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Drawing on a wide range of oral and written sources, this book tells the story of Tanzania's socialist experiment: the ujamaa villagization initiative of 1967–75. Inaugurated shortly after independence, ujamaa ('familyhood' in Swahili) both invoked established socialist themes and departed from the existing global repertoire of development policy, seeking to reorganize the Tanzanian countryside into communal villages to achieve national development. Priya Lal investigates how Tanzanian leaders and rural people creatively envisioned ujamaa and documents how villagization unfolded on the ground, without affixing the project to a trajectory of inevitable failure. By forging an empirically rich and conceptually nuanced account of ujamaa, African Socialism in Postcolonial Tanzania restores a sense of possibility and process to the early years of African independence, refines prevailing theories of nation building and development, and expands our understanding of the 1960s and 70s world.
We stand for self-reliance. We hope for foreign aid but cannot be dependent on it; we depend on our own efforts, on the creative power of the whole army and the entire people.
Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle
In December 1966, President Julius Nyerere embarked on a six-week tour of half of the regions in the newly independent East African country of Tanzania, which the national press enthusiastically dubbed his “Long March.” During this journey to both major regional centers and remote rural outposts, Nyerere called upon Tanzanians across the countryside to unite in pursuit of the country’s new developmental imperatives: self-reliance and socialism. In a pamphlet published several years earlier, Nyerere had already begun to outline these political principles, introducing the concept of ujamaa, or “familyhood,” into national discourse as the foundation for a proposed program of African socialism. It was not until the conclusion of his “Long March,” however, that Nyerere officially inaugurated the policy of ujamaa that would structure life in Tanzania over the next decade. On February 5, 1967, in a widely publicized manifesto issued in the northern town of Arusha, President Nyerere – popularly known as Mwalimu (Teacher) – announced the ideological contours of a radical approach to national development based upon collective hard work, popular agrarian transformation, and a resolutely anti-colonial stance.