The main thing Nyerere gave Tanzanians was himself

Celebrating Mwalimu Julius Nyerere's 11th death anniversary and recalling his policies and works is a delight to many Tanzanians who still cherish his leadership virtues.

Putting unfortunate personal prejudices and ignorance aside and taking the emancipation of the African seriously, Julius Nyerere, who died on October 14, 1999 in London, deserves the pedestal on which he has been placed by Tanzanians and Africa as a whole.‚

This does not mean that the country has never produced great men and women or that other historical personalities will not emerge.'There were heroes before the flamboyant Nyerere and more will and must emerge if we are to meet future challenges.‚

Forty seven years ago, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the colourful 35th President of the United States, said it all: 'A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.'

In honouring Nyerere, we therefore can pay honour to the deepest sources of our national strength. We should honour our heroes and as we do this, the unique contribution of Mwalimu Nyerere will be more appreciated.

The chief thing Nyerere gave to Tanzanians was himself. He went to State House a strong, virile, frank, honest, fearless man full of youth, full of faith in man and God, full of ideas.

As man Julius Nyerere made mistake, but did not surrender. He lived up to his ideals. He played an honest hand, and left many years of great service as he relinquished power.

This is a great achievement; perhaps his greatest achievement for he has given an example of what a decent man may do. And this is why today the nation is sad at his passing, and Tanzanians who lived in the Nyerere era feel instantly that he will come back again.

When one remembers Nyerere's policies of free education, he or she is forced to recollect the good old days of our time in which our greatest songs are still unsung. When one remembers Nyerere's patriotism, he or she is forced reminisce his policies of socialism and self-reliance which put man as the centre of development.

Nyerere's Tanzania was warm, calm, gentle and united. It was a country far better off with a benign saint for a president than a rapacious tyrant, as journalist Stanley Meisler once said.

As we mark the 11th death anniversary of Mwalimu's passing, our focus should be reflecting what he did to this country to enable us go through the developmental challenges ahead of us.

Nyerere was a simple nice man who provided the kind leadership which Tanzania needed at that time - disciplined, purposeful and ideas-directed leadership.

The deterioration in the quality of leadership in Tanzania quickened after the abandonment in late 1991 of the Arusha Declaration which set ethical standards for leaders.

 Our constitution, too, is flawed; it encourages the emergence of rulers who believe that political office is a do-or-die matter because of the over-concentration of political and economic power at the centre. Again, the presidential system is too expensive, wasteful and disingenuous for our level of socio-political and economic development.

How can a credible, trustworthy, visionary, intelligent and disciplined leader emerge in Tanzania? There is no methodological prescription, no algorithm of leadership selection, can be invented which would enable any group, society or country produce quality leaders at will.

The factors that work together to produce such leaders are incredibly complex; they are not amenable to any calculus or formula. Hence, those Tanzanians who believe that prayers will do the magic are merely deceiving themselves.

Genuine leaders such as Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi are rare. These leaders emerged from the bewilderingly complex interplay of socio-cultural, economic, political, intellectual and spiritual variables.

The common denominator in all of them is amazing inner strength and self-belief and spiritual stamina that propelled their vision and mission in their various countries. Of course, as human beings Nyerere and others had their weaknesses; but they were able to transcend those weaknesses and forge, through words and deeds, spiritual bulwarks that enabled them lead by example.

Thus, since no one can guarantee the emergence of good leaders, the best option available is to create, maintain and sustain traditions and institutions that well ensure the peaceful non-violent replacement of political office holders before the bad ones among them inflict serious damage on the country.

If Tanzanians really want a change for the better, if the so-called activists sincerely desire drastic reduction of corruption in governance, they must learn to put public interest over pecuniary considerations.

They must sincerely encourage policies and agencies that are put in place to combat corruption, and provide constructive criticisms where necessary. By doing this we shall be honouring Julius Nyerere who spent sleepless nights to seeking answers to Tanzania's giant leap to prosperity.