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Anglicanism, Uhuru and Ujamaa: Anglicans in Tanzania and the Movement for Independence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2016

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The Anglican Church in Tanzania emerged from the work of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) and the Australian Church Missionary Society (CMSA). The Anglican missions had goals which stood against colonialism and supported the victory of nationalism. Using archives and interviews as sources, this article considers the roles and reaction of the Anglican missions in the struggle for political independence in Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the effects of independence on the missions and the Church more broadly, and the responses of the missions to ujamaa in Tanzania.

Research Article
© The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust 2016 

The Missions’ Reaction to the Struggle for Independence of Tanganyika

Germany annexed the land now known as Tanzania in 1890, naming it German East Africa. After World War I, the United Nations gave Great Britain control of the country as a ‘mandated territory’, with the understanding that this was to lead eventually to the country (which was to be called Tanganyika) becoming independent. This did not occur until 1961.

In September 1960 there was a pre-independence election won resoundingly by the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), but it was not until December 1961 that the country achieved self-rule. A year later it became a Republic with Julius Nyerere as the first President. In 1963 the islands offshore, Zanzibar and Pemba, became independent from Britain, which had declared a Protectorate there in 1890. The islands had previously been ruled by Arabs, originally from Oman. In 1964 there was a revolution against the Arabs who had resumed control, and Nyerere negotiated a Union with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania.

Lammin Sanneh observes that the missionary translation which sensitized indigenous people who resisted colonialism is also reflected in political developments in Tanzania.Footnote 3 The missionaries transcribed Kiswahili into a written form and taught it in schools. The use of indigenous languages and thought forms was a powerful affirmation of African culture. The translation of the Bible and the use of indigenous languages in church gave people a sense of possession of the Christian faith.

Prominent among the new leaders was Julius K. Nyerere, a devout Roman Catholic. When he was studying in Edinburgh, missionaries kept in touch with him and also used Kiswahili whenever they spoke to Nyerere in the early years of 1950s.Footnote 4 Through these contacts, Nyerere became convinced that Tanganyika could be freed from the British rule within a short period of time. On returning home from Edinburgh, he seized on Africans’ feelings that the colonialists were holding them back by taking their rights from them.Footnote 5 Speaking in Kiswahili, he influenced a group of leaders of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA) who were trade unionists and who, after dissolving TAA, formed the Tanganyika African Union (TANU) on 7 July 1954.Footnote 6

Nyerere became president of TANU, while two Anglicans – politician Oscar Kambona and businessman John Rupia – became the general secretary and treasurer respectively. Both Kambona and Rupia used their role in the TANU to sensitize the missions. Kambona, for example, used his personal relationships with some missionaries to attract the attention of the missions. Rupia likewise used his business links with the missions’ authority to support TANU. Using Kiswahili as a tool for liberation, these made nationalism their main agenda.

Because of widespread poverty, many Tanganyikans joined TANU. This threatened the colonialists, who as a result forced Nyerere to decide between teaching and politics.Footnote 7 Nyerere chose the latter, and this choice strengthened TANU. The government sought assistance from Westminster, which on 15 October 1954 clarified the role of the British rule in Tanganyika:

… – to continue to administer the territory in accordance with the terms of the Trusteeship Agreement until the ultimate goal of self-government has been reached … Her Majesty’s Government attach importance, in interests of the inhabitants of Tanganyika, to the maintenance and promotion of British traditions and British connection with the territory ... Her Majesty’s Government interpret the Trusteeship Agreement and Article 76 of the United Nations Charter as imposing on the Administering Authority an obligation to provide for the full participation of all sections of the population, irrespective of race or origin, in the progressive development of political institutions and in the economic and social development of the territory.Footnote 8

TANU leaders believed that this was a technique for delaying independence, and therefore used young people to organize peaceful demonstrations.Footnote 9 In order to reduce the tensions, the Legislative Council (LC) resolved that some Africans should be included in leadership positions as a way forward towards internal self-rule. In February 1955 ten Africans (six being Anglicans) were made members of the LC. On 1 July 1955, Dunstan Omari, son of a UMCA priest, was appointed as the first African district commissioner.Footnote 10

