The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue

The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue
The anniversary of Julius Nyerere's death, 14 October, is a public holiday in Tanzania

Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, witnessed a historical moment as Tanzania’s founding father, Julius Nyerere, was honored with a statue outside the African Union headquarters.

Nyerere, affectionately known as Mwalimu, which means teacher in Swahili, was a dedicated pan-Africanist who played a significant role in the creation of the Organisation of African Unity, later transformed into the African Union. His legacy and contributions to the continent were celebrated at a grand ceremony attended by numerous African heads of state.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the leader of the AU Commission, spoke eloquently about the impact of Nyerere’s leadership, stating that his legacy encompasses the true essence of Pan Africanism, profound wisdom, and tremendous service to Africa. Mahamat also referenced Nyerere’s own words at the inaugural OAU summit in 1963, emphasizing the unity of the African continent with the sentiment, “Our continent is one, and we are all Africans.”

The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue
Under Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana became the first former British colony to achieve independence, in 1957

Julius Nyerere’s journey began when he became the prime minister of Tanganyika in 1961, which later united with the Zanzibar archipelago to form Tanzania in 1964. Nyerere faced the formidable task of uniting a new country consisting of over 120 different ethnic groups, including Arab, Asian, and European minorities. However, through his visionary leadership, Nyerere successfully promoted the use of Swahili as a common language and fostered the concept of “African Socialism” or ujamaa, which emphasized the importance of familyhood and communalism.

Furthermore, Nyerere advocated for the liberation of African nations oppressed by white minority rule in southern Africa. Over the years, he offered shelter and support to independence fighters who sought refuge in Tanzania, solidifying his commitment to the pan-African cause. These actions played a pivotal role in the eventual creation of the OAU and had a lasting impact on the continent’s fight against colonialism and apartheid.

While Nyerere’s leadership style and political ideologies were not without controversy, he defended the absence of multi-party elections by asserting that Tanzanians enjoyed more freedom under his reign than they ever had under British rule. He believed that a one-party system was essential for maintaining stability in the country.

The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue
Haile Selassie became a symbol of African nationalism for resisting Italy’s attempts to colonise the country in the 1930s

Julius Nyerere, known for his modest lifestyle, dedicated his efforts to creating an egalitarian society in Tanzania. One of his notable initiatives was the implementation of co-operative agriculture, where farmers worked together on communally-owned land instead of focusing on their individual fields. Nyerere aimed for Tanzania to become self-reliant, reducing dependence on foreign aid and investment. However, despite his vision, the country’s economy experienced significant challenges when he stepped down in 1985.

Despite this setback, Nyerere’s leadership brought about remarkable improvements in healthcare and literacy rates, earning him widespread reverence within Tanzania. The country pays tribute to him by naming its main international airport after him, as well as numerous roads, bridges, and stadiums.

During the 1970s, Nyerere actively lobbied Western governments to take a stronger stance against white-minority rule in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa. He also supported armed groups fighting against these oppressive regimes. Nyerere’s unwavering commitment to Africa’s wellbeing, even at the expense of popular approval and personal fortune, is highlighted by Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan. She acknowledges his selfless dedication towards the continent’s welfare.

The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue
Nyerere, seen here with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1975, lobbied Western governments over white-minority rule in southern Africa

In 1972, Nyerere strongly opposed the expulsion of Asians in Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin. Over time, relations between the two countries deteriorated, leading Nyerere to send his army into Uganda seven years later to oust Amin from power. This decisive action showcased Nyerere’s willingness to stand up against injustice and protect the rights of individuals, both within and beyond Tanzania’s borders.

The unveiling of a statue commemorating Julius Nyerere by Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema signifies the profound impact this iconic figure had on the entire African continent. Nyerere’s legacy as a trained teacher and the first Tanganyikan to study at a British university, when he pursued his education in Edinburgh in 1949, underscores his dedication to personal growth and the pursuit of knowledge.

Julius Nyerere was an influential figure in Tanzania history but passed away in 1999 at the age of 77. To commemorate his life and legacy, the Tanzanian government declared 14 October as a public holiday, marking the anniversary of his death. This gesture of remembrance demonstrates the profound impact that Nyerere had on his country and its people. Beyond his national significance, Nyerere’s contributions also earned him recognition on a continental level.

The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue
Nyerere was known for his modest lifestyle

In fact, he became the third leader to be honored with a statue outside the headquarters of the AU, following in the footsteps of other esteemed African leaders. The first was Kwame Nkrumah, the revered founding father of Ghana, who played a pivotal role in the pan-African movement. The second was Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who became an emblem of African nationalism for his resilience against Italy’s colonial ambitions during the 1930s.

Selassie’s subsequent decision to host the Organization of African Unity (OAU) further solidified his significance, making him a symbol of unity and progress on the continent. By placing Nyerere alongside these influential leaders, the AU recognizes his immense contributions to Tanzania and his lasting impact on the future of Africa as a whole.

Today, the unveiling of Julius Nyerere’s statue outside the AU headquarters stands as a testament to his enduring legacy. The statue serves as a physical representation of the ideals he lived by and the impact he made on the continent. It symbolizes unity, resilience, and the determination to create a better Africa for all its inhabitants.

The Legacy Lives On: African Union Honors Julius Nyerere with Statue
The anniversary of Julius Nyerere’s death, 14 October, is a public holiday in Tanzania

As African leaders gathered to honor Nyerere, they not only pay tribute to a remarkable leader but also remind themselves of the importance of pan-Africanism and unity in the face of ongoing challenges. The statue acts as a constant reminder of the lessons learned from Nyerere’s leadership and the path he paved for future generations of African leaders.

In conclusion, the African Union’s decision to honor Julius Nyerere with a statue recognizes his invaluable contributions to the continent and his unwavering dedication to the pan-African cause. As the statue stands tall outside the AU headquarters, it serves as a reminder that Nyerere’s legacy lives on, inspiring the current and future generations of African leaders to strive for unity, justice, and progress.

Add a comment

Leave a Reply

Keep Up to Date with the Most Important News

By pressing the Subscribe button, you confirm that you have read and are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

Discover more from Who Owns Africa

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading