Nicodemus Simon Mayala *
Julius Kambarage Nyerere: Ujamaa,
Leadership and Mission

"Together we will change Tanzania. Ikulu ni Patakatifu.
A new generation for change.Does our leader see our poverty? Is he blind to our poverty?
Walk the Talk. Leadership: Stewardship, Service and Commitment".
Julius K. Nyerere


Introduction: Biographical note, Works and Publications

Mwalimu  Julius Kambarage Nyerere was born on 13th April 1922, at Muhunda Robo  Butiama , a village 26 miles outside Musoma town in Northern Tanzania, near Lake Victoria. Nyerere was "the 26th child in a large African family".   "All through his life, he has been known as a steadfast fighter for justice, equality and humanism".  Frieder Ludwig has recognised him as a leading thinker of liberation theology in Tanzania. Nyerere was a prolific writer and universal lecturer over a variety of issues. He was one of the few men open to dialogue and auto-criticism. He was a Zanaki by tribe. His father was Chief Burito Nyerere and his mother was Mgaya Nyang'ombe.  Kambarage, the name he was given at birth, means "the spirit which gives rain" in Zanaki, because the day he was born a very heavy rain fell.  Nyerere married Maria "at the Musoma mission on 24 January 1953".  Julius Nyerere died on 14th October 1999, "at 10:30 a.m. in St. Thomas Hospital, London, in the 78th year of his life".  He served as President and Head of State of Tanzania from 1961 to 1985. He is outlived by Mama Maria, sons and daughters, and more than 400 grandchildren. Among his works we list the following: Freedom and Socialism / Uhuru na Ujamaa: A Selection from Writings and Speeches 1965-1967, Oxford University Press, DSM 1968; Freedom and Unity / Uhuru na Umoja: A Selection from Writings and Speeches 1952-1965, Oxford University Press, DSM 1966; Freedom and Development / Uhuru na Maendeleo : A Selection from Writings and Speeches 1968-1973, OUP, DSM 1973; Man and Development, OUP, DSM 1974; Our Leadership and the Destiny of Tanzania, Publishing House, Harare 1995, Africa Today and Tomorrow, Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, DSM 2000. His publication of the works by W. Shakespeare and scriptural works are of great merit. At his death he had finished the translation of the "Republic of Plato" into Kiswahili.

The inspiration and motivation for this article on J.K. Nyerere draws on his singular personality, ideals and efforts to define the role of religion and particularly the role of the Church. His ideals of Ujamaa have greatly influenced the definition and identity of faith in Africa. While Christians have responded by building small Christian communities and self reliance projects, Muslims have done so through the Umma. His ideal of community has inspired many people to re-examine the role of religion in society. The emphasis he laid upon personal integrity and honesty in every walk of life is worthy of imitation and deserves special attention. It calls for responsible transparency and consistence in belief and praxis. Nyerere has been a politician beyond compare. He was a man able to re-examine his own policies, criticise his own Catholic praxis and submit himself to bitter auto-critique in his tireless search for the Truth and the role of religion in society. He honestly recognised the Church as the "Conscience of Society" while others saw religion as "opium" and most modern men see religious institutions as structures to be done away with. In Europe, for example, they are fighting to eliminate religious symbols from public offices and classrooms, such as the Crucifix. Other States have banned any official identification such as the gab. Worse still, some dare to identify religion with terrorism. Moral erosion is spreading like a contagion in most parts of the world in the name of democracy and freedom. That is why Ujamaa remains a challenge even now to every person whose conscience listens to man's deep yearning for God.


The word Ujamaa was chosen for special reasons. First, it is an African word and thus emphasizes the African-ness of the policies. Second, its literal meaning is "family-hood", so that it recalls the idea of mutual involvement in the family as known in Africa. Ujamaa implies a deliberate decision to grow "out of our own roots, but in a particular direction and toward a particular kind of objective". It focuses on certain characteristics of "our traditional organization, extending them, so that they can embrace the possibilities of modern technology and enable us to meet the challenge of life in the twentieth century world".  Nyerere explained further that the emphasis on growth based on traditional patterns of social living means that "we shall be trying to create something which is uniquely ours, and by methods which may be unique to Tanzania".

