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Politics and Politicians

Julius Nyerere of Tanzania has attracted the veneration of both his countrymen and TEAA authors. Jerry Atkin's tender and decidedly honorific tribute is a reminder that Nyerere visited the first group of TEAers at Teachers College, the day before they flew off to East Africa. He was called "Mwalimu" because he was a teacher, one who like all teachers had a covenantal relationship with those he served. The ways in which he achieved that are chronicled in In Memoriam: Julius Nyerere. How, then, did the teacher-president react to the ideas of Ben Lindfors and Morris Goodman for Amending Nyerere's Julius Caesar?

Some political memories from Kenya and Uganda are less inspiring. A letter home in 1969 recounts an experience in Nairobi so unsettling that it prompted Ted Hoss in 2012, forty-three years later, to state that he could "still feel a sense of horror as I remember the scene as it unfolded. It was a truly frightening experience." It is that unfolding that is detailed in Assassination in Nairobi. But violence was nothing new in the struggle for the future of Kenya. David Sandgren discovered soon after his arrival that he was living amidst the results of A Grim Mau Mau Legacy – death by colonial "interrogation."

A gentler approach to governance involves the ballot box. Kay Borkowski's Voting in Kenya, in excerpts from letters home written on the eve of Kenya's independence, gives us her assessment of voting in Machakos, wanting "to see," as she says, "just exactly how democracy works in Kenya." What she did personalized the experience for the outsider that she was then. Jane Stockton's Voting Absentee from Kenya, on the other hand, concerns her owm dutiful efforts to cast absentee ballots for the United States presidential election of 1964 as an overseas resident from Illinois while she was in Kenya. Whether her efforts turned the contests in the directions she wanted almost seems beside the point. In any case, her story is a tale of triumph.

"I crossed paths with Idi Amin three times." Those are the opening words of Ron Stockton's Encounters with Amin. The first encounter was in 1966 in Machakos, in Kenya, the second in 1970 in Kampala, and the third in 1971 in Jinja, the industrial city not far from Kampala. You will have to read Ron's lively account to learn the nature of these encounters and what circumstance generated the closing sentence of the story: "I have always been grateful to my small son for his contribution to our family's safety."

During Amin's eight-year rule, "Ugandans were gripped in a climate of fear as an estimated 500,000 people disappeared or were killed," said his CNN obituary decades later. How did this man, a boxing champion with little formal education, a man sometimes called the "butcher of Uganda," rise to the top? It is a chilling tale, presented in Flash Photos of a Tyrant Rising, by Moses Howard, who saw "terrible things" and for whom "these were not distant happenings at all."


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All stories in this category,
alphabetical by author.


Atkin, Jerry. In Memoriam: Julius Nyerere.
Borkowski, Kay. Voting in Kenya, 1963.
Hoss, Ted Assassination In Nairobi.
Howard, Moses. Flash Photos of a Tyrant Rising.
Lindfors, Bernth (Ben). Amending Nyerere's Julius Caesar
Sandgren, David. A Grim Mau Mau Legacy
Stockton, Jane. Voting Absentee from Kenya.
Stockton, Ron. Encounters with Amin.
Stockton, Ron. Nelson Mandela.

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