July 2 2013
Journeys with POTUS
President Obama raised a glass to late Tanzanian dictator Julius Nyerere (1924-1999) yesterday. The Daily Caller has some of the president’s words:
“[Y]ou might say an American child is my child. We might say a Tanzanian child is my child,” Obama said after quoting the Tanzanian saying “my neighbor’s child is my child.”
“The core values that he proclaimed for Tanzania also describe what both our countries seek — wisdom, unity, and peace — Hekima, Umoja, na Amani,” Obama said at a state dinner, held at 9:00 p.m. local time.
“In this way, both of our nations will be looking after all of our children and we’ll be living out the vision of President [Julius] Nyerere,” Obama continued.
I don’t want to live out the vision of Julius Nyerere. To say that Nyerere represents the "core values" of the United States is absolutely outrageous.
Nyerere, who ruled Tanzania from 1961 to 1985, was a Marxist (this is a loaded word from which I usually try to steer clear), collectivist autocrat who brought hardship to the people of Tanzania. He was a destructive leader. Even the lefty Guardian newspaper, purveyor of NSA leaks, could glom onto the truth about Nyerere:
In 1967 came Nyerere's Arusha Declaration, his policy on socialism and self-reliance. Its cornerstone was ujamaa, or familyhood, which was imposed on Tanzania in the following years. The aim was to collect people into villages or communes, where they would have better access to education and medical services. Nearly 10m peasants were moved and a substantial majority were forced to give up their land. But to most Tanzanians, the idea of collective farming was abhorrent. Many found themselves worse off; incentive and productivity declined, and ujamaa was effectively abandoned. It was a measure of Nyerere's international prestige that the failure of this fundamental policy at home in no way dented his global standing.
President Obama didn’t have to toast Nyerere. Nyerere has been dead for two decades, and it is not as if anybody would have regarded failure to laud him as an ommission. It would have been perfectly acceptable—no much better—for the president to praise Tanzania without fondly invoking the austere, Brit-educated collectivist in the Mao jacket who brought so much poverty to his country.
Bottom line: the president of the United States went out of his way to praise a dictator who pretty much wrecked his country.