Ujamaa and its development stem from: African traditions, community life, colonisation, racism, the horror of capitalism and imperialism. The new contact with Africa provoked and inspired the rapid growth of Ujamaa. The point of departure was 'African-ness' and the entire history of Africa. Thus, Nyerere maintained, "We cannot, unlike other countries, send rockets to the moon, but we can send rockets of love and hope to all our fellow men wherever they may be...".  Here we find the basic inspiration that motivated Nyerere to embark on this significant path of communal life. Primarily it is the abolition of the division between master and servant.  Secondly, the restoration of respect for the African and his human dignity by eradicating fear and the habit of evading responsibility inherited from the colonial masters. Nyerere sustained that: "our aim is to remove fear from the minds of our people. Our aim is to hand over responsibility to the people to make their own decisions".  Thirdly, the elimination and eradication of exploitation and oppression so that the human dignity and equality of every man become the basis of development.

The first significant step in implementing Ujamaa was the adoption of the Arusha Declaration which demonstrated a firm commitment to build Ujamaa: a visionary road. The Arusha Declaration led to the following programmes: nationalisation of big institutes, villagisation and resettlement, national service for rehabilitation and entrepreneurship. This programme enacted by the Arusha Declaration did not pass without criticism. The most bitterly criticised programmes were those that involved nationalisation and villagisation. Actually, Nationalization "as a principle, violates the principle of Subsidiarity, because it claims for the State the right to manage economic enterprises and denies this right to individuals or to private enterprise. However, applied ad hoc to special circumstances in which a particular private enterprise is detrimental to the common good nationalisation can be in keeping with the Subsidiarity principle".

Accordingly, Ujamaa is an option to serve humanity. In the service of humanity great sacrifices are required. Hence, in this choice of service we need competent leaders who are aware of this poverty. Nyerere argued against this background that a leader must be aware of: what it means to be a leader; must realise that leadership is inconsistent with becoming rich; that it is inconsistent with conducting a private enterprise/business; that it implies the readiness to be watched and criticized for one's policy actions.  Equally, the option to serve humanity is a prerogative duty of mission. It is a right and a duty to fight evil. It is the duty of a prophet. Responding to a question during an interview, Nyerere rejoined: "In such matters of conscience are you yourself not the sole judge? You have to ask yourself 'do I keep silent when I see evil being done, or do I denounce the evil?'".  Through his Incarnation, God makes a radical choice to redeem humanity through self-humiliation to restore Creation to its primordial dignity.

The foundation and success of Ujamaa depended upon the people and their hard work. Nyerere placed special emphasis on land and agriculture, the people, the policy of socialism, self-reliance, and good leadership.  His ideal community of Ujamaa, or family life, has to be inspired by an attitude of family life. One has to believe in the dignity and equality of humanity. One has to accept the primacy of man over material wealth or other objects. Ujamaa is provocative calling into question one's experience and the contrasts and contradictions of everyday life.  It challenges every choice of lifestyle either in isolation or in the midst of the common people. Ujamaa encourages the conscientious examination of the contrast of life-style between the people and the leaders. In an interview with the Religious Superiors of Tanzania Nyerere remarked that: "I should be very pleased if, by the mere fact of coming physically closer to the people, the missionary or local priest were made more aware of the gap between his way of life and that of his parishioners. The poverty of the ordinary villager, and the comfortable way of life of the parish priest, have been there all the time".

