- East Africa
By FREDDY MACHA
President Joseph Pombe Magufuli died. It was sudden and cruel and shocking and provided two opposite thoughts. One shouted negativity. Accused. Mentioned all sorts of things. Charged Magufuli was this and that. This article is interested with the second voice. The emotional...that screamed, leaped and yelled.
He did a lot for our business, cried a Machinga trader at Kariakoo Market Dar es Salaam. Machingas are street vendors, self- employed hand to mouth small time traders who felt valued under the Government of John Pombe Magufuli...since 2015. Across Tanzania, Machingas have always been vilified like hunted wildebeest in Serengeti plains.
So then... Wamachinga are a good measure of the grass-root panorama ...the emotion of the Magufuli passing.
Citing ones in the Mwenge area, Angela Charles, a young Machinga interviewed live by Simulizi na Sauti Online TV eulogised:
“ I feel hurt, I feel hurt, I feel very hurt. I have not much to add but ask for God to rest his soul in peace. He was a President who cared for us small traders and people on the lower extremities with no voice...words fail me and I have no words. I feel very very hurt. When I heard this news. I was shocked. He was a President who cared. When he came to power he gave us an opportunity.”
Angela said she had been trading for two years. She recalled before 2015, Machingas used to be kicked off the streets. “ He said please do not harass Machingas. He made sure we had valid identity cards and permits. So trading became smooth for us... he was a very different president who loved God, a man of the people who feared God. He was a very, very different President. I don't know how to describe him...”
This view was not only in Dar es Salaam but other major towns, too. A Jamhuri area Machinga in Dodoma for example declared many young people's lives improved. They could make money and buy land and construct small houses.
“Many youths are shocked and saddened...and hope and request the new President shall continue supporting us,” he said.
This is just a small example of the running emotions after the unexpected departure of the CCM leader aged 61 on 17th March 2021. Then there were five, innocent deaths.
Five members of one family, mostly children were caught up in the tumult and crowd mayhem to say farewell to the body of the President at the Dar es Salaam International Nyerere Airport.
Speaking to BBC Swahili, Dennis Mtuwa, said his wife, two children and their two cousins did not return. The house-girl accompanying them could not be found. The social media resembled a busy traffic jam throughout the week of 17th March. 2021.
Clips did not stop circulating. The most popular one was of a Prophetic Magufuli telling his audience, “you shall remember me. Not for the bad things, but the good things I have done. Because I love my country...”
Another was of Magufuli addressing the issue of mining. Riches of the nation returning to Tanzanians. “They do not like me...they feel envious...they feel jealous...they feel hurt.” He shouted. This particular clip had English titles.
What about outside Tanzania?
One African country claimed to have been saddened by God. That prayers for the demise of their dictator leader, who has been loading it over them, the said African country for decades, to die had not materialised. Instead of the dictator being taken by God, Magufuli, a President they had wished for, had been snuffed out by heart failure.
The general consensus across Africa was whether we could have other leaders like John Pombe Magufuli. Back in 2017 barely two years after John Pombe Magufuli's leadership, Kenya's Professor PL Lumumba called for “hygiene in African politics...”
Speaking at the Nkrumah hall, University of Dar es Salaam, Professor Lumumba declared the continent needs to see the “Magufulification of Africa.” Magufuli's emotional departure brought back memories of other sudden political deaths. Beginning with then Minister and poet, Sheikh Amri Abeid Kaluta who died in 1964, three years after Tanzania's Uhuru. Today the Arusha stadium is named after him.
Then two significant assassinations.
Dr Wilbert Kleruu, then Regional Commissioner of Iringa, shot dead by a dissatisfied farmer, Said Mwamindi on Christmas day, 1971. Mwamindi was later hanged. Dr Kleruu was one of the early fatalities of the Arusha Declaration. A tenet and ideology that wanted land and its riches to be equally shared by the Tanzanian population. A tenet dear to President John Pombe Magufuli.
The following year, April 1972, Zanzibar's then President Sheikh Abeid Karume was gunned while relaxing, playing Bao, a board game, with other politicians, at Afro Shiraz Party (ASP).
Next shocking casualty was Edward Sokoine. This Maasai born, no nonsense, 45- year- old Prime Minister, was whispered to be the next President after Mwalimu. Like Magufuli, Edward Moringe Sokoine had a reputation for fighting Fisadis, i.e. corruption and inept politics. Sokoine died in a mysterious traffic accident on his way from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam in 1984.
To keep his torch alight members of his family have created the Sokoine Memorial Foundation to highlight the values of truthfulness, transparency and good leadership, which Sokoine was well known for.
“The Foundation envisions Tanzania that is a just nation with sustainable economic development and dignified future for her people.”
Freddy Macha is a Tanzanian born, London based writer and musician.