The Iscariots who debase critical analysis of Nyerere's legacyBy JENERALI ULIMWENGU | Tuesday, October 25 2011 at 09:53
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves...
William Shakespeare puts these words in the mouth of Caius Cassius who is eagerly reasoning with Brutus to take his rightful place in Rome and stop kowtowing to Julius Caesar, who had assumed such powers that he was seen as a superman.
This quote from one of the Bard’s greatest dramas, Julius Caesar, is not necessarily relevant, contextually, to what was happening in Tanzania a week ago.
For, while Cassius was urging his friend Marcus Brutus to lead a conspiracy against, and to overthrow Caesar, the “petty men” of the Tanzanian political class were busy demonstrating that their own Julius was indeed a Colossus, and they are busy looking for their own “dishonourable graves.”
The occasions were organised to celebrate the life and work of Julius Nyerere, the founding father of Tanzania, who passed away 12 years ago last week, and the organisers had a dark sense of humour in the choice of the people they chose to grace these commemorative events.
As if by design, they chose individuals who, by their overt actions, over the 12 years, have demonstrated that they have precious little to do with Nyerere, unless, of course, it is to undo everything he stood for and did, and to erase his legacy.
It’s a bit hard to understand why such people were chosen to honour in symposia a man they have so decidedly negated in their lives, except the fact that for a long time they served under Nyerere and pretended to be loyal disciples, which even Judas Iscariot was to Jesus.
There are many people — both within Tanzania and without — who have kept the faith and shielded Mwalimu’s flickering flame, which is now buffeted by the strong winds of reaction in the country. Clearly, these would have been the most appropriate individuals to lead these commemorations.
But then, on occasions like these, our Iscariots are eager to bask in the faded glory of their pasts as Nyerere’s errand boys, for that, rather than disciples, is what they have shown us they were.
Disciples take up the word of the master and run with it, carrying it far and wide, testifying before angry tyrants and hungry lions, staying on-message to the death.
Errand boys, on the other hand, decamp the moment the master is dead or apprehended; they are taken over by whoever happens to have taken the place of the master, however unworthy, because what they are looking for is really not a master but a paymaster, and anyone will do. They will embrace any new faith — but mostly faithlessness — that comes with a miserable cheque.
They will go to the Nyerere memorials because these latter are forums that attract a lot of attention, especially among the youth, who may be tempted to idolise Nyerere because they see that their future has been stolen from them by their rulers, and the tendency is to view the past as an idyllic, faultless, blissful paradise lost, incarnated in the founder.
They cannot appreciate the great man critically, warts and all, with all the great mistakes he made.
These young people are routinely short-changed by these symposia led by these bogus disciples, because hypocrites cannot offer critical analyses: They either savage their former icons when it is safe to do so, or eulogise them and shower them with praises they may not really deserve, if the subject is still popular — and Nyerere’s popularity is soaring by the day. So the “petty men” can only sing his praises.
A holistic appreciation of Nyerere, one which would help Tanzanians celebrate his truly great thoughts and deeds, while noting for future avoidance all the negatives associated with him, would stand us in better stead.
- Big Brother Africa star arrested on fraud charges
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Zimbabwe lecturer jailed for Mugabe 'donkey' slur
- Four killed at TB Joshua church stampede
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- It's a tough life for Sierra Leone's gays
- Four Nigerians among 5 shortlisted for African writing prize
- Nigeria escalates Boko Haram offensive
- Somaliland marks unrecognised independence
Beyond the ballot