In commemoration of the death of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere

NEXT Sunday, 14th October 2018, will be the 19th anniversary of the death of the father of our nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.

This day, October 14th of every year, is the national ‘remembrance day’ for Mwalimu Julius Nyerere , on which the whole nation normally travels ‘down memory lane’, in their varied ways and methods, to the life and death of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the co-founder and first President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

As for myself, I will do so by attending the regular annual memorial mass at Butiama Catholic Parish Church, arriving there from my cozy retirement residence in Ukerewe Island, accompanied by a full contingent of a selected church choir from my own Parish of Nansio.

It is therefore proper and befitting that I should dedicate today’s article to the memory of his death.

As William Shakespeare said in his “All’s Well that ends well” (Act V, scene iii):- “Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear”. It is on the basis of that inspiring statement, that this article has been crafted.

Tanzania now has a whole new generation. Eighteen years is the statutory ‘age of majority’ in Tanzania. Hence, the nineteenth anniversary of Mwalimu Nyerere’s death, basically translates into the emergence of a whole new generation of adult Tanzanians, who were born after his death.

This new generation should, nay must, be kept abreast of Mwalimu Nyerere’s sterling works in the liberation of this nation from colonial rule; and, thereafter, in the management of its affairs as a young nation, which was literally ‘groping along’ in the quest for unity, stability, and socio-economic development under his leadership.

In other words, if I may refer again to Shakespeare, this time to his Julius Caesar, (Act III, scene I); in which he says the following:- “The evil that men do lives after them, but the good, is often interred with their bones”.

It is therefore my considered humble and fervent plea, that as a nation, we must not allow the good deeds that Mwalimu Nyerere did for this nation to be “interred with his bones”, merely due to lack of reliable information which is readily available to these upcoming new generation of Tanzanians.

I submit that we have a binding obligation to ensure that such information, especially on Mwalimu Nyerere’s political legacy, is passed on to these new generations. And that is the purpose of this article. My knowledge of Mwalimu Nyerere.

I personally had the great good fortune of working closely with Mwalimu Nyerere in a variety of high-ranking Public Service positions, to which he himself appointed me from time to time at different stages during the period of his Presidency.

That great variety of appointments gave me that rare advantage and opportunity, for being close enough to him to be able to observe his way of doing things, plus his personal endowments, which he generously applied to all the leadership tasks which he was called upon to perform.

It is with the benefit of that rare advantage, that I am now confidently making this presentation, which is mainly focused on his legacy, which, I sincerely believe, these new generations of Tanzanians should endeavor to emulate.

Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy. Apart from other considerations, Mwalimu Nyerere should always be fondly remembered for his leadership accomplishments, which are his indelible legacies, in the following selected areas:-

• His great devotion, and unflinching support, for the liberation of Central and Southern Africa from colonialism.

• His success in laying firm foundations for our country’s unity, peace and tranquility (which our country continues to enjoy right up to this day); and for the proper route to be taken for the socio-economic development of the country, and its people, based on Self-Reliance.

• His acclaimed leadership ethics. His outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle. Mwalimu Nyerere’s actions were largely influenced by the objective conditions and circumstances prevailing at the relevant material time.

During the initial period which covered the first years of his leadership following Tanganyika’s independence, the struggle against colonialism was the dominant political factor in Africa.

Consequently, this ‘colonialism factor’ inevitably exercised a similarly dominant influence on his mind, and, consequently, on many of his actions. He himself was of the settled view, that colonialism was a violation of human rights.

Thus, all of those colonialists, wherever they might be, were violating the relevant people’s human rights to self-determination.

Hence, upon becoming President of the Republic of Tanganyika on 9th December 1962, he immediately settled on two priorities.

One was “to build the new independent nation on the firm foundations of unity and brotherhood”; and the other was “to participate actively in the struggle for the liberation of all the countries of Africa which at that time were still under colonial domination”. We will return to the factor of laying the foundations for national unity a little later.

But with regard to ‘liberation of Africa’ project, any authentic post-colonial history of Central and Southern Africa will, inevitably, include Mwalimu Nyerere’s name, and his outstanding contributions to the relevant efforts.

However, all that is now history; whose facts are, of course, important to be remembered, but mainly only for their historical value and significance; since that particular project was successfully accomplished, and its noble objectives were fully achieved.

He laid the foundations for unity, peace and tranquility. It is with regard to the ‘stewardship’ of the affairs of our country, where Mwalimu Nyerere made his most lasting imprint on the minds of many people worldwide.

He observably had settled his mind on two twin objectives to be pursued: One was the task of building “a new unified nation”, and the other was the need to find an essentially ‘new route’ to be followed, for the new country’s development.

His lasting success in building sustainable national unity among people of diverse tribal origins and religious affiliations, is perhaps Mwalimu Nyerere’s most widely acknowledged legacy.

He was able to achieve this particular feat through a two--pronged strategy: The first was to quickly dismantle the structural impediments to national unity, which had been created by the colonial Administration.

The second was to design new policies, and to enact new laws and regulations, in order to facilitate the effective achievement of the desired objectives.

