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Remembering Nyerere in Tanzania

Marie-Aude Fouéré


Marie-Aude Fouéré

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1This volume has its origin in my encounter with the figure of Julius Kambarage Nyerere as it was narrated in the Tanzanian media in the early 2000s. This triggered a quest for understanding the appropriation of, or detachment from, Mwalimu in contemporary Tanzania that took several years and followed different paths. Along the way, I soon discovered that my interest was shared with many other scholars in Tanzania and abroad, most of them senior academics while I was still a budding researcher. The present book embodies this collective endeavour to give insight into the collective memories and narratives that make Nyerere the primus inter pares – to be lionized, or to be debunked – in Tanzania. I would like to thank all the contributors for embracing the idea of this edited volume when I approached them and for their patience throughout the long process until its actual publication. Each contribution casts a different light on the theme discussed, but resonates with all the others contributions, thus resulting in both a tuned and complementary collection.

2This collection is definitely not a biography of Julius Nyerere, even less another tribute or hagiography of Tanganyika’s then Tanzania’s first president. It does not aim either at evaluating the politics of Nyerere’s time – assessing one more time Ujamaa’s successes and shortcomings – or digging into the relation between Nyerere’s personality, political thought and political action. Rather, this book is about how Nyerere is remembered by Tanzanians from all levels of society, in what ways, on which occasions, and for what purposes. It is about what Julius Nyerere stands for today, as well as about his legacy, in relation to collective representations and practices of what the Tanzanian nation was, is and should be. The few contributions that slightly depart from this overall frame of analysis about contemporary political imagination provide essential historical elements for the readers to understand the issues at stake.

3I wish to express my sincere thanks to Walter Bgoya for his enthusiastic and enduring support since the beginning of this project, and to his son Mkuki Bgoya. The introduction to the volume gained from the watchful eye of Joost Fontein, Hervé Maupeu, Sandrine Perrot and Justin Willis. James Brennan has always showed supportive of my work, not only prompting discussions but also providing rich scholarly insights. William Bissell and Martin Walsh are thanked for setting the bar high when commenting upon some early writings. Other friends and colleagues shared their views at different steps of this work. This volume owes them all a great debt as they definitely enriched my understanding and enabled me to supervise it. I would like to thank in particular Hélène Charton, Dominique Connan, Jean Copans, Christine Deslaurier, Eloi Ficquet, Ahmed Gurnah, Muhammad Juma, Kjell Havnevik, Emma Hunter, Jérôme Lafargue, Amos Mhina, Thomas Molony, Haroub Othman, Jean-Claude Penrad, Ahmed Rajab, Alain Ricard, Mohamed Saleh, Etienne Smith, and Iain Walker.

4Contributors are indebted to the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), the National Archives and the Zanzibar Government for enabling them to conduct research in Tanzania. The Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF), through its Executive Director Joseph Butiku, always remains a thoughtful interlocutor. In the preparation of the manuscript, I am most grateful to the patient and efficient team of Mkuki na Nyota. The introduction tremendously benefitted from the work of Suzan Nolan and Leila Whittemore, language editors at BlueSky International. Lastly, this edited volume would not have been possible without the continuous backing of the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) in Nairobi, Kenya.

© Africae, 2015

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