TIME has come. Oh yes, it is Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s Memorial Day.
And we are right in the 20th year of remembering and honouring this great son of Africa. Once again and in a very special way, we fondly remember, write and talk about him.
This we do, not only with a view of recalling what he did for our nation, but also towards reminding the new generation to learn about Mwl. Nyerere’s legacy.
My column today is about unity, which, if I am asked to mention a single unique gift Mwalimu left behind to Tanzanians and Africa to enjoy, cherish and protect, I would, without any fear or hesitation say as unity.
In fact he pursued it single-mindedly until the end of his life. Indeed this is the gift he left with us.
And many know that with passion, and sometimes over-enthusiasm, it was Mwalimu in collaboration with the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, having led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957.
Kwame Nkrumah, whom Mwalimu once brand-named as the greatest crusader of African unity, clearly set himself to organise the independent African states and African people towards realising the vision of African Unity.
In case there is that element of human forgetfulness about Mwalimu’s energy and commitment to his country harmony and valued accord, it is my prayer and hope that our unity will not be tempered on.
But why unity? Well, unity because even the weak become strong when they are united, said Johann Christophe Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright.
And an Ethiopian Proverb says it all ‘when spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.’ As we recall his love for Tanzania, it is important that we also remember that some of the surrounding nation States, which still are riven by horrendous ethnic and tribal divisions.
However, we should not misinterpret our current situation and get tempted to think that Nyerere’s accomplishment was miraculous, no, he worked to build it.
Mwalimu’s quest for unity both nationally and continentally was a lifetime undertaking and commitment that should be made clear to the younger generation.
For him, unity was the lifeline for the emancipation and development of wananchi and Africa at large. It is therefore important that we stay united.
And with our Kiswahili–one of the unity building block and a common indigenous language used from Masasi to Ngara, Namtumbo to Babati and Chato to Ludewa will, for sure, continue to foster unity, accommodate and manage diversity, express identity as well as articulate concerns for collective action and share solutions to achieve growth and development.
When Mwalimu died on the 14th October 1999, I recall people witnessing an outpouring of national grief on a scale that my country had never seen before. But that was not enough.
To do justice to him is to protect our unity. And in his words back in 1967, we must travel together as one, or no part of it will arrive at its destination.
And among the ways in which this unity can be safeguarded in the country is by protecting the rights of our citizens.
We have to work towards defending and saving our people from harm and obviously promote liberties and autonomy of the Tanzanian people, where it is shaky.
At this time when the nation is on the move towards industrial economy, we should also be able to protect personal freedoms for our wananchi, including those of speech, movement, thought, and religion.
We also have to affirm the importance of this national unity and solidarity, most particularly in the face of possible continued external and internal interference including but not limited to, any attempts to divide us.
Here I want to insist that as we remember Mwalimu it is high time that we rekindled our solidarity and unity where we think we need to. Let me now go back to my earlier submission.
Nyerere’s active and moving spirit for unity, is still on and powerful, but needs to be protected.
And we stand firm on this proposal because the significance which is in unity is an eternal wonder, said Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), poet, musician and artist from the Indian subcontinent who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with contextual modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
So, as we remember Mwalimu let us all join our hands and keep on keeping our unity. It is an important value and many are still waiting for and it never comes.
Let us stand for our unity and hang on to it. We have to be vigilant and heedful enough to be able to say no to any division.
And many would agree with me that we have to be much more watchful because what we need is not only faithful citizenry but strength which will protect us from that trap of tangible political and economic variables, and not raw military power, which continues to drive some governments to persevere in war at any price while, and this is good news, others choose to stop fighting.
What we want to see is an ultimate determination for national will, not to fight, but unity which is, as Theodore Bikel (1924-2015), an Austrian- American actor, folk singer, musician, composer, unionist and political activist once put it, is no doubt something to be desired, to be striven for, but it cannot be willed by mere declarations.
And finally, at least for today, I call upon fellow Tanzanians and Africans at large to protect our unity. Mwalimu may not have always lived a saintly life, but it is by living his entire life pursuing unity both at the national and at the continental level make us still remember him even today.
And the wisdom of Thomas Woodrow Wilson who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921, and was the leading architect of the League of Nations is fitting to end my article; we cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. Cheers!
● The author, Dr Alfred Sebahene, is Ag. Head of Department of Corruption Studies, Lecturer, Researcher, and Social Issues Analyst at St John’s University of Tanzania, Dodoma.
Email address: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 0767 233 997