Elsbeth Court writes: PROFESSOR KIURE FRANCIS MSANGI, b. Usangi, Pare, 1937, passed away during January in Nairobi, where he had been teaching Graphic Design and practical teaching methods since 1986. He practiced what he preached; his last solo exhibition of new work was in December 2002. Indeed, in recent years, his intellectual energy was absorbed with spiritual concerns, though he was always an active Christian having served the Lutheran ministry in many ways, from meditation to musicmaking on the piano.
Amongst the most academically-educated artists in eastern Africa, Msangi had earned diplomas and higher degrees from Mpwapwa Teachers’ College; Makerere University School of Art (where he was awarded the Trowell Prize for top performance); yet, when we met, he observed he had “not one full lecture on African art in five years at Makerere”, 26.10.00); California College of Art and Craft (on a Fulbright Scholarship, 1973); and, Stanford University School of Education. On completion of his thesis on the teaching of art in Tanzanian schools, he returned to Nairobi rather than Dares-Salaam. He explained he was attracted by Kenya’s educational reforms, known as “8-4-4” (referring to the phases of the formal cycle) which made art a compulsory subject at school level and incorporated local–ethnic–practices of art-making. Throughout his life, Kiure Msangi pursued several kinds of art work. These are painter, print maker, art educator, book illustrator such as Samaki Mdogo Mweusi -Little black fish (Tanzania Publishing House) and author, such as his little classic ‘Art Handbook for Teachers’ (TPH, 1975).
Francis Kiure Msangi. 1967. Woodcut print 'Ujamaa'. (Photo: E Court)
His print Ujamaa (1967), reproduced here, is characteristic of his energetic and expressive re-presentation of local, modern life. Like his deeply-held values, his artistic style was consistent all through his career. Unlike many ‘African’ artists, his oeuvre is documented in the literature (African Arts magazine, Fosu:1985, Agthe:1990, Kennedy: 1992).
Professor Msangi is buried in Tanzania. In their obituary statement that celebrates his life, ‘The Family’ review the scope of Msangi’s accomplishments, not the least being his family. They describe him as a devoted husband (of Grace Namkari) and cherishing father (of Ziddi, Siwa and Altha) , who was deeply spiritual and committed to painting. Their conclusion uses portrait painting as a metaphor for memory, ‘The portrait we have painted is unfinished…’ They welcome us –his friends, colleagues, patrons, readers –to join them ‘in painting the portrait of Kiure Francis Msangi… so that Kiure’s [legacy] lives on in the portrait we create .. …we invite you to continue to paint. (Thank you to Prof Olive Mugenda, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University, for forwarding The Family’s obituary statement-EC).
Joan Wicken writes: JUSTICE ABDULLA MUSTAFA died at the end of January in Canada. Born in 1916 in Hong Kong, he went to university in India, worked for Nairobi City Council while studying privately until he passed full law examinations, ‘ate his dinners’ at Lincolns Inn in 1946 and was called to the bar the same year. After private practice in Arusha, in 1970 he was made a judge in the Tanzanian High Court, then in the East African Court of Appeal; and finally he became a senior judge in the Tanzania Appeal Court, retiring only in 1989. Throughout this period, Judge Mustafa earned a great reputation in Eastern Africa as a man of absolute integrity, a strong supporter of the rule of law and thus of the independence of the judiciary, regardless of the status or wealth of those before him. It was this reputation which led to his services being ‘lent’ to the Seychelles, where he helped to establish an Appeal Court and to sit as its president in 1992. Judge Mustafa was dependent upon thrice weekly dialysis for his last years, but continued to enjoy life with his wife Sophie, who was an elected member of the Tanganyika legislature from 1958 to 1965. The two went together to the ‘launch’ in December 2002 of Sophie’s first novel; she is just 80 years of age.
Jim Read writes: FRANCIS NYALALI, retired only in 2000 after a remarkable and mould-breaking 23 years as Chief Justice of Tanzania. His contributions to developing the institutions of government were second only to those of President Nyerere whose insight in selecting him in 1977 to lead the judiciary, after only three years on the High Court bench and above ten more senior judges, was fully justified by his achievements. Nyalali’s life story -from Sukuma herd-boy via Tabora school and Makerere University College to Lincoln’s Inn (called to the Bar 1966, Honorary Bencher 1994) and then as zealous, reforming local magistrate and chairman of the industrial court, was well used by Jennifer Widner as the framework for her recent searching study of the daunting problems facing African judges in general, Building the Rule of Law (reviewed in Tanzanian Affairs No 71). Nyalali’s lasting achievements included persuading initially suspicious, even hostile politicians, of the importance of the rule of law and then chairing the Presidential Commission which restored multi-party politics in place of the one-party system. Prominent in the debate which led to the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1984, he also launched a legal literacy programme to help Tanzanians understand their laws. He was instrumental in creating the Tanzanian Court of Appeal, over which he presided. He died on April 2nd and was commemorated at special Mass at a packed St Peter’s Church, Oyster Bay.
Former Minister of Health and former Chief Scout DR LEADER STIRLING (97) who died on 7th February was described in an obituary in The Times as ‘the epitome of the muscular Christian and, like Livingstone, became a legend in his adopted country. His life was like a tale from Buchan or Rider Haggard.’ Further extracts from The Times: ‘He was on his way to becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons but, before completing his exams, he prayed: “Lord, what will you have me to do?”. Two days later there came a cable from the Universities Mission to Central Africa: ‘A doctor is urgently needed at Masasi; can you come?’ There would be no salary, a suit of clothes every four years, and pocket money of one shilling day ….. He spent the next 14 years in a hospital of mud huts -cooking pots and stores of food, live hens, spears and bows and arrows were stowed under the beds in the wards; the operating theatre was an openwork bamboo building with a grass roof and every gust of wind filled it with dust and dead leaves; there was no running water and the hospital had no lighting except for oil lamps. Nevertheless, with meticulous asepsis, he achieved a post-operative infection rate of almost nil.. …. After these years at Lulundi, he became a Catholic and joined the Benedictine Mission. They sent him to Mnero where he built another hospital and started a school for rural medical assistants. 15 years later he was transferred to Kibisho, Kilimanjaro Region. He devised instruments from simple materials: screwdrivers made ideal traction-pins; sewing cotton was perfect for ligatures; Thomas splints were contrived from bamboo; extension cord from plaited palm leaves with stones as traction weights; when plaster of Paris ran out, he made his own from locally quarried gypsum. He devised a new bloodless operation for the giant swellings of the scrotum caused by Filiariasis. At independence he became a Tanzanian citizen and was elected to Parliament. In 1973 Julius Nyerere made him Minister of Health.
In 1993 the Royal College of Surgeons made him a Fellow by Election -a rare honour.’ His funeral was attended by thousands. It rained in buckets for more than two hours -the first rain for five months. In Tanzanian folklore, it rains only on the funeral of a truly great man.
(Thank you to several readers who sent us this obituary -Editor)