Julius Nyerere

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Julius Nyerere
Julius Nyerere cropped.jpg
Nyerere, late 1950s.
1st President of Tanzania
In office
29 October 1964 – 5 November 1985
Vice President Abeid Karume
Aboud Jumbe
Ali Hassan Mwinyi
Prime Minister Rashidi Kawawa
Edward Sokoine
Cleopa Msuya
Edward Sokoine
Salim Ahmed Salim
Preceded by Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Tanganyika
Abeid Karume as President of The People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba
Succeeded by Ali Hassan Mwinyi
President of the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar
In office
26 April 1964 – 29 October 1964
Vice-Presidents Abeid Karume (First)
Rashidi Kawawa (Second)
President of Tanganyika
In office
9 December 1962 – 26 April 1964
Prime Minister Rashidi Kawawa
Prime Minister of Tanganyika
In office
1 May 1961 – 22 January 1962
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Himself (as Chief Minister)
Succeeded by Rashidi Kawawa
Chief Minister of Tanganyika
In office
2 September 1960 – 1 May 1961
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Sir Richard Turnbull
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Himself (as Prime Minister)
Personal details
Born Kambarage Nyerere
(1922-04-13)13 April 1922
Butiama, Tanganyika
Died 14 October 1999(1999-10-14) (aged 77)
London, United Kingdom
Resting place Butiama, Tanzania
Nationality Tanzanian
Political party CCM (1977–1999)
TANU (1954–1977)
Spouse(s) Maria (m. 1953–99)[1]
Alma mater Makerere University (DipEd)
University of Edinburgh (MA)
Profession Teacher
Awards Lenin Peace Prize
Gandhi Peace Prize
Joliot-Curie Medal

Julius Kambarage Nyerere (Swahili pronunciation: [ˈdʒuːliəs kɑmˈbɑɾɑgə njɛˈɾɛɾɛ]; 13 April 1922 – 14 October 1999) was a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist. He governed Tanganyika as its Prime Minister from 1961 to 1963 and then as its President from 1963 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as its President from 1964 until 1985. He was a founding member of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party and later a member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he promoted a political philosophy known as Ujamaa.

Born in Butiama, then in the British colony of Tanganyika, Nyerere was the son of a Zanaki chief. After completing his schooling in Tanganyika, he studied at Makerere College in Uganda and then Edinburgh University in Britain. Nyerere was known by the Swahili honorific Mwalimu or 'teacher', his profession prior to politics.[2] He was also referred to as Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation).[3] In 1954, he helped form the Tanganyika African National Union, which was instrumental in obtaining independence for Tanganyika.

In 1967, influenced by the ideas of African socialism, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration, which outlined his vision of ujamaa (variously translated as "familyhood" or "socialism"; not to be confused with the Swahili word Umoja which means "unity"). Ujamaa was a concept that came to dominate Nyerere's policies. However, his policies led to economic decline, systematic corruption, and unavailability of goods. In the early 1970s, Nyerere ordered his security forces to forcibly transfer much of the population to collective farms and, because of opposition from villagers, often burned villages down.[citation needed] This campaign pushed the nation to the brink of starvation and made it dependent on foreign food aid. In 1985, after more than two decades in power, he relinquished power to his hand-picked successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi. Nyerere left Tanzania as one of the poorest and most foreign aid-dependent countries in the world,[4][dubious ] although much progress in services such as health and education had nevertheless been achieved.[5] He remained the chairman of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi for another five years until 1990. He died of leukemia in London in 1999.

Nyerere is still a controversial figure in Tanzania. A cult of personality revolves around him and the country's Roman Catholic community have attempted to beatify him.

