Should we thank Great Britain’s Queen Victoria (1819-1901) for unknowingly ‘giving us’ Mwalimu Julius Nyerere virtually on a silver platter years in advance? This was by her 1886 decision to ‘give’ Mt. Kilimanjaro to her grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm-II of Germany, as a birthday gift.
This is the question in this day and age as we rush pell-mell-cum-helter-skelter to “celebrate” the 60th anniversary of Political Independence from alien/colonial rule on December 9, 2021.
This is to ceremonially commemorate December 9, 1961, when our very own ‘Lord Protector of the Day,’ Britain, granted our motherland – known as ‘Tanganyika’ in those early days – the freedom to commit our own mistakes virtually unquestioned by foreign political masters.
Tanganyika was part of Deutsch-Ostafrika/German East Africa, together with Kionga-Dreieck and Ruanda-Urundi (today’s Tanzania, Mozambique’s Kionga/Quionga Triangle, Rwanda and Burundi).
But, Germany lost the First World War (1914-1918) and all its overseas possessions to Britain and its allies.
Tanganyika was then put under partial military occupation by Britain (and Belgium) from 1916 to 1922 when, as a League of Nations’ Mandate, it was put under British administration (and development: ?) from July 20, 1922 to 1946.
Finally, as a Trusteeship of the United Nations Organisation – which had succeeded the League of Nations in 1946 – Tanganyika was entrusted to Britain for administration (and development: ?) to midnight on December 8, 1961.
Oh! It is a long story, this one... Suffice it here to say that Britain did much to administer Tanganyika – but measly little to socioeconomically develop it on a meaningful/palpable and sustainable basis.
But, that is a tale fit to be told another day…
The story here today is about the founder of Tanzanian nationalism, also known as the Father of the Nation: Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nrerere (April 13, 1922-October 14, 1999).
Mwalimu was one of the 26 children of the Zanaki Chief Nyerere Burito (1860-1942), who was named ‘Nyerere,’ the Zanaki word for a caterpillar. This was because “a plague of worm caterpillars had (reportedly) infested the local area at the time of his birth – and the future hubby of no less than 22 wives was named after the swarming larvae.
But, that Burito part of the narrative is also a tale fit to be told another day…
Legend has it that Mount Kilimanjaro was originally in Kenyan territory, which was a British Colony. But, Queen Victoria “gifted” the mountain to her grandson, the future Kaiser Wilhelm-II of Germany, as a birthday present in 1886.
To that end, the common border between Kenya and German East Africa was redrawn to include the mountain in German East, later Tanganyika/Tanzania.
The redrawn borderline also “shifted” parts of Kenya to German East, including the Nyerere and other villages which were reportedly Kenyan.
If all this is true/correct, then – for all practical purposes – the Mwalimu Nyerere clan ‘escaped’ from being Kenyans. And, as the Sisters of Fate would have it – no doubt aided and abetted by Queen Victoria and her aides – Mwalimu became a veritable game-changer in what was to become Tanzania in due course of time and political events.
Oh, I don’t know… So, I would be most grateful to be told the truth - all the truth, and nothing but the truth - regarding that gift from Queen Victoria to her German relative; a “gift” which was to rewrite much of our History.
But, what I know for sure is that… Sorry, I have run out of editorial space here… Cheers, fellow Tanzanians!