The following pages recount the experience of this new African distance-teaching university, established in one of the poorest countries of the world at a time of global economic difficulty. The Open University of Tanzania is a young institution whose legal existence dates back to December 1992. Following the announcement that the University would commence activities on 1 March 1993, key decision-makers were appointed in April. The first students were admitted in January 1994; it is from this cohort that we expect to see the first graduates in early 1999 after five years of study.
A century ago, the present Tanzania came under German administration during a period of European colonisation in Africa. It remained under German colonial administration until the end of the First World War when, through the auspices of the League of Nations, it became a Mandated Territory under the British colonial administration.
The British governed Tanzania throughout the period leading up to and including the Second World War, and after the War as a Trust Territory. The global anti-colonial movement in turn affected Tanzania, which was granted political independence in December 1961, and elected to be a republic within the British Commonwealth in December 1962.
Off-shore Zanzibar followed a different course. The foreign power was from Arabia, and when the British came on the scene in 1890, Zanzibar became a Protectorate. It gained its political independence from Britain in December 1963, and early in 1964 merged with the mainland to form a union which has lasted up to the present.
Tanzania’s chequered history is reflected in its culture, language, architecture, system of education, governance, religion and in many other ways. It is also reflected in its foreign policies and relations. The country’s tropical location has determined its agricultural products and its means of production, while its political history has dictated its economic dealings. Since the