It was from these men that the government’s confidential information ‘slipped’ easily to TANU.Footnote 11 The party used Swahili Coffee Bars where its members played bao. Footnote 12 These became centres for the exchange of information and strategic reorganization. As a result, the customers of the Swahili Coffee Bars increased, and TANU received many thousands of members in a comparatively short space of time. This speed surprised not only the government’s administrators,Footnote 13 but also Anglican Bishop Mark Way:

Attention must be drawn: The great increase in political consciousness among the comparatively educated, often with an anti-European tinge owing to the domination of T.A.N.U., the nationalist party. This may be the underlying cause of some dissatisfaction among students which we have been experiencing.Footnote 14

Father Neil Russell warned the missions against any dismissiveness of TANU:

There would seem to be three possible approaches for the Europeans to this nationalism: to ignore it which is unrealistic, rude and asking for trouble; to stamp it out which might appear successful for a time, so responsible to the territory; and to transform it from an exclusive movement to an inclusive one giving fair opportunity to all races to bring their skills and insights to the service of the common good and the glory of God, while acknowledging, the overwhelming preponderances of Africans.Footnote 15

The Australian Church Missionary Society (CMSA) also supported the TANU:

Let it be said frankly that nationalism may be not only an essential phase in the historical development of the country, but also a good thing in itself, if it stimulates a proper pride and patriotic feeling in regard to one’s national inheritance. The Church must surely recognize this spirit and carefully adapt its policies to new ways of thinking, while setting its face against racialism and other distractive attitudes on which side they appear.Footnote 16

As a result, the CMSA joined the ‘race’ to political independence, considering having one of its own missionaries stand for the LC:

There have been Elections in most of provinces and we are due to have one in this province in February. Everybody has the right to vote for one European, one African and one Indian and whoever has African support goes in without any question. While in England I saw Lennox Boyd, the Secretary of State for Colonies, and he ventured the opinion that I should let Dr. Hannah stand ... and the Africans would give us a lot of support for a better deal.Footnote 17

Hannah could contest the election, but the CMSA conditions restricted him:

... the Missionary shall make it clear that he was offering his service to the community to help in an important political experiment and that his would be that of a ‘cross-bencher’ … he should make it very clear that there was no question whatever of creating a ‘church’ party or a ‘Christian’ party … [in which case] he must stand as an ‘Independent’ and take the cross-bench attitude judging every issue on its merits and never in terms of its advantage or disadvantage for a political party.Footnote 18

As a move towards eventual independence, the government opened 14 LC seats to elected Africans. Eight Anglicans triumphed at the poll countrywide and thus took most of the 14 LCs seats won by the TANU.Footnote 19 The election proved to the British that, despite the United Nations’ estimation, new efforts towards Tanganyika’s independence were necessary.Footnote 20 Hence Westminster readjusted its plans:

The Governor announced in the [LC] that Her Majesty’s Government, the Executive Government, will be reformed after the General Election which had agreed that, provided there were no outward developments, the Executive Government will be reformed after the General Election which had previously been announced to take place in September 1960 on the basis of an unofficial majority; a way that the number of Ministers selected from among the people of the territory will be greater than the number of ministers who are public officers.Footnote 21

The missions rejoiced that this would be the first of the countries in East Africa to reach representative and responsible government for all people. In view of this success, the synod of the Diocese of South West Tanganyika (DSWT) passed a resolution of sympathy with TANU.Footnote 22 This was, however, against the wishes of supporters of the mission ‘back home’. The Bishop had to defend his synod:

There is always an element in the church which says that ‘religion is religion and politics is politics’ and that the two have nothing to do with each other. It is a matter for thanksgiving that we were able to be unanimous … in our belief that our Christ is Lord of all life ... [Some] of the older clergy and others have lived all their lives under European rule, both in church and in state [and thus they cannot figure out being under the rule of the people of their own race] ... The day of paternalism is over ...Footnote 23

