University of Cambridge > > Africa Research Forum > Ujamaa socialism, the Vietnam war, and the end of the Prague Spring: Cold War interventions and Tanzania’s ‘1968’

Ujamaa socialism, the Vietnam war, and the end of the Prague Spring: Cold War interventions and Tanzania’s ‘1968’

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Whereas historians of the protest politics of 1968 have largely focused on events in Europe and North America, recent studies have explored them as a global phenomenon, tied to decolonisation struggles in the Third World. In Tanzania, youth and student protestors took to the streets of Dar es Salaam: first in opposition to the United States’ war in Vietnam, then in outrage at the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. In contrast to the common narrative of 1968, which sees disillusioned young people challenging the authority of the state, in Tanzania the language of protest reinforced the ideological message of the regime, which quietly encouraged the demonstrations. If the radical press envisioned Tanzania as part of a global struggle against imperialism, the underlying message, which stressed the need for vigilance and unity in the face of neocolonialist threats. This connected Cold War interventions elsewhere to the national revolution taking place at home, under President Julius Nyerere’s programme of ujamaa socialism, as set out in his Arusha Declaration of 1967. Further, giving such radicals opportunities to direct their pent-up energies outwards at the forces of imperialism, rather than inwards at the regime, channelled criticism away from Nyerere and towards external targets. However, an increasingly militant party youth movement also represented a challenge to the central leadership, by misrepresenting Tanzanian foreign policy to the world and by offering ambitious politicians opportunities to develop their own power bases within the establishment. Nyerere therefore had to perform a careful balancing act, enlisting the vocal support of the youth when desirable, while ensuring that protest against superpower interventions did not become protest against his own rule.

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