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Messages - Herbert Thornton

Tanzania / Re: Army Mutiny - was that 1964
06 August, 2011, 02:21
I remember the mutiny very well.   It was indeed in January 1964.    I was living in the top floor of one of the Kinondoni Flats, facing the Bagamoyo Road, and was wakened by a voice - around 5.am I think - calling up to some friends in another flat - " Bill, Joe," (or whatever their names were) - "Don't go into work today.    The army's mutinied".    The voice was that of a man from the Canadian Embassy/High Commission:  he'd driven out to warn them.

Naturally everybody in our block was out of bed in a shot and none went back to sleep.

About an hour later we heard another voice.   It was the District Commissioner who'd arrived on his bicycle.     "I say you chaps, you need to know that the army's mutinied."

Anyway when it was light, we heard some lorries coming, heading into town, and some of us gathered outside to look at them - they were crammed with soldiers - and they were holding their white officers at gun point.   We learned later that they were transporting them to the airport with a view to putting them on planes to fly them out of the country.

Then one of the lorries slowed down, and all the rifles were pointed at us.    A voice from the lorry said "GO INSIDE SIRS".    We did too.

Everybody stayed at home for the next few days & then we began to drift back to work, but things felt very uneasy:   one day I was shopping for groceries in Dar and noticed an unruly crowd gathering further up Acacia Avenue (now Independence Avenue).     It seemed best not to linger & I drove straight back to my flat.    I believe they were looting.

Some time later - I don't remember how long, but it was a few weeks I think - we were again wakened by several explosions, followed by what sounded like a bombardment.     We learned later that it was the operation by British commandos to put down the mutiny and seize the barracks (a few miles down the Bagamoyo Road from where I was living.

My own house servant told me later that one of his friends was among the mutineers, and was actually in the guardroom when the commandos launched their assault - and that there was an explosion in the guardroom (I guess it was a grenade) and that when he looked round - there was the headless body of his sergeant - at which the friend leaped out of the window and fled.   

The government thought that it would be undesirable for the British commandos' presence to be continued for very long and after a few more weeks they were replaced by large numbers of Nigerian soldiers.

More detailed memories keep coming back as I type but this will do for now.
Needless to say, it was all very unsettling.