The DSWT was politically conscious for two reasons. Oscar Kambona, whose education it sponsored, was a reliable member of the church and of TANU. Like many other Anglican members of TANU, he kept contact with his church at home,Footnote 24 his extended family and the party.Footnote 25 Even though the government ordered its employees to disassociate themselves from TANU, as days moved towards independence many Anglicans who were civil servants were also members of the party. The ‘home’ news writers condemned their government for these new developments. The Bishop of DSWT defended the new developments:

... it is impossible to understand modern Tanganyika without knowing its political background, but it is important to emphasize that the outset of the kingdom of God goes on whatever happens in the world … but it cannot be controlled by them for God is the Lord – and not the servant of history. The Church is so far as it is being the church … continually influencing those political events … We must neither stand aloof from politics, nor become so absorbed in them as to forget the things of God. Politics like any other aspects of the life of the nation must be baptized into God …Footnote 26

Westminster meanwhile made plans for the new government of Tanganyika. An election was called, and Nyerere was elected the Chief Minister. The Bishop of DSWT reported:

1960, then, has been a year of great advance in Tanganyika. In the first general election every seat except one was won by TANU, the National Party, and [on 2 September] Nyerere was established as Chief Minister in a Cabinet which included Mr. O. Kambona, son of Fr. Daudi Kambona our priest, as Minister of Education.Footnote 27

The missions meanwhile were taking steps towards the church also becoming independent. In 1960 the Anglican Church of the Province of East Africa (CPEA – which included Kenya) was formed, independent from Canterbury. The CPEA honoured the Chief Minister and the Governor at its inauguration service, and at the consecration of Trevor Huddleston for the Masasi episcopacy.

On 1 May 1961 the government changed the title ‘chief minister’ to ‘prime minister’ and Nyerere became the Prime Minister.Footnote 28 These occasions preceded independence which, on the night of 9 December 1961, Tanganyika attained with a celebration full of Africanized texture and religious accompaniment.Footnote 29 Representing the significance of the Africa Anglicana in Tanganyika, Yohana Omari, the only African Anglican bishop, said a word of prayer for Nyerere.Footnote 30 Thousands of Anglicans managed to get to St Alban’s Church in Dar es Salaam to conclude the celebration with a Eucharist after enjoying a few hours of sleep.

Following these new developments, the UMCA altered the name of its bulletin from The UMCA Review to Review of the Work.Footnote 31 Most of the English civil servants wanted to stay on, but it was by no means clear to them whether they could or should stay.Footnote 32 St Luke’s Hospital was closed down. Mary Gibbons who had been a member of LC, a UMCA doctor of the hospital, and founder of Tanganyika Christian Medical Board, left the country.Footnote 33 Other missionaries tried to understand why Westminster granted uhuru to Tanganyika so quickly:

It was only in 1955 that a visiting mission of the United Nations estimated that 25 years would be needed before Tanganyika was ready for self-government, and at the time many people regarded the estimate as an optimistic one. And now, after only six years, what was regarded as barely possible within a quarter of a century has already been achieved.Footnote 34

However, there were missionaries who favoured it:

The fact that this was reached without violence of any kind and in a spirit of good-will and unity speaks very highly for the African leaders, many of whom are Christians, and above all it is due to the good sense and political acumen of Mr. Julius Nyerere, the nationalist leader, who is a keen practicing Roman Catholic. Asian and European non-officials have co-operated with him, and enough cannot be said in praise of the officers of the colonial service who have guided the freedom movement so justly and so wisely.Footnote 35

Putting the interest of all people in a country of majority black Africans who felt that their rights had been taken by people of other races would later create something of a challenge.Footnote 36 Roger Carter reports that:

At the time of internal self-government on 15 May 1961 all Permanent Secretaries, all Provincial Commissioners, 55 out of 57 District Commissioners, all class II officers in government service, and 248 out of 264 class III officers were British. Out of 75 senior and middle-ranking officers in the Treasury in September 1961 only two were Africans. At Independence only 17 percent of middle-and higher-level posts in government were occupied by Tanzanians and out of 630 graduate teachers in secondary schools only 20 percent were African graduates.Footnote 37

Nyerere did not prefer a quick replacement of the Europeans and Indians by Africans because of the support he got from people of other ethnic backgrounds (including the missionaries).Footnote 38 However this was not the position held by his colleagues, who opposed him on the grounds that without Africanization the uhuru was useless.Footnote 39 Nyerere resigned from the office of Prime Minister on 22 January 1962 in favour of Rashid Mfaume Kawawa,Footnote 40 a Muslim from the Masasi area. His appointment to the office less than two months after the uhuru shocked the missionaries. However, despite his support of Africanization, Kawawa had spoken kindly of the work of the church in the country.

