Dar es Salaam. Julius Nyerere’s ideas of self-reliance, equality and democracy became the centre of discussions yesterday as experts from different walks of life gathered at Chato in Geita Region to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the death of the father of the nation.
The experts also discussed Mwalimu Nyerere’s ideas on women empowerment, on the ground that development could be brought by joining hands with women so that the many problems and tasks facing the country could be jointly worked on.
On this day in 1999, one of Africa’s foremost statesmen – who was the first President of Tanganyika Republic from 1962 and, later of Tanzania until his retirement in 1985 – passed on.
Speaking yesterday ahead of the commemoration, political and diplomatic analyst Goodluck Ng’ingo, said if African countries were to have true development, they needed to put in place true democracy by giving space to diverse voices.
The kind of democracy that Africa needed, said Mr Ng’ingo, is the one that would bring positive changes based on people’s best interests, not on selfish political interests.
“We must live up to our own principles of democracy. We don’t have to live up to other countries’ principles of democracy,” he proposed.
His sentiments suggest that African countries can learn from Mwalimu Nyerere’s legacy on democracy by taking direction from his own words which he uttered in June 1991 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
He said: “Democracy is not a bottle of Coca-Cola which you can import. Democracy should develop according to a particular country.”
Mr Ng’ingo said African countries needed to borrow a leaf from developed countries which exercised their own true democracy that set a stage for political leaders to be accountable for their misdeeds.
“We need to show respect for democracy,” he suggested.
The first president of the Pan-African Parliament, Ms Gertrude Mongella, seemed to have been reading from the same script, saying Africa needed democracy which observed human equality.
“Individuals from all walks of life should be on board when it comes to democracy,” she suggested.
She also expressed the need for encouraging women by breaking the shackles of tradition and play an assertive role in every phase of the country’s development.
Her sentiments were echoed by a veteran politician from Zanzibar, Nasra Mohamed Hilal, who recommended that Africa should honour the late Nyerere’s recognition of women’s influence in bringing about development.
She praised Nyerere for trusting Bibi Titi Mohamed who at the end of the day was behind his success in making Tanganyika independent.
Without Bibi Titi Mohamed, the late Nyerere would have lacked an important mobilising force that guaranteed his success.
Bibi Titi Mohamed was the pioneer of women participation in the struggle for independence in Tanganyika.
At the beginning of her political career, she convinced a large number of women to join the struggle.
As leader of Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu)’s women wing, she was responsible for recruiting women and convincing them to endorse the ideas and policies of Tanu.
After Tanganyika’s independence, and in the early years of Tanzania – the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar – Bibi Titi Mohammed held different ministerial posts under President Nyerere.
South African member of the African National Congress (ANC) and musician Sibongile Mlangeni told the forum that Nyerere “would be remembered for taking Africa out of the inferiority zone.”
Ms Mlangeni was referring to Nyerere’s views that Africa was oppressed through fear and words; that Africans were nothing and could achieve nothing.
The likes of the late Nyerere and South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela wanted to take their people out of suffering by setting the stage for independence and self-sustenance.
“Our leaders saw the need for self-reliance. Yes, we are the true sons and daughters of Africa. We should unite together if we are to move to the next higher level,” Ms Mlangeni pontificated.
A renowned Kenyan Professor, Patrick Lumumba, said African achievements rested on Africn shoulders.
African development, he expounded, could only be achieved through democracy born out of unity.
“We need to honour Mwalimu Nyerere who believed that, without unity, there was no future for Africa. Unity is a key factor if the African countries are to protect themselves against neo-colonialism,” Prof Lumumba stressed.