Julius Nyerere in his 1997 speech delivered to mark the Independence of Ghana in Accra said something that appeared as a shock to many and still does today.
He would die just two years later but many close to him say he felt fulfilled saying those words.
During the speech, in reference to Ghana's independence hero - Kwame Nkrumah, with whom he had a fierce rivalry in achieving Neo-Colonialism, he said:
Kwame Nkrumah was your leader, but he was our leader too, for he was an African leader… He was a visionary leader. He thought big, but he thought big for Ghana and its people and for Africa and its people.
He had a great dream for Africa and its people. He had the well-being of our people at heart. He was no looter. He did not have a Swiss bank account. He died poor. Shakespeare wrote that the evil men do lives after them, but the good is often interred with their bones…
If Julius Nyerere had truly felt this way, then it came too late because the rivalry that existed between Nyerere and Nkrumah - unarguably two of Africa's greatest Pan-African heroes was a great loss to both Africa and the Pan-African struggle.
A lot could have been achieved if both Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere had joined forces together against their common enemy - Colonialism. This union would have helped to unite Eastern and Western Africa in many ways and we would have not been experiencing most of the problems we currently face.
Although they both believed in a United States of Africa, they allowed their bias on the alien ideology of Socialism tear them apart, to the extent of making them 'enemies' - Nyerere's followers against Nkrumah's followers, and vice versa. This needless rivalry was an advantage to the colonialism which they fought against.
Both Nkrumah and Nyerere believed that adoption of the single party system in Ghana and Tanzania respectively would be a fundamental step towards achieving progress in the various countries and Africa in general.
They also agreed that the common features of socialism are common ownership of means of production, distribution, and exchange.
Then what was the problem?
Nyerere’s thought on socialism was based on the concept of Ujamaa while Nkrumah’s thought on African socialism was based on the concept of consciencism.
Yes, that was all! This singular difference was the defining factor in the years of disagreements between these two leaders - a disparity that further broadened the gap between East and Western Africa.
To Nyerere, Ujamaa means family hood (African extended family) meaning that all individual in the state as members of the same family; while consciencism was an ideology centered around the disposition of forces which enable African societies to digest external element and develop them to fit into the African personality.
The Malcolm X and Martin Luther King of Africa, Julius Nyerere, and Kwame Nkrumah would have achieved much more together if they hadn't spent the majority of their time arguing over what could have easily been discussed over dinner and a bottle of wine.
Credit: African exponent