A history of the Tanga sisal labour force, 1936-64.

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study attempts to look at those proletarians who really built and made the sisal industry of Tanzania flourish. They formed part of the mass of colonial peasants and workers who were the crucial element in imperialism’s search for tropical raw materials. These people bore the direct impact of the exploitation which was perpetrated against colonised people by foreign individuals, companies, and local comprador classes. The study area covers what used to be the Tanga Line Branch of the Tanzanian sisal industry which is presently Tanga Region and the Same (Pare) District of Kilimanjaro Region. It is however actually a study of the African workers who met in the Tanga melting pot from all corner of the territory and neighbouring countries, to form the huge Tanga sisal labour force. Data was collected from archival research in the Tanzania National Archives, field research in the study area, access to TSGA records, and interviews with sisal workers and officials. Chapter One introduces the sisal plantation while chapter Two discusses the growth of labour force, the wage system, and the labour productivity. Chapter three describes the conditions of work and the general treatment of the sisal worker while chapter Four discusses the workers’ struggle. The thesis concludes that due to foreign ownership and export orientation, plantations anywhere in the world generated surplus which then provided much of the stimulus for the industrialization of metropolitan countries. Plantation economies and sub-economies have lagged behind metropolitan countries in economic development in what has always been a dynamic process of underdevelopment. Tanzania was in a metropolis-satellite relationship with Britain and continental Europe and sisal plantations were a strong force putting the territory in this client relationship. Thus the very neat sisal rows one sees on plantations area very vivid reminder of the colonial exploitation of Tanzanians who worked to bring the into being, the underdevelopment of the country which came about in part through export of surplus which went to stimulate industry elsewhere, land the very real economic depression of Tanzania through the process of supplying labour.
Labor supply, Tanga Region, Tanzania, Same (Pare) District, Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzanian sisal industry
Tambila, A. (1974). A history of the Tanga sisal labour force, 1936-64. Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (