A HALF-century has passed since Zanzibar and Tanganyika on April 26, 1964, formed the United Republic of Tanzania.
This event continues to capture the imagination of Tanzanians, the young and the old. Some imaginations stem from the energy and the charisma of the two founders of the Union, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Abeid Amani Karume.
During the past decade, former President Jakaya Kikwete administration has fully defended and consolidated the Union for the benefit of peoples of the two sister countries. The Union has inspired an almost existential sense of national pride and also marked a profound change in our national story. One rarely finds anyone who lived through the events of April 26, 1964 who does not think that something profoundly changed our national outlook.
The 53 years of the Union under presidents Mwalimu Nyerere, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa, Jakaya Kikwete and now John Pombe Magufuli has brought about a remarkable expansion of cultural bonds, solidarity, equality and freedom between peoples of the two countries.
Today, Tanzanians born during the sordid history of colonial rule have personal experiences and a frame of reference of this auspicious occasion in the same manner that both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar were freed from British colonialism and the Arab oligarchy respectively.
Tanzanians are proud to say that they have come a long way since a lot of water has passed under the bridge. They have passed through many momentous events which history teaches them not to forget them.
The tendency to frame historic and personal experiences through the lens of Ôbefore,Õ Ôduring,Õ and ÔafterÕ an event is a unique visual device through which an ingredient of active personal eyewitness and communal poignant experiences are structured so as to narrow the focus from a macro to a micro perspective.
This perspective allows the individual to be an active participant at the front and centre of a momentous historic event - thus giving credence to the notion that a collective achievement could transform individuals and nations.
On April 26, 1964 our Union founders gave a very clear cut definition why unity was fundamental in architecting TanzaniaÕs development. They mapped out, in very bold and pace-setter of a manner, the strategy for furtherance and coordination of the next stages of TanzaniaÕs development.
The global events of the past 53 years have drawn our attention, quite strongly, to the necessity to have good and effective leaders like we had visionary architects of the Union. Such leaders can more effectively guarantee national security, good governance and democracy in Tanzania.
They will also help to set-up and nurture state or governmental institutions and create the enabling environment for the promotion and sustenance of national security, good governance and democracy.
The past 53 years of Tanzania’s marriage have placed us as living witnesses to the collapse of despotic and unpopular regimes not only in Africa but the world over. Subordinate groups, classes and other social cleavages have sprang up with agitations for participation in the affairs of their nations and societies.
This has, no doubt, confirmed a study of Civic culture that ÒIf there is a political revolution going on throughout the world, it’s what might be called the participation revolution which has engulfed Tanzanians as well. As a nation, we are proud of the fact that the Union architects realised the need to unite the two countries without waiting for further unpleasant developments to occur. It is for this reason that Tanzania under President John Magufuli is clearly in the fore-front of the democratisation process going on in Africa.
The democratisation process, promises to create favourable conditions for the emergence of the appropriate leadership that can better guarantee national security, unity and good governance that will promote democratic rights. TanzaniaÕs young people today are known as the Born Free generation.
They enjoy the dignity of being born into a democratic society with the right to vote and choose who will govern them. For the Tanzanian youth, unaware of what exactly took place on April 26, 1964, there have been impressive achievements since the formation of the Union: in building houses, schools, roads and infrastructure; the provision of water and electricity to millions; free education and healthcare; increases in pensions and social grants; financial and banking stability; and slow but steady economic growth.
These gains, however, have been offset by a breakdown in service delivery, gross inadequacies and inequities in the education and health sectors and a ferocious rise in unemployment.
With these problems aside, the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar was crucial to the success of the liberation struggle against colonialism in Africa and remains the envy of other African nations which had tried to unite to no avail.
Today, Tanzania has occupied a place in Africa for having supported the liberation of some countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia to end colonialism. Tanzania can, therefore, be described as the land of hope with a long-term dynamo of growth in the next 50 years of its Union.