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There Was Real Freedom in Mwalimu's Day
By Philip Ochieng', "The East African," 26 October 1999
Dar-es-Salaam - I never really covered Mwalimu Nyerere. By the time I got to Tanzania to work for The Standard Tanzania, I had been an editorial pontiff in Nairobi's Sunday Nation for upwards of two years. And that was what I continued to do in Dar-es-Salaam, fulminating like Ezekiel from my armchair.
But one thing is true. Working for the president, between September 1970 and January 1973 was probably the most enjoyable period of my entire journalistic career. There were at least two reasons for this. The first was that ours was a community of ideas. The second, contrary to what was constantly claimed here in Nairobi and by the Western press, was that the Dar-es-Salaam newspapers enjoyed a high level of freedom to publish. This reflected the fact that Tanzania enjoyed an unprecedented freedom of speech. But it was never licentious freedom of the kind with which Nairobi's alternative press assails our eyes every morning.
Following the Arusha Declaration of 1967, Julius Kambarage Nyerere had, early in 1970, nationalised The Tanganyika Standard from Lonrho and rechristened it The Standard Tanzania as the official print organ of the government.
The Nationalist and its Kiswahili sister Uhuru already existed as the organs of the ruling Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu), with Ben Mkapa as its editor. Brought in from London as Managing Editor of The Standard was a tough- talking South African woman of Asian origin called Frene Ginwala.
Ginwala, who is now the Speaker of the South African Parliament in Cape Town, was a woman of strong left-wing convictions. She very soon collected around her men and women from the international community with equally strong socialist views.
This was the context in which I left Nairobi for Dar-es-Salaam, invited by Ginwala. Mwalimu Nyerere acted as our (non-executive) Editor-in-Chief. And yet every Friday I published an opinion column highly critical of his system.
I waxed critical especially of the recently nationalised commercial and industrial houses: the corruption that was beginning to invade them and their umbrella organisations, the ineptitude, the apparent absence of development ideas.
Yet never once did Ginwala or myself receive a telephone call from or a summons to Ikulu (State House), complaining about anything we had written. Of course, there were many murmurs in the corridors of power against us. They accused us of being a bunch of communists, though we never were. But they dared not call a press conference to attack us. Nyerere simply would not have allowed them to do so.
Were we really a den of communists? To be sure, Frene Ginwala herself and Tony Hall were members of Joe Slovo's Communist Party of South Africa and Iain Christie was a member of the British Communist Party.
There were were two other British imports - Richard Gott and Rod Prince - but they were self-confessed anarchists. There was also myself. But, though I would soon be introduced to Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao, my leftism continued to be subsumed under liberalism. The rest of our newsroom - the corps of reporters and sub-editors, practically all of them native Tanzanians - was solidly right-wing, paying lip service to Nyerere's Ujamaa tenets but either cynical about them or ignorant of their social import.
Yet, to me, Nyerere's greatness does not lie in his Ujamaa ideology. Though this ideology was what attracted most of us into Tanzania, it was what was to prove the economic bane of that country. Nationalised property only fell into the jaws of a deeply venal class of vibwenyenye. The word, which means petty commodity owners, was a "technical translation" by Tanzania's Swahili Academy of the Marxist term petty bourgeoisie, namely, the peasants and the classroom- created urban elite.
The Ujamaa Village institution itself proved nothing more than a stratagem for settling rural people together so as to facilitate such social services as water, education and seed distribution by collectivising them. It, too, would soon be vitiated by graft and lack of commitment.
Very soon, production would come to a standstill and distribution of what was produced would go haywire. Nyerere, who was genuinely persuaded by and committed to the system, had included a leadership code in Azimio. It banned corruption and prohibited a certain level of politicians, civil servants and parastatal employees from owning personal businesses. But it did not cut much ice. And things went from bad to worse. From time to time, the president would hit back through widespread sackings, decentralisations and shuffles. But he only succeeded in bringing in leeches more ravenous than those he had sacked or decentralised.
Nyerere's failing, then, stemmed both from objective conditions and from subjective weaknesses. Objective because he never really came to grips with the forces - national as well as international - which he was setting out to defeat. Western individualism had been internalised by practically all Tanzanians through the classroom and the church. The African extended family system, which he was trying to reinstitute, had long been done to death by cash payment and individualist callousness. Mwalimu Nyerere just couldn't see the vital link of this habit of thought with the very same Western institutions whose property he was trying to socialise. Socialism, he claimed, was an attitude of the mind and so he hoped to convert people merely by moral preachifying.
