Mutiny by the Tanganyika Army in 1964

Courtesy of OSPA

by K.H. Khan Lodhi
(Tanganyika Police, 1950-70)
John Okello
John Okello
On 12 January 1964 there was a Revolution in the newly independent state of Zanzibar, ruled by the Sultan. The British High Commission managed to save the Sultan and his family in the ship owned by the Sultan, and they sailed safely to Dar es Salaam on 15 January. This coup had full support of Sheikh Abeid A Karume - a political head from Zanzibar and Pemba. The Tanganyika President, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, was the head of the President's Office and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Tanganyika. He knew that there were elements within the indigenous population who wanted to kill or harm the Sultan. However he instructed his government that no harm be done to the Sultan nor to his companions. I was instructed to see to his safety in Oyster Bay where a house was provided. I arranged a police barrier and armed police personnel to guard the Sultan. Later at 2am I was informed by Special Branch that I could go, leaving my policemen surrounding the Residence. Pre-dawn the Sultan and his party were taken to the airport and flown out of the country. Later we got information that the Sultan had safely landed in London.

Just four days later an attempted coup took place in the Tanganyikan armed forces in Dar es Salaam centered largely around pay and conditions. The British Brigadier immediately planned a counterattack and slowly things returned to normal. There had been some police personnel who also participate but these were soon arrested. 94 were arrested in the first operation and the rest were picked up later with not a single bullet fired. About three days later I was called by my Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Kiletta, to see him on the Floor. He said, "Khan Lodhi - get ready. We are going to arrest Army personnel who are in their office near the railway station. Make sure you post policemen at all foreign embassies, banks, waterworks, electricity. Now go and arrange it. Then we shall go to arrest the Army officers". Accordingly, within 30 minutes the posting was done. The Commander asked me on the telephone if the work had been done. I replied, "Yes, Sir". He said, "Wait, I will call you back". He rang me again and said, "Get ready, I will call you". I said, "Yes, Sir". After five minutes he called me, "Have you gone". I said, "No, Sir, I am waiting for you". Again he rang, "Are you still there? Come up". He said, "Why have you not gone?" I said, "You said to wait, and I was waiting". He said, "You are a most stubborn police officer - I have other work to do. Go and arrest them, they are all wild, and armed". Before leaving the room he asked me how many men I had left to go along. I said, "Two - a police driver and the second, a police detective". He said, "Go". I was very much disappointed. I came down and informed my Chief Inspector, Mr Mandal.

Tanganyika Police
Tanganyika Police
I instructed the police driver to follow me in a large van. I took my car and the detective sat with me in the front seat. We drove to the Army office. I saw the Army officer, distressed and camouflaged, walking up and down with a rifle. He knew me by name. "Bwana Khan, we need your help". I said, "I have been sent to help you, and that is the reason I came with our big van". The officer said, "Shall we get our vehicles?" I said, "Look up. There is a plane. They can shoot you all including me. And in your vehicles it could be dangerous. You and I will both die". So all the soldiers started to get into the police van with their guns. I said, "You should have no guns. You could be easy prey". I got their guns stacked in the office and told them my driver would look after their guns. In the meantime I sat in the driver's seat of the vehicle. Two officers holding the rank of Lieutenant and Second Lieutenant sat with us in the front, leaving my car locked there. When we arrived at the police station I ordered drinks for them from a shop and told them that it was our police station. No-one would come to any harm there.

Then I went to see my Regional Commander, telling him that I had with me two officers and forty other ranks. I asked if I could bring them to see him. He said, "No. I don't want to see them. Better take them to Police Headquarters". When they were all refreshed, I drove the van to Headquarters, parked the vehicle and went upstairs to see the Inspector- General of Police. At the door I found a policeman was sitting there. I said, "Please tell the IGP that I'm here, and have to talk to him urgently". He said, "I cannot go in - there is a meeting". I raised my voice so that all could hear. The Commissioner of Police, Mr Hamza Aziz, came out and I told him about the Army men. He got the gist of the matter and I was allowed to enter. I saw a number of senior policemen, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs and the Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs. They asked me how many men I had. I said, "Me, a police driver and a detective police constable. They asked me about casualties. I said, "None". Any violence? I said, "None". They asked me how the Army had accepted my talk. I said, "Do you want to see them?" They said, "No". After some discussion I was told to take them back to the Central Police Station and await further instruction. I went down to the van and drove to Central Police Station. I told my Commander that I had been instructed to wait for IGP's instructions. Then I arranged another van with comfortable seats which could be locked outside. I also arranged cold drinks for the Army officers. I kept talking with them to make them feel that there was nothing wrong. I arranged Mobile police vans, one in front and another one at the back, as I had received instructions that the lot would be taken to Ukonga Prison.

Prisons Tanganyika Badge
Prisons Tanganyika Badge
When I had the instructions I drove this new van to Ukonga Prison without locking the van cage. Reaching the Prison I got the prison door opened. I informed the Prison Officer that I had Army men with me. He asked me if I had any documents like arrest warrants. I said, "No". I asked him to accept them as this was confirmed by the Ministry. The officer again said, "Have you any papers? I said, "No. You could treat me as a warrant for their detention". Then the gate was opened and all were handed over to the prison. Then the Army officers started shouting at me. "You're a cunning policeman. You promised us safety. One day after our release you will see what will happen to your wife and children. We are not going to be here for life. We will come out". I said, "Sirs, this is the best place for your safety. These prison officers will only confine you and look after your needs". After that, I left them.

Later on the senior Army officer, wearing Brigadier badges, entered my office. He said, "I understand you have my men with you. Why are they here?" I told the Regional Police Commander that the Commander of the Army wanted to see him. He said, "Give me a little time and I will tell you to bring him upstairs". In the meantime the officer was served coffee in my office. He was very much upset. He wanted to see his men. My Commander rang and asked me to bring him upstairs. I took him up to where there were five Police officers. On entering the room he was furious. The Commander and his men took his revolver and said, "Khan Lodhi... you can go".

Even though the coup was more or less over, Army men were still on the top of the building with weapons. Most of them were arrested by me without the use of guns. During the whole operation I did not use guns. Their guns were taken into custody and the men handed over to Ukonga Prison.

After that. Army officers from up-country were called by their head office and I was told to meet them and then take them to the prison with one 999 car in front and another at the rear, with no warrant.

Dar Es Salaam Map
Dar Es Salaam Map, 1958
Colony Profile
Originally Published
OSPA Journal 113 (April, 2017)
Further Reading
The Dar Mutiny Of 1964
by Tony Laurence


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