THE CITIZEN ON SATURDAY of 9th March, 2019; carried the good news of the planned launching of what will be known as the “Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership Forum”. It was reported that the Forum is scheduled for launching on 30th March, 2019; and that this Forum will be aimed at “discussing the legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and how the current generation can use his intellectual wealth for community development, plus the lessons of his life and agenda, in relation to current realities”. This is certainly very good news for all those who sincerely admire Mwalimu Nyerere’s vast contributions to the making of our nation; in the light of the solid foundations of ‘good responsible leadership’ which he laid down, and which continue to form the ‘cornerstone’ of his legacy. I am one of those devout students and admirers of Mwalimu Nyerere. I therefore undertake to participate fully in supporting the work of this new Forum. And, in order to ‘hit the ground running’; today’s article will be a presentation of some of the most memorable components of Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy.
Memories of Mwalimu Nyerere.
When our beloved father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, departed from this world on 14th October, 1999; he was mourned all round the world, by the most humble, as well as the most exalted. This was a manifest testimony of his greatness as a selfless leader, who always gave top priority to the concerns, and the wellbeing, of the people. But although he is gone, his ideals must be kept alive so that they may continue to inspire our nation, in our continued search for stability and peace, and for justice and equality; which are the critical ideals for which he lived and died. The famous English dramatist William Shakespeare, said the following in his Play titled Julius Caesar: The evil that men do lives after them, but the good is often interred with their bones”
We absolutely must not allow the “good” that Mwalimu Nyerere did for our country and nation, “to be interred with his bones”. Indeed, we have a binding obligation to ensure, that Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy continues to exist within us, in order to guide the post-Nyerere generations of Tanzanians. It may also be well worthwhile recalling the words of wisdom, appearing in a statement attributed to one Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881), the Scottish historian and essayist; who said the following in his book titled “Heroes and Hero-worship”: “No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men”. Undoubtedly, Mwalimu Nyerere was one such ‘great men’, and the little records like this presentation, can be taken to form part of his biography.
In similar vein, on the local front; I also chanced to gain access to a book titled “Remembering Nyerere in Tanzania: History, memory, legacy”. (Mkuki and Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam, 2015).
The said book is a collection of contributions from a variety of knowledgeable persons. According to its editor, “this book is about how Nyerere is remembered by Tanzanians from all levels of society, in what ways, on what occasions, and for what purpose”.
Furthermore, we must take note of the constant and persistent reminder by the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC, in their daily programme appropriately titled “Wosia wa Baba”: through that attractive singing of the words: “Kama siyo juhudi zako Nyerere, na Uhuru tungepata wapi? Na amani tungepata wapi? And so on.
The planned launching of the proposed Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership Forum will, undoubtedly, facilitate the enhancement of these commendable efforts to enable Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy “to be remembered by Tanzanians from all levels of society”.
Mwalimu Nyerere’ legacy.
On good governance, and democracy.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s firm stand on the necessity for good governance, is clearly manifested in the directives and guidelines which he issued to the ‘One Party’ Constitutional Review Commission which he had appointed in 1963, for the purpose of making recommendations for the introduction of a new democratic One-Party Constitution. A reading of these directives and guidelines reveals his major concerns in relation these issues. They represent the cherished principles which he wanted to be enshrined in the One-Party Constitution. These included: (a) The principles of democracy, which he listed as follows:- Maximum political freedom for all citizens. (Freedom of expression, of movement, of religious belief, and of association with others, within the context of the law; freedom for the people to choose their representatives to all legislative bodies). And maximum participation by the people in their own Government, and ultimate control by them.
(b) The ‘ethics and integrity’ principles, namely the fundamental equality of all human beings, and the right of every individual to dignity and respect. To his immense credit, Mwalimu Nyerere actually managed to faithfully and diligently, “walk his talk” in all these matters. For example, his commitment to the principle of giving the people “freedom to choose their representatives to all legislative bodies”, is manifestly reflected in his subsequent (unsuccessful) campaign against the constitutional ban on the participation of private candidates in our elections.
