In 1960s when African states gain independence, many leaders felt that they can not celebrate their victory if they continue using the economic-political system that has been established by colonizers such as capitalism. They perceived capitalism as the bearer of social inequalities, and ignorance that exists within societies. They wanted a unique economic and political system with no resemblance of outside influence. African Socialism was then a unique political ideology and identity of Africa. Julius Nyerere was one of the leading proponents of African socialism “African traditional way of life” (Hyden, 1980: 200). African socialism as an ideology has its own successes and also its own criticism. Therefore, this essay will critically evaluate African socialism with the reference to Ujamaa policies of Tanzania. Tanzania for many years after 1967 has been referred to as a socialist country due to its commitment to socialist ideology and has put African socialism into practice. African socialism was very good ideology for development in theory. Thus, in practice it failed to deliver its objectives because of mismanagement associated with the lack of proper planning, lack of understanding and acceptance of some policies of African socialism, bureaucracy created contradictions, problems and poverty, inequality, non democratic, dependency increased. African socialism is the ideology with the belief of sharing economic resources in African traditional way. African socialism can be considered as the response to the colonization. This means that African socialism was the condemnation to colonialism and embracement of African traditional life with the basis of extended family. Main features of African socialism were to sustain political democracy and mutual responsibility to end poverty, inequalities, create a classless, egalitarian and self-relied, united and developed society and unity. African leaders believed that traditional political democracy will eliminates the accumulation of power through economic domination and enforce mutual responsibility with equal labor and distribution of wealth. Thus the principle beneath socialism was the renewal of the continent through the preservation and utilization of tradition to advance society and establish humanitarian principles (Kotze, 1983: 74).
African socialism like all ideologies has its own successes and its shortcomings as well. It was a good ideology that embraced African perspective on political and economic matters. It provided Africans with autonomy to do thing in their own ways without the outside intervention which normally suppress African policies and ideologies over their own. Although African socialism was created as the response to African underdevelopment, thus it has been unsuccessful to assist African countries escape their underdevelopment associated with humanitarian, suppression, human rights abuse that they were facing during the colonial era. It has not provided them with the explicit and sustainable plans for development. This is mostly the case of reality that although political independence was obtained, the same cannot be claimed about economic independence (Kotze, 1983: 84). Meaning that although African socialism is based on economic growth it has however, failed to free African states from their dependence on foreign aid.
For many years after 1967 Tanzania was regarded as the main country that was committed to socialist principles and has put African socialism into practice. Yet today Tanzania is one of the most poorest countries in the world and it is in need for an international financial support. There has been the move from socialism to capitalism because they have realized that it does not help them. Ujamaa was at the heart of Nyerere and Tanzanian political thought. Ujamaa is the Swahili name refers to familyhood. It expresses the strong sense of similar spirit, belonging and shared responsibilities with the culture of sharing. There are...
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