British Empire Article

Courtesy of OSPA

by Peter Lane (Uganda Administration 1951-1968)
Cadet to Governor
Dar Es Salaam
My parents were married in Dar es Salaam in 1927 and lived there until 1938 when they moved to Uganda. As manager of one of the territory's import/export firms, a member of the Tanganyika Chamber of Commerce and for a time of the Legislative Council, my father's official and social life brought him into contact with those running the country's government and commerce. My mother's stories about life in Tanganyika included the Cadet to Governor board game, which she had played herself when a dinner guest at various houses.

At some time in the early 1930s two young bachelor Administrative Officers were posted to Dar for their stint in the Secretariat. Bored, and longing to be back up-country, they devised the Cadet to Governor board game, with illustrations reputedly drawn by one of the draughtsmen in the Land and Surveys drawing office.

They took Cadet to Governor to dinner parties where it provided an alternative to bridge and whist. It was simple, anyone could play without limit of numbers, the situations portrayed were familiar to all and its gentle pulling of official legs amused everyone. It was an instant success. The authors found themselves the most popular of guests, in great demand from hostesses. They moved rapidly up the social scale, invited to dine at ever more senior officers' houses, provided they brought the game with them. Eventually news of the game and its popularity reached Government House.

Disturbed by what he heard and fearing that it portrayed the Colonial Administration in less than respectful terms, HE was said to have minuted the Chief Secretary to make enquiries. The young officers were summoned to interview and the Chief Secretary concluded that perhaps HE was right. The two were rapidly posted in different directions up-country (which after all was exactly what they wanted) and the board game was confiscated. The general impression was that it had been destroyed and its passing was greatly regretted.

Postscript by John Twining (Uganda Administration 1953-63)
Cadet to Governor
Governor Cameron
But Cadet to Governor was not destroyed; I now have the original. It is a form of Snakes and Ladders, obviously to be played with dice on a 'board' of nearly 40 x 15 inches. There are 100 'stations', six of which advance the player who lands on them, twelve of which send the player back, while four make the player miss several turns. These active 'stations' are illustrated with little colour sketches. Before the start there is a picture of a rather weedy cadet leaving a BI steamer and about to enter a lighter (at that time steamers could not tie up at the wharf) and the finish at 'station' 100 shows the Governor with plumed headdress and monocle.

Advancement is by passing Lower and Higher Swahili and Law exams and for 'Leaving for Out Station', 'Shooting two elephants' and 'Dining with C.S.' Players are sent back if they land on 'Drunk at Club', 'Call on the Wrong People', 'Drunk at Govt. House', 'Shoot Giraffe', 'Shoot 1 Cook', 'Revoke at Govt. House', 'Overstay Leave', 'Overspend Vote', 'Omit to Don Uniform on Ceremonial Occasion', or fail exams (again Lower Swahili, Higher Swahili and Law).

Turns are missed when a player lands on 'On Leave' and 'Get Blackwater' but most seriously five turns are missed if you land on 'station' 95 (the last one before reaching Governor) as this is 'Lunatic Asylum'; I believe that this gave offence and was the main trigger for the game's confiscation.

It is nice to think that the active 'stations' (even 'Lunatic Asylum') illustrated real happenings although unfortunately there is no evidence to support this. But, real or not, the game successfully illustrated and satirised official life in early 1930s Dar es Salaam.

Colonial Map
Map of Dar Es Salaam 1958
Colony Profile
Originally Published
OSPA Journal 96: October 2008


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