Sung and Unsung: Musical Reflections on Tanzanian Postsocialisms

Kelly M. Askew
2006 Africa - Journal of the International African Institute  
ABSTRACTOn 14 October 1999, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the first president of the United Republic of Tanzania, died in a London hospital. In Tanzania, musical bands throughout the country reacted to the news by composing scores of lamentation songs(nyimbo za maombolezo)that mourned his passing and assessed his contributions to the country he helped to create. While elsewhere in the world Nyerere is affiliated with the 'African socialist' platform termedUjamaathat he theorized in his political
more » ... in his political writings and instituted during his tenure as president, these lamentation songs are notably silent on the topic of socialism. This silence indicates the ambiguity with which Tanzanians today relate to their socialist past. As a necessary prelude to analysis of thenyimbo za maombolezo,this article explores the practices, policies and values promoted in Tanzanian socialisms (mainland and Zanzibar) and in the postsocialist present. Competing rhetorics are revealed in these musical constructions of the 'Father of the Nation' and, by extension, the Tanzanian nation itself.
doi:10.3366/afr.2006.0002 fatcat:fmyu6pc53ja2ddobutyibv6tem