PJ Usanga

The Catholic Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam has initiated the process for the beatification and canonization of the former president of Tanzania, Julius Kambarage Nyerere.

In an edict signed by the Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Most Rev. Jude Thaddaeus Ruwa’ichi and the Archdiocesan Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Vincent Mpwaji, on the constitution of the diocesan tribunal for the cause of beatification and canonization of the former African political leader, the tribunal is to inquire on the life, heroic virtues, and reputation of holiness and of the intercessory power of Julius Nyerere.

“On 20th July, 2023, Bro. Reginald D. Cruz MAfr, legitimately appointed as postulator by His Grace Archbishop Gervas John Mwasikwabhila Nyaisonga, President of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference and Petitioner of the cause of beatification and canonization of the servant of God, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, formally requested me to constitute the Tribunal for the Diocesan Inquiry on the life, heroic virtues, and reputation of holiness and of the intercessory power of the Servant of God.”

A convert to Roman Catholicism, who had taught in several Roman Catholic schools, Julius Kambarage Nyerere was a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician and political theorist. He governed Tanganyika as prime minister from 1961 to 1962 and then as president from 1962 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as president from 1964 to 1985.

As a major force behind the modern Pan-African movement and one of the founders of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU) in1963, Nyerere was a key figure in African events in the 1970s. He was a strong advocate of economic and political measures in dealing with the apartheid policies of South Africa. He was chairman of a group of five frontline African presidents who advocated the overthrow of white supremacy in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, and South West Africa/Namibia (now Namibia).

Nyerere was committed to the creation of an egalitarian socialist society based on cooperative agriculture in Tanzania. He collectivized village farmlands, carried out mass literacy campaigns, and instituted free and universal education. He also emphasized Tanzania’s need to become economically self-sufficient rather than remain dependent on foreign aid and foreign investment. Nyerere termed his socialist experimentation ujamaa (Swahili: “familyhood”), a name that emphasized the blend of economic cooperation, racial and tribal harmony, and moralistic self-sacrifice that he sought to achieve. 

His thoughts, essays, and speeches are collected in his books, Uhuru na Umoja (1967; Freedom and Unity), Uhuru na Ujamaa (1968; Freedom and Socialism), and Uhuru na Maendeleo (1973; Freedom and Development). He also translated two plays by William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar, into Swahili. He died on October 14, 1999 in London.