'Don't forget Julius Nyerere'
Nelson Mandela of South Africa is already, in that vague secular sense, 'canonised', a 'saint' of the late 20th century. Martyn Drakard at MercatorNet reminds us about a man whose causa is actually opened by the archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo: Julius Nyerere.
Julius Nyerere was a man of vision too. He believed that his Tanganyika could teach Africa and elsewhere much about tolerance and human harmony. A graduate of Edinburgh University, who had translated The Merchant of Venice into Swahili, he taught in a Catholic mission school near Dar-es-Salaam, the capital. He left teaching to take up an organising role as leader in the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which aimed to achieve independence from Britain and to wipe out tribalism and build a unified nation. With the help of his leadership and sense of purpose, TANU achieved both.
Nyerereâs vision was not merely political. A man of daily Mass, Communion and meditation, his Catholic faith influenced his whole political career. Even when he had become an important political figure, he translated catechetical materials and the Sunday Scripture readings for the year into his tribal language, Zanaki. Unlike Mandela, Nyerere harmonised the hectic years of the birth of his nation, with a happy, devoted married life. His fidelity to one wife was outstanding in a country where polygamy was common.
Drakard's brief essay--he is in fact looking at both Nelson Mandela and Dr Nyerere, their successes and imperfections--is not the place for a scholarly examination of the Nyerere regime in Tanzania: one can certainly hope, however, that the cause proceeds to Rome.