Nyerere's Ujamaa advanced programmes for the ideal community. The ideal community according to him embraces the whole of humanity.  It considers every man equal in dignity and humanity. In this understanding Nyerere pioneered the conscientization and liberation of man in view of the restoration of the primordial dignity with which he was endowed at Creation. Hence, Ujamaa means people-centred development. The ways by which man undertakes development are education and leadership. A man can develop himself:  "by what he does, by making his own decisions, by increasing his understanding of what he is doing and why; by increasing his knowledge and ability, and by his own full participation as an equal in the life of the community he lives in".  Herewith we note the essential conditions for anthropocentric development, namely: knowledge and freedom; in other words, intellect and freewill. In short, the factors of development are the people themselves "by leadership through education and democracy in decision making."  Nyerere contended, things such as "roads, buildings, the increase of crop output, and other things of this nature are not development; they are only tools for development".

Thus, the major themes included: Ujamaa and African personality; unity, development, education, self-reliance, liberation, freedom, and the argument: "the primary interest is not really other people's desire to understand us, but our own desire to understand ourselves and our societies, so that we can build the future on firm foundations".  Besides, Ujamaa maintains that leadership is as essential for the community as for the mission of the Church. Stewardship, service and commitment are the major characteristics. Leaders are to be prepared and scrutinized sincerely. Corruption and insincerity in examination will cost the people their whole life. It is certain that a leader who is ignorant and blind to the sacredness of leadership and the sanctity of the White House is unfit to be president. On this issue Nyerere warned the people of Tanzania that a day would come when they will say that in the time of Mwinyi: "We were in Paradise".

Today the increasing gap between the poor and the rich nauseates us and pricks our conscience. Equality and human dignity are losing ground. The law is deviated in favour of the "haves" while the poor cry endlessly: we are tired! CCM must go! Thomas More has warned us that all laws are promulgated to this end: that every man may know his duty; and therefore the plainest and most obvious sense of the words must be put on them. To put it concisely the precepts of the law are: to live honourably, to injure no other man, to render to every man his due. Choosing a man who is ignorant of his duty illustrates intolerable foolishness and unspeakable stupidity. If you cannot open your eyes, you will shed tears! You will open fire with indebted weapons that the poor will pay for till their elimination! In this chaotic situation we recall Nyerere's call to the Church: that it must be the conscience of society.

"Unless the Church, its members and its organisations, express God's love for man by involvement and leadership in constructive protest against the present condition of man, then it will become identified with injustice and persecution. If this happens it will die — and, humanly speaking, deserve to die — because it will then serve no purpose comprehensible to modern man".  Therefore, "Assemblies of the faithful must daily become more conscious of themselves as living communities of faith, liturgy and charity; lay people should strive to establish in the State an order of love and justice by means of civil and apostolic action".

Ujamaa is a way forward to form a new society elevated and penetrated by the Gospel. Indeed, a new community that re-establishes the Reign of God. An Ecclesia wherein the image and likeness of God reassumes its primordial dignity.  It seeks to create an Ecclesia in which the Prince of Peace is the criterion of its life and policies. On this ground, he called on everyone of goodwill to undertake a methodology of formation so that: "we can move fast enough, in education, in attitudes, and in institutions, to avoid a Third World War".


Leadership may be understood to mean direction. It underlines being and it indicates the methods of execution and the responsibilities which are essential to leadership. Leadership, therefore, underscores stewardship, service and accountability. Answerability and responsibility are integral to leadership. Leadership should provide an example of honesty and responsibility.        Thus, "leaders must set a good example to the rest of the people in their lives and in all their activities".

Leadership has its own limitations and leaders are required to be aware of this. Why? Because leadership does not mean all-knowledge, omni-science. It does not mean that you know everything better than others, it does not mean that you are more intelligent than others. The experience of the Elders holds prime of place. Nyerere sustained that an uneducated man has a brain — one given to him by God. He recommended respect rather than fear as regards the leaders. The culture of intimidation and horror can never produce leaders rather than puppets.

Leadership means stewardship. That is, a leader is entrusted with responsibility for the good of the other. He has to answer to the superior authority and to the people in question. Stewardship involves care and guidance. It means acknowledging the transcendental authority on everything. It means that there is a superior authority to whom one has to respond and give an account of the work done. Therefore, one offers this service wholeheartedly as the recommendation of Christ: "we are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty".

