The background of Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah lived between 1909 – 1972. He was born in Gold Coast (Ghana) among Nzima ethnic group. He studied and worked in the United State of America and Britain. He returned home by 1947 and from there he became a significant figure in Pan African movements.

After returned home he became a general secretary of new established party called United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) but he broke away by 1949 to form his own party which was called Convection People Party (CPP).

The Party became the leading nationalist party in the territory but following the success in the 1951 elections he became leader of government business and ultimately a prime minister even after 1957 independence. Constitutional change by 1960 he became the country first president

Philosophical ideas of Kwame Nkrumah on socialism, democracy and African Unity

Kwame Nkrumah as early African intellectual and Pan – African leader wrote and developed various ideas on socialism, democracy and African unity. His stand mainly depended on the situation which was prevailing in his time and anticipation of future in his country and Africa continent at large.


Nkrumah ideas on socialism

Like many African leaders he embraced socialism philosophy, he thought would be the best one to lead his country for future betterment and development.

Nkrumah learnt from socialist nation of the world such as Russia, Cuba, North Korea and China that development they had attained was due to socialism which fought with classes in the society.

Also he was able to discourage private and ownership of property. Various investments such as banking, insurance, industry, whole sales companies, just mention a few were nationalized and kept under state control. “By allowing private investment and ownership we could motivate continuation of capitalism as it was during colonialism epoch

Furthermore Kwame Nkrumah in his idea of socialism established Towa Development Committee (TDC) strategy. This strategy developed under local government administration to develop country side (rural areas).It was strategy formed and empowered to govern the villages through communal labour.

People were required to attend once a week to the communal labour i.e. in agriculture, sanitation activities and so forth. Failure to attend communal labour was met with full rigors of the law. Towa development committee made a profound development in rural areas of the Gold Coast (Ghana).

In order to mount the ideas of socialism and communalism, Nkrumah developed ideological institute to teach his ideology of communism.

This could make the government officials and youth to grasp ideas of socialism and communism and practice it in their offices for national development, because through socialism there would be equitable distribution of resources among of the people and a full address of classes among Ghananian.

Kwame Nkrumah also came with concept of socialism basing on African socialism that Africa as the continent had a peculiar socialism based on egalitarianism principle.

To him socialism which could be introduced in his country and Africa continent as a whole should be that which will comply with African environment and should inevitably a humanist in nature that means he embraced socialism which could guarantee each man equal opportunities for his/her development (Tweedie, 1967).

An objectively chosen policy in Africa should be for safeguarding and sustaining egalitarianism and humanism hence socialism.

 To Nkrumah an invention of any nature of technology in modern society was unavoidable. He thought that even if a national/ society had been in a modern science and technology or a modern technical community the leaders in such society/ nation should remold his society in the socialist direction.


Such direction should embraces humanism of traditional Africa. He noted that even before coming of whites in Africa the society was built under classless which appreciated the need of people in such society, thus his philosophy encouraged reintroduction of such tradition in post – colonial Africa society.

However, at the end some Nkrumah’s ideas were criticized especially when slogans such as “Nkrumah does no wrong”, “Nkrumah is a Messiah”, “and Nkrumah is a leader” became the government slogans. Ultimately he became the socialist dictator on which he faced great challenges.

The economy drastically declined opposition members were languishing in prison without trial, states owned farms which were established in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Central regions could not yield good output because workers who were employed were lazy and corrupt.


Nkrumah’s ideas on democracy

Nkrumah democracy focused on Africa continent a whole, he stressed that “Ghana independence could be meaningless unless it was tied to the total liberation of Africa.” Thus gaining of independence from colonial masters by the African countries was a true democracy

His democracy also focused on a single party democracy. To him many parties could alter development because could not be hindered by reactionary politician elites in the opposition parties and traditional chiefs who might compromise with western imperialist.

Thus, he abolished the operation of many parties such as United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and embraced his party called Convention People’s Party (CPP).

