It is very difficult for even the most industrious and persistent to obtain information about Tanzania from the British press. We hope in this Bulletin to bring to the attention of members of the Society material of real interest which they might otherwise not see. Several members have remarked that they hope the Bulletin will not consist entirely of what they call ‘official handouts’, and that material critical of aspects of Tanzanian policy will be included on occasion. It would be a strange sort of bulletin concerned with Tanzania in which this was not true.
President Nyerere in his recent state visit told the audience at a banquet in the Guildhall that ‘some very flattering things have been said about me since I arrived in Britain as the guest of Her Majesty the Queen… Other things have not been said; in polite company it is not customary to dwell on a guest’s errors or faults, or the failures of the country he represents. I can assure you that I appreciate this convention – and propose observing it in reverse!
But in the less polite company of academics in Oxford the President himself dwelt for a moment on Tanzania’s weaknesses: ‘We call ourselves a democratic and socialist state. In reality we are neither democratic nor socialist. The Patrons of democracy and the Cardinals of socialism have no idea how much sympathy I have with them when they ridicule and dismiss Tanzania’s claim to democracy or to socialism. Democracy and socialism require a mature and popular awareness of the dignity and equality of men and women; a dynamic and popular intolerance of tyranny; a degree of maturity and integrity in those entrusted with responsibility for the institutions of State and Society; and a level of national and personal affluence which Tanzania and Tanzanians do not possess. Many of our people suffer from permanent malnutrition and all the mental and physical illnesses which go with it; their poverty and general ignorance make a mockery of talk about human freedom . We have the village tyrant and the insensitive bureaucrat. We have the habits of arbitrariness; some as the lingering vestiges of colonial rule, some of our own making. We have judicial procedures which, to say the least; leave a lot to be desired. We have a law on the Statute Book under which an individual may be detained without trial. We have the traditional prejudice and discrimination against women. We still have a love of exerting authority, and an intolerable degree of submission to authority. And we also have a level of incompetence, and even irresponsibility, which often makes nonsense of our claim to be implementing policies in support of equality and human dignity’. I imagine that few members of the Society would wish to be more critical than that!
A good deal of this Bulletin will consist, however, of what could be called ‘official handouts’, that is to say the texts of President Nyerere’s speeches while in Britain, and some of the more important statements of Tanzanian policy in previous months. What Nyerere said during his state visit was addressed particularly to people in Britain and it should certainly reach at least all members of the Society. So this issue will begin with extracts from these documents*; will continue with reviews; and conclude with compiled items of news.
It is hoped to issue the Bulletin twice a year in June and December. Please let us know what you would like included and please submit material for inclusion.
* Verbatim copies of the President’s speeches at Oxford and the Royal Commonwealth Society are being prepared and will be made available to members of the Society in due course.