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Tanganyika (1961–62)
Republic of Tanganyika (1962–64)
Mungu ibariki Afrika
Capital Dar es Salaam
Government Parliamentary monarchy (1961–62)
Presidential republic (1962–64)
Head of state
 •  1961–62 Elizabeth II
 •  1962–64 Julius Nyerere
 •  1961–62 Richard Turnbull
 •  Independence from British Empire 9 December 1961
 •  Republic 9 December 1962
 •  Union with Zanzibar 26 April 1964
Currency East African shilling
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Tanganyika (territory)

Tanganyika /ˌtæŋɡənˈjkə/ was a sovereign state that existed from 9 December 1961 until 26 April 1964, first gaining independence from the United Kingdom as a Commonwealth realm, then becoming a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations exactly a year later. After signing the Articles of Union on 22 April, and passing an Act of Union on 25 April, Tanganyika officially joined with the People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar on Union Day, 26 April 1964.[1] The new state changed its name to the United Republic of Tanzania within a year.[2] It was situated between the Indian Ocean and the African Great Lakes of Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa and Lake Tanganyika.

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  • Mimi, Toutou and Fifi - The Utterly Bizarre Battle for Lake Tanganyika I THE GREAT WAR Special
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • Kigoma & Tanganyika Lake
  • WiTWI Carmen Sandiego | Trouble on Tanganyika (1992)


The following episode is sponsored by Audible - one of the leading providers of audiobooks online. This summer, the summer of 1916, Belgian, British, and South African forces did a fairly good job of taking territory in German East Africa. They even captured the Dar-es-Salaam railway, which cut off most connection with Lake Tanganyika, which made up the bulk of the western border of the colony, but you know what? For months before that some seriously bizarre and interesting action had been going on on the lake itself, and that’s what I’m gonna talk about today. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War special episode about the Battle for Lake Tanganyika. This was a series of naval engagements between German, British, and Belgian naval forces for control of the lake. It went down in late 1915 and the first half of 1916. German East Africa was surrounded by Belgian, Portuguese, and British possessions, and if Germany was to hold on to the colony they kind of had to hold the lake, which controlled the border and would allow raids and the quick transport of troops, while preventing the enemy from doing the same. However, to control the lake, Germany would need armed vessels on the lake, and when the war broke out she had none. But when the British attacked Dar-es-Salaam August 8th, 1914, the Germans scuttled an armed survey ship they had there, and sent its guns and crew to the lake, arriving in Kigoma, on the lake’s eastern shore, the 12th. Captain Gustav Zimmer became German commander of the lake region. In addition to the many tiny craft on the lake, Germany had the 45 ton Kingani, the 60 ton Hedwig von Wissmann, and was constructing the 1200 ton Graf von Goetzen, which had actually been built once already in Papenburg in 1913, then taken apart, packed in 5,000 crates, sent to Dar-es-Salaam, westward as far as possible on the railway, then carried by porters to Kigoma. It was assembled there and eventually launched June 9th, 1915. The Germans had already established control of the lake, though, in 1914, putting the Belgian steamer Alexandre Delcommune out of action and sinking the British Good News and Cecil Rhodes. They now had the only two working steamers on the lake and were undisputed masters. The Belgian commander in the area requested airplanes, a sub, and torpedo boats to fight back. He got a torpedo boat but no torpedoes, and four airplanes from the British admiralty, but they wouldn’t arrive till May 1916. In April 1915 came a plan to give the British control of the lake. A professional hunter named John Lee, who knew the lake region well, traveled from South Africa to Britain with a proposal for the Admiralty. He wanted to send two motorboats, faster and better armed than the Hedwig and the Kingani, to change the balance of power. This is kind of easier said than done, but Lee had worked out the overland route to get the boats there and the general logistics. British Admiral Sir Henry Jackson said, “It is both the duty and the tradition of the Royal Navy to engage the enemy wherever there is water to float a ship.” Two suitable boats were found. Forty foot, twin engines boats fitted with 3-pound Hotchkiss guns at the front. Okay, enter possibly the weirdest guy of the war, Lieutenant-Commander Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, the oldest Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy. He had been suspended twice for incompetence, but he was the only guy available. He was also a serious braggart and invented fantastic lies about himself. He also wanted to name the boats Cat and Dog, but the navy wouldn’t let him, so he christened them Mimi and Tou-Tou. The expedition departed London June 15th, 1915 and arrived in Cape Town July 2nd. En route, Spicer-Simpson regaled the other passengers with his fraudulent exploits in Africa and the Far East, like shooting rhinos on the Gold Coast, where there are no rhinos. He also threatened to commandeer the ship when he was told not to smoke near the gasoline engines. When they got to Cape Town, the boats were carried by railway as far as Fungurume in the Belgian Congo; the next stage was the tricky part. 240 km overland to Sanikisia, with heights up to 2,000 meters in the Mitumba Mountains. Lee had gone in advance to prepare the way, and a track was being cut through the bush, and bridges to cross the 140 rivers and gorges on the way were being built. Lee had also brought in a tractor engine from Southern Rhodesia to drag the boats and supplies from Fungurume, and moving just a few kilometers a day, they reached Sanikisia September 28th. From there they were either taken by rail, or floated along to the Belgian harbor Lukuga on Lake Tanganyika, arriving December 23rd after a six month journey. Spicer-Simpson insulted the Belgians and promptly began wearing a skirt - not a kilt, a skirt - and bare arms and shoulders, which were covered with tattoos of things like snakes and butterflies. The ships went into action three days after arriving. The Kingani was spotted and Mimi and Toutou gave chase. The Kingani didn’t realize the danger it was in until very late, and it tried to turn to bring its forward gun to bear on them. This didn’t work. Mimi was faster and attacked from astern, and Toutou did from port. The Kingani tacked from side to side to try to use its gun, but the British ships were too agile. Eventually the Kingani took a few shots, was rammed by Mimi, its captain was killed, and it surrendered. The whole action had taken 11 minutes. Once ashore, Spicer-Simpson told everyone he had fired the crippling shot; he hadn’t. The British repaired the damage to the Kingani and renamed her Fifi. Mimi, Toutou, and Fifi. Fifi’s front gun was moved to the back and at the front she was outfitted with a big 12 pounder gun. The Germans didn’t investigate the Kingani’s disappearance until early February 1916, when Zimmer, sailing in the now-completed Goetzen, which the British didn’t know about, ordered the Hedwig to find her. By this time, Spicer-Simson was a fell Commander, though the locals called him Lord Belly-Cloth. The Hedwig was then spotted off Lukuga. Fifi and Mimi attacked and the Hedwig tried to run, but Mimi was too fast, though Fifi fell behind, being burdened with the 12 pound gun. Mimi kept up harassing fire, while the Hedwig kept tacking to try and use its front gun, and that allowed Fifi to catch up. The chase lasted three hours until Fifi could finally close range and open up with the 12 pounder, eventually hitting the Hedwig’s boiler. The Hedwig’s captain had the ship scuttled. Spicer-Simpson stopped to pick up a floating locker before picking up survivors. Inside it was the German Naval Ensign, the first one captured by the British in world war one. The day after all this, Zimmer went out to see what had happened. When Spicer-Simson saw the Goetzen, many times Fifi’s size and much better armed, he turned around and went back to bed. He realized he needed something heavier to fight her. The Belgians were building the Baron Dhanis, which could’ve challenged the Goetzen, but it was taking forever so he went in search of another ship, returning from Leopoldville in May. During his absence, the Goetzen’s guns were removed since the German land forces needed them. They were replaced with wooden dummies. Now, Spicer-Simson wouldn’t attack since he didn’t know the guns were dummies, and Zimmer couldn’t attack without guns, though, on June 12th, those four planes I mentioned finally made their appearance, bombing the Goetzen but causing only light damage. When the Dar-es-Salaam rail -way was captured in mid-July, Zimmer was ordered to leave the lake. He scuttled the Goetzen, and the Belgians occupied Kigoma July 27th. The battle for the lake was over. Belgian King Albert awarded Spicer-Simpson the Croix de Guerre, but when the truth of his performance reached the British Admiralty, he never held a naval command again. We’ll definitely do a special on this nutcase, but go look him up because I’ve barely scratched the surface of his antics. But give him some credit, for a contemporary writer did write this, “No single achievement during World War One was distinguished by more bizarre features than the successfully executed undertaking of 28 daring men who transported a ready made navy overland through the wilds of Africa to destroy an enemy flotilla on lake Tanganyika.” That, I think, says it all. I talk every week of the horrors of the trenches, and the gas, and the death and destruction, but I thought this week I’d give some time to one of the perhaps lighter side stories of the war. If you’re wondering, the British raised the Goetzen in 1924 and re-launched it as the Liemba in 1927. That’s a local name for the lake. That ship is still in service today, working as a commercial and passenger boat. From what I understand, C.S. Forster used the story of the battle as a basis for his novel, “The African Queen”, and you’ve probably seen the movie version starring Humphrey Bogart. This episode was sponsored by Audible, one of the leading providers of audiobooks online. It’s a great way to listen to some of the best audiobooks on the go like on your smartphone or tablet - perfect for my regular strolls from Stockholm to our studio in Berlin. We want to thank Dave Hunter for his research on this episode. If you want to know more about the African Theatre of World War 1, check out our episode about German East Africa right here. Don’t forget to check out the great audible catalogue at and also don’t forget to subscribe.


