The Great Mwalimu Nyerere
By Julius P. Kessy
I have several times dreamt of becoming a great leader to whom anyone can look and undoubtedly say “I know a Leader”. I feel this moral strength because I do not believe in becoming a helpless citizen to my country. I want my country’s name to echo through me and for that I have opted not to die before achieving this dream.
I still remember the days when living in Dodoma as a small child of seven or eight, a thought leader in the field of human performance was perceived muscular with the ability to shut up others as his muscles get stronger; nothing like intellect or wisdom existed. I write with a great disappointment for spending my youth after the death of a man who won a lasting place in my heart and in our history whose words inspired hope and urgent unification from all. A man I can think of and surely say, “A Legend once lived”.
Tanzania has produced fine leaders that have influenced change across the nation and beyond. But a statement that can be made with full confidence and without fear of too much contradiction is, none matches the great Mwalimu Nyerere. His vision of self-reliance for Africa and firm stand on integrity, his true spirit of solidarity and African brotherhood and the oratory skills of his electrifying speeches made him one of Africa’s most respected figures.
The overarching concern of this article is modest. I wish to the best of my knowledge describe the extraordinary stature of Mwalimu Nyerere’s personality. I recall in great pain back in the late 1990s when the nation was at its greatest trial as anxiety as his health deepened; how the headlines of international media stated that the condition of Nyerere had see-sawed from bad to worse. At the time, I was a pupil in Dodoma town. People clustered in small groups listening at television and radio news while others scoured the newspapers as the “Father of the Nation” was facing his sunset in life, fighting his last battle with the support of machines.
The depth of emotion in streets and the special prayers for Nyerere at church services I attended made me to insanely fall in love with his inspiring and outstanding personality. I had no doubt and knew that whatever the circumstances, this man will still be revered as exceptional and greatest leader of all time.
Internationally, the great Mwalimu Nyerere wore many hats and for those who might not be privy to the leadership qualities attached to him might not understand when President Robert Mugabe describe him as an eminent symbol of unity and freedom in his book “Julius Nyerere-Asante sana, Thank You Mwalimu”.
For this reason, I wish to bring to your attention the immortal words that Mwalimu Nyerere spoke on the 25th day of May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he said: “We did not come here to discover whether we want Africa unity. Even our enemies know that we sincerely desire unity. It is their fear of the consequences to them of complete African unity, which makes them emphasize our differences and hope wishfully – that these differences will make it impossible for Africa to unite. No, we did not come here to find out whether we desire unity. We came here to find out our common denominator in our approach to African unity”.
It is most appropriate to be grateful for the legendary leadership of Mwalimu Nyerere and may his legacy continue to inspire some sincere vocations of leaders in African youth and children selflessly dedicated in the service of African people. It is most likely that the unity of the whole continent would be brought by these.
Another noteworthy idea of Mwalimu that I must share was the national torch that is lit every year at a different location and raced by young people around the country as a symbol of unity, peace and reconciliation. As he said in his address in 1959: “We, the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate and dignity where before there was only humiliation. We cannot, unlike other countries, send rockets to the moon, but we can send rockets of love and hope to all our fellow men wherever they may be”.
May the fire of peace from Tanzania contaminate the whole continent and dispel the forces of darkness. I wish Mwalimu Nyerere could visit us once and see how many people cherish him. He was a true African leader. What a tragedy that in Africa, heroes don’t last long.
There will never be another you Nyerere. We dearly miss you comrade!
*Julius P. Kessy is a 24-year-old Writer/Blogger from Tanzania. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org