Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Easy We Forget!: Dunstan Omari’s Service to the Nation and Troubled Waters!

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.
© Azaria C.Mbughuni 


Paul Lazaro Bomani (1925-2005)

Paul Lazaro Bomani (1925-2005)
Paul Bomani was born in 1925 in Ikuzi, Mara. He served as the Minister of Finance, Agriculture, Economic Affairs and Planning, and Commerce and Industry. He also served as a member of Parliament. Paul Bomani was a very successful business man and was reported to be one of the richest African in Tanzania by 1970. Paul Bomani is among a handful of Tanganyikans/Tanzanians who made significant contributions to the country. He was active in the independence struggle and after Tanganyika/Tanzania won independence, he was one of the main people responsible for finance and development for the country in the 1960s to early 70s.
Paul Bomani attended Nassa Primary School in Mwanza from 1936 to 39. He joined the Teacher Training College in Ikizu, Mara from 1939 to 1944. He worked as the Assistant Secretary of Cash Stores of the Williamson Diamonds Limited in Shinyanga between 1945 and 1947. He became the Managing Secretary of Mwanza African Traders Co-operative Society Limited 1947 to 1952. Mwanza African Traders Co-operative Society was a wholesale cooperative started to assist African traders. Bomani founded the Lake Province Cotton Growers Association in 1950. 
Bomani left Tanganyika to study in England in 1953. He studied Agricultural Economics and Co-operative Laws at Loughborough Co-operative College in England from 1953 to 1954. Bomani returned to Tanganyika and continued with work as an organizer and one of the leaders of the nascent independence movement. He worked as the General Manager of Victoria Federation of Co-operative Unions Limited from 1955 to 1960. 
Bomani became very active in Tanganyika politics early on; he was elected as the provincial Chairman of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA) from 1950 to 1953. The colonial government appointed him as the member of the Legislative Council in 1954. The appointment came after Chief Kidaha Makwaia left the territory. Makwaia would later resign under pressure. Paul Bomani became a powerful force in the Lake Province with the establishment of TANU as the main political party fighting for independence starting in 1954. Bomani helped to make TANU a powerful force in the Lake Province. 
Paul Bomani was appointed as a member of the Post Election Committee in 1959 by the Tanganyika Governmor, Sir Richard Turnbull. Bomani was among a handful of Africans appointed to the committee; others included Chief John Maruma, Rashidi Kawawa, and L.N. Sijaona. The committee was given the responsibility of making recommendations for the next step for Tanganyika. 
Tanganyika won Responsible Govenrment in 1960 and Self Govenrment in 1961. Bomani was appointed as the Minister for Agriculture and Co-operatives between 1960 and 1962. Paul Bomani’s brother, Mark Bomani, was appointed as the Deputy Solicitor General for Tanganyika in August 1962. Paul Bomani became the Minister for Finance between 1962 and 1965 and the Minister for Economic Affairs and Development Planning from 1965 to 1970. Bomani served as the Minister for Commerce and Industry between 1970 and 1972 and then served as the Tanzania Ambassador to the US.
Paul Bomani took on the challenge of finding ways to finance the govenrment after independence; it was a daunting task. The UK was not willing to provide funding necessary for developing a newly independent Tanganyika. The country did not have enough trained men and women to do the necessary work needed to move the country foward. Bomani travelled to East and Western countries asking for funds at the height of the Cold War. It was a difficult assignment that he managed with ease. He had to collect funds needed to educate Tanganyikans who did not have opportunities during the colonial period. This assignment he performed with distinction. 
Bomani was one of the few leaders who remained active during the army mutiny of 1964. Bomani, Lusinde, and Kambona were among the few leaders who negotiated with the soldiers during the most tense moments of the mutiny between January 20 and 25th, 1964. One day before the British troops landed in Dar es Salaam, Bomani spent all day negotiating with the ringleaders of the mutiny regarding their pay. He knew that a request was made to the British for intervention while he was negotiating. In fact Bomani together with Kambona were the ones who took a letter from Kawawa and delivered it to the UK HIgh Commissioner in Tanganyika; the letter made an official request for British intervention. During those tense hours of negotiations, Bomani is reported to have said he only had a “glass of milk in the morning and a large whisky in the evening.” He worked tirelessly to calm down the soldiers and reassure the public that all was under control. His brother, Mark Bomani, would later lead the government case against the mutineers. 
