Julius Nyerere

(1922—1999) president of Tanzania

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President of Tanzania (1964–85). Known as ‘Mwalimu’ (teacher) by Tanzanians, he is regarded as the father of the nation.

Born in Butiama near Lake Victoria, the son of Chief Nyerere Burito of the Zanaki tribe, Nyerere was educated at a government school before attending Makerere University College (1943–45), where he received a diploma in education. Beginning teaching at a mission school in Tabora (1946–49), he spent a period at Edinburgh University, before returning in 1953 to teach at St Francis College near Dar es Salaam.

Nyerere's political career began in 1954, when he founded the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Campaigning for the nationalist movement, he addressed the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations in 1955 and the Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in 1956. In 1957 he was nominated as the TANU member for Tanganyika in the legislative council but resigned in protest at its lack of progress. He was re-elected in 1958 as the Eastern Province member. In 1960, he was appointed chief minister, becoming prime minister in 1961 and president of the Tanganyika Republic in 1962. In 1964 he became president of Tanzania, announcing the introduction of a one-party system of government. Subsequently he was re-elected at regular intervals with a substantial majority on each occasion. He finally resigned as president in 1985, by which time Tanzania was one of the most politically stable nations in Africa (with one of the highest literacy rates); he stepped down as party chairman in 1990. The author of several publications on Ujamaa socialism, which contends that Tanzanian economic development should be based on self-help and self-reliance, he has also translated several Shakespeare plays into Swahili.

Subjects: African Studies — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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