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Tanganyika (1919-1961), Tanzania

Mandated Territory of Tanganyika

Last modified: 2006-11-11 by bruce berry
Keywords: tanganyika | giraffe | charlton j |
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[Flag of Tanganyika, pre 1961] image by Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004 See also:


In 1885 Germany annexed German East Africa. During the First World War this was occupied by allied forces. It was renamed Tanganyika Territory in 1920 and placed under British Mandate; in 1946 it became a United Nations mandate. Tanganyika became independent on 09 December 1961 (from UK-administered UN trusteeship). Zanzibar became independent 19 December 1963 (from UK); and Tanganyika united with Zanzibar on 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar; renamed United Republic of Tanzania on 29 October 1964.
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Red Ensign (1919 - 1961)

After World War I Tanganyika became a Mandated Territory under the League of Nations, with the British as the mandated power. The flag that was used was the red or blue ensign, with a giraffe’s head in the fly. In the blue ensign the head is not situated in a white disk.
Stuart Notholt, 29 Jun 1996

Red Ensign - white disc with Giraffe's neck and head. The white disk's diameter = 4/9 of flag height. Badge from Flaggenbuch (1939) by Ottfried Nubecker.
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Red and Blue Ensign: 1919 - 1961, (not 1964). Both went out of use at the end of 1961 when Tanganyika became independent, not 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to become Tanzania.

In 1932 the Tanganyika Immigration launch,  which should have flown the Blue Ensign with a giraffe's head in the fly, actually flew a Blue Ensign with POLICE stitched on in white tape.
(PRO document, CO 323/1181/17) Much more informative, and much easier to make.
David Prothero, 23 Sep 2000

My 12 year old daughter told me the other day that the old colonial flag for Tanganyika used by the British between 1920ish and 1960ish had a giraffe on it, can anyone confirm this and give me any insight as to why this was so. I think a giraffe is quite a strange thing to put on flag but I dare not argue with my daughter who knows a thing or two about giraffes. Was it a case of some colonial governor having a gin & tonic too many or does the giraffe hold a special place in the cultural life of Tanzania, a bit like the sheep does here in Mid-Wales.
Nicholas Randall-Smith, 08 May 2004

It was probably a case of 'what else is there?'.  By the end of the 19th century the Colonial Office had realised that the pictorial element of the Public Seal did not make a good flag badge.  A local animal was usually used when there was no other obvious emblem associated with an area.  In Africa they had already used the elephant, lion, leopard, and two sorts of antelope.  Perhaps it was a toss-up between the giraffe and the zebra ?
David Prothero, 08 May 2004

image by Clay Moss, 09 Oct 2006

Many of you are aware of the story I have told about finding an old piece of 4x8 foot ply board on Lake Malawi with 4 old British red ensigns crudely painted onto it. The ensigns were Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Tanganyika. The story goes that yachtsmen from all of those colonies used to meet and race yachts on the lake. Yachts from respective colonies evidently flew their particular red ensigns on their boats, and the ply board served spectators on the shore as an ensign identifier.

I have not been able to verify the whole yacht story even though it does seem plausible. I have a photo of the ply board buried somewhere and the Tanganyika ensign looks like this image. You'll notice that the white disk commonly associated with Tanganyika's red ensign is missing.

I don't know if an actual ensign was ever produced minus the disk, but the ply board painting suggests that it was possible.
Clay Moss, 09 Oct 2006

Tanganyika Blue Ensign (1919 - 1961)

[Blue Ensign pre 1961] image by Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Blue Ensign - Giraffe's neck and head without white disk. Badge from Flaggenbuch (1939) by Ottfried Nubecker .
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Governor's flag (1919 - 1953)

[Governor's flag 1919-1953] image by Martin Grieves, 06 Jun 2004

Governor's flag -  I have borrowed  António Martins' template for our purposes here. Badge from Flaggenbuch (1939) by Ottfried Nubecker.
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Colonial Badge (1919 - 1961)

[Badge 1919 - 1961] image by Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Badge detail on transparent background. Badge from Flaggenbuch (1939) by Ottfried Nubecker.
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

The badge was approved 1919 and added to the Admiralty Flag Book as an amendment in 1920.
Also Tanganyika was technically not a British colony.  It was a League of Nations Mandated Territory 1919-1946, and a United Nations Trust Territory 1946-1961.
David Prothero, 06 Jun 2004

Governor-General's flag

[Governor-General's flag] image by Željko Heimer, 27 Mar 2003

This is shown in 'Flags of The World' by Bill Yenne, Published by Bison Books, Copyright 1993. However we have no information on it at <gb-coflg.html> - it seems that standard pattern and ratio was used, but in what period? (and would there be pre-1953 version?)
Željko Heimer, 27 Mar 2003

Here is the reason for the Governor-General's flag for Tanganyika:
When Tanganyika first gained independence on 09 Dec 1961 it gained such status as a Constitutional Monarchy with the Queen of the United Kingdom as the Queen of Tanganyika, much like the status in present day Canada, Australia, Bahamas, New Zealand, etc. Therefore, like the above there was a Governor-General for Tanganyika. Actually the person appointed Sir. Richard Gordon Turnbull was the last Colonial Governor of the colony. However, this status only lasted for one year. On 09 Dec 1962 Tanganyika became a republic with a Tanganyikan head of state. Since this was such a small period of time that this flag was used...may explain why it has in essence vanished from memory. Also...since the Office of Governor-General existed between 1961-1962 there never would have been a pre-1953 flag depicting the old Tudor crown.
You can verify my info at
Jim Booth, 07 Mar 2005