Like most other Third World petty-bourgeois radicals - Josip Broz Tito, Jawaharlal Nehru, Cheddi Jagan, Kwame Nkrumah, Agostinho Neto - Mwalimu vehemently rejected the Marxist class analysis.
And this was the subjective aspect of his position. According to its founders, socialism can be genuine only as an ideology of a class without any producer property, namely, the industrial proletariat and the agricultural labourer. It stands to reason that no social group with any property can be interested in sharing it with everybody else. Both the peasantry and the urban elite are propertied classes. As individuals, of course, they may, as Lenin hoped, be converted into socialism. But, as a class, you can only force them into collectivisation with disastrous consequences. That was the lesson the world should have learned from Stalin's forced collectivism, in which tens of millions perished.
Yet, despite all these failings, Kambarage Nyerere remained one of Africa's quintessential men of the 20th century. His personal probity was unequalled. In Africa, he was equalled only by Muammar Gaddafi in his refusal to use his immense power to enrich himself or his family.
It was his intellectual strength and moral fibre that enabled him, when he saw that his experiment could not succeed, to admit openly that his life career had been a failure. When he nationalised The Tanganyika Standard, he gave us a charter which expressly challenged its new editors to criticise all social failings by whomever they are committed. I had never been and would never be freer than when I worked in Dar.
This freedom of the press, as I say above, was only a mirror-reflection of the much more important freedom of ideas throughout the country. Though Nyerere believed more than 100 per cent in Ujamaa, he never tried to force it down anybody's throat.
Nor did he ever issue The Standard Tanzania, The Nationalist or the latter's Swahili daily and weekly counterparts Uhuru and Mzalendo, with any instruction to print only Nyerereist ideas or to slant news in favour of that ideology and its exponents.
If that had been the case, Tanzania's amazing pluralism of ideas at that time would not have reached the world. Yet it did reach the world, attracting into that country hundreds of intellectuals from all over the world.
The University of Dar-es-Salaam at Ubungo was Africa's, perhaps the world's, intellectual Mecca. Dar-es-Salaam harboured all the radical liberation movements in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Ireland, South-East Asia, even the the United States. It was a crossroads of such celebrated freedom fighters as Agostinho Neto, Samora Machel, Marcelino dos Santos, Jorge Rebello, Janet Mondlane, Yoweri Museveni, Sam Nujoma, Thabo Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, Gora Ebrahim, Amilcar Cabral, Angela Davis and others, changing ideas with us, often hotly. For these were not uniform minds. There were intellectuals - both native and alien - who expressed ideas so far to the right that they bordered on fascism. Others expressed ideas so far to the left that again they bordered on fascism.
The humdinger, however, was that all these ideas were expressed freely and printed in the party and government newspapers with little attempt at editorial slanting and chicanery.
In 1972 came the only time Nyerere intervened in The Standard Tanzania. Somebody had tried to overthrow President Gaafar al-Numeiry of the Sudan, who had himself staged a coup with the help of the Communist Party the previous year. He responded by killing hundreds of leaders of the same Communist Party.
In an editorial commentary, drafted by Richard Gott, The Standard accused Numeiry of horrendous murder. At a Tanu meeting in Dodoma the next day, the right-wing, led by Prime Minister Rashidi Mfaume Kawawa, was up in arms. Editor Ginwala was made to accept very many nasty names: including communist, woman and Mhindi (Asian). They demanded her sacking on the spot because Numeiry, they said, was a good friend of Tanzania. Nyerere had to give in.
That was the end of Ginwala's regime. It was about that time, too, that The Nationalist married The Standard to beget the present Daily News, with such successive editors as Sammy Mdee, Ben Mkapa, the present President, Ferdinand Ruhinda and Joseph Mapunda. The merger was necessitated by a reorganisation of the government's information structures, with a party-based Press Council chaired by Daudi Mwakawago, Tanu's then Director of Information.
Composed totally of right-wingers, including Ben Mkapa, Information Minister Jacob Namfua, Uhuru editor Costa Kumalija, Nationalist editor Ferdinand Ruhinda and Radio Tanzania Director Paul Sozigwa, it signalled the end of radicalism and free expression in the press. It was then that I resigned to study in Germany.
Until his death, Nyerere, who was humble, self-effacing and selfless, continued to serve humanity on many capacities - particularly his promotion of mutual South-South assistance to reduce dependence on Western alms and his attempt to help bring about order in Burundi.
