We remember Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere, who died on this day in 1999. Mwalimu was a true son of the soil!
“Without unity, there is no future for Africa.”
Julius Kambarage Nyerere, known as Mwalimu (teacher) was a shrewd politician, which is way more than can be said for most these days. Born to a chief in a small village, he had to walk 26 miles to get to school but he defied odds and excelled. He went to Tabora Government Secondary School and again, against every odd excelled. Nyerere became the first Tanzanian to study at a British university, the University of Edinburgh.
At this point, he was already playing around with socialist ideas and on his return was made to choose between his teaching career and politics. His choice is clear, as he soon started working towards the unification of different nationalist factions. In 1954, TANU (Tanganyika African National Union) was formed and he became its President until 1977. He was elected President of the country in 1962.
Tanzania was liberated without much bloodshed because of Nyerere’s willingness to work with different people. His skills helped the country deal with the Zanzibar coup in 1964 by incorporating the leaders into the union government. This incorporation spread out to community level with the formation of the organised villages to extend traditional values and responsibilities around kinship.
No quote captures what Mwalimu stood for better than this, “The objective of socialism in the United Republic of Tanzania is to build a society in which all members have equal rights and equal opportunities; in which all can live in peace with their neighbours without suffering or imposing injustice, being exploited, or exploiting; and in increasing basic level of material welfare before any individual lives in luxury.”