By J. M. Kavuma-Kaggwa - June 20, 2009 The greatest news of this century from East Africa is that the Catholic Church has started the canonisation process which will culminate in the Pope declaring Julius Kambarage Nyerere, a Catholic Saint. Who was Julius Kambarage Nyerere? Nyerere was one of the greatest sons of Africa. He was one of Africa's most remarkable statesmen and a great freedom fighter and liberator. That is why the Catholic Church in Tanzania and Uganda want to declare him a Saint of the Catholic Church I personally do not know of any saint who was originally a politician. The saints we know were priests, bishops, nuns, popes or people who were committed to religion throughout their lives and they lived in Catholic monasteries. I believe, and I am sure many people would believe the same, that Nyerere will be the first politician of our time to become a saint in the Catholic Church. HONOURED: Former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa, Kampala Archbishop Dr Kizito Lwanga, President Yoweri Museveni and Maria Nyerere at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine after prayers in honour of the late Nyerere. FILE PHOTO It is also known that for one to become a saint, after devoting all his/her life to religion or the services of the church, he/she must perform miracles after death. If people pray to him/her in times of danger, or sickness and they get cured, then he/she is declared a saint by the Pope. The situation of Nyerere is different, as we shall see the miracles he performed when he was still alive. I took interest in Julius Nyerere in 1956 when I joined the newspaper industry in Katwe, after my studies at Namilyango College. That was the time when the Kabaka, the late Sir Edward Mutesa II had just returned from exile and both Uganda National Congress and the Democratic Party were busy spreading the gospel for the demand for "INDEPENDENCE NOW" !!. Nyerere also had abandoned teaching and founded Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) with Oscar Kambona, Paul Bomani, Rashid Kawawa, Bibi Tit Mohamed, Chief Fundikira and many others. In Kenya, the Mau Mau war of independence had reached its peak and Jomo Kenyatta, Kungu Karumba, Paul Ngei, Bildadi Kagia, Fred Kubai and Achieng Oneko were in detention at Lodwar in Nothern Kenya. To me, Julius Nyerere performed miracles (political miracles in actual fact) when he was still alive. The following are the political miracles which he performed when he was still alive in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and Africa, which I remember. 1. Julius Nyerere struggled for independence and liberated Tanganyika (now Tanzania) on December 9, 1961. 2. He was the first Catholic President of Tanzania 3. He was President of Tanzania for 26 years. 4. He was the first graduate of Makerere University to become President of an African country. 5. He abolished all kingdoms in Tanzania. 6. He enforced the Swahili language suppressing all tribal languages. 7. From 1963 until the day he died, he refused to dress like an Englishman- a suit and a tie. He preferred the Mao Tse Tung and Chou en Lai suits – the Chinese suits. MaoTse Tung was the leader of the Peoples Republic of China and Chou en Lai was the Prime Minister when Tanganyika achieved independence in 1961. 8. In 1964, after the Zanzibar Revolution led by a Ugandan military man, John Okelo from Lango, Nyerere rushed to Zanzibar and met Sheikh Abed Karume, who was the President of Zanzibar, and they formed the United Republic of Tanzania. 9. He abolished the name of his party TANU and he named the party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) which means the party of revolution although there was no revolution on the mainland. The national flag was also changed but the national anthem "MUNGU IBALIKI AFRICA" (God Bless Africa) was not changed. 10. He told the people of Tanzania never to address his wife – "FIRST LADY", but to address her – "Mama Maria Nyerere". 11. In 1967, he requested the American and Canadian Governments to lend Tanzania money to build the railway from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka in Zambia. America and Canada refused. Nyerere went straight to China and requested Chairman Moi Tse Tung to give Tanzania money to build the railway. The Chinese Government gave him 100 million Dollars "friendly grant" with Chinese Technicians who built what is now called Tanzam Railway. 12. Nyerere made Dares salaam the base for all liberation movements in Africa, to liberate Mozambique, South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. 