In this article, we will explore how the Germans implemented direct rule in Tanganyika. Direct rule is a way of governing where the central authority of a country takes charge of local administration. During the German colonial period in Tanganyika, which is now part of Tanzania, the Germans used direct rule to assert control over the region. We will delve into the methods they employed, the impact on the local population, and the lasting effects of this approach on Tanganyika’s history.


Use of Akidas and Jumbes

The Germans employed a strategic approach by enlisting the support of the Akidas (Arabs and Swahili collaborators) and the Jumbes (local leaders of small African clans). The Akidas played a vital role as intermediaries, helping to maintain German authority among the local population due to their existing influence and connections. The Jumbes, as clan leaders, acted as representatives of German rule within their respective communities, aiding in the enforcement of German policies and facilitating communication.

Governor in Dar-es-Salaam

The German administration centralized its control by placing the governor, the highest authority, in Dar-es-Salaam. This allowed for efficient oversight of the entire territory, ensuring that directives were disseminated promptly and uniformly.

Advisory Council with Europeans

To provide counsel and guidance, the governor established an advisory council comprising Europeans. This council played a significant role in shaping policies and decisions, offering a European perspective on matters related to governance, economic development, and other crucial issues.

District Division for Administration

For streamlined governance, the Germans divided Tanzania into 24 districts. This division facilitated the allocation of resources, administration of justice, and implementation of policies across the territory.

Population-based District Sizing

To ensure effective administration, each district was designed to encompass a population of approximately 20,000 to 30,000 people. This manageable population size allowed for better oversight and quicker response to local needs.

District Administrators

Every district was placed under the authority of a district administrator, who acted as the local representative of German rule. This hierarchy ensured that German directives were implemented at the grassroots level.

Control over Local Leaders

German administrators wielded significant authority over African local leaders, having the power to appoint or remove them as needed. This control over local leadership was a key mechanism for maintaining German influence and control.

Military Control in Chaotic Districts

In districts marked by unrest or disorder, such as Iringa and Mahenge, the Germans implemented strict military administration. This approach aimed to swiftly restore order and suppress any resistance to German rule.

Police Posts for Law and Order

To uphold law and order, each district featured a police post. These posts were critical for maintaining control, preventing unrest, and responding to any security challenges that arose.

Hierarchical Sub-Division

Districts were further subdivided into counties and sub-counties, allowing for a multi-tiered administrative structure. This hierarchy facilitated efficient governance, enabling issues to be addressed at various levels of authority.

German Administrators’ Judicial Role

German administrators were not only responsible for governance but also served as administrators in handling criminal cases. This dual role underscored their comprehensive authority, extending to matters of justice and law enforcement within their districts.

District-Level Administration

At the core of the German rule in Tanganyika was a hierarchical administrative structure. Germans operated at the district level and above, employing a system where local villages were governed by appointed Jumbes and Akidas. These local leaders held authority under the watchful eye of German officials who provided strict oversight to ensure compliance and loyalty to German interests. This hierarchical approach allowed Germans to exercise control over both local and regional affairs.

Utilization of German Settlers

The German settlers played a pivotal role in administering Tanganyika. They were placed in various regions across the territory to effectively manage and control the local populations. These settlers were given responsibilities ranging from economic activities to enforcing German policies. By integrating settlers into administrative roles, the Germans could implement their rule more efficiently and extend their influence beyond the governmental apparatus.

Local Chief Autonomy in Chagga Land

In the Chagga land region, the Germans adopted a distinct approach. Rather than imposing their direct rule, they allowed local chiefs to maintain their leadership roles. This decision was based on the perceived peaceful nature of the Chagga people. By letting the local chiefs continue their leadership, the Germans aimed to keep a sense of stability and avoid unnecessary conflict in this specific region.

Tax Collection and Administration

The Akidas, Jumbes, and District administrators collaborated to collect taxes on behalf of the German government. This tax collection served multiple purposes for the Germans. Not only did it provide financial resources for the administration, but it also asserted their authority and control over the local population. The collection process was likely intertwined with the strict oversight to ensure compliance and to demonstrate the power of the German rulers.

Harsh and Cruel Direct Rule

The German administrators in Tanganyika employed a policy of harsh and cruel direct rule. This approach was intentionally brutal, aiming to deter any potential rebellions or resistance from the African population. By demonstrating an unwavering willingness to suppress dissent through cruelty, the Germans aimed to create an atmosphere of fear and submission. The objective was to discourage Africans from rebelling further, thereby maintaining the German grip on the territory.


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