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Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere: 19 Years After

Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere: 19 Years After

An Address by Mark Mwandosya to the University of Comoro, on the Commemoration of the 19th Anniversary of the passing away of Mwalimu Nyerere. Moroni, Comoro, 26 October 2018.


As we grew up in the African suburbs of the Southern Highlands Provincial Headquarters of Mbeya, in the United Nations Protectorate of Tanganyika, age notwithstanding, we were aware something somewhere was wrong. Mbeya then resembled a typical racially segregated town in Southern Africa, and specifically apartheid South Africa. For, the posh suburb of the town, referred to as Uzunguni, was reserved for whites only, mainly members of the British colonial administration. The commercial centre was reserved for Asians, and appropriately referred to as Uhindini. After six o’clock in the evening, Africans were not allowed to be seen in Uzunguni or Uhindini, unless they were either domestic servants or security guards. At our age, around 5 years of age, we were least bothered. Our suburb was spacious enough for play as well as a primary school. Besides, we were at the edge of town, where the township transited into forest intermingled with bush and grassland. What else would we have wished for. The environment provided us with all that we needed to pass time: improvised footballs and football pitches; cold but clean streams of water where we would learn to dive and swim endlessly; and where some would spend time hunting birds and rabbits.

Apartheid, British style was not restricted to demarcation of suburbs according to race only. It went further to prescribe the type of housing units that would be allowed in a particular area. Even the types of toilet were prescribed according to race thus: European toilet; Asian toilet; and African toilet, the pit latrine. Transportation was not spared. Train cabins were graded as European (First Class), Asian (Second Class) and African (Third Class). In Education, the best and well-funded schools were a preserve of the European children, ostensibly British (Mbeya School, now Iyunga Secondary School was one of them), followed by Asian schools. African schools were the responsibility of what were referred to as Native Authorities, poorly funded and poorly furnished. Even the school syllabi reflected the nature of schools. Overall African children were taught to end up as clerks, teachers, medical orderlies and technicians, at the very best, and at independence Tanganyika had less than 20 indigenous university graduates.

We had heard about the struggle for independence of a few African countries. The declaration by Kwame Nkrumah of the independence of Gold Coast was a harbinger to the dawn of a new era in the emancipation of the African and of Africa. Closer to Mbeya, was the spread of the cry for the independence of Tanganyika, spearheaded by the Tanganyika African Independence Party (TANU). As a mass Party it was formed on the 7th of July 1954, for the struggle for the independence of Tanganyika.

Nyerere and the struggle for the independence of Tanganyika

TANU evolved out of the Tanganyika African Association, a civic organization that had been formed in 1950 by what one would call “Local intellectuals” as a cicic society and, secretly, in order to fight for the betterment of conditions of service of African civil servants. Kleist Sykes and Cecil Matola, a Yao from Nyasaland (Malawi) had been the main and important players in the formation of the African Association (AA), the precursor of TAA in 1929. Sykes Mboweni, the father of Kleist Sykes was a Zulu  brought into Tanganyika from South Africa by the British to fight German colonialism.  Abdulwahid, son of Kleist Sykes and his young brother, Ally Sykes took part in the Second World War. They returned after the war as part of the King's African Rifles in Burma armed with ideas about Mahatma Gandhi and the struggle for independence in India.

Behind the formation of TAA were the urbane and articulate Hamza Kibwana Bakari Mwapachu, a friend of Mwalimu Nyerere from their Makerere  College Days 1943 to 1945 in Uganda, and Market Master of Kariakoo, Abdulwahid Sykes, the son of Kleist Sykes and another close friend of Nyerere. Abdulwahid Sykes became the founding secretary general of TAA as well as the Acting President. Other member of TAA included the “Makerere Young Turks”, among them: Dr. Warte Barte Kenneth Mwanjisi, Dr. Joseph Mutahangarwa, Dr. Vedasto Kyaruzi and Dr. Lugazia, Andrew Tibandebage, Gosbeth Rutabanzibwa and others. The late Dr. Mwanjisi hailed from Rungwe, Mbeya, and was the brother to Roland Mwanjisi, Frank Mwanjisi, Elifasi Mwanjisi and Victoria Mwanjisi, all of them having studied at Makerere. Dr Mwanjisi was father to Jane Mwanjisi, Captain Tony Lazaro and Engineer Cosmas Mwanjisi.

A Comorian based in Dar es Salaam, Ali Mwinyi Tambwe once  visited Hamza Kibwana Mwapachu, a Welfare Officer in Ukerewe, to obtain his opinion about  a candidate who could become President of TAA, a person who would instil a political ethos into TAA and lead the transformation of TAA, from a civic society and welfare association, into a political party. It was Hamza Mwapachu who proposed that Nyerere would be the best choice to lead TAA. As a school teacher at Pugu Secondary School, Nyerere who had been a member of a TAA when he was a teacher at St, Mary's School Tabora before his transfer to Pugu, was later on to resign his teaching post in order to dedicate his time to the service of TAA, of which he became President in 1953.

