Nyerere was a President, Diplomat, Politician and also a Teacher

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6 Maoism in TanzaniaMaterial connections and shared imaginariesPriya LalWe stand for self-reliance. We hope for foreign aid but cannot bedependent on it; we depend on our own efforts, on the creative power ofthe whole army and the entire people.Self-Reliance and Arduous StruggleIn December 1966, President Julius Nyerere embarked on a six-week tourof half of the regions in the newly independent East African country ofTanzania, which the national press enthusiastically dubbed his“LongMarch.”

1During this journey to both major regional centers and remoterural outposts, Nyerere called upon Tanzanians across the countryside tounite in pursuit of the country’s new developmental imperatives: self-reliance and socialism. In a pamphlet published several years earlier,Nyerere had already begun to outline these political principles, introducingthe concept ofujamaa, or“familyhood,”into national discourse as thefoundation for a proposed program of African socialism.2It was not untilthe conclusion of his“Long March,”however, that Nyerere officiallyinaugurated the policy ofujamaathat would structure life in Tanzania overthe next decade. On February 5, 1967, in a widely publicized manifestoissued in the northern town of Arusha, President Nyerere–popularlyknown as Mwalimu (Teacher)–announced the ideological contours of aradicalapproach tonational development based uponcollective hard work,popular agrarian transformation, and a resolutely anti-colonial stance.Though in theory theujamaaproject elaborated in the Arusha Declar-ation soughtto recuperate a lost ideal of traditional African socialism, it wasvery much the product of the global circumstances of the 1960s.

As theTanzanian initiative evolved, it borrowed from the Chinese developmentalmodel symbolically and ideologically–invoking Chinese historical mile-stones such as the Long March and the Cultural Revolution, and drawing1Nsa Kaisi,“Mwalimu’s Long March,”The Nationalist(February 4, 1967).2Julius Nyerere,“Ujamaa: The Basis of African Socialism,”inFreedom and Unity:A Selection from Writings and Speeches, 1952–65(Dar es Salaam: Oxford UniversityPress, 1966).

upon key themes of Maoism such as self-reliance, mass politics, andpeasant primacy. The discursive circulation of Maoist idioms and conceptsamong state officials and broader publics in Tanzania during the earlypostcolonial era was accompanied and enabled by the simultaneous mater-ial circulation of Chinese cultural, political, and economic resourcesthroughout the country. Mao’s Little Red Book was one such resource;in the late 1960s, English and Swahili translations of the text were adver-tised for sale (for the highly affordable price of one shilling) in majorTanzanian newspapers such asThe Nationalist,3and copies of theQuota-tionswere stocked at the National Central Library, opened in December1967.

4The contents of Mao’s Little Red Book embodied China’s innova-tive, unorthodox approach to socialism–an approach that resonated withofficials of Tanzania’s ruling political party, TANU, but also captured theattention of young people and intellectuals in cities such as Dar es Salaam.Given low literacy rates and the poor condition of transportationinfrastructure in the countryside, the book itself, as a physical object,was not always–or even often–the vehicle for the spread of Maoist ideasand symbols throughout Tanzania.

Instead, theQuotationstraveledacross radio airwaves to reach rural communities and illiterate urbanpublics across the country in oral form. Most importantly, the influenceof the Chinese socialist model onujamaa-era Tanzania was entrenchedthrough, and manifested itself in, the circulation of a wide range ofpeople and resources between China and Tanzania from 1964 to 1975.

The Chinese–Tanzanian relationship was, importantly, an asymmetricalone; though Tanzanian diplomatic missions and student groups paidmultiple visits to the PRC during this period, Chinaflooded Tanzaniawith teachers, doctors, technological support, monetary aid, culturalproductions, and a range of other collaborative and unilateral assistance.Rather than passively absorbing this aid, cultivating a position of eco-nomic and ideological dependency on China, Tanzanian actorsimported, incorporated, and transformed these Chinese elements toforge their own project of African socialism.