Tanzania broke off diplomatic relations with UK in 1965 over the question of Southern Rhodesia. UK reacted by cancelling all aid promised to Tanzania. Tanganyika became Tanzania in October 1964. In 1964, Bomani had been instrumental in securing a 7.5 million Pound loan to Tanganyika from UK. UK refused to fulfill any financial commitment it made to Tanzania in 1965 after Tanzania broke off diplomatic relations with the UK over the question of independence of Southern Rhodesia. Bomani once again found himself in a difficult situation. He had to find other ways to raise funds for the Tanzania government. Bomani was among those who negotiated successful agreements with China to provide needed funds for Tanzania in 1966. 
Bomani became close to many African American leaders in the 1970s and helped attract interest on Tanzania. Bomani was among the organizers of the 5th Pan African Congress held in Tanzania in 1974
 © Azaria C. Mbughuni


Rashidi Kawawa and Creation of a Young Nation

Rashidi Kawawa and Creation of a Young Nation 
Wednesday April 4th, 1963 the Vice President of Tanganyika, Rashidi Mfaume Kawawa, got into an armored car with the Egyptian Minister of Religion, Mohammed El Bahei for a drive to another city. Kawawa was on an official visit to Egypt (then UAR). The two leaders drove to a textile factory at Mehalpa. Kawawa and El Bahei were found unconscious when officials opened the car doors in Mehalpa. It would take several hours before the two leaders were revived. The incident would shock the young nation of Tanganyika when the news broke back home. Speculations continue about exactly what happened on that drive to Mehalpa. One thing is clear: the incident almost ended the life of one of Tanzania’s most remarkable leaders.
Kawawa’s story begins in Songea, Tanzania (then Tanganyika). He was born on May 27, 1926 in Songea, Tanganyika. He was a son of a civil servant and an elephant hunter. Kawawa attended Tabora Boys, a prestigious government school. He had an opportunity to attend Makerere after Tabora Boys; but the young Kawawa decided not to pursue further education in order to allow his siblings an opportunity to get an education. Kawawa applied for a post as a Government Welfare Officer. The colonial officials thought he was too young to get the post. Instead he was hired as a clerk of the Public Works Department. Kawawa was later transferred to Social Department in 1951. It was during this period that he would become involved with films. As a Social Development officer, he operated a mobile cinema and organized a film library. Kawawa became a film star in the early 1950s; he acted in a number of Swahili films. 
The colonial government prohibited civil servants from joining political parties. Kawawa could not take part in the independence struggle openly as long as he worked for the government. Many civil servants had to work clandestinely. Civil servants worked with Tanganyika African Association (TAA) secretly in the beginning of the 1950s. The one avenue opened to government workers was the Tanganyika African Government Services Association (TAGSA). Kawawa joined the organization early on as a government employee. He fought to improve the rights of government workers as one of the leaders of the association. One of the TAGSA initiatives was filling complaints with United Nations Commission when it came to Tanganyika in 1951. TAGSA complained about racial discrimination against Africans in the government services to the UN Committee. While the complaint was directed towards Government practices, it was nevertheless, an important move in bringing more attention to Tanganyika by the world organization, something that helped advance the independence struggle. Kawawa was one of the founders of Tanganyika Federation of Labor in October 1955; he became the Secretary General of TFL when it was founded and later its President.
Kawawa decided to change course in February 1956. He resigned from his position in the colonial government and became a full time trade union activist and leader of the TFL. Kawawa officially joined TANU around the same time. He actively worked to build up TANU as a powerful nationalist movement in the second half of the 1950s. His work in TANU went hand in hand with his important work as the leader of a labor union. As an official of TFL, Kawawa travelled to many countries and attended two study conferences in the UK. 
