3.2- Between the two world wars: the arrival of the missionaries and the settlement of the first groups of Italians.

The first flows of Italians to Tanzania started at the end of the First World War. These flows were linked to the phenomenon of the religious missionaries. With the defeat of Germany and the breakup of its colonial possessions (10), German Benedictine Fathers, among the first missionaries to Tanganyika, left the country. In 1920 the Consolata Fathers of Turin settled in Iringa Region and constituted the first nucleus of Italian missionaries (11). The perception in Italy in the twenties of these "unknown" territories was mainly the one portrayed by some missionaries who, on returning to Italy, described the places and their potential for exploitation with the typical emphasis of that time. Among them is the significant report that Father Giuseppe Capra, envoy for a year in the territories of southern and central Africa, wrote: "These regions, British East Africa included, are rich and, even though they also suffered from the world crisis, due to the war, they can nevertheless be considered as possible consumers of many Italian goods. The Italians are esteemed here, as a result of the contribution of the flourishing Italian Missions. [..] The Italians could penetrate British East Africa, not only through more active trade, but through colonization. The transfers of ownership and of administration are still confused, especially in the former German Tanganyika. The indigenous labourers want more land; the numerous Arab and Indian traders and farmers are demanding equal rights with the Europeans" (Capra, 1924, pagg. 158-159).

We well know that, despite this optimistic and enthusiastic forecast, our migration flows toward East Africa have always remained limited and can not be compared with the large migrations overseas preceding the First World War. Between the two wars, the activity of the Italians concentrated in some very important sectors for the development of the Territories of Tanganyika (12).

The coffee plantations in Moshi and Arusha and the agricultural experimental station of Amani also developed thanks to Italian commitment; our fellow-countrymen were also involved in the hotel business in Dar es Salaam. It is during these years that a Mr. Sibilia established a sisal plantation in Morogoro. This plantation, after many events linked with the war, was retained and managed by him until 1960 (13). Finally, worthy of mention are the activities in mineral exploitation of Mr. Bayona in the Region of Bukoba (tin) and Mr Bicchieri in Tabora (gold) (14). Other Italians sought their fortune in the gold mines of Lupa (Mbeya).

The Italians continued to make a commendable contribution to the construction of railways. "The strong exchanges that took place between Tanganyika and its neighbours, led in 1926 to a suggestion proposed to the East African Guaranteed Loan Committee for the building of a railway to link the richest points of the mandate. This plan was implemented much later and it was a group of Italians, headed by Cav. Bicchieri (Italian Consul in Nairobi) who implemented the construction in the best way. It was completed four months ahead of schedule." (Giordano, 1946, page 314). The line built by Bicchieri with Italian engineers and technicians was the one that connected Manyoni to Singida Kinyangiri (15).

The census of the Italians abroad which took place in 1927 counted 185 Italians in the consular district of Nairobi which covered the entire British East Africa, including the Territory of Tanganyika and the Sultanate of Zanzibar.

Table 3.2. - Italians resident in British Eastern Africa According to the Census of Italians Abroad of 1927

                              Males          Females       Total         

Kenya Colony                  78             56            134           

Uganda Protectorate           7              -             7             

Tanganyika Territory          33             8             41            

Sultanate of Zanzibar         2              1             3             

Total British Eastern Africa  120            65            185           

Source: MAE, Censimento degli Italiani all'estero, (Census of Italians Abroad) 1927

The small Italian community was influenced by the fascist wave that hit Italy. The census of 1927 also mentions the existence of "Fasci italiani" either in Dar es Salaam or in Morogoro (MAE. 1928). In Morogoro a "Casa del Fascio" was founded. In 1931, thanks also to the railway constructions mentioned above, the Italian community reached about 150 units (Cfr. Pellegrineschi, 1933).

It is interesting to note that the opinion given in the official report of the 1927 census was very positive. It was in fact said that "it is overall a well-off colony" (MAE, 1928, page 324). In February 1927 the "Bollettino dell'Emigrazione" (Migration Bulletin), published by the Commmissariato Generale dell'Emigrazione (16) (General Commissioner for Emigration), gave the following opinion about migrationary possibilities to British Equatorial Africa: "with much wariness and caution and with a clear contract of work, some Italian families could settle down. Favourably Mechanics, carpenters and masons can find work provided that they know the English language".

It is estimated that at the beginning of the Second World War there were about 3,000 Germans and Italians in the Tanganyika Territory, while the total number of Europeans was about 8,000 people. When Italy declared war (10 June 1940), all Italian property in Tanganyika was put under the custody of the British authorities. At the same time about 500 Italians and Germans were interned in the Union of South Africa (17). But other Italians arrived in Tanganyika: the Italians captured in 1941 at the time of the occupation of Italian Eastern Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia and Italian Somalia) (18) were interned in camps located in Tanganyika. These numbered about 3,000, together with 180 Cypriot Jews, 9,000 Poles and 500 Greeks (Pennington A.L., 1952).

According to the data provided by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office the Italian citizens were interned not only in Tanganyika Territory (Tabora and Arusha), but also in Uganda and in Southern Rhodesia. The total number of internees in the area were estimated around 14,900 on 31 May 1945 (19).

Almost all the Italians interned were males and capable of working either in the agricultural sector or as craftsmen, but in the first period of internment they were not permitted to leave the camp and work outside. There was no tension or other particular problems in the everyday life of the camp and even when many Italians were occupied outside the camp, the situation remained calm (20).

Table 3.3 - Deceases during imprisonment in Tanganyika (Tabora), according to the nature of death (1942-1946)

   Year    Cardiovascu  Blackwater    Malaria     Suicide    Not Known     Total



   1942         5           11           6           -           2(21)      24      

   1943         -           1            -           -           -           1      

   1944         3           4            -           1           2          10      

   1945         -           4            1           1           7 (22)     13      

   1946         1           3            -           1           7          12      

  Total         9           23           7           3          18          60      

Source: Elaboration on Foreign and Commonwealth Office data.

Unfortunately some fellow-countrymen did not survive internment. As shown in table 3.3 which contains the available data according to the cause of death, most of the deaths which occurred during the internment were due to blackwater fever (41%) (23).

From a temporal point of view we note a significant mortality rate in 1942, that is in the first period of detention and this was probably due to the adverse living conditions and to the hardships endured during deportation. In reading the available data it is important to consider that those prisoners who were badly in need of medical attention were transferred to the camp of Nyeri in Kenya, which offered better medical facilities. Almost all the deceased lie in the Italian Military Shrines of Nyeri (Kenya) and Fort Victoria (Zimbabwe).

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