13. Again, in 1967, he went to Arusha, Northern Tanzania (an area of the capitalist and coffee growers (Bachaga people) and declared Tanzania a socialist country. He forced people to abandon capitalism and private ownership and he forced them into communal villages which he named "Vigigi". He told the people to call him "Mwalimu" which means teacher and both himself and the people, were happy with that name. Songs such as "Mwalimu has said it can be done – so play your part" were the order of the day on Radio Tanzania. 14. Socialism, or "Ujamaa", brought terrible abject poverty in Tanzania because people were not producing. In the later years nearly to the end of his rule. Nyerere apologised to the people of Tanzania for introducing "that bad economic system of socialism". It was poverty everywhere in Tanzania. What amused me during the years of socialism, it would be strange and surprising to some people to see a person banking Shs5,000. People would ask you in Kiswahili in the bank "wajua ndugu kuuliza sio vibaya, lakin hera nyingi kama hizo umezipata wapi?" what translates that my brother you know it is not bad to ask but how and where did you get too much money like that?" Thank God in 1987 Julius Nyerere, who was a staunch Catholic, heeded the advice from the Catholic Church to "give up power and let another Tanzanian take over". The Catholic Church, under the leadership of the late Cardinal Loriano Rugambwa, advised Nyerere with the following statement. "You have made great achievement for Tanzania and Africa and you have stayed in power for a long time, it will be a tragedy for Tanzania and Africa if a mad man assassinated you because of refusing to leave power". The Church gave him a formular how to leaver power: "Allow a multiparty system to work in the country and leave the presidency to another person of your own choice but remain as Chairman of the ruling party for about four years". Thank God Nyerere accepted the advice of the Church and the formular worked perfectly well. A multiparty system is working very well in Tanzania and they hold general elections every after five years and they have not changed their constitution to allow one particular citizen to stay in power without any limit. 16. The last two and more recent miracles Julius Nyerere performed were the military assistance to Ugandan exiles to remove General Idi Amin from power and refusing the Democratic Party to take power after winning the 1980 general elections, When Idi Amin took power through a military coup de tat in January 1971, Nyerere refused to recognise him and this sadly contributed to the collapse of the East African Community in 1977. Later on, in 1978/79 Nyerere sent in troops which assisted Ugandans to topple Amin after he had attacked Tanzania by bombing the Kagera Salient in 1978. Amin was toppled by a combined military force of Uganda exiles and Tanzanian troops on April 11, 1979. On December 10, 1980, Ugandans held a general election, the first one since Independence in 1962, and the Democratic Party won by a majority of 75 seats out of 108 seats. Paul Kawanga Semwogerere who was the leader of DP at that time, went to Paul Muwanga, accompanied by Mzee Evaristo Nyanzi, to make arrangements for Paul Semwogerere to be sworn in as the new President. Paul Muwanga who was the Chairman of the ruling military Commission at that time, told them he would check with President Nyerere in Dar es Salaam and advise them the following day. Paul Muwanga telephoned Nyerere that very day and said: "Mr President, the Democratic Party has won the elections and Paul Semwogerere has just been here, he wants me to hand over to him. What should I do now?" Nyerere replied and said: "Paul Muwanga, you have got my army there – change all the results". Muwanga changed all the results and gave victory to UPC/Obote. (The Commonwealth Observer Team declared the elections free and fair- Editor) A big number of Ugandans launched a five year guerrilla war in Luweero which ended on January 26, 1986 and President Museveni and NRA took state political power until today. That was Julius Kambarage Nyerere of the BAZANAKI tribe in Northern Tanzania, near Lake Victoria, a politician who led Tanganyika (and later named it Tanzania) from December 9, 1961 to December 1987. Let us wait he will be declared a saint by the Pope at the Vatican and then we shall hold celebrations in Tanzania and at Rubaga and Namugongo in Uganda.