Archive for Obituaries


FundikiraChief Abdallah Said Fundikira

Two of Tanzania’s most distinguished chiefs in the period before independence have passed away.
The country’s first Justice Minister after independence, Chief Abdallah Said Fundikira, died of heart complications in Tabora in mid August. The late Chief joined Makerere University College in Uganda from 1940 to 1946 and obtained a qualification in Agriculture. In 1957, he was ordained as Chief of the Wanyamwezi in the Nyanyembe chiefdom. He lost his title when founding President Nyerere scrapped all chiefdoms after independence. Read the rest of this entry »



AMinaPress coverage of the death of Amina Chifupa – photo Issa Michuzi

The death of Amina Chifupa on 26th June 2007 caused a large outpouring of grief in the press and among ordinary Tanzanians. Aged only 26 and a Special Seats MP representing the ruling CCM’s youth wing, Umoja wa Vijana, Amina was something of a celebrity and her colourful life had been closely followed in the media.

Amina died some days after being admitted to the Lugalo Military Hospital in Dar es Salaam from what was described as complications from diabetes and malaria, although some speculation surrounded the exact cause of her death.
Thousands of people from all walks of life gathered at the last rites ceremony in Dar es Salaam, including veteran politician Mzee Rashid Mfaume Kawawa, the Chief Sheikh, Mufti Shaaban Simba, as well as musicians and media celebrities.

President Jakaya Kikwete described Amina as a fearless girl who staunchly stood for the truth. ‘Many of us will remember Amina for her contribution to debate in Parliament and elsewhere in society, notably among the youth. She was strong, creative and always ready to stand for the welfare of the youth and the nation at large’

In an unprecedented move, the National Assembly was adjourned for the whole day and the Speaker announced that he would be leading a delegation of more than 30 MPs from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam for the last rites, and later to the burial at Amina’s mother’s home village of Lupemba Village, Njombe District in Iringa Region

In her remarks, Special Seats Representative Zahara Ali Hamad (CUF) said the death had robbed Tanzania of a fully dedicated leader who during her short tenure in the public service did a lot for the nation.

‘Most of the legislators fear to speak the truth, particularly when it comes to drug abuse and trafficking, but Amina feared nobody. The government should honour her by making sure that it fights drug trafficking even more vigorously’ he noted.

Amina was born on May 20, 1981 and attended primary school in Mwanza. She completed her schooling in Dar-es-Salaam in 2001. Soon after that, she worked with the Dar es Salaam-based Radio Clouds FM as a broadcaster. She held the post until she ventured into politics in 2005 through the CCM youth wing.



The former Paramount Chief of the Wachagga, THOMAS LENANA MAREALLE (92), died on February 14 from pneumonia. He held the post from 1951 to 1965. After school he was first employed as a clerk by the colonial government at the office of the Moshi District Commissioner, before being transferred to Mbulu, Chunya, Mbeya, Tunduru and Lindi, respectively. From 1944 to 1946, Chief Marealle was in Britain to complete advanced studies. He was one of the first two from the then Tanganyika to be picked by the colonial regime to study in Europe. On return he was a Social Development Officer and in 1948 an Adult Education Officer at Usangi in Kilimanjaro region. In 1949, Marealle joined a welfare/recreation organisation – the Tanganyika African Association (TAA), which the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere later joined. He was the founder of the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) and the Editor of the Swahili newspaper, KWETU, between 1943 and 1951 – Daily News.

A veteran journalist, media executive and diplomat, SAMMY MDEE, died of high blood pressure at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi on March 10. He was the first Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tanzania Broadcasting Services, Managing Editor of the Daily News and Sunday News, Chief Editor of Radio Tanzania, Dar es Salaam (RTD), Press Secretary to President Julius Nyerere and Managing Director of the Arusha International Conference Centre. He had also served in Tanzania`s Embassies in France and New York – Sunday Observer.



