1960 Memo on Independence by Don Barton


The Tanganyika Government is governing very largely with the consent of the Tanganyikan National Union. When that consent is withdrawn - which is possible at short notice and in the near future - there must be retrogression. It would appear that the British Government is either blind or just refuses to learn the lessons of recent history.

The only alternative to strong arm government without the consent of the people is to keep one step ahead of public demand. The end is universally recognised - an independent African state. That the path is so cluttered with outdated thinking is tragic. A fresh approach is needed; no stereotyped formula can be used on dependancy after dependancy. Here in Tanganyika, a United Nations Mandate, is a unique chance to break with the muddled policies of the past few years in other parts of the old empire.

If the gamble of naming a definite date for responsible government and ultimate self government was taken now the few remaining years could be productive ones. Far more could be done in tow or three years of peaceful conditions than in ten "sitting on the lid".

The average Administrative Officer on the ground would like see December 1961 as the beginning of full responsible government. Mid 1961 (or even 1960) would be better still. Eighteen months or two years after that independence might follow. Immediately such an announcement was made government officers could cease all the unproductive and quasi political work and return to the job they were trained for. Such a change would certainly turn the people into a semi cooperative community and we should be able to leave the country without a "nasty taste in the mouth".

The present government is probably more liberal in outlook than any other in East or Central Africa. Although not realised by the average man there is far more freedom for the individual than now exists in Ghana. Here is the basis for the long held hope that Tanganyika might lead Africa in liberalism and peaceful political progress.

If a date was named in the near future it would mean handing over - albeit prematurely in the economic sphere - to a country with respect for law and order. Surely that is the greatest single legacy that we can bequeathe. As it is, the next few years of uncertainty are causing a growing group of responsible Africans to turn a blind eye to the hooligan fringe.

No intelligent person can suggest that Tanganyika can stand on her own feet economically. With a fresh and possibly americanised approach the answer could be found. Taking the long patience of the British tax payer for granted there is no reason why the economic aid should not continue after the political strings have been cut.

One repeatedly hears that there are not enough Africans ready to fill the posts now staffed by expatriate officers. Not even the most ardent nationalist claims to differ (except as political propaganda). But no one has so far suggested that Europeans be asked to leave en bloc on independence being attained. This effectively disposes of one of the "Times'" favourite arguments. Many expatriate administrative officers and technicians will have to stay on for a number of years. At the same time, however, a great many could be replaced if steps were planned now. (An energetic "Africanisation Officer" could do much). In many departments a far too high standard is demanded. Positions requiring a secondary school education in the UK need a University degree here.

The Tanganyika African National Union is probably the most well led and united nationalist movement in Africa today. Its memberships, including bandwagon riders, exceeds 80% of the population and its revenue approaches government's from Poll tax. Government's representatives in the field are doing their best to keep on as friendly terms as possible with this movement; not in any patronising or hypocritical manner but in recognition of the party's importance and value as a coordinating catalyst for public opinion. At the moment, Government and TANU are balanced on a horizontal see-saw. With impending vitriolic speeches in Legco on top of the recent budget denouncements mixed with public indignation at low cotton prices this year, the months ahead are far from rosy in outlook.

(It is hard to measure the amount of orders that Tanganyika receives via the Colonial Office from H.E. The Governor of Kenya but unjustifiable pressure is undoubtedly there).

The morale of the expatriate officer can never have been lower than at the present moment. He has been given no indication that rings true as to the country's immediate future or his own. As his privileges incorporated in his terms of service are progressively whittled down he is losing more and more confidence in the government he serves. Unless some revolutionary thinking takes place in London in the next few weeks, Dar-es-Salaam may expect block resignations. Mr Amery's smug remark to the Commons last week to the effect that "we in the Colonial Office feel confident that nothing is wrong in Tanganyika" was received with disgust and despair. I can only assure Mr Amery that there is something very drastically wrong in Tanganyika and should he care to spend a month in a District Office - not in the Secretariat - he will quickly realise this for himself.


Tanganyika




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