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The Secret History of TANU: Rumor, Historiography and Muslim Unrest in Contemporary Dar Es Salaam

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This article explores historical rumors and narratives told by Muslims of Dar es Salaam, contending that Julius Nyerere, TANU founder and first president of independent Tanzania, was an inexperienced schoolteacher thrust into the role of political activist through sponsorship of the Muslim community. This history was allegedly hidden by the current government to cover up not only Nyerere's meteoric rise to a position of leadership, but also subsequent actions that wrested the movement from Muslims and other early TANU leaders to monopolize power for himself and upcountry elites. Just as academic historians critique the teleological trajectory of many nationalist histories, these rumors critique Tanzanian nationalist history through appropriating its historiographic form to forefront postcolonial grievances. The discursive nature of such rumors articulates the discontent permeating the postcolonial Muslim community of Dar es Salaam. And as political speech in action, rumors are instrumental in mobilizing new postcolonial political configurations.
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Keywords: Dar es Salaam; Historiography; History; Julius Nyerere; Muslims; Nationalism; Rumor; Secrets; Speech Acts; TANU; Tanzania

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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