BackgroundThe United Republic of Tanzania was born in 1964, three years after theformer British colony of Tanganyika became a sovereign country, and3The Nationalist, the primary newspaper referenced here, was one of four daily newspapersin Tanzania until the press was fully nationalized in 1972.The Nationalist, along withUhuru, its Swahili-language counterpart, was owned and operated by TANU, the rulingparty at the time.4“No Censorship of Books in Tanzania,”The Nationalist(December 12, 1967).Maoism in Tanzania97)

several months after the island territory of Zanzibar also gained inde-pendence from British rule. Though mainland Tanganyika’s transitionto independence in 1961 was a fairly smooth and peaceful affair, inZanzibar decolonization was accompanied by a tumultuous, violent left-ist revolution–with racial overtones–against the ruling elite and landedclasses on the island. In the context of political turbulence, ongoing civilwar, and foreign involvement in the neighboring country of the Congo,as well as the escalation of liberation struggles against Portuguese imperi-alism and apartheid-style governance immediately to the south ofTanzania, the Zanzibar revolution drew new international attention toEast Africa. Nyerere and other TANU officials, like their counterpartsacross the African continent, felt the pressures of the Cold War quiteacutely, and pursued a platform of global engagement that would pre-serve the geopolitical and ideological autonomy of their young country.At the same time, the Tanzanian leadership sought to formulate anagenda for domestic development that accorded to the ideals informingtheir foreign policy (an emphasis on self-reliance combined with anidealization of community) but remained compatible with the on-the-ground realities of a poor, largely rural, society.

By 1967,ujamaahad emerged as the philosophy and strategy thatTANU leaders felt would best respond to the opportunities and con-straints of the early postcolonial period.Ujamaasimultaneously drewupon standard socialist themes–by rejecting exploitation and inequalityin favor of collective effort and welfare–and departed from the conven-tional global repertoire of development policy–by proposing a decentral-ized, pastoral version of socialist democracy.

Tanzanian political elitesstyledujamaaas aflexible, improvisational utopian project driven by ashifting dialectic between state-directed policy and popular subjectivetransformation, rather than proclaiming it afixed blueprint for revolu-tionary change. Immediately following the Arusha Declaration, theimplementation ofujamaabegan with the one-party state’s nationaliza-tion of banks, major industries, and natural resources.

The centerpiece oftheujamaainitiative, however, was the longer-term undertaking ofreorganizing the Tanzanian countryside into socialist villages. Theujamaavillage was to be defined by collective ownership of propertyand communal organization of agriculture; the hard work and unifieddedication ofujamaavillagers would fuel national development.

Whereas villagization began as an experimental and voluntary effort, itmorphed into a compulsory drive (known as Operation Vijiji [Villages])between 1973 and 1975 in which millions of peasants were forcefullyresettled. By the end of Operation Vijiji, the Tanzanian rural landscapehad been superficially transformed, but substantiveujamaahad not bee

 

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Maoism in Tanzania
Material connections and shared imaginaries
Priya Lal
We stand for self-reliance. We hope for foreign aid but cannot be dependent on it; we depend on our own efforts, on the creative power of the whole army and the entire people.
Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle
In December 1966, President Julius Nyerere embarked on a six-week tour of half of the regions in the newly independent East African country of Tanzania, which the national press enthusiastically dubbed his “Long March.”1 During this journey to both major regional centers and remote rural outposts, Nyerere called upon Tanzanians across the countryside to unite in pursuit of the country’s new developmental imperatives: self- reliance and socialism. In a pamphlet published several years earlier, Nyerere had already begun to outline these political principles, introducing the concept of ujamaa, or “familyhood,” into national discourse as the foundation for a proposed program of African socialism.2 It was not until the conclusion of his “Long March,” however, that Nyerere officially inaugurated the policy of ujamaa that would structure life in Tanzania over the next decade. On February 5, 1967, in a widely publicized manifesto issued in the northern town of Arusha, President Nyerere – popularly known as Mwalimu (Teacher) – announced the ideological contours of a radical approach to national development based upon collective hard work, popular agrarian transformation, and a resolutely anti-colonial stance.
Though in theory the ujamaa project elaborated in the Arusha Declar- ation sought to recuperate a lost ideal of traditional African socialism, it was very much the product of the global circumstances of the 1960s. As the Tanzanian initiative evolved, it borrowed from the Chinese developmental model symbolically and ideologically – invoking Chinese historical mile- stones such as the Long March and the Cultural Revolution, and drawing
1 Nsa Kaisi, “Mwalimu’s Long March,” The Nationalist (February 4, 1967).
2 Julius Nyerere, “Ujamaa: The Basis of African Socialism,” in Freedom and Unity: A Selection from Writings and Speeches, 1952–65 (Dar es Salaam: Oxford University
Press, 1966). 96
 

