David Gordon Hines

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David Gordon Hines
David Gordon Hines (Kings African Rifles c1940).jpg
David Hines in King's African Rifles uniform
Born (1915-02-08)8 February 1915
Staffordshire, England
Died 14 March 2000(2000-03-14) (aged 85)
Bristol, England

David Gordon Hines (8 February 1915 – 14 March 2000) was a chartered accountant who as a British colonial administrator developed farming co-operatives in Tanganyika and later in Uganda. This radically improved the living standards of farmers in their transition from subsistence farming to cash crops. When he was responsible for development throughout Uganda (with about 400 staff), some 500,000 farmers joined co-operatives.[1]

Early life[edit]

David Hines was born in Staffordshire, England on 8 February 1915. His parents lived in Margherita, Assam, India where his father managed coal mines. His grandfather William Hines founded with his brother the Heron Cross Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. After a childhood largely in Barnstaple and at Blundells School in Tiverton, both in Devon, he was articled to Cooper Brothers, the accountants, in London.

In 1938 he sailed to Kenya to start work with accountants in Kisumu, only to find that his new firm had just been taken over by his old employers Cooper Brothers.

World War II[edit]

During the Second World War, David Hines served in northern Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Madagascar.

In 1/6 Battalion of the King's African Rifles, he commanded a squadron of 20 light armoured cars which was assigned the task of defending 800 miles (1,300 km) of the northern border of Kenya against a possible Italian invasion from neighbouring Ethiopia. He spent six months eating with his African crews and sleeping under tarpaulins as there were no tents. The working language was Swahili.

At the Outspan Hotel in Kenya, his wife Bertha (Beb) Hines helped Lady Baden-Powell reply to the thousands of letters sent to her on the death in January 1941 of her husband, Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scout movement. In early 1941, Hines, then a captain, was in the van of General Cunningham's swift 1,900-mile (3,100 km) advance from Kenya to Addis Ababa, via Kismayo and Mogadishu in Somalia and up the one good road through Harar, Dire Dawa, and Awash. With iron rations while advancing in light armoured cars, they captured thousands of Italian troops. They confiscated their arms and many supplies, and left the prisoners for other troops who followed behind. In Addis Ababa, Hines helped rescue numerous Italians and Germans who had surrendered – he saw many others beside the roads who had been crucified by the local Shifta people.

On one occasion, while crossing the River Kolito in Eritrea, David Hines witnessed Nigel Gray Leakey (a relative of Louis Leakey, famous for anthropological discoveries in East Africa) perform the acts that would win him the Victoria Cross, the highest British medal for valour.

One night on the Eritrean border, an elephant lost a leg after walking on a landmine defending the camp. At first light, Hines and two askaris tracked the elephant for 20 miles (32 km) before putting it out of its misery.

After taking part in the Allied invasion of Madagascar and being transferred briefly to Burma, Hines was made the accountant on the 100,000-acre Tanganyika wheat scheme, set up to help feed war-ravaged Europe.

Tanganyika 1947 to 1959[edit]

David Hines was employed in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) by the Colonial Office to develop farming co-operatives throughout Tanganyika: even by the early 1950s, there were over 400 co-operatives operational, despite vast areas of central and southern Tanganyika being plagued by tsetse fly, making them unsuitable for agriculture and cattle raising.[2] Previously, farmers had sold their produce to Indian traders at poor prices. The farmers gained more favourable prices for their crops by banding together and selling their produce in bulk.

Uganda 1959 to 1965[edit]

In 1959, Hines became Commissioner of Co-operatives for Uganda reporting to the Governor. He and his staff of 400 advised groups of 100 to 150 farmers on how best to establish a co-operative, defining the constitution and accounting. At meetings he would encourage establishment of co-operatives, listen to farmers' problems, and give speeches to encourage progress.

At a typical initial meeting, he would speak in English with multiple interpreters speaking the local languages. After a while, the meeting would agree to switch to Swahili, despite Ugandans being wary of Swahili, the language used by earlier Arab slavers.[3] Fortunately Hines spoke fluent Swahili.

With government money, the co-operatives built cotton ginneries, tobacco dryers and maize mills – and successfully exported coffee and cotton from this landlocked country. In the three years after Uganda's 1962 independence, David Hines reported to the Uganda Government Minister Matthias Ngobi.

Kenya 1966 to 1972[edit]

Hines was seconded by the UK to advise the Kenya Minister of Agriculture particularly about the "Million-acre scheme" to buy expatriate farms mostly in the Kenya highlands.

Kilifi ferry, Kenya coast 1969 with his family


He eventually retired to Kingsdown, near Deal in Kent, England, became Treasurer of the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club and died of prostate cancer in Keynsham Hospital, Bristol on 14 March 2000, leaving two daughters and one son, all born in East Africa.[1]


  1. ^ a b (a) Two-hour interview by WD Ogilvie of David Hines in 1999 (b) Obituary by WD Ogilvie in the London The Daily Telegraph 8 April 2000.
  2. ^ 3rd edition 1994 Lonely Planet: East Africa ISBN 0-86442-209-1 page 497
  3. ^ (a) Two-hour interview by WD Ogilvie of David Hines in 1999; (b) Obituary in the London The Daily Telegraph 8 April 2000; (c) Son Peter Gordon Hines.