An African Icon, distinguished with the Gandhi Peace Prize in 1995, Julius Nyerere was the first president after independence. Known as “Mwalimu” (teacher), he remained in power for two decades.
Julius Nyerere was born in Butiama, a village located in northern Tanzania, on 13 April 1922. His father was chief of the Zanaki tribe, one of the 128 ethnic groups of this country. He was supposed to be a tribal chief, but when his father died, his brother turned out to be the chosen one.
Known as “Mwalimu” (Teacher), Julius Nyerere was a dedicated and exemplary student. After finishing primary school, he was sent to Uganda to continue studies at Teacher’s Training College of the University of Makerere in Kampala. After graduating, he began his teaching career at the Secondary School Tabora, under the guidance of the Missionaries of Africa.
In 1949, he went to study in Edinburgh, becoming the first Tanzanian to study in an English university. He returned to his home country after completing the Master of Arts and Political Formation.
However, he ended up devoting himself to politics. In 1954, he created the political party Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu) whose aim – to get independence from British rule – was reached on 1 December 1961, when Julius Nyerere became the President of Tanzania.
In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar united, creating the United Republic of Tanzania. One of his achievements was to give a Socialist direction to agriculture, shifting the main economic activities of the cities to the countryside and encouraging the creation of village communities (“village of socialism”).
“Mwalimu” was re-elected several times and remained in power until resigning in 1985. Ten years later, he received the Gandhi Award for Peace and four years later, on 14 October 1999, he died in London, victim of leukaemia. Nowadays, he is still remembered by the objectives achieved, and also for his moral integrity and humility.