However, he was criticized with his philosophy of focusing outside Ghana and denying internal affairs. But also overemphasis on single party politics and abuse of human rights was criticized, afterward; he was overthrown on24th February1977

Nkrumah’s ideas on African unity

Nkrumah was one among Pan – African leaders who influenced in the social economic and political development of African continent. His ideas on African Unity was as follows

As other patriotic African leaders he supported much the Pan African Unity. After gaining of independence Ghana he called upon further liberation of other countries which were not yet liberated. He inspired other leaders from other countries.

But also, he called upon the formation of African Unity which would speed the liberation from colonialism and neo-colonialism through creating African independence economy. Through African Unity the sense of belonging and identity among Africans could be realized.

Furthermore Nkrumah ambition however focused on Africa as a whole, he was determined to turn Accra into a center of Africa liberation to provide a base from which nationalists leaders from colonial Africa could draw support and encouragement, he simply said ….. “Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of African continent…. “(Meredith, 2006:29).

These words led to the formation what was called “All African people’s conference” on which leaders such as J.K Nyerere, Joshua Nkono, Kenneth Kaunda, Hasting Banda, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Holden Roberto and Tom Mboya attended. However, few leaders supported his call for a union government of Africa.

Besides challenges from other Africa leader Nkrumah was among of African leaders who initiated the formation of an Organization of African Unity in 1963. Some leaders like J.K Nyerere, Muamar Gadaffi Hasting Banda and Keneth Kaunda supported Nkrumah view and they started to form OAU which later could transform in a single African government as it was intended by Nkrumah.

However, besides of challenges about the formation of a single African government the efforts shown by Nkrumah influence the formation of an Organization of African Unity.


The background of Julius Nyerere

He lived between 1922 – 1999. He was born in Eastern part of Lake Victoria in the District of Musoma. He belonged in the Zanaki tribe of Butiama. He attended his primary school when he was 12 in 1930 at Mwisenge Missionary center. He was then attended at government Secondary school at Tabora Boys.

He entered Makerere College in Uganda, by then the highest institution of learning in Eastern Africa, in 1943, where he graduated with a diploma of education in 1946 and returned in Tanganyika to teach at St.

Mary’s Secondary School in Tabora. It was while he was teaching at mission school that Nyerere obtained a scholarship for advanced degree studies at Edinburg Scotland, from 1949 to 1952. When at Edinburg he became influenced with Fabian thinking on which later he embraced.

On his return to Tanganyika he started the liberation movement, in which the colonial masters enforced him to go on with the process of liberation or teaching profession. Afterward, he himself withdrew from teaching to the nationalist struggle.

By 1954 he participated in the formation of TANU (Tanganyika African National Union). He became president of the union (a post he held until 1977). He entered the legislative council in 1958 and became chief minister in 1960.

A year later Tanganyika was granted internal self government and Nyerere became the prime minister and in 1962 he became the President.

From this conjuncture a history of Nyerere became more influential including uniting of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, introduction of socialism and self reliance as well as drifting from TANU to CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) as will be shown later.

Philosophical ideas of Julius Kambarage Nyerere on socialism, democracy and African Unity

Nyerere wrote and expounded many in the field of socialism, democracy and African Unity.

But not only that, also included ideas on education and generally nationalist struggle in Africa.

The following ideas are how he tried to expound on socialism, democracy and African Unity.

Nyerere’s ideas on Socialism

As a good follower of socialism philosophy he introduced philosophy of socialism and self reliance in 1967 after Arusha declaration.

His idea of socialism and self reliance embraced the following.

Introduction of rural development programs. These programs based on communal farming on Ujamaa villages. He called upon peasants and workers to work for the whole community.

Under this cooperation of workers and peasants the distribution and plan was to be done by the state and consequently the satisfaction of all citizens’ basic needs could be achieved.

Also Nyerere Philosophy of socialism based on African socialism. This emphasized communal work and communal gain. Thus, Ujamaa could, be realized through, a massive campaign to galvanize ideological commitment to establish a better and a, more equitable society for all citizen.

