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Ujamaa was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere's social and economic development policies in Tanzania just after it gained independence from Britain in 1961. In 1967, President Nyerere published his development blueprint, which was titled the Arusha Declaration, in which Nyerere pointed out the need for an African model of development and that formed the basis of African socialism. Ujamaa comes from the Swahili word for extended family or familyhood and is distinguished by several key characteristics, namely that a person becomes a person through the people or community.

Nyerere used the Preventive Detention Act to brutally lock up people at will and victims numbered in thousands. The government transferred people to new collective farms by giving them promises that later turned out to be false. Others were forced, for instance, by burning their villages. Armed police and military were used in population transfers.[1] The economy collapsed and most of the population was close to starving to death. The nation survived only on foreign food.

Ujamaa was dismantled when Nyerere gave up power to Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1985.[2]



Nyerere used Ujamaa as the basis for a national development project. He translated the Ujamaa concept into a political-economic management model through several means:

  1. The creation of a one-party system under the leadership of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in order to help solidify the cohesion of the newly independent Tanzania.
  2. The institutionalization of social, economic, and political equality through the creation of a central democracy; the abolition of discrimination based on ascribed status; and the nationalization of the economy's key sectors.[3]
  3. The villagization of production, which essentially collectivized all forms of local productive capacity.
  4. The fostering of Tanzanian self-reliance through two dimensions: the transformation of economic and cultural attitudes. Economically, everyone would work for both the group and for him/herself; culturally, Tanzanians must learn to free themselves from dependence on European powers. For Nyerere, this included Tanzanians learning to do things for themselves and learning to be satisfied with what they could achieve as an independent state.
  5. The implementation of free and compulsory education for all Tanzanians in order to sensitize them to the principles of Ujamaa.[3]

Nyerere used the Preventive Detention Act to suppress trade unions and lock up opponents at will. People disappeared and total numbers were never published, but victims are estimated to be in the thousands. International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International campaigned against human rights violations in Tanzania.[4] Press was controlled through refusal of official registration.

Nyerere forced people to relocate onto collective farms, which greatly disrupted agricultural efficiency and output. Tanzania turned from a nation of sustenance farmers into a nation of starving collective farmers.[5]

Houses were set on fire or demolished, sometimes with the family's pre-Ujamaa property inside.[1] Food was given only to people who joined Ujamaa.[1]

A substantial amount of the country's wealth in the form of built structures and improved land (fields, fruit trees, fences) were destroyed or forcibly abandoned.[1] Livestock was stolen, lost, fell ill, or died.[1]

People lost tradition and revered places such as ancestors' graves.[1]

Suleman Sumra found that yields on Ujamaa collective fields were 33%–85% lower than in the individually owned fields. The average was 60% lower. Collective farmers did not have incentives to work.[1]

The scope of the state expanded rapidly into virtually every sector. In 1967, nationalizations transformed the government into the largest employer in the country. It was involved from everything from retailing to import-export trade and even baking, creating an environment ripe for corruption.[6] Cumbersome bureaucratic procedures multiplied and excessive tax rates were set.[6] Public funds were misappropriated and put to unproductive use.[6] Purchasing power declined at an unprecedented rate and even essential commodities became unavailable.[6] A system of permits (vibali) allowed elite officials to collect huge bribes in exchange for the vibali.[6] A foundation for systemic corruption had been laid.[6]

Roads eroded to become some of the worst in Africa. Industrial sector diminished. The state-owned mine company proved a failure.[7]

The hip hop scene in Tanzania was greatly influenced by the key ideas and themes of Ujamaa. In 1967, after President Nyerere introduced a new political ideology, which he promised would liberate Tanzanians from global imperialism, was abandoned by following Tanzanian politicians, the principles of Ujamaa were once again resurrected through "an unlikely source: rappers and hip hop artists in the streets of Tanzania."[8] In response to years of corrupt government leaders and political figures after Nyerere, themes of unity and family and equality were the messages sent out in a majority of the music being produced. This was in response to the working class oppression and in some sense a form of resistance. [9] The principals of cooperative economics—"local people cooperating with each other to provide for the essentials of living"—[10] can be seen in the lyrics of many Tanzanian hip hop artists. They promote self-business and self-made identities in an effort to raise the spirits of the youth and promote change in society.

The World Bank has been criticized for financing the program: "In Tanzania, for instance, the Bank provided the money for dictator Julius Nyerere's campaign called ujamaa, a prototype of Mengistu's villagization. Farmers lost their freedom, and the state took over their lands and claimed their crops, all with the help and blessing of the World Bank. In a few short years, Nyerere turned his country into a ruin, a starving beggar nation. But the Bank has never admitted its folly"[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Challenging nature: local knowledge, agroscience, and food security in Tanga. Philip Wayland Porter.  
  2. ^ David Edward O'Connor. The basics of economics. pp. 100.  
  3. ^ a b Pratt, Cranford (1999). "Julius Nyerere: Reflections on the Legacy of his Socialism". Canadian Journal of African Studies 33 (1): 137 – 52. doi:10.2307/486390.  
  4. ^ Colin Legum, G. R. V. Mmari. Mwalimu: the influence of Nyerere.  
  5. ^ Annabel Skinner. Tanzania & Zanzibar. p. 18.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f Rick Stapenhurst, Sahr John Kpundeh. Curbing corruption: toward a model for building national integrity. p. 153–156.  
  7. ^ Tanzania's travail: Lessons in improving American aid to the Third World
  8. ^ Lemelle, Sidney J. “‘Ni wapi Tunakwenda’: Hip Hop Culture and the Children of Arusha.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 230–54. London; Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Pres
  9. ^ Lemelle, Sidney J. “‘Ni wapi Tunakwenda’: Hip Hop Culture and the Children of Arusha.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 230-54. London; Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Pres
  10. ^ Denied:1up! Software
  11. ^ Deressa, Yonas. "Subsidizing tragedy: The World Bank and the new colonialism".  

External links


Simple English

Ujamaa, meaning 'familyhood' is the group of ideas of Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere. They are based on the traditional African society.


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