51. Despatch From the Consulate at Dar es Salaam to the Department of State1

No. 117


  • Achievement of Self-Government or Independence for Tanganyika

This despatch has been prepared to present as detailed a picture of the general scene in Tanganyika as possible so that the Department may have such facts as will be of assistance in dealing with the trusteeship affairs of Tanganyika in the United Nations.

It is the firm conviction of the reporting officer that Africa, including Tanganyika, is the “keystone” of the future of West versus East and that as such is an essential asset which will enable [Page 196] the West to retain the balance of power in the ceaseless struggle between the free nations and communism.

Africa needs the West as much as the West needs Africa. Much has been written on the morality of the subject by the academicians so that little need be said in proof of this point. However, it is imperative that we realize that the ever increasing economic growth of the West and its increasing consumption of raw materials and the decreasing availability of these from present sources must force the West, and particularly the United States, to look to Africa as one of the few remaining undeveloped areas in which we can acquire the mineral resources to support our ever growing consumption to support our expanding economy. Africa must at all costs remain with the Western bloc!

Under no condition should any territory of Africa, and we shall now exclusively consider Tanganyika, be granted self-government until she is capable of entering the world of nations as a strong unit of the total and capable of contributing to the general welfare. To approach self-government without this prerequisite would eventually prove suicidal to the West. Such a catastrophe would permit a vacuum into which the influence of Asia and Russia would quickly flow. The arms build up by the Russians in Egypt is fair proof of this.

This concept, naturally, will prove offensive to the African nationalists of Tanganyika as elsewhere. The reaction to such a concept would undoubtedly be that the Africans would prefer to govern themselves poorly than be governed by non-Africans. This attitude is not only naive but dangerous.

To permit self-government before the achievement of political responsibility and the establishment of a sound economy would, in itself, be contrary to the objectives of the Trusteeship System. Such action would in all probability require that sooner or later the United States and other free nations of the world would be forced to take an active part in the internal affairs of the territory. In addition to offering a propaganda “bonus” to the communists, such action would prove more objectionable to the nationalists in the long run than should the paternalistic guidance to self-government of the Trusteeship arrangement be extended until such time as the progress and the abilities of its peoples would warrant the realization of the objective. Premature self-government would undoubtedly involve the Free World in additional police action at a later date as well as a far greater expenditure of funds to place the local government on a sound footing, capable of carrying its weight in the Western bloc. Much has been said about Colonialism. Great Britain has publicly announced its policy of helping its territories in Africa towards independence and the record in Asia is certainly an indication of [Page 197] their sincerity. The United States’ attitude is well known. The major lack of agreement between the two countries appears to be the speed with which independence of Tanganyika will be achieved and a time-table for its fulfillment.

Russia has suggested two to three years and Julius Nyerere, President of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU),2 has said that ten to twelve years are required for the achievement of self-government. The first is ridiculous and the second naive and based on wishful thinking. It would appear that neither estimate would indicate a studied analyzation of an extremely difficult and involved problem.

That self-government will come to Tanganyika is a foregone conclusion. That the Africans of a country of roughly 8,000,000 Africans and 119,000 other mixed races would have a major part in its ultimate governing is also quite evident but it is an issue which is continuously raised and beclouded for reasons of political expediency.

The question then arises as to why ten to twelve years is a naive “estimate” for self-government? To answer this we must go back a few years in history.

Tanganyika came under the Mandate System by the terms of the peace treaty with Germany after the 1914–18 war. This was roughly 40 years ago. This meant that a complete change of administration, institutions and languages was required for the transition from German to British administration. This would be difficult enough for an advanced civilization but for an underdeveloped and backwards territory the problems were almost insurmountable. Naturally such a transition caused a “slow down” in the progress of the territory. When the problem was satisfactorily solved a greater one arose which was bantered about in the higher planes of world politics. Serious and continuing consideration was given to whether the territory would revert to its former status under German rule. Under these conditions investment, progress and social development naturally slowed to a virtual standstill. The world recession of the early ’30s did little to improve this picture.

During the years of World War II, the life and death struggle of the world forced the administering power to guard her front door and pay little attention to Tanganyika. No other course was possible. It was therefore not until the establishment of the Trusteeship [Page 198] System under the Charter of the United Nations that the political, economic, and social development of Tanganyika became a living, active and progressive force. This history is reasonable and it is not believed that any other nation, under the same conditions, would have done differently than the administering power.

We must now consider those essentials which are necessary for the establishment of self-government. First, there must be those who are capable of taking the responsibility of operating government and its supporting agencies as well as those who are able to manage and control the commerce and industries which are essential to maintain and build the economy of any country. Next there are the multitude of professionals such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and many others who are an essential in the day to day activity of any community.

Tanganyika does not have such Africans today, will not have them in three years and it is practically certain they will not have them in twelve years.

