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Julius Kambarage Nyerere remains one of Africa’s leading independence heroes and a leading light behind the creation of the Organization of African Unity in Tanzania. He was the architect of Ujamaa, an African socialist philosophy which revolutionized Tanzania’s agricultural system. Julius Nyerere was the prime minister of an independent Tanganyika and the first president of Tanzania.

The death of Julius Nyerere in 1999 has renewed interest in the history of the socialist experiment in Tanzania and its relevance for the future of the developmetalist project in Africa. Positions on the issue have been polarized, with some commentaries based on reasoned, empirical research and analysis and others, essentially speculative, assuming a pattern that has been described as “African bashing”. Questions has since then been raised by researchers all around the world, questions like “How does a leader wreck a country’s economy yet die a national hero”?. Many of these researchers believes that Julius Nyerere’s inefficient leadership dried Tanzania of funds, but yet his personality was irresistible (Newsweek, 25 October, 1999).

This study explores Nyerere’s philosophy of Ujamaa, his proposed policy and concept of ujaama. The study intends to also examine Julius Nyerere’s advent in Tanzanian’s politics.


Julius Nyerere, in full Julius Kambarage Nyerere, also called Mwalimu (Swahili: “Teacher”),first prime minister of independent Tanganyika (1961). He later became the first president of the new state of Tanzania (1964), died October 14, 1999, London, England).

Julius Kambarage Nyerere, one of Africa’s most respected figures was born on April 13, 1922 in Butiama, on the eastern shore of lake Victoria in north west Tanganyika. His father was the chief of the small Zanaki tribe. He was 12 before he started school (he had to walk 26 miles to Musoma to do so). Later, he transferred for his secondary education to the Tabora Government Secondary School. His intelligence was quickly recognized by the Roman Catholic fathers who taught him. He went on, with their help, to train as a teacher at Makerere University in Kampala (Uganda). On gaining his Certificate, he taught for three years and then went on a government scholarship to study history and political economy for his Master of Arts at the University of Edinburgh (he was the first Tanzanian to study at a British university and only the second to gain a university degree outside Africa. In Edinburgh, partly through his encounter with Fabian thinking, Nyerere began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living.

On his return to Tanganyika, Nyerere was forced by the colonial authorities to make a choice between his political activities and his teaching. He was reported as saying that he was a schoolmaster by choice and a politician by accident. Working to bring a number of different nationalist factions into one grouping he achieved this in 1954 with the formation of TANU (the Tanganyika African National Union).



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