“Beautiful” African men: Julius Nyerere

Activism, Africa, Development, Governance, History in the making, Politics

He has been criticised for leaving the presidency of Tanzania and leaving the nation as one of the poorest, least developed, and most foreign aid-dependent countries in the world. His reign records a communist era in which he suppressed his own people. And yes, some have called his leadership of Tanzania a complete ploughing under of civil liberties and political freedoms.

But it remains true and steadfast that by far this man was one of the greatest leaders to grace and lead the African continent.

Julius Nyerere

He made some extraordinary strides in charting the history of this continent and in some instances the destination of his own country.

He achieved the independence of Tanzania without war or bloodshed but just through his excellent negotiation skills and charismatic oratory skills.

He was instrumental in forging the union between the island of Zanzibar and mainland Tanganyika into Tanzania, which feat prevented Zanzibar from becoming Kenyan territory.

He preached racial and religious tolerance.

He was instrumental in supporting liberation movements in Africa to fight colonial rule and they all sought sanctuary at some point in Tanzania. He supported the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of South Africa, The Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA) fighting British colonial rule in Zimbabwe, the FRELIMO when it fighting Portuguese rule in Mozambique. His support towards the people of Uganda ensured their liberation from the terrible leadership and reign of terror of Idi Amin.

He pushed for the coordination of the frontline states in securing majority balck rule in South Africa. The fronline states consisted of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

He was one of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)

And here a few quotes from one of the greatest minds of Africa:

“No nation has the right to make decisions for another nation; no people for another people.”

“In Tanganyika we believe that only evil, Godless men would make the color of a man’s skin the criteria for granting him civil rights.”

“To measure a country’s wealth by its gross national product is to measure things, not satisfactions.”

“Capitalism means that the masses will work, and a few people — who may not labor at all — will benefit from that work. The few will sit down to a banquet, and the masses will eat whatever is left over.”

“Freedom to many means immediate betterment, as if by magic. Unless I can meet at least some of these aspirations, my support will wane and my head will roll just as surely as the tick-bird follows the rhino.”

“Having come into contact with a civilization which has over-emphasized the freedom of the individual, we are in fact faced with one of the big problems of Africa in the modern world. Our problem is just this: how to get the benefits of European society — benefits that have been brought about by an organization based upon the individual — and yet retain African’s own structure of society in which the individual is a member of a kind of fellowship.”

“Beautiful” African men: Emperor Haille Selassie

Activism, Africa, History in the making, Politics

As human beings, we have the tendency of judging other people too harshly.  I remember when I was growing up, in my house,, my mother had a wall painting with the inscription ”When I do good, nobody remembers but when I do bad no one forgets.”

I believe that might be the case with this man.

Emperor Haille Selassie

In his last days, in which he was known as ‘His Imperial Majesty the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Haile Selassie I, Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia’, he ruled his kingdom as a medieval autocrat and so he left behind the reputation of a tyrant. This reputation seems to have overshadowed his contributions to Africa and so many people forget or simply do not know the role he played in building African Unity and fostering the development of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union.

 Here are a few remarkable things that this man did, that I want the world to know about:

  • He abolished slavery- which is why to date Ethiopia is one of the countries with a population of different skin tones but the least record of racism among the different colours

  •  He defended his country against Ethiopian occupation under Mussolini and today Ethiopia remains the only country in Africa whose history does not record a period of colonial rule

  • His address to the League of Nations in June 1936 after Italy attacked Ethiopia became the first challenge to the principle of the “Equality of Nations” in the United nations and today we all are bitter about the UN having some nations which are more equal than others.

  • He initiated the very first meeting of the Organization of African Unity in 1963

  • He united the two factions of African Unity that had emerged in the form of the Casablanca group calling for immediate unity of Africa(Ghana, Guinea, Mali , Egypt, the Transitional Government of Algeria, and Morocco) and the Monrovia  group calling for gradual unity (Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Togo and others)

  • He led the process of devising the charter for the 38- nation bloc no wonder the AU headquarters are in Addis Ababa.

  • He pushed for the setting up of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and  no wonder its headquarters are in Addis Ababa

  • He advocated civil disobedience when it was necessary to remedy fundamental social injustice or restore freedom to the oppressed

  • He was the first elected President of the OAU

Here are a few wise words that came out of the wise mind of this wise man.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained… now everywhere is war.”

“To win the War, to overcome the enemy upon the fields cannot alone ensure the Victory in Peace. The cause of War must be removed. Each Nation’s rights must be secure from violation. Above all, from the human mind must be erased all thoughts of War as a solution. Then and then only will War cease.”

“Leadership does not mean domination. The world is always well supplied with people who wish to rule and dominate others.”

“The true leader is a different sort; he seeks effective activity which has a truly beneficent purpose. He inspires others to follow in his wake, and holding aloft the torch of wisdom, leads the way for society to realize its genuinely great aspirations”

“What we seek is a new and a different way of life. We search for a way of life in which all men will be treated as responsible human beings, able to participate fully in the political affairs of their government; a way of life in which ignorance and poverty, if not abolished, are at least the exception and are actively combated; a way of life in which the blessings and benefits of the modern world can be enjoyed by all without the total sacrifice of all that was good”

I am one of the people who is perplexed by the absence of the Emperor at the AU headquarters and as much as I admire the contributions that Kwame Nkrumah made to the formation of the AU, I do believe this man right here deserves equal honour.

I have often wondered where he got his good looks, and why Ethiopians are so beautiful but now that I know they are the descendants of the union between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, I know why!