Nyerere of Tanzania (The First Decade 1961 to 1971)
By William Edgett Smith
Published by African Publishing House (2011)
AFRICA’s leaders those that have championed the development of the continent and empowerment of its people have suffered the same fate; the West has vilified and demonised them.
All this is part of an effort by the West to dictate to Africa who to celebrate and hate.
Leaders such as Patrice Lumumba, Muammar Gaddafi and our very own President Robert Mugabe have been labelled villains.
However, Africa has refused to be hoodwinked by the West as it knows its heroes as they have benefitted from the works of these great men.
In the book Nyerere of Tanzania (The First Decade 1961 to 1971), William Edgett Smith a former journalist explores the life of Julius Nyerere just after he assumed his presidency.
Smith was a foreign correspondent based in Kenya, but had a chance to travel to Tanzania where he ‘gained a deep respect and understanding of Nyerere’.
With most information cites awash with negative stories on Nyerere portraying him as a dictator and corrupt leader it’s surprising Smith gives a rationale account of the late President.
Smith brings to his audience Nyerere the leader who fought tirelessly for the development of his people, a compassionate leader and a champion of empowerment programme for his people.
However, as Africans we should not take comfort in the few whites like Smith who have a conscience to tell our story as it is.
It is our duty to tell our own story.
Nyerere, as Smith highlights was passionate about Tanzania’s agriculture sector with his hope being to seeing it driven by the locals.
He took every opportunity to encourage the people of Tanzania to improve the sector.
At one time after a visit to the Kazima the women who had been inspired to increase productivity coined a song for Nyerere.
“Nyerere has called the people to go to the country, he wants to see who took hold of the soil,” they sang.
Smith acknowledges that President Nyerere dedicated efforts to the development of the agriculture sector by investing in ensuring the people had water reserves near places of residency and fields.
President Nyerere as Smith re-tells was a man who wanted to instil a sense of belonging and ownership hence the establishment of the National Youth Programme.
Nyerere whom the West was sceptical about because of his association with the East always warned the youths not to be so hung up on the issues of rights as dictated by the West.
“The West is just too individualistic,” Smith quotes President Nyerere.
“All the textbooks of Western countries talk about rights, rights, rights and no duties.”
Nyerere said it was the duty of the youth to build the country and safeguard its resources.
As Smith writes Nyerere said it was the duty of the educated youth of Tanzania to develop the country.
“Those who receive this privilege of education have a duty to return the sacrifice which others have made,” Smith quotes Nyerere.
“They are like the man who has been given all the food available in a starving village in order that he might have the strength to bring supplies back from a distant place.
“If he takes this food and he does not bring help to his brother, he is a traitor.”
Nyerere also bemoaned corruption in Tanzania saying that it would be the source of downfall for the country.
“One of the biggest dangers now is corruption at the top,” said Nyerere.
“This is the silent scramble for Africa.
“Make yourself rich as quickly as possible.
“And if that is questioned, you are questioning the people’s freedom.”
As much as the West wants us to forget the good deeds of Nyerere, he will forever remain a celebrated hero in Africa.
His works not only influenced the people of Tanzania, but the rest of Africa and Zimbabwe in particular.