(Photo courtesy of Issa Michuzi)
Sometimes last year, a friend of mine asked me a tough and funny question. He asked me, if given a chance to select four people, dead or alive, which I would like to have dinner with, who would they be? The question included additional guidelines that my parents should not be on the list. He probably knew in advance how I feel, just as you may be, about my parents.
Frankly speaking, I had more than four people in my mind, quickly. However, because the given choices allowed only four people I had to come up with four names. My selection included Jesus, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Unfortunately, my dear friend did not know who Julius Kambarage Nyerere was. That did not surprise me; he was not popular with western media. In fact, I doubt whether they ever liked him. He was a devoted socialist; he died a socialist believer. On the other hand, may be a modern socialist believer as times changes. I am sure he was rarely mentioned in history classes around here.
From the list of my dinner guests above, you can imagine the kind of conversation that could come on the table. I wish I could tell you my reasons of inviting those people. Allow me to reserve that tête-à-tête for next time.
Today, October 14th, 2006 marks seven years since when Nyerere, famously known as Mwalimu to mean “a teacher” passed away in a London hospital. For the benefit of some of you, like my friend above, who did not know who Mwalimu was, he was one of the greatest African political leaders. He was the first president of Tanzania (then known as Tanganyika before union with Zanzibar). When I came to this world, the world I share with Osama Bin Laden and George Bush, he was my immediate president.
As Tanzanians (including me) commemorate the demise of Nyerere, I have decided to honor him by allowing a dialogue (if possible) to replicate and understand the kind of man he was, what he believed, what he tried to do, where he failed and most important, the kind of a leader he was. One of the famous documents that he died still deeply in love with was The Arusha Declaration (please read it). Has there been a better approach towards true development, in africanism context than what this declaration points out. Is globalization a modernity of the declaration? Do you think there was anything wrong with the declaration? What was wrong?
In terms of leadership, can you compare Mwalimu with any living leader in Africa? What has happened to pure, unconditional love to one’s country? Please share your thoughts. R.I.P Mwalimu.