Nyerere’s Nationalist Legacy

African Charter Article #20: All peoples shall have the right to existence and self determination and the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination.

Author: Issa G. Shivji, Pan African
Date Written: 3 December 2009
Document Origin: Pambazuka 460

  1. All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self- determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
  2. Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community.
  3. All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the States parties to the present Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.

Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere was a great nationalist of the first generation of African leaders who struggled for independence. His nationalism was rooted in pan-Africanism, which is what gave it a universal dimension transcending narrow territorial, ethnic or racial nationalisms. In his address to celebrate the 40th year of Ghana's independence, Nyerere said:

'For centuries, we had been oppressed and humiliated as Africans. We were hunted and enslaved as Africans,…

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Julius Nyerere, Father of a Nation

In his heyday as president of Tanzania - which he ruled from 1961 to 1985 - Julius Nyerere, who has died from leukaemia aged 77, was lion- ised by the liberal left of the world for his impassioned advocacy of his style of African socialism, but mauled by his critics as a priggish autocrat, whose idealism failed to deliver prosperity to his people. To his credit, Nyerere stepped down peacefully and voluntarily, long before it became fashionable for Africa's self-appointed life presidents to subject themselves to the verdict of their peoples in multi-party elections.

In 1967 came Nyerere's Arusha Declaration, his policy on socialism and self-reliance. Its cornerstone was ujamaa, or familyhood, which was imposed on Tanzania in the following years. The aim was to collect people into villages or communes, where they would have better access to education and medical services. Nearly 10m peasants were moved and a substantial majority were forced to give up their land. But to most Tanzanians, the idea of collective farming was abhorrent. Many found themselves worse off; incentive and productivity declined, and ujamaa was effectively abandoned. It was a measure of Nyerere's international prestige that the failure of this fundamental policy at home in no way dented his global standing.

A man of austere and unostentatious personal habits, and instantly recognisable in his Mao tunic, Julius Nyerere was born at Butiama, on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, into…

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