First President of post-independence Tanganyika (Tanzania), Nyerere was also known as 'Mwalimu' or Teacher and 'Baba wa Taifa' or Father of the Nation.
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(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Apr/13/1922
Place of Origin: Tanzania
Nyerere started his career as a teacher at St. Marys Secondary School in Tabora where he taught Biology and English for three years. He left in 1949 after receiving a scholarship to study at the University of Edinburgh where he received a Masters of Arts degree on Economics and History in 1952.
After obtaining his Masters in 1952, Nyerere returned to Tanzania to teach History, English and Kiswahili at St. Francis' College near Dar es Saalam. During this period he was involved in Tanganyika African Association, TAA, an organization he helped to establish as a student at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He became President of TAA and under Nyerere's leadership TAA became a political organization that fought for the sovereignty of Tanganyika; later known as TANU, Tanganyika African National Union.
TANU established itself as the leading political body at that time and spearheaded the campaign for Tanganyikan independence.
Nyerere left teaching to campaign for indepence. He toured Tanganyika and spoke on behalf of TANU at the United Nations.
In 1961 Tanganyika was granted self-governance and Nyerere became its first Prime Minister on December 9, 1961.
A year later Nyerere was elected President of Tanganyika when it became
a republic. Nyerere was instrumental in the unification of the islands
of Zanzibar and the mainland Tanganyika to form Tanzania after a coup in Zanzibar in 1964 toppled Jamshid bin Abdullah, the Sultan of Zanzibar.
As President, Nyerere instilled a form of socialism know as Ujama, meaning family. Nyerere espoused the need for African self-reliance and sought to promote a brand of socialism in Africa which was explicitly not alligned to either Soviet Communism or Western Capitalism.
During the Cold War, Nyerere remained neutral as a non-aligned head of state, allowing Tanzania to develop ties with both the West and the Eastern Block. However, ties with the United States and Britain weakened as Nyerere continued to pursue socialist ideals and developed close ties with China.
In addition, Nyerere supported African political groups that fought for independence; he was an influential figure in the peace talks for Zimbabwean Independance and in the removal of Idi Amin in Uganda in 1979. He died in London on October 14, 1999.