by Ben Taylor

Former Finance Minister, Basil Mramba died at the age of 81 on Tuesday August, 2021 at Regency Hospital in Dar es Salaam while undergoing treatment. The family said he had been admitted at the facility with Covid-19 complications.
Basil Mramba was born in May 15, 1940, and was MP for Rombo constituency in Kilimanjaro region. He served in various position in the government including Mbeya Regional Commissioner (1995-2000), Minister of Finance (2001-2005) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2006-2008).
In July 2015, Mramba alongside former energy minister Daniel Yona was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of 11 counts of abuse of office and causing a TSh 11.7 billion loss to the government. They were released after serving six months and ordered to do community services while serving a suspended sentence for the remaining two years of their jail term.
In his time as Finance Minister under President Mkapa, Tanzania was undertaking major economic reforms aimed at transforming the country from a state-controlled economy to a private sector-led one. He played a key role in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that eventually saw Tanzania being granted debt relief of $3 billion, reducing the country’s total external debt by 54%, and reducing the amount to be paid as interest on the loans.

Former Presidential candidate and Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Anna Mghwira, has died at the age of 62. Ms Mghwira was appointed as Kilimanjaro RC by the late President John Magufuli on June 03, 2017. Before that she had been the ACT-Wazalendo presidential candidate in the 2015 General Election.
Anna Mghwira was born in Singida. Her father was a councillor representing TANU. After attending Nyerere Primary School, Ihanja Secondary School and the Lutheran Seminary, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Tumaini University and a Law Degree from the University of Dar es Salaam. Her studies then took her to the UK, where she attained a Master’s Degree in Law (LLM) from the University of Essex in 2000. She then worked for various local and international organisations dealing with women’s empowerment, community development and refugees.
Her political journey started during the TANU era, when she was a member of the party’s youth league. But she reduced her participation in politics in the late 1970s to focus on her education, career and family.
She returned to active politics in 2009, joining Chadema, where she held various junior leadership positions. In March, 2015, she left Chadema for the newly formed ACT-Wazalendo, where she was later nominated the party’s national chairwoman during the party’s first general congress. Later that year she ran for President of Tanzania, representing ACT, achieving just 1% of the vote, despite attracting considerable support from the country’s intelligentsia.
Two years later she was appointed Kilimanjaro RC by President Magufuli, a role in which she served until her retirement earlier this year. Her appointment surprised both opposition supporters and many ruling party members as she was still chair of ACT-Wazalendo at the time.
President Hassan issued a statements saying that Ms Mghwira had played a great role in the country’s development.
“I am saddened by the passing of the former Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira. I will remember her for her great contributions in the building of the country,” she said.

Sigvard von Sicard 1930-2021 was a Swedish Lutheran pastor and theologian whose special interest was in improving relationships between Christians and Muslims. In 1957 he became pastor at Maneromanga, about 50 miles South West of Dar es Salaam, beyond Kisarawe, in those days very remote and hard to get to. His wife Judith gives dramatic descriptions of what life was like in her book Beyond the Narrows: Cultural Reflections from My Missionary Life (2013).
In 1966, Sigvard joined the staff of Makumira theological college (now university) near Moshi, and in 1970 he received a PhD from Uppsala for a thesis and subsequently a book on the story of the Lutheran Church on the Coast of Tanzania, 1887-1914.
In 1971 the family moved to England, where he became a key figure in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham. When this closed in 1998 he stayed on as an Associate in the Theology Department of Birmingham University where he was “the father to African students” and always made sure that those who got degrees had some kind of celebration, even if their families could not attend it.
He felt deeply about Africa and African people, and once described himself as “white on the outside and black on the inside”. He kept his interest in Tanzania, and especially Swahili and Islam, till the end.
Andrew Coulson

Minister of Defence and National Service, Elias Kwandikwa, died on August 2 while undergoing treatment in Dar es Salaam. The cause of his death was not immediately made public.
Kwandikwa, who died at the age of 55 was MP for Ushetu Constituency in Shinyanga Region. He was appointed Minister of Defence by late President John Magufuli during his second term on December 05, 2020. Prior to this he had served as Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communications.


by Ben Taylor

President John Pombe Magufuli

The fifth president of Tanzania, President John Pombe Magufuli, died in March at the age of 61. Popular and controversial in equal measure, President Magufuli will be greatly missed by many in Tanzania, and long remembered by all.

An unexpected selection as the CCM presidential candidate in 2015, Magufuli emerged as a compromise choice when the party rejected more prominent fig­ures including former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Membe. At the time, Magufuli was Minister of Works, responsible for road building, his second time in the role, where he had earned a reputation as a no-nonsense, hard-working operator: the “Bulldozer”.

