The crucial issue in Africa during the 20th century was whether it could devise a new kind of society. Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia and Julius Nyerere in Tanzania determined the direction of their two countries, and the fate of their experiments – both of which captured the idealism of younger Africans – were of transcendent importance to the development of society there and on other continents as well.

TWO AFRICAN STATESMEN traces Nyerere and Kaunda’s developing attitudes from childhood; the impact of tribal codes, trade unions, and colonial politics on their contrasting countries; and their respective roles in world affairs, particularly the degree of their support for the nonaligned bloc and the concept of the Third World. Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda (b. 1924), is a Zambian former politician who served as the first President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. At 94, he is currently the oldest living former Zambian president. Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922-1999), was a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, politician, and political theorist.

He governed Tanganyika as its Prime Minister from 1961 to 1963 and then as its President from 1963 to 1964, after which he led its successor state, Tanzania, as its President from 1964 until 1985. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he promoted a political philosophy known as Ujamaa, a Swahili word meaning 'extended family', 'brotherhood' or 'socialism'; as a political concept it asserts that a person becomes a person through the people or community.