Julius Nyerere immortalized with life-size statue at African Union headquarters

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Julius Nyerere immortalized with life-size statue at African Union headquarters

The founding father of Tanzania and one of Africa’s most iconic figures, former President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere was honored Sunday with a statue outside the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The legacy of this remarkable leader encapsulates the essence of Pan Africanism, profound wisdom, and service to Africa,” said Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chair of the African Union Commission at the unveiling ceremony in a livestream of the event monitored by Mshale.

African Union Commission chair, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, third left, is joined by President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, second right, and other African leaders for a group photo following the unveiling of a statue honoring the founding father of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 in Addis Ababa. Nyerere joins Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie as the only African leaders with statues in their honor outside the African Union headquarters. Photo: Courtesy African Union

Mr. Mahamat made the remarks in the presence of numerous African presidents that were attending the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. Among those present was President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania.

“To him, Africa’s wellbeing came first, before popular approval, personal fortune or country wellbeing,” President Hassan said of the former leader of her country.

Known as Mwalimu – the Swahili word for teacher – the late president, a teacher before joining the independence movement, led Tanzania from independence in 1961 to 1985, among the very first of African presidents that left power voluntarily during that time.

He was among the founders of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the current African Union.

He was 77 when died on Oct. 14, 1999 at a London hospital while receiving treatment for leukemia after also suffering a stroke.

The life-size bronze statue outside the grounds of the African Union, is the third of its kind to be unveiled in honor of an African leader. The other two are of the late Pan-Africanist president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah and Ethiopia’s emperor Haile Selassie.

Mr. Mahamat noted that during his time as president of Tanzania, Mr. Nyerere made the country a sanctuary for liberation movements across the continent, including those that were fighting to end Apartheid in South Africa. He later expanded his commitments to allow the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as liberation movements from Latin America to operate from Tanzania.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and African Union Commission chair, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat lead other African leaders in the ribbon-cutting during unveiling of a statue honoring the founding father of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 in Addis Ababa. Nyerere joins Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie as the only African leaders with statues in their honor outside the African Union headquarters. Photo: Courtesy African Union

“May the spirit of Mwalimu’s wisdom and humility guide the work of this building that he now stands as its protector,” said Mr. Mahamat.

About Tom Gitaa Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

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