Founder of Sino-Tanzanian Friendship, A Great Immortal

Chairman Mao Zedong meets with President Julius Nyerere, Beijing, 19 February 1965. President Nyerere paid his first visitto China from 16 to 23 February 1965. (Photo|Xinhua)

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late President Julius Nyerere, Father of the Nation of Tanzania. President Julius Nyerere is the founder of the United Republic of Tanzania, a great leader of the African national liberation movements and a staunch pan-Africanist. He has devoted his whole life to Tanzania’s independence, national unity, economic and social development, and African unity and self-improvement.

To this day, President Julius Nyerere still stands like Mount Kilimanjaro in the hearts of Tanzanian people, and is widely praised by the international community. President Nyerere’s thought is a rich spiritual wealth left to the world and will continue to influence Tanzania, Africa and the whole world.

There is such a lyric in Tanzania’s national anthem: “Dumisha uhuru na Umoja”, which is a creed and oath that President Nyerere spent his whole life practicing. When he was young, he took part in the national liberation movements, led the heroic Tanganyika people to break free from the shackles of colonialism, ushered in the dawn of freedom, and opened a new chapter in Tanzania’s national development. Thanks to his joint efforts with President Abeid Amani Karume, Tanganyika and Zanzibar were unitied, and a unified Tanzania stood on the African continent.

President Nyerere is an outstanding pan-Africanist leader, dedicating his whole life to the pursuit of liberation and unity and self-improvement of the African continent. In the 1960s and 1970s, although Tanzania just got rid of colonial shackles, Nyerere resolutely used 1% of the national budget to liberate Africa. Tanzania became a “holy land” and “front line” of the national liberation movements in Africa, and made great contributions to the independence and anti-colonial movements in southern Africa.

At the same time, Nyerere was the founder of the Organization of African Unity, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community, and made immortal contributions to the cause of African integration.

President Nyerere is an old and good friend of the Chinese people. He and Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and other leaders of the older generation of the two countries have forged friendly relations between China and Tanzania, and are firmly committed to strengthening the friendship between China and Tanzania and the whole Africa. He visited China 13 times during his lifetime and became one of the foreign heads of state who visited China most frequently. He is a household name in China and has always been respected by the Chinese people. I would like to share with my friends some historical moments of Nyerere’s contacts with China.

The handover ceremony of the TAZARA was solemnly held at the New Kapiri Mposhi Station in Zambia on 14 July 1976.President Julius Nyerere, Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Jian and Presidents of Zaire and Botswana attended the handover ceremony. (Photo|Xinhua)

In February 1965, President Nyerere paid his first state visit to China, and he was warmly welcomed by Chinese leaders and people. During the visit, China and Tanzania signed a friendship treaty, which is the first friendship treaty signed by China and countries in eastern and southern Africa, and has played an important leading and exemplary role in China’s development of relations with Africa. When President Nyerere tentatively asked China to help build the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai and other Chinese leaders did not hesitate to respond positively despite China’s own economic difficulties. President Nyerere was deeply moved by China’s equal treatment, sincerity and selflessness, and has formed an indissoluble bond with China since then.

At the request of President Nyerere and Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, China invested a great deal of manpower, material and financial resources to build the TAZARA with a total length of 1,860 kilometers. President Nyerere said emotionally at the official handing-over of TAZARA: “This railway exists because of hard physical labour, the ingenuity, and the willingness of the Chinese people to share what little they have. And, it has all been done as between equals. … China has shown us the real meaning of revolutionary commitment and international solidarity. I would like to think that we shall at least make a genuine attempt to live up to the example which you have shown us.” The TAZARA remains China’s largest single foreign aid project to date, providing key support for the national liberation movement in southern Africa, playing an important role in the economic and social development along the route, and becoming a monument to China-Tanzania and China-Africa friendships.

President Nyerere was also keen to promote the establishment of diplomatic relations between independent African countries and China, and did a lot of work for the People’s Republic of China to restore its lawful seat in the United Nations. As early as his first visit to China, he publicly stated that excluding the People’s Republic of China from the United Nations would not be conducive to world peace, and would greatly reduce the influence of the United Nations. Thanks to the joint efforts made by Tanzania and other friendly countries, in 1971, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 to restore the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China. At that time, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, Tanzania’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, acclaimed at the venue, leaving a classic moment on the United Nations stage of defying power and defending justice.

Although he is gone, his spirit is immortal. As former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda said, the best memorial to Julius Nyerere is to inherit his career. Today, the Tanzanian government and people led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan hold high the great banner of Nyerere Thought and push forward the country’s construction and development with tenacious courage. President Nyerere’s blueprint for national development is constantly being realized, and the process of African integration has entered a new era. The tree of Sino-Tanzanian friendship cultivated by President Nyerere is growing vigorously. In February this year, the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School, jointly built by the six parties in southern Africa and supported by the Communist Party of China (CPC), was completed and put into operation, entrusted with our deepest memory of this “son of Africa” and the great immortal.

At present, both China and Tanzania are at a new stage of development, and the relations between the two countries have stood at a new starting point. We are willing to work with Tanzania to inherit the friendly tradition initiated by the older generation leaders such as Chairman Mao Zedong and President Julius Nyerere, carry forward the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, and promote synergy between the “nine programs” of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and Tanzania’s Third Five-Year National Development Plan, so as to constantly deepen the friendship and cooperation between China and Tanzania, and better benefit our two peoples.