President Nyerere’s motive was entirely ideological, as we shall see presently, in the paragraphs that follow below. When Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere first ascended to the Presidency of the Republic of Tanganyika in 1962; and subsequently of the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964; he deliberately avoided living in the Magogoni IKULU, in Dar es Salaam. Why did he do that? Well, the only reason that I know, is that it was because he had a very strong aversion to being associated with the symbols of the ‘shameful’ colonialism; and he wanted to have all such symbols completely obliterated from the innocent minds of the young generation of what was now the independent country of Tanganyika (before its Union with Zanzibar).
Today’s presentation will attempt to throw some light on this historically important matter; in order to enable the stakeholders, and observers, to fully appreciate the importance, and political significance, of the grand ceremony which was held in Dodoma last Saturday, of inaugurating the new IKULU at Chamwino; in the government city of Dodoma; presided over by President Samia Suluhu Hassan herself; a proud project which was not only funded from the country’s own internal resources, but was also proudly, constructed by our own Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa (JKT) Building Brigade. This was in complete contrast to the Dar es Salaam – based IKULU, which was a colonial heritage.
It is, presumably, common knowledge, that the current Dar es Salaam IKULU (which was replicated at Chamwino in Dodoma); was built by the German colonialist, when they became the rulers of our country following the division of Africa countries among the European ‘Great Powers” at the Berlin Conference in 1885; and was subsequently transferred to the British colonialists in 192o.
Thus, when independence was achieved in December 1961, we just inherited this ‘colonial relic’. And that is precisely the reason why President Nyerere’s did not want to live in it; which is he had a very strong aversion to being associated with the symbols of colonialism. Consequently, he did not want to live in the same building that was used as the residence of the colonial Governors. That is why he took out a personal Bank loan to build his own private house at Msasani, in which he lived throughout his entire life. The inside story of this aversion, is told in the paragraphs below.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s aversion to the symbols of colonialism.
It is from this perspective, that we should view the ceremony which was held in Dodoma last Saturday, in order to appreciate its special significance. Mwalimu Nyerere’s dislike (call it hatred ) for living in the Dar es Salaam IKULU originated from his being “a man of principle”; and this action was actually based on the ideological ‘principle’ of his refusal to be associated with the symbols of the past ‘shameful’ colonialism. Here is the story.
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was sworn into office as the founder-President of the Republic of Tanganyika, on 9th December, 1962, the first anniversary of the country’s independence from British colonial rule. Whether it was by design, or by sheer coincidence, I was appointed Clerk of the National Assembly on that same date.
This “coincidence” was the starting point for my close relationships with President Nyerere, which lasted throughout the entire period of his Presidency. Among the earliest duties that are prescribed by the constitution which must be performed by a newly installed President, is the “State Opening of Parliament”. This function is prescribed by the country’s constitution; and was performed by President Nyerere on his first working day, which was 10th December 1962. As part of its regular business that session of Parliament also passed several Bills, which needed the President’s Assent.
In my enthusiasm to make sure that this part of the ‘Legislative process’ was completed without delay, I decided to take the relevant Bills to IKULU myself; and handed them to the President’s Personal Secretary. She immediately took the Papers to the President, and asked me to wait a little, “just in case the Boss had something to ask me”. Within one minute she came out, and told me to enter the President’s office, as he wanted to see me.
I still remember, and with nostalgia, that particular meeting; which, indeed surprised me, for the President turned it into a tete-a -tete private meeting between the two of us! I was, of course, no stranger to him, having previously been his student at St. Francis College Pugu; where, apparently, my outstanding class performance had attracted his attention.
And subsequently, after I had completed my undergraduate studies at Makerere University College he had again watched my performance, when the Colonial Administration appointed me (in a “Training grade” capacity), to understudy the British Clerk of the National Assembly; while he was, at that time, the Member of Parliament representing the then Dar es Salaam constituency. Hence, I was no stranger to him.
And on that material day; he happened to be in very good mood, and we talked, and talked, for about an hour and a half; with him doing most of the talking; while I listened, very carefully and attentively.
That is when he told me about his discomfort with the appearances of maintain the colonial status quo; and specifically, the symbols of colonialism; such as him having to operate from the same office that was previously used by the Governors of the colonial Administration, and our Parliament having to work in the same colonial ‘Legislative Council Chamber’, Karimjee Hall.