Early life[edit]

Childhood: 1922–1934[edit]

Julius Nyerere was born on 13 April 1922 in Mwitongo, an area in the town of Butiama in Tanganyika's Mara Region.[6][7] He was one of 26 children of Nyerere Burito, the chief of the Zanaki people.[8][9] Burito had been born in 1860 and given the name "Nyerere" ("caterpillar" in Zanaki) after a plague of worm caterpillars infested the local area at the time of his birth.[10] Burito had been appointed chief in 1915, installed in that position by the German imperial administrators of what was then German East Africa;[10] his position was also endorsed by the incoming British imperial administration.[11] Burito had 22 wives, of whom Julius' mother, Mugaya Nyang'ombe, was the fifth.[12] She had been born in 1892 and had married the chief in 1907, when she was fifteen.[13]

These wives lived in various huts around Burito's cattle corral, in the centre of which was his roundhouse.[14] The Zanaki were one of the smallest of the 120 tribes in the British colony and were then sub-divided among eight chiefdoms; they would only be united under the kingship of Chief Wanzagi Nyerere, Burito's half-brother, in the 1960s.[15] Nyerere's clan were the Abhakibhweege.[8] At birth, Nyerere was given the personal name "Mugendi" ("Walker" in Zanaki) but this was soon changed to "Kambarage", the name of a female rain spirit, at the advice of a omugabhu diviner.[16] Nyerere was raised into the polytheistic belief system of the Zanaki,[17] and lived at his mother's house, assisting in the farming of the millet, maize and cassava.[16] With other local boys he also took part in the herding of goats and cattle.[18] At some point he underwent the Zanaki's traditional circumcision ritual at Gabizuryo.[16] As the son of a chief he was exposed to African-administered power and authority,[19] and living in the compound gave him an appreciation for communal living that would influence his later political ideas.[20]

Schooling: 1934–[edit]

The British colonial administration encouraged the education of chiefs' sons, believing that this would help to perpetuate the chieftain system and prevent the development of a separate educated indigenous elite who might challenge colonial governance.[21] At his father's prompting, Nyerere began his education at the Native Administration School in Mwisenge, Musoma in February 1934, about 25 miles from his home.[22] This placed him in a privileged position; most of his contemporaries at Butiama could not afford a primary education.[23] Nyerere excelled at the school, and after six months his exam results were such that he was allowed to skip a grade.[24] He avoided sporting activities and preferred to read in his dormitory during free time.[25]

While at the school he also underwent the Zanaki tooth filing ritual to have his upper-front teeth sharpened into triangular points.[26] It may have been at this point that he took up smoking, a habit he retained for several decades.[26] He also began to take an interest in Roman Catholicism, although was initially concerned about abandoning the veneration of his people's traditional gods.[15] With school friend Mang'ombe Marwa, Nyerere trekked 14 miles to the Nyegina Mission Centre, run by the White Fathers, to learn more about the Christian religion; although Marwa eventually stopped, Nyerere continued.[27] His elementary schooling ended in 1936; his final exam results were the highest of any pupil in the Lake Province and Western Province region.[28]

His academic excellence allowed him to gain a government scholarship to attend the elite Tabora Government School, a secondary school in Tabora.[29] There, he again avoided sporting activities but helped to set up a Boy Scout's brigade after reading Scouting for Boys.[30] Fellow pupils later remembered him as being ambitious and competitive, eager to come top of the class in examinations.[31] He used books in the school library to advance his knowledge of the English language to a high standard.[32] He was heavily involved in the school's debating society,[33] and teachers recommended him as head prefect, but this was vetoed by the headmaster, who described Nyerere as being "too kind" for the position.[32] In March 1942, during Nyerere's final year at Tabora, his father died; the school refused his request to return home for the funeral.[34] His son Edward Wanzagi Nyerere was appointed his successor.[35] Julius then decided to be baptised as a Roman Catholic.[15] In October 1942, he completed his secondary education and decided to study at Makerere College in the Ugandan city of Kampala.[36] There, he decided to focus on philosophy, having been strongly influenced by the writings of the British philosopher John Stuart Mill.[37]