The turning point in the struggle for independence was a meeting of representatives from 20 branches of TAA that was convened in Dar es Salaam in order to dissolve TAA and craft a constitution for a new political party, TANU, on 7 July 1954. These representatives included: Julius Nyerere; Joseph Kasella Bantu; Abdulwahid Sykes; Ally Sykes; Dossa Aziz; Tewa Said Tewa; Patrick Kunambi; John Rupia; C.O.Milinga; Joseph Kimalando; Japhet Kirilo; Abubakar Kilanga; Germano Pacha; Suleiman Kitwana; Kisunguta Gabara; Saadani Kandoro;  and Bugohe Lameck Makaranga. (Note the Mix of geography and religion).

TANU and Mwalimu always depended on the Elders Council for counsel, support and direction. The ealiest of such councils comprised of the following elders: Abdallah Shomari; Nassoro Kalumbanya; Said Chamwenyewe; Mtoro Ally Muhonda; Julius Nyerere; Said Chaurembo; Jumbe Tambaza; Sheikh Suleiman Takadir ; Dossa Aziz ; Mshume Kiyate ; Juma Sultani ; Maalim Shubeti; Rajab Simba; Waziri Mtonga; Mwinjuma Mwinyikambi; Makisi Mbwana; Usia Omari Sungwi; and Sheikh Issa Nasir. The important role played by these early TANU Elders mainly from Dar es Salaam and the coast, in the independence struggle, cannot be overemphasized,

It is my submission that Nyerere’s future philosophy, outlook and actions would be very much informed by the struggle towards independence, and in particular what the outcome of success would mean to Tanganyika, and Africa. As such the main aims of TANU as stipulated in the constitution drafted on 7 July 1954 would be pertinent in shaping the society. Among others these included: preparing Tanganyika for self-government and ultimately full independence; establishment of democracy; elimination of all forms of racialism; Africanization of the civil service; and cooperation with trade unions and cooperative societies.

Modesty, tenacity, humility, intellect, vision and a sense of purpose, attributes of Nyerere's, were to serve TANU in good stead as it began the hard work of organization and mobilization, country-wide. Not that the going was easy for him and the leadership of the Party. The quest for independence meant different things to different party functionaries, especially at local level and Africans in general. Some thought independence would mean occupying residences to be vacated in Uzunguni areas. For others independence meant freedom to marry white women. Some were opposed to a non-racial stance of TANU, a stance which led to the formation of the African National Congress by Zuberi Mtemvu and other TANU dissidents, providing the colonial government with an opportunity to practice “divide and rule’ governance. Besides, the colonial government, under Governor Edward Twinning, put many obstructions in order to prevent TANU from spreading into the upcountry provinces. Local TANU officials in a number of places were denied permission to register branches. Meetings and rallies were banned and publication of some party materials was regarded as sedition. At one time Nyerere himself was arraigned and charged in court. This was on 9 july 1958 when he appeared before Resident Magistrate L.A.Davies at Kivukoni Front Court charged with sedition arising out statements made by Nyerere against two colonial District Commissioners of Musoma (F.B.Weeks) and Songea (G.T.C. Scott), as quoted in a newsletter, Sauti ya Tanu. Importantly Nyerere knew that independence would mean hard work, pulling one’s bootstraps in order to show the world that Africans could develop on their own. The clarion call after independence would be Uhuru na Kazi (Freedom and Work) and later on the call would be Uhuru ni Kazi (Freedom means Work).

The beliefs Nyerere had,  came out clearly in the Creed of TANU which, except for reference to being loyal and faithful to the Party and the Government in power, could be regarded as the creed of an African. I have yet to meet an African who would object to the following declarations contained in the Creed of TANU (the translation is mine):
  1. All human beings are brothers and sisters and Africa is indivisible
  2. I will serve my country and all its people with dedication
  3. I volunteer and work hard to eradicate poverty, ignorance, diseases and injustice
  4. Corruption is the enemy of justice. I will neither solicit, nor offer a bribe
  5. One is given a rank or a position of leadership to be held in trust for the wider society. I shall not use my position or that of anyone else to benefit myself
  6. I promise to cooperate with my fellow countrymen to build our nation
  7. I will pursue education to the best of my ability and use the knowledge acquired for the benefit of society
  8. I will always endeavor to be truthful, and avoid intrigues.

These beliefs encapsulate the elements that were to shape the national ethos.

I was a pupil in class one (first grade) at Majengo Primary School, a school for African children in the segregated African suburb of Majengo when one Saturday afternoon I accompanied my father to a public meeting at the welfare centre at another Africans only suburb of Mjini Mbeya. It was the first political gathering that I had attended. Even at that early stage in life we had heard about Nyerere, about the motto: Independence Now, and the call for Africans to support TANU in the struggle for independence. The person who attracted the attention of the curious crowd was none other than Julius Nyerere. My first impression of Nyerere, modestly dressed in a long sleeved white shirt and a pair of khaki trousers, holding a walking stick in one hand, was his uncanny resemblance to my father. By attending the meeting, my father had broken a cardinal rule of the colonial service. As an employee of the East African Posts and Telecommunications Corporation he was barred from being a member of a political organization and was not allowed to engage in any activity that could be described as “political”. Yet our home was nothing but political. For, my father and his colleagues would,after work, engage in endless political debates over a drink of “kimpumu”, a local brew made of sorghum. The seating room was strewn with books, local newspapers and newspapers and magazines from the world over. My habit and addiction to reading books and newspapers and following current affairs and global events emanated from my father.

