26 April 2014

Tanzania: Marking the Union Day With a Difference

WE are marking fiftieth anniversary of our union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar this year with a big difference. Never before had we ever played host to two serious issues simultaneously; this time we are writing our new constitution on the very union and celebrating its Silver Jubilee.

We had wished at this date, we would have made a landmark progress towards realization of our new constitution but it is the reverse, the going seems to be confronted with political ambitions rather than national aspirations. This is watering down our fifty years jubilation of being the only country in Africa living up to the expectation of our African forefathers on Unification of Africa.

I believe the standoff in the Constituent Assembly (CA) is just a storm in a tea cup, we cannot lose sight on all those good achievements from the union, I believe a compromise would be reached to continue with the creation of our new constitution that would further cement our union.

What is important for our political leaders is to avoid making reckless statements that may attract discord and possibly entice outsiders with ultra motives to penetrate into our country! They are just waiting in the wings to jump in.

Fifty years is quite a long period for those who were born in 1964 and are the very ones right now holding the reigns of leadership of this country. Mostly, all the District Commissioners were born on or after 1964. And for those who were in school at that time, most of them have already retired, obviously have stories to tell about our union.

These are the people who witnessed the creation of this union and the nation should be lucky to have some of them still alive to tell the story. Apparently in that year, 1964 some of us were in Secondary Schools and therefore are qualified to comment on how we saw things unfolding leading to the birth of United Republic of Tanzania.

This does not deny those who were not there to read from history books and come up with their own evaluation. That is where the problem starts when it comes to arguments related to the creation of this union.

They lavishly quote on Mwalimu Nyerere's writings and those of Prof. Issa Shivji, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, the former Zanzibar President Aboud Jumbe and several others. But all these quotations are taken out of context to support their arguments.

That is where our importance, as survivors of our union and journalists come in as we can tell the story as it is. That period in the sixties was still in the timeframe when the former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill prophesized his famous statement on the "wind of change blowing in Africa."

Indeed the gathering in Addis Ababa of the newly independent African Head of States in 1963 committed themselves in creating the Organization of African Unity with the express hope of unification of Africa. They knew the splendour that goes together with sovereignty would deny others to surrender their positions for the sake of unity!

No wonder others advocated to die a little for the sake of unification. Mwalimu Nyerere put it to his East African neighbours to delay Tanganyika's independence if it meant for East African Federation that was never be to date. It was mere heroism and readiness of Mzee Karume to have come steadfastly for the union even to the surprise of Mwalimu Nyerere.

It is said that when Mwalimu Nyerere sold the idea to Mzee Karume with pessimism after having failed to secure approval from his East African Colleagues, Karume just said, he was ever ready for the union "even today".

But why should we labour to question the instruments of the Union when it is vividly known that the two Presidents had agreed on the union! And it should be known at that time the world was fiercely divided into cold war between the East and West and Zanzibar was strategically placed, the delay after popular revolution could have made Zanzibar to be walloped in the cold war syndrome.

The proponents of African Unity amongst the African countries were Tanzanian leader Dr Nyerere and Ghanaian President Dr Kwame Nkrumah. I present the two giants, Nyerere and Nkrumah on their stand on continental government sloganeered as United State of Africa.

It is reported that Nkrumah before he died in exile he had been talking on a new different approach if he were to start again on the question of African Unity. With Nyerere, it is different. There is evidence of his own words that he was a continentalist in 1963, just like Nkrumah; and that in 1997, two years before he died, Mwalimu retreated in public from continentalist Pan-Africanism to sub-Sahara Pan- Africanism.

Mwalimu made it clear that he considered the south of Sahara Africa, black Africa, a distinct geo-political unit, quite separate in its identity and its destiny from Arab North Africa. Mwalimu in 1998 recollected that "Kwame and I met in 1963 and discussed African Unity. We differed on how to achieve a United States of Africa. However we both agreed on a United States of Africa as a necessity."

On his 75th birthday speech in 1997, Nyerere stressed that "North Africa is part of Europe and the Middle East. Africa south of the Sahara is on its own. The coming African leadership, will have to bear that in mind. The small countries in Africa (south of the Sahara) must . . . come together. . . . If we can't move towards bigger nationstates, at least let's move towards greater cooperation."

That is why we Tanzanians should consider our union as a nucleus to other African countries for expanding to greater federation if not union.

Further to that Mwalimu gave a wise elder's parting advice to Black Africa to be self-reliant and go it alone; to not rely on the Arabs or the Europeans or the Americans or the Japanese or the Indians or on any other people whatsoever, as none of them have it in their self-interest to help develop Black Africa. That we are on our own means that Black Africa should organize itself, by itself and for itself.

He reiterated his thoughts when he was addressing the Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa in 1998 while talking on economic osmosis between South Africa and African countries South of Sahara. He implied that North Africa is to Europe what Mexico is to the United States.

North Africans who have no jobs will not go to Nigeria; they'll be thinking of Europe or the Middle East, because of the imperatives of geography and history and religion and language." Mwalimu's reasoning was purely on geo-political facts based on the likely realities of the 21st century.

It has nothing to do with whether Arabs love or hate blacks; nothing to do with past historical relations between Arabs and Black Africans. Nyerere knew about the Arab help better than anybody else since he coordinated that help in his position as Chairman of the OAU Liberation Committee.

It is on this geopolitical situation of our country between our two countries, Tanganyika and Zanzibar that makes an opening to the greater East African Federation. There cannot be Hong Kong without China, similarly no prosperous Zanzibar without Tanzania.

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