Kambona, a friend to the missionaries, had expected to succeed Nyerere. The appointment of Kawawa disappointed him. In order to demonstrate his disapproval of the appointment, he physically slapped Kawawa.Footnote 41 Nyerere pleased Kambona by giving him the ministry of home affairs, replacing Kahama.Footnote 42

Kawawa and Kambona became instrumental in the Africanization of the civil service. Dustan Omari was recalled from his office in London where he was High Commissioner, and became the prime minister’s permanent secretary. A white police commissioner (an Anglican) was replaced by Elangwa Shaidi (an African Lutheran). Bibi Titi Mohamed (a Muslim) was commissioned to probe the TANU members who received more than one salary, against the TANU policy of socialism. Ketto, a leading African teacher at St Andrew’s College, Minaki (the leading UMCA College in Tanganyika) received two salaries, one for teaching at Minaki, and another for membership in the Parliament. The Party members forced him to give up membership of the Parliament. Although he continued with teaching, Ketto would not contest the General Election in December 1962.Footnote 43 Nyerere dedicated himself to looking after his party, studying and writing to develop an ideology which he named it Ujamaa – African Socialism.Footnote 44

At its anniversary, the UMCA reported that the uhuru and the feelings of Africanization created a new era in the church,Footnote 45 and that the numbers of UMCA missionaries in the country had dropped by 5 per cent. CMSA experienced a similar crisis.Footnote 46 The missions were challenged: ‘The British Government gave Tanganyika independence after forty years, and the Church dare not lag behind.’ Further, ‘If the Church in Africa is to keep pace with the rapid changes taking place in the political and economic arena she must be ready to adapt herself ... to new circumstances lest she lose touch with the people for whom Christ has died.’Footnote 47

Africans were quickly appointed into the posts of assistant bishops and archdeacons, without training.Footnote 48 The Bishop of Zanzibar planned to divide his diocese into three for Sepeku and Lukindo, his assistant bishops. He also appointed Mntambo as the administrative assistant to the diocesan bishop.Footnote 49 Mntambo, who had been the secretary of the diocesan synod since 1947, was a member of the TANU Executive Council for Korogwe since 1956, and a friend of Nyerere. The bishop linked the diocese with Westminster; Mntambo linked it with TANU and Nyerere. Joseph Majiyapwani, who also was involved in TANU, was appointed the education secretary of the Diocese of Masasi.Footnote 50 Mrs Bartlet Mtenjela became the first African woman in the country appointed as a Mothers Union organizer, in the Diocese of Masasi. Mbaruku became the secretary of men candidates at Central Africa Office in London.Footnote 51 Father Mbulinyingi became the first African to serve in the staff of St Alban’s Church in Dar es Salaam. Father Mwamazi was made curate of Zanzibar Cathedral, the first African priest to serve there in that capacity.Footnote 52 Both archdeacons in the DSWT were Africans. Bishop Omari was sent to Australia, where he became the first African missionary from Tanganyika to evangelize Aboriginal people in northern Australia. Ntiruka received a scholarship to Australia, and Mbwana one to New York, for their degrees in theology, and they became the first graduates in the church.