The gist of his speech, delivered with eloquence in simple and plain Swahili was that we as Africans had been subjugated for far too long and we were not supposed to be third class citizens in our own countries and our own continent, and that the time had come for colonizers to pack their bags and leave.

The TANU functionaries, and Nyerere knew that every word he spoke would be recorded and passed on to the Special Branch, a police department responsible for security and intelligence. There were no colonial officials at the rally, meaning that the special branch had Africans in their ranks and wherever possible they would infiltrate TANU. Security conscious as the local party functionaries were, Nyerere never stayed in hotels or guest houses. Instead he was housed in secret locations in residences of committed TANU members. We now know that in the suburb of Mjini Mbeya, he was a regular guest of Binti Matola, a dedicated TANU cadre from a Yao family that had migrated to Tanganyika from southern Nyasaland (now Malawi). I am yet to find out whether Binti Matola, after whom the main market in Mjini Mbeya is named, was related to Cecil Matola, the founder president of the African Association. Whenever he came to Mbeya during the years of the struggle, Nyerere would stay with the Binti Matola family, Mama Mwashambwa family, or Mzee Kissoki family. He was almost always in the company of another freedom fighter, John Mgogo Mwakangale.

The creed of a TANU member was largely the brain-child of Nyerere. Humble as he was, he would never accept such a credit. For other equally formidable characters among the founder members of TANU included the likes of Joseph Kasella Bantu,  Abdulwahid Sykes, John Rupia, Stephen Mhando and others. 

In order that I remain relevant to the theme of today’s symposium as I address this august assembly at the highest centre of learning, the University of Comoro, I wish to explore further the contribution of Nyerere to society using item number 1 in the creed of TANU, All human beings are brothers and sisters and Africa is indivisible; item number three, I volunteer and work hard to eradicate poverty, ignorance, diseases and injustice and number seven, I will pursue education to the best of my ability and use the knowledge acquired for the benefit of society. I will use the indivisibility of Africa to explore Nyerere's contribution to the liberation of Africa, and specifically Eastern and Southern Africa. I also intend to discuss Nyerere's contribution to the liberation of the mind through eradication of ignorance and pursuit of education and use of the knowledge acquired.

Nyerere and Education for Liberation

It was always the belief of Nyerere education is not only the most important tool in the eradication of ignorance, it is also a prerequisite arsenal in the war in the eradication of disease and elimination of poverty. When one reads Nyerere's writings one is left in no doubt about the linkage between education, knowledge, the liberation of the mind, and the all embracing purpose of education being the human endeavour to overcome constraints of nature and those that imposed on him by fellow human beings (i.e. control and manage the environment). Mwalimu’s conviction about the preeminence of education for development must have been shaped by his upbringing, early and secondary education, higher education, the struggle for independence and the type of society he conceived would evolve post-independence.

His thoughts would later on be put in practice through a number of policies and programs such as: free education from primary school to tertiary level, out of which many of us benefitted. As a beneficiary of these policies, my education, from Majengo Primary School in Mbeya, through Chunya Native Authority Middle School, Malangali Government Secondary School, Dar es Salaam Technical College, up Aston University and Birmingham University in the United Kingdom was paid for by the Government of Tanganyika and later on by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. Many of us in that category were mindful of the words of Nyerere:

“...Those who receive this privilege therefore, have a duty to repay the sacrifice which others have made. 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 does not bring help to his brothers, he is a traitor. Similarly, if any of the young men and women who are given an education by the people of this republic adopt attitudes of superiority, or fail to use their knowledge to help the development of this country, then they are betraying our union…”

This important quote on Nyerere’s did inspire my generation to study hard, to be conscientious, disciplined and courteous, always mindful of the duty to repay to society. That clarion call was relevant then and perhaps much more relevant now, be it in the Union of the Comoros or Tanzania.

Mwalimu embraced education and put forth thoughts on education across the board. He was concerned that at independence very few Tanganyikans could read and right. As such, if the government were to concentrate on formal education only a sizeable part of the population would be left out. Adult education was given due importance and respect. Literally classes were established all over the country, using whatever facilities could be obtained for the purpose. School classrooms were converted into adult education classes after normal hours. Teachers, students and other workers were mobilized to teach. I recall that such a class was introduced at the courtyard of our house in Mbeya, where my mother and some neighbours of her age were students. Within a decade Tanzania had been transformed from a low literacy rate to an example of how a high literacy rate could be achieved. A large portrait of Nyerere seemed to follow Tanzanians wherever they went with a finger pointing at us: Jifunze Kusoma, Wakati Ndio Huu, literally translated to mean “Learn to Read (and Write), Now is the Time.” The rationale behind putting emphasis on literacy for all was aptly reflected in Mwalimu Nyerere as follows:  “...We have decided that an early objective must be universal literacy; we want to provide for all our citizens the basic tool with which they can become more efficient in their work, and which they can use to improve their own education…”. This remark by Mwalimu clarifies the fact that adult literacy should not be confined to the 3Rs; it has to be related to the occupations of the beneficiaries, functional literacy.