In 1943 he was baptised as a Catholic. He took the baptismal name of Julius, which eventually became his given name.[38][39] He received a scholarship to attend Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Here he founded the Tanganyika Welfare Association, which eventually merged with the Tanganyika African Association (TAA), which had been formed in 1929.[40] Nyerere received his teaching diploma in 1947.[7] He returned to Tanganyika and worked for 3 years at St. Mary's Secondary School in Tabora, where he taught Biology and English. In 1949, he received a government scholarship to attend the University of Edinburgh, where he earned an undergraduate Master of Arts degree in Economics and History in 1952. In Edinburgh he encountered Fabian thinking and began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living.[41][42]

Political career[edit]

TAA and TANU[edit]

On his return to Tanganyika, Nyerere took a position teaching History, English and Kiswahili, at St. Francis' College (currently Pugu secondary school), near Dar es Salaam.[42] In 1953 he was elected president of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA), a civic organisation dominated by civil servants, that he had been involved with while a student at Makerere University.[2] In 1954 he transformed TAA into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU).[2] TANU's main objective was to achieve national sovereignty for Tanganyika. A campaign to register new members was launched, and within a year TANU had become the leading political organisation in the country.[43][44] TANU had been founded in 1954 by Nyerere and Oscar Kambona.[45] By the late 1950s, TANU had extended its influence throughout the country and gained considerable support.[46]

Tanganyika Independence[edit]

Nyerere campaigning for Tanganyikan independence in March 1961

In March 1955, Nyerere spoke before the UN Trusteeship Council for the first time, saying "with your help and with the help of the [British] Administering Authority we would be governing ourselves long before twenty to twenty-five years."[47] This seemed highly ambitious to everyone at the time.[47] Nyerere's activities attracted the attention of the Colonial authorities and he was forced to make a choice between his political activities and his teaching.[47] He was reported as saying that he was a "schoolmaster by choice and a politician by accident".[48] He resigned from teaching and travelled throughout the country speaking to common people and tribal chiefs, trying to garner support for movement towards independence. He also spoke on behalf of TANU to the Trusteeship Council and Fourth Committee of the United Nations in New York. His oratory skills and integrity helped Nyerere achieve TANU's goal for an independent country without war or bloodshed.[citation needed]

The cooperative British governor Sir Richard Turnbull aided the effort for independence. Nyerere entered the Colonial Legislative council following the country's first elections in 1958–59 and was elected chief minister following fresh elections in 1960 when Tanganyika was granted responsible government. On 9 December 1961, Tanganyika gained independence as a Commonwealth realm and Nyerere became its first Prime Minister. Tanganyika became a republic in 1962, though remaining in the Commonwealth of Nations, and Nyerere was elected as the country's first president. A month later, Nyerere declared that to further the interests of national unity and economic development, TANU was now the only legal political party, perhaps partially because the country had effectively been a one-party state since independence. During the first years of his presidency, Nyerere used "preventive detention", allowed after his party passed the Preventive Detention Act, 1962, to eliminate trade unions and political opposition forces. He was reelected, unopposed, every five years until his retirement in 1985.

Unification of Tanzania[edit]

In 1964, Nyerere was instrumental in the union between the islands of Zanzibar and the mainland Tanganyika to form Tanzania with himself as president of the unified country. This was precipitated by the Zanzibar revolution on 12 January 1964 which toppled the Sultan of Zanzibar Jamshid bin Abdullah. The coup leader, a stonemason from Lira, Uganda, named John Okello, had intended Zanzibar to join Kenya. Nyerere, unnerved by a failed mutiny of the Tanganyika Rifles a few days later, ensured that Okello was barred from returning to Zanzibar after a visit to the mainland. In his absence the President of Zanzibar, Abeid Karume, negotiated with Nyerere on Zanzibar's behalf to enter into a union with Tanganyika to form the new country of Tanzania.[49]

Swahili language[edit]