Appendix I is the official estimate of Africans with professional qualifications.3 It covers those presently qualified and those who are expected to qualify by 1961. It has not been carried through 1969 which is the twelve year period quoted by Nyerere for self-government. Figures beyond 1961 would be pure fantasy.

Biographic data on certain of the African labor and political leaders of Tanganyika, who are among the most advanced and could be expected to take a part in government, is appended. Unfortunately, time does not permit data on all such persons. It will be forwarded at a later date but one thing is obvious—they are all of practically the same character and type. An examination of those submitted will evidence the fact that the majority are poorly educated and have developed little beyond the stage of childish animosities and personal jealousies. It is obvious that, although they are taking part in the development of unionism and political growth in Tanganyika, they are simply not capable or qualified to take part in the highly complex business of governing a country.

Much has been said by Nyerere and other critics of government regarding the lack of sufficient and adequate schooling. It is agreed that education is a basic essential upon which is built the future of the territory—both political and economic. It is also agreed that we can not consider an academic degree or standing as the criteria of ability. However, it certainly is an indication of the existing abilities of a people to take part in the governing of their country as well as the multitude of activities which go to make up the commercial and economic life of the territory.

[Page 199]

The question is then asked as to what government has done to develop educational facilities for the African and if it has been lacking as stated by the critics. This is best answered by referring to Section 19 of Appendix II—government’s reply to Nyerere’s speeches at the IV Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.4 It might be here stated that the one great factor which is delaying the progress of Tanganyika is capital.

Secondly, the territory must have a healthy economy which will support its primary services such as education, communications, social services, medical facilities, etc., as well as its political development. Today, expansion and growth is extremely slow, geared to a slowly changing subsistence economy. Unless there is rapid and considerable investment from outside, as it appears that Great Britain is not in a position to supply it, it would appear that there will be little change in the foreseeable future. The budget is balanced but if capital does not develop, Tanganyika shall continue in its snaillike economic progress, and we can expect bigger and better strikes, riots, and all the dangers which accompany such a course. “Nationalism” has been awakened and it will not be stemmed or turned from a natural course. If the people do not achieve their natural aspirations supported by a growing and healthy economy, we shall find another festering sore which will be most susceptible to the salve of communism.


At the earliest date Tanganyika must achieve self-government as envisaged by the United Nations and member states. It must, however, be a responsible self-government. This can be achieved only when her peoples and leaders develop to the stage where they are effectively able to take over the reins of government, commerce and industry. (Naturally with the assistance and guidance of the nations of the West.) The agitation of one nationalist in the IV Committee of the Trusteeship Council does not prove this to be so, regardless of how able the individual might be.

The existing economy of the territory will not support a larger educational development which is essential to supply the leaders. [Page 200] The funds simply are not available in Tanganyika and it does not appear that the administering authority will be able to rectify the situation. The British financial position is well known to all. Considering the importance of Tanganyika in the future of Africa and its place in the world, it would appear that the member nations of United Nations have a joint responsibility beyond criticism and that is to assist in the achievement of self-government. Education must be stepped up. Cannot funds be found among the member nations to support this objective? Such action would only be a stake in the future peace of the world.

The economic development of the territory is the other major item which is thwarting a more speedy progress. Tanganyika must have a healthy and expanding economy to support her social progress.

Surveys and prospecting are progressing but until the actual communications, industries and mines are established the economy is not going to progress very far. In a territory which is considered by geologists to potentially be one of the most promising territories of Africa this lack of development is preposterous. It would appear that if proper incentives and subsidies were made they would in short order pay for themselves in addition to achieving a speed-up of the economic development. It would further appear that the administering authority would contribute to such a plan but the actual capital would have to come from outside.

The reward for such a policy would be the assurance and speedup of the orderly development of a new nation which would join the world of nations as a responsible partner. To vacillate and continue as at present will, at a minimum, mean that Tanganyika will become an increasing problem to the United Nations and a potential or probable victory for the communists.

Robert L. Ware, Jr.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 778.00/3–1257. Confidential. Passed to London.
  2. Nyerere became president of the Tanganyikan African Association (TAA) in 1953 following his return from Edinburgh University. Then on July 7, 1954, Nyerere founded TANU and became its president. He carried the case of Tanganyikan nationalists to the United Nations in 1955, 1956, and 1957, arguing in behalf of democratic elections, African paramountcy, and constitutional development toward independence.
  3. None of the Appendices is attached.
  4. Nyerere addressed the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly on December 20, 1956. Education was only one of many subjects he raised. (See U.N. doc. A/C.4/SR.579, p. 150) A draft resolution introduced by Haiti (later revised) specifically noted the views of the TANU president. The British position was stated on February 16, 1957. (See U.N. doc. A/C.4/SR.639, pp. 441, 445–446) Despite British and U.S. opposition, the Fourth Committee on February 18, and then the General Assembly on February 26, drew the attention of the Trusteeship Council and the Administering Authority to Nyerere’s views. (General Assembly Resolution 1065(XI), February 26, 1957)