Another important contribution of Mwalimu to educational thought was education for self-reliance. The link between education and self reliance was conceived by Mwalimu in order to align Tanzania’s educational system to the efforts to realize a socialist dispensation. While practical implementation was influenced by the political philosophy of socialism and self-reliance, the basic tenets of education for self-reliance as as relevant then as they are now. For they relate to: liberation of the mind, giving sufficient emphasis to practical education, inculcating societal values, responsibility to society, self-confidence and critical thought. These elements are relevant today as we aim to inculcate in our students the spirit of innovation, self confidence and entrepreneurship.

Self-reliance at national level should lead to self-reliance at regional and continental levels. Education can therefore play an important part in fostering national and regional development through institutional  cooperative endeavours. Opportunities need to be explored for exchange of ideas and ideals between  Republic of the Comoro and Tanzania in education, and in particular university education, if I may be allowed to be parochial. Tanzania being a littoral state and comprising of the Mainland and the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, we have a lot in common. Marine science and oceanography, petroleum geology, petroleum exploration and production, and petroleum legislation and negotiations, fisheries, tourism, marine transport and safety are but a few areas that our universities could cooperate and collaborate, and where they do, cooperation and collaboration could be deepened further. This cooperation could be undertaken through joint research, exchange of staff and students through short term and medium term visits. I regard cooperation and collaboration in the education sector as the prime mover in the creation of a new generation that will transform Nyerere’s doctrine of an indivisible, free and liberated Africa, a realty.

Nyerere and Liberation

There is only one Africa and the continent is indivisible, was part of the creed of a TANU member. In practice this undertaking meant that independence of one country would be meaningless until the rest of Africa became independent. This belief was in effect the continuation of the position that Ghana had taken upon attaining independence from British colonial rule and thus becoming the first independent nation in Sub-Saharan Africa, apart from Liberia and Ethiopia. Liberia was established as a colony of freed former slaves, and except for a few years of the Mussolini invasion, Ethiopia has always been a free nation. On 6 March 1957, declaring the independence of Ghana, had the following words to say….We have won the battle and again rededicate ourselves...OUR INDEPENDENCE IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS IT IS LINKED UP WITH THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF AFRICA. These 15 powerful words became the mantle for freedom and unity of Africa. Two years later, in a speech delivered to the Legislative council in Dar es Salaam, Nyerere made an historic declaration on behalf of the people of Tanganyika: “...We, the people of Tanganyika,would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate and dignity where there was before humiliation….”

This solemn commitment was adopted by Tanganyika upon independence as a national responsibility, it being the first nation in eastern and southern Africa to attain independence on 9 December 1961. A torch to symbolize the declaration was put on the Kibo Peak of Mount Kilimanjaro by a young Lieutenant of the Tanganyika Rifles, Alexander Gwebe Nyirenda midnight on 9 December 1961. 

Tanganyika played a major role in the struggle for the independence of East Africa with Mwalimu declaring, before independence, that Tanganyika would be  prepared to postpone its independence if that could facilitate the formation of an East African Federation. With regard to Southern Africa, with assured progress towards independence of Kenya and Uganda,  Tanganyika became the frontline State between colonial South and free North. Tanganyika and later Tanzania took its commitment towards liberation seriously. Parties dedicated to the struggle for liberation were invited to establish their headquarters in Dar es Salaam. These included ZANU, ZAPU, ANC, PAC, FRELIMO, SWAPO, and MPLA.

The first Summit Conference of Independent African States met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 22-25 May 1963. It was the result of efforts by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia to unite disparate groups of independent African countries with differing approaches towards the unity of Africa. These blocks included the Brazzaville Group comprising of: Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Dahomey (Benin), Gabon. Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, the Central African Republic, Senegal and Chad; countries that had found the African and Malagasy Union in Brazzaville 1960. Another was the Casablanca Group formed in 1961 to include Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Libya, Mali and Morocco. The Monrovia Group included Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia and Congo Leopoldville (Kinshasa) and the Brazzaville Group. The convening of the Addis Ababa Conference which led to the formation of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) is an important landmark in the history of Africa's quest for unity.

Mwalimu played an active role as a participant to the Conference. He held sway on a number of important issues in the logical and intelligent manner he presented his arguments. Besides, the fact that Tanganyika did not belong to any of the aforementioned groups gave Him a moral platform to articulate His country position persuasively. On behalf of Tanganyika Mwalimu made a submission for the establishment of an African liberation committee.

Back to Mbeya,  a provincial town on the “frontline”. Mbeya was in the 1960s and still is the main municipality in the South Western Highlands of Tanzania. It is the major centre on the Tanzania-Zambia Highway, 100 km from the border townships of Tunduma (Tanzania) and Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia). It is also 110 km from Kasumulu, a trading and immigration centre at the Tanzania/Malawi border  and 130 km to Itungi, a port at Lake Nyasa, a lake shared among Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. Strategically located, and being at the frontline of freedom and oppression during the early days of independence, Mbeya was the gateway into Tanzania used by refugees and freedom fighters from Southern Africa. In his autobiography A Long Road to Freedom, Nelson Mandela has recounted his feelings on arriving in Mbeya in 1962 thus:...I truly realised that I was in a country ruled by Africans. For the first time in my life, I was a free man… I felt the burden of oppression lifting from my shoulders...I was being judged for the first time not by the colour of my skin but by the measure of my mind and character…”.