The General Election held in December 1962 brought Nyerere back into power.Footnote 53 He was installed as the first president of the Republic of Tanganyika in January 1963.Footnote 54 Nyerere returned with a new strategy – he would consult his ministers and the TANU members when plans were ready.Footnote 55 He stopped the process of Africanization. The African workers protested against him.Footnote 56 The English workers who had shown pessimism during the independence struggle became increasingly worried about their future prospects.Footnote 57

Some Africans confronted the principal of the college at Minaki and this prompted him to look for assistance from the government.Footnote 58 He asked for an appointment to come meet Nyerere.Footnote 59 Instead, Nyerere drove to Minaki. The principal advised Nyerere that there was a need to regard the Africans’ resentments. Even though he gave no direct answer to the principal, in April 1963, Nyerere called on Ketto. The principal accompanied Ketto to meet the president, and found that Ketto had been appointed the director of the civil service commission. The presence of Omari as permanent secretary and Ketto as the director of the commission enabled the appointment of more Africans into various government posts to work hand in hand with Europeans and Indians.Footnote 60 Bishop Huddleston commented:

Africanisation; it is an ugly word and has been so much used lately that many are getting tired of it. But it is useful shorthand for the double process of handing over authority to the Africans and for the stripping from our faith of its purely European accidentals and making it homely for African … [This has been] the aim of all UMCA missionaries for the past hundred years … to plant and nourish a church that should be both catholic and African, not an overseas branch of the Church of England.Footnote 61

Huddleston appointed Father Kasoyaga to the post of the archdeacon of Newala, and Father Maurice Soseleje became his assistant bishop. The Bishop of Zanzibar consecrated Father Russell on 17 March 1963 for Zanzibar to have again a bishop who would concentrate on the Islands themselves.Footnote 62 In 1965, the UMCA merged with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG).Footnote 63

Church and State Relations during the Struggle for Independence and the Independence of Zanzibar

The British had established their rule over the Arab Sultans of Zanzibar when they declared the islands to be a ‘Protectorate’. Arabs, however, still had a major role in the colonial bureaucracy in Zanzibar. This increased tensions in Zanzibar,Footnote 64 and they reached a boiling point in the early 1960s. Anglicans were again prominent in how these events played out.

Despite the push for independence, British rule in Zanzibar seemed to aim at establishing an Arab constitutional monarchy. Because little attention was being paid to the political interests of the Africans there, these linked themselves with Russia and other socialist countries.Footnote 65 Bishop Neil reported in December 1963 that:

Recently two of our young Christians went at very short notice to Russia for engineering training. They have little qualification and no experience, they are not the only ones we have there … we have one firm Christian, very young who is a prominent Trade Unionist, and has just gone off on one of his not infrequent trips to Moscow, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. He only just missed going to China.Footnote 66

Anglicans were regarded as among the most educated Africans in Zanzibar. When young African Muslims saw that African Anglicans were benefiting from education, they enquired for knowledge of Christianity as a gateway to further education. However, due to the mistreatment of Africans by the British, the Muslim elders of Zanzibar received education for their children offered by Christians only at the expense of ostracism from their own people.

Despite these religious differences, Africans were united when it came to issues of national importance. In June 1963, they voted for African self-government and triumphed at the polls. Westminster diverted their victory to the Nationalist Party, made up primarily of the Islands’ Arab rulers.Footnote 67 Africans celebrated this Arabs’ Independence Day with a hidden agenda.Footnote 68 The UMCA officials reported:

[At] 3 am on the morning of Sunday, January 12th bands of Africans several hundred strong and armed with rifles, pangas and clubs, crept up on the guards at the two main police compounds, overpowered them and seized the Island’s main arms supply. The revolution was over by the time the Island awoke.Footnote 69

Anglicans were the leaders of this revolution. Okello from Uganda, who moved to Zanzibar, led the youth wing.Footnote 70 Adamu Mwakanjuki and E. Kisasi from Zanzibar led the dock workers.Footnote 71 These three men kept Bishop Russell alert ahead of all that would happen.Footnote 72 A day before the revolution Karume (the chairperson of the Afro-Shiraz Party) played bao with the bishop – one of his closest friends.Footnote 73 Karume knew about the plans for a revolution, but he thought it would be accomplished sometime at a distant future. Thus, when the bishop told him that the revolution was at hand, he was not sure who the leaders were. He sought advice from Russell for a place of refuge.Footnote 74 Russell suggested Magila and Bagamoyo.Footnote 75 Instead, and perhaps because of his religion, Karume went to Dar es Salaam.Footnote 76

The Church’s Reaction to the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar

The UMCA mission united the two countries even before political independence. It had a diocese which stretched to Masasi na Tanga. Politically, however, a year or two before the uhuru of Tanganyika, Nyerere was heard saying that he thought one of Tanganyika’s biggest problems in later years would be Zanzibar.Footnote 77 The confusion in Zanzibar thus made him more disturbed. He met Karume in Dar es Salaam on Sunday 13 April 1964.Footnote 78 Nyerere urged him to return to Zanzibar to accompany the freedom fighters.Footnote 79 Karume favoured this advice, but while he was on his way back to Zanzibar, Okello announced his government. Okello made himself the leader and declared Karume an honorary president.Footnote 80 Kambona was in Nairobi, and he informed Nyerere that Kenya and Uganda supported the new government in Zanzibar, and advised him to do likewise. Seeking more information from Zanzibar, Nyerere declined Kambona’s advice. He left Dar es Salaam on 15 January for Nairobi, for talks about the possibility of forming an East African Union. Although they had signed an agreement, the union had to be delayed because of some misunderstandings. Meanwhile, many Arabs in Zanzibar had been killed, and Okello had forced the Sultan of Zanzibar to leave immediately lest he be killed too. The Sultan was a good friend of UMCA missionaries; they welcomed him at the seaport in Dar es Salaam.Footnote 81

Karume, Abdulahamn Babu and Kasimu Hanga, who were in Dar es Salaam to update Nyerere, but were not aware that the Sultan was too,Footnote 82 convinced Nyerere that Zanzibar needed immediate assistance from Tanganyika.Footnote 83 Nyerere dispatched a troop of 300 police officers to Zanzibar. In Zanzibar, Okello demoted Karume, who reacted by deciding to remove Okello from Zanzibar. This information reached Nyerere who, using Kambona and Bishop Russell, convinced Okello to pay him a visit in Dar es Salaam. When Okello arrived, Kambona insisted that he remained in Dar es Salaam until Karume, Bishop Neil, and Sepeku came there. The idea was that the two would be helped to resolve their differences.Footnote 84 Karume insisted on the expulsion of Okello, and this became Okello’s eviction from Zanzibar.Footnote 85

Bishop Neil observed that Okello’s deportation would incite violence among the young people.Footnote 86 He therefore liaised with the Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Passion (CSP), who worked in a dispensary in Zanzibar, so that they would be on alert. The Sisters panicked, closed their dispensary and took refuge at Magila in Tanganyika. They exchanged one trouble for another. On the night of 20 January there was an army mutiny at Colito barracks (now Lugalo) in Dar es Salaam, where the army demanded the Africanization of its leadership.Footnote 87 Nyerere was determined to face the mutiny’s leaders, but the security officers of the state house (Ikulu) advised him to hide until peace was reinstated. They mentioned several hiding places, including the Roman Catholic Cathedral, but for reasons which are not clear Nyerere dismissed these suggestions. Instead, Bishop Sepeku was called to Ikulu, and when he arrived he offered a hiding place at Kigamboni. Nyerere, Omari and the bishop were kept there for some time, and then the Ikulu security officers took Nyerere to an unknown place.

The revolution and the mutiny led to robberies in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. In Zanzibar lawlessness became racially directed, the main targets being Arabs and Indians.Footnote 88 The rebellion did not last long, and it became clear that Africans’ aspirations meant that Africanization was inevitable.Footnote 89 In Nyerere’s reconsideration of Africanization, he changed the army’s name from the King’s African Rifles to Jeshi la Wananchi (National Defence Force).Footnote 90

In Zanzibar, Karume made himself the new president.Footnote 91 In March 1964 the ‘Revolution Council of Zanzibar passed a decree which enabled the president to acquire any property without the payment of compensation whenever it appeared to him that it was in the national interest to do so’.Footnote 92 Although the aim was to ensure that Africans benefited from their purloined resources, it became political theft when members of the Revolution Council promptly helped themselves to the property of churches and of a great many Arab and Asian citizens.

Nyerere sought to unite the two countries as an urgent solution to Zanzibar’s problems. On 26 April 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar were transformed into the United Republics of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Nyerere became the president, and Karume and Kawawa became the first and second vice presidents respectively. Again Kambona, who helped to bring down the leaders of the mutiny, was annoyed by these appointments. In August 1964 the united government invited suggestions for a new name for the united republic. The name, which gave the sense of the unity and was easy to pronounce, was Tan-za-nia.

