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Mwalimu Nyerere Day – October 14, 2024

Mwalimu Nyerere Day is observed annually on October 14 in Tanzania. It commemorates the passing of Julius Nyerere, former president of Tanzania, on this day in 1999. Fondly remembered as the “father of the nation,” Julius Nyerere was born on April 13, 1922, in Tanganyika’s Mara Region. In December 1962, Tanganyika became a republic, and Nyerere was elected president. On April 26, 1964, Zanzibar and Tanganyika merged to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, with Nyerere as president and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume as first vice president. In October 1964, the republic was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.

History of Mwalimu Nyerere Day

Julius Nyerere was born on April 13, 1922, to Mugaya Nyang’ombe and Nyerere Burito, Chief of the Zanaki people. At the time, the British colonial administration preferred to educate sons of chiefs to perpetuate the traditional chieftaincy system and prevent the rise of a separate, educated elite who might oppose colonization. As a result, he began his schooling at the age of thirteen at Native Administration School in Mwisenge, Musoma in February 1934. He later attended Tabora Government School, from which he graduated in 1941, and began his university education at Makerere College, Uganda in 1943.

After graduating, he returned to Tanganyika and began teaching at the mission-run St. Mary’s. In 1949, he traveled to the United Kingdom, where he began studying for his Master of Arts degree, equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts in most English universities, at the University of Edinburgh. After graduating in 1952, he returned home and married Maria Gabriel, to whom he had become engaged in 1948.

In 1953, he was elected president of the Tanganyika African Association (T.A.A.). Under his leadership, the association became more pro-independence and on July 7, 1954, the T.A.A. became a political party, called the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). On December 9, 1961, Tanganyika gained independence from the British, with Nyerere as prime minister, though he resigned only a month later in January 1962. After his resignation, he focused on restructuring TANU and shaping the pattern of democracy. In December 1962, Tanganyika became a republic, and Nyerere was elected president of Tanganyika.

Mwalimu Nyerere Day timeline

Nyerere is Born

Julius Nyerere is born in Butiama, Tanganyika.

Tanganyika Gains Independence

Tanganyika gains independence from the British.

Nyerere Becomes President

Nyerere is elected president of Tanganyika.

The United Republic is Formed

Zanzibar and Tanganyika merge to become the United Republic of Tanzania.

Mwalimu Nyerere Day FAQs

Who succeeded Julius Nyerere as president?

Julius Nyerere was succeeded by Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985.

What is 'Ujamaa'?

In Swahili, ‘ujamaa’ means ‘family-hood.’

Who are Julius Nyerere's children?

Julius Nyerere had eight children, namely Andrew Burito, Anna Watiku, Anselm Magige, John Guido, Charles Makongoro, Godfrey Madaraka, Rosemary Nyerere, and Pauleta Nyabanane.

How to Observe Mwalimu Nyerere Day

  1. Honor Nyerere

    Although Nyerere wasn’t perfect, he was one of the founding fathers of his nation. He made an indelible impact on the landscape of the continent. Honor him today by posting his picture online and saying kind words in his memory.

  2. Learn more

    Nyerere's achievements can hardly be condensed into a few pages. There's much more to learn about the African leader. Learn as much as possible and see what lessons can be drawn.

  3. Spread the word

    Tell others about Mwalimu Nyerere Day. Let the world celebrate and recognize this one-of-a-kind leader.

5 Surprising Facts About Julius Nyerere

  1. He came from a large family

    Nyerere's mother was the fifth of his father's 22 wives and Nyerere himself was one of 25 children.

  2. His name was changed

    At birth, he was given the name 'Mugendi,' meaning 'walker' in Zanaki but was later renamed 'Kambarage', after a rain spirit, on the advice of a diviner.

  3. He didn’t marry his betrothed

    In keeping with custom, Nyerere's parents betrothed him to a girl of three or four years old while he was in secondary school, though they lived apart and never got married.

  4. He stepped down as president

    In 1985, Nyerere voluntarily stepped down as president, surprising the world.

  5. The U.N. needed his help

    In 1995, the United Nations asked Nyerere to step in as a mediator to help end the Burundian Civil War.

Why Mwalimu Nyerere Day is Important

  1. Nyerere was the ‘father of the nation’

    Nyerere was undoubtedly one of the driving forces behind Tanzania's independence. His passion and patriotism helped bring an end to British imperialism in the country.

  2. Nyerere was a man of peace

    Nyerere was inspired by the peaceful way in which Mahatma Gandhi fought for India's independence. Both men pushed for independence without instigating or participating in violent acts. This is admirable and worthy of praise.

  3. Nyerere didn't cling to power

    Nyerere was one of the first African heads of state to voluntarily retire from office. Unlike others, he didn't cling to power. This was noble and inspiring.

Mwalimu Nyerere Day dates

2024October 14Monday
2025October 14Tuesday
2026October 14Wednesday
2027October 14Thursday
2028October 14Saturday

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