Our great African leader for today’s edition of the #AfricanHeroesMonth is Tanzania’s Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Julius Kambarage Nyerere became the first prime minister of independent Tanganyika in 1961 who later became the first president of the new state of Tanzania ( Diamondplatinumz country ) 1964 after the unification of his Tanganyika and adjoining Zanzibar ( TANganyika + ZANzibar = 🇹🇿 TANZANia ).
Born on April 13, 1922, Julius Nyerere is considered one of Africa’s most influential leaders. He was a very good orator and statesman, liberator, pan-Africanist, politician and anti-colonial activist. He was a founding member of TANU ( Tanganyika African National Union ) which fought for Tanganyikan independence from Britain. He Africanised the civil service of his country Tanzania and apparently ( like Nkrumah and the others ) also believed in the one party state system . He nationalised industries and massively expanded health cover.
Nyerere was a major force behind the Organization of African Unity (OAU; now the AU -African Union). He also pursued the Pan-Africanist formation of an East African Federation with Uganda and Kenya. He had even suggested that Tanzania’s independence should be delayed a bit till Kenya and Uganda were also free so that at the point of independence of all three countries, they could go straight into unification. He was a great friend of Nkrumah and supported African Unity . He thought regional federations could be a short term step towards eventual unification of the continent .
When asked about his biggest failure , he said it was his inability to unite the East African countries into the Federation.
He fought Idi Amin in Uganda and eventually was a major force in overthrowing him .
A democratic socialist, his biggest foreign ally outside Africa was Chairman Mao’s China.
He tried so hard to convince the USA’s President Kennedy to stop supporting the white-dominated racist apartheid government in South Afirica .
Under Nyerere, Tanzania carried out mass education )and instituted FREE and universal education ( by 1978 , 80% of all children were in school ). He also emphasized Tanzania’s need to become economically self-sufficient rather than remain dependent on foreign aid and foreign investment. He changed the land policy from freehold to leasehold and communal land ownership . This was rooted in in his belief in Ujamaa ( Familyhood ) rather than individualism.
He is held in deep respect within Tanzania, where he is often referred to by the Swahili word, Mwalimu (“teacher”) and described as the “Father of the Nation”.
Julius Nyerere passed on October 14, 1999 and I am going to end with a very significant quote by him on African Unity:
“Until Africa is one economic unit, it will remain the plaything of the great powers of the world; and the only way for a people to keep control of one economic unit is to have one representative political power covering the whole area.”