And, in particular, he expressed his disapproval of the action I had taken when preparing the programme for his ‘State Opening of Parliament’ function; when I had, rather foolishly, just copied the same colonial words and phrases that had been used by the British officials in preparing the programme for the Duke of Edinburgh‘s ‘State opening of the Independence Parliament’ a year earlier, in December 1961. The objectionable words and phrases were: “First Lady” that I had used in reference to mama Maria Nyerere; and “Lady-in-waiting” in reference to the woman official accompanying her.
He strongly objected to the use of these ‘colonial’ words and phrases; and said to me: “Listen”, you people must change your colonial mindsets. We are now independent; and this fundamental change must be reflected in all your actions in performing your governmental functions”; he said.
This shows that he was absolutely determined to make a complete break with the ‘shameful’ colonial past. Although he did not specifically say so himself, but with the advantage of ‘hind sight’, I have a feeling that his idea of shifting the government capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma, must have crystalized at that point in time; in view of the fact that it was only a few years later, in 1966; that Mwalimu Nyerere’s younnge brother Joephh Nyerere, Member of parliament for Musoma constituency, introducea a “Private Member’ Motion” in the National Assembly, seeking BUNGE’s decision to direct the government to shift to Dodoma; plus what followed thereafter, when this matter was taken over by the ruling party, TANU; under the skillful management and direction by Mwalimu Nyerere himself.
Hence, It is against this background, that we should view the celebrations that were held in Dodoma last Saturday. They were, basically, celebrations to mark the successful realization of Mwalimu Nyerere’s long time ‘dream’, of shifting the government capital to Dodoma.
As that famous English Play Wright of the sixteenth century William Shakespeare put it, Mwalimu Nyerere’s good deeds, and fine ideas, were fortunately “not interred with hi bones”; but continue to be implemented, even so many decades after his death.
Kudos to his successors in office, particularly the fifth-phase government of President John Pombe Magufuli (who initiated this action); and the sixth-phase government of President Samia Suluhu Hassan (who successfully completed it).
There were also other areas.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s aversion to maintaining colonial symbols under the new independence jurisdiction also extended to many other areas. I still remember three such areas, in two of which I was personally involved. The first was in respect of making the design of a new mace for the independent Parliament; which the British House of Commons had offered to produce and present to our Parliament, as an ‘independence gift’, and had requested our office to provided them with a design of our choice. I was assigned the task of finding that desired design.
Under the British Administration, the giraffe had been treated as the “national” animal; and was being printed on all government documents. Hence, my proposal was to place the symbol of a giraffe at the head of the mace. But when I showed this to Mwalimu Nyerere and sought his approval; he immediately rejected the giraffe proposal; and directed that the ‘UHURU Torch’ should be used instead of the giraffe; which, he said, was a relic of the shameful colonial past.
The second matter was his directive, issued at the beginning of 1963; to all government establishments to use Kiswahili instead of English, where possible, in all government communications. The phrase “where possible” was, indeed, necessary; because at that time, many of the government entities were still being operated by British officials who were still serving in their previous posts, who were not Swahili speakers.
But BUNGE was different, we had a Kiswahili speaking Speaker, Chief Adam Sapi Mwawa, and a Kiswahili speaking Katibu wa Bunge, Pius Msekwa; plus Members of Parliament who were all Kiswahili speakers. Hence it was very easy for us to undertake the implementation of the President’s directive.
Thus, “obliterating the symbols of the shameful colonialism”; and “building a new culture of UZALENDO”, were Mwalimu Nyerere’s twin motives, and the guiding factors, in his issuance of all these directives.
The third issue, in which I was not personally involved (because it was essentially directed to the Police Force, was the colonial police practice of closing the streets through which the Governor General (as Head of State representing the Her Majesty the Queen), would be travelling, to all other traffic. President Nyerere actually wrote a Presidential Circular, in which he ordered the discontinuation of this particular practice. “I am fast becoming the greatest nuisance to the road users of Dar es Salaam’ he quipped in that circular. “It is as if motorists must call State House every morning, to enquire if the President was scheduled to travel out of State House on that day, and in what direction, to enable them to avoid the relevant streets or roads, for fear of being held up for several hours due to the closure of the streets, ostensibly to clear the President’s way!
I believe there is no need for inconveniencing our citizens to such a ridiculous extent. I know that there is a better way of enabling the President to travel fast through the streets and roads without closing them to other road users”. He then issued his directive: “this practice must therefore stop, effective from the date of this circular letter”. However, this action was not solely due to his strong aversion to maintaining the symbols and practices of the colonialists; it also reveals President Nyerere’s personal humility, and his genuine care for the needs of other persons.
firstname.lastname@example.org / 0754767576.