It based on African socialism which naturally depended on agriculture; it was thus calledupon all people in the society to engage in production and ultimately equal gain

Nyerere’s philosophy emphasized independency economy. His philosophy was purely African socialism; he termed it a self – reliance socialism in which he intended to create a society which is purely independence .

This means society which could raise its fund internally, and self sufficient requirements like food, health care and housing without depending on the western countries. Production was to be increased through, efficient farming practices, leadership, training diffusion of technology, maximum labour and citizen initiation of developmental project.

Nyerere philosophy on socialism emphasized equality or classless society. In this regard he wanted to establish the society in which all people were equal in accessibility to the national resources and opportunities.

This included land, water, health services, and employment opportunities; briefly he wanted to build a society in which all members have equal opportunities and can live in peace without imposing injustice, being exploited and exploiting others.


Nyerere’s ideas on African Unity

Nyerere being a patriotic person in his country extended his idea to Africa continent as a whole.

His ideas on African unity were as follows:-

He called upon Pan African Unity. Nyerere believed that the fight for our enemy could be possible through forming a strong unity among Africans. Their enemies included the Western capitalist nation who continued to control African continent economically under the shadows of neo-colonialism.

Thus, to him through forming giant political unity among African countries, could spear head liberation of Africa continent from colonial masters.

Also Nyerere engaged in different liberation struggle. As a committed Pan-Africanist, Nyerere provided a home for a number of African liberation movements. This was to attain a true unity among Africans, through liberating others, the true Africa unity and solidarity could be attained.

A number of liberation struggle movements included assisting some countries such as African National Congress of South and Pan African Congress (PAC) of south Africa, but also Nyerere assisted political   movements in Mozambique where FRELIMO party wanted to overthrow the Portuguese rule.

But also opposed the brutal regime of Idd Amin in Uganda in 1970’s and liberation struggle in South Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Angola and Namibia.

Nyerere’s ideas on Africa Unity initiated the formation of Organization of African Unity. Nyerere being a committed Pan – Africanist, he expounded many ideas on African Unity.

Besides of fulltime engagement in the progress of struggle for independence in Africa, he also called upon the formation of United States of Africa which ultimately led to the formation of OAU (Organization of Africa Unity) in 1963.

He cooperated with other African leaders and such as Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) Haile Salassie (Ethiopia) Mummer Gadaffi (Libya) and other nation like Liberia which initiated the formation of OAU in 1963.


Nyerere’s ideas on democracy

Like other world philosophers Nyerere also put his ideas on democracy. His ideas   were widely based on his interest as a patriotic leader of his country and African continent as a whole.

To Nyerere the best way of democracy could be attained through a single party. A single party system embraced everybody regardless of tribe, race or class.

Through a single party democracy everybody was free to participate in the political process of mass participatory democracy. His hypothesis came after observing other countries which practiced multiparty democracy. Their multiparty politics connected with tribal politics. And some parties were formed basing on race, class and tribe.

These countries included Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and just mention a few. However, Nyerere participated by calling a national debate on either the multiparty politics should be introduced in Tanzania by 1990 or not.

He implied that the ruling party had over stepped the bound of its authority and was abusing its power as much as the communist parties of Eastern Europe.

Also Nyerere emphasized human right observance. To him presence of human right observance in any state reveals the prevalence of democracy.

Basing on this idea he emphasized the prevalence of human rights respect throughout African continent. He participated a lot in liberation struggle. He was a chairman of frontline state in liberation of African countries from hands of colonial masters.

These countries included Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, Southern Rhodesia and Botswana. But, also he participated to fight against dictator, Idd Amin Dada of Uganda in 1978/79 (Uganda – Tanzania war).

To him therefore democracy entailed human rights observation. However, he was criticized of enforcing human rights in other countries and denying it at home (internally Tanzania) because of continuation using the preventive detention Act to imprison opponents.

In part this may have been justified by the need to contain divisiveness, but there does appear to have been a disjuncture between his commitment to human right democracy in the world or African stage, and his actions at home.

Nyerere also came with non-aligned democracy. His ideas on non-aligned democracy had essence from two antagonistic blocs after Second World War; these blocs included Socialist one being under leadership of Russia (USSR) and the Capitalists one under United States of America (USA).