The nickname sums up President Magufuli’s approach remarkably well, to the extent that both supporters and critics used it: the Bulldozer that sweeps obstacles out of the way as part of building something new and better, or the Bulldozer that charges around causing damage and destruction. There is truth in both perspectives.

Born in 1959 in Chato on the shores of Lake Victoria, John Pombe Magufuli grew up in a grass-thatched home, herding cattle and selling milk and fish to support his family. He attended Chato Primary School, Katoke Seminary in Biharamulo and Lake Secondary School in Mwanza, and then Mkwawa High School in Iringa for his A-levels, graduating in 1981. That same year he began a Diploma in Education Science, focussing on chemistry and mathematics, and he later earned a BSc in Education from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1988. After teaching secondary school chemistry and mathematics, he took a position as an industrial chemist in 1989. He later added a Masters and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1994 and 2009, respectively, including some time at the University of Salford, UK.

Magufuli switched to politics in 1995, when he was elected as MP for Chato and was immediately appointed by President Mkapa as Deputy Minister for Works, promoted to Minister for Works after the 2000 election. In 2010, President Kikwete moved Magufuli to head the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlement and later the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, before returning him to his former post as Minister of Works from 2010 to 2015.

As the CCM presidential candidate in 2015, Magufuli led a party that had been damaged by persistent corruption scandals under President Kikwete and weakened by the defection of Edward Lowassa and many of his supporters. He faced the challenge of doing so without a significant power-base of his own in the party. He ran a campaign under the slogan “Hapa Kazi Tu” (work and nothing else) and staked claim to the anti-corruption mantle, taking advantage of the main opposition parties’ decision to select Lowassa, a figure strongly associated in the public mind with corruption. A relatively narrow victory (with 58% of the vote) followed, and President Magufuli took office on November 5, 2015.

As President, Magufuli’s energetic early actions drew widespread acclaim. He cancelled Independence Day celebrations to save money and called on Tanzanians to spend the day on community cleaning work, cut the size of the cabinet, and swept through key institutions including port and tax authorities, firing anyone alleged to be associated with corruption or waste. The cost-cutting approach and hard-line response to corruption allegations were immensely popular within Tanzania and attracted attention further afield, inspiring the social media hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo?

Even at this early stage, however, there were also signs of a different, problematic side to President Magufuli. He called on the country to stop its obsession with politics and focus on development instead. In practice, this meant opposition parties’ activities became tightly constrained, with no public rallies permitted and even private meetings disrupted. He also suspended live broadcasts of parliamentary debates – the first step in a concerted, and largely effective, campaign to control the media.

Nevertheless, citizens seemed happy to accept some loss of democratic and media freedom in return for what they saw as someone working hard and taking on corruption and waste. The President’s popularity soared. One poll, conducted in the first year of his first term, found that 96% of Tanzanian citizens approved of his performance. The President had positioned himself as being on the side of the ordinary citizen, standing firm against corrupt elites, big business and foreign interference, and the public loved it.

The concerns grew, however. Restrictions on the media spread to include social media and civil society, and opposition politicians found themselves in never-ending battles with the law. Few significant opposition figures escaped a “sedition” charge, defined in an antiquated law as making “statements that are likely to raise discontent and promote feelings of ill-will”, and most spent some time behind bars. Some were subjected to much worse, notably Tundu Lissu, who miraculously survived an assassination attempt near parliament in broad daylight in 2017, for which nobody has ever been charged.

Meanwhile, the work-and-nothing-else continued. Tens of thousands of “ghost workers” and civil servant with “fake” academic certificates were fired, and hundreds of allegedly corrupt officials across government were fired in an act-first-ask-questions-later strategy. There was an industrialisation drive, efforts to upgrade key infrastructure including railways, roads and airports, a major new hydroelectric dam at Stiegler’s Gorge on the Rufiji river and multiple new aircraft purchased to revive the national airline, Air Tanzania. The President brought new energy to long-stalled efforts to fulfil President Nyerere’s idea of shifting the national capital to Dodoma. And he picked fights with major foreign investors, most notably Barrick / Acacia and their gold mining interests, and with the Chinese government over plans to construct a major port at Bagamoyo.

The public loved this, though there were signs that the honeymoon had ended. Another poll, half-way through President Magufuli’s first term, found his popularity rating had dropped to 55%: from a record high to a record low in two years. The decline was likely a result of economic hardships rather than concern for the state of democracy. The years 2017 and 2018 in particular were marked by poor harvests and food stress. With heavy-handed enforcement of tax rules and plummeting investment, many businesses, large and small, were also struggling. Many citizens felt poorer than before.