Tanganyika originally consisted of the Tanganyika Territory, the British share of German East Africa, which the British took under a League of Nations Mandate in 1922, and which was later transformed into a United Nations Trust Territory after World War II. The other parts of German East Africa were taken into Belgian trusteeship, eventually becoming present-day Rwanda and Burundi.

The Tanganyika Independence Act 1961 transformed the United Nations trust territory into the independent sovereign Commonwealth realm of Tanganyika. The British monarch Elizabeth II remained head of state and Tanganyika shared the Sovereign with the other Commonwealth realms. The monarch's constitutional roles were mostly delegated to the Governor-General of Tanganyika. The royal succession was governed by the English Act of Settlement of 1701.

Tanganyika adopted a new constitution in 1962 that abolished the monarchy, with the Tanzanian Parliament (the majority of whom were members of the Tanganyika African National Union Party) drastically revising the new Constitution to favor a strong executive branch of government, namely a president.[2] Tanganyika then became a republic within the Commonwealth, with Julius Nyerere as President of Tanganyika. After the Union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika, an interim Constitution amended from the 1962 Constitution became the governing document. Although meant to be temporary, the Constitutions remained effective until 1977.[2]

The unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964 followed Nyerere's principle of Ujamaa which entailed a strong "territorial nationalism."[3]

See also


  1. ^ "United Republic of Tanzania; Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar act, 1964". 
  2. ^ a b c Katundu, Mangasini (August 2015). "Tanzania’s Constitutional Reform Predicament and the Survival of the Tanganyika and Zanzibar Union". The Journal of Pan African Studies. 8 (3). 
  3. ^ Gunderson, Frank (4 May 2013). "Expressive Bodies / Controlling Impulses: The Dance Between Official Culture and Musical Resistance in Colonial Western Tanganyika". Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 96 (2): 145–169. ISSN 2161-6302. 
This page was last edited on 13 September 2017, at 19:11.
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