Abstract: White Privilege or Transactions Costs? Early Colonial Attempts to Regulate the Lake Victoria Rice Trade

Laird Jones


This paper examines the ambitious commercial schemes and lobbying efforts of Carl Jungblut, a settler in the Mwanza district of German East Africa from 1906 until 1916. It aims to analyze Jungblut's career as an introduction to turn-of-the-century colonial business politics, and as a case study of the economic motives behind the heightened nationalist rhetoric and more virulent racist political agendas of struggling European planters or would-be businessmen. The sources for this paper offer seemingly contradictory testimony. At the end of his career Jungblut produced a memoir, VerzigJahreAfrika, 1902-1940 (1941), in which he championed his pioneering investments in steam transport, improved rice seed, and industrial milling. The records of Jungblut's distribution agent, the Mwanza branch of William O'Swald & Co., however, undercut his claims, and instead indicate that his transport and milling enterprises were rarely profitable. In fact, Jungblut was heavily indebted to German investors, utterly dependent on metropolitan shippers, and repeatedly resisted by local African and Asian rice traders. Therefore, Jungblut lobbied the colonial administration for protections and concessions, extolling the virtues of his own ''patriotic'' enterprise while railing against the ''uneconomic'' practices of his Asian rivals.