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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Remembering Nyerere: political rhetoric and dissent in contemporary Tanzania
Author:Becker, FelicitasISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Geographic term:Tanzania
heads of State
praise poetry
About person:Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922-1999)ISNI
External link:http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/content/112/447/238.full.pdf
Abstract:This article examines the changing uses of political rhetoric around the burial of Julius Nyerere in 1999. It argues that Tanzania's ruling party uses rhetoric as a means of 'soft power', but also documents how this rhetoric, though geared towards legitimizing Nyerere's successors, employed tropes that were rejected by some people and were used by others to critique leaders who were perceived to lack the selfless integrity attributed to Nyerere. The article compares funerary songs by a government-sponsored band, popular at the time of Nyerere's death, with memories of Nyerere in rural areas in the early to mid-2000s. While the image of Nyerere in the funeral songs as a benign family patriarch writ large still persists, it coexists with strongly divergent constructions of Nyerere as an authoritarian ruler or a self-seeking profiteer. Moreover, the 'official', benign Nyerere has been employed not only by government and party faithful, but also by striking workers, opposition politicians, and critical newspapers as a measure of the shortcomings of his successors. The invocation of Nyerere as a paragon of an endangered ideal of virtue in public office indicates widespread anxieties towards a State that often disappoints but occasionally delivers, in unpredictable turns, and the limits of the government's ability to shut down dissent. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]