A fine tribute to a unifier

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Julius Nyerere: Asante sana, Thank you, Mwalimu (2015)
Published jointly by:
The House of Books, African Publishing Group, Nkuki Na Nyota Publishers,
Southern African Research and Documentation Centre and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe
ISBN 978 0 7974 6536 7

IT is quite fascinating to watch Tanzanians go about their business, how they seem to easily disregard ethnicities, religions, tribal differences and just mingle.
This is Julius Nyerere’s legacy to Africa, uniting 120 tribes.
The example he set in Tanzania dispels all the myths and misconceptions that Africa is too diverse or conflicted to ever unite.
Of course Africa’s fragmentation works to the advantage of colonial agents who have been pouring millions in weaponry, arming ‘rebel’ groups since the Cold War, as can be seen in the DRC and Sudan.
Nyerere did not just believe in uniting his nation, he believed in the unity of Africa as a whole.
In the recently launched ‘memoir’ Julius Nyerere: Asante sana, Thank you, Mwalimu published jointly by Zimbabwe and Tanzania, page after page the statesman is consistent in his belief that Africa’s answer lies in unity and disregarding the man-made boundaries between the states.
In the foreword by President Robert Mugabe, Nyerere is said to have been firm in his resolve that his nation could never be totally free until the rest of Africa was.
David Martin, journalist and author, writes in the introduction of Nyerere’s ‘memoir’, how the statesman dedicated much of his country’s budget to liberation movements in Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and the Comoro Islands.
Such dedication was not always cheered.
In Ghana it led to the overthrow of Nkrumah as some locals believed he was spending too many resources assisting Africa than building his own nation.
Yet such hostility did not stop the visionary Nyerere from his belief that African unity would make the continent a super power that would not have to ask more than once for a seat at the United Nations Security Council.
Indeed it is clear that Africa will not have peace as long as France continues to have its military on the streets of its former colonies and continues to enjoy all the privileges of a colonial power.
It is clear that despite all its potential and resources, Africa shall not enjoy its peace as long as there are nations like Saudi Arabia and its ally America who will pour money to fund religious conflicts and fanaticism.
Irrefutable is how Saudi Arabia, an American ally, protected the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who was openly demonised by the world for his reign of terror.
He was eventually driven in to exile by Nyerere where he later died on a fishing island protected by an American ally in Saudi Arabia.
“All imperialists, all fascists, all racists and all oppressors of the people, divide people and keep them divided,” Nyerere said.
“Divide et Imperia, said the Roman imperialist, ‘Divide and Rule’ still echoes all present-day oppressors of the people.
“So, the first lesson which all oppressed people of the world had to learn and continue to learn, and put to use, is that, unity is an instrument of liberation.”
The book is a must-read.
It carries in it the wisdom and lessons from Mwalimu the teacher, as Nyerere is fondly remembered.
The writings span 40 years of Mwalimu’s life and in it are invaluable lessons for the individual and for policy makers.
“Great ideas do not die so easily; they continue nagging and every human society in history ignores them at its own peril,” Nyerere writes.
“And I can say this without inhibition or pretended modesty because in a very real sense they are not my ideas.
“I never invented them.
“I am simply a believer, like many other believers, in the world and in human history.”
Nyerere’s writing is still very relevant, even more so after his death.
The statesman draws attention to not only the achievements they made as a new nation, but the mistakes and pitfalls as well.
One of the lessons is: ‘Know thy foe and ally’.
For decades Zambia and Tanzania looked to the West to assist them in building a railway that would link the two nations for trade.
“The Chinese Communist Party…they told me without hesitation: If Tanzania and Zambia need this railway we shall build it for you, I must admit, to our shame, that we remained a little sceptical,” says Nyerere.
“We continued to beg the West to help us build the railway.
“We utterly failed.”
And to our shame (Africans), the Chinese built the railway and provided the loan which would be paid without interest and condition.
The third lesson from Nyerere is: ‘Know thy history’.
China unconditionally assisted many countries, Zimbabwe included, in attaining independence.
Fast forward to this day, China has once again come to partner on equality with Africa and today many leaders are sceptical.
The West, as it did in the past, has been ‘warning’ Africa not to sell its birthright or future to China, and gullible Africa believed the wild tales of how they had come to loot and destroy the African environment.
Gullible Africa is choosing to forget how the West has been the exclusive looter of African resources for 500 years.
Closer home, Zimbabweans are opposing the use of the Chinese Yuan in preference for European currencies, it doesn’t even matter that they (the Europeans) are wooing the economic giant too.
The fourth lesson is just as President Mugabe warned at the recently held African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: The United Nations and all such other institutions that have roots in the West must not be trusted.
In fact, ‘be wary of strangers bearing gifts’ Nyerere seems to warn from where he rests with the ancestors.
“The United Nations has, time and again, proved unable to fulfil its purposes,” Nyerere warned in 1988.
“The use of power, national power has prevented it.
“Let me hasten to add that I am not suggesting that the United Nations has been useless; I do not believe that for a moment.
“My point is that it could have done much more…instead of being made stronger, it is now being undermined.”
There is no doubt that the book Julius Nyerere: Asante sana, Thank you, Mwalimu is a fine tribute to a man who understood that it is costly to be poor.

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