|Julius Kambarage Nyerere|
October 29, 1964 – November 5, 1985
|Succeeded by||Ali Hassan Mwinyi|
|Born||April 13, 1922(1922-04-13)|
|Died||October 14, 1999 (aged 77)|
London, United Kingdom
Julius Kambarage Nyerere (April 13, 1922 - October 14, 1999) served as the first President of Tanzania and previously Tanganyika, from the country's founding in 1964 until his retirement in 1985. Born in Tanganyika to Nyerere Burito (1860-1942), Chief of the Zanaki, Nyerere is known by the Swahili name Mwalimu or 'teacher', his profession prior to politics. He was also referred to as Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation).
Kambarage Nyerere was born on April 13, 1922. He began attending Government Primary School in Musoma at the age of 12 where he completed the 4 years program in 3 years and went on to Tabora Government School in 1937. He received a scholarship to attend Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda where he obtained a teaching Diploma. 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 got a scholarship to attend the University of Edinburgh (he was the first Tanzanian to study at a British university and only the second to gain a university degree outside Africa) where he obtained his Masters of Arts degree on Economics and History in 1952. In Edinburgh, partly through his encounter with Fabian thinking, Nyerere began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living.
On his return to Tanganyika, Nyerere took a position teaching History, English and Kiswahili, at St. Francis' College, near Dar es Salaam. In 1953 he was elected president of Tanganyika African Association (TAA), a civic organization dominated by civil servants, that he had helped found while a student at Makerere University. In 1954 he transformed TAA into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). 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.
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. He was reported as saying that he was a schoolmaster by choice and a politician by accident. He resigned from teaching and traveled 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 goal for an independent country without war or bloodshed. The cooperative British governor Sir Richard Turnbull was also a factor in the struggle for independence. Nyerere entered the Colonial Legislative council in 1958 and was elected chief minister in 1960. In 1961 Tanganyika was granted self governance and Nyerere became its first Prime Minister on December 9, 1961. A year later Nyerere was elected President of Tanganyika when it became a Republic. Nyerere was instrumental in the union between the islands of Zanzibar and the mainland Tanganyika to form Tanzania, after a coup in Zanzibar in 1964 toppled Jamshid bin Abdullah, who was the Sultan of Zanzibar.
When in power, Nyerere implemented a socialist economic program (announced in the Arusha Declaration), establishing close ties with China, and also introduced a policy of collectivization in the country's agricultural system, known as Ujamaa or "familyhood."
Although some of his policies can be characterized as socialist, Nyerere was first and foremost an African, and secondly a socialist. He was what is often called an African socialist. Nyerere had tremendous faith in rural African people and their traditional values and ways of life. He believed that life should be structured around the ujamaa, or extended family found in traditional Africa. He believed that in these traditional villages, the state of ujamaa had existed before the arrival of imperialists.
He believed that Africans were already, recently, socialists, all that they needed to do was return to their traditional mode of life and they would recapture it. This would be a true repudiation of capitalism, since his society would not rely on capitalism to exist. This ujamaa system failed to boost agricultural output and by 1976, the end of the forced collectivization program, Tanzania went from the largest exporter of agricultural products in Africa to the largest importer of agricultural products in Africa. Politically and socially the declaration was hugely unpopular. It was a failure and only plunged Tanzania into further debt, a crisis in its balance of payments deficits and worsened relations with international donors.
With the realization that the Tanzanian economy did not flourish and being unwilling to lead Tanzania using an economic model he did not believe, Nyerere willingly announced that he would retire after presidential elections in 1985, leaving the country to enter its free market era under the leadership of Ali Hassan Mwinyi. In an act of candor in his farewell speech while commenting on his economic policies he declared "I failed. Let's admit it."
Nyerere was instrumental in putting both Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa in power. He remained the chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (ruling party) for five years following his presidency until 1990, and is still recognised as the Father of the Nation.
Nyerere, along with several other Pan-Africanist leaders, founded the Organization of African Unity in 1963. Nyerere supported several militant groups active in African colonies, including the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC) of South Africa, FRELIMO when it sought to overthrow Portuguese rule in Mozambique, and ZANLA in its war with the Smith government of Rhodesia. From the mid 1970s on, along with President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, 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 war with Uganda, defeating and exiling the government of Idi Amin. Nyerere was instrumental in the coup in Seychelles which brought France-Albert René to power.
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 familiarize themselves with his ideas.
After the Presidency, Nyerere remained the Chairman of CCM until 1990 when Ali Hassan Mwinyi took over. Nyerere remained vocal about the extent of corruption and corrupt officials during the Ali Hassan Mwinyi administration. He also blocked Jakaya Kikwete's nomination for the presidency, 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).
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 moved back to his childhood home village of Butiama in northern Tanzania. During his retirement, he continued to travel the world meeting various heads of government as an advocate for poor countries and especially the South Center 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. He died in a London hospital of leukaemia on October 14, 1999.
Positions Held after Presidency: Chairman of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (1985-1990), Chairman of the independent International South Commission (1987-1990), and Chairman of the South Center in the Geneva & Dar es Salaam Offices (1990-1999).
In January 2005 the Catholic diocese of Musoma opened a cause 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.
He has received honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Duquesne (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), University of Lesotho, University of the Philippines, Fort Hare University (South Africa), Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania), and Lincoln University (PA, USA).
He received the Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1976, the Third World Prize in 1982, the Nansen Medal for outstanding services to Refugees in 1983, the Lenin Peace Prize in 1987, and the International Simón Bolívar Prize in 1992. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda awarded Nyerere the Katonga, Uganda's highest military medal, in honor of his opposition to colonialism and Idi Amin's government in 2007.
Nyerere has continued to influence the people of Tanzania in the years following his presidency. Although his ideology of ujamaa failed and left the nation in a state of poverty, some of his broader ideas of socialism live on in the rap and hip hop artists of Tanzania. Nyerere believed socialism was an attitude of mind that barred discrimination and entailed equality of all human beings. Therefore, ujamaa can be said to have created the social environment for the development of hip hop culture. Like in other countries, hip hop emerged in post-colonial Tanzania when divisions among the population were prominent, whether by class, ethnicity or gender. Rappers’ broadcasted messages of freedom, unity, and family hood, topics that are all reminiscent of the spirit Nyerere put forth in ujamaa.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.” Under his leadership, the Ministry of National Culture and Youth was created in order to allow Tanzanian popular culture, in this case hip hop, to develop and flower. As a result of Nyerere’s presence in Tanzania, the genre of hip hop was welcomed from overseas in Tanzania and melded with the spirit of ujamaa.