History of the School

An Overview

The University of Dar-es-Salaam School of Law (then Faculty of Law – herein referred to the School) is the oldest law training institution in East Africa. It was established on Wednesday, 25th October 1961, three months before independence, to cater for the new emerging independent states of East Africa, comprising of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The first batch of students at the School was admitted to the then Tanganyika National Union (TANU) (Now Sukita) Building along Lumumba Street in Dar-es-Salaam. By its establishing Instrument, the School was affiliated to the University of London awarding degrees of that University through external programs. In principle, its curriculum was premised along the law curriculum of the University of London.

The establishment of the School at the eve of independence provided an opportunity for the creation, innovation and introduction into the syllabus local case materials, which were sensitive to the aspirations of the newly independent States of East Africa, despite its attachment to the University of London. This was made possible by, among other factors, the fact that the School comprised of dynamic young scholars from diverse jurisdictions who advocated for change. These included A.B Weston, an Australian recruited from Canada who served as Dean, William Twinning a UK citizen recruited from Sudan and Patrick Mc Auslan also from the UK. Others were Sol Piccioto from the UK and trained in Chicago, Mr Pink, an African American legal scholar from the USA, Cranford Platt a Canadian who was the Principal and Mr Snaith the planning officer from the UK.

At inception, the mission of the School was to provide the newly independent states of East Africa with indigenous skilled lawyers in the shortest time possible to work in the government and public service. When formally inaugurating the University College of Dar-es-Salaam, (As the Faculty of Law was referred to then), on 25th October 1961, the late Mwalimu Nyerere (then Chief Minister and “Visitor” to the College) aptly summarised the reasons underlying the establishment of the School. He stated:

“[This] College has been established in a rush. Recommendations for opening a University College of Tanganyika had been put at a much later date as the operative one, but my government felt that this was a matter of highest educational priority…[This] was a political decision…..An independent country depending on charity for all its higher educational opportunities is in great psychological danger. But the decision to start the first Faculty in 1961 and to proceed as rapidly as possible was an educational decision meant to increase opportunities for university education for all citizens”

In setting a direction for the approach in teaching courses at the School, the late Mwalimu Nyerere stated:

“We are in the process of building up a Tanganyika nation…[If] we are to build a sturdy sense of nationhood, we must nurture our own educated citizens (who) must have an African oriented education. That is, an education which is not only given in Africa, but also (that which is) directed at meeting the present needs of Africa. For our present plan must be that directed at reaching the villages……”

Because of the government’s approach, therefore, despite the School being affiliated to the University of London upon inception, the focus of the curriculum was also purposefully designed to cater for local situations that were in line with the aspiration of the emerging new States of the region. From inception, the School was compelled to embark on applied research out of necessity. It guided the government in the codification of customary law, integration of court systems and matters of constitution making.

It was during this epoch when the School established a Legal Research Center under the directorship of A. Sawyer. Unfortunately, this Centre wound up its activities with Sawyer’s departure from the School. Books and monograms that were produced during this epoch were geared at producing local material for teaching. They sought to find African examples to fit into the common law principles and concepts that had to be applicable in Tanganyika. Students were also involved in research activities. They published their findings in research journals, for example, in the Denning Law Journal.

For the whole of the first decade, the students’ Denning Law Society [(Now University of Dar-es-Salaam Law Society (UDLS)] sponsored field research projects/competitions annually in the areas of African customary law, Islamic law and offered prizes to students who excelled in research writings and essays. These were also published in the Society’s Journal, first the Denning Law Journal (later the University of Dar-es-Salaam Law Journal and today the Nyerere Law Journal).

The School now

Currently, the School offers three undergraduate programs: Certificate in Law (CTL), Bachelor of Law degree (LL. B), and Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement (BALE). All these programs intend to introduce our students to the basics of legal knowledge. Certificate in law program, for example, is designed to give students a foundational understanding of Tanzania legal system. The LL. B program intends to provide our students with a comprehensive knowledge of the law and its related theories. It prepares them to qualify for the legal profession. Our LL. B graduates qualify to work as officers in different public and private offices as well as in the judiciary. Bachelor of Arts in Law enforcement is a new program introduced in 2009. The program aims to equip law enforcers with necessary legal skills for efficient discharging of their responsibilities. The targeted groups are those working or interested in working with our security apparatus such as the police force, immigration service, fire department, armed forces, prison services, revenue authorities, financial intelligence unit, drugs enforcement agents, and anti-corruption agents. Equally, all those working or interested to work with private security companies, or those interested in becoming security analysts may find this program uniquely interesting. Thus, the program accepts students who are fresh from studies or those already employed in different sectors.

At postgraduate level, the School offers Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL), Specialised Postgraduate Diploma in Law (SPGDL, Master of Laws (LL. M), Taught LL. M programs and Doctor of Philosophy degree. All these postgraduate programs intend to impart specialised knowledge to our students. Upon completion, our graduates are expected to become full-fledged experts in their areas of studies. Details of our programs are found in programs’ specific section in this website.

The School is composed of three departments (Public Law, Private Law, and Economic Law). Apart from the three departments, the School interacts with the outside world through institutions that are based at the School. Today, the School houses the Center for the Study of Forced Migration (CSFM), the Legal Aid Committee (LAC) and the Tanzanian German Centre for Eastern African Legal Studies (TGCL). These provide opportunities for inter-departmental research at the School of law.

The School, through TGCL, has the best collection of human rights, constitutional law and regional integration law material in the country. It also harbours an up to date library specialized in the Law of the Sea and International Environmental Law. This unit acts as springboards for inter-disciplinary research and outreach programs in these fields.

Apart from teaching undergraduate, graduate students and coordinating courses in the certificate of law, members of staff of the School perform research on various issues transcending social, economic and cultural boundaries but linked to the development of the jurisprudence of the law and legal systems.