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Indirect Rule: The Establishment of “Chiefs” and “Tribes” in Cameron’s Tanganyika

ByJames D. Graham

Sir Donald Cameron, Governor of Tanganyika from 1925–31, has reflected on his policy of indirect rule as a practical way to "administer the people through the instrument of their own indigenous institutions." Sir Donald Cameron, assuming the governorship in 1925, instituted "little change" in Byatt's administrative system, although he accelerated the process and considerably escalated the rhetoric of indirect rule. After the Colonial Office in London assumed the League of Nations Mandate over Tanganyika in 1919, Governor Horace Byatt set forth the general outlines of British administrative policy in Tanganyika. The "tribal" system of indirect rule probably created more problems in Njombe District and throughout Tanganyika than it solved. It was officially acknowledged by the 1950's that indirect rule had outlived its usefulness, especially in those numerous cases where "the concept of a chief was absent". British officials like Cameron, Mitchell, and Bagshawe devoted inordinate efforts to translating the theory of indirect rule into practice.