In Dar es Salaam Mandela was the guest of TANU and the government, hosted by the family of Asanterabi Zephania Nsilo Swai, TANU Treasurer and Minister for Commerce. He was given Tanganyika travel documents which enabled him to travel to other African countries for military training and organization of the struggle. Incidentally, he left the boots he had come with from South Africa at the Nsilo Swai’s. Vicky Mawalla Nsilo Swai, the wife of the Late Asanterabi Nsilo Swai had the unique opportunity to present President Nelson Mandela the pair of boots 33 years later in Pretoria. Sam Nujoma of SWAPO made a similar entry into Tanzania via Mbeya and was also provided with a Tanganyika Passport. Mbeya hosted some of the refugees while freedom fighters went to training camps in Chunya, 100 km northwest. Later on training camps were established in Dakawa, Kongwa, Mgagao, Mazimbu and Farm 17 in Nachingwea.

To conclude this section it is worthwhile to quote part of the historic Conference of Independent African States Resolution CAIS/Plen./Rev./A which established the OAU Liberation Committee:

The Summit Conference of Independent African States meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 22 to 25 May 1963,

Having considered  all aspects of the questions of decolonization, Unanimously convinced  of the imperious and urgent necessity of co-ordinating and intensifying their efforts to accelerate the unconditional attainment of national independence of all African territories still under  foreign domination,
Reaffirming  that it is the duty of all African Independent States to support dependent peoples in Africa in their struggle for freedom and independence,
Noting with deep concern  that most of the remaining dependent territories in Africa are dominated by foreign settlers,
Convinced  that the colonial powers, by their forcible imposition of the settlers to control the governments and administrations of those territories, are thus establishing colonial bases in the heart of Africa,
Have agreed unanimously to concert and co-ordinate their efforts and actions in this field, and to this end have decided on the following measures:.......

10.  EARNESTLY INVITES all national liberation movements to co-ordinate their efforts by establishing common action fronts  wherever necessary so as to strengthen the effectiveness of their struggle and the rational use of the concerted assistance given them;
 11.  ESTABLISHES a Co-ordinating Committee consisting of Algeria, Ethiopia, Guinea, Congo (Leopoldville), Nigeria, Senegal,  Tanganyika, United Arab Republic and Uganda, with Headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika, responsible for harmonizing the assistance from African States and for managing the Special Fund to be set up for that purpose;
12.  ESTABLISHES a Special Fund to be  raised by voluntary contribution of Member States for the current year, the deadline for such contribution being 15 July 1963; REQUESTS the Co-ordinating Committee to propose the necessary fund and apportionment among Member States to the Council of Ministers so as to supply the necessary practical and financial aid to the various African national liberation movements;......”

The founding of the OAU Liberation Committee, hosting it, and supporting it financially, materially, intellectually and morally was Mwalimu’s and Tanzania’s great contribution to the the liberation of Africa. When President Nelson Mandela took his rightful seat to represent South Africa at the OAU Summit in Tunisia in 1994 the occasion signified the end of colonial rule in Africa. The mandate of the OAU Liberation Committee had come to an end and it was Mission Accomplished. The OAU Liberation Committee had been led in succession by three Tanzanians as Executive Secretaries: Sebastian Chale; my uncle George Magombe; and Hashim Mbita. Credit has be given to them posthumusly. The unity of Africa would preoccupy the next generation of leaders after Mwalimu, following on the vision and foundation he and his colleagues had laid.

Nyerere and African Unity

Liberation and continental unity preoccupied Mwalimu and indeed the OAU throughout his working life and during the existence of OAU. At the first Summit Conference of Independent African States two possible approaches were considered to advance continental unity. One approach was immediate formation of a united Africa, an idea  spearheaded  by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Another proposal was that of forging unity step by step, an idea that was supported by Mwalimu Nyerere. In the end Heads of State opted to maintain the sovereignty of emerging nation states, and to proceed stepwise.

To Mwalimu unity would make Africa’s voice be heard in global geopolitics. For, in unity there is strength. An opportunity to construct a union nearer home arose immediately after the revolution in Zanzibar which overthrew the ruling Arab dynasty in January 1964. The main architects of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar were Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Abeid Amani Karume, President of the Republic of Tanganyika and President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, respectively.

All unions, be they customs unions, common markets, economic and political unions and federations experience difficulties of one sort or another.  Difficulties arise out of perceptions or weaknesses in legal regimes. Yet difficulties present opportunities for new thinking and innovations. Opportunities arise out of turning difficulties into challenges. Opting out or exiting are the easy solutions, and easy solutions, except in mathematical puzzles, are complicated in practical  terms.