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Maoism in Tanzania 97
upon key themes of Maoism such as self-reliance, mass politics, and peasant primacy. The discursive circulation of Maoist idioms and concepts among state officials and broader publics in Tanzania during the early postcolonial era was accompanied and enabled by the simultaneous mater- ial circulation of Chinese cultural, political, and economic resources throughout the country. Mao’s Little Red Book was one such resource; in the late 1960s, English and Swahili translations of the text were adver- tised for sale (for the highly affordable price of one shilling) in major Tanzanian newspapers such as The Nationalist,3 and copies of the Quota- tions were stocked at the National Central Library, opened in December 1967.4 The contents of Mao’s Little Red Book embodied China’s innova- tive, unorthodox approach to socialism – an approach that resonated with officials of Tanzania’s ruling political party, TANU, but also captured the attention of young people and intellectuals in cities such as Dar es Salaam.
Given low literacy rates and the poor condition of transportation infrastructure in the countryside, the book itself, as a physical object, was not always – or even often – the vehicle for the spread of Maoist ideas and symbols throughout Tanzania. Instead, the Quotations traveled across radio airwaves to reach rural communities and illiterate urban publics across the country in oral form. Most importantly, the influence of the Chinese socialist model on ujamaa-era Tanzania was entrenched through, and manifested itself in, the circulation of a wide range of people and resources between China and Tanzania from 1964 to 1975. The Chinese–Tanzanian relationship was, importantly, an asymmetrical one; though Tanzanian diplomatic missions and student groups paid multiple visits to the PRC during this period, China flooded Tanzania with teachers, doctors, technological support, monetary aid, cultural productions, and a range of other collaborative and unilateral assistance. Rather than passively absorbing this aid, cultivating a position of eco- nomic and ideological dependency on China, Tanzanian actors imported, incorporated, and transformed these Chinese elements to forge their own project of African socialism.
Background
The United Republic of Tanzania was born in 1964, three years after the former British colony of Tanganyika became a sovereign country, and
3 The Nationalist, the primary newspaper referenced here, was one of four daily newspapers in Tanzania until the press was fully nationalized in 1972. The Nationalist, along with Uhuru, its Swahili-language counterpart, was owned and operated by TANU, the ruling party at the time.
4 “No Censorship of Books in Tanzania,” The Nationalist (December 12, 1967).
 

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Priya Lal
several months after the island territory of Zanzibar also gained inde- pendence from British rule. Though mainland Tanganyika’s transition to independence in 1961 was a fairly smooth and peaceful affair, in Zanzibar decolonization was accompanied by a tumultuous, violent left- ist revolution – with racial overtones – against the ruling elite and landed classes on the island. In the context of political turbulence, ongoing civil war, and foreign involvement in the neighboring country of the Congo, as well as the escalation of liberation struggles against Portuguese imperi- alism and apartheid-style governance immediately to the south of Tanzania, the Zanzibar revolution drew new international attention to East Africa. Nyerere and other TANU officials, like their counterparts across the African continent, felt the pressures of the Cold War quite acutely, and pursued a platform of global engagement that would pre- serve the geopolitical and ideological autonomy of their young country. At the same time, the Tanzanian leadership sought to formulate an agenda for domestic development that accorded to the ideals informing their foreign policy (an emphasis on self-reliance combined with an idealization of community) but remained compatible with the on-the- ground realities of a poor, largely rural, society.
By 1967, ujamaa had emerged as the philosophy and strategy that TANU leaders felt would best respond to the opportunities and con- straints of the early postcolonial period. Ujamaa simultaneously drew upon standard socialist themes – by rejecting exploitation and inequality in favor of collective effort and welfare – and departed from the conven- tional global repertoire of development policy – by proposing a decentral- ized, pastoral version of socialist democracy. Tanzanian political elites styled ujamaa as a flexible, improvisational utopian project driven by a shifting dialectic between state-directed policy and popular subjective transformation, rather than proclaiming it a fixed blueprint for revolu- tionary change. Immediately following the Arusha Declaration, the implementation of ujamaa began with the one-party state’s nationaliza- tion of banks, major industries, and natural resources. The centerpiece of the ujamaa initiative, however, was the longer-term undertaking of reorganizing the Tanzanian countryside into socialist villages. The ujamaa village was to be defined by collective ownership of property and communal organization of agriculture; the hard work and unified dedication of ujamaa villagers would fuel national development.
Whereas villagization began as an experimental and voluntary effort, it morphed into a compulsory drive (known as Operation Vijiji [Villages]) between 1973 and 1975 in which millions of peasants were forcefully resettled. By the end of Operation Vijiji, the Tanzanian rural landscape had been superficially transformed, but substantive ujamaa had not been
 