In his 1995 little book titled “Our leadership and the destiny of Tanzania”, Mwalimu Nyerere wrote the following: “I am not denying that the right of every citizen to stand in an election was effectively denied during the One Party system. But I argued then, and I continue to do so now, that with two candidates being submitted to the free choice of the voters, that was the most appropriate and democratic system under the circumstances of that time. But after moving to the multi-party system, a move which I fully supported, we were effectively saying that the circumstances have changed. Therefore this restriction on the exercise of one of the basic peoples’ rights (the right to stand for election), could be lifted without endangering the unity and peace of our country”. Mwalimu Nyerere’s strong belief in democracy is also demonstrated by his inclusion in the policy document which he personally authored that is, the 1967 ‘Arusha Declaration on Socialism and Self Reliance”; wherein he wrote as follows: “The only guarantee for genuine socialist transformation, is for the State to take effective control. Or ownership, of the major means of production. But a country does not become socialist simply because its major means of production are controlled by the State. The State itself must be governed by a democratically elected Government”.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy on the issue of ethics.
It has been said, in the books of authority on the subject of ethics that “ethics is the heart of leadership”. Mwalimu Nyerere’s commitment on this issue is evidenced in his statement made in the Tanganyika Legislative Council, way back in 1958; when Mwalimu Nyerere said the following: “The only safeguard for the people’s rights, such as the people’s freedom, and all those other things which they value and cherish, can only be ‘the ethic of the nation’, or national ethic. If the people of any given nation do not have that kind of national ethic, it does not really matter what kind of Constitution they have; for they can still become victims of tyranny imposed upon them by a dictatorial leader. Therefore, what we must continue to do all the time, is to endeavor to build a “national ethic”. This is what will, possibly even more than the Constitution, make even the President of the country, whoever he may be, to always pause and restrain himself from taking action, in circumstances where he can caution himself by saying that “yes, under the Constitution, I have the power and authority to do this. But the national ethic prevents me from doing it”.
To the best of my knowledge, Mwalimu Nyerere sincerely endeavored to adhere to this ‘ethics doctrine’ throughout his leadership period, and even beyond, into his retirement period. This is his legacy which needs to be emulated.
Mwalimu Nyerere legacy on the Constitution.
It has been said that “the Constitution is both a political and a legal document”. Thus, because it is a political document, Mwalimu Nyerere the ‘principled’ political leader that he was, always maintained the principle that the country’s Constitution must be fully respected and strictly adhered to. That is why he became exceedingly annoyed when, after his voluntary retirement, his successor into office President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, succumbed to the evil temptation of attempting to breach the Constitution, by his apparent desire to continue in office beyond the two-term limit imposed by the Constitution. Mwalimu Nyerere’s response to that attempt is recorded in his book already referred to above, in which he wrote the following: - “It is of vital importance for the peace of this county, and the possibilities of harmonious development, that all the provisions of the Union Constitution, as it stands at any given time, should be respected and honored by all authorities in both parts of the Union. It is therefore the prime responsibility of the President of the United Republic, and of the Union Government under his leadership, to ensure that the Constitution is honored in all its respects. The President and his Government must endeavor to prevent any violation of the Constitution”.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy on combating corruption.
Mwalimu Nyerere took his first public steps on ‘the combat road’ in the war against corruption, on17th may, 1960; during his speech in the Legislative Council, of which he was a member and leader of the Tanganyika Elected Members Organization (TEMO). That is when he made the significant historical statement, declaring corruption as “an enemy of the people”. He said the following: “Mr. Speaker, let me also take this opportunity to add ‘corruption’ to the list of the three enemies which consistently afflict our otherwise peaceful society, namely, poverty, ignorance, and disease. I believe it is now necessary to add a fourth enemy to that list, and that enemy is corruption. This is indeed necessary because, even though we can endeavor to marshal efforts and resources to deal with the issues of poverty, ignorance and disease; it must be realized that all such efforts can effectively be reduced to naught, simply through the corrupt actions perpetrated by the relevant leaders. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, the issue of corruption must be confronted with all the seriousness it deserves; for corruption is a ruthless enemy that can cause even greater harm during peace time, than the harm which results from armed conflict during war time.
Therefore, Sir, in my considered opinion, the crime of corruption deserves to be placed in the same category as that of treason. This is because corruption among Government leaders effectively destroys the people’s confidence in their Government, to the extent that often promotes equally harmful political consequential outcomes. To the best of my knowledge, at all times during his leadership period, Mwalimu Nyerere always took appropriate measures to implement his earnest resolve to combat corruption. And this is a legacy which must be emulated.
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Source: Daily News today and for the courtesy of Cde Pius Msekwa himself.