An intellectual of immense stature, a man of great personal integrity, a paragon of humanism, Julius Kambarage will be hard to replace in Tanzania, in Africa and on the globe. I was privileged to know and work with such a man. That is why, as I mourn, I ask, with Marcus Antonius, whence cometh such another?
Last edited by Shwari; 22nd October 2009 at 10:31.
Nyerere and I
A memorial tribute to the late Julius Nyerere, one of Africa's few great statesmen. His relations with the Kenyan political elite deteriorated further and further. He found Attorney-General Charles Njonjo particularly distasteful and arrogant as a person and reckless in his attitudes towards Kenya's neighbours. Nyerere was fond of Mzee Kenyatta, but he thought Njonjo exercised disproportionate influence on the old man.
By Ali Mazrui
When he was President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Julius Kambarage Nyerere's vision was bigger than his victories; his perception was deeper than his performance. In global terms, he was one of the giants of the 20th Century. Like all giants, he had both great insights and great blind spots. While his vision did outpace his victories, and his profundity outweigh his performance, he did bestride this narrow world like an African colossus.
It is also one of the ironies of my life that Julius Nyerere and I first met neither in his country (Tanzania) nor in mine (Kenya). I first met Mwalimu Nyerere at what was then Makerere University College in Uganda. That was more than 30 years ago. He had done his homework before coming to the campus. I was at the time regarded as one of the rising stars of East Africa's academia. As soon as Nyerere and I were introduced in English, he switched into Kiswahili and said "Tunasikia sifa tu!" ["We have only been hearing of your praise!"]. He made my day!
Long before I became a professor at Makerere, Nyerere had himself been a student there. He later went to the University of Edinburgh for his master's degree. Makerere and Edinburgh prepared him for the title of Mwalimu (meaning "teacher") which he was to carry for the rest of his life. Young Julius entered the gates of Edinburgh University in October 1949.
Being both British-educated and having both been greatly influenced by Makerere were not the only bonds which Julius Nyerere and I had. After our first encounter on the Makerere campus, a complicated relationship developed.
As personalities, what did Julius Nyerere and I have in common? He was a politician who was sometimes a scholar. I was a scholar who was sometimes a politician. Indeed, President Obote once asked me in exasperation whether I knew the difference between being a political scientist and being a politician. Some of my public pronouncements in Uganda during Obote's first administration amounted to direct participation in the politics of Uganda. Nyerere shared some of Obote's exasperation with my political intrusion into matters of public policy.
Nyerere was particularly irritated when I published an article in the Journal of Commonwealth Studies in London accusing him of having unintentionally destroyed prospects for an East African Federation by his policies of socialism and economic nationalism. My article was titled "Tanzania versus East Africa: A Case of Unwitting Federal Sabotage". He conveyed his displeasure through the Principal of the University College of Dar es Salaam, Professor Pratt.
Nyerere and I had other areas of shared concern. He translated into Kiswahili two of Shakespeare's plays - Julius Caesar and the Merchant of Venice. He was making available to Africa the genius of another civilisation. It was in the same period that I published an article titled "Edmund Burke and Reflections on the Revolution in the Congo". Burke, the Anglo-Irish philosopher of the 18th Century (1729-1797) had never written on the Congo. What I had done in 1963 was to apply his ideas about the French Revolution of 1789 to the revolution in the Congo in 1960. In my own way, this was the equivalent of translating Shakespeare into Kiswahili.
In another scholarly article, I also "Africanised" the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) by applying his ideas to African affairs. Nyerere and I were trying to build bridges between Africa and great minds of Western civilisation. While Nyerere 'Swahilised' Shakespeare, I Africanised Burke and Rousseau.
With his concept of Ujamaa, Nyerere also attempted to build bridges between indigenous African thought and modern political ideas. Ujamaa, which means "familyhood", was turned by Nyerere into a foundation for African Socialism. Ujamaa became the organising principle of the entire economic experiment in Tanzania from the Arusha Declaration of 1967 to the mid-1980s.
His relations with the Kenyan political elite deteriorated further and further. He found Attorney-General Charles Njonjo particularly distasteful and arrogant as a person and reckless in his attitudes towards Kenya's neighbours. Nyerere was fond of Mzee Kenyatta, but he thought Njonjo exercised disproportionate influence on the old man. Nyerere was not sure whether to be amused or outraged when Njonjo turned any discussion on Kenyatta's mortality into something close to a capital offence!
Nyerere was against turning rulers into gods - "Like the old Pharaohs of ancient Egypt." Making Kenyatta immortal was like turning him into a god.