The 2020 election was a highly-flawed exercise, marred by the lack of a truly independent electoral commission, a politicised police force, opposition parties hobbled by five years of harassment and media worried about its own survival. To nobody’s surprise, President Magufuli was re-elected, this time with 84% of the vote. The election also delivered a near-total CCM dominance in parliament, holding 93% of seats.

One issue that barely arose during the 2020 elections was the Coronavirus pandemic, even as it devastated lives and livelihoods across the world. President Magufuli had declared victory over the virus earlier in the year, and the country had stopped reporting data on case numbers and deaths in April, to the despair of the World Health Organisation. There was no lockdown and only limited efforts to improve hygiene and encourage social distancing, with the President instead stressing the value of prayer, steam inhalation and traditional remedies. Once again he pushed opinions to the extremes, attracting high praise from far-right Covid-deniers in the US and elsewhere, and mockery from the international press.

It remains too early to conclusively assess the effectiveness of President Magufuli’s position – the country has suffered far less in economic terms than her neighbours, and evidence is mixed on the health impacts. But it will, internationally at least, dominate his legacy. The irony of the chemistry-graduate Covid-denier who emphasised prayer over science and perhaps succumbed personally to the disease proved too tempting for the international press to ignore.

Officially, he died on March 17, 2021, in Dar es Salaam from heart complications. Some or all of these details may be incorrect.

Within Tanzania, President Magufuli’s legacy will be fought over for years to come. The hard worker who tackled corruption and waste head-on, who stood up to foreign interests, who gave Tanzanians back their pride and made Tanzania great again (#MATAGA)? Or the despot who rode roughshod over human rights and the rule of law, who undermined the country’s economy, who set the clock back on gender equality, and who put Tanzanians lives at risk with a reckless response to a pandemic?

He leaves a wife, Janeth Magufuli, seven children, and a nation divided.

Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad

Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad of Zanzibar passed away on March 17, 2021, at Muhimbili Hospital in Dar es Salaam, at the age of 77. Known generally as Maalim Seif, reflecting his former profession as a teacher, Seif had been a dominant figure in Zanzibar politics for several decades, running for President six times and serving as Vice President twice.

Born in 1943 on the island of Pemba, Hamad attended primary schools on Pemba and King George VI Memorial Secondary School in Zanzibar town, where he was elected chairman of the Unguja and Pemba Students Council. After completing high school in 1963 he was unable to proceed to university as he was asked by the new Zanzibar Revolutionary Government to help fill the gaps in the civil service caused by the mass departure of British officials in 1964. He served as a secondary school teacher before eventually joining the University of Dar es Salaam in 1972, where he earned a first class honours degree in political science, public administration and international relations.

When he returned home in 1975, President Aboud Jumbe, previously Hamad’s secondary school teacher, appointed him as his special assistant. And from the late 1970’s Hamad served in various political and government roles, representing the ruling CCM party: Member of the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar, Zanzibar Minister of Education, Member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, Member of Tanzanian Parliament, Member of the Central Committee and National Executive Committee of CCM, Head of the CCM Economic and Planning Department. This culminated in four years as Chief Minister of Zanzibar from 1984 to 1988, first under President Ali Hassan Mwinyi and then President Idris Abdul Wakil.

At this point, he fell out with CCM party chiefs, including both Wakil and now Mwalimu Nyerere. He found himself dropped from his position as Chief Minister in January 1988 and expelled from the party four months later. A year later, he was arrested and taken to court to face highly questionable charges of possessing government secret documents. From two and half years in 1989–1991 he was remanded in Zanzibar Central Prison.

Upon Tanzania’s adoption of multiparty democracy in 1992, Hamad immediately became the leading opposition figure in Zanzibar. With other CCM exiles he co-founded Civic United Front (CUF), and represented the party as its candidate for the Zanzibar presidency in the first multiparty elections in 1995. He was narrowly defeated by CCM candidate Salmin Amour, winning 49.8% of the vote to Amour’s 50.2%. Observers noted serious irregularities in the poll and the CUF rejected the result as rigged.

This set the pattern for the next 25 years. Hamad ran again for President in 2000, officially receiving 33% of the vote in a poll that Commonwealth observers described the election as “a shambles”. In 2005 his official vote share rose to 46%, and in 2010 to 49%, though both elections were again marred by widely noted irregularities. Post-election violence in January 2001 prompted national dialogue but little consequential change until 2010, when newly adopted constitutional arrangements made Hamad, as leader of the largest opposition party, the first Vice President of Zanzibar.

Another disputed election in 2015, saw the result annulled. Early signs suggested that Hamad had won. In protest, the re-run election held five months later was boycotted by opposition parties including CUF and Hamad.

