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Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945 2e

Julius Kambarage Nyerere

Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922-1999) was born on 13 April 1922 in Butiama village, near Lake Victoria, in North-West Tanganyika. He studied at Makerere University in Uganda where he obtained a Teacher’s Diploma (1945) and the University of Edinburgh where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in history and economics (1952). In Edinburgh, partly through his encounter with Fabian thinking, Nyerere began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living. On his return to Tanganyika he became a leading political activist in the independence movement and was the leader of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) which won all but one of the African seats in the two stage elections of 1958-59. Co-operating with the British to secure a peaceful transfer of power to Africans by December1961 Nyerere became the first President of the independent country in 1962. In 1964 Zanzibar and Tanganyika formed a union becoming the Republic of Tanzania. As its president, Nyerere implemented a policy of collectivisation of agriculture and large scale nationalisation based on a blend of socialism and communal life. The policy was met with political resistance (especially when people were forced into rural communes) and little economic success. Tanzania went from the largest exporter of agricultural products to the largest importer of them in Africa. Recognizing the failure of his policy, Nyerere retired as President of Tanzania in 1985, becoming the first African head of state to retire voluntarily. He died of leukaemia in a London hospital on 14 October 1999, at the age of 77.