Soon after Tanganyika became independent, and near the end of my
time as a District Officer in Njombe, I received a call from the British
manager of the Commonwealth Development Corporation’s wattle
plantation and factory a few miles from the District Office. The factory took
the bark that was stripped from the wattle trees and used it to make tannin.
The workers there were on strike for higher pay, in part because they expected to earn more now that the country was no longer a British colony.
The manager called me because he was afraid that a large crowd of strikers
near the factory might attack and damage it. He asked for police protection.
I arrived a little while later with ten or fifteen African policemen. I cannot
remember if they were armed with anything other than truncheons. It is
possible that they also brought rifles. Anyway, everything passed off
peacefully without a serious incident. The police and I stood for a couple of
hours between the strikers and the factory. The strikers then dispersed and
went away. There was no violence of any kind.
However the local union leader sent a fiery telegram to the Minister of
Labour, John Mwakangale in Dar es Salaam, in which he wrote that there
was a dangerous crisis with provocative action by the British colonial District
Officer and the police and that there was a “danger of the spilling of blood”.
Mwakangale was believed to be the most aggressively anti-white or anti-
British member of the government. He telegrammed back to say he was
coming to Njombe the next day and he sent us a very sharp message
criticizing my action and asking to meet with us as soon as he arrived.
At the start of the meeting he was very aggressive and hostile, but as he
listened to the manager, the police and to me, he understood what had, and
had not, happened. At the end of the meeting we went off and had some
A little while later, I was in Dar es Salaam to catch the plane on my way
home at the end of my brief colonial career. As I was walking on a street
there I saw a small group of African cabinet ministers, including
Mwakangale, walking towards me on the other side of the street. When he
saw me, he dashed across the road, welcomed me enthusiastically, took me
by the hand, and brought me across the meet his cabinet colleagues. He
told me how sorry he was to hear that I was leaving Tanganyika.
A year or two later I heard that he went to prison: I am not sure why.