By Dalaly Peter Kafumu
Mwalimu may be gone but his cherubic thoughts and deeds still stand as guiding principles towards a prosperous Tanzania.
As noteworthy is the fact that Mwalimu is accredited by the Catholic Church as a Servant of God lined up for canonisation – and this piece chronicles some of the testaments on this great leader of our time that flushed his grandeur.
In both body and soul, Mwalimu was a leader, a philosopher, a sociologist and a teacher. He was an excellent orator who delivered delightful and enlightening speeches which were as philosophical as they were simple and full of educative values.
His Education for Self-Reliance (ESR) and African Socialism (Ujamaa) philosophies are clear examples of his philosophical and sociological uniqueness that have stood the test of time.
Mwalimu was a humble and simple mortal strongly and vehemently opposed to corruption, violence, injustice and discrimination – whether racial, tribal, religious or economic.
He was openly opposed to treating others less favourably for whatever reason, and showed great love of forgiveness. He believed in God and his life was that of a devout Catholic who routinely attended Holy Mass, appearing for regular confession and receiving Holy Communion, regardless of his busy presidential schedule.
His belief in God made him a great leader of a great nation. God gave him not only wisdom but also humility, modesty, meekness and simplicity, virtues that enabled him to unite peoples of all manner of religions, tribes and races.
This exemplary life exhibited cardinal Christian virtues like fortitude, temperance, prudence and justice. It must have been his devout living of these cardinal virtues that persuaded the Catholic Church bishops in Tanzania, with consent from the Vatican, to initiate plans for his beatification process. That was in 2006.
On this front, Mwalimu’s religious virtues are being subjected to a board of Vatican theologians for an official inquiry. A canonical investigation to certify that a miracle attributed to him had occurred after his death will be conducted and, if it is confirmed, he will be beatified and designated as ‘Blessed’.
But a further miracle credited to his intercessions must occur pending his beatification. Therefore, Catholic faithful across the world are encouraged to pray to God and ask favours through the intercessions of this Servant of God, by invoking a prayer made by a since-deceased Archbishop of the Musoma Diocese. Once this further miracle is also proven, Mwalimu will be canonised and will acquire the title of ‘Saint’.
This prayer for the intercessions of Servant of God Mwalimu Nyerere explains the belief by the Catholic Church that he indeed possessed the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity that allowed him to have Faith in God to love and serve the people of Tanzania and Africa with a great heart.
Part of the prayer runs like this: “Oo! Father: Your Servant cared for the poor and raised the lowly and the disadvantaged; he comforted the widows and all those who ran away from their countries because of lack of peace in their homeland; he happily received and took care of them with love and affection… God, Father Almighty, we beseech you to grant the favours we ask through his intercessions according to your Heavenly Love; so that the holiness of your Servant will be revealed to all peoples of the Kingdom of God; so that he be pronounced as one of your Saints. Amen.”
For a decade now the Catholic Church in Uganda, in collaboration with the Government of Uganda, has also been running a campaign for Mwalimu Nyerere’s beatification, and on each June 3 they gather at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine (some 15 by road east of downtown Kampala) to pray for Mwalimu Nyerere’s beatification.
There is also a poster given by Uganda’s ruling party – the National Resistance Army (NRA) – dedicating the people of Uganda to the course of praying for Mwalimu Nyerere’s beatification.
The poster runs along these lines: “Mwalimu Nyerere was a Pan-Africanist who loved God and Humankind. He united Tanzanian people of different religious backgrounds and helped liberate African countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda.”
During prayers for Mwalimu Nyerere’s beatification held at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine on June 1, 2017, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda admitted that Mwalimu’s contribution to the liberation of the African continent was enough justification for his beatification.
He said: “When we are praying for Mwalimu to be a Saint, I think it is not out of place because Mwalimu was a great black man to have ever lived. Because of his efforts to pioneer the freedom struggles in Africa, Nyerere deserves to be beatified and eventually canonised.”
As we mark with delight and enchantment the 20th anniversary of the passing of this great Tanzanian, African, human being and Servant of God, we should honour the verdict by the Catholic Church that Mwalimu Nyerere was a leader of angelic proportions meriting beatification. This is clear testimony that he was indeed a specially gifted leader meriting canonisation.
Canonisation is long and tasking process that could take centuries to complete but even its mere commencement is a great honour to Mwalimu which Tanzania, Africa and the world as a whole ought to be proud of.
Both in life and in death, Mwalimu Nyerere offers humankind above normality. This is in part why, a whole two decades after his physical departure, his influence in Tanzania and Africa has not waned.
Economic and environmental geologist Dr Dalaly Peter Kafumu, a former Commissioner for Minerals in the Minerals ministry, is currently Member of Parliament for Igunga constituency in Tabora Region.