Nyerere and I remembered the proposal which was made in 1964 to celebrate annually the day of Kenyatta's arrest by the British as "the Last Supper". There was such a strong negative reaction from Christian churches in Kenya against using the concept of "the Last Supper" in this way that the idea was dropped.
My own strongest disagreements with Nyerere concerned Zanzibar and Nigeria. Did Tanganyika unite with Zanzibar to form Tanzania under pressure from President Lyndon Johnson of the United States and Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas Home of Britain who did not want Zanzibar to become another communist Cuba? Nyerere bristled when it was suggested that the union with Zanzibar was part of the Cold War and not a case of Pan- Africanism.
Nyerere's recognition of Biafra in the middle of the Nigerian civil war was another hot subject. I personally did not share the suspicion that Nyerere recognised Biafra because the Igbo were fellow Roman Catholics claiming to be threatened by Muslim Northerners in Nigeria. But I did believe in one Nigeria and therefore disagreed with Nyerere's policies. Nyerere also bristled if it was suggested that he was ungrateful to Nigeria which had helped him with his own army in1964, and wanted to create a new force.
Nyerere's involvement with Uganda was more direct. In 1971, did Julius Nyerere convince Milton Obote to leave Uganda and go to Singapore to attend the Commonwealth conference of Heads of State and government? Milton Obote had hesitated about going to Singapore because of the uncertain situation in Uganda. Did Nyerere tilt the balance and convince Obote that he was needed in Singapore to fight Prime Minister Edward Heath's policy towards apartheid South Africa? Obote's decision to go to Singapore was disastrous for himself and for Uganda. In Obote's absence, Idi Amin staged a military coup and overthrew Obote. Eight years of tyranny and terror in Uganda had begun.
I never succeeded in getting either Nyerere or Obote to confirm that it was Nyerere who convinced Obote to leave for Singapore. But we do know that Nyerere was so upset by the coup that he gave Obote unconditional and comfortable asylum in Tanzania. Nyerere also refused to talk to Idi Amin even if the policy practically destroyed the East African Authority which was supposed to oversee the East African Community. Was Nyerere feeling guilty for having made it easy for Amin to stage a coup by diverting Obote to Singapore?
I shall always remember Nyerere's speech in Tanzania upon his return from Singapore. I was in Kampala listening to him on the radio. Nyerere turned a simple question in Kiswahili into a passionate denunciation of Idi Amin. Nyerere's repeated question was "Serikali ni kitu gani?" ("What is government?"). This simple question of Political Science became the refrain of denouncing usurpation of power through a military coup. It was a powerful speech to his own people and against the new "pretenders" in Kampala.
I visited Milton Obote at his home in Dar es Salaam during his first exile. Obote and I discussed Idi Amin much more often than we discussed Julius Nyerere.
One of the major ironies of my life is that I was introduced to my own founder president of Kenya, Mzee Kenyatta, by President Obote before Amin's coup.
We were all at a major ceremony of the University of East Africa in Nairobi in the 1960s. I knew Obote far better than I knew Kenyatta. Obote took me to Kenyatta to introduce me!
In 1979, Nyerere paid his debt to Milton Obote. His army marched all the way to Kampala and overthrew the regime of Idi Amin. My former Makerere boss, Prof Yusufu Lule, succeeded Idi Amin as President of Uganda. But Nyerere was so keen on seeing Obote back in power that Nyerere helped to oust Lule. Was Nyerere trying to negate the guilt of having encouraged Obote to go to Singapore for the Commonwealth Conference way back in 1971? Was that why Nyerere was so keen to see Obote back in the presidential saddle of Uganda in the1980s?
Unfortunately, Obote's second administration was catastrophic for Uganda. He lost control of his own army, and thousands of people perished under tyranny and war. Was Julius Nyerere partly to blame?
"The two top Swahili-speaking intellectuals of the second half of the 20th Century are Julius Nyerere and Ali Mazrui". That is how I was introduced to an Africanist audience in 1986 when I was on a lecture-tour of the United States to promote my television series: The Africans: A Triple Heritage (BBC-PBS.) I regarded the tribute as one of the best compliments I had ever been paid. In reality, Mwalimu Nyerere was much more eloquent as a Swahili orator than I although Kiswahili was my mother tongue and not his.
In the month of Nyerere's death (October 1999), the comparison between the Mwalimu and I took a sadder form. A number of organisations in South Africa had united to celebrate Africa's Human Rights Day on October 22. Long before he was admitted to hospital, they had invited him to be their high-profile banquet speaker.
