How Easy We Forget!: Dunstan Omari’s Service to the Nation and Troubled Waters!
The temptation to focus on a handful of individuals when tracing early histories of nations can often be difficult to overcome. In what was the territory of Tanganyika in the early 1950s, there were very few men and women who had earned degrees and excelled in what they did. Even less individuals were in position to impact the independence movement and help build Tanganyika government in preparations for independence and after winning independence. Dunstan Omari is one example of important people who appear to have been forgotten.
Dunstan Omari was born August 9, 1922. He was the first son of the Rev. Alfege Omari of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, Newala. He attended primary school in Newala District from 1929-1933, and from there attended St. Joseph's Secondary, Chidya, Masasi District, until 1941. He studied for a year at St. Andrew's College, Minaki and passed the entrance examination to Makerere College where he attended from 1943 to 1945. He trained to become a teacher.
Omari was an exceptional student. He obtained a First Class Teacher's diploma when he graduated from Makerere. He taught for nine months at his old school St. Joseph, starting in 1946. The British colonial government recruited him in December 1946 and was sent to Government Secondary School in Tanga. He taught at Tanga from 1946 to 1949.
Omari studied privately while teaching at Tanga. He later sat for the London University Examination. He passed with First Division. The colonial government awarded him with a scholarship to attend school in the UK. Omari spent the next four years studying at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. Always the exceptional student that he was, Omari graduated from Wales with an Honours Degree in economics.
The colonial government appointed Omari as the education officer in broadcasting in the former Senior Service of the Tanganyika Government while he was still in England. He endeavored to take further courses on broadcasting with the BBC London. He was among some of the earliest Tanganyikans to earn a degree in UK.
Omari returned to Tanganyika in 1953 and was posted with the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation. Omari worked to start the broadcasting service for schools. It was while he worked in Dar es Salaam that Omari was among a handful of highly educated Tanganyikans agitating for independence. He was among the early African elite who included John Rupia, Abdulwahid Sykes, and Mwalimu Nyerere. He often met with Mwalimu, the Sykes brothers, and others on Sundays to discuss politics. He was known to be among the people who drove Mwalimu back to Pugu after meetings.
In January 1955, he became the first African District Officer and was posted in Morogoro. He worked in Morogoro for three years before being transfered to Korogwe. The appointment as the first African District Officer placed him among the most respected Tanganyikans at the time.
The colonial govenrment appointed Omari as the first African District Commissioner in October 1958. He was transfered to Iramba as DC in January 1960. He was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honors June 1960.
Tanganyika won Self Government in May 1961. Omari was called to service in anticipation of Self Government in January 1961 and moved to the Prime Minister’s Office; he worked in the Prime Minister’s Office for two months and went to the UK for three month’s course on public administration. Omari was moved to the Office of the Australian High Commissioner in London for initial training for the future Tanganyika Foreign Service.
To BE CONTINUED
© Azaria C.Mbughuni