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Leaders and riches: The Nyerere legacy/ Hii imekaaje Wadau?

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Makaimati, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Makaimati

    Makaimati JF-Expert Member

    Apr 22, 2011
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    Leaders and riches: The Nyerere legacy
    By Joseph Mihangwa
    11th January 2011

    Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere

    There was a time, following the fall of President Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana in
    1966, when it seemed that Dar es Salaam would succeed Accra as the Mecca of
    radical African and irredentist black political thinkers. Spared at last of
    the overwhelming magic of Nkrumah's oratory power, Tanzania under its
    President, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, fired the imagination loaded
    with it a distinct flavour of the page from the Africa of yore.

    Like all great men, Mwalimu was a man of many legends. He minced no words
    when it came to discussing issues like Socialism, Capitalism, Christianity,
    Self Reliance, the Party State or Human Rights. What was his particular
    stand on all these?

    Indeed, we are very rich in literature on the subjects, some of which were
    authored by Mwalimu himself. But suffice it to dwell just on some percepts
    from interviews by some international journalists to know who Mwalimu was
    and what he stood for.

    In an interview with Peter Enahoro, Editor-In-Chief of "Africa Now" Magazine
    in 1983, Nyerere is quoted tracing his background from a very poor rural
    area in Musoma. He says, "In spite of this nonsense of being son of a
    chief, I put on my first clothes the day I was taken to school at the age of
    12 years".

    Mwalimu notes that there was no difference between himself and other boys in
    the village. So the atmosphere in which he was brought up was one of basic
    rural equality.

    He had once disclosed to Ad'Obe of the "African Forum" Magazine is 1991,
    about his childhood family status saying: "My father had 22 wives. My
    mother was the fifth. By Christian rules I'm illegitimate, and even under
    Islam my father had gone beyond what was allowed".

    Mwalimu favoured simplicity and hated too much protocol. He had a serious
    aversion to wealth. On this he says, "I am basically a peasant and a
    socialist, which carries with it some element of radicalism. No body can be
    rich through his own work. No millionaire is a millionaire through his own
    work. He has exploited others".

    Mwalimu notes that exploitation occurs at the point of relations of
    production. He jabs: "Just take one of these people who brag: 'This is my
    work', and give him an island for himself and see if he can become rich.
    People become rich through exploiting others always".

    As to why people want to exploit others, Mwalimu says: "Because what they really want is power".

    Mwalimu once told an international gathering that the acquisition of power
    was not intended to be the use of wealth. "Wealth is intended to feed you,
    to give you clothing, to give you shelter, to give you good health, to give
    you good education" he said.

    "Wealth was never intended to give power to one person over another. But
    what do you want to be a millionaire for, if all you want is food and
    clothing and shelter", he asked?

    Mwalimu did not hate all rich people as some people may think; what Mwalimu
    did not want to see is wealth being used for the imposition of poverty. "So
    I say, I have no aversion to a rich man because as far as I know some rich
    people could be very saintly, could be very good people", he affirmed.

    Mwalimu said emphatically that he did not need wealth: "What do I need
    wealth for? I have survived for all these years, I do not know how many
    more years I still have to go", he posted.

    And like the Biblical Job who saw his wealth wither away, yet remained a
    happy and dependent on the will of God, Mwalimu said, "..But I came to this
    world naked, I'll go back naked. I do not see why I should be so worried
    about wealth. I am working for my people, what do I want wealth for?"

    Mwalimu died poor yet a very happy man. Who among our leadership today is
    prepared to emulate him and his ways?

    That was Mwalimu's position on Socialism or "Ujamaa". Mwalimu began
    thinking about socialism during his student days in Britain, but he was
    never a Marxist, partly because Karl Marx was influenced by Darwinist racist
    theories that relegated African people to second-rate human beings.

    He also did not import European socialism because it derived its arguments
    from class conflicts. Mwalimu's well known argument for African socialism
    (Ujamaa) was summed up thus: "For a Third World country, once you have
    accepted the idea of Socialism, there is the problem of succumbing to the
    ideology of evolution".

    "Marx says backward countries go through stages of development, with one
    stage leading to the other, and Socialism is the product of developed
    capitalism....Our aim was to destroy backwardness while preserving the
    community sense", Mwalimu said.

    Mwalimu was a frequent Churchgoer. There was a time when some wondered how
    he could reconcile that with his radicalism in a world where radicalism
    seemed to look askance at organized worship, even to the concept of God.

    To his doubters, Mwalimu was quick to disarm them in a prophetic
    presentation. He said, like all revolutionaries, Jesus roused bitter
    opposition; and the worst clash was with the rulers whose authority he
    challenged: "No-one can be His disciple who does not hate his father and
    mother (Luke 14: 26) - for he is come to set fire to the earth; he comes not
    to bring peace but the sword" (Luke 12: 49 - 53).

