ARTICLES: NYERERE AND UJAMAA

Critical Stage of Transition

Traditional African life is steauily vanishing into the nostalgic past. Africa is now in a critical stage of transition: what must she do? Nyerere’s answer is clear and purposeful.

Africa now has an opportunity to build an ethic appropriate to the development of a good and stable society, or allow one to develop which might contain the seeds of future strife and confusion In Nyerere’s own words:

“It is my belief that we in Africa must seize the opportunity we now have, so that a new attempt can be made to synthesize the conflicting needs of man as an individual and as a member of society.”

Nyerere further believes- that unless Africans act immediately they will lose the opportunity. To utilise effectively this opportunity, African institutions and African attitudes will have to change rather drastically. This is the minimal pre-requisite for survival in the modern setting. “All young countries have to be revolutionary if their policies are to survive”. Nyerere contends, “It is this which distinguishes them from the developed countries; and indeed, from their own past”.

Nyerere asserts that the African must be revolutionary not in’ the Marxist-Leninist sense but in his thinking, and in his attitude towards facts and institutions. Yet to be revolutionary, Nyerere adds, one must know what one is being revolutionary about. There must be clearly defined goals and an equally clear perception of means and existing obstacles. “Only when we are clear what we are trying to do, can we begin to think about the way of doing it … one cannot be objective in a vacuum; the thinking must have a purpose; it must be designed to achieve something”.

In Africa “a revolution with a purpose” has already begun, and Africans – particularly Tanzanians – have no choice but to be involved in it. And “that purpose is the extension to all African citizens of the requirements of human dignity”. The choice before Africa, as Nyerere sees it, is not between change or no change; it is between:

” …. changing or being changed, changing our lives under our own direction or being changed by the impact of- forces outside our control …. Tanzania has chosen to ride and try to harness the whirlwind which is sweeping through this continent. . . We prefer to participate in the shaping of our own destiny and we believe that we have the resolution and the ability to overcome difficulties and build the kind of society we want.”