Cultures of Socialism in Africa: Language, Nation and Unification

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Satish Kumar


The Arusha Declaration of 1967, delivered by Julius Nyerere, has often been hailed as one of the most comprehensive explications of what came to be known as “African Socialism”. The words “Uhuru na Umoja” united the people of Tanganyika in their struggle for emancipation from British colonial rule, and later would go on to define the early years of the now independent United Republic of Tanzania. A call for freedom and unity, or the understanding that freedom could only be realized in unity, in a now independent Tanzania became a vision for collective national progress and development. Often misunderstood or misrepresented as merely an influence of western notions of socialism, Ujamaa as Nyerere repeatedly stated was based on communal and familiar structures already endemic to East African cultures. However, Ujamaa was neither a form of postcolonial nativism that sought to remedy the colonial by a return to the precolonial. Nyerere had a clear understanding of Tanzania’s “Post – ” condition, and Ujamaa became a means to use extant indigenous forms of cultural and social organization as the basis for economic growth.

In this paper I propose to look at the Ujamaa movement in Tanzania within in a context of postcolonial African socialisms, particularly as a political device for the creation of a lexicon for unification in contexts of culturally and linguistically plurality. To that end I will examining Nyerere’s political philosophy alongside the cultural, linguistic and literary impacts of Ujamaa in East Africa.


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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