The concepts of ‘development’ and ‘freedom’ in the writings of Julius Nyerere and Amartya Sen

Mtshali, Khondlo (1); Mbandlwa, Minenhle (2) (2016). 'The concepts of ‘development’ and ‘freedom’ in the writings of Julius Nyerere and Amartya Sen' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract Julius Kambarage Nyerere was the first President of the post-colonial Tanganyika, the present day Republic of Tanzania. After the failure of Tanganyika’s first development plan, Nyerere and his political party, Tanganyika National Union (TANU) embarked on a new developmental paradigm that combined freedom and development. Amartya Sen is an advocate of the capability approach, a developmental paradigm that privileges agency and freedom. While Julius Nyerere’s 1968 essay titled “Freedom and Development”, and Amartya Sen’s 1999 book titled Development as Freedom suggest affinity in the thoughts of these two thinkers and development practitioners, literature that compares the ideas of these individuals is almost none existent. The purpose of this essay is to address this gap. This essay will argue that both Julius Nyerere and Amartya Sen view development as positive freedom. In this conceptualization, material things and resources are simply means while human beings are ends of development. This essay will commence with Nyerere’s and Sen’s critique of economic determinism. We will then interrogate the concept of agency in the writings of these two scholars. This will be followed by the discussion of personal and social factors that transform material things into what Sen calls functionings. This essay will conclude with the discussion of positive freedom in the writing of these two philosophers / practitioners. 

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