<![CDATA[Languages  Africa - Africa's Teacher]]>Wed, 03 Feb 2016 19:11:24 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[Africa's Teacher]]>Mon, 05 Apr 2010 15:49:13 GMThttp://www.languagesafrica.com/africas-teacher/first-post
Julius Nyerere
His name was everywhere. It was whispered next to the palm trees on Dar-es-alam’s eternal beach and in the Jengo la Ushirika, Cooperative Building, and other government buildings dotting the capital.

I left one of these buildings and walked hurriedly to the vast, crowded stage of the daladala, public transport mini-buses. I saw his name on stickers that were on the windscreens of several daladala. They quoted Swahili phrases from his many inspirational speeches. ‘Karibu!’ welcome! A smiling conductor welcomed me to one of the daladala. You would have thought he was an usher inviting me to a party somewhere.

I sat in the back seat of the twenty-seater daladala. Before long, the aisle had filled up with my fellow travelers. Would they be standing the entire three hours that it would take to travel from Dar-es-alaam to Dodoma? I wondered. I was occupying the window seat so I was able to fling open the window. No sooner had I done that than no fewer than six hawkers swarmed around my window holding up all manner of foodstuff. I was at the Ubungo Bus Park. The place to be if you wanted mabasi ya mikoani, buses going to the provinces. It also acted as  source of livelihood for many.

Mikate mitamu!’ Sweet bread! ‘Nanasi nene!’ Fat coconuts! ‘Peremende!’ Sweets! ‘Majani chai kutoka Kenya!’ Tea Leaves from Kenya! The eager voices and commodities streamed up to my sweating face. That coconut looks good, I thought. ‘Nanasi pesa ngapi?’ How much is the coconut? I asked the young lady who was selling them. ‘Shilingi mia moja pekee!’ Only one hundred shillings! She said and placed three in my outstretched hands. I wanted only one and told her so. ‘Nunua tatu na uzidishe utamu!’ Buy three and extend the sweetness! She told me with a smile so warm I couldn’t say no.

As the daladala took off, I heard a hawker mention that name that was everywhere. ‘Nunua kaseti za baba wa taifa!’ Buy tapes of our country’s father! I almost jumped out of the window. I was so eager to listen to this voice and absorb the messages that were all over Dar-es-alaam. As if to remind me what I was missing, I looked up and saw a lady with a bright yellow leso, wrapper tied around her waist. Emblazoned on it, were the words, ‘Mwalimu Julius  Kabarange Nyerere, Baba wa Taifa – Primitive Nonsense.’

He was the father of Tanzania and in many ways, a father of Africa. He was amongst the crop of African leaders who seemed to truly want the best for the continent. Unlike some of today’s leaders, he lived what he preached. He was a simple man who abhorred indulgence and uneven distribution of wealth.

His name was everywhere I turned in Dar-es-alaam. Every day on the national radio, his voice would ring out, cajoling, urging, encouraging, rebuking his fellow citizens to be the best citizens possible. Always preaching a message of peace to all Tanzanians with his pet phrase, Ndugu Watanzania, Beloved fellow Tanzanians. It was hard to believe that he had been dead for years. What was it about him that still enchanted Tanzanians and indeed Africans during and after his lifetime? I posed this question to an old man who was basking outside his retail shop on the outskirts of Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city. His answer touched me greatly. ‘Uongozi,’ leadership, the old man said. ‘Uongozi bora ajabu,’ Perfect leadership. He looked far above in the sky remembering his country’s founding president, ‘Mwalimu,’ teacher, ‘Nyerere alitufunza kuwa Wafrika wenye ushindi!’ Nyerere taught us how to be victorious Africans! , ‘Mwalimu alituuonya sana kuhusu umoja wetu!’, Teacher, Nyerere warned us about our unity.

The old man’s voice was dripping with hope. I felt this same hope as I finally found a hawker with several speeches of President Julius Nyerere.

By Mpasua Msonobari, from the series of Swahili Adventure