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Kudos for Samia for attending  Climate Change Summit in Glasgow

Kudos for Samia for attending  Climate Change Summit in Glasgow

NO doubt the engagements at the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) in Glasgow are critical matters, which need all world leaders to close ranks on.

The UN as a multilateral body is very well placed to confront the urgency of the challenge. It is in the same UN breath that I write this appeal to my President Samia Suluhu Hassan as Tanzania approaches the centenary in April 2022 of our venerable founding father, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

The centenary will be a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity for myself and many others who never ever met Nyerere, but read and heard all manner of things about him, to comprehend better his beliefs. In the lead-up to April 13th, his manifold accomplishments need to be assembled in the most prudent manner. It will be a big disservice to Mwalimu if the public is left with an underwhelming sense of occasion.

I for one, wish to zero-in on one particular area - namely education. As we all know Mwalimu was deeply passionate about the importance of education to the development of Tanzania and the least developed countries. We would be hard pressed to find another leader globally who wrote as extensively as Mwalimu did on this subject.

And not only did he write but he saw to it that as many Tanzanians as possible got an education - including adults at the time through the famous Adult Education. Its coinage initially was ‘functional literacy’. Tanzania had indeed gained an excellent reputation for its high levels of literacy during that era.

And as a mark of respect of Mwalimu’s sterling contribution, some years ago his alma mater – the University of Edinburgh, established a scholarship program at Masters Level for a few underprivileged Tanzanians.

Within Tanzania, the Bank of Tanzania also has a similar programme within the country that is most commendable! It is with all this in mind that upon reflection of Mwalimu’s centenary, I felt that nothing would be more befitting than to honour him to the highest level as our Teacher or Mwalimu.

With the way we often times call him Mwalimu, one could easily be forgiven for thinking it is his original name but no, it is the title he preferred from his early career.

And as a devout believer in the international system - well documented with Tanzania’s active support for the restoration of China to the UN in 1971 - it is my considered view that the UN would be the most appropriate organization to be at the centre of Mwalimu’s centenary celebrations and I can’t think of a better recognition than a Julius Nyerere International Day themed around Education. Significantly there is also a Nelson Mandela International UN Day on the 18 July.

These are two men of Africa who have done the continent proud in so many ways and it is no coincidence that Mandela was chosen as Nyerere’s replacement as facilitator for the Burundi conflict in 1999.

It is my sincere wish President Samia that you can see the value in spearheading a national campaign for the UN to give the highest consideration to passing a resolution recognizing Mwalimu.

It can’t be gainsaid that there would be a lot to gain undoubtely for Tanzania education-wise through such an honor As it were, Tanzania has several international friends who I’m certain would be only too happy to join hands together to see it to fruition. And to start with there is the South Centre as well as the UN Office of SouthSouth Cooperation.

In terms of Tanzania itself we have individuals like Asha-Rose Migiro, a former Deputy Sec-Gen of the UN. She is only too familiar of the workings of the UN. Also there is Anna Tibaijuka who once led UN-Habitat.

On an interrelated matter, there are many areas of life that Mwalimu was deeply involved in to do with the advancement of third world countries such as on the rights of women.

He even famously wrote an essay whilst at Makerere University titled “The Plight of African Women” that drew heavily on his family’s experience and was inspired by the philosopher John Stuart Mills. It won him a prize. It was the highest mark of honour that in post-retirement he was tasked with heading the South Commission prior to becoming the South Centre.

It would be something wonderful for Tanzania at the celebrations to seek a person of international stature, preferably a woman, to speak about all that Mwalimu represents to the world today.

For this I should mention a conversation I had with my late uncle, Paul Bomani, informing me of an incident in the early 1970s when Mwalimu was in Tanga and the news came through of the death of the late Chilean President Salvador Allende. Allende was a socialist politician who was overthrown in a 1973 military coup.

This news was most disturbing to Mwalimu who would always condemn such military interventions. He had also lost an ideological soulmate in the process.

Rather interestingly in the years to come, a daughter of a high-ranking soldier in Chile, who was imprisoned and tortured for opposing the coup, Michelle Bachelet, would become not only the first woman president of Chile but also the first elected female leader in South America.

In the years after her presidency, she would make history as well by becoming the first executive director of UN Women and is currently the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

I’m thinking wouldn’t such a lady with her inimitable global south background and achievements be a fitting guest of honour at Mwalimu’s centenary? I’m quite certain the honourable lady if invited would be profoundly humbled. I’m sure she would also have something to say as well on Tanzania having its first woman president and indeed East Africa.

My President, may I also revisit a matter that Mwalimu proclaimed back in 1959 before the Tanganyika Legislative Assembly. Mwalimu spoke the following words inspired by St. Francis: “We, the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate and dignity where before there was only humiliation.” This is a powerful message that resonates probably even more today. And in 1992, on the eve of our shift to a multiparty system, Mwalimu told CCM delegates; “they must relight the Uhuru Torch and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro.” I believe that at Mwalimu’s centenary, it would be most appropriate to relight the Uhuru Torch.

And given that Mwalimu was someone who so wished to see a United East Africa with he himself as the permanent representative to the UN, it is my strong suggestion that the Torch be carried by a galaxy of East Africans - notably our athletes who have done a sterling job of marketing our region over the decades. I specifically have in mind as the torch-bearer the illustrious marathoner from Kenya called Eliud Kipchoge.

Kipchoge has such monumental achievements to his name and is known for the slogan ‘no human limits’. Imagine the top marathoner in the world breaking new ground on the mountain. The impact of such a global celebrity to our tourism industry would be absolutely phenomenal.

It would be the icing on the cake for Mwalimu’s centenary. His 1959 message would be hammered home in various quarters of the world. And what a coincidence that Kipchoge was also in Glasgow and you were photographed with him.

It was reported that “he was expected to join President Kenyatta in pressing for action to halt and reverse forest loss”. With all the environmental issues afflicting Mount Kilimanjaro, such an individual would reinforce the urgency having had first-hand experience.

And to cap it all, imagine having former President Bachelet on hand to receive the athletes at Mount Kilimanjaro and relaying their message of a better world. Finally, why not have simultaneous events happening - from the highest altitude to the surface level.

By this, another group of sportsmen and women can be organized on the ground to emphasize again the value of education. Fortuitously, there are a number of cyclists who annually take a few days to ride to Butiama - the homeland of Nyerere - with the purpose of remembering him.

Why not then make this centenary one where they are larger in number and capable of riding the width and breadth of the country?

Honourable President, these are just a few ideas in mind on ensuring we do Mwalimu Nyerere justice on his centenary. I do thank you very much for taking time to read my appeal.

I sincerely hope that my vision will have struck a chord with your good office that is a vitally important cog in the nation’s affairs. Viva Mwalimu Julius Nyerere! God Bless Africa.

• The writer, Andrew Bomani is a political scientist and Acting Publicity Secretary of UDP: a_bomani@yahoo. com

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