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Maoism in Tanzania 99
achieved, since TANU had exchanged the original goal of establishing functional socialist villages for the objective of achieving a mere spatial reconfiguration of the countryside. The fate of the individual ujamaa village paralleled that of the Tanzanian nation-state at large. By the mid 1970s Tanzania, like many other newly independent states in sub- Saharan Africa, had lost its developmental momentum largely due to a number of structural, institutional, and ideological constraints – all of which reflected local factors but were deeply connected to the increasing unevenness of the world economy and the restrictiveness of global geopolitics.
Shared imaginaries
Before the disappointments and closures of the 1970s, however, Tanzanian politics were marked by a spirit of experimentation and possibility. Without reproducing Mao’s vision wholesale, Nyerere trans- posed a number of key themes of Chinese socialism onto Tanzanian soil, combining them with popular local idioms, colonial practices, and other borrowed developmental ideologies into the distinctive ujamaa imagin- ary. Moreover, as the ujamaa project was translated into practice, the state officials and youth militants who interpreted and implemented official development policy further injected a Maoist flavor into their endeavors, demonstrating the broad reach of the Chinese socialist model among Tanzanian populations. In many ways, the Tanzanian ujamaa experiment mirrored and overlapped with other African Socialist projects in countries such as Ghana, Guinea, Mali, and Zambia – which all drew upon a common continental repertoire in which Maoist ideology and symbolic citations figured prominently. Yet ujamaa was easily the most ambitious and sustained version of African Socialism, and featured an especially striking affinity with the Chinese configuration at multiple levels.
Equally committed to the task of forging an “alternative” path to socialist development, Tanzania and China shared a political language of anti-colonialism and self-reliance, and their domestic agendas both valorized the countryside as the primary site of economic and ideological transformation. Like Mao, Nyerere realized the unsuitability of Soviet strategies in a predominantly agrarian society, and refused to counten- ance the intensification of urban–rural discrepancies, class tensions, and general hardship for the average citizen that a straightforward policy of industrialization and proletarianization would produce. Rather than deferring the establishment of socialist forms of social organization until the reconfiguration of productive forces had been achieved, both
 

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world history has had cordial relations with both Tanganyika and Zanzibar for over a thousand years.” He concluded that since “this relation was disrupted by imperialists and colonialists,” it was a “sacred duty” for “we peoples of Asia and Africa in this century to restore our former friendly relationship.”9 In 1965, on a visit by Nyerere and other TANU officials to Beijing, Zhou remarked of China and Tanzania that “we have similar past experience, face common fighting tasks, and so can most easily understand and trust each other.”10 Nyerere agreed, noting that “China is the biggest and the most powerful of the developing countries – indeed, it is the only developing country which can challenge imperialism on equal terms” and that “China is undergoing the greatest ideological revolution the world has ever seen, with anti-imperialism as its core.”11
By 1967, TANU leaders sought to reinforce their new calls for rural sacrifice and self-reliance in the name of ujamaa by repeatedly pointing to
9 Rashidi M. Kawawa and Chou En-Lai, Hotuba Zilizotolewa Wakati wa Matembezi ya Bwana Kawawa Katika China [Speeches made during the visit of Mr. Kawawa to China] (Dar es Salaam: TANU pamphlet, 1964).
10 “US Imperialism Sure to Fail: Chou Tells Isle Rally,” The Nationalist (June 7, 1965).
11 Pressman’s Commentary: “The Cold War Politics,” The Nationalist (August 25, 1967).
 