During the 1960s, African Nationalism was on the rise. Nyerere implemented a nationwide policy in Tanzania for schools at all levels to instruct classes in only the Swahili language. The end goal was for colleges and secondary schools to reach full "Swahilization" by the year 2000. The movement at first was initially successful, as Nyerere was able to translate Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" and "Julius Caesar" into Swahili. Even notable figures of the African-American Black power movement were interested in Swahili studies while at their respective institutions. Unfortunately, the movement ultimately failed as Nyerere's popularity in Tanzania faltered due to a collapsing economic state. The recent political establishments of Tanzania have a much more conservative vision for their country and as a result have mostly abandoned the practice of studying Swahili in their curriculum. English is instead the preferred language, as it is viewed as more practical and those able to speak it, being more educated. Another reason for the overall shift to English is that international trade becomes much easier. Learning English is also seen as an ability to unify the entire country with one language, opposed to the hundreds of other unique African languages. A majority of people in Tanzania currently speak Swahili, as it has existed in this region of Africa since the early 1800s due to an influence of Arab traders. [50]

Ujamaa and economic transformation[edit]

In January 1967, Nyerere presented TANU's National Executive Committee with a new statement of party principles, the Arusha Declaration.[51] He followed this with a series of additional policy papers covering such areas as foreign policy and rural development.[51] After this point, the concept of socialism became central to the government's policy formation.[52]

When in power, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration, which called for the implementation of an economic programme influenced by African socialist ideas. He also established close ties with the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong, and introduced a policy of collectivisation in the country's agricultural system, known as ujamaa, "socialism" in the sense of "familyhood" or "extended family"—the Swahili word for socialism comes from the word Jamaa—which literally means "familyhood" and the "extended family".

In 1967, nationalizations transformed the government into the largest employer in the country. The state expanded rapidly into virtually every sector. It was involved in everything from retailing to import-export trade and even baking. This created an environment ripe for corruption.[53]

The private sector suffered from the multiplying cumbersome, bureaucratic procedures and excessive tax rates.[53] Enormous amounts of public funds were misappropriated and put to unproductive use.[53] Purchasing power declined at an unprecedented rate and even essential commodities became unavailable.[53] A system of state permits (vibali) required for many activities allowed officials to collect huge bribes in exchange for distributing the vibali.[53] Nyerere's policies laid a foundation for systemic corruption for years to come.[53] The ruling party's officials became known as Wabenzi ("people of the Benz"), referring to their taste for Benz cars.

Collectivization was accelerated in 1971. Because much of the population resisted collectivisation, Nyerere used his police and military forces to forcibly transfer much of the population into collective farms.[54][55] Houses were set on fire or demolished, sometimes with the family's pre-Ujamaa property inside.[55] The regime denied food to those who resisted.[55] A substantial amount of the country's wealth in the form of built structures and improved land (fields, fruit trees, fences) was destroyed or forcibly abandoned.[55] Livestock was lost or stolen, or fell ill or died.[55]

In 1975, the Tanzanian government issued the "Ujamaa Program" to restructure the Sonjo region, in northern Tanzania, from compact sites with less water to flatter lands with more fertility and water. Further, new villages were created to ease the reaping of crops and raising of livestock. This "villagization" (coined by W.M. Adams) encouraged the Sonjo population to use modern irrigation techniques such as the 'unlined canals' and man-made springs (Adams 22–24). Given the diversion of water from the Kisangiro and Lelestutta Rivers by dams, river water can flow by canals into the irrigation systems to alleviate the hardships of smallholder farmers and livestock owners.[56]

