5. The Return from Edinburgh – Paul Marchant

Paul Marchant served as a District Officer in Musoma and was for a short time Acting Chief of the Zanaki, the Chiefdom in which Julius Nyerere was born. Nyerere was a student at Edinburgh University from 1949 to 1952 and became the first Tanganyikan MA.

There are sometimes chance meetings which change one’s life. There are other meetings to which there is a great build-up and yet which leave nothing behind. This one was different. There was certainly a build-up, with elaborate preparations being made, but when the meeting actually occurred it was all but overwhelmed by events, which took almost everyone by surprise, but which left none of the participants unchanged.

The return home of Tanganyika’s first overseas graduate was an event eagerly awaited, not least in his home District of Musoma. Preparations of all sorts were being made and the arrival was expected by Lake steamer on Sunday morning. It was decided that I should give a lunch party on the day of his return to our local boy making so good. I invited some twenty guests.

Of the eleven Chiefdoms in Musoma District with which I had to deal, it was the central one, Zanaki, the most mountainous and the one with fewest roads, which occupied the greater part of my time. Shortly before my arrival in the District there had been a major reorganisation in Zanaki, which had been split into eight small Chiefdoms. Now it was united under one Chief, Ihunyo Monge, a famed rainmaker, who was assisted by two deputies, one of whom was Edward Wanzage, Julius’s half brother. It was hoped that the Chief would concentrate on his rainmaking and leave Edward Wanzage and others to bring Zanaki into the modern world.

Things however did not quite work out like that. It became evident to me that there was considerable discontent in the Chiefdoms and that Chief Ihunyo was not prepared to allow his younger assistants to undermine his position. A much delayed ‘baraza’, or Chiefdom meeting, was arranged on the football field two days before the expected arrival of Julius in the District Headquarters town of Musoma. But the meeting was not held, as Edward Wanzage and the others with us were driven from the field by a hostile crowd.

On the morning of the arrival of our local hero, I, his lunch-time host, was trekking the hills and valleys of his homeland Zanaki in company with Edward Wanzage in search of those who had led the disturbance. It was my colleague David Brewin who became the host.

Some time after midday, Edward and I arrived at the back door of my house tired, dirty, unshaven and with our clothes rather tattered. We entered the living room and there, half sitting on the table, with a beer mug (or some such) in his hand and already haranguing the assembled guests (Julius was always a good speaker) was Edward’s long gone brother. Julius turned and smiled at the sight the two of us presented. It was our first meeting, but only the first of many that were to follow in the next couple of months as I became Acting Chief of Zanaki and Julius helped a number of Catholic priests better to understand the Zanaki language.

I remember one day in particular. I had sent out in different directions all the Chiefdom personnel with whom I was working and I then found that I had no one left to clean out the outside latrine at the disused gold mine in which I had taken up my residence. So I set about it myself. Who should arrive on one of his not infrequent visits but Julius.
‘What on earth are you doing here?’
‘Cleaning out the choo, as you can see.’
‘I can’t believe that there isn’t something better a Chief could be doing than cleaning out a choo. You get on with your proper work. I’ll do this.’
So we did it together.

‘The new university graduate … really does not know what it is like to live as a poor peasant . . . he will often find that his parents and relatives support his own conception of his difference and regard it as wrong that he should live and work as the ordinary person he really is … many people in Tanzania have come to regard education as meaning that a man is too precious for the rough and hard life which the masses of our people still live.’
Julius Nyerere – Education for Self-Reliance 1967

One thought on “5. The Return from Edinburgh – Paul Marchant

  1. Pingback: Tanzanian Affairs » THE NYERERE YEARS

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