Father Vincent Bailey (69) who was brought up in a council house in Glasgow and never forgot his roots, has died. He worked in Tanzania from 1976 to 1985 at Catholic missions in Kigoma, Mulera and Kabanga. He also taught at the seminary at Kahangala, Mwanza and served for a few years as Assistant Regional Superior for the western part of the country – Thank you John Sankey for this from ‘White Fathers – White Sisters’ – Editor



The Chairman of the University of Dar es Salaam Academic Staff Assembly (UDASA) and Head of the Sociology Department, PROFESSOR SETHY CHACHAGE died on July 9. His colleagues praised him for his critical thinking when presenting papers and discussing various academic issues within and outside university platforms. President Kikwete was among hundreds of mourners people who paid their last respects.



ROGER CARTER, who died in December, was one of the founders of the Britain Tanzania Society (BTS) and built it up over the years into the significant organisation it has now become. He originally graduated in Natural Sciences and Economics from Cambridge and then, in the 30’s, worked with an educational settlement during the depression. He later helped the Quakers in Germany to assist people wanting to leave the country and was himself on the last train from Berlin before the second world war began. From 1964 to 1976 he was in Tanzania, firstly as an Educational Planner in the Ministry of Education, and later at the University, helping in the development of the Department of Engineering.

(Thank you Nick Carter for giving me this information. A much fuller obituary has been published in the BTS Newsletter. Readers wishing to see this are invited to contact the editor, Julian Marcus at e-mail address: xxomitted to avoid spamxx – Editor).

DR FREDERICK THOMAS KASSULAMEMBA (61) who had a long career in secondary education in Tanzania from 1971 onwards took his PhD at Reading University. He then became a lecturer in the Foreign Languages and Linguistics Department of the University of Dar es Salaam and later worked on education with underprivileged ethnic minority children in England. He died on October 3. (Thank you Ken Mpopo for this – Editor).

MRS RUTH JASON KESSI (68) died in a hospital in Geneva on 26th October from breast cancer which she had been battling against for two years. She was a teacher and had taught in many countries including Russia where she married her husband Jason. She was also a member of the Britain Tanzania Society. Prof. Esther Mwaikambo writes that she was a woman of strong character, courageous and highly principled. Her body was cremated in Geneva and the ashes were spread in the gardens of her homes in Marangu and Dar es Salaam and in the Indian Ocean near her beach plot.

MRS SOPHIA MUSTAFA (82), one of the most famous freedom fighters of Asian origin in the 1950s died in Toronto on September 1 after a short illness. Known in Tanzania as ‘Mama Sophia’ she lived in Arusha from about 1950 to 1980 and played a huge role in helping nationalists led by Mwalimu Nyerere to gain independence for Tanzania in 1961. She was elected an MP in the 1960’s, representing both Arusha and Moshi districts – Guardian.

FATHER GEOFF SWEENEY, who died in December 2004, first went to Tanzania as a missionary in 1945 and worked in the country for 50 years. He was essentially a pastoral man in Bukoba and Singida dioceses where his little white Suzuki became a familiar sight on the rough roads of the area. He grew to love the people and they loved him. From 1987 to 1990 he took over as guestmaster in the Regional House at Nyegezi. (Thank you John Sankey for sending this – Editor).



A nominated Member of Parliament, MARGARETH BWANA (49) died of a heart attack in June. She held a Diploma in Social Sciences, which she obtained in the former USSR in 1985, and a Diploma in Economics (1990) from a Bulgarian university. She is the fifth Member of Parliament to die in the past 12 months – Guardian.

NICK JAGO (69) was an entomologist and taxonomist whose main research work was on locusts. From 1965 to 1968 he was in Tanzania as a Senior Lecturer in the University of Dar es Salaam. He collected a huge number of insects, many of them new to science and, together with his detailed descriptions and drawings, these remain an invaluable scientific archive. The East African grasshopper (Afrophlaeoba Jago) is named after him. His 100 odd publications include a four-volume pest identification handbook for use in the African field which will be published posthumously – – Thank you John Sankey for sending this item from the Daily Telegraph – Editor.



