The story of Julius Nyerere makes him stand out as an uncompromising pan-Africanist who sought the unity of the African people with a passion. Jacob Zuma, the former President of independent South Africa, in his tribute to Nyerere had this to say: “…Mwalimu, the teacher who taught the African continent about peace, democracy and unity… Mwalimu, the freedom fighter who became one of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity, he laid the foundation for the African continent to start its long and arduous road towards peace and unity…”
As we continue mapping his life in words to paint a luminous picture of his pan-African intrinsic value and identity, we perceive Nyerere, elected the First President of a free Republic nation in 1962, walking the talk of bringing love, hope and dignity beyond the borders of his nation.
He was true to his vision as he carried the torch of the liberation struggle that liberated countries in the southern part of Africa.
We see Nyerere who firmly belied in linguistic nationalism that traversed national boundaries, to secure unity and solidarity for all Africans; he therefore, promoted the use of Kiswahili language for social integration and national unity in Tanganyika, and later Tanzania; wanting to extend it to the entire African continent to achieve pan-Africanism.
The decision to make Kiswahili the language of policy, government, politics, education and commerce to ensure a wide involvement in government and decision making process of the citizenry in Tanganyika promoted national social cohesion and unity in Tanganyika as well as pan-Africanism.
Nyerere’s dedication and commitment to the liberation of the southern part of African continent was openly expressed in his leadership of frontline states for the liberation of African countries, which were still under colonial dominion. At this time, the involvement of Tanganyika and later Tanzania in southern Africa’s liberation movements was unsurpassed and all the movements were firmly linked to Dar es Salaam.
He waged the liberation war alongside liberation movements believing that: “…Unity will not make us rich, but it can make it difficult for Africa and the African peoples to be disregarded and humiliated. And it will, therefore, increase the effectiveness of the decisions we make and try to implement for our development…”
Julius Nyerere as was Nkrumah, was also one of the founding lights behind the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). On the 23rd of May 1963, Nyerere was part of the African leaders who met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to launch the OAU and organisation that carried a shared vision of African leaders towards the formation of a United States of Africa.
In Addis Ababa, 32 independent African states, including Tanganyika, founded the OAU, and established the Liberation Committee and charged it with the total liberation of the African continent from colonialism and ultimately unite the free continent to attain the pan-African dream of a united Africa.
Nyerere a stound pan-Africanist in June 1963, solicited once again Kenyatta then-Prime Minister of Kenya and President Milton Obote of Ugandan to meet in Nairobi to discuss the possibility of merging their three nations (plus Zanzibar) into a single East African Federal State. The three leaders agreed in principle to accomplish the making of the federation by the beginning of the year 1964, but Kenyatta later repelled and the union did not materialise.
Driven by the urge of unity, on the 26th of April 1964, three months after the Zanzibar revolution that took place on the 12th of January 1964, Julius Nyerere and the President of Zanzibar, Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume entered into the union between the islands of Zanzibar and the mainland Tanganyika to form the present day Tanzania and Nyerere became the first President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Karume its first Vice President.