A practical review of: Nyerere Freedom and Unity: A selection from writings and speeches

October 14, 2013 12:17 pm0 comments by:

books(4)As we mark  NyerereDay in Tanzania, there are loads of thing that we remember about Mwalimu Julius Nyerere- the conscious of Africa.  The briefness of this article cannot allow us to mention thousands of his praises. In short, Mwalimu worked extremely hard for the freedom and liberation of not only Tanzania but also Africa as a whole. He was unselfish, sacrificial, and realistic.  He was the symbol of positive image of Africa. Nyerere made a great leader. He is an exemplar that has been hard to imitate. More than anything else, Mwalimu was a philosopher. His writings and speeches are a testimony to this. He was never a partisan leader. He spoke what was for the benefit of the people not his party. His philosophy revolved around liberation, freedom, unity, equality, justice, and human dignity. He hated racism. His writings and speeches are mind provoking and they steer thinking into issues of development, politics, and society.

The volume ‘Freedom and Unity’ is a collection of Nyerere’s speeches and writings from 1952 to 1965. This timeframe covers crucial period between heated liberation struggle in pre-independence and ideological and policy issues post-independence. What is clear, however, is that the independence of Tanganyika did not stop Nyerere’s liberation struggle. For him, the battle was not over until each country in Africa attained independence.

Although the book is a collection of different speeches and writings written on different times and in different contexts, they are structured in a timely and coherent manner that one can easily trace history.  The book’s first chapter composes one of Nyerere’s unpublished extracts while a student at the University of Edinburgh. He spoke about the race in problem in Africa. The speeches are then followed in a sequence that reveals historical paths covering liberation struggle, independence, development of an ideology, making and implementation of public policies, and domestic development challenges. It ends with a chapter on the Organization of the African Union.  The speeches and writings are a primary data that can help scholars to analyze the contemporary history of Tanzania as well as Africa.

All in all, the book collects key writings and speeches of Mwalimu Nyerere. To use words of Plato, I can call him the ‘philosopher king’ of Africa.  He was more than anything, a thinker and his ideas can help us revisit and analyse our core values and policies. As Tanzania is in the process of reviewing its constitution, we would best be served by re-reading Nyerere’s writing and speeches. They will help us to understand ourselves- i.e. who we are as Tanzanians. They will remind us of our core values, our national identity, and our struggles. He values human dignity. He didn’t discriminate black or white. His was about human dignity and equality.  He spoke and wrote about issues that we are currently debating for the new constitution. These include issues of citizenship (chapters 28, 54), land and resource ownership (chapters 7, 11), integration of East Africa (18), values (chapter 14), and many others that we cannot mention them all. Every single speech and writing is invaluable for our thinking of contemporary discussions in the country.

Saying that does not mean ignoring current events and changes in time, but Nyerere’s ideas are foundations that can stand test of time. These ideas can help to strengthen our unity within the country and outside. We, as Tanzanians, we need to be proud about Nyerere as much as Greeks are proud about Plato and their other thinkers.

We can best be proud by action. Action starts by reading his writings, thinking through them, promote them in our schools and universities, and live them.

To end, I recommend that Nyerere’s ideas to be taught in politics and public relations departments in all universities in Tanzania. As much as students are taught about ideas in politics of thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Burke, Mill, Locke, and others, we have to include our own father Nyerere into such discourse. His are more relevant and applicable to our context.

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