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Nyerere’s legacy for Tanzania is solid

Often we tend to remember people for bad reasons. It is a noble idea to remember certain personalities for the good they have done. What they did not do, somebody else will do it for no person is perfect. Julius Nyerere did his miscalculations as any other founding father of the nation would do. He abolished cooperatives and made policies that would nationalize the production sector. He embraced African socialism as the best and most viable approach to sustainable development in Tanzania. He introduced Kiswahili as the official and national language to unite the citizens but did not realize the potentials of English. However, it does not matter what he did not do or did not calculate well. It matters the legacy he left for his country as a founding father. He did not leave material wealth but ethical benefit that see Tanzanians united and in harmony. He preached human social values and a strong sense of the common good in his Arusha Declaration.
As compared to Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta embraced capitalism and its scope of creating wealth. It is in this sense Kenyan economy grew very fast in 1970s as compared to Tanzania whose independence came earlier. Nyerere focused more on local solutions or better, African solutions to African problems. Actually, it is difficult for people to steal what they have sweated to achieve after many years. Instead, Jomo preferred signing bilateral and multilateral treaties that would see Kenya borrowing from the rich and wealthy nations such as the USA and UK. Now Kenya is borrowing from other countries including the East.
The reality is, borrowed money puts people in temptation of stealing but money gained from within and from hard labor will always be spent responsibly. China did not jump into borrowing without preparing the ground…despite its questionable records of corruption.
The difference between Nyerere and Jomo is simply based on choice. One chose to lay a strong ethical foundation for the nation other than accumulating borrowed wealth. Tanzania may have some elements of corruption but Kenya is still leading by wide margin. A Tanzanian will have a feeling of the common good and social welfare while planning to steal whereas a Kenyan would only calculate gains and opportunities.
Nyerere taught his people about ethics and the common good. It is wrong to mismanage public wealth. It is evil to steal from your own community. And it is equally incorrect to be dishonest and to dislike your brother and sister. Such principles are founded within the African philosophy of socialism. Kenneth Kaunda, Dr. Kwame Nkurumah, Nelson Mandela, Sankara, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, Leopold Sedar Sengor, Tom Mboya, Oginga Odinga, and Hail Salasse did not object the Western capitalism but insisted that Africans must understand it from the African perspective in order to make benefits out of it. China was a purely socialist nation during Mao Tse Tung & Mao Zedong but once they mastered the rules of the game, they only domesticated it into their system. They borrowed dollars from USA in order to build their economy. Now Chinese economy is almost overtaking the American strong economy. India is doing the same.
What many African nations miscalculated is to build institutions on African cultural ethics and values. Other things will follow but the foundation matters. But what is apparent is that many African states are building skyscrapers on sands. An economy that lacks ethics, values and standards that people can understand is like building your story house on sands. When strong winds blow, it will be brought down. It is time to embark on African conception of ethics and values. It is deceptive to assume that Western civilization shall bring money plus ethics and values to Africa and solve African problems. Africans learned corruption from their colonial masters and must now turn to African approach.
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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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