When Nyerere was incapacitated with illness, and seemed to be terminally ill, the South Africans turned to Ali Mazrui as his replacement. I was again flattered to have been regarded as Nyerere's replacement. However, the notice was too short, and I was not able to accept the South African invitation.
It is one of the ironies of my life that I have known the early Presidents of Uganda and Tanzania far better than I have known the Presidents of Kenya. Over the years, Julius Nyerere and I met many times. Milton Obote was one of the formative influences of my early life, inspite of our tumultuous relationship.
Ngugi wa Thiong'o (the novelist) and I were marginalised by the Kenyatta regime in spite of the fact that Ngugi and I wanted to become Kenyatta's literary biographers. When Daniel arap Moi was still Vice-President, I was considered a possible speech-writer for him in order to strengthen his credentials for the Presidency. I never played that role. Since he became President, the Moi regime and I have had an ambivalent relationship. I have never been formally introduced to him as President.
With Julius Nyerere and I, it was a bond of genuine ups and downs. Nyerere was once angry with me because I had written a citation for an honorary doctorate which was too long. The honorary doctorate was for an elderly American academic, and Nyerere was awarding the degree as Chancellor of the University of East Africa (which at that time consisted of the campuses of Makerere, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam).
As University Orator, I had written the citation, and was reading it as the elderly gentleman knelt before Nyerere. My oration was indeed too long. Nyerere did not speak to me that evening after the ceremony. He deliberately snubbed me. He had been disturbed that the elderly recipient of the honorary degree had to kneel for so long while I delivered the oration praising him. I had not struck the right balance. I felt truly chastised by the Mwalimu.
Let me also refer to Walter Rodney. He was a Guyanese scholar who taught at the University of Dar es Salaam and became one of the most eloquent voices of the left on the campus in Tanzania. When Walter Rodney returned to Guyana, he was assassinated.
Chedi Jagan, on being elected President of Guyana, created a special chair in honour of Walter Rodney. Eventually I was offered the chair and became its first incumbent. My inaugural lecture was on the following topic: "Comparative Leadership: Walter Rodney, Julius K. Nyerere and Martin Luther King Jr."
After delivering the lecture, I subsequently met Nyerere one evening in Pennsylvania, USA. I gave him my Walter Rodney lecture. He read it overnight and commented on it the next morning at breakfast. He promised to send me a proper critique of my Rodney lecture on his return to Dar es Salaam. He never lived long enough to send me the critique.
Nyerere's policies of Ujamaa amounted to a case of Heroic Failure. They were heroic because Tanzania was one of the few African countries which attempted to find its own route to development instead of borrowing the ideologies of the West. But it was a failure because the economic experiment did not deliver the goods of development.
On the other hand, Nyerere's policies of nation-building amount to a case of Unsung Heroism. With wise and strong leadership, and with brilliant policies of cultural integration, he took one of the poorest countries in the world and made it a proud leader in African affairs and an active member of the global community.
Julius Nyerere was my Mwalimu too. It was a privilege to learn so much from so great a man.
Source: Africa Recource Center
Sasa tusubiri kitabu cha Blueray.
of all the people they had to interview Mtikila,the guy who wants to chase all of the Indian origin.i think the thing is we've got a different vision of socialism,as of many things,the American view and the rest of the world vision.for God sake the Americans don't even let us call the game we love ''football'',only them call it ''soccer''.so get the picture.....
Na wewe jinius unatupa wasiwasi, unajua nyerere inatakiwa alaumiwe tuu kwa kujua kuwa katiba si njema na kujua kuwa kuna matahiiila wangekuja kuongoza nchi hivyo aibanilishe mapema na pia kujua kuwa yeye asingeishi milele, sasa kaacha msala mkubwa nchi imepata walaji na wanakula kweli, katiba inaonekana na makosa makubwa saana but still watu wanaichekea sasa sijui nani atainuka na lini kubadili katiba hii, kama tuliyowatuma wenyewe ndo wamefoji hata vyeti yaani kwa ujumla bunge linawatu wachache saana, nchi imekuwa ya watu wooga wasiopenda kusema ukweli na unafiki tuu wakusifia hata ambapo watu wanaaalibu.
Some members here have accused Nyerere of being a dictator and a misguided ideologue who espoused and implemented policies, socialist policies, which proved to be detrimental to the well-being of Tanzania.
He has also been condescendingly dismissed by some of them as an intellectual lightweight.