    By further inference, Mwalimu seemed to remind his fellow Christians that on
    the very eve of the Crucification, Jesus told his followers to sell their
    tunics and buy swords. Indeed, it is hard to interpret these words in a
    pure pacific vein but in a radicalistic one.

    However, Mwalimu's position was much clear on this. He positioned: "If I
    had feared radicalism under the pretext of religion, I could have not led a
    liberation movement (TANU) for our people. It would have been an insult to
    Christianity and Christ, who, himself was a revolutionary who stood odd
    against the Scribes and the Pharisees, by challenging them to rise up from
    the quagmire of human injustice".

    Christianity developed during the Roman Empire was accused of radicalism.
    Actually, the first Christians were accused of "Communism".

    Mwalimu was once asked whether it was an embarrassment to Africa, that none
    of the two big religions - Christianity and Islam originated from Africa,
    and he quipped in a philosophical - theological way:

    "People who want to debate with God can call and debate it with God. I am a
    Christian, I cannot have a political discussion with God and say: "Why not
    Africa?" "God might say: What do you mean? I have called Jesus out of
    Africa. First he fled into Egypt and it was from Egypt. He came back and
    began his mission", Mwalimu argued.

    "There is also a story", Mwalimu continued, that the Prophet Mohamed ran
    into trouble and went to Ethiopia in Africa..Christianity and Islam have had
    a tremendous influence on the world, but every major influence does not have
    to originate in Africa".

    Mwalimu did not admit failure of Ujamaa. He said, "What is failure? ..the
    fact that I have a severe balance of payment problem - so what?....In that
    case America's capitalist policies have failed and that is why they have
    nearly 3.5m unemployed inspite of the gold and the oil and the inheritance
    of the empire".
    However, Mwalimu was quick to admit the obvious: "It is true, capitalism is
    extremely dynamic and one reason why it is so dynamic is because it is very
    ruthless and that ruthlessness feeds on itself".

    But Mwalimu was always quick too to identify the evils of capitalism:
    "Capitalism will throw people into the streets..To the entrepreneur, he
    wants the freedom to exploit, the incentive is tremendous. Give him labour
    and he will push; unlike the manager of parastatal organization. So I
    accept this is true".

    Yet Mwalimu did not believe that Socialism breeds poverty: "The incentive
    to exploit others is very different from the incentive to develop yourself
    within the limits of a fair society. ..we want to build a society of
    equals, a civilized society, given time".

    Mwalimu was against blind imitation in the mode of development when the
    situation did not warrant so:

    "Look how they live in the United States. If you admire them at the expense
    of your own people then pack and go and live like they live. Here you
    should look at the village in Tanzania; do not look at the two cars and the
    fridges and all those things in the capitalist countries, in the exploiting
    countries; they are still exploiting us now", he cautioned.

    "You should not look at them and say that is what we want to be. Apart from
    being immoral, it is ridiculous", he remarked.

    Mwalimu was sick at heart when he discovered that corruption in governance
    was taking the form of privatization of the state itself. The party which
    was supposed to speak for the weaker was now existing for the purpose of
    elections only. He said, "A weak party breeds a weak government" (Chama
    legelege huzaa Serikali legelege). And on retirement from the Presidency he
    went back to the village to strengthen the party.

    That is where he discovered that the party had shifted from being a party of
    members to being a mere party of leaders. He henceforth initiated the
    debate on the essence of multipartism in Tanzania.

    Mwalimu is quoted saying: "Ideologically, I'm a one party man. But I have
    introduced the debate on multipartism because the idea that it is taboo to
    question our Constitution is undemocratic.. I mean I cannot accept this..
    Now I am saying if these fellows (the people) want to start a multiparty
    system, then let them start it."

    Indeed, what is taking place now in our midst in terms of governance is not
    what Mwalimu advocated for. Our desire now is no longer the reformation of
    the society for better, but to join a rat-race for material wealth.

    Mwalimu is no longer with us. Indeed, he came on earth naked and returned
    to the earth naked, as he had earlier vowed to; yet his memories live.

    Indeed, we have become a gullible and confused lot; we fail to remember the
    past grim colonial days from which Mwalimu liberated us and are condemned to
    repeat it. We lack national feeling which gives birth to patriotism, heroic
    sacrifice and dedication.

    Real leadership has passed into the hands of selfish elites who pretend not
    to understand the problems of the people, but are also allergic to them. A
    complex of network of corruption is organized with their national and
    foreign mentors.

    They squeeze the poor to enrich a few capitalists. From being the servant
    of the people, they now constitute themselves their masters, and pursue
    their selfish and parochial aims to avoid "going back naked" as Mwalimu did.

    To these political elites, democracy has become a design to capture the
    attention of uniformed multitude and push their way to the top of political
    ladder. Under this condition democracy is made to work at best for the
    myopic interest of the elite.

    It is only when leaders regarded themselves as servants of the people, and
    the people as workers for social good, then can democracy work for the
    generality of the populace.