OBITUARIES

by Ben Taylor

Captain John Komba, band leader of Tanzania One Theatre (TOT) and Member of Parliament for Mbinga West, died on 28 February. He was a hugely popular musician and one of the foremost cheerleaders for CCM. He was most in his element when belting out songs in praise of the country’s leaders and the party. He and his team were a crowd puller and when he stood to sing, crowds literally sung along in hysteria.

Capt Komba was born in 1954 in Ruvuma region. He studied at Lituhi Primary School and Songea Boys’ Secondary School before earning a certificate in teaching from Kleruu Teacher Training College in Iringa. He served in the Tanzania People’s Defence Force from 1978 to 1992. He had been a CCM National Executive Committee member since 1987 and entered elective politics in 2005. He had already been highly active in CCM campaigns for many years, a close ally of Presidents Mkapa and Kikwete, and most recently of presidential aspirant Edward Lowassa. Up to his death, he was CCM’s Chief Cultural ambassador.

Many Tanzanians will remember Captain Komba most for his response to the death of Mwalimu Nyerere in 1999. With tears in their eyes like most of their compatriots, Captain Komba and his troupe led the nation in grief with songs based on choral traditions. They captured in a vivid and moving manner the challenge Tanzanians faced: living without Mwalimu.“CCM will always remember Komba for his contributions to the party and to issues that were of national interest; he was a friend, father, musician, politician and all in all a leader” said CCM General Secretary, Abdurahman Kinana.

Christopher Alex Massawe, a former midfield player with Simba Sports Club and the national football team Taifa Stars, died in Dodoma after a long illness.

An uncompromising defensive midfielder, Alex’s most memorable moment was being a member of Simba team that knocked out the then CAF Champions League champions Zamalek of Egypt to book a place in the last eight. He converted the last penalty to seal the historic win. Simba had previously disposed of South African champions Santos in the first round on their way to the group stage of the premium club competition on the continent.

Alhaj Abdul Sapi Mkwawa was chief of the Hehe tribe of Iringa. He was buried within Kalenga Museum premises, in a ceremony that also included the installation of his successor, 14-year old Chief Adam II, who is his first born son.

The late chief was born in 1949. He studied at Tosamaganga in Iringa and Iyunga Secondary in Mbeya, before joining the school named in honour of his famous ancestor, Mkwawa High School.

He studied for a degree in business administration before working with Tanzania Elimu Supplies between 1977 and 1993, Tanzania Southern Highlands Tobacco Growers in 1993. Most recently, he was an employee of the Iringa-based Maji Africa spring water company.

Geoffrey Delves Wilkinson who died on 7 June 2014 aged 87, was prominent in agricultural activities in Tanzania, off and on for almost fifty years. He started his career as the District Agricultural Officer in Zanzibar and later in Pemba (where he received the Queen’s Coronation Medal). Later he set up the agricultural education department of the British Overseas Development Ministry in London, his responsibilities covering all aspects of agricultural training, especially in Tanzania. He built on his strong ties with Tanzanian institutes of agriculture, particularly Tengeru, near Arusha, by setting up a link project and exchange programme with the Hereford diocese in the UK. He was a born story teller and a passionate naturalist and relished his role in training hun­dreds, if not thousands of students in agricultural skills in 29 countries.

Prof Terence Ranger, the first editor of Tanzanian Affairs, editing issues No 1 (Dec 1975) to 6 (July 1978), died on 3 January 2015. He spent most of his career researching and publishing on the history of Zimbabwe, though he is probably better known as co-editor (with Eric Hobsbawm) of the 1983 text, The Invention of Tradition.

Born in London in 1929, he was appointed as university lecturer in the then Southern Rhodesia in 1957. Deported from Rhodesia in 1963, Ranger joined the University of Dar es Salaam, to establish its history department. He joined a group of radical scholars, and talk of a ‘Dar es Salaam school’ of African nationalist history. This was defined by a commitment to African agency in its historical analysis and to the production of ‘useable’ history for the newly independent nations of Africa.

From Tanzania, Ranger went on to professorships at UCLA, Manchester and Oxford. In retirement, he returned to bolster the history department of the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, where he again found himself aligned with the victims of the state. He returned to Britain in 2001.

Mr T O (Dale) Robson, who died recently, worked in Tanganyika from 1950 to 1961. He served at various agricultural research stations as a Pasture Research Officer. He advised the Commission on the establishment of the Serengeti National Park and whether it would be necessary to exclude the Maasai. It was finally decided to improve conditions by clearing the tsetse-infested bush, improving water supplies, increasing disease control measures for the cattle and introducing regular cattle markets. (Thank you Hilary Broad for this – Editor)

Dr Alec Smith (1927 -2014) was a graduate of Birmingham University (BSc. Zoology and Comparative Physiology (1948)) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Ph.D. Tropical Medicine 1950)). He joined the Colonial Medical Research Service and worked as a medical entomologist in Tanganyika from 1950-1973, including 13 years in Arusha at the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute.

In 1973 Alec joined the World Health Organisation and, after leaving Arusha, worked on malaria control projects in South Africa (1973­1976) and West Africa (1973-1980). He was then assigned to Geneva headquarters, where he remained until 1986 when he retired. In 1982, he was awarded the Ademola Medal, jointly with Dr Robert Kaiser, by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for “Outstanding Achievements in Health in the Tropics”. In 1993, Alec published his memoirs entitled “Insect man – A Fight against Malaria in Africa”.

Alec enjoyed a happy 28 years retirement in Bexhill-On-Sea, Sussex. He is greatly missed by Irene, his wife of 60 years, his daughters Linda and Diana and his grandchildren, Allison, Elizabeth and Claire. (Thanks to Dr Linda Thomas for this information – Editor).

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