Julius K. Nyerere
“The Africa that we must create must be an Africa which the outside world will look at and say: If you really want to see free people who live up to their ideals of human society, go to Africa. That is the continent of hope for the human race.”
-Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, Wellesley College, 1960
Julius Nyerere (1922-1999) was the son of a minor chief in a village near Lake Victoria in colonial Tanganyika who grew into a gifted scholar, receiving a Master’s Degree from Edinburgh University in 1951. Sacrificing a stable career in teaching, Nyerere mobilized a nation-wide grassroots movement, and led Tanganyika to a peaceful independence in 1961, becoming its first President. A creative intellectual, Nyerere translated Shakespeare into Swahili to show that this African language could serve as a unifying national language. While Nyerere’s dream of a unified East African Federation never came to fruition, the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar brought about the new nation of Tanzania in 1964.
Under Nyerere’s guidance, Tanzania achieved near universal literacy and primary school enrollment. In his Arusha Declaration of 1967, Nyerere presented a comprehensive vision for political and economic development. Tanzania’s unflagging commitment to the liberation of Southern Africa conferred upon Nyerere a reputation for courage, integrity, and political skill equaled only by his friend and admirer, Nelson Mandela. Nyerere retired in 1985, leaving behind a peaceful, unified country with a tradition of participatory democracy, civil authority, and regular transitions of power. In 1987, he chaired the South Commission whose prescient final report offers a strategy for facing global challenges that have become increasingly urgent. One of the most powerful advocates for peace in Africa, Nyerere chaired peace negotiations for Burundi in the 1990s.
Tanzanians know him affectionately as Mwalimu, meaning Teacher.
Julius Nyerere, Striving for Lifelong Learning and Informal Education (www.infed.org/thinkers/et-nye.htm)
BBC News | Africa | Julius Nyerere: The conscience of Africa (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/441768.stm)
Online NewsHour Interview: Julius Nyerere -- December 27, 1996 (www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/december96/nyerere_12-27.html)
Julius Nyerere tribute by the ANC
The South Centre