Friday, April 19, 2013

Dar-es-Salaam..Once A Home To Revolutionaries

From the earliest days of Independence in 1961, Tanganyika under the Tanganyika African National Union, Tanu, served as a base for various liberation movements fighting against colonialism and settler-colonialism, particularly in Southern Africa.

 Tanzania became a reliable rear base for Namibia’s South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) as well South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC), the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

 Many of these wanderers, fired by the utopian promise of the late President Julius Nyerere’s Ujamaa philosophy, flocked to the coastal capital, revelling in an atmosphere that not only fuelled their idealism but also served as a hothouse to incubate ideologies and movements they believed would change the world.

 The Organisation of African Unity Liberation Committee – earlier based in Accra, Ghana – moved its headquarters to Dar-es-Salaam, from where it supplied training, material aid and organisational support to the mass organisations and independence movements in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and other African colonies still struggling for Independence.

Hence, apart from the intellectuals from different parts of the world who flocked to Dar during its golden era as a centre of revolutionary discourse, numerous freedom fighters from different parts of Africa also found succor there.

Having operated from Tanzania for many years, people like current Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba and his predecessor Dr Sam Nujoma retain fond memories of their years there. Their sojourns in the country are said to be a treasured part of the folklore of places such as Mtwara, Morogoro, Dodoma and Mbeya.

 The late President Nyerere’s leadership had made it clear that freedom for the country was meaningless as long as other African countries remained under colonial rule. It therefore welcomed African freedom fighters with open hands, including some who would eventually perish in the course of the struggle.

Among them was Eduardo Mondlane, the former Frelimo president who was assassinated in 1969 by a parcel bomb sent to him at the Frelimo headquarters in Dar es Salaam. The same method would years later be used to assassinate the white South African anti-apartheid campaigner Ruth First.



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