Julius Nyerere
10 tz shillings back

Farming practices for tea and cloves improved for subsistence farmers; for example, only 3 tons of tea had been produced in 1964, yet by 1975, 2,100 tons of tea were netted from smallholder farmers. By 1974, the Ujamaa programs and the IDA (International Development Association) worked hand in hand; while villagization organized new villages to farm, the IDA financed projects to educate farmers to grow alternate crops and granted loans to farmers, with added credit to smaller farmers (Whitaker 206). Nyerere's policies had given the communal villages the opportunity to grow tea leaves despite the long history of tea being only grown in estates (208). One may understand agricultural growth through both re-organizing of traditional farms and improving the general farming methods therein, and investing into non-staple agriculture such as the aforementioned tea cultivation. Similarly, the Tanzanian government's put extensive effort into training farmers to grow tobacco effectively, which significantly improved tobacco yields to 41.9 million pounds in 1975–1976. By 1976, Tanzania became the third-largest tobacco cultivator in Africa (207). Therefore, via Tanzanian government intervention with regards to agriculture, a positive result was achieved in cheaper prices of tea and tobacco for Tanzanian villagers, consuming Tanzanian products rather than imported goods.[57]

This centralized governmental control was geared to use arable land for cash crops (specifically tobacco and tea) to benefit the government structure. As a result, food production plummeted and only foreign aid prevented mass starvation. Tanzania, which had been able to produce such vast quantities of food to both feed its population and be the largest exporter of food on the African continent, became the largest importer of food in the continent.[58][59] Many sectors of the economy collapsed; there was a virtual breakdown in transportation and goods such as toothpaste became virtually unobtainable.[58][59]

The deficit in cereal grains was more than 1 million tons between 1974 and 1977. Only loans and grants from the World Bank and the IMF in 1975 prevented Tanzania from going bankrupt. By 1979, Ujamaa villages contained 90% of the rural population but only produced 5% of the national agricultural output.[60]

Julius Nyerere announced that he would retire after presidential elections in 1985, leaving the country to enter its free market era — as imposed by structural adjustment under the IMF and World Bank – under the leadership of Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Nyerere's hand-picked successor. Nyerere was also instrumental in putting Benjamin Mkapa in power. Nyerere remained the chairman of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (ruling party) for five years following his presidency until 1990, and is still recognized as the Father of the Nation.

Nyerere left Tanzania as one of the poorest, least developed, and most foreign aid-dependent countries in the world.[4] In 1985, he publicly apologized for his economic policies.[61] Nevertheless, Nyerere's government did much to foster social development in Tanzania during his time in office. At an international conference of the Arusha Declaration, Nyerere's successor Mwinyi noted the social gains of his predecessor's time in office: an increase in life expectancy to 52 years, a reduction in infant mortality to 137 per thousand, 2600 dispensaries, 150 hospitals, a literacy rate of 85%, two universities with over 4500 students, and 3.7 million children enrolled in primary school.[62]

Foreign policy[edit]

US President Jimmy Carter, Julius Nyerere, and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 1977

Nyerere's foreign policy emphasised nonalignment in the Cold War and under his leadership Tanzania enjoyed friendly relations with the People's Republic of China, the Soviet bloc as well as the Western world. Nyerere sided with the Chinese in the Sino-Soviet rivalry, and China reciprocated by its assistance with the building of the TAZARA Railway. When it was completed two years ahead of schedule, the TAZARA was the single longest railway in sub-Saharan Africa.[63] TAZARA was the largest single foreign-aid project undertaken by China at the time, at a construction cost of 500 million United States dollars (the equivalent of US $3.08 billion today).[64]

Nyerere signed his country to the British Commonwealth.[65]

West German President Richard von Weizsäcker greets Julius Nyerere, 1985

Nyerere claimed Tanzania to be the first country to recognise Biafra soon after it declared independence from Nigeria in 1967, but was criticised for not consulting on this within his government first, as it could cause division in its relationship with Nigeria at the time.

Nyerere, along with several other Pan-Africanist leaders, founded the Organisation of African Unity in 1963, which he served as Chairperson of from 1984–1985. He signed the Lusaka Manifesto with Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in 1969, affirming his opposition to white minority rule of African nations. Nyerere supported several militant groups active in white minority African states, including the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of South Africa, FRELIMO when it sought to overthrow Portuguese rule in Mozambique, MPLA when it sought to overthrow Portuguese rule in Angola, and ZANLA in its war with the Smith government of Rhodesia. From the mid 1970s on, along with Kaunda, he was one of the leaders of the Front Line States which campaigned in support of black majority rule in southern Africa. In 1978 he led Tanzania in a successful war with Uganda, defeating and exiling the government of Idi Amin.

