At Edinburgh 1949-1952
By Tom Cunningham
Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922-1999) is perhaps the best known of Edinburgh’s African alumni.
As President of Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) he led Tanganyika to Independence in 1961 and served as President of the Republic of Tanzania (the name given to the territory after the 1964 union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar) until his retirement in 1985. The son of a chief and educated at the prestigious Tabora Boys School, Nyerere came to Britain in 1949 on a colonial government scholarship.
Nyerere was part of the first wave of East Africans to study at British universities and, unusually, chose to study for an Arts degree. He graduated from Edinburgh in 1952.
He is remembered today for his elaboration of “African Socialism,” and in particular his concept of ujamaa (loosely, “family” or “socialism”) which informed his plans for the social and economic development of Tanzania. Although the success of his attempt to introduce African Socialism in Tanzania might be questioned, many consider Julius Nyerere one of Edinburgh’s most remarkable alumni.