Saturday, October 12, 2013

This coming Monday is a national holiday--Nyerere Day

     One of Africa’s most respected figures, Julius Nyerere (1922 — 1999) was a politician of principle and intelligence. Known as Mwalimu or teacher he had a vision of education that was rich with possibility.  He was the first Tanzanian to study at a British university and only the second to gain a university degree outside Africa. 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 was forced by the colonial authorities 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. Working to bring a number of different nationalist factions into one grouping he achieved this in 1954 with the formation of TANU (the Tanganyika African National Union). He became President of the Union (a post he held until 1977), entered the Legislative Council in 1958 and became chief minister in 1960. A year later Tanganyika was granted internal self-government and Nyerere became premier. Full independence came in December 1961 and he was elected President in 1962.
     Nyerere’s integrity, ability as a political orator and organizer, and readiness to work with different groupings was a significant factor in independence being achieved without bloodshed. In this he was helped by the co-operative attitude of the last British governor — Sir Richard Turnbull. In 1964, following a coup in Zanzibar (and an attempted coup in Tanganyika itself) Nyerere negotiated with the new leaders in Zanzibar and agreed to absorb them into the union government. The result was the creation of the Republic of Tanzania.
    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."  
     October 14th is Nyerere Day, a National holiday in Tanzania.  Our schools will be closed to honor him.  The above quotes came from Wikipedia and a biography of the man.  His picture is still in every government office, and, happily for us, his nephew is the Member of Parliament for Musoma and a friend of Shaban.  He has visited here and we have given him books for the libraries in the schools in Musoma.  He also really liked the biosand filters and plans to install at least one filter in every school in Musoma.  The airport in Dar Es Salaam is named after Julius Nyerere among many other things.  This is your history lesson for the year.
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