Therefore in order to maintain the neutrality between these antagonistic blocs Nyerere emphasized the non alliance democracy which also was embraced by Tanzania foreign policy.  Under this system Tanzania secured friends from all over the world. It became an idea which guided Tanzania in implementing its foreign affair.

However, he did not only put his ideas in socialism, Africa Unity and democracy, he also extended his idea in education. He wrote many about the nature of education to be given in Tanzania environment and the needs of the society at the time.

He introduced education for self-reliance on which work was to be integrated in education system of Tanzania. At all level of education the learner could get the formal education at the same time engaging in societal activities, but also integrating the formal education and working activities .This became integrated in education curriculum of Tanzania.

He also came with education for liberation in which he stressed that education is the base of uplifting the standard of living of an individual from impediments.(Kassam, 1995: 250) in this regard he called upon educated ones to go back in their society to liberate people (non-educated one).

He called some professionals such teachers, doctors, engineers, and others to work for the society without demanding a lot from the society. That is why he introduced compulsory national service; it was through national services on which individual could serve their society.

Furthermore he expanded ideas on adult education which was introduced after Arusha declaration, lifelong learning education and learning for liberation from impediments.

This education aimed at inspiring the desire for change and understands that change is possible, help people to make their own decision and implement such decisions for them, involving learners in productive work, and integration of the learners (students) and the society.

Nyerere is remembered by the world community as intellectual scholar, a leader and a philosopher who participated a lot in serving humankind.

In Tanzania he is a father of national but at International arena he expounded many ideas in his writings which influenced socio-economic and political development in many nations.

But he is recognized as the strong leaders who engaged in different war of liberating Africa continent which were under colonial regime.


Application of Nyerere’s ideas in our society

As already noted, Nyerere expounded many concepts in education, democracy, politics, socialism and liberation. He developed many ideas which are vital in national development. Some of his ideas are as follows:-

National Unity .When he was struggling for national independence in 1950’s. He managed to unite all Tanzanian at the time as one. He eliminated all forms of tribalism through unifying Tanzanian tribes. Such effort is still embraced whereby unlike other African countries, Tanzania is free from tribalism.

Socialism and self – reliance philosophy has something to contribute in development of Tanzania at the moment. The philosophy encouraged Ujamaa village in which equality of the people became practical.

Besides, socialization among of the people through doing the work together created good neighborhood among of Tanzanians. This spirit brought the sense of valuing each other, sharing, helping each other during the socio – economic problems such as sickness, weddings and funeral ceremonies. People all over Tanzania assists each other due to past history.

The national education curriculum is still emphasizing self – reliance education as well as extra-curricular activities. This was due to Nyerere’s philosophy of education for self-reliance which encouraged the learners to be independent, but also, integration of education values, knowledge and skills with works (extra-curricular activities) such as agriculture (weeding, livestock keeping), carpentry, nursery projects (horticulture), cleaning of environment, games and sports and so forth.

Nyerere emphasized that Tanzania independence could be meaningless if other national are still under colonial subjugation. Thus, in his time he engaged in several liberation struggles for countries which were still in colonialism.

Tanzania was a frontline country to liberate those countries which were under colonialism. Even at the moment his idea of liberating others is still a national agenda. Recently Tanzania army went in Anjuan and successfully managed to exile dictator Mohamed Bakar, but also, Tanzania offered peacekeeping troop under UNO shadow in Lebanon and AU (African Union) in Darfur Sudan respectively.

Nyerere contributed a lot in our national development. His ideas are still a mirror not only in Tanzania but also with other countries of the world.

He wrote a lot, he focused Tanzania of future especially in sustainable development, capitalism with Africa exploitation, Multipatism and impacts also leadership ethics which were stipulated in Arusha declaration’s document.

At the moment, academician at university of Dar-es-Salaam, Politician and Students annually meet under certain forum called (Kigoda cha Mwalimu) to discuss many issues which were touched by J.K Nyerere politically, socially and economically.


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