Mwalimu: The Influence of Nyerere

In This Review

Mwalimu: The Influence of Nyerere

Edited by Colin Legum and Geoffrey Mmari
Africa World Press, 1995
205 pp. $45.95
Purchase

In its first 20 years of independence, Tanzania distinguished itself for its idealistic commitment to social equity, rural development, and international nonalignment. Julius Nyerere, Tanzania's president, philosopher-king, and development czar, shaped the country's policies and image to his own designs, moving later in his career into a new role as international proponent of Third World cooperation. The authors of this collection, all unabashed Nyerere admirers, review Tanzania's record of democracy, development, and international involvement, stressing the centrality of Nyerere's guiding hand and principles. Although the title promises an analysis of his influence, little is actually offered: the country, its people, lesser leaders, and technocrats appear for the most part as a tabula rasa on which Nyerere's ideas were emblazoned with minimal discussion. The stereotypical simplicity of Nyerere as Mwalimu (teacher) comes through, but not his complexity as a political leader whose failed economic schemes and misguided crushing of Tanzania's entrepreneurs have probably left his country poorer today than it would have been under less utopian-minded leadership. This book makes a start, but a penetrating and balanced study of Nyerere has yet to be written.