Posted by: passedportsnyc | September 3, 2009

Thank You Mr. Teacher-President

For a truly inspirational leadership story read up on former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere

President Nyerere in 1981

President Nyerere in 1981

It is true that not all of his policies were entirely successful (his villagization and collective agriculture programs were particularly ineffective).  But even if you disagree with his socialist ideas, you cannot deny that his unwavering dedication to principles, integrity, and to the well being of his people were extraordinary, and all too rare in politics.  And given what he had to work with, he made incredible progress. 

When Tanzania was granted independence from Great Britain in 1961, Nyerere inherited a country with only 120 university graduates, including all 12 for the nations doctors, both of its lawyers, and himself, a schoolteacher. 

Imperial policy had actively discouraged the development of industry and manufacturing, forcing most of the population to grow cash crops on colonial plantations.  Nyerere oversaw the development of nascent industry and manufacturing sectors, narrowed the income gap dramatically (giving himself a 20% pay cut in the process), and implemented universal primary education. By the time he had been in office for 20 years, 93% of Tanzanian children attended primary school; 15 years after his resignation this number had fallen down to only 57%.  In 1985 Nyerere resigned, one of only 9 out of 91 African leaders to voluntarily relinquish power from the 1960’s through 1980’s post-colonial era.  He continued to serve as mediator, statesman, and moral compass for Africa and the world until his death in 1999.

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