He was the Founding member of the Tanganyika African National Union TANU Party which in 1977 became the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party.
It is 20 years since the passing of Africa's peace icon and former Tanzanian president Julius Kambarage Nyerere. He died on October 13, 1999.
He was born on April 13, 1922, in Butiama, on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria in Northwest Tanganyika.
He was 12 before he started school (he had to walk 26 miles to Musoma to do so). Later, he moved to Tabora Government Secondary School. His intelligence was quickly recognized by the Roman Catholic fathers who taught him. He went on, with their help, to train as a teacher at Makerere University in Kampala (Uganda).
He was the Founding member of the Tanganyika African National Union TANU Party which in 1977 became the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party,
Relation to Uganda
Every year, special prayers are conducted at Namugongo on June 1, to pray for the beautification and eventual canonisation of Nyerere.
The Nyerere Day precedes June 3 as millions of Christians make a pilgrimage to the Martyrs shrines in Namugongo to celebrate 22 Catholic and 23 Anglican Christian converts that were persecuted between January 31, 1885, and January 27, 1887, on orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda for refusing to renounce their Faith.
He also further connected with Uganda through Makerere, where he studied in the mid-1940s. And it is where his love for Shakespeare originated. Hence his later translating Julius Caesar into Kiswahili. Mwalimu’s leadership skills also manifested at Makerere University.
For as a devoted Catholic, he led Makerere students’ Saint Augustine Community. This, in turn, enabled him to meet his wife, Mary, during a pilgrimage to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine.
Mama Mary Nyerere has been a devout champion for the cause over the last 10 years, making an annual pilgrimage to Namugongo despite her advanced age to among others invoke the intercession of the Ugandan Martyrs who were canonized as Saints by the Catholic Church in 1964.
On 6th October 2018 at the University Main Hall, President Museveni launched the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre at Makerere University. The Centre is a collaboration between Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute.
Political influence in Uganda
Julius Nyerere was a personal friend of Milton Obote, which is one of the reasons his influence in Uganda became easier.
President Museveni was mentioned that “Between 1979 and 1980, Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere was the ‘defacto’ president of Uganda. Nothing was done without consulting him and anything attempted without consulting him was quashed.”
Nyerere was at the forefront of organizing and hosting the Moshi Conference in 1979 to determine Uganda’s future.
Obote also wrote that when Idi Amin’s forces invaded Tanzania via Mutukula on the Ugandan southern border president Nyerere briefed him and concluded: “This is the opportunity we have been waiting for.” This culminated in the struggle led by the Tanzanian army and the Ugandan exiles that ended the bloody rule of Idi Amin in 1979.
At the height of Idi Amin’s bloody rule in the late 1970s, Nyerere was one of the few leaders the world over, who sacrificed their country’s resources, both financial and human, to rid Uganda of the brutal regime. In 2007, President Yoweri Museveni awarded him the Katonga Medal, Uganda’s highest military award, in honour of his contribution to the struggle against colonialism and Idi Amin?
In 1985, after more than two decades at the helm, he relinquished power to his hand-picked successor Ali Hassan Mwinyi. Nyerere left Tanzania as one of the poorest, least developed, and most foreign aid-dependent countries in the world.
He remained the chairman of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi. He died of leukemia in London in 1999. In 2009, Nyerere was named “World Hero of Social Justice” by Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann a UN diplomat. He received honorary degrees from several universities.