Epistle to Afrophobic South Africa
Tuesday, 31 December 2019
We wind up the year by looking back. We see many good things. We, too, see things that were unpleasant for the continent. We take this opportunity to revisit 2019 by remembering our colleagues and loved ones that perished last year. Though many people died in Africa, as per BBC, the following were notable. However, it does not mean that others were not notable. They were. The BBC just picked a few out of many. Follow the link to see the notables as BBC reported.
Friday, 27 December 2019
Friday, 20 December 2019
Though it has been long since we touched base, this is a seasonal of festivities as we wind the year. This blog therefore seizes this opportunity to wish you a very merry Xmas and Happy and Prosperous New Year 2020 in a very special way. You always are in our prayers and wishes. Please, with your families and friends, may you be blessed to live and enjoy and see the new year. Relations is not about being blood related but instead it is about caring about and for and loving each other. I know how busy the ending year was. So specifically, those who live in Zim braved tough conditions economically, politically and socially. Brethren, have a spiffy season of festivities. May God Almighty stand by you and guide you through all difficulties you are going through personally and nationally.
Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Following upon the hugely positive impact which was instantly created as a result of the publication of former President Benjamin Mkapa’s autobiography, on 12th November, 2019, titled “My Life, My Purpose : A Retired President Remembers” ; I quickly decided to devote a series of articles in this column, with the intention of drawing public attention to the vastly rich biography of President Julius Nyerere, the founder-President of our beloved country; in the forlorn hope that those who are in a position to do so, will be persuaded to write his biography.
This will be the fourth in this series , and will, for the time being, be the last instalment; which will be in the area of Foreign Affairs, and will focus mainly on Mwalimu Nyerere’s angry reactions to certain specified actions that were wantonly taken by some of his peers, the Presidents of Africa; which he considered to be seriously wanting in ethics. In other words, we will be discussing his ‘low moments’, wherein he found himself forced into utter frustration and anger, which he openly expressed in his responses to the relevant events.
I should perhaps also add, that the unethical actions by his African peers greatly angered President Nyerere, primarily because for him, the question of leadership ethics was a basic rule of personal leadership behaviour, or principle, that must never be compromised. For he sincerely believed, that “ethics is the heart of leadership”. Thus, on the domestic front, that is what actually explains why he took the earliest opportunity during his tenure as President of the United Republic of Tanzania, to introduce that ethics rule in the form of a “leadership code of ethics”, when he drafted the Arusha Declaration of February, 1967; which would bind all the ruling party leaders, as well as the Government leaders, of this country. And on the Foreign Affairs front, that is what explains why, as soon as he became Head of the Government of Tanganyika way back in September 1960; he quickly imposed a ban on the importation of goods from South Africa, in order to demonstrate his strong disgust at the (then) South African Government’s obnoxiously unethical apartheid policy. Similarly, that is precisely what explains his subsequent strong negative reactions to some of his African peers unethical actions, that are described in this article.
Mwalimu Nyerere’s angry reactions.
It should be noted, however, that these were not merely isolated angry reactions to the relevant events. They were, in fact, part of Mwalimu Nyerere’s general struggle against any injustices. There are two specific indents that quickly come to my mind, in respect of President Nyerere’s angry reactions to his African peers, for their unexpected, unworthy, behavior. One, which occurred in December 1965, was the unexpected failure to implement the resolution adopted by Organization of African Unity (OAU) on breaking diplomatic relations with Britain.
The other was the 1978 pressure put on President Nyerere, not to allow the Tanzanian Armed Forces to cross the border into Uganda during the Iddi Amin war.
But before we start discussing these issues, and particularly, in order to show that such reactions were part of Mwalimu Nyerere’s general struggle against injustices, we will first cite one example, that of his resignation from the colonial Legislative Council way back in 1957. This was in protest against what, in his considered opinion, was an injustice committed by the colonial Government. Mwalimu Nyerere had been nominated by the Governor of Tanganyika in July 1957, to be a member of the colonial Legislative Council (LEGCO); but he found it necessary to resign therefrom, a mere six months later. He subsequently explained the reasons for his resignation, in an article published in “Sauti ya TANU” No. 18, on 16h December, 1957, that he had accepted nomination in the belief that the Government would respond positively to his views regarding the pace of progress to independence, but he soon realized that this was actually not the case; so he decided to quit. “ I had no alternative but to tender my resignation” he said.
We will now proceed to the two particular events which we referred to earlier above.
The failure to implement the OAU resolution.
On 11th June, 1965; Mr. Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of what was then Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe; made a sudden unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) for that central African country. At that time, Southern Rhodesia was a self-governing colony of Great Britain, whose Government was entirely in the hands of the minority white Rhodesian settlers, who thus wanted to protect their vested interests, by unilaterally severing their colonial relationship with Britain. This was, quite obviously, an act of open rebellion, which President Nyerere, and many of his African peers, believed would be quickly quashed by Britain, the legitimate ruling power. But months went by, and no such action was taken by the British Government.