There is the implicit assumption in such criticism that those who support Nyerere are his ideological compatriots; which is not necessarily the case. Many people admire Nyerere for his integrity. He was a phenomenal figure. And he left an indelible mark on Tanzania and beyond as an embodiment of the aspirations of the masses and as a paragon of virtue worthy of emulation.
And the assessment of Nyerere as an intellectual featherweight is ridiculous, and laughable, to say the least. Compounding the felony is the convoluted and flawed logic employed by some of his critics to justify such an assessment.
Even some of Nyerere's most ardent critics concede he was a man of astonishing intelligence. And this comes from people who are at the other end of the ideological spectrum, such as Professor Ali Mazrui, who did not share ideological affinity with Nyerere.
Professor Mazrui also differed with Nyerere on a number of fundamental issues, especially on the one-party state, socialism, the union of Tanganyika with Zanzibar which he described as an annexation (see an analysis and refutation of that by Godfrey Mwakikagile in his book "Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era"); he also differed with Nyerere on Tanzania's recognition of Biafra although he also conceded that it was, on Nyerere's part, a moral imperative to do so.
But Professor Mazrui never doubted Nyerere's high intellectual calibre and described him as "the most intellectual of the East African presidents," and "the most original thinker" among all the leaders in Anglophone Africa. And he knew him in person, also met with him many times over a period of 30 years. As he stated in an interview with "The Gambian Echo" in February 2008 almost ten years after Nyerere died:
"Intellectually, I admired Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania higher than most politicians anywhere in the world. Nyerere and I also met more often over the years from 1967 to 1997 approximately. I am also a great fan of Nelson Mandela. By ethical standards Mandela is greater than Nyerere; but by intellectual standards Nyerere is greater than Mandela."
Here is the context in which the preceding statements were made by Professor Mazrui in his assessment of Nyerere in the same interview with "The Gambia Echo":
"The African leader who influenced me most positively was Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, although I met him face-to-face only a couple of times. I had far less personal contact with him than I have had with at least a dozen other African leaders.
So in what sense was Nkrumah such an influence on me? The impact was intellectual and political rather than personal. My doctoral thesis at Oxford University was partly influenced by his ideas on Pan Africanism (See my first book ever "Towards a Pax Africana: A Study of Ideology and Ambition" (Chicago University Press, 1967).
Kwame Nkrumah also stimulated my vision of Africa as a convergence of three civilizations – Africanity, Islam and Western culture. Nkrumah called that convergence “Consciencism”. I later called it “Africa’s Triple Heritage.” I was able to elaborate on my own concept in a BBC/PBS television series titled "The Africans: A Triple Heritage" (1986).
My critique of Nkrumah became one of my most influential articles about Africa. My article in "Transition" magazine (Kampala, 1966) was titled “Nkrumah: The Leninist Czar”. It has featured in anthologies, and been debated across the decades.
The fact that Nkrumah had a greater positive impact on me than has any other leader does not necessarily mean that I admire Nkrumah the most. Intellectually, I admired Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania higher than most politicians anywhere in the world."
Besides Professor Ali Mazrui, there are other analysts who have tremendous respect for Nyerere as an outstanding intellectual. One of them is Dr. Henry Kissinger who acknowledged Nyerere's intellectual brilliance when they met in Dar es Salaam in 1976 during Kissinger's trip to Africa to help "resolve" the Rhodesian crisis when Ian Smith refused to concede power to the African nationalists.
Dr. Kissinger is on the ideological right, unlike Nyerere, and is one of the most articulate exponents of conservative causes especially in foreign policy from a Western perspective. Yet, he did not mince words when he acknowledged Nyerere as an intellectual. In an interview with David Ottaway of "The Washington Post" in 1976, Kissinger said when he met Nyerere he felt as if he was talking to a highly distinguished professor; an apt description of Nyerere from a highly distinguished professor, which is what Kissinger himself once was, at Harvard, before going into government service.
David Martin, a renowned British journalist who worked in Tanzania for many years, also had this to say about Kissinger's meeting with Nyerere in Dar es Salaam in 1976:
"Apart from his simplicity and piercing intellect, one of Nyerere’s most endearing traits was his honesty....
Tanganyika became independent on 9 December 1961...For the next 24 years Nyerere was to fill the African and international stage like a colossus. When he met the astute American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for the first time in Dar es Salaam in 1976, the two men began a mental verbal fencing match of David and Goliath proportions.
