Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award for Justice
Venue: American Embassy, Dar es Salaam.
January 23, 2007
Remarks by Hon. Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru
Minister of State in the President's Office,
Political Affairs and Civil Societies Relations
Mzee Rashid Mfaume Kawawa has honoured me singularly by asking me to say something about his history. I would like to thank him for that honour.
Before I continue let me first thank his Excellency the Ambassador of the USA to Tanzania Mr. Michael L. Retzer and the organizers of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Drum Major for Justice Award for having arrived at the decision to confer the said award on the distinguished son of Tanzania and Africa, Rashid Mfaume Kawawa. On this score, they could not have chosen a more deserving recipient.
Mzee Rashid Mfaume Kawawa is an unassuming man, humble, polite and simple. He has always been like that. But behind this façade, there is the real Kawawa, a man of determination, discipline and decision. A man who sets things done.
It appears that the young Kawawa of the late forties was troubled and preoccupied by the African people’s condition as third rate citizens in the colonial order of things and the African people’s condition as a colonized people. To deal with the first pre-occupation, he joined the only civil servants organization called the Tanganyika African Government Servants Association (TAGSA) to militate for better working conditions for Africa civil servants. Having been elected leader of TAGSA, Mr. Kawawa used this platform to agitate for the creation of the first modern trade union national organization, the Tanganyika Federation of Labour (TFL). The Tanganyika Federation of Labour (TFL) was a veritable brainchild of Mzee Rashid Mfaume Kawawa. The creation of the TFL revolutionized the labour situation in the country and tilted the balance of power in favour of the independence movement led by TANU under the leadership of Mwalimu Nyerere.
The nineteen fifties were eventful years from a historical perspective. They saw the creation of TFL, and more importantly before TFL, they saw the founding of the Tanganyika African National Union on 7th July 1954 and of the Afro-Shirazi Party in Zanzibar, on 5th February 1954. Comrade Rashid Mfaume Kawawa joined TANU soon after it was founded. In 1956 Comrade Kawawa led to historical initiatives. He chaired the committee which formally created the TANU Youth League, the organized youth wing of the party and he also led the team which launched the first African independent newspaper, the MWAFRICA. Comrade Kawawa finally became Vice-President of TANU when the holder of the post, Mzee John Rupia retired.
Comrade Kawawa has held several portfolios in government at the highest level, i.e. ministerial premiership and vice- presidency. He is a reputed hard worker and fast decision maker. He was Prime Minister and Vice-President during periods when things were very tough and rough in the country. His one year premiership after Mwalim Nyerere's resignation was not an enviable period. The task of implementing the Africanisation policy was delicate and therefore required proper balancing and decisive action. The nineteen sixties and seventies were years when Dar es Salaam was the hub of the liberation struggle. Comrade Kawawa's 2nd Vice-President's Office was the office at the service of the liberation movements. On the national internal level, the Arusha Declaration had ushered in great social and economic transformations including the villagisation movement. Finally, we had to withstand and expel the occupying forces of Iddi Amin of Uganda.
For most of this period, Comrade Kawawa was at the side of our founding father, Mwalimu Nyerere. Mwalimu held Comrade Kawawa in high regard and esteem. Mwalimu knew that Comrade Kawawa was loyal and true. Under the leadership of Mwalimu, Comrade Kawawa and other patriots have succeeded in building national unity and laying the foundations of a free and just society. The younger generations should continue with the challenge.
Martin Luther King Jr. is a great African-American fighter for equality and justice in the United States. He died for this cause a hero. Comrade Rashid Mfaume Kawawa is a great fighter for equality, freedom and justice in Africa. His life history is a testimony to that. This occasion is a meeting ground of two great fights for freedom and justice from two great continents.