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China as both a model of the correct path of self-reliance and an illustra- tion of the concrete benefits of pursuing such a developmental path. After visiting Beijing and touring southern China as part of a TANU friendship delegation in 1967, Executive Party Secretary P. Msekwa proclaimed that “China has set an excellent example for us in taking the road of self-reliance . . . Tanzania must take this road too. It’s the only road to make our country strong and prosperous.”12 After his 1965 visit, Nyerere contrasted a Chinese ethos of discipline and austerity with the “list of needs and requests for assistance” he encountered in Tanzanian rural settlement schemes, commenting that the Chinese
are a frugal people; they husband their resources very carefully indeed, and only spend money on things which are absolutely essential. Workers who do not need to spend all their money on food, clothing and housing do not buy a lot of unnecessary things just because they would be nice to have or because someone else has one; they lend their money to the Government instead so that more investment, more education, and more health facilities can be provided.13
“This attitude we have to adopt too,” he continued, explaining that “the only way to defeat our present poverty is to accept the fact that it exists, to live as poor people.”14
Nyerere’s admiration of “the conscious and deliberate frugality”15 he witnessed in China extended to the attitude of the political leaders he encountered; his observations that Chinese government elites “were never richly dressed and were not luxuriously spending on cars”16 prefigured the Arusha Declaration’s stipulation that every TANU and government leader hold limited property, earn a single salary, and “be either a peasant or a worker.” During the early years of ujamaa, public and official critiques of the conspicuous consumption of wealthy TANU members – known derisively as wabenzi for the flashy Mercedes-Benz vehicles they drove – escalated, culminating in the release of a 1971 set of Party Guidelines known as the Mwongozo, which provided further sanc- tion against the “arrogant, extravagant, contemptuous, and oppressive” behavior of these officials, and urged the latter to practice self-reliance rather than “exploitation” in their personal lives. The decadent lifestyle of the wabenzi appeared particularly egregious when held up against the public displays of rugged self-sufficiency by Nyerere, members of
12 “TANU Team Flies to S. China,” The Nationalist (December 22, 1967).
13 “Union Being Cemented, Says Mwalimu: Union Making Great Progress,” The
Nationalist (April 27, 1965).
14 Ibid.
15 “We Admire People of Tanzania – Chou,” The Nationalist (June 5, 1965).
16 “Invest your Cash Here: President Call to Tanzanians,” The Nationalist (March 9,
1965).
 