Leadership is service. It requires generous self-giving. Nyerere observed that "a genuine TANU leader will not live off the sweat of another man, nor commit any fraudulent or capitalistic actions". He expounded further that the role of leaders serves as an example because, "the implementation of socialist objectives depends very much upon the leaders, because socialism is a belief in a particular system of living, and it is difficult for leaders to promote its growth if they do not themselves adhere to it".  There is a need to form a generation of leaders in this line of thought.

Provision and Quality of Leaders

Leaders are created, they are not born. Leaders require serious preparation. Such preparation will provide the leaders we need according to our circumstances and our needs. Henceforth, they will have the qualities that we need to meet our needs. Mwalimu emphasized the benefits of good leadership and the principles of good leadership, stewardship, service and commitment.

Intellectual-human formation

Nyerere was convinced that to provide leaders for every walk of life was as essential as their training. "Leadership has many aspects but, most of all, it is the qualities of the mind which establish a man among his fellows. The ability to think logically, the capacity to express himself clearly and concisely, that mastery of his job which enables him to understand fully the implications of his decisions, all these are the hallmarks of the competent leader...".

The quality of mind needed implies a sane and sound mind.  It means a mind able to make decisions, that is capable of discernment. It implies a visionary mind. A mind that is capable to see ahead where others do not see or have not seen. However, a decisive mind requires clear well-founded information.

One quality is the ability to think logically. This implies consistence in thinking and doing. It is not a chameleonic life. It requires the effort to learn in order to acquire or to nurture the ability to think logically. This spirit of honesty and transparency is essential and indispensable in a true leader. Hypocrisy disqualifies leadership. There are moments when hard and radical decisions have to be taken and followed.

Another quality is the ability to express oneself clearly and concisely. Clearness and conciseness enhance the credibility of a leader. The incapacity to express him/herself well disqualifies a leader from maintaining the sacredness of leadership and the sanctity of the White House. It is required that a leader be clear and concise in expression! A leader is required to exercise mastery in his job. His mastery enables him to understand fully the implications of his decisions. Mastery demands that a leader make the continuous effort to learn from history, and our present time. Mastery requires one to become a student of life.         Furthermore, it requires careful, attentive listening, discernment and courage in decision-making.

Hence, Nyerere argued: "Our education must counteract the temptation to intellectual arrogance ... such arrogance has no place in a society of equal citizens. It must prepare young people for the work they will be called upon to do in the society. The education must encourage in citizens three things: an enquiring mind; an ability to learn from what others do, and adapt it to his own needs; and a basic confidence in his own position as a free and equal member of the society, who values others and is valued by them for what he does and not for what he obtains".

The aim of intellectual-human formation is:

1.            To remove fear from the minds of our people. The fear induced by colonial anthropological poverty regarding being, incapacity and decision-making. He reiterated, to clarify his position, that this kind of automatic rejection of something because it is said by an American or Chinese, or done in Britain or Poland, is as much a reflection of an inferiority complex as the automatic acceptance of what they say or do. Nyerere insisted on universal learning. We have to learn not to copy.

2.            To acquire knowledge from elsewhere provided we go on to learn not to copy. He disapproved of the approval or disapproval of a certain power to support our decisions and practice.

3.            To hand over responsibility to the people to make their own decisions:

"By historical accident Africans have the role to spearhead pan-humanism. African negritude      has          for years been a stumbling-block to all the other lighter-skinned races of the world. The Chinese,              Indians, Arabs, Europeans, have all in turn failed to see the man, and to recognise the brother, in             the dark-skinned African. They have variously seen the monkey, the animated tool, the                 subhuman, the vassal — anything but the man, the handicapped but autonomous member of the               human family".

Steps taken

Among the steps taken we may name in the first place the revocation of the monarchy system sustained by chiefdoms. This went together with the abrogation of hereditary leaders. Leaders are not leaders by birth; they are elected by the people.  Against this background Nyerere argued that the purpose of freedom was not to replace the Whites, but rather the creation of a new status of being and doing: "We did not want to replace a White DC (District Commissioner) by a Black DC. The area commissioner is the servant of the people. He is there to listen to the problems of the people, and to report to us about those problems or the progress being made to remove the problems".

