Charles Innes Meek's account of his twenty years in Tanganyika - now Tanzania - goes to the heart of British colonial rule at the end of empire. The story begins with his arrival in the former German colony during the dark days of World War II. He describes the challenges of living in a peasant community in a remote colony in war-time and of life among a remarkable cast of frontier characters - hunters, mining magnates and farmers - and working with his individualistic and even eccentric colleagues. Cheap, efficient and just administration were the watchwords of British Colonial Service. With his colleagues, Meek was absorbed in the daily work of a Colonial Officer - building roads and bridges, improving agriculture, keeping the peace and administering justice. By the late 1940s, however, the drive towards nationalism had gained pace. There were experiments with forms of indirect rule with local tribal leaders but all was suddenly overtaken by the momentum of the independence movement and in 1957 Meek was moved from his beloved district administration to Dar es Salaam. Here he was embroiled in the fast-moving events leading to decolonization. He worked with the last Governor, Sir Richard Turnbull as Permanent Secretary to the Chief Minister, and later as Head of the Civil Service. He collaborated deeply with Julius Nyerere, the Chief Minister, and Meek provides a sympathetic and intimate portrait of the magnetic personality of this most charismatic and respected of African leaders - a moving story of friendship and mutual respect. 'Brief Authority' is a fascinating story for all readers interested in the inside story of the British Colonial service at the end of empire - dramatic, moving and full of human interest.
A Memoir of Colonial Administration in Tanganyika