A Biography Of Julius Nyerere

Julius Nyerere, A Role Model In African Politics

Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922 – 1999), who is amongst the most respected personalities of the African continent, was an individual of great principle as well as intelligence.

He was referred to as Mwalimu (meaning teacher) and had a vision of education that was full of opportunities.

Julius Nyerere arrived in this world in Butiama on 13 April 1922. He was the son of the head of the Zanaki tribe. He attended school at the age of 12 years and was required to walk for a distance of 26 miles to do so.

Afterward, he went on to join the Tabora Government Secondary School for pursuing his secondary education. He was taught by some Roman Catholic fathers who were able to comprehend his talent as well as abilities very soon.

Nyerere took their assistance to train as an instructor at the Makerere University in Uganda. Once he got his certificate, Julius taught for another 3 years, and following that, started studying history as well as political economy at the University of Edinburgh for his Master of Arts.

Interestingly, he earned the distinction of being the first Tanzanian to getting enrolled at a British university, and also the second to obtain a university degree outside the continent of Africa. While studying in Edinburgh, Nyerere started developing his vision of linking African communal living with socialism.

Faces of Africa – Julius Nyerere

Once he returned to Tanganyika, the colonial authorities forced him to make a decision between his teaching and political activities. In this regard, he asserted that he opted for instructing as a teacher by choice and joining politics by accident.

He succeeded in bringing different national factions into a single group with the creation of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in 1954. Nyerere went on to become the president of TANU and also the Chief Minister in 1960 after entering the legislative Council in 1958.

After just one year, internal self-government was granted to Tanganyika and Nyerere became the leader. He was declared the president in the year 1962 after full independence was attained one year earlier.

This independence which was achieved sans any bloodshed was mainly possible because of the ability of Nyerere as a successful political leader, orator as well as organizer not to mention his eagerness to work with different groups as well.

However, he received a lot of help from Sir Richard Turnbull who happened to be the last British Governor. In 1964, gave his consent to absorb the new leaders in Zanzibar into the union government, and this triggered the formation of the Republic of Tanzania.

Ujamaa Essays on Socialism by Julies Nyerere

Ujamaa Essays on Socialism by Julies Nyerere

Socialism, Ujamma, and Self-Confidence

Nyerere had to confront with some difficult situations once he was elected the President. Tanzania became one of the poorest nations on the planet by the 60s. In fact, it was struggling with a fall in the price of the items on the market, a huge foreign debt burden, as well as a decrement in foreign assistance.

He provided a solution to this crisis through villagization, large-scale nationalization, as well as the collectivization of agriculture by blending communal life with socialism. In 1967, the Arusha Declaration set out this following vision mentioned here:

In the United Republic of Tanzania, socialism is meant to establish a society where all members are going to enjoy equal opportunities as well as rights; where there will be no threat of being exploited and where one will be able to lead a peaceful life along with their neighbors; where the fundamental level of material welfare of all individuals will be increased gradually prior to anybody living in luxury.

It emphasized on the rural development of the Tanzanian individuals who are encouraged to live as well as work on a cooperative basis in ujamaa or organized villages. (The term ujamaa implies familyhood in Kishwahili). Effort was made to extend responsibilities and traditional values regarding kinship to the entire country as a whole.

There had been a commitment to elevate the fundamental living standards within the Declaration as well.

According to Nyerere, socialism was centered on the people and humanness should always get the top priority instead of wealth creation. Societies turn into better places by means of the development of individuals and Nyerere took this matter very seriously in both private as well as political terms.

He never encouraged the accumulation of a lot of wealth by means of exploiting one’s position.

However, this policy had to confront with significant political resistance without much economic success. In fact, approximately 10 million farmers where shifted and some of them were also compelled to surrender their land. According to many farmers, the concept of collective farming was not encouraging at all.

This led to a significant decline in productivity. Nevertheless, the emphasis on self-reliance as well as human development did result in some success in other areas including education, health, and particular identity.

Julius Nyerere as a young man

Julius Nyerere as a young man

Struggles for Liberation

Nyerere, being a devoted pan-Africanist, provided a home for several African liberation movements such as the ANC (African National Congress) and the PAC (Pan African Congress) of South Africa. Apart from this, he likewise protested against Idi Amin’s inhuman regime in Uganda.

In the year 1978, the Tanzanian army along with the rebel groups attacked Uganda and the capital, Kampala was taken over in 1979 thus restoring Milton Obote, the first president of the country, to power.

However, a lot of money was spent during the battle against Idi Amin and it affected the government’s finances to a great extent. Nyerere had to face lots of criticism in his own country where he was accused of ignoring the domestic issues and also not paying proper attention to the internal human rights exploitations.

Julius Nyerere did not pay any heed to this and imprisoned the opponents employing the Preventive Detention Act.

Julies Nyerere Biography



Although Julius Nyerere stepped down from the Presidential post in 1985, he still continued to be chair of the CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi). He went back to his farm located at Butiama after quitting active politics eventually.

Although he resigned as the chairman of CCM in 1990, Nyerere nevertheless stayed active as Chair of the Intergovernmental South Centre. In 1996 he was declared as the chief mediator in the famous Burundi conflict.

Julius Kambarage Nyerere passed away in a hospital in London in the year 1999 after struggling with leukemia for quite some time.