The abolition of the classes of master and servant from society is another significant step. Leaders are created not born, they are neither consanguineous nor nepotic. Therefore, it is necessary to rule out the classes of master and servant. Hereditary leadership is not good but creates and nurtures grievances!

Basis of authority and quality of leaders

Nyerere acknowledged that Leaders owe authority to God  but admitted that States are led by men who respect a modality by which God is intended, but not by the subjective intelligence. They are led by the law.  Whoever aspires to lead must have a profound sensibility to the people in question. Poverty must be the essential inspiring element for any leader. Sensitivity to the needs of the people is a necessity. Thus Nyerere argued that a leader who is insensitive to "our poverty does not suit us".  He/she should be able to see, to be dissatisfied with existing conditions and so purposefully discern how to remedy the situation.  The "option for the poor" was the element that inspired Nyerere's leadership. A leader is required to be sensitive to the poverty of the people as a primordial principle and sacred duty. This fundamental quality requires: profound sensitivity to poverty and the determination to eliminate it.

Suitability of a leader: seeing our poverty

Who is suited to be a leader? Not everybody of course, but one member of society has to assume the responsibility of leadership. Sensitivity to the issue of poverty is one qualitative element of a suitable leader. When Nyerere was stepping down in 1985 the ratio between a U.S. dollar and a Tanzanian shilling was relatively small. He saw that poverty was partly an economical issue. The evaluation of 29 October 1984: 1 U.S.$ equalled Tsh 17.92;  today, in 2012, 1 U.S.$ is equivalent to Tsh 1.577.30 and fluctuates every day. Therefore, a leader should not be judged by appearances or by his\her lofty stature. Physical appearance does not imply leadership, but the heart of a person.  A leader has to be "a person of integrity, with principles, someone who respects the equal humanity of all the others regardless of their wealth, religion, race, sex or differing opinions".  He has to respect the Constitution and perceive the needs of the people or society in question through his national identity and sensibility.  He has to "show the way",  be accountable, answerable and ready to accept responsibility.  Without accountability, answerability and responsibility "our leaders will do whatever they want to do, with impunity".  Certainly, a leader has to be faithful,  consistent, with the ability and capacity to say 'no' and mean it. He/she has to be a person of strong character and able to eliminate corruption.  He/she must serve and listen.  Nyerere criticised passivity and indifference, viewing them as seedbeds of bad leaders. He recognised due respect to leaders on condition that "they are doing their best to discharge their responsibilities". He alerted the community to the danger of building up a tradition of fear by respecting leaders even when in the wrong, and, he denounced such behaviour because "it is to invite dictatorship!".  Remedies must be found immediately.

Leadership and development

Leadership is an integral part of development. It is solidarity and communion with the people one is presiding over. For this reason Nyerere reaffirmed that "together we will change Tanzania". Not in solitude but in solidarity. Solidarity is strength, just as unity is strength. Essentially, it means that collaboration for the common good is fundamental for efficient and reasonable change. Change can only be obtained in communion with the people. Nyerere maintained that leadership is not shouting at the people, it does not mean abusing individuals or groups of people you disagree with, it does not mean ordering people to do this or that.  "Leadership means talking and discussing with the people, explaining and persuading. It means making constructive suggestions, and working with the people to show by your actions what it is that you are urging them to do. It means being one of the people, and recognizing your equality with them".  It means 'talk the talk' and walk the talk. Nyerere talked the talk! Walked the talk, listen to Nyerere.

Walk the Talk: The Example of Kambarage

Walking the talk is a fundamental principle in leadership. Nyerere honestly set an example. He stepped down voluntarily because he was convinced that a leader should resign when he is still "intellectually and physically capable to transfer the power to his successor".  One author has argued that: 'Who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is foolish; shun him. Who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is humble, teach him. Who knows, but knows not that he knows, is asleep; wake him. Who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise; follow him'. Your choice determines your future! Politics has to be about Leadership or it is nothing. Who we are and what and which country do we want to build?

