A+ R A-


Tanzania Today: An African-American Perspective

E-mail Print PDF
By Dr. Manning Marable


For two weeks in late 2006, I traveled throughout Tanzania, East Africa, on a fact-finding tour. Over thirty years earlier, I had attended the University of Nairobi, in Kenya, as an undergraduate college student. During my year in East Africa, I visited and traveled throughout Kenya, as well as neighboring Uganda and Tanzania, immersing myself in the Swahili language, African cultures, and the region's politics.

Throughout the 1970s, there was a large expatriate community of idealistic, young African Americans who lived and worked throughout Tanzania, and especially in its capital city, Dar Es Salaam. What attracted most of them to the East African country was a remarkable social experiment called "Ujamaa," or "African Socialism." The political architect of Ujamaa was Tanzania's humble yet charismatic president, Julius K. Nyerere, who was universally called "Mwalimu," which in the Swahili language means "teacher."

When Nyerere became president of what was then called independent Tanganyika in December, 1961, he was confronted with overwhelming challenges. Great Britain, the country's ruling colonial power from 1919 until 1961, had devoted virtually no resources to building government-sponsored schools, hospitals, or social welfare programs. In a nation twice the size of California, there were fewer than one thousand miles of paved roads. The country's major crops - coffee, sisal, tea and cotton - were produced for external markets, but agricultural production largely occurred on technologically-backward, single family farms, without tractors or modern agricultural equipment. Over 80 percent of the population worked in the agricultural sector, living in rural areas without electricity, irrigation, and schools.

Nyerere was determined to transform his nation's poverty. Nyerere envisioned the construction of villages, "ujamaa vijijini," where millions of small farmers and peasants would be relocated. Each village would have access to modern agricultural equipment, electricity, running water, and education. Because all of Tanganyika's banks, large plantations, factories and private companies were owned by the British or Europeans, Nyerere called for their nationalization by the government. Nationalization, Nyerere believed, was the only means through which Africans could control their own economic affairs.

To inaugurate these bold policies, in 1967, the Tanzanian president delivered the "Arusha Declaration," which committed the young nation to a policy of "Ujamaa," or "African Socialism." In Swahili, "Ujamaa" translates as "Familyhood." Unlike Marxist socialism, Ujamaa was based on the African traditions of sharing, communal values, and self-reliance. Nyerere vigorously opposed class distinctions between the rich and the poor. He preached that all citizens had to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the entire nation. Nyerere fought against government corruption, and set a personal example by living a frugal and modest life.

Perhaps Nyerere's greatest contributions to the empowerment of African were his commitments to education and to Pan-Africanism. Nyerere, a former schoolteacher, understood that African people could never be truly free so long as they were illiterate. Therefore, Tanzania declared that a primary school-level education must be compulsory for all citizens. The nation invested millions of dollars into building secondary schools and a university. As a result, Tanzania has one of the highest literacy rates in the Third World. As of 2003, 86 percent of all males, and 71 percent of females, were literate in either Swahili or English.

Nyerere was also a committed "Pan-Africanist," who believed that no African nation could be completely free so long as any part of the continent was dominated by white-minority rule. Under Nyerere, Dar Es Salaam became Africa's headquarters for the global anti-apartheid movement, the struggle to destroy the oppressive, white dictatorship in South Africa. It was also home to the anti-Portuguese colonial struggles in neighboring Mozambique and Angola. In 1974, Tanzania hosted the "Sixth Pan-African Conference," where hundreds of African Americans participated in its deliberations. These idealist actions by Nyerere earned him the implacable opposition from the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Foreign investment and loans were cut off, and Tanzania's currency went into a freefall, plummeting in value.

By the early 1980s, other sources of opposition to Nyerere emerged. Tanzania's small middle class, and more prosperous African farmers rejected both ujamaa and the collective villages. They wanted privatization, individually-owned farms and businesses, where they could enrich themselves. Tanzania also lacked the thousands of technicians, agronomists and educators necessary to run the government's collective farms and nationalized businesses. Corruption also became a serious problem, as many members of the government's ruling party, "Chama Cha Mapinduzi"  (Party of the Revolution) used their positions for personal gain. By 1985, with Nyerere's retirement from the presidency, Tanzania shifted away from ujamaa's policies. State-owned companies were privatized, and the rural collective villages were disbanded. I was eager to learn what had happened here since the 1980s.  I soon discovered both hopeful and discouraging signs, indicating that the struggle for a liberated Africa has not yet been won.


Dr. Manning Marable is Professor Public Affairs, History, and African-American Studies at Columbia University, New York City. "Along the Color Line" appears in over 400 publications internationally, and is available at http://www.manningmarable.net.

