28 March 2022
Photographs of the Government Printer in Tanganiyka
In September 2021, the British Library acquired 10 photographs taken in the 1920s of the Government Printer in Tanganyika (Photo 1403). The items were donated by a descendant of a former civil servant, working at the press. The collection comprises of 9 black-and-white photographs, mounted on a single card, showing the office spaces and printing rooms. The tenth photograph, mounted separately, is a group portrait of the employees. A copy of A History of German East Africa by C. C. F. Dundas, published by the Government Printer in 1923, was also donated alongside the photographs.
The new acquisition enhances the library’s visual materials related to the history of Tanganyika, while also documenting printing technology and machinery in the early twentieth century. The Government Printer was established in Dar es Salaam following WWI, after Great Britain gained control over this area of German East Africa. One of the earliest titles printed by the new administration was The Tanganyika Territory Gazette, with its first issue running in 1919 and its last in 1964. The press also printed annual reports and works related to law, civil administration, agriculture, geology and medicine. A list of the Government Printer’s publications from 1940s onwards is available on Open Access in the Social Science Reading Room (OPL 967.8).
In 1922, Tanganyika formally became a League of Nations mandated territory under British administration. In 1928, the British government implemented the requirement of a security bond to be payable by any periodical printed as frequently as every fortnight (Sturmer 1998). The ordinance effectively curtailed any attempts at establishing African-language newspapers outside of missionary or government periodicals until 1937, when the Swahili-language Kwetu was finally launched. Kwetu’s founder, Erica Fiah, had circumvented the bond by issuing a print run every 18 days (Sturmer 1998).
Tanganyika gained sovereignty in 1961 and is now part of modern-day Tanzania. For the role Kwetu and other independently-owned presses played in fuelling the independence movement, see Scotton 1978.
All the photographs reproduced above can be consulted by appointment to the British Library’s Print Room. For more information, please contact: [email protected].
Brennan, J. R. (2011), “Politics and Business in the Indian Newspapers of Colonial Tanganyika.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 81(1), 42-67.
Hunter, E. (2012), “‘Our Common Humanity:’ Print, Power, and the Colonial Press in Interwar Tanganyika and French Cameroun.’’ Journal of Global History 7, 279-301.
Iliffe, J. (1979), A Modern History of Tanganyika. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scotton, J. (1978), “Tanganyika's African Press, 1937-1960: A Nearly Forgotten Pre-Independence Forum.” African Studies Review 21(1), 1-18.
Sturmer, M. (1998), The Media History of Tanzania. Tanzania: Ndanda Mission Press.
List of Publications published by the Government of Tanganyika, January 1944 [etc.]. (1944). Dar es Salaam: Tanganyika Territory Government Publications. OPL 967.8