Leadership Suitable for Tanzania

The appropriate leadership for Tanzania is being with the people. It is a community involvement leadership characterised by solidarity, thoughtfulness, teaching and mutual knowledge/learning. Nyerere argued that "you can lead the people only by being one of them, but just being more active as well as more thoughtful, and more willing to teach as well as more willing to learn — from them and others".  The adoption of a multi-party system came to answer the needs of Tanzania. Nyerere admitted the nauseating corruption of most leaders. He encouraged and was optimistic about the multi-party system as a necessary way to cure corruption and redress the situation. However, his successors have taken a negative view of this system and have tried more than once to suppress it. They regard it as opposition to their 'cake' and have continually struggled to dismantle the parties or to plot against them or to calumniate strong leaders in the name of 'peace'. The current situation in Tanzania is clear evidence. A leader must be conscious of what it means to be a leader. In Tanzania today, we need a leader with a deep appreciation of his brother as one who is competent and able to fulfil his duties honestly. Tanzania needs a leader who is aware of the context of poverty, the sanctity of the White House, the future of humanity. Central to the leadership in Tanzania is the dignity of humanity. Man is central. Nyerere maintained that good leadership is one of the essential factors in the development of the people.

What should leaders do or not do? In the Arusha Declaration Nyerere defined who should be leaders and underlined the obligations of leaders. Below is a code of leadership as underlined in the Arusha Declaration:

1.            Every TANU and government leader must be either a peasant or a worker, and should in no way be associated with the practices of capitalism or feudalism.

2.            No TANU or government leader should hold shares in any company.

3.            No TANU or government leader should receive two or more salaries.

4.            No TANU or government leader should own houses which he lets to others.

5.            For the purposes of this resolution the term leader should comprise the following: members of the TANU National Executive Committee; ministers,        members of Parliament, senior officials of organisations affiliated to TANU, senior            officials of para-statal organisations, all those appointed or elected under any           clause of the TANU Constitution, councillors, and civil servants in the high and                 middle cadres (in this context leader means a man or a man and his wife, a woman, or    a woman and her husband).

Indeed, "Leaders must set a good example to the rest of the people in their lives and in all their activities".

Following his stepping down, his successors abrogated the leadership code and compromised capitalism by the Zanzibar Resolution in 1992. Most of them claimed that the Arusha Declaration on leadership reduced leaders to mendicants. It did not give them room to breathe. With this compromise wealth appears to be a determinant aspect of leadership and status in Tanzanian society. This is demonstrated by the increasing gap between the poor and the rich. In this ambiguous context the Church is attempting to correct the situation. In its Manifesto, for example, The Tanzania Episcopal Conference recalled the culture of ujamaa and its values as essential to Tanzania as it declared that: "Our country's culture, our Ujamaa Tradition — agreed with this ethical view: togetherness, solidarity, familyhood".  The figure of the Good Shepherd illustrates an archetype of leadership. According to this analogical similitude we may interpret leadership as knowledge, caring, leading and guiding; sacrifice, commitment to serve faithfully. This kind of leadership is group centred. In this case, according to D'Sousa, leaders must listen attentively and observe non-verbal cues.

Ujamaa means familyhood, family-ness, life based on the concept of the traditional African family. The foundation of ujamaa is the family without which society or community is incomprehensible.  Hence, the determination to build ujamaa means that we do not have what we are looking for and we believe that what we are looking for is good. Nyerere argued further: "I was the first to use the word ujamaa in order to explain the kind of life we wish to live in our country. The word ujamaa denotes the kind of life lived by a man and his family — father, mother, children and near relatives". In Africa before the invasion of foreigners, "land was the property of all the people, and those who used it did not do so because it was their property. They used it because they needed it, and it was their responsibility to use it carefully and hand it over in good condition for use by future generations. Wealth belonged to the family as a whole; and every member of the family had the right to the use of family property. This is how we want to live as a nation. We want the whole nation to live as one family. This is the basis of ujamaa — socialism".


