chapter  4
The African tradition
Julius Nyerere’s ujamaa
Pages 24

Julius Nyerere (1922–1999), the former President of Tanzania, is credited with the articulation of a distinct approach to localizing governance which draws on multiple theoretical traditions. Christened as ujamaa which, in Swahili language means 'familyhood', Nyerere evolved a unique model on the basis of his own understanding of Marxism and the prevalent African socio-economic context in which he was born and raised. Ujamaa can thus be safely said to have been politically devised and ideologically-governed model of governance which was thought to have generated hope in Tanzania amidst mass disenchantment with the existing system of governance. For Nyerere, socialism is a contextual phenomenon and hence it has various manifestations. Ujamaa is a construct that drew its conceptual inspiration from those socialist ideas which are ingrained in African traditional social mores and values. Ujamaa continues to provoke interest despite its controversial past when it was equated with Nyerere's forcible villagization programme in Tanzania.