The Political Mediation of Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Tanzania



Tanzania is often held up as a ‘success story’, having forged a national identity in a country comprised of 120 ethnic groups and diverse religions, and having created a national culture of accommodation and tolerance. The country’s first president, Julius Nyerere, who led the country from 1961 to 1985, adopted a series of policy measures that contributed to a political order which kept ethnic, racial and religious considerations in careful balance. In the early 1990s, political liberalization gave rise to new expressions of communal discord. These new strains provide a context within which to discuss the extent to which Nyerere’s vision of national unity became institutionalized and absorbed into a national political culture and the extent to which the emphasis on national unity has transcended Nyerere’s rule and his powerful influence in shaping Tanzanian policy.


Ethnic Identity Civil Servant Language Policy National Culture Muslim Community 
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© United Nations Research Institute for Social Development 1999

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