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TANU’s Youth League (TYL), students, and rural people across the country in the wake of the President’s “Long March” leading up to the Arusha Declaration in 1967. Later that year, these Tanzanians embarked upon a series of long-distance walks in support of the new ujamaa program, culminating in Nyerere’s seven-day trek from his birthplace in Butiama to the northern city of Mwanza over 130 miles away. The editors and staff of The Nationalist – TANU members including Nyerere’s successor, Benjamin Mkapa, and his future advisor, Nsa Kaisi – celebrated these “heroic” marches in their typically militant language, noting that the people’s “leader believes in hard work and struggle and is himself in the forefront of this hard work and struggle.”17 The symbolism was clear: in ujamaa’s “war on poverty,” the Chinese revolutionary spirit of self-reliance, exemplified by the phys- ical endurance evident in “the Long March which the beleaguered Red Army undertook in 1934/5,”18 would comprise the most effective weapon in the Tanzanian arsenal.
Despite China and Tanzania’s mutual commitment to self-reliance as a developmental strategy for their rural populations, their very relation- ship was premised upon a recognition that national self-reliance could only realistically comprise a developmental goal for a poor country such as Tanzania. During the 1960s, Chinese aid to Tanzania arrived in many forms. In Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, Chinese money built factories such as the Urafiki (Friendship) Textile Mill, whose operations were organized and guided by Chinese managers and technical experts. A large state farm (Ruvu) just outside Dar es Salaam – one of several exceptions to Nyerere’s policy of small-scale, village-level agriculture – relied upon Chinese tractors and other equipment, as well as the labor of Chinese agricultural advisors and workers. Chinese medical missions extended aid into remote areas of the countryside, resulting in the circulation of over thirty doctors, six nurses, and five interpreters throughout the regions of Mara, Dodoma, and Mtwara.19 These highly visible forms of aid were accompanied by regular donations of more mundane, but hardly less significant, materials such as books and radio equipment.
A number of cooperative ventures between China and Tanzania emphasized the commitment to symbolic and substantive solidarity between the two countries. A joint shipping line, whose vessels were given names such as the Asia/Africa, was one such undertaking; more
17 Editorial: “On the March,” The Nationalist (October 4, 1967).
18 “We Admire People of Tanzania – Chou,” The Nationalist (June 5, 1965).
19 “Chinese Doctors Call on Shaba,” The Nationalist (April 18, 1968).
 

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notable was the construction of what came to be known as the Uhuru (Freedom) Railway. Although the public marches of 1967 foregrounded an almost anti-modern strand of ujamaa ideology, which echoed Gand- hi’s ascetic traditionalism by rejecting “dependency” on transportation infrastructure and machinery, they were staged at precisely the moment at which Tanzania signed a pact with China and Zambia to develop the longest rail link in the country – the Tan–Zam (or TAZARA) railway from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka. Preliminary discussions of Chinese financing of the proposed TAZARA railway began in 1965. After the World Bank and other potential donors rejected Tanzanian and Zambian requests for investment, the Chinese deal was formalized, and the railway was built between 1969 and 1974.
The TAZARA railway embodied the complexity and depth of the Sino-Tanzanian relationship during this period. The project – like the relationship more broadly – participated in and helped constitute the ideas and initiatives of the Third World in its “second chapter,”20 marked by its members’ shared preoccupation with attaining and pre- serving national sovereignty, yet materialized through their commitment to transnational engagement and internationalism. In this spirit, TANU promoted regionalism – a building-block of pan-Africanism – as an economic tool in both the larger pursuit of geopolitical and ideological autonomy from Cold War bipolarities and the ongoing struggle against imperialist formations on the African continent. In particular, the work of combating formal colonialism and apartheid in southern Africa was inextricable from the project of strengthening regional economic ties with neighboring states, such as Zambia, that would otherwise be dependent on trade with Rhodesia and South Africa. TAZARA was a key element of the effort to bring down the Rhodesian and South African regimes, offering a route of access for imports and exports to and from Zambia that bypassed southern Africa, and thus promised to whittle down the latter’s economic base. The Chinese support for this initiative – via money, technology, technicians, and laborers – thus benefited the Tanzanian and Zambian economies, aided southern African liberation struggles, and bolstered China’s anti-colonial credentials.
These credentials had been secured earlier, in more covert and direct ways. Since its independence, Tanganyika had been a leader in regional and later continental efforts to aid liberation struggles in southern Africa,
20 For this periodization see Mark Berger, “After the Third World? History, Destiny and the Fate of Third Worldism,” Third World Quarterly 25.1 (2004), pp. 9–39; Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007).
 