Asia moving into Africa

E-mail Print PDF
Wayne Brown
If you still think that Africa is a continent full of jungles, wild animals just roaming the lands, natives half dressed in tribal wear, or any other un-resourceful substandard land comparable to modern civilization, you are lost in translation! Africa is with little argument the most resourcefully rich and energy-abundant continents on the planet. Now Asians, as Europeans have been doing for centuries, are establishing long term plans of investment in the rich and fertile African soil.


Recently on April 26, 2006, China's President Hu Jinato made a visit Nigeria in continuation of bilateral cooperation with the African country. Agriculture, communications, electric power, and infrastructure construction reached a bilateral trade volume of $2.83 billion in 2005, a 29.6% increase from the previous year. In the recent April visit, a $4 billion deal was signed to develop infrastructure and oilfields in Nigeria. Other African countries President Hu Jinato visited were Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Kenya. China has the second-largest world economy following the United States as ranked in the GDP (purchasing power parity) of 2005. All over the African continent Chinese companies have been outbidding other foreign construction firms. Just as well, since the China-Africa Forum created in 2000, $1.2 billion of African debt has been cancelled and tariffs on 190 Chinese imported goods going to 28 African countries have been scrapped.


Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan arrived in Ghana on May 1, 2006 with an astounding 121-member delegation. Those accompanying him were political officers and business leaders seeking to establish future investments in Ghana, as well to increase the bilateral partnership that already exists between both countries. Japan's support and co-operation with Ghana entails the development of railways, roads, and other forms of infrastructure growth. The African visit took the Japanese delegation to Ethiopia prior to arriving in Ghana.

South Korea

As part of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's African tour, from March 6 - 9, 2006 President Roh Moo-hyun visited Egypt and met with President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in discussion to further economic cooperation of mainly information-technology (IT), energy, and resources with the African country. Also on the agenda was the promotion of better South Korean and Islamic relations. In Nigeria, an oil development project of two-billion barrels was signed securing South Korea with petroleum reserves of 1.2 billion barrels in upcoming years. South Korea intends to triple its involvement in the Official Development Assistance (ODA) for Africa to $100 million by 2008. President Roh Moo-hyun also visited Algeria and Ghana this year to discuss and adopt strategic partnerships of economic projects and infrastructure construction in these countries.

African Americans

Having spending power, and ancestry to Africa, where do African Americans fit into this translation? Two answers are with "dual citizenship" and African American involvement in the African Union (AU). Ghana serves as the spearhead for developing the legal framework for Americans of African descent to be eligible for African country citizenship. During former Ghanaian President Jerry John Rawlings October 21- October 23, 1995 visit to the U.S., he announced at a rally honoring him in Harlem, NY that the Black Diaspora must be represented in Organization of African Unity (OAU) activities. Ghana now plans to offer slave descendants dual U.S.-Ghanaian citizenship or lifetime visas. Should the Ghanaian Parliament approve the new passports, citizenship won't be given to just anyone. African Americans committed to invest, live in Ghana, or help develop the country will be given priority. A lifetime visa means living and working in Ghana while being exempt from paying the costly and inconvenient work permits and renewal visas. The OAU was replaced by the AU in 2002 with aims to establish a single currency and a unified single defense force. With the organization of 53 African member nation-states, the overall AU aim is to form the United States of Africa-similar to the United States of America and to the European Union. 

Wayne E. Brown is the Founder and CEO of WEB International Publishing. He is the author and publisher of BLACK SAMURAI: Work, Travel, Culture, Religion, Struggle, & Perspective of a Black American Man. For book signing, motivational speaking engagements, and/or appearances email: web@webinternationalpublishing.com or go the website for details: http://www.webinternationalpublishing.com/

Signs of Obasanjo Third-Term Bid Stir Already Boiling Pot

E-mail Print PDF
PORT HARCOURT, Mar. 17 (IRIN) - Mounting signs of a third-term bid by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, underscored by an increasingly visible campaign by his supporters, are stirring passions in a country prone to ethnic, political and religious upheaval.


E-mail Print PDF
MBABANE, Mar 20 (GIN) - Several members of the opposition People’s United Democratic Movement were arrested at a rally called by the group’s youth wing, in a weekend crackdown by police, according to media reports.


E-mail Print PDF
CONAKRY, Mar 20 (GIN) - Guinean President Lansana Conte made an unscheduled "private trip" to Switzerland this weekend where the chronic diabetic who is in his 60s will  seek some medical attention, said aides. Cameroonian President Paul Biya also fell ill this week but is said to be fully recovered.

Page 1 of 9

BVN National News Wire