The Colonial government nominated Kawawa as a member of the Legislative Council in August 1957. He later ran for the seat unopposed. Kawawa won LEGCO seat for Nachingwea in 1960. 
Prime Minister Julius Nyerere resigned in January 22 and left the position for Rashidi Kawawa. Kawawa would take drastic measures during his tenure to move the country forward. As a Prime Minister, Kawawa took steps that even Mwalimu Nyerere was not ready to take at the time. Kawawa became the Prime Minister of Tanganyika from January 22 to December 8, 1962. He moved the Africanization program with lightning speed; this was a controversial, but necessary move. He oversaw the Africanization commission before becoming the Prime Minister; he would take drastic steps as the Prime Minister. One of the first things he did was to let go the British Principle Secretary, Meek, and replaced him with the experienced administrator, Dunstan Alfred Omari. Kawawa moved on to the police force and dismissed the British Commissioner of Police and replaced him with a Tanganyikan, Elangwa Shaidi. Next Kawawa turned to Africanizing important positions in the police including, Assistant Commissioner, Senior Superintendent, and officers. 
Kawawa worked closely with liberation organizations fighting for independence in southern Africa in the course of 1962. Nelson Mandela escaped from South Africa secretly and reached Tanganyika on January 21, 1962. Mandela met with the new Prime Minister Kawawa several days later. Mandela was given assistance and travel documents. Kawawa also worked closely with Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). The Tanganyika government provided UNIP with significant logistical and material support in the course of 1962 and 1963, including hosting a PAFMECA (then PAFMECSA) meeting and rally in Mbeya, Tanganyika in support of the independence of Northern Rhodesia. Kawawa gave full Tanganyika support for the meeting and rally. In May of 1962, Kawawa hired a 39 year old barrister from Southern Rhodesia, Herbert Chitepo, as the Director of Public Prosecution.
The Vice President’s office in January 1963 was the most Africanized of all government offices. Mwalimu Nyerere would later admit that Kawawa took measures that he had equivocated on. Mwalimu ended the Africanization scheme on January 4, 1964, calling it a policy of “racial discrimination” implemented two years prior; the move led to profound consequences for the government on January 20, 1964 when the Tanganyika army mutinied.
1963 was a difficult year for Africa. The year started with the assassination of President Sylvanus Olympio of Togo on January 13, 1963. In Tanganyika, the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense, Oscar Kambona, was busy dismantling the old intelligence organization and working to build a new one. The appointment was said to have been a compromise with Kawawa becoming the Vice President and Kambona taking two important portfolios: Foreign Affairs and Defense. Tension between Kawawa and Kambona would later mount. Kambona eventually lost the defense portfolio and it would be brought under the supervision of Kawawa. 
The safety of top government officials was a major concern in 1963. It was around this time that request was made to the Americans to get special training for Presidential security and counter intelligence. Men like Peter Bwimbo and later Wynn J. Mbwambo were sent to the US for specialized training. Concerns about the safety of leaders and the security of the nation increased when a decision was made sometime in early 1963 to allow liberation groups to establish training camps in the country. Kongwa, an old farm, was opened up for liberation groups in early 1963. Tanganyika was helping to prepare groups from southern Africa for war. The hosting of Afro Asian Conference in Moshi in February 1963 signaled the role Tanganyika was playing in the liberation struggles. Kawawa contributed to this development in the course of 1962. It is no surprise that the New York Times published a major article in February of 1963 entitled “Tanganyika Capital is Haven for African Revolutionaries.” It was under these circumstances that Kawawa boarded a plane for Cairo via Nairobi in April of 1963.
