Who really was Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and what makes him stand out?
Simplicity. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was the first President of Tanzania who insisted on being called a Mwalimu –teacher. He declined titles, privileges and enjoyed the simple life even as President of Tanzania. When he retired, he went back to his small village to live a simple life –attending Holy Mass every day. (Source: Vatican News)
Mwalimu Nyerere was a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist. He governed Tanganyika as Prime Minister from 1961 to 1962 and then as President from 1963 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as President from 1964 to 1985. - Wikipedia
Picture of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere talking to fellow Tanzanians.
Why Kiswahili as a national language?
One of the achievements of Mwalimu Nyerere was Tanzania adapting Kiswahili as a national language. Nyerere used Kiswahili to unify the people of Tanzania.
As you may know, Tanzania has 120 tribes –big tribes, let alone subtribes. So to lead a country of that nature…. Mwalimu Nyerere needed a medium through which he could communicate his ideas of what Tanganyika (as it was known at independence) needed to become. So, the language was extremely important (for Nyerere), and he succeeded in that. Kiswahili united us (Tanzanians), and it brought us together as a people. (Source: Vatican News)
Storytelling and Building of Tanzania
It would take time for the country to gain freedom but Mwalimu Nyerere knew that the power of a good story would help in sharing the message of unity. And so he traveled the country telling stories and getting people to invest in a larger story...the story of independence. Without Mwalimu Nyerere tapping into storytelling, some believe Tanzania would never have gained their independence peacefully.
Watch this video as Justa interviewed with one of Nyerere's philosophy follower, Constantine Magavilla.
Development as Rebellion: A Julius Nyerere Biography is a detailed three-volume biography of Julius Nyerere. Written by Issa Shivji, Saida Yahya-Othman, and Ng’wanza Kamata, Tanzanian academics, the volumes cover different phases of Nyerere’s life, political thought and his deep impact on Tanzania’s history. Buy the book here