing Tanzanians into conflict with the colonial structure, which increasingly appeared to them as an obstacle to further advancement. But the organizations created to promote improvement were small and localised - a few hundred or thousand cash-crop farmers, the members of a single tribe in a town, or the workers in a single industry. Here Tanzanians faced the second great problem of their societies, the problem of disunity. It is time to ask what they did about this problem during the age of improvement.
It is much more difficult to discuss the problem of disunity than the problem of ignorance. Ignorance was an immediate, personal problem about which every man could do something. Disunity was a vaguer, more distant problem, impossible for any single individual to solve. Moreover, there was no model to follow. The man trying to deal with ignorance had at least the wealth, power, and education of the colonial rulers to aim at. The man who was troubled by disunity, however, had a number of possibilities to choose from. What sort of unity did he want? He could choose to emphasize the unity of all members of his tribe, or of all the social groups within a town, or of all the tribes within a region, or of all the people within Tanzania, or East Africa, or indeed Africa as a whole. Of course, a man could say that he wanted all these forms of unity, and that is what most people did say during this period. But so long as men wanted all these things, unity was an idea, a dream. To make the idea a reality people had to organize themselves and as soon as they began to organize they had to make up their minds what they were organizing for, what sort of unity they wanted, since the man who wanted to unite all East Africans needed a different sort of organization from the man who wanted to unite all Zaramo.
During the 1950s, Tanzanians decided what sort of unity they wanted first. They chose territorial or national unity, the unity of all men living within the colony which the British ruled as Tanganyika. Many wanted other sorts of unity later - East African unity, or African unity - but territorial or national unity was made the first priority. This choice was made consciously and deliberately. It was not an inevitable choice. Earlier Tanzanians might have chosen differently. The appeal of Maji Maji, for example, was not to Tanzanians as Tanzanians, but to Africans as Africans - all Africans, all black people. Kolelo spares his black children, the hongo promised. So the historian must explain how and why Tanzanians reached the decision to concentrate on territorial unity. This is a very complicated problem, which is discussed by Dr. Temu later in this book. The present chapter deals with only one aspect of the problem: the way in which some Tanzanians came to see the colony in which they lived as a future independent nation, and the attempts they made to organize themselves in preparation for this.
In order to see the colony as a future nation, a man had to undergo a double experience. First, he had to abandon an exclusive loyalty to his tribe. Second, he had to come into close contact with some institution or organization which was territorial in scope, which saw the colony as a single political unit. Many Tanzanians underwent the first experience. The slave, for example, was usually divorced from his tribe and might in time lose any strong loyalty to it. So might the Islamic teacher who travelled widely and felt that he belonged to the international community of Islam. The prophet of an African religion might believe himself called, like the prophets of Maji Maji, to appeal to all Africans irrespective of tribe. But few if any of these underwent the second experience, that of close contact with a territorial institution. The only territorial institution in Tanganyika before the 1930s was the colonial government. The people in closest contact with the colonial government were people who worked for it, African civil servants. It was the civil servants who first began to think of Tanganyika as a future independent state, who first acquired a territorial or national consciousness.
The first recognizable group of territorial civil servants were the teachers, clerks, and akidas who served the German administration during its later years. The akida has a bad name in Tanzanian history. He is usually pictured as the son of a slave trader, an Arab or half-caste with a whip, terrorising and exploiting the people he ruled. Many akidas were like this, especially before Maji Maji. But in the later years of German rule the akida was usually an African, an educated young man literate in Swahili, who was posted from place to place like a modern Divisional Executive Officer. Sometimes he was a local man educated in a mission school, but more often he was from the coast, for there the German Government built schools to train clerks and akidas. The best of these schools was opened at Tanga in 1892. During the later years of German rule, Tanga school produced dozens of young men who entered the civil service, and many of them became akidas in different parts of the country. For example, Mdachi Sharifu, a Segeju born near Tanga, was educated at the school and eventually became liwali of Songea towards the end of German rule. It would be possible to list many others, but the point is clear. The Germans created a territorial civil service staffed by young, educated Africans.