One began a quote from Shakespeare (some of whose works Nyerere translated into Swahili setting them in an African context) or a Greek philosopher and the other would end the quotation. Then Nyerere quoted an American author. Kissinger laughed: Nyerere knew Kissinger had written the words.
Neither man trusted the other. Kissinger wanted the negotiations (over Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and southern Africa) kept secret. Nyerere, understanding the Americans’ duplicity, took the opposite view and as Africa correspondent of the London Sunday newspaper, "The Observer," I was to become the focal point of the Tanzanians’ strategic leaks. That year the newspaper led the front page on an unprecedented 13 occasions on Africa. All the leaks, as Kissinger knew, came from Nyerere. One political fox had temporarily outwitted the other."
The quotation above and the rest of the article by David Martin is reprinted in Godfrey Mwakikagile's book, "Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era," pp. 565 - 571.
Some of Nyerere's most relentless critics were, naturally, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. Yet they hardly questioned his intelligence as a few members of Jamii Forums have, with bilious rage, against a man who was, unquestionably, an intellectual giant regardless of how much one disagreed with him. As conservative British journalist, Jonathan Power, who was highly critical of Nyerere's socialist policies and one-party rule, conceded in his article appropriately entitled, "Lament for Independent Africa's Greatest Leader":
"“Tanzania in East Africa has long been one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. But there was a time when it was described, in terms of its political influence, as one of the top 25. It punched far above its weight. That formidable achievement was the work of one man, now lying close to death in a London Hospital....
His extraordinary intelligence, verbal and literary originality... and apparent commitment to non-violence made him not just an icon in his own country but of a large part of the activist sixties’ generation in the white world who, not all persuaded of the heroic virtues of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, desperately looked for a more sympathetic role model.
Measured against most of his peers, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, he towered above them. On the intellectual plane only the rather remote president of Senegal, the great poet and author of Negritude, Leopold Senghor, came close to him."
See the rest of the article in Godfrey Mwakikagile's book, "Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era," pp. 516 - 517.
Interestingly enough, Godfrey Mwakikagile has been described as a spokesman for Nyerere by one of Nyerere's critics on this forum. Yet those who see Mwakikagile's book as a hagiographic account or portrayal of Nyerere should take note of the fact that the same book has been acclaimed even by some political analysts of the conservative intellectual bent - on the ideological right - as a definitive work on Nyerere, although they did not agree with his policies. And the book has been extensively reviewed. The reviews are available on the internet, on both the left and the right as well as the middle of the ideological divide, enough to satisfy everybody regardless of one's ideological inclinations.
Now, with regard to state power, which may evolve into a dictatorship or which is sometimes even sanctioned by the constitution as a legitimate exercise of authority, let's not forget that any government has the potential to wield enormous powers. Even the American presidency, which is admired so much by some members here on Jamii Forums, has its own built-in institutional biases sanctioned by law as prerogatives an American president can exercise at will. This includes executive orders issued by the president, bypassing Congress. Yet it's sanctioned by law.
There is no difference, in terms of application, in the invocation of such powers in the Tanzanian context if there is a constitutional mandate to do so, however reprehensible it may be to some people. But if the law says you can do it, then that is the law.
Nyerere may have exercised some powers he deemed appropriate to be exercised but whose legitimacy some people may have questioned probably on political and may be even on moral grounds. However, in terms of functional utility, and if the president felt, and knew, it was within his constitutional mandate to exercise such powers, and in the national interest, then he had the right to do so. And that includes invoking the Preventive Detention Act.
There is nothing wrong, per se, with having, and invoking, the Preventive Detention Act if there is demonstrable cause for concern with regard to national security. State security organs should have the mandate to invoke the law in such cases. The problem comes when there is abuse of power and the state exceeds its authority, overstepping the bounds of the law, violating the constitution, but not when the exercise of power is derived from a constitutional text.
What do we do then?
Change the constitution. But it rarely happens, if at all, even when there is an imperative need to change it. Failure to do so is sometimes generated by institutional ambivalence - in terms of roles played - among the political elite who extol the virtues of the presidency, and find it necessary to invest it with excessive powers, yet who are at the same aware of the primacy of parliament as a legislative institution which can curb the excesses of the executive branch through restrictive legislation.
So the burden lies with the parliament.
But don't blame the people who invoke powers conferred upon them by the rule of law, which is the constitution, to exercise such powers. If Nyerere exercised what in some circles or quarters may have been deemed or construed as excessive powers, and if the constitution allowed him to do so, it's because he had the constitutional mandate to invoke and exercise such powers.
