Church and State in Tanzania: Aspects of Changing Relationships, 1961-1994

By Frieder Ludwig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN

BETWEEN LIBERATION THEOLOGY AND
STATE THEOLOGY

In his speeches and articles about the role of religion in Tanzania, Julius Kambaragene Nyerere concentrated mainly on the Catholic Church. There were two reasons for this: firstly, Nyerere himself belonged to the Catholic church; but, secondly, he also considered this body to be the centre of greatest resistance to his Ujamaa policy. Although the Tanzanian bishops had given verbal support to the Arusha Declaration, they continued to warn against what they regarded as dangerous tendencies towards the creation of an all too powerful, totalitarian state and Marxist socialism. The President saw in the anti-communist stance of the church evidence of a negative attitude to his course. He was particularly irritated at an Encyclical against Marxism which was translated and published in 1970. Robert Rweyemamu, the General Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, was called to the government's house on 3 August. Nyerere complained that the Catholic church in general failed to give him the support he needed, mentioning in particular the booklet Huu Ndio Uhuru:

It is a translation of “Divini Redemptoris”, the Encyclical on Commu-
nism issued by Pope Pius XI. This is the point I want to make. The
booklet is published in 1970, and I ask now—why should the Catholic
Church be preaching (against) Communism in 1970? The Encyclical was
written in 1932 (…) The Booklet has the picture of the Mwenge on the
cover, and so one might think that it was published by TANU! I still ask.
why not publish and preach “Populorum Progressio”? Why not be posi-
tive and preach social justice? I am sorry about my own Church, she is
negative instead of positive. If she preached social justice positively, there
would be no communism. If she condemns communism by words, this is
no solution.1

Rweyemamu attempted to play down the significance of the booklet Huu Ndio Uhuru, claiming that it was nothing more than a routine

1 “President Nyerere and the role of Priests in Tanzania”, Transcript of a Con-
versation between President Nyerere and the General Secretary of the TEC (Father
R. Rweyemamu), 3rd August 1970, published in the Appendix of J.P. van Bergen,
Development and Religion in Tanzania: Sociological Soundings on Christian Participation in Rural
Transformation
(Madras/Leiden, 1981, pp 333–336), pp. 334, 335.

-111-

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