Cover image for The 1964 army mutinies and the making of modern East Africa
The 1964 army mutinies and the making of modern East Africa
Parsons, Timothy, 1962-
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Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2003.
Physical Description:
xiv, 231 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
The nature of colonial military service -- The Colonial Army and independence, 1960-1963 -- The Askaris Intervene, January 1964 -- The legacy of the Barracks Revolts, 1964-1971
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DT433.5 .P37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book provides a new concept framework for understanding the factors that lead soldiers to challenge civil authority in developing nations. By exploring the causes and effects of the 1964 East African army mutinies, it provides novel insights into the nature of institutional violence, aggression, and military unrest in former colonial societies. The study integrates history and the social sciences by using detailed empirical data on the soldiers' protests in Tanganyika, Uganda, and Kenya.

The roots of the 1964 army mutinies in Tanganyika, Uganda, and Kenya were firmly rooted in the colonial past when economic and strategic necessity forced the former British territorial governments to rely on Africans for defense and internal security. As the only group in colonial society with access to weapons and military training, the African soldiery was a potential threat to the security of British rule. Colonial authorities maintained control over African soldiers by balancing the significant rewards of military service with social isolation, harsh discipline, and close political surveillance. After independence, civilian pay levels out-paced army wages, thereby tarnishing the prestige of military service. As compensation, veteran African soldiers expected commissions and improved terms of service when the new governments Africanized the civil service. They grew increasingly upset when African politicians proved unwilling and unable to meet their demands. Yet the creation of new democratic societies removed most of the restrictive regulations that had disciplined colonial African soldiers.

Lacking the financial resources and military expertise to create new armies, the independent African governments had to retain the basic structure and character of the inherited armies. Soldiers in Tanganyika, Uganda, and Kenya mutinied in rapid succession during the last week of January 1964 because their governments could no longer maintain the delicate balance of coercion and concessions that had kept the colonial soldiery in check. The East African mutinies demonstrate that the propensity of an African army to challenge civil authority was directly tied to its degree of integration into postcolonial society.

Author Notes

Timothy H. Parsons holds a joint appointment as an associate professor in the history department and the African and Afro-American Studies program at Washington University in St. Louis.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Parsons (Washington Univ.) deals admirably with military protest in Tanganyika, Kenya, and Uganda, succinctly discussing relevant terminology--military strike, mutiny, coup d'etat. Since askaris (African enlisted soldiers) who served in Britain's colonial King's African Rifles did not always obey white officers, Parsons claims a broad continuum of military indiscipline as Tanganyika, Kenya, and Uganda entered independence. Askaris demanded pay improvement, quicker promotion, and entrance into the officer class. In 1964, when most Tanganyika police were suppressing revolution in Zanzibar, Tanganyika askaris struck, quickly followed by Uganda and Kenya askaris. The upheavals, resulting in one death, ended swiftly when the three governments summoned British intervention. The strikers/mutineers in the three countries received relatively mild punishment. The events brought crucial repercussions: Kenya's Kenyatta created a professional soldiery; Tanganyika's Nyerere "opted for a people's army"; and Uganda's Obote established a socially isolated army that Idi Amin would use to inaugurate his tyranny. Obote's model led to similar tragedy elsewhere in Africa. Excellent notes and bibliography and helpful maps, tables, illustrations, and index should make this title appealing to a wide audience. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Most collections. E. E. Beauregard emeritus, University of Dayton

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Abbreviationsp. xiii
1. Introductionp. 1
2. The Nature of Colonial Military Servicep. 31
3. The Colonial Army and Independence, 1960-1963p. 59
4. The Askaris Intervene, January 1964p. 101
5. The Legacy of the Barracks Revolts, 1964-1971p. 149
6. Conclusionp. 211
Appendix Interviewsp. 221
Selected Bibliographyp. 223
Indexp. 229