Mwalimu Julius Nyerere had a very busy week in London at the beginning of June. Even though he was suffering from malaria he fitted in three public engagements at which he delivered three speeches.
On June 3rd he spoke to a glittering audience including four high commissioners, almost fifteen diplomats, several members of parliament, a large number of big businessmen and many others assembled by the European- Atlantic Group under the chairmanship of Lord Judd of Portsea. His subject was ‘Africa Today and Tomorrow’ and he pungently attacked many of his favourite targets like the IMF and the World Bank (“the bank created wealth and poverty at the same time”), neo-colonialism etc.
His Michael Scott Memorial Lecture June 4″ at the School of Oriental and African Studies, under the auspices of the Africa Education Trust, on the subject of ‘Africa and Education in the 21st Century’ was less inspired and rather sombre as he presented a bleak picture of what had happened to education in Tanzania in recent years and the terrible debt burden the country was facing. He attacked selection in education and said that the growth of private education was encouraging class differences.
During questions Mwalimu said that when the British ran East Africa they wanted to make Swahili the main language in all three countries. Kenya said no – it would mean an inferior education; Uganda said no because the Baganda wanted Luganda as the national language. Tanzania was very backward. “We had no view!” he said. So Britain decided to make Swahili the language of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The language which was then developed was that from Zanzibar and not Swahili of Mombasa. On the ongoing debate about whether Swahili should be used at all levels of education in Tanzania, Mwalimu said that he was now having to defend the use of English. English had now become the Swahili of the world!
By the time he spoke to an enthusiastic audience at the London School of Economics on June 6th Mwalimu was on top form. He gave a fluent and inspired address on the future of the world in which he distinguished between those parts where developing countries were within the economic orbits of developed nations – the Arab countries and Europe; South East Asian countries and Japan; Latin America and the USA – but Africa South of the Sahara was different. It was isolated and would have to be more self-reliant. Countries would need to cooperate better with each other. “I share responsibility for the foolish action we took in dismantling the East African Community” he said. He discussed the present position in all the countries south of the Sahara and was pleased that almost all of them (except some in West Africa) now had multiparty rule. The days of military rule were coming to an end. He appealed to Europe and America not to meddle in Africa. “Let Africa make its own mistakes” he said. “I have complete confidence in the future of Africa” he concluded.
A questioner asked “What became of socialism?'(laughter). Mwalimu replied “Is there a trap in that question?’ and went on to say that capitalism was now triumphant everywhere. During the Cold War capitalism could not afford to be arrogant – it had had to assume a human face. Now it was becoming arrogant – capitalists now feared nothing. But arrogant governments would be pushed out by their own people. If the people succeeded in giving capitalists a human face “I don’t mind whether they call themselves socialists, neo-socialists or something else!”
On nationalisation and privatisation in Tanzania, Mwalimu said that he had no choice at independence. If he had left the economy to the private sector it would have become entirely Asian and there would have been racial conflict, Now, with plenty of trained &can businessmen, things had changed. But there should be some hesitation before privatising everything. “Privatisation now means foreignisation” he said.
After taking about the way some African leaders had looted their countries he was asked why he hadn’t looted Tanzania (laughter). Mwalimu replied “Perhaps there wasn’t much to loot!” (loud laughter).
He received a lengthy standing ovation.
Mwalimu has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. It was in recognition of the immense contribution he had made to the struggle for the liberation of the African continent – Daily News.
NYERERE AT 75
Calling on the government to find ways to improve national life expectancy in Tanzania from the current 52 years to at least 70, Mwalimu Nyerere said, at celebrations in Dar es Salaam for his 75th birthday, which were attended by more than 1000 people, “I don’t see why I should not be able to reach 100 if my mother has managed it”