Very little is known about the views of the akidas. Had the Germans remained in Tanzania, these men would probably have been the first to think in territorial terms. In fact, the Germans were expelled just when their civil servants were consolidating their positions. The British who replaced them were suspicious of these civil servants. Moreover, those German civil servants who knew a European language naturally knew German, which was useless to the new rulers. The British therefore looked for Africans who knew English. Such men were available. Most of them had been trained by English missions, especially by the UMCA. The main UMCA school was St. Andrews College at Kiungani in Zanzibar, and it was here that many of the Africans employed by the British had been trained. Kiungani was the first great school in Tanzania. Founded in 1869, it drew students from the widely scattered UMCA dioceses on the mainland. It was designed to train priests and teachers, and gave a four-year literary education in Swahili and English which was probably the best available in East Africa before 1900. The students came from a wide variety of tribes, they were trained in English despite the fact that most were German subjects, and they were Christians in an Islamic society. Consequently, they formed a close-knit community of educated people who intermarried and corresponded with each other, became godparents to each others children, and worked in desirable posts all over East Africa. The Germans seldom employed them, but when the British took over Tanganyika the men from Kiungani flocked back into the country. Martin Kayamba, who had worked in Kenya and Uganda, became chief clerk in Tanga Provincial Office. Samwil Chiponde, who had been a priest in Zanzibar, became interpreter in the High Court in Dar es Salaam. Leslie Matola, who had taught in Pemba, became senior African teacher in the Dar es Salaam government school, where he was soon joined by his brother Cecil Matola, previously a carpenter on a settler estate in Kenya. By 1925, a large proportion of the best jobs in the British civil service were held by former pupils of Kiungani.
These men formed one of the most remarkable groups in Tanzanian history. They were above all men of improvement, with a deep commitment to education, Christianity, and the western variety of civilization. They were articulate, travelled, widely experienced, and were determined to defend their group interests as civil servants. They were also strongly attached to the British, who had taught them, had released many of them from German prison camps, and had given them employment and opportunity. Precisely because they were so close to the British, and had such a high opinion of British government, they visualized an alliance between themselves and the new government to modernize their country. In March 1922 Kayamba and his colleagues in Tanga founded an organization called the Tanganyika Territory African Civil Service Association. This was designed as the first of many civil servants clubs which were to be formed throughout the country.
They would help their members to improve themselves by opening libraries, buying newspapers, and teaching English. They would federate together to protect the trade union interests of civil servants. More generally, they would be centres of enlightenment and improvement for the country as a whole:
It is said - Unity is strength - and unless Africans sooner or later come to realize this their future is dark and gloomy. Our Association gives these advantages to every African Civil Servant who joins: - (a) Close fellowship, (b) Free reading and social advancement in accordance with the ethics of the present civilization, (c) Sportsmanship.47
47 H. M. T. Kayamba, Report of the Tanganyika Territory African Civil Service Association, Tanga, for 1922, TNA SMP 3715/4.
The Tanga club started with some forty members, built a reading room, and continued until the late 1920s. A branch was also started in Dar es Salaam, but Kayamba himself soon found that the Association did not satisfy his aspirations. A proud, ambitious, honourable, and extremely able man, he later moved to a high post in the Dar es Salaam secretariat. In 1931 he was chosen to represent educated Tanzanians before a British parliamentary commission on the Closer Union of the East African territories. He later visited Europe again, and his European ways and arrogant contempt for his uncivilized fellow-countrymen made him deeply hated by many Tanzanians. To a radical like Erica Fiah,
Martin Kayamba will be... remembered as the selfish African who rose to the highest rank... in Government service but without being of any use to his race - the detached man whose history finished with poultry-raising in the Tanga District. We are not bitter - all we mean is that he never bothered about his African brothers and knew very little about them.... Many of us remember Kayamba as the man who was fond of singing his own praises, the man who had the opportunity to go to London on a political mission but spent his time... sightseeing and tea-partying.48
48 Kwetu, 29 June 1940.
All the bitterness of the divisions created by improvement is contained in this passage. Kayamba indeed personified the ambition, the energy, and the inequality of his time. But he also personified the aspirations for unity which went together with them, and which were first expressed in modern terms by the privileged civil servants from Kiungani. By the later 1920s, Kayamba was planning a territorial African council of chiefs and educated men to advise the government on the whole range of African interests throughout the country. When he met the parliamentary committee of 1931, Kayamba was asked:
Can it be said that in various parts of Tanganyika there is a sense of patriotism or a love of the country as a country, Tanganyika, apart from a love of the tribal area, or the tribes?
[Kayamba:] I can say there is that sentiment, and when the Chiefs come to Dar es Salaam, and they meet with educated Africans, they all agree that we should have a Central Council.49
49 Joint Select Committee on Closer Union in East Africa: Volume II (London, 1931), para. 4987.
Nothing came of this plan, and Kayamba soon became too senior a civil servant to participate in politics.
