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

By Frieder Ludwig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

TANZANIAN CHURCHES AND THE WEST

Statements such as the one quoted at the end of the last chapter show how highly J. K. Nyerere was regarded. The personal integrity of the Tanzanian President was seen as a guarantee for an overall positive development in the East African country. In her classic Shamba Letu, Kate Wenner described the strong impression which Nyerere had made on her during a visit to the village of Litowa: “I was exhilarated. What a man! What a fantastic man! Honest, straightforward, tough, and clever. His face was kind and his words were kind. So this was what was behind Ujamaa!”'

Many studies of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as pamphlets and informations of partner agencies, are characterised by a certain euphoria for Nyerere and his Ujamaa policy. German translations of his speeches and essays were considered to be an incentive “for a discussion about alternatives within Europe too.”2 Films were produced with tides such as the “Model Case of Tanzania” or “Ujamaa—the Tanzanian Way to Socialism” and attempted to show “that the Ujaama idea is not spread through doctrines but through suggestions about changes in which controversy and conflicts are permitted.”3

Even critical reports did not question the correctness of the basic principles of Nyerere: there was much greater doubt, however, about whether they were realistic. Thus David Holden wrote an article in the conservative Sunday Times entided “Is Nyerere too good to be a match for Amin?”, and concluded:

(…) In pursuing his vocation, President Nyerere has inspired more per-
sonal admiration than most political leaders, but it is doubtful whether
his impassioned idealism has made much practical impact upon the real
and naughty world […] He is, say his critics, just too good to be true,

1 K. Wenner, Shamba Letu. An American girl's adventure in a communal village in Tanza-
nia
(Boston, 1970), p. 143.

2 J.K. Nyerere, Afrikanischer Sozialismus. Aus Reden und Schriften, “texte” zum kirchli-
chen Entwicklungsdienst, Vol. 5, 4th edition, 1979, advertised in: G. Baumhögger et
al., Ostafrika, Reisehandbuch Kenya und Tanzania (Frankfurt, 1981), p. 797.

3Modellfall Tansania, 16mm, in colour 45 min. (1976); UjamaaTansanias Weg zum
Sozialismus
, 16mm, 45 min. (1973).

-149-

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