Reflections on 61 years of Independence

“WE hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. (The American Declaration of Independence, adopted on 4th July, 1776.) Today, 9th December, 2022; we, as a country and nation, are celebrating the 61st anniversary of the independence of former Tanganyika, now Mainland Tanzania.

Our struggle for independence was also based primarily on the “self evident truths” that are pronounced in the American Declaration of Independence quoted above.

It is usual, on all such anniversary occasions, for the relevant stakeholders to make reflections on past performance, and perhaps make plans for the foreseeable future.

I have myself made a little contribution regarding our past performance, by producing documents in the shape of published books and articles; which are authentic records of what actually transpired; having had the rare advantage, by the grace of God, of being an active participant in the making of many of them, or a direct witness thereof. Such events relate to:

(i) the struggle for independence, only using non-violent methods.

Mwalimu Nyerere wrote thus in Sauti ya TANU, of 28th May, 1958:- “Colonialism is an intolerable humiliation to us. We shall wage a relentlessly determined war against it, until we are free. We shall use no violence. We shall not stoop to any dishonest methods. We shall be as clean in our methods, as we are in our aims”.

(ii) The minute details of the widespread enthusiastic demonstrations of great joy and happiness, with which the achievement of independence was received;

(iii) The initial difficult tasks of building the unity of a new nation; and laying the solid foundations for its democratic governance; and

(iv) The continuing task of building “ a nation in which every individual has an equal right to partake of its joys and its sorrows, and to contribute to the building of the sort of society which he desires for himself and for his children”. (Mwalimu Nyerere’s Independence Address to the United Nations, 14th December, 1961). A synopsis of the major achievements.

The present Tanzania nation came into existence, not at the time of independence, but a little later in April 1964, as a result of the historic voluntary Union between Tanganyika (which gained independence on 9th December, 1961; and Zanzibar, which gained independence on 10th December, 1963; when the instruments of independence were granted in controversial circumstances, to the Arab Sultan Jamshid.

This Sultan’s government was overthrown on 12th January, 1964, thus opening the door for Zanzibar’s Union with Tanganyika; which was achieved on 26th April, 1964; after the “Acts of Union” had been ratified the previous day, both by the Legislatures of both countries: Tanganyika Parliament, and the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council. The major political achievements have been:-

(i) The birth of a new country, the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964

(ii) the promulgation of the policy of Ujamaa and self-reliance in 1967;

(iii) The merger of the Tanganyika African National Union and the Afro-Shirazi Party in 1977; and (iv) The re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1992. Our political development in Tanzania Mainland, the has all along been managed by the same ruling party; starting with the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which brought Tanganyika’s independence in December 1961.

And in Zanzibar, political development has all along been managed by the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP). Both these parties ceased to exist on 5th February, 1977; upon their voluntary merger to form Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM); which is the current ruling party in both parts of the Union.

This sustained continuity, with only personnel changes being made at the leadership levels, can only be attributed to their sound, acceptable policies which are aimed at improving the welfare and living standards of the people as a whole, and the workable programmes that have been designed for the implementation of those policies; which appear to have satisfied the majority of the country’s voters, who have returned the same party to power at every general election.

And this is the factor that has largely contributed to the political peace and stability which the country has enjoyed for all these 61 years of independence.

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