Time staffer Smith spent considerable time during the past six years interviewing and traveling the hustings with Julius Nyerere, Tanzania's first and only president since the tiny African republic became independent from the British in 1961. Nyerere comes across here as prototypical of the kind of leadership Africa needs today: he has been criticized by the west and especially the U.S. for ""going Chinese"" (and indeed Mao is helping to train the Tanzanian army, supplying some economic aid, etc.), but Nyerere counters that ""the United States is schizophrenic in this matter. . . . We do not bully and we do not like being bullied."" He is most concerned though with Tanzania's (and Africa's) lack of giant-step progress economically and socially in comparison with the industrially advanced countries, saying with some heat ""They are sending rockets into outer space while we are eating wild roots."" Nyerere -- a graying, verbal man, author of several books, translator of Shakespeare into Swahili -- seems a bit too perfect as presented here; Smith is completely uncritical of his one-party rule, his political posturing, his sudden policy shifts, and so on. Yet there is no question that Nyerere is a perfect Third World type and that alone makes his story worth running after.