Kawawa had been a busy man by all accounts in early 1963. He was in UK in January where he met with Prime Minister Macmillan at Admiralty House. Kawawa was there with Uganda Prime Minister Milton Obote. The leaders met to put pressure on the Macmillan to speed up the process of Kenya to win independence. Tanganyika was making the case for Kenya’s early independence because they hoped independence would make room for regional cooperation between Tanganyika, Uganda, and Kenya. This cooperation, they hoped, would lead to the establishment of East African Federation. Kawawa pushed the British on their policy towards Congo during the meeting. 
Tanganyika was trying to build close links with various African countries in 1963. Among those countries were Egypt and Guinea. Egypt was important for Tanganyika. President Nasser was trying to curve out his sphere of influence in Sub-Saharan Africa. He had developed close friendship with members of the ZNP in neighboring Zanzibar. Tanganyika was giving full backing to the ASP in Zanzibar. Tanganyika was also preparing for the important conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that would lead to the formation of the OAU. Gaining the support of Nasser was crucial. 
Kawawa left Tanganyika on Sunday April 1, 1963 for state visits to Cairo, Egypt and Guinea. He was scheduled to stop in Nairobi, Kenya to speak with Kenya leaders before proceeding to Egypt. He left Tanganyika with a delegation of six people on board a government airplane. The men in his delegation included, Bhoke Munanka, A.B.C. Daniel, Colin Jana, M. Nasoro, Ramadhani Massoud, P. Pamba, and J. Rwegasira. This was to be an exciting trip to establish friendly relations with Egypt. 
The Tanganyika delegation stopped in Nairobi, Kenya and Kawawa met with Jommo Kenyatta and members of KANU. Kawawa told reporters before leaving Kenya that he had friendly talks with Kenyatta. Among the topics discussed was the question of early independence for Kenya and the establishment of East African Federation. Kawawa arrived in Cairo on April 2, 1963. He was met at the Cairo airport by the Vice President of Egypt, El-Sayeid Zakaria Mohamed. A special gathering and dinner was organized for Tanganyika delegation that evening.
President of Abdel Nasser presented Kawawa with one of the highest medals given by the Egyptian government during the visit. He received the Grand Cordon Order of the Nile. Kawawa met with Egyptian government officials and was given a tour of various places. Kawawa and his delegation was met by a cheering crowd as he left El-Horeya Palace and headed to the Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian government opened up the red carpet for Kawawa. During the talks, leaders from the two countries discussed liberation struggle, aid, and development. However, most of the discussions centered on economic collaboration.
On Wednesday April 4th, Kawawa got in to a car with the Egyptian Minister of Religion, Mohamed El Bahei on a 75 mile ride to Mehalpa. The two leaders were driving to visit a textile factory. The windows were closed. The car was designed so that the driver could not hear conversations in the passenger seats when the window separating the driver and passengers was closed. 
When the car stopped in Mehalpa, government officials opened the doors to find Kawawa and El Bahei unconscious. The two leaders were rushed to a hospital owned by the clothing factory. They were given oxygen, injections, and other medications, and admitted to the hospital. It was not until later in the evening that the two gained consciousness. The official report is that the air system malfunctioned. Reports reaching Tanganyika blamed the accident on the lack of air caused by a malfunction. The reports claimed that Kawawa and El Bahei fainted for lack of air. A diplomatic report blamed the incident on Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Whether it was lack of air or Carbon Monoxide poisoning remains a mystery. Furthermore, questions remains whether this was an accident or a deliberate attempt to harm the two leaders. Given the dangers to Tanganyika leaders posed by increasing support to liberation movements, the possibility of this being a plot to assassinate the Vice President of Tanganyika cannot be dismissed. 
Kawawa and El Bahei would later fully recover. It was a close call, particularly for the Egyptian Minister who was reported to have been in worse condition. Kawawa extended his visit to Egypt and eventually left Cairo for Guinea. The incident in Egypt in 1963 illustrates dangers leaders faced during the first half of the 1960s. Kawawa was able to secure assistance from the government of Egypt in various sectors. The trip appears to have been a success; it helped improving relations between the two countries.
Kawawa returned to Tanganyika on April 22, 1963. 

© Azaria C. Mbughuni