Julius Nyerere, African socialist

With the death of Julius Nyerere, the world has lost one of the foremost proponents of African Socialism. Nyerere’s humanist vision known as UJAMAA influenced several generations of Africans as well as many throughout the world concerned with African liberation.

In the 1960s, as president of Tanzania, a federation of the former colonies Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Nyerere developed a creative view of African Socialism: “In socialist Tanzania, our agricultural organization would be predominantly that of co-operative living and working for the good of all. This means that most of our farming would be done by groups of people who live as a community and work as a community. A nation of such village communities would be a socialist nation” (UJAMAA: ESSAYS ON SOCIALISM [1968], p. 124).

This was the basis of what was called the ujamaa village. In so doing, Nyerere attempted to build upon pre-colonial communal traditions: “All land now belongs to the nation. But this was not an affront to our people; communal ownership of land is traditional in our country-it was the concept of freehold which had been foreign to them. In tribal tradition an individual or family secured rights in land for as long as they were using it. It became the family land when it was cleared and planted; for the rest of the time it was tribal land, and it reverted to tribal land if the family stopped working it” (UJAMAA, pp. 84-85).

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