Nyerere was instrumental in the Seychelles military coup in 1977, in which soldiers trained by Nyerere deposed the country's democratically elected president James Mancham and installed a progressive one-party socialist state under France-Albert René.[66][67][68]

Oscar Kambona with President Nyerere and President Kennedy in 1963

In an interview with Hubert Fichte from Frankfurter Rundschau, Nyerere commented that homosexuality was alien to Africa and therefore homosexuals cannot be defended against discrimination. His comments were omitted from the publication.[69] Despite it being illegal, persecution was rare during his tenure.[70]

He was criticised[by whom?] for his vindictive actions after unsuccessfully appealing to the Pan Africanist Congress to adopt dialogue and détente with Pretoria instead of armed revolution. He supported a leadership coup that installed David Sibeko but after Sibeko's assassination he crushed PAC resistance at Chunya Camp near Mbeya on 11 March 1980, when Tanzanian troops murdered[citation needed] and split up the PAC army into detention camps. Nyerere then pressured the Zimbabwe government to arrest and deport PAC personnel in May 1981. The PAC never recovered and despite rivalling the ANC from 1959–1981 quickly declined. Its Tanzanian controlled remnant under Clarence Makwetu gained only 1.2% in the 1994 South African election, the first after the end of apartheid.[citation needed]

Outside of Africa Nyerere was an inspiration to Walter Lini, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, whose theories on Melanesian socialism owed much to the ideas he found in Tanzania, which he visited. Lecturers inspired by Nyerere also taught at the University of Papua New Guinea in the 1980s, helping educated Melanesians familiarise themselves with his ideas.[citation needed]

In doing so, Nyerere—according to A. B. Assensoh—was "one of the few African leaders to have voluntarily, gracefully, and honourably bowed out" of governance.[71]

Post-presidential activity[edit]

After the Presidency, Nyerere remained the Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) until 1990 when Ali Hassan Mwinyi took over. Nyerere remained vocal about the extent of corruption and corrupt officials during the Mwinyi administration. However, he raised no objections when the CCM abandoned its monopoly of power in 1992. He also served as Chairman of the independent International South Commission (1987–1990), and Chairman of the South Centre in the Geneva & Dar es Salaam Offices (1990–1999).[citation needed]

Nyerere did not leave the political arena altogether. He campaigned in support of the CCM candidates in Tanzania's 1995 presidential election.[71] He also took part in the fifth Pan-African Congress, held in the Ugandan city of Kampala.[72]

Nyerere retained enough influence to block Jakaya Kikwete's nomination for the presidency in the country's first multiparty elections in three decades, citing that he was too young to run a country. Nyerere was instrumental in getting Benjamin Mkapa elected (Mkapa had been Minister of Foreign Affairs for a time during Nyerere's administration). Kikwete later became president in 2005.[citation needed]

Nyerere's portrait on the Tanzanian 1000 shilling note

In one of his famous speeches during the CCM general assembly, Nyerere said in Swahili "Ninang'atuka", meaning that he was pulling out of politics for good. He kept to his word that Tanzania would be a democratic country. He moved back to his childhood home village of Butiama in northern Tanzania.[39] During his retirement, he continued to travel the world meeting various heads of government as an advocate for poor countries and especially the South Centre institution. Nyerere travelled more widely after retiring than he did when he was president of Tanzania. One of his last high-profile actions was as the chief mediator in the Burundi conflict in 1996.[citation needed]

The government and army contributed funds to build Nyerere a house in his home village; it was finished in 1999, although he only spent two weeks there prior to his death.[73]

Nyerere died in a London hospital of leukaemia on 14 October 1999.[citation needed]

In January 2005 the Catholic diocese of Musoma opened a case for the beatification of Julius Nyerere. Nyerere was a devout Catholic who attended Mass daily throughout his public life and was known for fasting frequently.[citation needed]

