January 31, 2011

Ujamaa & Nyerere’s legacy

This morning we all made it to Swahili class without a hitch, this after getting home Sunday evening after a full weekend.  An impressive group.  Tom Meyers, the SST Director, arrived for a 3-day visit to Tanzania to check in on the program, meet with the Tanzania SST local coordinators, and to meet with the students.  And, to the delight of the students, with Tom arrived mail!  Thanks to all of you who sent a personal note and created the smiles seen below.

This afternoon we received a presentation by Dr. Sumbai at the University of Dar es Salaam on the legacy of Mwalimu (Teacher) Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s founding father and first president.  We discussed Nyerere’s African version of socialism, Ujamaa, and his efforts to promote education, equality, and national and African pride.  Ujamaa comes from the Swahili word meaning extended family and symbolizes Nyerere’s emphasis that each person gains identity through the community, not as individuals.   A practical implementation of these ideals was the creation of Ujamaa villages in the late 1960′s where the entire village unit functioned as an economic entity with the cooperative support of its members.

Today Tanzania operates as a multi-party system and is increasingly adopting market capitalistic approaches.  This week we’ll explore the successes and challenges that modern day Tanzania experiences related to Nyerere’s goals of reducing poverty, combating disease, and promoting education.

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