Mwalimu was aware of this situation when single handedly confronted a group of 55 Members of Parliament who advocated for change of the Union Constitution, which, much to his displeasure would weaken the Union between Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. As he would argue later, and this is my recollection and my translation of the advice he delivered in Swahili: “..There are on both sides, those who would wish to end the union. After separation, those in Zanzibar would soon realize that Zanzibar is not homogeneous; those in Pemba will say we are Wapemba, and those in Unguja will proclaim to be Waunguja. Among the Waunguja some will say; we are from Kaskazini Unguja and others will say; we are from Kusini Unguja, Makunduchi. Those in the Mainland [Tanganyika] will soon realize that there are Mainlanders [Wabara], and Tanzanians of Zanzibar origin [Wazanzibara]. Once you have finished with [expelled] Wazanzibara you will realize that the Mainland is not a homogeneous entity. Divisions will start with people identifying themselves along tribal lines; we are Chagas from the north and others will proclaim; we are Nyakyusa’s from the south… and so on. It is a sin that will end up destroying the entire fabric of society and the nation”.

I am not sure as to whether or not there are parallels between what Nyerere said in respect of the Union of Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, and the situation obtaining in the Union of the Comoros. I humbly submit that I am here as a guest of my Comorian friends, sisters and brothers, and as such I will withhold my comments. I would not wish to overstretch the indulgence of my hosts. Ultimately keeping any union is an act of  finding the right balance between aspirations for autonomy of the separate parts and the imperative of unity.

Nyerere and Self-reliance

I have briefly discussed Mwalimu Nyerere's conception of education and self-reliance. To the students among us, upon completion of your completion of your University level education, it is hoped that you will be equipped with the necessary skills and tools that should make you independent, innovative and ultimately self-reliant. That way you should earn the respect of your peers and society. Salaried employment in the public service is an honour and a privilege. In the absence of enough positions in the public service, the private sector should fill the employment gap. In the absence of both options, self-employment should be a viable option. On my inaugural lecture upon being appointed Chancellor of the Mbeya University of Science and Technology in Tanzania, I had the following advice to your peers:
1.     Follow  trends in the economy by reading widely. Develop a habit of reading widely about the trend of the national, regional and global economy. In this respect Central Bank regular reports and national, regional, and international media, available online, could be very useful.
2.     Be on the lookout for characteristics of the labour market. These can be obtained from the Ministry of Labour and Bureau of Statistics information,and vacancy announcements in the media, employment platforms,and the social media.
3.     Develop interest in mathematics and science subjects. These subjects are a foundation to success in science, engineering, technology, medicine, business studies, economics, and social sciences.
4.     Be conversant and fluent in swahili and english. Communication is key to success in business and employment. A starting point in employment is an interview. Command of the language can be an advantage. Furthermore, as the use of  swahili begins to expand as more than 120 million people speak swahili, more swahili teachers are being sought in the region and afar. Besides, Swahili is now an official language of the African Union and will soon become one of the official languages of the East African Community.
5.     Learn an extra language among the following; french, spanish, russian, and chinese. To succeed in employment in the regional and international job market, knowledge of a language other than swahili and english is  an added advantage.
6.     Be aggressive and seek employment opportunities in the region, and abroad as do Kenyans, Ugandans, Ghanaians and Nigerians. It is a rare occurrence to meet a Tanzanian working in international business or in regional or multilateral agencies. We recently met a Tanzanian employee of  Emirates. Asked as to how many Tanzanians were employed in the airline, about 15 was the answer. As for Kenya, the answer was, well over 100. Emirates has more than 50,000 from 160 countries.
7.     Initially do not be rigid in your choice of employment. A career path may require a transition. A transition may be a springboard to a new career, further training, or a career of your choice.
8.     Form peer groups to exchange information, views, and experiences. Compared to many of us, millennials are good at embracing new thoughts, new ideas and new technologies.
9.     Make  use of micro-financing and venture capital opportunities available from financial institutions and government. Search for information on such opportunities.
10.  Develop interest in business studies, business innovation and business startups.

As you deliberate on this advice take note of the fact that the 4th Industrial Revolution is on the way. Africa need not start industrialization from scratch. We can leapfrog and take advantage of, and take part in and be part of the transformation from the 3rd Industrial Revolution which has been based on digital technology into  the 4th Industrial Revolution based on internet of things, artificial intelligence, and now, blockchain technology. These are exciting times for the African Youth.

Julius Kambarage Nyerere did not want Africa to be at the periphery of global affairs. As such, were he alive today, he would have championed the involvement of Africa and African scientists in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which will drive the future. He would be clear, just as I believe, that Africa and the developing world can play the AI game as well as any developed country. All that we must do is to be confident in our minds and proclaim YES, WE CAN.

Other areas of possible cooperation between Comoro and Tanzania are: in the development of a sustainable blue economy; and work to support a sustainable Indian Ocean. In this regard collaboration could include the relevant actors and sectors and include countries like the Seychelles. Relevant to this advice is the recent move by the Seychelles, with the assistance of the World Bank. to launch the world's first sovereign blue bond to support proper management of marine resources. This pioneer financial instrument has shown that it is possible to raise funding from  capital markets to finance sustainable marine and fisheries project.
These are exciting times for the African Youth.

Concluding Remarks

I have great confidence in the future of island states, Zanzibar and the Union of the Comoros being among them. I have in mind the following states as examples: Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Cuba. An island state off continental Europe, United Kingdom, at its heyday ruled over a quarter of the world. There must be in island states a DNA that is common to all and that makes them industrious as they are adventurous. That streak is not discriminatory. What ever it may be, it should  exist among the Comoros and the Zanzibaris as well.