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Priya Lal
spearheading the Pan African Freedom Movement of East, Central, and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) and hosting the Liberation Committee of the Organization of African Unity in Dar es Salaam from 1963 onward. Tanzania served as a base for anti-colonial and anti-apartheid movements from South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, housing their operational headquarters and facilitating their militarization by running training-camps as well as acting as a conduit for arms and supplies provided by a range of radical foreign sources.21 Chinese aid was particularly substantial among the latter. In 1964, China began training soldiers of the Zanzibar Island’s People’s Liberation Army and the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (many of whom would later go on to secure Tanzania’s southern border with Mozambique and train freedom fighters in refugee camps) as well as providing instruction to southern African guerrillas at the mainland Moshi Police College and in training-camps in sites such as Kongwa.22 By 1970, the Chinese had become the largest contributor of weapons and training to Tanzania-based freedom fighters.23 They had also entirely replaced Canadian aid, previously the primary source of military assist- ance in mainland Tanzania, to hold “a monopoly in field training and the supply of sophisticated military equipment for the armed forces,”24 and also worked to provide coastal patrol boats and jet fighters to the Tanzanian forces.
This military aid raised eyebrows among American and British offi- cials, particularly when it was covertly channeled through Tanzania toward groups such as the Simba rebels from the Eastern Congo. Nyerere and other Tanzanian officials remained alert to the lessons of the recent Congo crisis, which starkly illustrated the potential perils of inviting anti-communist intervention from the West.25 Within Tanzanian borders, TANU leaders maintained that the TAZARA deal,
21 See Shubi L. Ishemo, “‘A Symbol that Cannot be Substituted’: The Role of Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere in the Liberation of Southern Africa, 1955–1990,” Review of African Political Economy 27.83 (2000), pp. 81–94; Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa: 1959–1976 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Paul Bjerk, “Postcolonial Realism: Tanganyika’s Foreign Policy under Nyerere, 1960–1963,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 44.2 (2011), pp. 215–47.
22 “Russians and Chinese use Tanzania as Arms Centre,” Sunday Telegraph (March 21, 1965).
23 UK National Archives. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 31/690. “Anglo-US Talks on China. The Chinese in Tanzania.” East African department, November 1970. Background Notes.
24 Ibid., Speaking Notes.
25 Ludo deWitte, The Assassination of Lumumba (New York: Verso, 2003).
 

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along with the proliferation of other material ties to China, did not compromise the country’s position of self-reliance, commitment to ideo- logical sovereignty, and policy of non-alignment. Responding to per- ceived alarm and anticipated pressure by the USA in the wake of the TAZARA agreement, Nyerere maintained, repeatedly and insistently, that “a railway was a railway whether it was built by Chinese or Italians and it was not necessarily ‘Red’.”26 In the context of such debates about China’s influence on Tanzania, the cultural and political symbolism associated with ujamaa took on a particular importance. In 1965, Nyerere remarked that “large sections of the Western Press and some Western politicians have been examining us through microscopes”; he laughed off scrutiny of his penchant for Mao-style suits, scoffing that “I gather that even the suits I wear have been adduced as evidence of pernicious Chinese influence.”27 Yet, given the politicization of dress across sub-Saharan Africa and within Tanzanian borders throughout the 1960s,28 Nyerere’s sartorial choices spoke through a fairly clear visual language to express an ideological affinity for the evolving Maoist devel- opmental model.29
Culture and revolution
The popularity of Mao suits was hardly the only evidence of Chinese cultural and political influence in 1960s Tanzania. China’s revolution reached Tanzanians more concretely through the distribution of books and other media, especially radio and film. The Chinese operated the radical Tanganyika Bookshop in Dar es Salaam and the Mapinduzi (Revolution) Bookshop in Zanzibar, which sold “Chinese publications of a wide and useful variety in both Swahili and English,” ranging from technical manuals to China Pictorial magazine.30 Chief among these publications was Mao’s Quotations, which was also sold in smaller towns throughout Tanzania, and remained widely available by mail order in Swahili and English. Though such a text would have been irrelevant to many illiterate Tanzanians, a number of young intellectuals and activists
26 “Tan-Zam Railway is Not ‘Red’ Says Nyerere,” The Nationalist (October 20, 1968).
27 “President Nyerere Speaks out on Remaining Colonies: Bloodshed? It’s up to West,”
The Nationalist (June 24, 1965).
28 Jean Allman, ed., Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 2004).
29 The “Kaunda suit,” popularized by Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, was another
popular sartorial choice for male officials at the time.
30 UK National Archives. Dominion Office (DO) 213/100. “Tanzania: Chinese Influence
in Tanzania.” British High Commissioner in Tanzania to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, March 19, 1965.
 

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