1st Tanzanian President. Trained as a teacher, he founded the Tanganyika African National Union in 1954 to agitate for independence for the British colony of Tanganyika in East Africa. He joined the Legislative Council in 1958, becoming chief minister in 1960. The British granted Tanganyika internal self-administration in 1961. The region gained full independence in December 1961 and Nyerere was elected President in 1962. Following a 1964 coup in neighboring Zanzibar, that region and Tanganyika merged to form the new state of Tanzania with Nyerere as president. He pursued a socialist program for Tanzania, including the sometimes-forced formation of villages, or "ujamaa." Though this system echoed Josef Stalin's collective farms in the Soviet Union, the ujamaa are widely credited with helping Tanzania escape the devastating rural famines that shook much of Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, in response to Ugandan incursions into Tanzania, he led a coalition that ousted Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada. He retired as president in 1985 and is still widely hailed as a national hero.
Bio by: Stuthehistoryguy