LAST month, a symposium to commemorate Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s scholarly legacy was convened in Tanzania. Among the attendees was a less known Nahashon Gacheke Gachihi from Kenya’s Bunge la Mwananchi. When I met this young man in Nairobi a few years ago, he invited me to Jevanjee Gardens for the Bunge la Mwananchi meetings.
Whilst Nyerere is taken for granted at home, in foreign countries, some smart people still take him heartily and seriously. Perhaps this is a fulfillment of a saying by Latin sages: “nemo profita in patria” (a prophet is not accepted at home.)
For my friend Gacheke attending and speaking in Nkrumah Hall at the University of Dar es Salaam about a great man, was not only a milestone but also a life-long treasure. Who knew that he’d share the same rostrum with bigwigs like Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka and Issa Shivji, among others?
Since the theme of the commemoration was Nyerere’s exemplary scholarly legacy, we would do well to look at his philosophy of the unification of Africa, that is currently sabotaged and abused by some of the people priding to be Nyerere’s disciples.
Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni stole thunders at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) during the inauguration of the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS). Although he wrongly thought he’d have a smooth ride at UDASA, he ended up awakening sleeping lions! He was cornered on the Migingo Island issue and despite dancing around the point, he openly admitted that the highly disputed Migingo Island is Kenya’s but its water Uganda’s! This proves Museveni’s megalomania and lust for annexing Migingo.
Listen to what Museveni said: “When Mwalimu was retiring, I came here and asked him why he was resigning instead of developing the first East African Community because we’d already overthrown the person that wanted to destroy it. He answered me that “you’ll all develop it.” Now, I ask my colleagues to develop this union.”
Why is Museveni using Nyerere’s popularity for his advantage despite the fact that he contradicts himself? Whereas Nyerere wanted a united East Africa, Museveni wants to rule and usurp its power. How can he step or fit in Mwalimu’s shoes whilst he’s hell bent to annex Migingo? Mwalimu was not bully and assumptive. He was humble and visionary. He lived for others but not others living him as Museveni does. Museveni lives a king’s life while common Ugandans suffer. He spends much hard-earned taxes financing his private army as Ugandans grapple with how to make ends meet.
Look at another goofy and controversial statement by the self-defeating expansionist, Museveni, during the interview with BBC. He was quoted thus, “The Island is in Kenya, the water is in Uganda. But the Wajaluos are mad, they want to fish here but this is Uganda… hii nchi huru (this is a sovereign country). It is written here in English…. from this point; the border will continue to go in a straight line to the most northern point of Suba Islands. Mpaka inazunguka kisiwa (the border surrounds the island)… one foot into the water and you’re in Uganda.” Logically speaking, Museveni’s statement totally shows him glossing things over. It’s but an outright lie. Migingo, including its waters, is in Kenya.
Back to Mwalimu. He fought for all people, but not his tribe, clan, family or greed like Museveni. He was not a power-hungry monster. He willingly relinquished power when he was needed most and two years younger than Museveni. Nyerere believed in people-centered politics whilst Museveni believes in militancy and manipulation of the constitution. Refer to how he manipulated and abused Uganda’s Constitution to illegally secure the current term in office.
For Nyerere, Africa came first, then Tanzania followed. That’s why he was able to mentor and offer free university education to Museveni, the late John Garang de Mabior (Southern Sudan) and others like Eduard Modlane, Samora Machel (Mozambique), Sam Nujoma (Namibia) and many more. For Museveni, power comes first and is an end in itself. If Nyerere were a mountain, Museveni is a termite hill.
Whilst Nyerere was a nationalist-cum-Pan-Africanist, Museveni is tribalist. Museveni does not fight for either Uganda or East Africa but for his survival. How can he unify others whilst his regime is widely known for its being Nyankoles from Ntungamo? His venomous attack to innocent Luos of Kenya for fishing in their territory suffices to prove this. How can he refer to them as “mad people” and yet unify them?
This is the double-faced Museveni that deceives others that he can unite East African states! How can Museveni unify East African states whilst he and Rwandan president Paul Kagame destabilize and plunder DRC? How can he do that by attacking Luos?
Museveni is no different from current rulers in Tanzania. They not only betrayed Nyerere, but also pull down and tear his legacy. Under Nyerere, education and other social services were free. He saw to it that all Tanzanians got them equally. But currently, in Tanzania, if you don’t have ill-gotten money or are connected to the ever-thieving Chama Cha Mapinduzi, your fate is sealed and nobody bothers. Tanzania is currently one of the most corrupt countries in the region. It boasts of immense land and a mammoth share of minerals. But her people are ranked last when it comes to development in the region. It is the only country in which a few elected thieves can rob the central bank to finance their political project and get away with it!
One famous writer once equated Tanzanian rulers to dogs sired by a lion (Nyerere). If we visit the legacies of the founders of East African states, we’ll find that Nyerere was ahead of time. Whilst Jomo Kenyatta grabbed land and Milton Obote wasted money building his hegemony, Nyerere fought for other countries to see to it that they attain their Independence.
You can easily look at the legacies of our founders today. Uganda has never healed from the tribal hatred Obote cultivated. Kenya has never healed from the land grabbing that Kenyatta sired. As for Tanzania, at least, there are some gains to show as far as the unification of Africa is concerned.To emulate and fit in Nyerere’s shoes, Museveni should do one thing: retire willingly and back off from Migingo!