Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the Father of the Nation who was born in 1922 and died on the 14th October 1999 at the age of 77, is today considered by many in Tanzania and abroad as one of the greatest African leaders of our time.
Each year Tanzania cerebrates the October 14th with ever more enthusiasm and honour as if Nyerere was still alive. All daily newspapers carry supplements dedicated to Mwalimu the Great Teacher. This is a yearly tribute to a fallen Great Leader. Cherishing a great leader becomes a necessity and every 14th October of each year, those who love justice gather and give words of tribute to a great teacher and son of Africa.
Those who lived in the time of Mwalimu Nyerere can witness that he was a good leader, who led a simple and responsible life, valuing first national interest compared to other African leaders of his time. He succeeded in creating a cohesive Tanzania, united as one nation regardless of over hundred and twenty tribal diversity.
Often people believe that politics and religion are inconsistent. But in Nyerere’s public life both politics and religion seemed to co-exist. People who were very close to Mwalimu Nyerere testify that his religious conviction manifested vividly in his honesty and humility.
Mwalimu’s extraordinary religious traits came very early in his political life when Tanganyika became independent on the 9th December 1961 he had these prophetic words to say; ‘…we the people would like to light a candle and put it on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro that would shine beyond our borders, giving hope where there is despair, love where there is hate and dignity where before there was humiliation…’ These words would come to signify that both religion and politics can co-exist.
Nyerere’s vision was not merely political; it was also religious. His words were fulfilled when Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united to form Tanzania and became a peaceful nation, a candle of light, a safe Haven for refugees from neighbouring countries rocked in civil war.
He gave hope where there was despair beyond Tanzania’s borders. Committing himself to the liberation struggle to liberate Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, he gave beyond Tanzania’s borders dignity where before there was humiliation. Those who fought for independence in most African nations must each year remember this day of a comrade. Tanzania is today an island of peace among neighbouring nations because of Mwalimu.
Mwalimu Nyerere was a dedicated Catholic, a humble and simple man who was opposed to corruption; violence; injustice; and discrimination, whether racial, tribal, religious or economic. He openly opposed treating others less favourably for whatever reason.
He lived as a simple Catholic, who attended daily Holy Mass, receiving Holy Communion regardless of his busy presidential schedule. As a responsible believer he used his intellect to translate the Catechism; the catholic faith basic teaching instrument into his Zanaki vernacular.
The consideration of Mwalimu Nyerere for canonization by the Catholic Church is proof beyond speculation that Nyerere was indeed a specially gifted leader of our time. The process of determining Mwalimu's merit for becoming a saint is cherishing a leader of our nation.
The extraordinary Christian virtues that Mwalimu showed in his life deserve such consideration and the Catholic Church desire that Mwalimu Nyerere be canonized into sainthood.
The first step for Mwalimu Nyerere’s canonization to sainthood began with revealing and understanding the extraordinary spiritual virtues that Mwalimu possessed. Witnesses have already been called before the Catholic Church Tribunal set by the Bishop of Musoma Diocese to give testimonies and recount concrete facts on the exercise of Christian virtues that are considered heroic.
The virtues include the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, and other virtues specific to his personal character during his state of life. Mwalimu Nyerere passed this first step and was declared ‘Servant of God.’
The testimonies attesting to the life of Mwalimu Nyerere his heroic Christian virtues are being further subjected to a panel of Vatican theologians for another investigation. If he passes this investigation a canonical investigation to certify that a miracle attributed to him had occurred after his death will be conducted.
Again if he passes he will be beatification to receive the title of ‘Blessed’. A further miracle credited to his intercessions that must occur after his beatification will be needed. Once this further miracle is proven, Mwalimu Nyerere will be canonized and will acquire the title of ‘Saint’.
The canonization process is long and tedious and may take many centuries to be completed but the gesticulation for this process is a great honour to Mwalimu and Tanzania as a whole, and as a nation we must be proud. Mwalimu Nyerere’s beatification and eventual canonization is today the greatest prayer and hope of the Catholic Church that this process reveals to the world a great Saint in heaven.
Mwalimu as a Saint who will continue to labour for the love and peace of the poor by interceding to our Heavenly Father that the national unity and peace of Tanzania perpetuate and that our leaders today imitate his work and deeds. The people of Tanzania of all faiths must stand united and help the Catholic Church to conclude its work and in the end the whole world may live to cherish the true Saint of Africa.
As the Catholic Church endeavours to conclude its saintly work, as a Nation we need to honour the visions, aspirations and desires of Mwalimu of having and keeping a peaceful and united Tanzania. Regardless of what we are going through today we must keep the hope to cross the threshold of hope by keeping our national peace and unity.
Mwalimu had deep droughts on multiparty democracy in poor nations of Africa. He believed that the poor state of their economy makes them vulnerable to disunity and national fragmentation as they uphold multiparty political freedom. Mwalimu, unable to stand the world political wind of changes after the collapse of the Eastern Socialistic political Bloc that left a triumphant Western Capitalistic political Bloc; like a lone soldier he remained a socialist wishing that his Arusha Declaration Principles and Ethics that upheld human dignity, socio-economic and political equality would find its way into the new political system of Tanzania. Time was against him, very fast the Arusha Declaration became history and corruption took root among leaders.
Today a prophecy that Mwalimu gave may be coming true when today Tanzania is witnessing a nation going through a time of evil thoughts and actions concealed under the great sea of multiparty democracy. Yes, there are evil works in the authorities that come from the entrenchment of widespread corruption in the hearts of many leaders, but this cannot justify great lies that may bring chaos in the country.
Today, we are witnessing a drama of freedoms that encourage the public to take up arms and fight the authorities. We have forgotten to cherish our peace, probably we are tired of our precious peace and tranquillity. In the name of political freedom and human rights, some leaders impart words that activate violence.
These leaders use all sorts of lies to covet the public to revolt. To lie or to hurt anyone because of any reason is evil; even if it is for reasons for a good course. Such freedoms are a work of the devil; the Lucifer, Satan of Old.
Indeed as a Nation we need to honour our Great Leader and Father of a Nation Mwalimu Nyerere and especially at this time when western democracy threatens to fragment African Nations. In honouring and cherishing Mwalimu we need to inspire our people to partake in this political pluralism with a non-violence stance to keep the peace.
The situation in Tanzania where some leaders instigate a freedom that encourages hate and anger will result into people to hate one another and fight. Such kind of freedom that bring division among the people must not be allowed to grow.
Honouring Mwalimu requires leaders to preach peace and unity but inspire people to fight corruption and self-indulgence to create a just and peaceful Tanzanian society without bloodshed. Mwalimu worked hard without ceasing for Tanzania to nurture and keep the peace and unity of our Nation and we must honour and cherish Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere the Great Leader. Mungu Ibariki Tanzania.
The article is compiled from the Book: A Crying Voice - Personal Reflections: Authored by Dr Dalaly Peter Kafumu who is now Consulting Geologist; Former Commissioner for Minerals and former MP for Igunga.