by Lawrence E.Y. Mbogoni
Aspects of Colonial Tanzanian History is a collection of essays that examines the lives and experiences of both colonizers and the colonized during colonial rule in what is today known as Tanzania. Dr. Mbogoni examines a range of topics hitherto unexplored by scholars of Tanzania history, namely: excessive alcohol consumption (the sundowners); adultery and violence among the colonial officials; attitudes to inter-racial sexual liaisons especially between Europeans and Africans; game-poaching; European settler vigilantism; radio broadcasting; film production and the nature of Arab slavery in Zanzibar.
A particularly noteworthy case related to European vigilantism is examined: the trial of Oldus Elishira, a Maasai, for the murder of a European settler farmer in 1955. The victim, Harold M. Stuchbery, was speared to death when he attempted to “arrest” a group of Maasai young men who were passing through his farm. The event highlighted the differences in the concepts of justice held by Maasai and the imported justice systems from the colonizers. It also raised vexing questions about the colonial judge’s acquittal of Oldus Elishira, while the Maasai who should have been satisfied with that decision decided to take it upon themselves to mete out an appropriate punishment to Elshira instead of total acquittal, and to compensate Mrs. Stuchbery for the death of her husband by giving her a number of heads of cattle.