‘Tanzania’ chose one-party democracy. Zanzibar fell into a ‘one-man show’ form of leadership.Footnote 93 The President of Zanzibar permitted African men ‘to marry any woman they wanted without considering the woman’s religious background’.Footnote 94 His permission raised the spectre of ethnic discrimination when he declared a number of Persian young women his own possession.Footnote 95 Bishop Russell confronted and rebuked Karume. The bishop was declared persona non grata. Footnote 96 Nyerere gathered that Zanzibar was becoming dangerous, and thus he allowed the bishop to stay in the mainland Tanzania.Footnote 97

Perhaps this is why Rajabu criticized the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, as within the framework of Nyerere’s agenda of Christianizing Zanzibar and beyond.Footnote 98 However, he ignores the fact that the missionaries played a major role in the making of the two countries, and that because the two countries were in tension, new strategies which could bring peace and stability were needed.

The Missions’ Responses to Ujamaa

The concept of people living in ujamaa existed before Nyerere and the National Assembly had articulated and made it a policy.Footnote 99 Nyerere published his paper about this Ujamaa or ‘family-hood’ in 1963, and described African Socialism in these terms:

The foundation, and the objective, of African Socialism is the Extended Family. The true African Socialist does not look on one class of men as his brethren and another as his natural enemies … He regards all men as his brethren – as members of his ever extended Family.Footnote 100

He then distinguished it from European Socialism, born of the agrarian and industrial revolutions, on the basis that:

These two revolutions planted seeds of conflict within society, and not only was European Socialism born of that conflict, but its apostles sanctified the conflict itself into a philosophy. Civil War was no longer looked upon as something evil, or something unfortunate, but as something good and necessary.Footnote 101

Nyerere promoted Ujamaa, which for him sought to build its happy society on a philosophy of controlled conflict between human beings. These aspects of the declaration, as for any new developments, were received by the church with differing opinions. When the government declared that it was intending to Africanize the education system, the church felt that their control of education as a key to evangelization and conversion was coming to an end. They declared: ‘Let the government take all schools as soon as possible.’Footnote 102 Bishop Alfred Stanway’s wife noted that her husband had to be very careful about what he said about the government’s actions.Footnote 103 Perhaps these silences and the unknown future prompted Kambona to attempt to overthrow the government. This could be the reason why East African representatives of the CMSA used their meeting at Limuru in Kenya to air their opinions.Footnote 104 Nevertheless, they could not agree themselves about what Ujamaa was. Some argued that it was Communism, while others said it was linked to Christianity.Footnote 105 There were also some missionaries who felt unhappy with the anti-European tinge among the African Anglicans.Footnote 106

Responses like these were likely to happen, in the sense that Ujamaa was a socialist ideology which was genuinely indigenous to Tanzania.Footnote 107 The missionaries were still learning and trying to understand African ideas and techniques. Therefore they could easily confuse Ujamaa with what they already knew from their home countries. Europeans who could not see parallels or even connections between Nyerere’s articulations and what they knew from people like Marx and Lenin could misunderstand Ujamaa.Footnote 108 Essentially people learn by moving from known to unknown, and therefore parallels between Ujamaa and other courses of action in such countries as Sweden, China, Cuba and Yugoslavia could be drawn. However, Ujamaa was derived from the experiences Tanzanians had gone through. This was why younger priests were able to question the missionaries, and such new developments held the essence of the ‘breakaway’ of the church in Tanzania from the Province of East Africa to form the Church of the Province of Tanzania in 1970.Footnote 109


From these connections between mission and church and events in the political development of Tanzania, it is obvious that Christians played a key role in the emergence of the nation. We conclude that Sanneh’s reading, that mission activities in Africa supported political development in Tanganyika and Zanzibar, is correct here. The two countries merged to become the United Republic of Tanzania – a union which survived longer than any other union of African countries. Although there was uncertainty and ambivalence among missionaries, they provided the education which prepared leaders for the country, and affirmed the value and validity of African culture. Their protégés became politically involved, and played a major role in the moves towards independence and the shaping of the nation thereafter.