It's in this context that Nyerere's statement should viewed when he said he had a lot of powers under the constitution to be a dictator. It does not necessarily mean he exercised or wanted to exercise such powers. But even if he did, he had the constitutional mandate or authority to do so.
I don't advocate the establishment of an imperial presidency. I have always contended that the authority of the presidency should be circumscribed by transferring much of the power from the presidency to parliament; a position shared by many Tanzanians including admirers of Nyerere such as Godfrey Mwakikagile who articulates this position in his writings, especially in his book, "The Modern African State: Quest for Transformation," which has been widely discussed in many circles. See reviews of his work on the Internet, in "Articolo," for example.
Detractors of Nyerere can say all they want to try to discredit him and tarnish his reputation. But they are not going to succeed in their nefarious scheme. In fact, such uninhibited criticism triggers exactly the opposite reaction among many people including those who may have disagreed with Nyerere on some policy issues. They rally to his defence because such criticism is unwarranted. The positive things Nyerere did far outweigh his shortcomings, something that's acknowledged even by many people who disagreed with his policies.
Nyerere remains an icon to millions of people in Tanzania and beyond, especially the downtrodden masses, and will always be. As Godfrey Mwakikagile states in his book, Nyerere was their patron saint, in spite of his shortcomings as a mere mortal like the rest of us. And even as one his critics, Professor Ali Mazrui, conceded about Nyerere: "He was one of the giants of the 20th century....He did bestride this narrow world like an African colossus."
Last edited by Shwari; 23rd October 2009 at 20:02.
PRESIDENT DIDN'T CREATE ME,SO I CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT HIM-------under_age
Just watched all the videos...conclusion nyerere managed to create a nation but his socialism failed to empower the country economically as it was experimental in my understanding. Mnamuita nyerere dictator?? he abused his power? in whose interest?...how dare you compare him to mobutu?? Watanzania tunalalamika maisha yalikuwa magumu na njaa etc etc wakati wa nyerere. Ni kweli haujasikia hata mtoto wake rosemary amesema katembea kenya kununua sabuni na dawa ya mswaki! huyo ni mtoto wa dictator?? tuache matusi je mnajua how many millions of chinese died in the name of economic success? tuache mzaa nyerere was no dictator he was too humble..angeweza kuendesha nchi na kuuua wengi tuu in his beliefs...acheni matusi jamani. Bila nyerere tungekuwa kama ndugu zetu wakenya tunauana tuu saizi...No one could have united the country like he did. Period.
"When the Authorities ask for your shirt, you give them your jacket aswell" Pattni Goldenberg Scandal Architect
Afadhali umekuja rafiki yangu. Nimebishana na Blueray mpaka koromeo limekauka. Anasema Nyerere aliua mamilioni wakati wa zoezi la vijiji vya ujamaa nikamwambia ataje mfano wa familia moja tu ambayo ilimpoteza mtu wakati huo anasema haitajulikana mpaka baada ya miaka 50. Usiwe unapotea sana hivyo hapa JF. Sasa namsubiri Bibi Ntillie.
Ama kweli fadhila za punda...wewe kweli ungekuwa humu ndani unalumbana kwa Kiswahili (na Kiingereza chako cha mbwembwe nyingi) na kushiriki kama Mtanzania yeyote isingekuwa kwa utu na huruma Mwalimu aliyoonyesha juu ya babako na familia yake?
Umshukuru JKN kwa hicho kiburi na majivuno unayoonyesha hivi leo dhidi yake maana isingekuwa JKN wewe na familia yenu yote mngekuwa wapi maana hata kule Malawi hali hivi sasa ni balaa Ukimwi na dhiki ya ajabu imetawala jamii...Damn you dude!
Njabu naona unachanganya watu hapa. Sidhani kama huyu Bluray ndiye uneyemdhania....
Miafrika Ndivyo Tulivyo.
Main Entry: dic·ta·tor
Pronunciation: \ˈdik-ˌtā-tər, dik-ˈ\
Etymology: Latin, from dictare
Date: 14th century
1 a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively
2 : one that dictates
The Free Dictionary:
1. a. An absolute ruler.
b. A tyrant; a despot.
2. An ancient Roman magistrate appointed temporarily to deal with an immediate crisis or emergency.
3. One who dictates: These initials are those of the dictator of the letter.
Oxford English Dictionary:
• noun a ruler with total power over a country.
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JKN anaangukia kwenye mojawapo ya hizo definitions?