MWALIMU Julius Kambarage Nyerere was an icon and inspiration to the liberation of Southern Africa and a hero who helped SADC member states achieve independence with the support of the people of the United Republic of Tanzania.
That was said in Butiama village by Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) Board Chairman, Professor Peter Katjavivi over the weekend during a ceremony to honour Mwalimu Nyerere in this year as they marked the 20th anniversary of his death.
He further said that Mwalimu Nyerere inspired and supported a generation of leaders and freedom fighters, as Chairman of the Front Line States by mobilizing material, diplomatic and moral support for the independence movement in Southern Africa.
"Tanzania hosted the Liberation Committee of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), of which Mwalimu Nyerere was a founder in 1963," said the chairman.
Pro Katjavivi hailed Mwalimu Nyerere was a visionary leader who had a long-term view of regional integration and development, besides being the founder of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and its predecessor organisation.
Prof Katjavivi, who is Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia and a senior official of the SWAPO party, said Mwalimu's inspiration and support was a key factor in his country and others in the region in achieving their independence.
The board chairman once spent 27 years in exile during the liberation struggle, starting with his arrival in Dar es Salaam in December 1962, where he spent 3 months on the move, hiding to avoid security as he travelled from then South African-occupied South West Africa, now independent Namibia.
He travelled via Bechuanland (now Botswana) and through Southern and Northern Rhodesia, which were not yet independent and are now the independent countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia respectively.
He later served as Deputy Representative of SWAPO in Tanzania. The SARDC, which is a leading regional knowledge centre and SADC partner, held its Board meeting at Mwitongo Lodge in Butiama on 29-30 June, to honour Mwalimu Nyerere, who was the Founding Patron of the institution.
While in Butiama, Members of the Board were taken for a tour to the complex by Mwalimu's son Madaraka Nyerere, who is also a member of the Board of SARDC.
Highlights of the tour included the family house and personal library, the museum and the mausoleum where Mwalimu Nyerere was laid to rest in October 1999.
Presiding over, the Chairman laid a wreath on the grave on behalf of the Board and planted a tree at the site. Currently SARDC's headquarter is based at Julius K. Nyerere House in Harare, Zimbabwe and works throughout the 16 member states of SADC.
Board members are drawn from various countries and disciplines in the SADC region with the current Vice Chairman being Arlindo Lopes from Mozambique.
SARDC works on a range of regional research initiatives, including Infrastructure, Energy, Industrialisation, Water Resources, Gender and issues relating to Environment and Climate.
SARDC has a rich historical archive which is being digitized for online access.