The Rt Revd Dr Mndolwa is Bishop of the Diocese of Tanga, Anglican Church of Tanzania.


Philippe Denis is Professor of Church History at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


3. Sanneh, Lamin, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (rev. and enlarged edn; New York: Orbis, 2009), pp. 81-151 Google Scholar.

4. John Ketto, interview conducted by Maimbo Mndolwa on 14 May 2011 at Korogwe.

5. CMSA/MLMSS6040/65/3/Annual Letter from Ven. Archdeacon O. T. Cordell, CMS Tanganyika. This and following references to archival material begin with the abbreviated organization or archive in question, and then use the systems of the particular archive. Key organizations and abbreviations are : ACT (Anglican Church of Tanzania); ASL (Archbishop Sepeku Library); CMSA (Church Missionary Society of Australia); DCT (Diocese of Central Tanganyika); DZ(T) (Diocese of Zanzibar [and Tanga]); RHL (Rhodes House Library).

6. John Ramadhani, interview conducted by Maimbo Mndolwa on 16 May 2011 in Dar es Salaam.

7. Nyerere, Madaraka, ‘A Short Biography of Julius Nyerere’, in Chambi Chachage (ed.), Africa’s Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere (Kamapala: Fahamu Press, 2010), p. xvi Google Scholar.

8. Lennard, T.J., How Tanganyika Is Governed (Dar es Salaam: The Eagle Press, 1954), pp. 10-11 Google Scholar.

9. Ketto, 14 May 2011 interview.

10. Blood, A.G., The History of Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, Vol. III: 1933–1957 (London: UMCA, 1962), p. 233 Google Scholar.

11. Ketto, 14 May 2011 interview.

12. Bao is a national game in Tanzania.

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17. ACT/DCT/Dodoma/A letter from Regional Secretary for Tanganyika to the Bishop of Central Tanganyika, 15 October 1958.

18. ACT/DCT/Dodoma/A letter from the General Secretary to Bishop Stanway, 24 September 1958.

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30. Ketto, 14 May 2011 interview.

31. UMCA, Come Back to Africa: The Review of the Work of 1962, June 1963, p. 17.

32. UMCA, Baptize the Nations, p.5.

33. ‘Thirty Years of Medical Training at Minaki’, Central Africa: Journal of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, LXXX.950 (February, 1962), pp. 11-12.

34. Briggs, ‘Independence Day’, p. 28.

35. UMCA, …Yet Alway Rejoicing, p. 9.

36. UMCA, Baptize the Nations, p. 5.

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47. ‘Our American Visitors’, Central Africa: Journal of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, LXXX.959 (November 1962), p. 165.

48. CMSA/MLMSS6040/134/21/CMS Board Meetings, 1962–64.

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50. ‘Help from A. Y. P. A.’, Central Africa: Journal of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, LXXX.959 (November 1962), p. 175.

51. ‘News Items in Brief’, Central Africa: Journal of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, LXXX.954 (June 1962), p. 88.

52. John Mwamazi, interview conducted by Maimbo Mndolwa on 4 January 2011 in Dar es Salaam.

53. Nyerere, ‘A Short Biography of Julius Nyerere’, p. xvi.

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60. Samuel Sepeku, interview conducted by Maimbo W.F. Mndolwa on 7 June 2011 in Dar es Salaam.

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75. A letter from Bishop Russell to Bishop William Scott Baker.

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77. Smith, Nyerere of Tanzania, p. 90.

78. Mihangwa, ‘Nani alichochea Jeshi Kuasi 1964’.

79. Ketto, 14 May 2011 interview.

80. Mihangwa, ‘Nani alichochea Jeshi Kuasi 1964’.

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83. Smith, Nyerere of Tanzania, pp. 122-36.

84. Peterson, Revolution in Zanzibar, p. 174.

85. Smith, Nyerere of Tanzania, pp. 123-35.

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106. CMSA/MLMSS 6040/134/21/CMS Representative, Tanzania, 1964–70.

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108. Ramadhani, 16 May 2011 interview.

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