Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 21:53:16 -0400
From: Black Radical Congress <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: CORRECTION: Statement on the Passing of Nyerere
Condolence Message of the International Committee of the Black Radical Congress to the Family, the Government and People of Tanzania on the Passing of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere
19 October 1999
The Black Radical Congress (BRC) joins with others all over the world in mourning the loss of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. It is with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that we have received the news of the passing of Mwalimu. Julius Nyerere was the President of Tanzania from independence in 1961 until he voluntarily stepped down in 1985. His decision to step down demonstrated that political leadership was not the personal possession of any individual. In the many capacities that he served in his 77 years he was always an inspiration for those struggling for justice, peace and socialist transformation. His vision of socialism and of an original African contribution to humanity touched those in this society who are in the belly of capitalism and suffer the indignities of racism, police terror, exploitation and sexism. He provided moral leadership in a continent where many leaders thought of filling their pockets and bank accounts instead of serving their people.
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was a great human being who demonstrated his respect for the ordinary Africa and for the lives of all human beings. He stood out in the continent in his opposition to genocidal violence and he was one of the few who raised his voice loudly against the genocide in Rwanda. Up to his last days, in his capacity as one of the diplomats of the Nyerere Foundation for Peace and Development, he was at the forefront of trying to bring peace to Burundi to isolate the extremists on both sides who want to use militaristic means to solve social problems. With Mwalimu's passing the struggles for peace and stability in Burundi will have suffered a great loss and the BRC calls on the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations to strengthen the peacekeeping mechanisms put in place by Nyerere to halt the creeping genocide in Burundi. The Tanzanian government should resist the military solutions that are being suggested by the United States through what it calls the Africa Crisis Response Initiative.
The Black Radical Congress salutes the heritage of Nyerere in standing against all dictators, militarists and exploiters whether black, brown or white. As the chairperson of the Frontline States that supported the liberation struggles in Southern Africa, Nyerere was steadfast in his opposition to white minority rule. The independence of Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and the coming to power of an African government in South Africa owe a great debt to the leadership of Nyerere and the sacrifices of the Tanzanian peoples. It was in this same spirit that he supported Wamba Dia Wamba and the struggle for a new mode of politics in the Congo. His support for democracy and peace in the Congo is consistent with his life long opposition to African tyrants and those who seek to use ethnic, regional and religious divisions to weaken Africa. His support for the peoples of Uganda against the dictatorship of Idi Amin in Uganda was one of the most important lessons for Africans abroad. The military invasion of Uganda in 1978 defied the sterile position of the OAU of "non intervention in the internal affairs of other states." Nyerere demonstrated that killing of Africans in any part of Africa or any part of the world should be of concern to all human beings, especially African leaders. There were many who supported Idi Amin because he expelled the Asian traders from Uganda, but Nyerere demonstrated that oppression must be opposed even if the leader uses nationalist rhetoric to disguise the oppression. The opposition of Nyerere to Idi Amin (of Uganda), Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire Jonas Savimbi of Angola and Laurent Kabila of the Democratic republic of the Congo demonstrated a principled position that was not present in the era of consensus politics in Africa.
The Black Radical Congress is calling on the government of Tanzania to continue the work for peace and respect for human life in Africa. The objectives of promoting regional peace and security must be carried forward with renewed vigor. The heritage of Nyerere for regional integration and cooperation must be built upon. Any errors in judgment that were made in the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar must be rectified so that this does not fester and become a basis for eroding the stability of Tanzania. With all of the praises of Nyerere, it should be remembered that he was also human and that he made errors in the course of his long political career. The BRC wants to honor his memory by highlighting his positive contributions to emancipatory politics in Africa.
Africans born in the USA who were fighting for civil rights always found a home in Tanzania when they were persecuted in the USA. The decision of Tanzania to be the Home of the Pan African Skills project that welcomed African Americans to the African continent was an act of solidarity that will not be forgotten. Many members of the BRC participated actively in the Sixth Pan African Congress that was hosted by Tanzania in Dar es Salaam in 1974. Despite the relative poverty of the people, the government of Tanzania was making resources available for progressive and revolutionary forces from all over the world to find a common meeting point in Tanzania. Nyerere was a partisan to Pan Africanism but he was also an internationalist who supported the struggles of the Vietnamese, the Cubans and all those who opposed imperialism. Concretely he organized the South South Commission to strengthen the political and economic linkages between formerly colonized societies.
As oppressed peoples in the USA, the BRC also salutes the cultural policies of Nyerere. The decision to make Kiswahili the language of business, commerce and government of Tanzania ensured that the peoples of the country were drawn into the decision making process. The stability of Tanzania is in large part due to the cohesion and unity fostered by the language policies of Nyerere. The BRC calls on the Tanzanian government to carry forward this language policy to ensure that genuine bilingual traditions develop so that students in schools and universities are not alienated in their own country. The unfinished tasks of making the national language a language of higher education will ensure the rapid social and economic transformation of Tanzania.
Mwalimu Nyerere was a revolutionary leader of the twentieth century who opposed the capitalists with fervor. His opposition to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund was one of the epic struggles against global capitalism this century. The idea of ujamaa villages and a form of social collectivism that dug deep into the African past is one that will inspire millions for the next millennium. Physicists and other scientists who are now recognizing the limitations of crude materialism are now turning to the ideas of leaders such as Nyerere to warn humanity to retreat from the crude and mechanistic ideas of the domination over nature that has brought about the ecological disaster. Mwalimu struggled to maintain the harmony between humans and their environment. Throughout his political career he battled against the expropriation of the poor peasants from the land. He wanted all of the people to own the land and up to his last days he was opposed to the privatization of land and the land policies of the International Monetary Fund. Many critics have suggested that ujamaa was a failure but these are the same forces who lauded apartheid as an economic success. One cannot be successful economically when the majority of the population are without food, clothing shelter, and health care. The policies of ujamaa (African socialism) enabled Tanzania to enjoy one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
Tanzanian men and women who benefited from the literacy programs and the health policies of Nyerere's leadership should continue the struggle for health care for all. In the midst of the Aids pandemic the struggles for new social policies are even more urgent. The form of medicine that is practiced in the USA should not be the guide or inspiration for the health system in Tanzania. Africans in the USA and peoples of color are among the more than fifty million persons who do not have adequate health care in the world's richest country. The Black Radical Congress appeals to the Tanzanian government and people to continue to uphold Nyerere's ideals of placing the resources of the nation in the service of the ordinary toilers and common people. Nyerere had taken the lead in actively supporting all struggles and he never fell prey to the homophobic utterances of certain leaders who espoused so called "traditional" African values to support discriminatory practices.
Mwalimu Nyerere was a humble person who was incorruptible in a world of corruption. He continues to be an inspiration to the Black Radical Congress and his internationalism will be a guide to the work to free this country of racism, militarism, exploitation and destruction of the environment. The Black Radical Congress will be using the teachings and life of Nyerere to inspire the youth who are at the forefront of the fight against marginalization, police terror and imprisonment in this country. Nyerere's principled opposition to US militarism will guide our youth who will understand that might is not right and that the billions that are used in building weapons should be mobilized to solve the pressing problems of humanity.
At this hour of pain and the loss of a great person, the Black Radical Congress wishes to express our sympathy with Mwalimu's family, especially his wife, Mama Maria, their children, all Tanzanians, Africans at home and abroad and all of those struggling to transform this social system to one that serves the interests of human beings.
October 19, 1999
The Black Radical Congress
BRC-PRESS: Black Radical Congress - Official Press Releases/Statements