The colonial impediments to national unity included the separate loyalties to numerous tribal Chiefs, which had been created through vesting them with certain governance powers (both administrative and judicial) over their respective ethnic communities, or ‘tribal subjects’, which was done under the provisions of the old colonial “African Chiefs’ Ordinance”.

The said law had created a multitude of ethnic loyalties owed by different communities to their ethnic tribal Chiefs. This, obviously, needed to be dismantled, in order to be able to create a united new loyalty to the new nation.

The dismantling exercise was easily carried out through the abolition, on 16th February 1963, of the said ‘African Chiefs Ordinance’. This was quickly followed by the deployment of the suitably qualified Chiefs among them, to appropriate positions in the Public Service. For example, my own Chief Lukumbuzya of Ukerewe, was duly posted to the diplomatic service.

The new policies which were soon introduced, included the creation of the “National Service” training programmes (Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa), which was specially designed in order to achieve national integration among the young people, specifically between those few who had had the privilege of obtaining secondary education, and the much larger number of those who had missed that limited opportunity.

The mere fact of their living together and working together for a specified period, under special supervision, enabled them to forget their diverse ethnic and educational backgrounds, and to develop new friendships across the board.

Some of the other measures which were taken, included the introduction of new education Rules and Regulations, which resulted in the ‘nationalisation’ of all the schools belonging to various religious organizations.

In order to eliminate the rampant discrimination which was being practiced by these private schools, of restricting admission only to students belonging to their own respective religious denominations; and the rapid establishment of boarding secondary schools in different parts of the country, and the placement of students in schools which were located in areas far away from their original places of birth.

This judicious mixture of students hailing from different ethnic backgrounds enabled them to live together and work together, under appropriate supervision, for several consecutive years.

This factor helped to facilitate the emergence of genuine feelings of ‘togetherness’ among them, as persons who belong to one big nation. Creating new routes for the country’s development: The “Ujamaa policy on Socialism and Self-Reliance”, is perhaps the best known of Mwalimu Nyerere’s initiatives, which was promulgated in Arusha on 5th February, 1967; and is commonly referred to as the ‘Arusha Declaration’. Some of his critics have condemned Mwalimu Nyerere for what they described as his ‘disastrous’ Ujamaa economic policies.

For example, a Kenyan renowned scholar, Professor Ali Mazrui, in his published article titled “Nyerere and I”, made the following observation:- “Nyerere’s policies of Ujamaa amounted to a case of heroic failure.

They were heroic because Tanzania was one of the few African countries which attempted to find its own route to development, instead of borrowing the ideologies of the West. But it was a failure because this economic experience did not deliver the goods of development”.

It is indeed true, that primarily because of corruption practices, and even outright ‘plundering’ of public property, in addition to the general mismanagement of these enterprises; most of the public commercial enterprises which had been established in the process of implementing the Arusha Declaration, eventually failed to produce sufficient goods and services to meet the needs of the people; and therefore had to be privatized, simply because they were creating an unbearable burden on the Government.

But it is also equally true, that the ‘spirit’ of Ujamaa and self-reliance, still continues to permeate and pervade the community of Tanzanians to this day, specifically in relation to the Ujamaa concept which rejects “exploitation”, and requires “everyone who is capable of working, to actually do some work”, or, in President Magufuli’s own words, “Hapa Kazi Tu”.

The survival of this positive ‘spirit’ is further evidenced by the fifth-phase government’s successful efforts in raising sufficient revenues from internal sources, for investment in new mega development projects, such as the new electric trains which will run on new Standard Gauge Railways; new ‘giant’ Dreamliner aircraft, and new large ships to ply on Lake Victoria and Lake Nyasa; plus the construction of a new ‘giant’ hydroelectric power generating plant at Stigler’s Gorge. His exemplary leadership ethics.

It is said in the books of authority on this subject, that: “ethics is the heart of leadership”. Those of us, who had the good fortune of closely witnessing Mwalimu Nyerere’s unique leadership style, can readily testify to the fact that he had a very strong stance regarding the concept, as well as the benefits, of observing “ethics”, specifically for leaders, but also for everyone else in their everyday lives.

This is evidenced by the following statement which he made in the Tanganyika Legislative Council in 1959:- “The only safeguard of peoples’ rights, the peoples’ freedom, and all those other things which the people value; is the ethic of the nation.

If the people of any given nation do not have that kind of ethic, it does not really matter what kind of Constitution they have; for such people can still become victims of tyranny.

Therefore, what we must continue to do all the time, is to endeavor to build a ‘national ethic’ which, possibly more than its Constitution, is what will make even the Head of State himself, whoever he may be, to always pause and restrain himself from taking action, in circumstances where he discovers that “ yes, under the Constitution, I have the power and authority to do this; but the national ethic prevents me from doing it”.

Throughout his leadership period, Mwalimu Nyerere strictly adhered to this ‘ethics doctrine’. And that is a legacy which clearly needs to be emulated.

piomsekwa@gmail.com 0754767576.

Author: Pius Msekwa

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