When ever I happen to be in Zanzibar, I always remind my friends that despite the infamous moments in history, Zanzibar was the first port of entry for the spread of religion in eastern, central and southern Africa; When it was completed in the 19th century, the Beit al Ajaib was the largest building of its kind in Africa; The first railway in eastern Africa was built in Zanzibar; Zanzibar was the first place in eastern Africa to be connected to the rest of the world via Cable and Wireless; Zanzibar was the first truly welfare state in eastern Africa; and Zanzibar was the first state to introduce colour television broadcasting in Africa. It was said of Zanzibar: When the piper plays in Zanzibar, they dance in the Great Lakes. Zanzibar, therefore, should be able to leapfrog into a glorious future as it did in the past. The fundamentals for that to happen exist for Zanzibar as well as the Comoros.

At the National Museum of Comoro I was struck to see a portrait of Juma Mnyamwezi, a commander the army of Sultan Said Ali bin Sultan Omar, the last Sultan of Ngazija in the 19th century. Juma  Mnyamwezi could not have hailed from from anywhere except  Unyanyembe, Unyamwezi in Tanganyika.

The late Habib Omar bin Ahmed bin Abubakar bin Smeth was the Chief Kadhi and Mufti of Zanzibar as well as Chief Mufti of Comoro. His father Said Omar bin Abubakar bin Smeth had been Chief Kadhi of Zanzibar before him.

The late Said Omar Abdallah Mwinyi Baraka, a student and follower of Said Omar bin Smeth was a famous theologian of Islam in Zanzibar and Ngazija. The late Sheikh Burhani Mkele a famous swahili and arabic linguist and poet who moved to Zanzibar from Ikoni, Comoro.

The late Professor Haroub Othman a distinguished scholar and colleague at the University of Dar es Salaam could trace his Comoro origins His wife, Prof. Saida can also trace her origins to Itsandar. Ambassador Mohammed Ali Foum, of Zanzibar origin, an accomplished diplomat, whose father hailed from Tsoudjini and the mother from Moroni. Mzee Mohamed Aboud “Mfaransa” our former Controller and Auditor General of government, was a Zanzibari of Moroni origin. The Late Mzee Aboud Maalim, former Minister and Chairperson of the National Insurance of Tanzania. Incidentally the most famous islamic graveyard in Upanga, Dar es Salaam is known as Makaburi ya Wangazija, Comorian graveyard.

I therefore submit to you all that the unity of Comoro and Tanzania is work-in-progress, as I propose the formation of a Tanzania Comoro Friendship Association.

No doubt Mwalimu was the main force in Africa’s liberation struggle Ambassador. Mohammed Sahnoun of Algeria was one of the two first assistant secretaries-general of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). In his treatise on African Liberation as recorded in his memoirs has given one of the most lucid explanations of the role of Mwalimu in the liberation of Africa thus: “lucidity and his strategic skills... were remarkable at all levels, as was his courage, bearing in mind that his own country was newly independent and that its state institutions were also at their formative stage….. conflicts occurred, as they inevitably did at the OAU and in the area of liberation politics, Nyerere, as the mwalimu that he was, used his gifts of analysis and reasoning to reach the right resolutions…. It was a unique privilege to have worked with such a leader.” Mohammed Sahnoun has spoken on behalf of Africa.

As a person and a human being Julius Nyerere has been best described by his close friend. Late Thomas Odhiambo Mboya, in his memors, Freedom and After, had this to say: "...The idea of PAFMECA [Pan-African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa] was born during a conversation between Julius Nyerere and myself when he came to my two-roomed house in Ziwani location of Nairobi. I mention the size of my house because it sheds some light on Nyerere' s character. It had no bathroom and not even a sink with running water: all we could do was to draw water from a tap outside, and bathe from a basin. But, although he was by then the leader of a strong political party, TANU, his simplicity and humility and apparent identification with 'the small man'  was such that I never sensed  any reaction from him.....and has had a strong impact upon my views. He has always been...charming, ready to discuss our various problems, understanding and invariably confident. He has also a profound and analytical mind....."

I was requested to give a lecture on Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and I was given a "blank cheque". How does one cash such a "cheque" and do justice to this remarkable person, leader and above all the Teacher, Mwalimu. Even if a year were alloted to me I doubt If I could be able to summarize the life and times, and the immense contribution of Nyerere, the African to Africa and the world. Upon reflection, I think Nyerere lived ahead of his time. 

You have done me  and Tanzania honour to invite me to join you in the commemoration of the passing away of Mwalimu.

The last time I was here in Comoro with my wife Lucy Akiiki and our son Emmanuel was  in 2017. This is our second time. John Fitzgerald Kennedy upon visiting Berlin famously declared: “Ich bin ein Berliner". To paraphrase him I can now proclaim Mimi ni Mwafrika, Mimi Mkomoro, I am an African, I am Comorian.

