World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

15 October 1999


The following tribute to the renowned African elder statesman and former president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, who died on Thursday 14 October, has been paid by the Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

"Throughout Africa's struggle for liberation from colonization and against apartheid the World Council of Churches, in its efforts to support that cause, sought the guidance and insights of the man who, as chairman of the "frontline states", inspired and exemplified the struggle. As we share in the grief over the loss of our friend and mentor Julius Nyerere and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends, we give thanks to God for his life and pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace.

Julius Nyerere lived a simple life in harmony with his message and the values of truth and justice to which he referred. Incorruptibile and fully accountable, his life and work set an example of integrity that challenged his country and people, the rest of Africa and the world.

In many ways, Nyerere was the conscience of Africa. His voluntary reliniquishment of the presidency is evidence of that, but other examples of his integrity abound.

Nyerere was a man of tremendous intellectual and moral resources. During the long struggle for decolonization of the Portuguese colonies and of Southern Rhodesia, as well as in the battle against apartheid in Namibia and South Africa, he put his capacities to work in the service of resistance and the liberation struggle. A concrete example of his commitment was the welcome given by Tanzania to refugees from the Portuguese colonies and South Africa, land and resources for development and education being specially set aside for their needs.

During these years, the WCC through its Programme to Combat Racism (PCR) not only offered financial support to such refugee settlements, but frequently consulted Nyerere, drawing on his wisdom and experience. In its work as a whole in support of justice, peace, development, human rights and freedom, the WCC was also guided by his words that 'If the church is not part of our poverty, and part of our struggle against poverty and injustice, then it is not part of us.'

For the Rev. Sam Kobia from Kenya, director for Issues and Themes, while the world would do well to emulate his unostentatious lifestyle, Africa might pay a fitting tribute to Nyerere by continuing to work for unity and peace."

Contact: WCC Media Relations Office, Tel. +41.22.791.61.53

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.