He received honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh (UK), Duquesne University (USA), University of Cairo (Egypt), University of Nigeria (Nigeria), University of Ibadan (Nigeria), University of Liberia (Liberia), University of Toronto (Canada), Howard University (USA), Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), University of Havana (Cuba), National University of Lesotho,[74] University of the Philippines, Fort Hare University (South Africa), Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania), and Lincoln University (PA, USA).[citation needed]

Cultural influences[edit]

Nyerere advocated for strict government control over popular culture in order to promote his vision of African pride and unity.[75] In the late 1960s, Nyerere criminalised "decadent" forms of culture including soul music, unapproved films and magazines, miniskirts, and tight trousers.[76][77]

Nyerere remained an influence upon the people of Tanzania in the years following his presidency. His broader ideas of socialism live on in the rap and hip hop tradition of Tanzania.[78] Nyerere believed socialism was an attitude of mind that countered discrimination and entailed equality of all human beings.[79] Therefore, ujamaa can be said to have created the social environment for the development of hip hop culture. As in other countries, hip hop emerged in post-colonial Tanzania when divisions among the population were prominent, whether by class, ethnicity or gender. Rappers broadcast messages of freedom, unity, and family, topics that are all reminiscent of the spirit Nyerere put forth in ujamaa.[78]

In addition, Nyerere supported the presence of foreign cultures in Tanzania saying, "a nation which refuses to learn from foreign cultures is nothing but a nation of idiots and lunatics...[but] to learn from other cultures does not mean we should abandon our own."[78]

Political ideology[edit]

Nyerere was an African Socialist who's beliefs consisted of ujamaa, or family first, which he pushed in Tanzania. Even though Nyerere held a life term as president he peacefully stepped down in order to fight his diagnosis of Leukemia, a rarity among African leaders.

Personality and personal life[edit]

Nyerere was a modest man who was shy regarding the personality cult that followers established around him.[80]

When planners suggested infrastructure developments for his home area, Nyerere rejected the proposals, not wanting to present the appearance of giving favours to it.[8] Nyerere ensured that his parents' resting places were maintained.[81]

Honours and awards[edit]


Nyerere's coat of arms of the Royal Order of the Seraphim at the Riddarholm Church in Sweden (top row, fourth from right).
Order Country Year
Order of the Seraphim - Ribbon bar.svg Royal Order of the Seraphim  Sweden 1963
Ribbon jose marti.png Order of José Marti[82]  Cuba 1975
MEX Order of the Aztec Eagle 1Class BAR.png Order of the Aztec Eagle (Collar)[83]  Mexico 1975
Medalha Amílcar Cabral.svg Amílcar Cabral Medal[83]  Guinea Bissau 1976
Order of Eduardo Mondlane[83]  Mozambique 1983
Ordem Agostinho Neto.svg Order of Agostinho Neto[83]  Angola 1985
Ribbon bar of the Order of the Star of Ghana.gif Order of the Star of Ghana[84]  Ghana 1988
Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo (ribbon bar).gif Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo (Gold)[85]  South Africa 2004
Royal Order of Munhumutapa[86][87]  Zimbabwe 2005
Order of the Pearl of Africa (Uganda) - ribbon bar.gif Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa (Grand Master)[88]  Uganda 2005
Order of Katonga (Uganda) - ribbon bar.png Order of Katonga[89]  Uganda 2005
National Liberation Medal (Rwanda) - ribbon bar.png National Liberation Medal[90]  Rwanda 2009
Campaign Medal Against Genocide (Rwanda) - ribbon bar.png Campaign Against Genocide Medal[90]  Rwanda 2009
Order of the Most Ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis (Namibia) - ribbon bar.gif Order of the Most Ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis[91]  Namibia 2010
Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (Tanzania) - ribbon bar.png Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere  Tanzania 2011
National Order of the Republic (Burundi) - ribbon bar.png National Order of the Republic (Grand Cordon)[92][93]  Burundi 2012
Order of Jamaica.gif Order of Jamaica[94]  Jamaica  ?



