Tiwana Shamba is the Swahili title used for Agricultural Officers or Field Officers in
the Agriculture Department in Tanganyika (Tanzania).
This autobiography deals not only with the years which the author spent in that country but
also with his early life and post-retirement years. He grew up in a bilingual family, British
father and French mother. He was educated at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, and at Harper
Adams Agriculture College in Shropshire, obtaining a Diploma in Agriculture. In 1958 he
was appointed to Tanganyika and was posted to Kilosa district. He spent much time on
safari, which he adored even though it involved separation from his family. He believed
that in a teaching post he would be more likely to be home every night, so he applied for a
post at Tengeru, the Training Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, near Arusha. His
descriptions of life in Kilosa and Tengeru are lively and accurate.
Field Officers were not required to pass the Government Higher Standard Swahili
examination, but he passed both the written and oral parts during his first tour. He left
Tanzania in 1971, and his book Simplified Swahili was published in that year. The
publishers, Longmans, have recently issued the fourteenth impression, and over 30,000
copies have been sold.
Peter was later appointed head of the crop husbandry section of the Botswana
Agricultural College near Gaborone. Due to his limited knowledge of Setswana, the local
language, life in Botswana was never quite like he had found it in Tanzania. He completed
one three-year contract in Botswana before returning to Britain with his family.
His book describes the life of a remarkable and versatile man. His boundless energy led
him to climb Kilimanjaro once, and Meru several times. He is a committed Christian, and
his love for the country where he worked and the people he served are obvious. His skill as
a teacher is apparent both in the language text-book he wrote and in his descriptions of the
problems faced by peasant farmers in cultivating cotton.
Peter describes as one of the happiest if not the happiest time during his safari years in
Tanganyika, an evening which he spent accompanying on his accordion, and teaching
songs like "Daisy, Daisy" to over a hundred villagers who did not go home until
midnight. Those who have experience of safari in Tanganyika will understand why it
gave Peter such joy.
I sympathise with Peter's criticism of two aspects of official policy in Tanganyika. An
expatriate wife was not normally allowed to accompany her husband on his first
appointment. This put a strain on marriages, and Peter's first marriage ended unhappily.
Officers with Diplomas in Agriculture but who were not graduates could do an outstanding
job, but were not given the promotion, salary, and status which many deserved until a new
grade of "Agricultural Officer (Tanganyika)" was introduced.
Bwana Shamba is well produced, with many attractive black-and-white photographs,
mostly by the author, and maps of Tanzania, Kilosa district, and of regions which he
The book contains a very gracious and appreciative foreword written by Rashidi
Mfaume Kawawa, formerly Vice-President of the Republic of Tanzania and Prime
Minister of Tanganyika. Kawawa was regarded by many expatriates as being more
extreme in his policies than Nverere had been. He ends his foreword with the words:-
"For those bom in the 21st century ... it is my hope that Mr Wilson 's publications will
once again serve to demonstrate to them the richness of our heritage and the dire need
to glorify it and its preservation. Thank you and God bless you for a job well done".
Such an accolade is very well deserved.