Two incidents this week brought back memories of Nyerere the liberation hero, pan africanist and champion of equality of human beings, to mind. The events reminded all, just how much we have taken a huge leap backwards to the tenets and traits that Mwalimu cherished and lived for, and was willing to die for.
First, the Julius Nyerere Institute of Pan African Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam, held it’s 4th Nyerere annual lecture , an event that promises to immortalize Mwalimu in the hearts of his admirers and historians alike. This year the honorary lecture was delivered by Kenyan Professor of literature Micere Githere Mugo.
It was entitle, "Art, Artist and the flowering of Pan African liberated zones.” Second was watching the Union’s parliamentary proceedings of the election of candidates for the East African National Assembly at which, another Nyerere, Charles Makongoro, was one of the candidates. Charles is the first born son of Mwalimu.
Mwalimu was a true believer that , with freedom, people indigenous to the continent would be able to fight and win the war against the troika of malaises that included ignorance, poverty and disease. But with freedom, Mwalimu believed that the 1889 Berlin borders were an impediment to the twin goals of independence and freedom. Mwalimu believed this to the extent of declaring that Tanganyika could not be free if the rest of Africa continued to be under the shackles of colonial rule.
In essence, it followed that Mwalimu Nyerere made Tanganyika ( United Republic of Tanzania), the home of freedom fighting movements for countries as diverse as Mozambique to Algeria earning himself the Pan Africanist moniker that he shared ably with Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah. Mwalimu Nyere re was many things to many people.
A freedom fighter, a father, teacher, political scientist, writer, researcher , poet, public speaker and a role model parent and leader to people in Tanzania, the region, continent and the world. Indeed Mwalimu was a man well ahead of his time. This year’s celebration which brought together hundreds of scholars coincidentally also came at a time when matters East African were being discussed and the key talking points were always the same.
We seem to be, unlike Mwalimu, stuck in groove as to what to do about and with this vehicle called East Africa Community bus. The questions that comes to mind include, would Mwalimu Nyerere, the Pan Africanist and original believer in regional integration done it differently? Faced with the same challenges and opportunities , what options could Mwalimu have opted for? In the 1960’s , Mwalimu was on the fore-front of agitation one Africa from Cape to Cairo.
He was selfless enough to know this would have meant his losing his position as President of a smaller Tanzania. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make for the greater good. On the other hand today’s leaders talk the integration talk but when they get back into their national cocoons they spew anti-integration poison.
East Africa Legislative Assembly Candidate , Charles Makongoro Nyerere seems to have won the hearts of Members when he said Gold, Gas and other resources in Tanzania belongs to Tanzanians and other East Africans , would be told straight “no but sorry, no.” Naturally a position that presupposes that the only interest 4 countries are keen on Tanzania is to grab it’s resources. The reality is different and confirms what Mwalimu used to say.
When you are through discriminating against Kenya, Rwanda etc , “we shall begin tribal profiling, then Uzanzibari and Uzanzibara, Upemba na Unguja and this shall go on until there is no one remaining to exploit these resources.” On her part Mwalimu Nyerere Scholar 2012, Prof Micere Githae Mugo, challenged politicians and East Africans why we continue to use borders drawn by colonialists as reasons to fight each other.
They are reasons to keep each other out of what, we perceive to be “our territories.” While Mwalimu fostered Swahili as the language of Africans, we continue to be held siege by the language of colonialist-English. When Tanzania locks out East Africans from this God’s gift called Tanzania, the question is do Tanzanians in Mara, Serengeti, Geita, Mtwara, Lindi, the ordinary men and women, really benefit from those resources?
Mwalimu Nyere used to say the resources in the belly of Tanzania should be left to rest until we have the know how to exploit them. Today Canadians, South Africans, Americans, Chinese and Britons are more the beneficiaries. Would Mwalimu approve?
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