Reception and legacy[edit]

Nyerere has been termed the "Father of the Nation".[28] Nyerere was remembered "in African nationalist history as an uncompromising socialist".[98] He published widely over the course of his life.[99] He gained recognition for the successful merger between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.[100]

Bureaucrats from TANU subsequently established a cult of personality around Nyerere.[101] Posthumously, the Catholic Church of Tanzania began the processing of beatifying Nyerere, hoping to have him recognised as a saint.[101]

After his death, Nyerere received far less attention than other, contemporary African leaders like Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, and Nelson Mandela.[101] Much of the literature published on Nyerere has been in-critical and hagiographic.[102]

In 2009 his life was portrayed in Imruh Bakari's – The Legacy of Julius Kambarage Nyerere (Mnet, Great Africans Series, 2009).[103]


Nyerere's statue in Dodoma
Nyerere Road in Dar es Salaam (formerly called Pugu Road).
Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam



Julius Nyerere died on October 14, 1999 at St. Thomas's Hospital in London. Nyerere was battling chronic leukemia for over a year. On October 1st, Nyerere, was in intensive care due to a major stroke. At 10:30 a.m.on October 14th with his wife, Maria, and six of his eight children by his bedside, Julius Nyerere had passed away. Current Tanzanian President, Benjamin Mkapa, went on national television, with his voice full of emotion announced the man that most knew as, "Mwalimu" (teacher) had died. The Tanzanian people were in shock and saddened. Mkapa announced a 30-day mourning period. Nyerere, the former president of Tanzania, was honored by a Tanzanian state radio playing funeral music while a television broadcast of raw video clips of him were played. [107]


“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.” Quotes such as these show how much Julius Nyerere cared about the Tanzanian people, and the vision he saw for the future of his country were clear. He was a powerful speaker and was able to explain his views very clearly for his audiences.


  • Freedom and Unity (Uhuru na Umoja): A Selection from Writings & Speeches, 1952–1965 (Oxford University Press, 1967)
  • Freedom and Socialism (Uhuru na Ujama): A Selection from Writings & Speeches, 1965–1967 (Oxford University Press, 1968)
    • Includes "The Arusha Declaration"; "Education for self-reliance"; "The varied paths to socialism"; "The purpose is man"; and "Socialism and development."
  • Freedom and Development (Uhuru Na Maendeleo): A Selection from the Writings & Speeches, 1968–73 (Oxford University Press, 1974)
    • Includes essays on adult education; freedom and development; relevance; and ten years after independence.
  • Ujamaa – Essays on Socialism (1977)
  • Crusade for Liberation (1979)
  • Julius Kaisari (a Swahili translation of William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, as a gift to the nation to celebrate its first anniversary of independence.)
  • Mabepari wa Venisi (a Swahili translation of William Shakespeare's play – The Merchant of Venice)
  • Utenzi wa Enjili Kadiri ya Utungo wa Mathayo (a poetic Swahili version of the Gospel of Matthew)
  • Utenzi wa Enjili Kadiri ya Utungo wa Marko (a poetic Swahili version of the Gospel of Mark)
  • Utenzi wa Enjili Kadiri ya Utungo wa Luka (a poetic Swahili version of the Gospel of Luke)
  • Utenzi wa Enjili Kadiri ya Utungo wa Yohana (a poetic Swahili version of the Gospel of John)
  • Utenzi wa Matendo ya Mitume (a poetic Swahili version of the Acts of the Apostles)

See also[edit]


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Assensoh, A. B. (1998). African Political Leadership: Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, and Julius K. Nyerere. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 9780894649110. 
Molony, Thomas (2014). Nyerere: The Early Years. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer. ISBN 978-1847010902. 
Pratt, Cranford (1976). The Critical Phase in Tanzania 1945–1968: Nyerere and the Emergence of a Socialist Strategy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20824-6. 

External links[edit]