Thus, in December, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) called an emergency meeting of Foreign Ministers in Addis Ababa, which would decide on what action should be taken, to force the British Government to exercise its due responsibility over Southern Rhodesia, regarding that unprecedented rebellion. The meeting unanimously decided that, all the Independent African countries (that had established diplomatic relations with Britain), should break such relations on 15th December , 1965; if by that date, Britain had not yet taken the necessary action to reverse the Southern Rhodesia rebellion.
But alas, come the agreed date, 15th December, 1965, only Ghana and Tanzania did actually implement that resolution. The extent of President Nyerere’s utter disappointment, dismay and anger at this turn of events, is clearly displayed in his “Honour of Africa” speech, which he delivered in the Tanzania Parliament shortly thereafter. President Nyerere’s speeches in Parliament have always been delivered in Kiswahili, the national language. But on that particular occasion, he chose to address the House not in Kiswahili, but in English, which was a clear indication that he was actually addressing an external audience, so that they could get the piercing message directly. This is what he said in the form of unanswered questions:- “How can Africa really fail to implement its own resolution? Can African States meet in solemn conclave, merely in order to make noise? “ He went on thus: “The purpose of that resolution was to show Britain, that Africa requires concrete action to be taken against Smith (the rebel Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia). That action has not been taken, do we just shrug our shoulders and do nothing about it? Can we , the African States, unashamedly do nothing to implement our own resolution?”. There is a lot more in that speech, but we will stop there.
The African peers pressure in the war against Iddi Amin.
Towards the end of the year 1977, President Iddi Amin Dada of Uganda, committed the international crime of sending his army to invade, and temporarily annex, a large chunk of Tanzanian territory, in the then West Lake Region (now Kagera Region). On hearing the bad news, President Nyerere’s immediate, angry response was: “TUTAMPIGA”.
The English equivalent of the Kiswahili word “tutampiga”, is “we shall take revenge on him” ; but it does not disclose what the extent of that revenge would be. Hence, many ordinary minds, including those of President Nyerere’s African peers, thought, and believed, that his revenge would be limited to chasing Iddi Amin’s Forces out of Tanzanian territory. But, apparently, Mwalimu Nyerere had a more severe punishment in his ingenious mind.
He had initially attempted to persuade his fellow African peers to publicly condemn and rebuke President Iddi Amin for the international crime he had committed, of invading and annexing part of Tanzanian territory; but no such condemnation had been made. This lack of even moral support from his peers, was already a major disappointment for Mwalimu Nyerere. But that was not the end of his frustrations. His second disappointment came soon after Iddi Amin’s invading Forces had been chased out of Tanzanian territory.
What actually happened.
It took the Tanzanian armed Forces a relatively short period of time to chase Iddi Amin’s invading Forces out of Tanzanian territory. What followed thereafter, was an indeterminable period for the Tanzanian army to permanently camp at the Mutukula border with Uganda, for fear that the Ugandan Army might be tempted to make yet another invasion, which they would fear to do, in the presence of the Tanzanian Army at the border. But this, clearly, was a very undesirable situation. And and that is when the Army commanders requested that they be allowed to cross into Uganda to “finish off Iddi Amin, and ensure permanent peace thereafter. And that, ”is probably when President Nyerere activated his secrete plan of chasing Iddi Amin himself out of Uganda as well !
However, this was partly delayed by President Nyerere’s genuine desire, not to create the negative impression that he was stubbornly ignoring, or going against, wise advise from his African peers. He therefore continued to listen to them, until he half-heartedly reached the point of surrendering to their pressure. But then, God’s guidance intervened, to save the situation in his favour.
The probability of a sleepless night.
It was one Saturday afternoon, when President Nyerere invited two of his closest political assistants , namely, Vice President Aboud Jumbe, and myself, then Executive Secretary-General of the ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi, to his residence at Msasani, Dar es Salam. On arrival there, he told us how he had been tormented, for some time, by two conflicting pressures. On the one hand, was the pressure from his Army Chief, asking to be allowed to cross the border into Uganda, in order to go to Kampala to “finish off’ dictator Iddi Amin. But and the other hand was the pressure from his African peers, urging him not to cross the border, as by doing so, he would be committing the same international crime of invading another country. He further told us how he had, very unwillingly, succumbed to the wishes of his African peers. Whereupon, he instructed the Vice-President to travel to Bukoba the next day, and onwards to Mutukula, to inform the army about his decision not to allow them to cross into Uganda. But in giving this instruction, the President was vividly disturbed. That Saturday night must probably have been a sleepless one for him.
He went to church the following day, as was his usual practice; but in this case, he apparently prayed specifically for God’s guidance; for he later confirmed that during his deep meditation and prayer, he got an inspiration, to the effect that his decision of the previous day was NOT the right decision, and that he should have listened to his army commanders.
Thereafter, armed with that inspiration, he confidently reversed the earlier decision, and decided to travel to Bukoba and Mutukula himself, to deliver the good news to the Army Commanders, who had been anxiously waiting for his reply to their request to be allowed to go to Kampala, and deal appropriately with Iddi Amin. The rest is now history, which would be succinctly told in Mwalimu Nyerere’s biography when, hopefully, it is eventually written. Will someone please take up this challenge?
Source: Daily News and Cde Msekwa Himself.