Remembering Edward Moringe Sokoine; Tanzania’s statesman |2014 Post|
Nations world over are built on the ideals of their founding fathers. Some like in America, the sheer will and dedication of the founders molded a nation while wisdom, courage and selflessness built empires, strong democracies and civilizations. Historic moments such as revolutions, civil wars, crises, constitution making, war for independence, and many others define polities. Great men also define nations. When I was growing up, tales of Tanzanian great men where told to me either by my parents or at school. Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere was a man whose stories were told to me as a child. I grew up listening to his speeches in the national radio, seeing his face on the currency, his grayed hair portrait hung on government offices and private businesses.
During one Christmas holiday in our rural home, as I looked into my dad’s high school and college books, I found Nyerere’s book “Miaka Kumi Baada ya Azimio la Arusha”. I read it despite not knowing exactly Ujamaa was at the time. Of course I was born after the Arusha Declaration of 1967 that made Tanzania a Socialist country in what Nyerere termed as “Ujamaa is Tanzania’s unique form of Socialism” in yet another great book “Freedom and Socialism” which I read later on. Nyerere was not the only Tanzanian hero I knew while growing up. Edward Moringe Sokoine was another Tanzanian statesman whose remarkable leadership was told to me while I grew up. As an avid lover of history and politics, I read of this great Maasai man who served as Prime Minister of Tanzania on two occasions.
Reading yet another Tanzania history book “Maadili ya Taifa na Hatma ya Tanzania: Enzi kwa Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere” by Ibrahim Mohamed Kaduma, he recalls in 1980 when Edward Moringe Sokoine vied for a seat in Monduli Constituency together with a driver in the Department of Livestock and who was his supervisor. This was the Tanzania of old when character and service was the drive for power and not money, wealth and status. Prime Minister Sokoine as is written was a man with character, love for the people, and one who wanted a better Tanzania. He condemned corruption and excessive capital accumulation — some allude his death to these principles that he stood for. Reading yet another book (I can’t recall the title or the author), it is written that Edward Sokoine died in a car crash. Although it is believed that he survived the crash after a collision with a car driven by a South African man by the name Dumisani Dube, it is said the man finished him off. That is a story for another day.
A man who spoke openly in support of equality for the ordinary Tanzanian passed away on 12 April, 1984. Thirty years on, the Tanzania he envisioned where government is free from corruption and without excessive and exuberant capital accumulation is still there. Without wealth, riches and glory that comes with status you cannot vie for an elective post and win, ask Torongey, the man who vied for the Chalinze seat with the President’s son. You cannot get a job if you don’t know somebody, electoral corruption is rampant. But again, he did his best in a short stint as Prime Minister and he remains a man of honor in Tanzania.