Mark Mwandosya
26 October 2018

From left: Prof. Moussa Juma, former Dean of Humanities, University of Comoro (UoC); MJM, Said Mshangama, Former Speaker of the National Assembly; Dr. Massandi, Director of International Affairs UoC.

 With Elders of Ikoni, Moroni: From left Youssouf Soule, Said Mshangama, MJM.,Mohamed Abdulhamid, Hassan Soule, Bakri Mkubwa

Nadjda,  Anna, Samira, Faizna. Youths of Umodja ws Komori na  Afrika Mashariki, convenors of Commemoration

Participants listening to my address

With youths of Umodja wa Komori na Afrika Mashariki

Mrs Mwandosya presenting a painting of Bismarck Point Mwanza to organizers of the symposium

Lucy Mwandosya, Hanifa Ahamada Bwana(Niece of TANU Veteran Ali Mwinyi Tambwe), MJM, Said Mshangama, Mzee Mohamed Abdoulhamid(Grandson of the last Sultan of Ngazija).

Copyright© 2017 Mark Mwandosya. All rights reserved


  1. Again, this is an informed and thoughtful elucidation of the indelible legacy of Mwalimu. Yes he taught us a lot. But the students of the University of Comoros have shown that Mwalimu matters beyond our borders and deserves a lot better. This address on the 19th Anniversary of his passing is in line with the quest for Mwalimu's thoughts at home, Africa and the world. Nostalgia about his leadership in the anti-colonial struggle, is equally important. Names of people who worked side by side with Mwalimu, including Dr. Warte Barte Kenneth Mwanjiisi (WBK), a medical doctor turned political leader, challenge researchers to write informed books about them. After all: "These are exciting times for the African Youth."

  2. Hi Prof.
    The Mwalimu Nyere article was very informatibe. Very well written, I hope it was well received by te audience.

  3. Hi Mark I’ve taken a quick scan at your speech and it’s one they will ponder for a while to come
    I’ve also learned a lot by reading it
    My only comment is Hongera Sana and all the best today Mkomoro;)

  4. Tks Prof for sharing this! A well written and thought through lecture. I am this has benefitted many. Hongera sana.

    I also trust you are doing well

  5. 🙏🙏reflection nzuri sana ya Mwalimu

  6. The content of your Address to the University of Comoro has helped greatly to remind me of some of Mwalimu Nyerere's immense contributions to the freedom ,development and well being of the peoples of Tanzania, Africa and the world at large. I thank you Prof.most sincerely for your timely speech which I believe in some respects reflects your tireless efforts to help bring about better understanding and mutual trust between Tanzania and the Comoros.
    Balozi R. Korosso

  7. Wow!!! What a brilliant speech! I must say this is one of the best speeches I have read. There is so much history...! I also learnt a lot of beautiful Mbeya. Thank you for sharing. 🙏🏽
    A. K. Rupia

  8. Pitapita kwenye magroup


    [30/10, 10:05 am] Mohamed Said: Sheikh Fareed ahsante kwa kunielekeza kwenye hii paper ya Prof. Mwandosya. Ina makosa kidogo. Sykes Mbuwane aliingia Tanganyika mwishoni mwa 1800 kama kundi la askari mamluki 400 wa Kizulu kutoka Mozambique, Imhambane kijiji kinaitwa Kwa Likunyi walipokwenda kuchukuliwa na Herman von Wissman Kamanda wa jeshi la Wajerumani. Aliyekwenda Nansio kwa Hamza Mwapachu khasa ni Abdul Sykes 1950 yeye akiwa Kaimu Rais na Katibu wa TAA. Ali Mwinyi hakuwa msemaji mkuu katika mazungumzo yale ya 1953 ya kumuingiza Nyerere katika uongozi wa TAA bali Abdul kwani tayari alikuwa keshampokea Nyerere nyumbani kwake 1952. Abdul hakuwa founding secretary wa TAA kwani TAA ni muendelezo wa AA ila 1948 walibadili jina tu na kuwa TAA. Founding Secretary wa AA anabakia Kleist Sykes. Hapakuwa na katiba ya TANU iliyoandikwa na Nyerere. Katiba ya TANU ilinakiliwa neno kwa neno kutoka katiba ya Convetion Peoples Party (CCP) ya Kwame Nkrumah wa Ghana. Kwa ujumla ni paper nzuri.

  9. Thanks Prof for sharing your address made in Comoro. Wonderful address with a lot of history and memories.

  10. Good evening Prof. This morning I went through your presentation at the University of the Comoro Islands. You sounded liķe a good historian and Scholar in political science. I learned a lot about Tanganyika and Mbeya. I congratulate you on the work well done. Mugone kanunu.
    Tuntufye Mwamwenda

  11. Thank you Prof,what a great document you have penned.You are a great blessing to many of us.Keep up the good work.Pass our love to Lucy& the Children (now grown though).Shalom.
    Eliud Karanja

  12. I need to learn a lot from you. Unanisaidia sana kuijua Africa and African Politics
    Naomba niwe Mwanafunzi wako na unisaidie niwe bora kama wewe!!
    Sxtus Mapunda

  13. Profound educator, historian,writer and Public Servant from the Southern Highlands. A jewel to his country, continue to leave footprints for future Tanzanians. God bless.
    Joyce Svarvar


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