Socialism in Tanzania

There were many problems that plagued Tanzania as it was beginning its development as an independent country. Tanzania was plagued with economic inequality and too much dependence on foreign investments. A school teacher, Julius Nyerere, from the former Tanganykan country had a vision of African socialism that would create a prosperous socialist society in Africa. From the developments that took place, Nyerere was on the right track, but through governmental mismanagement and environmental issues, his goals were never fully developed.

Tanzania began its independence as Tanganyika in 1961. The school teacher, Julius Nyerere, became the first president of Tanganyika under the new republican constitution. In 1964, Tanganyika was loosely joined with the islands of Zanzibar, and was renamed the Republic of Tanzania (Skinner 2003). Nyerere was a strong supporter of African socialism. He wanted Tanzania to be self-sufficient, to prosper, and be equal to all. To end the economic inequality and restrict government corruption, Nyerere, ordered income limitations and established village collectives (Duiker, 727). The peasants did not agree to this so the government burned their villages and forced them into collective farms. This forced coercion immensely affected the agricultural efficiency and output of the nation, and eventually led to one of the downfalls of Nyerere’s goals.

Another concern of the African leaders was the control of their industries by foreign powers and increase self-reliance. Their goal was to restrict foreign investments and nationalize the major industries while also continuing to support democratic ideals and values (Duiker, 727). The government succeeded in nationalizing the industries, and by 1967, had transformed the government into the largest employer of the nation. There were some major issues in Tanzania that caused Nyerere’s self-reliance plan to fail. The country was crippled by agricultural issues because of poor soil, inadequate rainfall, and limited resources (Duiker, 727). The government also imposed excessive taxes which helped to further damage the economy. Because of these issues, self-reliance was not an acceptable solution for Tanzania; they had to continue to depend on foreign countries for economic assistance.

Tanzania did not respond to Nyerere’s African socialism, as shown through the slow growth and continued rural and urban poverty. The quest for socialism left Tanzania as one of the poorest and least developed countries, and its dependence on foreign aid was the world’s highest (Skinner 2003). One option to overcome some of these issues would have been to unite with a country that had fertile land, such as Kenya. By uniting with a Kenya, together they could have traded resources to help eachother become self-sufficient. The only problem with joining with Kenya was that Kenya welcomed foreign investments and profit incentives. Tanzania was also bordered by four bodies of water. They could have invested in some type of irrigation systems to combat their inadequate rainfall percentages.

In conclusion, I believe with some improvement, Nyerere’s system could have worked and helped Tanzania establish itself as a successful socialist nation. From the textbook’s perspective, their problems were minor, and with some adjustments, Tanzania could have enjoyed being self-reliant and prosperous. Nyerere could have tried to reverse the collective farming to see how well that system would work. He could have also lowered the taxes imposed and used more foreign aide as other nations did. All in all, with a little modifications, I believe in the long run, the plan would have worked.


Duiker, William J., and Jackson J. Spielvogel. The Essential World History. 6th Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, 2011.

Skinner, Annabel. History of Tanzania. April 2003. (accessed November 12, 2010).