Sir Horace Archer Byatt


Byatt's main impact as a governor was in the peaceful transfer of power from the Germans to the British in Tanganyika. The country was in a parlous state after the fiercely fought East African campaign; most of the German settlers had fled, and trade and revenue stood at less than half of the pre-war level. Byatt had a very small administrative staff (108 officers) and as a consequence he left much of the German system in place, continuing to employ akidas, or German government-appointed chiefs. Auctions of the former German estates were held and these went mainly to the British, Indians, and Greeks, though some land was given back to Africans. Byatt said in 1922 that ‘the future of the country lay in developing native cultivation only’, and this was in line with the terms of the mandate and the Colonial Office's thinking. He established departments of agriculture, forestry, education, and lands and survey, though the scarcity of the staff meant that progress was slow. Unfortunately he continued the German education policy of having a separate government education system, which ignored and competed with the missionary one, and this was in contradiction to Colonial Office policy, which stressed partnership.

In administration Byatt was criticized for having little interest in the districts, where officers were left to their own devices, using akidas or chiefs as agents. However, he replaced the tribute which chiefs collected by government salaries, with Colonial Office approval, as this was a step in the direction of Nigerian-style ‘indirect rule’. A well thought out scheme of indirect rule, however, had to wait for his successor, Sir Donald Cameron. Byatt at least had some achievements to his credit: he had finally abolished slavery in 1922, reorganized the police force, introduced the Indian penal code, and managed to curb influenza, sleeping sickness, and yaws. The economy recovered well; by 1925 revenues had begun to equal expenditure and Tanganyika was exporting twice as much as before the war. Some of Byatt's difficulties lay in implementing the mandate, the terms of which were not published until 1922, and he faced delays in receiving answers to amplify details. Cameron was distinctly critical of his work. A later historian commented that Byatt was ‘a narrowly competent man, unimaginative, unpopular, and unwell, but he shared the good intentions of the colonial office’


Tanganyika | Tanganyika Administrators




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