A veteran of the independence struggle in Tanzania and one of its first cabinet ministers, Ambassador PAUL BOMANI (80) died on April 1. He had been Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam since 1993 and was also chairman of Tanzania Breweries Ltd and Tanzania Distilleries Ltd. He obtained a diploma at Loughborough College in Leicester in 1954 and later, a Masters Degree at John Hopkins University in the USA. His first post was as Minister of Natural Resources and Co-operative Development in 1960. He was subsequently Ambassador to the United States and Minister for Mineral Resources. But perhaps his greatest achievement was to mastermind the establishment of a huge and highly successful cooperative movement in the Lake Victoria Region in the 1950’s which became responsible for marketing the rapidly increasing cotton crop. President Mkapa led hundreds of mourners at the burial at Capri Point cemetery in Mwanza.

Good Governance Minister in the Zanzibar Government and former diplomat, AHMED HASSAN DIRIA (68) died on March 14 in a German hospital. He first joined the government as a Labour Officer in Zanzibar. After the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964, he was appointed Area Commissioner for Pemba. He became Tanzania’s ambassador to Zaire before he was transferred to West Germany and later to Egypt, Japan and India. He was appointed Minister for Information and Broadcasting in 1989, a position he held up to 1994. He was then moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. He was a staunch defender of the Union between the mainland and Zanzibar.

Sir JAMES FARQUHARSON KBE (101) who died on 17th February, dedicated virtually his whole working life to the development of railways in Africa. He came to Tanganyika in 1937 and remained there through the war years as District Engineer and then Chief Engineer of the Tanganyikan part of the then the East African Railways and Harbours (EAR&H). It was in Dar es Salaam that he began the work that pleased him most, the expansion of railway systems. Expansions completed during this period were the Mpanda line in western Tanzania (131 miles) the southern line (168 miles) built to serve the UK Government’s disastrous groundnut scheme and the Singida line (65 miles). In 1957 he became General Manager of the EAR&H and became involved in establishing a link line between the central and northern lines in Tanzania (425 miles). This was a difficult time for labour relations as the new trade unions flexed their muscles. Farquharson was a hardliner in such matters, believing that the railway staff enjoyed better pay and conditions than most other workers. He faced out several strikes, walking through the picket lines to his office; a newspaper report from the time quoted a union leader advising that there was to be a great party when the General Manager retired. The split of the railway system in East Africa into its three component parts saddened Farquharson but did not daunt his belief that the railways could still play a key role in the country’s development (Thank you Hugh Leslie for sending this from The Times – Editor).

GREVILLE FREEMAN-GRENVILLE (86) who died in February, was described in the Times obituary as ‘a gentleman-historian of the old school’ and a fearless campaigner to preserve the archaeological remains of Africa and the Middle East. He was in Tanganyika from 1951 to 1961. Amongst the 26 books he wrote were ‘The Medieval History of the Coast of Tanganyika’ (1962) and ‘The East African coast: select documents from the first to the earlier 19th century’. His interest in the copper coins that were minted at port cities offered the possibility that their dynastic history could be reconstructed from their surviving chronicles. For many years he was the only person able to identify the coins of the Sultans of Kilwa and Mogadishu. He frequently pointed to the importance of Kilwa as a site for research.

MARY PEAKE (104) served as a teacher and as a School Supervisor at the UMCA’s Diocese of Masasi for 32 years from 1937. When Trevor Huddleston became Bishop in 1960 he transferred Mary, by then aged 60, to the less physically arduous work as a teacher at the boys’ secondary school at Chidya. In 1969 she moved to Dar es Salaam to teach English at the new St. Mark’s Theological College. Her dining rooms served as a refectory for other expatriate church workers, not to mention a constant stream of visitors to what became known as ‘Mary’s Guest House’. During her final years from 1995 she was cared for by the Tanzanian sisters of the CMS next to the cathedral at Ilala – from Rev. Canon Paul R Hardy. (Thank you Mary Punt for sending this on – Editor).

