Tanzania: The Rocky Road to Full Independence Ray Naluyaga, "The Citizen," Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, allafrica.com 9 December 2009 Today, Tanzania marks the 48th anniversary of its independence that was achieved relatively peacefully compared to its neighbours. Then known as Tanganyika, on December 9, 1961, the country became free from British rule. In 1964 it was renamed Tanzania after leaders of Tanganyika and Zanzibar agreed to unite their two countries in a bid to consolidate their independence. As was the case of other African countries, the struggle for independence began during World War II, where many Tanganyikans fought alongside the British between 1939 and 1945. During their engagement abroad, Tanganyikans had the opportunity to exchange political ideas with fighters from other parts of the world. On their return home, they held new views about the liberation of African peoples from the hands of colonial oppressors. The views were further ignited by the fact that African scholars in London, had already plotted the course for freedom. The Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu), was the principal political organ during the struggle for independence. It was born out of Tanganyika African Association (TAA), a party formed in the late 1940s to fight for rights, justice and unity of African people in Tanganyika. To be exact, TAA's 1948 constitution made it appear as if the party did not harbour any political ambitions. In 1953 a change of leadership occurred in TAA and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was elected its president replacing Mr Kleist Sykes. Under the new leadership it was realised that TAA's constitution was incapable of propagating for political ambitions. Mr Nyerere was given the task to write a new TAA constitution that addresses a political agenda, that was prevalent in the African continent at the time. After the new constitution was written, it was seen that there was a need to change the name of the party as well. Many names were suggested, but Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu), prevailed. Tanu which was officially born on July 7, 1954, inherited all TAA branches, members and leaders in all parts of the country. Seventeen people attended a meeting which saw Tanu being launched. Among them was its chairman Mwalimu Nyerere, Abdul Sykes, Ally Sykes and John Rupia, only to name a few. Initialy, Tanu drew support mainly from coorperative societies, workers unions and people faced with difficulties under colonialism. Tanu's top priority since its inception in 1954, was to prepare Tanganyikans for self rule, and for that reason the party recognised that its principal weapon was unity amongst Tanganyikans of African origin. That is why Tanu opened its doors for all people regardless of tribe, religion, color or place of origin, making it a mass party. Apart from attracting people of African origin, Tanu also took on board people of European and Asian origin who sympathised with its course. Such people included Amir Jamal, Al-Noor Kassum, Derek Bryceson, Babra Johnson and Leader Stirling, who were accepted as full members in 1962. It was surprising though that as the country marks 48 years of independence, a relative of Tanu founding members, recently claimed that Nyerere is wrongly portrayed as the sole person who led the independence struggle in Tanganyika. Unless he was wrongly quoted by a Kiswahili daily, it is impossible to accept the view that Mr Nyerere could have solely achieved this! Ambassador Abbas Sykes says amongst the people denied recognition is his family, which is not mentioned anywhere in history books. He says Mr Nyerere was invited to TAA because of his education and nothing else. "History has been told time and again that Tanu was the party that led the struggle for Tanganyika's independence as if the party dropped out of skies forgetting that TAA existed long before the party was conceived," he argues. He says when Nyerere was studying in the UK, he and other Tanganyikans were clandestinely clindestinely engaged in the independence struggle. He continues to say that his brother Abdul Waheed Sykes forsake his TAA chairmanship and gave it to Nyerere who later became the chairman of Tanu. "Today if one goes to the museum, one can not find Sykes names in any history book," he laments. History recognises the role of many people and institutions who participated in the struggle. It has also been recorded that Nyerere was not simply awarded TAA chairmanship, and neither did he automatically become the Tanu leader by virtue of being TAA chairman. He contested the post and won. But it is equally surprising that Mr Sykes is launching a movement meant to begin the battle for ownership of the struggle for independence, which many people contributed in one way or another. Perhaps he should also be reminded that there are also independence heroes like Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba who sacrifised a lot during their countries' struggles more than Nyerere. But through his assertions, does it mean that it was them (listed heroes above) who solely fought for the liberation of their countries? Take South Africa for example, thousands of people lost their lives during the fight against apartheid and many more lost their families as they were forced to go into exile, yet Mr Mandela is credited to the fall of the apartheid regime. As Tanzania marks the 48th anniversary of Uhuru, its time to consolidate further principles of unity and sense of ownership for every Tanzanian inso far as the independence struggle is concerned. Not a single family nor individual not even Nyerere, ever claimed to own the struggle that he led.