Kayambas territorial approach found few followers during his lifetime, but the dream of unity remained. During the 1930s and 1940s an attempt was made to embody it in an organization, the African Association. This was a body of very great importance in Tanzanian history, for it was largely through the development of the African Association that Tanzanians began to think in national terms. It was formed in Dar es Salaam late in 1929 (the date is a little uncertain), chiefly by former members of the Civil Service Association. The first president, it seems, was Cecil Matola, by now the leader of the Kiungani group in Dar es Salaam. The vice-president, Ramadhani Ali, was a leader of the large Zaramo community, while the secretary, Kleist Sykes Plantan, was related to the senior member of the ex-askari community which held a position of prestige in the town. Thus the Association brought together both civil servants and urban leaders from Dar es Salaam. It was formed to express educated African opinion on the issue of closer union, but it was a much more important body than that. By its name and in its actions it claimed to embody the dream of unity, and to embody it in modern form. It was the Association of the Africans, Chama cha Umoja wa Watu wa Afrika, formed to safeguard the interests of Africans, not only in this Territory but in the whole of Africa.50 Its constitution claimed the right to speak in the name of unity. The leaders of business in Dar es Salaam, it stated, shall have the power to open a branch of this Association in any town they wish, while a later version made the claim even more specific: All associations which are here in Africa, which are of the people of Africa - their father is the African Association.51 In practice, the Association achieved three important things between 1929 and 1945. First, it kept the dream of unity alive and managed to preserve its own claim to be the legitimate embodiment of it. Second, it made contact with improvement organizations in several parts of the country and began to provide some sort of coordination of their aims. Third, the Association gradually concentrated more and more on territorial affairs, so that by 1945 it had come to see itself as a Tanzanian institution with a responsibility for the political organization of the Tanzanian people. Its history over these years summarises all the changes which improvement was bringing to the country.
50 Rawson Watts, interviewed in Tanganyika Standard, 14 October 1930.
51 The African Association: Kanuni na Sheria za Chama cha Umoja wa Watu wa Afrika. The two versions, which differ considerably, were published in Dar es Salaam in 1933 and in Zanzibar in 1935.
During its first two years of existence the Association acted in four ways. It built a club house in Dar es Salaam, inevitably in New Street, and enrolled some 200 members by October 1930. It tried to improve urban administration by urging the appointment of an African town magistrate, but failed. It also began to assert its claim to be the legitimate focus of African political activity of a modern kind, trying to keep in touch, for example, with the Kilimanjaro Native Planters Association. This attempt also seems to have failed. Finally, it tried to intervene in the closer union controversy by addressing the Colonial Secretary, but the authorities insisted that civil servants must not take part in politics. These failures left the Association in 1931 with only a club house and a limited membership in Dar es Salaam. Its isolation made it a target for accusations of élitism. The African association, wrote one critic, is not now representing Africans owing to insufficient members, hence the Africans have no reliance to that Association.52 It also waged a bitter struggle with Fiahs organization for the right to be considered the true spokesman of Africans. The African Association survived the contest whereas Fiahs organization did not, but these angry and undignified wrangles led to further disillusionment:
Can we hope for any progress when we still have the African Association, the Welfare Association and the African Community functioning as separate units.... These hopeless bodies owing to their unfriendly situation and standing have lost all recognition from those living outside Dar es Salaam. If an African is justified in preaching unity to his fellow Africans of Tanganyika he might as well be justified in preaching the breaking up of both the existing Associations.... These Associations have failed in their duty to the society to which they belong.53
52 Idi Salim to Chief Secretary, 26 August 1936, TNA SMP 22444/1/98.
53 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, by an Aggrey, in Kwetu, 14 January 1939.