BRUCE RONALDSON (87) who died on December 2 2004, was a District Commissioner in Tanganyika after the Second World War. He took a particularly close interest in sport and captained Tanzania at cricket. He also trained John Akhwari, who entered the marathon at the Mexico Olympics. Akhwari fell during the race and finished hours after the rest of the field but became an overnight celebrity and symbol of the Olympic spirit when he told reporters: “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start this race. They sent me to finish it.” In 1961 Ronaldson moved to Britain and became Company Secretary of Oxfam – The Times.



JOAN WICKEN (79) former Personal Assistant to the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, died on December 5th of pneumonia after six weeks in hospital.

Joan WickenJoan Wicken with the Queen and the late President Nyerere

The funeral ceremony at Keighley in Yorkshire was presided over by Maggie Blunt, a Funeral Officiant of the British Humanist Foundation – Ms Wicken did not want a religious ceremony. Mrs Blunt spoke of Joan’s unique character and how she had faced death in a calm and philosophical manner. Her father had been a strong trade unionist. After school she joined the ATS and worked during the Second World War on anti-aircraft radar. At Oxford University she had studied politics, philosophy and economics and later, wisely for her future career, became proficient in secretarial skills. She was a dedicated socialist all her life and spent 30 years as a member of the Labour Party Read the rest of this entry »

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The singer, musician and composer PATRICK BALISIDYA (58) died on August 7 last year. He made his name through the hit Harusi (wedding) which is played at nuptial ceremonies around Tanzania. Like his better-known colleague, the late Hukwe Zawose, he was a member of the Gogo tribe from Dodoma. He began his musical career playing guitar for the Dar es Salaam Jazz Band in 1967. By 1970 he had formed his own group ‘Afro 70’. He shied away from the Congolese soukous sound then dominating East African music, instead drawing inspiration from the thumb piano and vocal melodies of Gogo tradition. At the height of his popularity in 1979 he visited Sweden and collaborated with the progressive rock group ‘Archimedes Badkar’ on their album Bado Kidogo (not yet). As an early example of world music fusion, it was notable mostly for the way the headliners were relegated more or less to the role of backing band on their own recording by their African guests. (Thank you Trevor Jagger for sending this obituary from the Independent – Editor) .

Dr. AUGUSTINE MACHA has died. He was the first Tanzanian to achieve a PhD in Animal Genetics. He resisted the temptation to earn big money working overseas and returned home to seek work. After completing his BVM&S at Edinburgh University he was appointed Regional Veterinary Officer in Kagera Region. There he saw people starving from lack of protein, while he was busy treating sick cats and dogs. His dream was to make the local breeds of cattle better producers using local husbandry methods. The Mpwapwa breed is now an internationally registered and recognised breed and is a living monument to his life’s work. He became Director General of Tanzania’s Livestock Research Organisation and subsequently undertook several international consultancy assignments (Thank you Nancy Macha for sending us these details about your late husband – Editor).

NDALA KASHEBA died in Dar-es-Salaam in October 2004. A veteran of the East African music scene, Kasheba was an important musical force in Tanzania since the 1970’s when he first immigrated to Dar Es Salaam from the Congo. He was known as one of the greatest African guitarists, appointed the title “Maestro” by his fans. Ndala Kasheba’s music bore the stamp of his Congolese roots. With his booming tenor voice and big band ambiance, one inevitably thought of Franco in his prime. But Kasheba had a number of distinguishing qualities in his Swahili rumba sound, most notably his use of an electrified, 12-string acoustic guitar, which he overdubed to create a gorgeous, chiming ambiance. With his own group “Zaita Musica” he wrote songs such as “Dezo dezo” and “Kokolay” which were later massive hits for Tshala Muana. The group toured Europe in 1991 and Kasheba continued to perform as a solo guitarist as well as with his colleagues – Nguza Viking, King Kiki, Kassongo Mpinda Clayton, Kibambe Rhamadhan,
Delphin Mununga, and others on multiple nights a week in various Dar es Salaam clubs. He most recently came to London in 2003 and performed at several events wearing a trademark straw hat.