Julius Kambarage Nyerere

University of Edinburgh


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United Kingdom

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Julius Kambarage Nyerere

Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the first President of Tanzania.  Nyerere was born in Tanganyika and was known by the Swahili honorific Mwalimu or 'teacher', his profession prior to politics. He was also referred to as Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation). Nyerere received his higher education at Makerere University in Kampala and the University of Edinburgh, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Economics and History in 1952. In Edinburgh he encountered Fabian thinking and began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living. 

After he returned to Tanganyika, he worked as a teacher and in 1954, he helped form the Tanganyika African National Union.

When Tanganyika was granted responsible government in 1960, Nyerere became Chief Minister. He led Tanganyika to independence a year later and became the new country's first Prime Minister. The country became a republic in 1962, with Nyerere as the country's first president. During the first years, Nyerere created a single-party system and used "preventive detention" to eliminate trade unions and opposition. In 1964, Tanganyika became politically united with Zanzibar and was renamed Tanzania, with Nyerere as president of the unified country. He was the sole candidate for president in the unified country's first election, in 1965, and was reelected unopposed every five years until his retirement in 1985.

Nyerere did much to foster social development in Tanzania during his time in office. At an international conference of the Arusha Declaration, Nyerere's successor Mwinyi noted the social gains of his predecessor's time in office: an increase in life expectancy to 52 years, a reduction in infant mortality to 137 per thousand, 2600 dispensaries, 150 hospitals, a literacy rate of 85%, two universities with over 4500 students, and 3.7 million children enrolled in primary school.

Awards Nyerere received include:

1973: Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding
1982: the Third World Prize
1983: Nansen Refugee Award
1986: Sir Seretse Khama SADC Medal
1987: Lenin Peace Prize
1988: Joliot-Curie Medal of Peace
1992: International Simón Bolívar Prize
1995: Gandhi Peace Prize

Nyerere died in October 1999.  He received the following posthumous awards:

2000: Statesman of the 20th century by the Chama cha Mapinduzi
2009: World Hero of Social Justice by the 63rd President of UNGA, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann
2011: Tanzania Professional Network Award[55]