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Sir George Cartland, the colonial governor with a heart for Uganda

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th October 2008 03:00 AM

SIR George Cartland, the colonial governor with a heart for Uganda
Sir George Cartland was the deputy governor of Uganda between 1961and 1962 and was heavily involved with the development of educational institutions within Africa. After retiring from his post in the Ugandan Government, he took u

SIR George Cartland was the deputy governor of Uganda between 1961and 1962 and was heavily involved with the development of educational institutions within Africa.

After retiring from his post in the Ugandan Government, he took up senior university roles in the UK and Australia — including registrar of the University of Birmingham and vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania.

George Barrington Cartland was born in 1912, the son of William Arthur Cartland of West Didsbury. He was educated at Manchester High School and then at Manchester University, where he got an honours degree in history.

After graduating he joined the Colonial Service and, after attending a year’s training at Hertford College, Oxford, went to the Gold Coast (which later became Ghana) in 1935, as a cadet administrative officer. There, he gained experience in district administration and in the central secretariat, until 1944, when he was seconded to the UK for service in the Colonial Office.

For much of his time in the Colonial Office he served in the African Studies Branch, which he helped to build up. In 1948 he acted as secretary of the London African Conference, at which governors and political leaders from the African territories discussed the re-shaping of British colonial policy in the post-war era and the road towards independence within the Commonwealth. This close contact with forward-looking policy made a strong impact on Cartland and was to be of great use to him in his later career.

In 1949 he came to Uganda as administrative secretary and remained here for the rest of his service. When the preliminary moves towards the development of a ministerial system of government were made in 1952, Cartland became Secretary for Social Services and Local Government and a member of the Executive Council. He became the Minister for Social Services in 1955 and, when a separate Ministry of Health was created in 1958, Minister of Education and Labour.

He was appointed chief secretary to the Government in 1960 and when internal self-government was introduced in July 1961, he became Uganda’s first and last deputy governor. On a number of occasions he acted as Governor. Although from time to time Cartland may have hankered after the West African scene, he wholeheartedly devoted his considerable talents and experience to Uganda and played a substantial part in laying the foundations for its independence.

He arrived in Uganda when the post-war development drive was getting under way. From 1952 onwards he was responsible for directing a rapid expansion programme which built up its health and education services to a standard which could easily bear comparison with those of any other colonial territory.

His particular interest lay in education and he had a clear grasp of its place in African advancement — and of the practical problems of developing it on a modest budget.

As Minister of Education and Labour, Cartland’s influence was felt far beyond the confines of Uganda. He made a substantial contribution to the creation of the University of East Africa and had always taken a great interest in the development of the University College of Makerere.(Now Makerere Univeristy).

His influence on the East African scene was also manifested in another direction. Before the ministerial system was introduced in Tanganyika, in 1957, Cartland was consulted about the working of this system in Uganda. Cartland’s contributions to these discussions were of considerable value, coming as they did from a mind that was both observant and penetrating. Tanganyika’s debt to Uganda was subsequently repaid when Cartland sought Tanganyika’s views on the establishment of a deputy-governor’s office and on the introduction of a compensation scheme.

He held the post of chief secretary for only a year before it was abolished on the introduction of internal self-government, but it was a full year and probably the most testing part of his career and he rose to the challenge.
He was heavily involved in the complex and delicate constitutional negotiations leading up to self government and independence, and it was here that his involvement in the policy-making of the post-war years stood him in good stead. He had a clear grasp of the end in view and a clear realisation of the speed of change, which might well have bewildered a less experienced man.

At the same time, he was responsible for managing the civil service in a difficult transitional situation, when the Africanisation of the service was being pushed forward at a surprising pace and expatriate officers were worried about their future. It is largely because of his skill that the civil service did not break under the strain.

After his retirement he accepted the appointment as registrar of Birmingham University. During this period he also served as a member of the executive committee of the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas from 1963 to 1967 and was a member of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission from 1964 to 1967.

In 1968 he moved to Tasmania to take up the post of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania. He stayed in the role for 10 years and was awarded an honourary Doctor of Laws for his services to the University of Tasmania. His services were in demand by the Tasmanian government where he was chair of the South-West National Park Advisory Committee, undertook a review of library and archives legislation in 1977 and a thorough review of Tasmanian government administration between 1979 and 1981.

On moving to Tasmania, he resumed his Uganda connections with the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, acting as Uganda Council chairman, from 1958 to 1959 and then Tasmanian Council president from 1968 to 1978. He was made a Knight of the Order in 1971.

Cartland is survived by a son. His wife, Dorothy Rayton, and another son died before him. He was born on September 22, 1912 and died on July 31, 2008, aged 95.

Adapted from The Times

Sir George Cartland, the colonial governor with a heart for Uganda

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