In the perspective of mission we see that Ujamaa finds its basis in the doctrine of the Trinity: Creation, Incarnation and Pentecost. The basic principles from which the significance of the Paschal Mystery of Christ derive. The redemption of man came about through divine leadership. God took the initiative to redeem man by leading the way to redemption. Creation out of love and the empowerment of man illustrate the intention of God. He leaves man free to use his intellect with responsibility, accountability and answerability. Of course in the long run, man failed to meet the divine prerogative so he disobeyed. Then, God extended his loving mercy to man, so he took flesh, he became man. This ad extra mission of God implies the role of man in a visible world. That is, man has to assume responsibility for the world in which he lives.

Principle of localization: walking the talk

The principle of localisation implies creativity, empowerment, conscientisation, concretization. It means faith in the creative ability of the people to respond to their needs in a practical and actual way. Ujamaa intends to create one family whose activities are directed towards the construction of the community. It means the Church must learn the practice and theory of mission from other societies. It means that the particular Church is not a copy of Rome; we can learn, not copy, the art and apply it to our own reality. We do not need a certificate of approval or disapproval from anyone who thinks he/she has the answer. Tanzania does not need a certificate of approval for its internal policies from any outside group. The only approval our policies need is the approval of the Tanzanian people. We shall get that if we succeed in dealing with our own problems in a way that is suited to our present circumstances and acceptable to the people's beliefs and understanding at any one time. True Tanzanians will worry about what the Tanzanian people think, not what others may think. True Tanzanian socialists will worry about how the Tanzanian people can move in the shortest possible time towards a society where socialist principles find their fullest expression. They will not worry about the approval or disapproval of other socialists in matters which are of exclusive concern to us.

The significance of Ujamaa for mission: localization, dialogue and inter-culturality. The Jerusalem Council stated that: "it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things" (RSV, Acts 15:28).

We may rightly say that three basic theories underlie and underline the significance of Ujamaa for mission, namely: creation, incarnation and Pentecost. God willed that man should dominate the world and that all creation be subject to him. This power of leadership with which man was endowed commits him to a course of development in keeping with the will of God. In the first place community life; God gives him a companion, a woman equal to him in dignity, for the purpose of procreation so that man create a family that reflects the beauty of creation. When he sinned, God did not abandon him, but liberated him. And human history illustrates the progressive and gradual liberation of man from his tormenting situation. What God has made clean, no one is to call profane. He wills "everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth".

Walking the talk in mission discourse is witness of life. The principle of martyria explains best what "walking the talk" means. It can be translated into daily life by conversion and a radical change of life style. It means the end of dichotomy between religion and public life. It means the end of separation between faith and concrete reality. Life and faith must be integrated not only for efficiency in missionary work but also as the appropriate translation of faith into one's life.

Theological foundation: "preferential option for the poor"

The theological foundation is the Incarnation. The Incarnation in other words is the preferential option of poverty. God chooses poverty to redeem humanity. He humiliates himself to elevate man to his primordial dignity. By the Incarnation Christ became like us except for sin. His taking flesh does not mean uniformity, but expresses diversity in every way possible. He establishes the universal divine son-ship through which humanity as a whole has been redeemed. Hence, every mission and context must reveal this fact in theory and in practice. It should not copy Judaic practices and use them in another Church. It is not the imitation of another Church. Christianity concerns practical life, not copying or imitating what a church of some other place does. History demonstrates that the Gospel penetrates every people without prejudice to their own being in the image and likeness of God. Sad to note, however, is the day to day practise of copying Christianity from colonisers. With the assimilation of the policies of France, Portugal and Spain, Christians were obliged to become Portuguese, French or Spanish to be a true Christian. This practice has not ended. Even today at Baptism one has to take a name from the so-called Saints' Book. Local names are still discouraged.

