Nyerere, Machel remembered with pride


The month of October is important in the history of Southern Africa. It is the month during which two of the region’s icons – founding Tanzanian President Julius Mwalimu Nyerere and independent Mozambique’s first leader President Samora Moises Machel breathed their last. Nyerere died 15 years ago on October 14, 1999, while Machel died on October 19, 1986, in a plane crash. These two giants of African emancipation are fondly remembered in Southern Africa for their roles in delivering political freedom to Africa.

After engineering the independence of Tanzania in 1961, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere was not content with just the freedom of his fellow countrymen and women. He aspired to see an Africa that was totally free from colonial oppression and made it his task to help liberation movements waging struggles to unshackle their countries from the yoke of colonialism.

As the late veteran journalist David Martin once wrote “true to his vision, it can be said that he ‘carried the torch that liberated Africa’”.   

“Mwalimu’s dedication and commitment to the liberation of the sub-continent, to African unity and to Pan Africanism remains unsurpassed,” Martin wrote.

Nyerere envisioned and was unwavering in his pursuit for an equitable socio-economic society in his own native Tanzania, in Southern Africa and indeed the whole of the African continent. Following Tanzania’s independence, Nyerere worked tirelessly in support of the liberation of other African countries resulting in Zambia (1964), Malawi (1964), Botswana (1966), Lesotho (1966), Mauritius (1968), Swaziland (1968) and Seychelles (1976) gaining freedom.

Tanzania – under Nyerere’s leadership – provided political, material and moral support until independence and majority rule was achieved in Angola (1975), Mozambique (1975), Zimbabwe (1980), Namibia (1990) and South Africa 1994. Nyerere carried the ideals of liberation, democracy and humanity into the rest of Africa. 

He was among the leaders of the few independent African countries who in 1963 established the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union.

The OAU’s main objective was to push political liberation for the rest of the continent. Tanzania hosted the OAU Liberation Committee and most liberation movements were also based in Tanzania.

Nyerere’s ideals were to rub onto other African nationalists such as Machel who also readily provided political and material support to the liberation movements of countries which were still fighting for independence.

Mozambique under the leadership of Machel sacrificed a lot to help countries such as Zimbabwe achieve their independence. Mozambique was the base for the Robert Mugabe-led Zanla forces while the Joshua Nkomo-led Zipra forces were hosted in Zambia. From these two bases, Zimbabwe’s two liberation movements waged the armed struggle that eventually delivered independence in 1980. After gaining its own independence, Zimbabwe joined among other countries Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana to help nationalists fighting for independence in Namibia and South Africa.

It is such ideals that delivered our independence in Southern Africa and in other parts of the African continent. 

And it is for this reason that we must be proud and keep reminding ourselves of the role played by our leaders who include the late Presidents Nyerere and Machel. Zimbabwean filmmaker Mosco Kamwendo has come up with a documentary “Camarada Presidente”, which is about the life of the iconic Mozambican leader. 

It was recently premiered at the just ended Zimbabwe International Film Festival. 

There can be no better way to remember our heroes and pass their legacy to future generations than through film, art and books.

October 2014
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