Magazine article New Internationalist

The Lion Lies Down

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Lion Lies Down

Article excerpt

THE death from leukaemia of Julius Nyerere at the age of 77 deprives independent Africa of one of its most intelligent, perceptive and determinedly radical leaders. He was an inspiration not just to Africans but also to people all over the world who interpreted 'world development' as meaning a fairer global economic system.

Having led Tanganyika to its independence from Britain in 1961, Nyerere was a prime mover in creating the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and oversaw Zanzibar's incorporation into the new Republic of Tanzania. His 1967 Arusha Declaration was a ringing statement of an alternative path to development based on socialism and self-reliance.

Nyerere's Tanzania became a magnet for anti-colonial activists and thinkers from all over the world -- especially for the resistance movements (and future leaders) of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. By the time he retired as President in 1985 his alternative economic strategy had hit the buffers of debt and structural adjustment. But he remained deeply revered by Tanzanians and took his activism to the international level, first as head of the South-South Commission aiming to strengthen Third World unity and latterly in seeking political settlements that would end the conflicts in Burundi and DR Congo.

Nyerere was interviewed in the very first issue of the NI's forerunner, The Internationalist, in 1970. It was fitting therefore that he gave one of his last interviews to the New Internationalist special issue on The Radical Twentieth Century (NI 309), looking back thought- provokingly over an anti-colonial life. …

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