This issue was solved in Jerusalem at the Jerusalem Council in 49 that no one should be obliged to observe the Mosaic Law to be a good Christian. Christians were freed from foreign traditions that enslaved them. The question of conversion was restricted to one's traditions; Christ liberates these people from enslavement. In one of his contacts Peter admits diversity and the impartiality of God. "Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, "In truth, I see that God shows no partiality". Impartiality must be the basic norm of Christianity. Peter underlines the essentials of conversion: "rather in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him". The road to salvation does not necessarily pass through Judaism. Religious pluralism is clear evidence. A question may be raised here. Is Christianity the necessary road to salvation? Peter was confronted by the circumcised brothers. He is condemned for entering the house of uncircumcised people and by eating with them. Ujamaa acknowledges religious pluralism as integral to human freedom. Thus, it could encourage and facilitate inter-religious dialogue.

Jesus is a leader. We have to learn from him because he is "gentle and lowly in heart".  He is the "Way, and the Truth, and the Life".  Jesus as a leader teaches by word and deed. He instructs his disciples and illustrates by example. The Last Supper presents us with a splendid episode in which he clarifies the whole redemptive mission. Precisely, we may say that, leadership involves sacrifice, comprehension of its essence and readiness to accept its consequences. Indeed, "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them".

Missiological Implications

By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation all share and participate in the leadership of Christ Prophet, King and Priest. Participation in the prophetic, kingly and priestly office of Jesus means a lot. It is not a copy of Christ, but a response to follow Christ in his way, he is the way himself. So he shows us how to share in this office, everyone in his own state of life, without prejudice to the other responsibilities implied in other sacraments.

Nyerere asked: "does he see our poverty?". A leader must see the poverty of the people. He must see all the conditions that result in poverty. What is our poverty? The people's poverty may be seen in the following: dignity of humanity, crisis of identity, education, diseases, and the longing to see God. Their remarkable poverty is the longing to encounter the divine presence in everyday life. The appropriate solution is the "preferential option for the poor". It implies walking in the direction of Christ who came to redeem man not to condemn him. The present situation has reduced man to a commodity. Man is manipulated by the current advances in technology; his ignorance of God has reduced him to an animal. As a result, he has rejected everything transcendental by affirming himself to be the measure of everything as one Greek philosopher once pronounced: 'man is a measure of everything'. A leader must see this poverty. He should, according to Fanon, "stubbornly refuse to indulge in self-satisfaction at the top".

A missionary has the right and duty to bring people to God, but he cannot lead them to God if he himself is not a godly man. The argument people find the most appealing is testimony, because it is more convincing and more attractive. and appealing to people is testimony, the personal witness of integrity. It is against this background that Paul VI reaffirmed the necessity of personal witness of life. He said: "the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one's neighbour with limitless zeal".


Julius K. Nyerere had a singular personality, one to be recommended to humanity. His Ujamaa contributed to self-confidence and self-awareness. It has given a new identity to Africa with a broad vision in the service of humanity. The importance of leadership in every walk of life was strongly stressed. In one of his talks Nyerere reaffirmed this concept: The past is one indication of a person's ability to serve, but it is not everything.... Leadership should not be treated like the wearing of clothes ... an election is not like an opportunity to buy from a new selection of khanga. Do not change your representative for the sake of change.  Personal integrity and transparency has credited him with being a warrior against corruption. For this reason throughout his lifelong struggle against corruption, good leadership held prime of place. If anyone offers you money for your vote, he should immediately be reported; similarly if he offers any goods or advantage to you, on condition that you give him your support. Again, if any candidate tries to gain an advantage by organising a private campaign, voters would be well advised to think whether such a person is sufficiently honest and trustworthy to be entrusted with the responsibility of council or parliamentary office.  The role and strength of leadership is equally important for the missionary undertaking. Ujamaa, leadership and mission can never be separated. Ujamaa underlies the ideal community: leadership implies the important mission to guide this ideal community to meet the highest aspiration of man: God.




SEDOS (Rome - 2015)