INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ‘REVISITING NYERERE’S DEVELOPMENT VISION’
The Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF) will be marking its 20th anniversary in 2018. As part of the commemoration, the Foundation is organising a two-day international conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, at end of April, 2018.
Conference theme:‘ The Relevance of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere’s Development Vision for Peace, Security and Unity in the World’
Development of the People not things was central to Mwalimu Nyerere’s thinking and his was an attempt to articulate the aspirations and expectations of the poor nations and peoples emerging from colonial domination, who continued living under the shadow of different forms of imperialist control including Globalization. His development vision not only embraced the future destiny of Tanzania, his home country, and its people, but also that of Africa and the ‘Global South’. In its immediate independence decade and after, Africa was faced with a political and economic dilemma which not only muzzled them but actually threatened the rights of poor nations to exercise their sovereignty. The young and weak post-colonial states could not serve as instruments for realising the numerous hopes and expectations of the masses, while African elites were using their privileged political positions to accumulate wealth for self-prosperity at the expense of the majority of the poor. Taking cognisance of this fact and inspired by the intellectual tradition of the South as pioneered by Nehru, Prebisch and others, Nyerere’s ideas envisioned a development path that was People-Centred – depicting people’s autonomous authority and sovereignty while, ensuring a gradual but equal improvement of the quality of life of the masses on the basis of human dignity and equality as well as the need to promote harmonious living, peace security and Human Rights. That vision could not be realised outside the socialist path, which, in Tanzania, took the form of Ujamaa (family hood).
FOCUS ON MWALIMU NYERERE’S DEVELOPMENT VISION AND THE ARUSHA DECLARATION
To that end, in 1967 Nyerere and his Party adopted the Arusha Declaration on Socialism and Self-Reliance,(Siasa ya Ujamaa na Kujitegemea), a declaration of intent to build a socialist and self-reliant nation based on our African roots, in which all, men and women, were equal, with no exploiters and no exploited – no division of society into classes of the haves’ and they have not’s, or rich and poor. The adoption of the Arusha Declaration was, in itself, a strong statement to the world that a country such as Tanzania was free to choose a development path most suitable for its needs. It was a rejection of diktats from the most powerful nations, or even the less powerful but ambitious ones, which sought to impose their positions on the development direction of others, especially the poor nations of the South. The Arusha Declaration and the beliefs and principles became, and continue to be, an inspiring rallying point to generations of progressive intellectuals’ scholars and those doing development work and research all over the world in the context of a one united and increasingly Inter-dependent World. The philosophy, vision, mission, objectives, beliefs and principles defined in the Arusha Declaration, can also be found in the report of the South Commission.
THE CHALLENGE TO THER SOUTH
“The Challenge to the South”. The background to this report and how Mwalimu Nyerere became its Chairman is well explained in the Report itself.
PAN-AFRICANISM, UNITY, THE NEW WORLD ECONOMIC ORDER AND COLLECTIVE SELF-RELIANCE
Nyerere himself was highly conscious of the various hurdles standing in the way of the aspirations of the people of Africa and the Global South. Two conditions dominated his thinking with regard to development. First was the fragmentation and weakness of the post-colonial African states/nations. These were too small non-viable fragile and irrational, and therefore unable to lead their people to the desired destiny. Nyerere’s solution to this was African solidarity and Unity. He believed that through Pan-Africanism as a Tool of Unity and Liberation, , Africa could ably mobilise its human and natural resources for the development of its people. Second was the state of the World Economic Order which was, and still is, unfavourable, unequal and unjust for many countries of the South. Nyerere, with others, championed a New World Economic Order for peace and justice, believing that until that is achieved the peoples and nations of the South would remain satellites of the powerful imperialist countries, and their economic and social direction would always be determined and decided by them. It was from this understanding that Nyerere became an ardent spokesperson and leader of the South’s demands for a New World Economic Order. The solidarity of the Global South in cooperation with progressive forces in the Global North was the instrument for pushing for these changes. It was also seen as a vehicle through which cooperation among South nations would be channelled in the spirit of collective self-reliance. At the continental and South level, the report of the South Commission; The Challenge to the South which Nyerere chaired, emphasised this approach as a way of realising a development agenda consistent with the needs of the people of Africa in particular, and the South generally.
NEO-COLONIALISM AND IMPACT ON FRIGILE AFRICAN STATES AND NEW DEVELOPMENT VISION
Sixty years after the first African country gained independence (Ghana), Africa’s development remains an important question. The notion of a people-centred development advocated fifty years ago in the Arusha Declaration (1967), before it was modified by the leadership code twenty-five years later in favour of free market economy, sometimes called the mixed economy, is as relevant today as it ever was then. After decades of implementing neo-liberal economic policies and political programmes, the promises and illusions of such initiatives are diminishing. Throughout Africa, and the rest of the world, the majority are still languishing in poverty. One response has been an attempt by, for example, some scholars and capitalist institutions, to legitimise the worst outcomes of neoliberalism with the idea of a rising Africa which infact is an attempt to cool down the masses while stoking the fires of capitalist accumulation. In Africa, the masses, and especially the youth, are looking for answers and impatiently pressing for change, hoping that change will deliver their liberation. When ‘change’ eventually comes, usually after elections, betrayal and disappointment are often not far behind. In some instances the demand for change may cause a retreat into populism or authoritarianism. These problems and challenges in the African development paradigm require new development vision, mission and strategy.
LESSONS TO LEARN FOR THE PRESENT AND FUTURE
Amid this mix of confusion, illusion, disappointment and frustration of unfulfilled promises, the question emerges: What is the root of the problems we are experiencing now and may experience even years to come, as a people? Some of the responses to this question suggest the need to revisit the relevance of the past – both its progressive intellectual tradition and its practice – in order to draw from it some lessons for the present and the future. It is in this context, and against this background, as inspired by Nyerere’s vision of autonomous development, that this conference is organised. All these important issues are reflected in the South Commission’s Report as challenges to be met through a strategic implementation of the same.
The conference will thus be organised around five sub-themes:
ORGANISATION OF THE CONFERENCE
The format of the conference will include keynote speeches, lectures, roundtable discussions, conversations, and performances.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Papers are invited for the roundtable discussions. All papers should be based on the five sub-themes of the conference. The deadline for submission of abstracts (Approximately 500 words) is 30th November 2017. Notification of acceptance will be made by January 2018. Selected participants will be required to develop full papers and submit by 15th March, 2018.
Abstracts should be sent to the Conference Organising Committee at the Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, please contact Miraji Magai Maira at email@example.com or Eliud Kabamanya, eliudkay @hotmail.com.
The Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation,
P.O. Box 71000,
DAR ES SALAAM
FAX: +255 22 2119216
18th October, 2017