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Tanzania: The facts.
Nyerere addressing the people during the independence struggle

The fight for independence  led by Mwalimu Nyerere in the then Tanganyika (Tanzania mainland) was a peaceful affair. Even in those very early days, Mwalimu had the foresight and vision of harnessing utilising all the human resources available to him regardless of race, religion or gender. One of his top lieutenants in the struggle was Bibi Titi Mohammed (above right, with Mwalimu), a woman and a Muslim. He practised equality long before the word had entered general consciousness. In the picture below, Mwalimu with members of the Omani community in Tanganyika whose support and that of other communities he actively sought. Behind, on the wall, can be seen the portrait of Queen Elizabeth ll, emphasizing the colonial rule.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania: The early days

Nyerere during the independence struggle
Nyerere during the independence struggle

Mwalimu Nyerere criss-crossed the country mobilising people for the fight for independence. He had to give up work as a teacher and devote himself fully to this . This was not easy as the whole struggle was financed by ordinary people who were quite poor and largely made up of subsistence peasants. There was no foreign support of any kind. At the end of the second world war in 1945, there were only 92 schools in the whole country. At independence in 1961,  the task of nation building was formidable as the British had made little effort to prepare the country for self governance. Over 80% of the population were illiterate. There were only 120 indigenous university graduate in a country of 10 million people. These included a grand total of 12 qualified medical doctors. His work was cut out. This may have partly been the reason why Mwalimu, throughout his presidency stress on education  as the principle vehicle of social transformation. At retirement in 1985,  the adult literacy rate was well over 80%, much higher than in most developing counties. This rate has since slipped significantly.


Independence arrived on December 9, 1961. Major Nyirenda hoisted the flag of the newly independent nation on Uhuru peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro as seen in this iconic picture (bottom left). To the right is Mwalimu Nyerere’s first official portrait as Prime Minister of newly independent Tanganyika as it was then known.


Nyerere at Tanganyika independence
Major Nyirenda on Uhuru Peak on Independence day