Bibi Titi: ‘Mother of the Nation’

Bibi Titi: ‘Mother of the Nation’

One of the iconic political figures in the history of Tanzania and Africa political liberation. Surprisingly, her name seems to hardly appear in most history books being taught in schools and high academic institutions in Tanzania and Africa respectively.

Only those who love history and are ready to dig in the books get to know a bit about who she was.

In 2000’s her name was on the lips of children, youths and adults when Nikki wa Pili mentioned her in a song “Ujamaa”, and for those living in Da es salaam, there is a street named after her.

Bibi Titi Mohamed was Tanganyika African Nation Union (TANU) women’s leader in the 1950’s mobilizing women to partake in the struggle to overthrow the British rule in Tanganyika and get the country’s independence, working alongside Mwl. Julius Kambarage Nyerere.

Her efforts and those of other heroes succeeded and she held various ministerial positions under the leadership of Mwl. Nyerere including Junior Minister for Community Development.

She earned the title “Mother of the Nation as Mwl. Nyerere became Father of the Nation from working closely with Mwalimu. However, her recognition to liberate Tanganyika is not mentioned often and could probably be forgotten in the coming years.

While serving in the Parliament she pioneered for equal education, healthcare focusing on women and girls.

To some extent Bibi Titi opposed a part of Mwl. Nyerere’s socialism ideology during the formation of Arusha Declaration where central committee members were banned from owning and renting properties

In 1965 she lost her seat in the parliament, 1969 she was charged with plotting to overthrow the government along with six other people and were later sentenced to life in prison making them the first Tanzanians to get Treason charged. In 1972 she got out on presidential pardon.

Her childhood
Bibi Titi was born in Dar es Salaam to a Muslim family in 1926. Her father did not allow her to attend school, fearing she would be converted to Christianity. After his demise, her mother sent her to school, where she got inspired to take part in politics.

At the age of 14 she got married to a man of her father’s age and was divorced soon after she delivered their first daughter. Her being an excellent singer, she used that to her advantage to earn a living.

She was mentioned as “a heroine of the freedom struggle” in 1991 when celebrating 30 years of independence. Nine years later on November 5, 2000 she died at the age of 74 in South Africa where she was receiving treatment.

There is a need for the education system to incorporate the history of women who pioneered in the struggle to deliver Tanzania (Tanganyika) from the claws of the colonisers as we hear very little about those women who were behind the leaders we learn about in history pushing them forward to get to the destination.