To some people, it was the first time to spot the poet guru, Amri Sudi Andanenga, who not only attended the Usiku wa Mashairi ya Mwalimu Nyerere as a poet but also as a guest of honor. The event which took place at the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) was attended by tens of hundredth of poetry mongers and well wishers.

Delivering the welcome remarks the Director of the Nyerere Resource Centre (NRC), simply known in Kiswahili as Kavazi la Mwalimu, Professor Issa Shivji noted that the ideas of collecting poems composed by Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere was initiated by the team of the Nyerere Resource Centre, but the idea to recite those poems came from Mr. Mahmoud Khamsin Mabiru, a member of the Association for the Promotion of Kiswahili Language (APROKILA).

He also noted that since the launch of the NRC, in March this year, the centre has been able to conduct seminars and short courses on various issues of national interests. “And tonight, here we are, gathering to listen to and discuss about various poems composed by Mwalimu Nyerere and other poets of our time,” he added.

A cross-section of poetry lovers who attended the event listening to Mr. Amri Sudi Andanenga (not pictured).

Speaking during the event, the star of the event and Guest of Honor Amri Sudi Andanenga revealed that Mwalimu Nyerere was fond of Kiswahili poetry and he made a lot of good friends out of it. “If there was one thing that Mwalimu Nyerere liked the most was poetry. Some of you may not know this, but for us poets, Mwalimu Nyerere, would call us to his home to have a series of evening chit chats about Swahili poetry,” he attested.

Adding to his testimony, Andanenga recalled that apart from composing, reciting and teaching poetry, Mwalimu was a good listener to this genre.  “We lost one of our poet heroes,” he bereaved. Mr. Andanenga also thanked the management of the Nyerere Resource Centre for collecting and publishing Mwalimu’s poems and for inviting poets to recite them.

He urged the centre to influence other government agencies to build libraries in various places in the country as a tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere. “Mwalimu Nyerere loved to read and write in Kiswahili. We cannot say we pay tribute to him if we do not read and write. Having libraries in our neighborhoods would mean a lot to this generation and to Mwalimu himself, if he had to resurrected today. ” he ended.

As a tribute to Mwalimu, Andanenga recited the famous poem by Mwalimu Nyerere, “Chombo cha Taifa” that was composed in 1955.

The COSTECH Director General, Dr. Hassan Mshinda (right) receives a copy of the book Kunakucha Kulichele, na Kulala Kukomele, as a souvenir from the poet guru and Guest of Honor, Amri Sudi Andanenga. Looking on is one of the book editors and member of  the NRC organizing committee, Professor Saida Yahya- Othman. 

Apart from Andanenga, poetry mongers – young and old showed up to recite Kiswahili verses either composed by Mwalimu Nyerere or by themselves. Among them were Francis Milanzi, Bashiru Ally, Maulid Kambaya, Mohammad Habib, Subira Kibiga, Shani Kitogo, and Omar Kambuga.

The event also created the spotlight for the introduction of the Association for the Promotion of Kiswahili Language (APROKILA), an association that ventures into acquiring, storing and disseminating ancient Kiswahili poems and other Kiswahili literatures.

Speaking during the event Mr. Mahmoud Khamsin Mabiru, a member of association, noted that most of their plans are going well although a lot of researches they are undertaking need financial supports. He called for all well wishers and supporters to support their cause so that Kiswahili could reach at the stage of being recognized as the major language of African continent.

Delivering the closing remarks, the COSTECH Director General, Dr. Hassan Mshinda underlined the importance of the event by saying that it contributed a lot to his own understanding of the Kiswahili poetry, his knowledge about Mwalimu Nyerere outside politics and the need for more research on issues that are not well documented by responsible government agencies.

Dr. Mshinda revealed that one of the functions of the COSTECH is to coordinate and promote scientific research in the country and called on interested parties to submit their research proposals to COSTECH so that they could be funded.

“We would be happy to fund any research of national interest. If there are people out there who would like to benefit from research fund, I urge you to submit your proposals and we will see to it how we can provide support, depending on the availability of fund.” Dr. Mshinda added.

The event also involved the launch of one of the Kavazi Occasion Papers, Kunakucha Kulichele, na Kulala Kukomele, a book that constitutes some selected poems by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.