The African Association might have collapsed at this time had it not been revived by its own branches. These branches were started either by former members who had been posted away from the capital or by provincial figures attracted by the Associations name and its claim to represent all Africans. Consequently, the nine or ten branches formed before 1939 varied greatly. Some, like the Dodoma branch, were tiny groups of civil servants, disliked by many people, as it admitted.54 A second type was the tribal organization which renamed itself an African Association branch, as the Bukoba Bahaya Union did in 1935. The Bagamoyo branch, by contrast, was formed by three motor drivers, a hotel-keeper, a fisherman, and two farmers. The Zanzibar branch was the one responsible for reviving the Association as a whole. It had been formed in 1934 to unite educated Christian and Muslim Africans. In March 1939 the Zanzibar secretary invited the presidents of the Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Pemba, Kondoa, Singida, and Mpwapwa Associations to attend an East African Presidents Conference for the African Association in Zanzibar during May. Nothing is known of the proceedings of this conference, but it stirred Dar es Salaam headquarters to new life. Unity is strength, the Association declared late in 1939, and we (the Association) are offering to its many subscribers, the unique chances of becoming useful and worthy citizens in their own country and it (the Association) is pledging itself by steady and patient endeavour, to make the natives of Tanganyika an equilibrium of their West African Brothers.55 The aim was still improvement, but the urgency and the sense of rivalry with West Africa were new. New also was the emphasis on the Associations territorial scope, and this was emphasised again at the second territorial conference, held in Dar es Salaam in 1940. This resolved:
That His Majestys Government should consider the possibilities of forming Provincial and Inter-Provincial Boards, where Africans could represent their own country. - In a word, we are now claiming for a voice in the Government. That is, the African now be given chance to speak on behalf of his country.56
54 Amiri Saidi and T. E. J. N. Mwangosi to P.C. Central, 18 May 1937, TNA SMP 19325/1/55.
55 The African Co-operative Association, encl. in P.C. Mntambo to Governor, 26 February 1940, TNA SMP 19325/2/7.
56 Resolutions, 11/16 May 1940, encl. in Mzee Sudi and P.C. Mntambo to Governor, 3 August 1940, TNA SMP 28944/1.
This resolution is perhaps the first expression of a truly national consciousness in Tanzania, save for the isolated views of individuals like Martin Kayamba and Erica Fiah. It is likely that the two conferences - the first territorial meetings of Africans ever held in Tanzania - had awakened the Association to shared grievances and to the possibility of common action. For the first time there existed in Tanzania an African institution on something approaching a territorial scale. The Association had begun with vaguely Africanist aims, to safeguard the interests of Africans, not only in this Territory but in the whole of Africa. As its organization expanded, so the focus of its activities was defined to cover the area which its organization covered. By holding what were in practice national conferences it came to express national goals.
To claim for a voice in the Government was one thing, but to obtain it was another. That required action. The Bukoba Bahaya Union might protest at the autocracy of the chiefs, but the chiefs gave way only when the people rioted. The Pare might dislike graduated tax, but only a mass demonstration destroyed it. The dockers might resent low wages, but only strikes seemed to improve them. This was the conclusion reached at the Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945: Today there is only one road to effective action - the organization of the masses. The African Association began to reach the same conclusion in the same year.
The third territorial conference of the African Association met in Dodoma in March 1945. Delegates attended from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Kigoma, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Singida, Kondoa, and Bahi. They discussed many of the Associations regular issues: education, agricultural and commercial instruction, African magistrates, white settlement, the Mandate, and Closer Union. But they also discussed one issue for the first time: That efforts be made to enrol all Africans, women and men, in the African Association.57 Their conclusions are unclear, but one document from the conference shows the ideas that were circulating:
Each Provincial Chief Town must have a strong African Association which shall act as Head-Quarters for its Province. It shall be its duty to open branches all over the province, in each district and town, and to help Associations already established.58
57 Draft of the Agenda for the Third Conference of the African Association, to be held at Dodoma, 29 March 1945, TNA SMP 19325/2/166.
58 Minutes of the African Association Third Conference held at Dodoma, TNA SMP 19325/2/18a. Despite the title, the paper is not in the form of minutes, but was probably written immediately after the conference by Mzee Ali Ponda and Mzee Hassani T. Selemani, who were probably in correspondence with Pan-African leaders in London. I owe this information to Mr. A. Mutaha.
Systematic popular organization on a territorial scale was proposed for the first time in the history of Tanzania.
The age of improvement was closing. It had begun with attempts to solve the problems of ignorance and disunity in African societies. Colonial rule and mission education offered new opportunities to solve these problems. Tanzanians accepted them with varying enthusiasm, used them to improve their societies and themselves, but found that improvement beyond a certain point brought them into conflict with the colonial government. Improvement also benefited some men more than others; individuals and societies were differentiated. But the dream of unity survived, and in the African Association some of the most skilled men of the time embodied that dream. Now, in 1945, the dream was defined as a desire for territorial unity, and the Association began to consider how it could best organize the people in order to achieve this.
But here lay the problem. Improvement had given Africans new reasons and new means to create unity, but it had also created new divisions between Africans: divisions of education and wealth, divisions of culture and belief. Those were the problems of the men who in 1945 began to build a nationalist movement in Tanzania.