The Sunday Mail
PRESIDENT John Pombe Magufuli on Wednesday led Tanzanians and foreign dignitaries in bidding farewell to the late former Head of State Benjamin Mkapa, who was laid to rest at his Lupaso home in Mtwara region.
Zimbabwe joined Tanzanians, the continent and the world in bidding farewell to one of Africa’s finest sons.
The country was represented by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who went to Tanzania on a one-day trip while back home Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga signed a condolence book at the Tanzanian Embassy in Harare.
In a letter to President Magufuli and the people of Tanzania, President Mnangagwa saluted the late president for his peace-building efforts, not only in the East African region, but across the continent.
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, who is also Presidential spokesperson, Mr George Charamba, said Zimbabwe needed to be represented at the highest level at the funeral of Dr Mkapa as he had played a huge role during the liberation struggle.
“All the liberation movements came under his purview when he was Foreign Affairs Minister under the leadership of founding President of Tanzania Julius Nyerere. Really we couldn’t imagine any other level of representation.”
Mkapa (81), a former journalist and diplomat, was accorded a State funeral.
The former Head of State was lowered into his grave as Tanzania Defence Forces fired 21 cannons in honour of the man who led the Swahili-speaking nation for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005, and managed to oversee the growth of the country’s economy.
Mkapa has been praised as a firm leader who loved his nation and people.
“Mkapa was a great leader, he had a great love for Tanzanian people, he abhorred poverty, he was responsible for the growth of the economy,” said former President Dr Jakaya Kikwete, who was Mkapa’s successor.
He further noted that Mkapa was a man with a great vision for Tanzania and her people. He wanted and aspired to eradicate poverty from his people.
“Mkapa gave me a helping hand when I took over from him, he assisted me when things got tough,” said Kikwete.
Mkapa’s predecessor, retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi eulogised his successor as a hardworking man and public servant who knew the meaning of being firm and tough.
Mwinyi (95), noted that Mkapa’s efforts included lifting the lives of his people.
Addressing thousands of mourners gathered at Mkapa’s home village in Lupaso, President Magufuli said the late Mkapa loved his nation and home village.
“The government of Tanzania set a specific place where former Heads of State were designated to be buried in Dodoma, however, three-years ago Benjamin Mkapa declined and said he will be buried at Lupaso, he loved his home,” narrated President Magufuli.
He urged Tanzanians to learn from Mkapa’s life.
“Let’s continue praying for Mama Anna Mkapa and the family.”
Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein hailed Mkapa for his loyalty and patriotism to the nation, adding that he was a great man.
The burial ceremony concluded seven days of mourning Dr Mkapa, who was described as an indefatigable peacemaker and a pan-Africanist in the region and beyond.
The late Benjamin Mkapa was involved in many peace processes during his time as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and as a former president. He is survived by his wife Anna and two children. — Standardmedia/Sunday Mail Reporter.