Hamad’s final opportunity came in 2020, now representing ACT Wazalendo, where he was recorded as achieving a highly implausible 19% of the vote. He played a critical role – as he had done nineteen years earlier – in defusing tension, insisting that justice and reconciliation must come through dialogue rather than violence. As he had done in 2010, he joined a unity government as Vice President, this time under President Hussein Mwinyi.

Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad died of the Coronavirus, the first person in Tanzania to publicly reveal a positive Covid-19 test result for 10 months, since President John Magufuli declared the country coronavirus-free. According to his ACT party colleague, Zitto Kabwe, to the last he was advocating peace and dialogue: “he stressed that it was time for the party to be at the front line to cement the accord.”

“The national unity government will continue to be honoured,” said Kabwe, “to ensure Maalim Seif’s dream for Zanzibar’s prosperity, justice for Zanzibaris and unity for Zanzibaris is not extinguished,” he said.

Throughout the turbulence years and flawed elections of multiparty politics in Zanzibar, Hamad was a much loved paternal figure. “We are where you are,” his supporters would shout in demonstration of their loyalty and dedication. As proof, they followed him en masse to ACT Wazalendo in 2019 when infighting within CUF led to a split in the party in, leaving CUF as little more than a hollowed-out husk.

His support was almost universal on the island of Pemba, but he also earned support and respect on Unguja island, in mainland Tanzania, and indeed across the globe. He will be remembered most for rising above provocation to secure peace and stability for Zanzibar, most clearly in 2001, but again in different ways after each of the six elections he “lost”.

Time and again in the face of great personal injustice he showed patience, understanding, dedication, intellect and empathy. Perhaps he lacked the ruthlessness to reach the very top. But he was a better person as a result. And with these qualities, surely, he would have made an excellent President.

Economist and former Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, Professor Benno Ndulu, died in hospital in Dar es Salaam in February, at the age of 71. He will be remembered as a highly qualified technocrat who changed the face of the central bank, and as a globally-respected economist of keen intellect, firm integrity and deep humanity.

Born in rural Kilombero in Morogoro region, Ndulu attended Catholic Church mission schools and a public school for upper secondary, after which he enrolled at the university of Dar-es-Salaam to study economics.

Prof Ndulu started his professional career at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in 1979, where his work underpinned many of the economic reforms introduced by President Mwinyi after his election in 1985. In 1992 he earned a PHD in Economics from Northwestern University in the US.

He moved to the World Bank in 1997, initially to lead the macroeconomic division in the Tanzania office, where he was closely involved with President Mkapa’s economic agenda. He later moved to Washington and served as advisor to the Regional Vice President for Africa.

President Kikwete brought Ndulu back to Tanzania in 2008 to take the reins at the scandal-hit Bank of Tanzania. He worked tirelessly to rebuild the bank’s reputation, and to protect the its integrity against political machinations, most notably in questioning and resisting payments relating to what became a major corruption scandals: the Tegeta Escrow scandal. He also focused on instituting monetary policies towards growth and containment of inflation, and encouraged expansion of access to financial services to Tanzanians who would previously never considered opening a bank account or taking a loan.

After his formal retirement in 2019, Ndulu did not stop working. His credentials and reputation earned him positions as visiting professor at Oxford University, member of economic advisory panels for President Ramaphosa in South Africa and President Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, board member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and advisory board member for the World Bank’s 2021 World Development Report.

Professor Ngaire Woods, dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, said: “Benno Ndulu exemplified outstanding public leadership. A brilliant, humane man with wonderful humour, whose sharp incisive mind made sense of complex issues, and whose empathy kept him in close touch with all those he served.”

President Ramaphosa said “Africa had lost a great thinker and visionary in the infancy of continental free trade, … an outstanding economic intellectual with an extraordinary and vibrant passion for African development.”

Tanzania’s most senior civil servant, the Chief Secretary, Ambassador John Kijazi, passed away in February at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma, at the age of 64. He had been admitted to hospital two weeks earlier and had been receiving treatment but succumbed to a heart attack.

Ambassador Kijazi was appointed and promoted to the post of chief secretary and cabinet secretary in March 2016. He reached retirement age later in 2016, but President Magufuli extended his contract and he continued to hold the position until his death.

Born in 1956, Engineer Kijazi held a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Dar es Salaam and a Masters in Highway Engineering from Birmingham University. In 1982 he joined the Ministry of Public Works as an Assistant Engineer, before rising through various posts in the Ministry to the height of Permanent Secretary from 2002 to 2006. His time at the Ministry, including as Permanent Secretary, overlapped with President Magufuli’s time as first Deputy Minister (1995-2000) and then Minister of Works (2000-2005). He later served as Tanzania’s High Commission to India before President Magufuli called him back to serve as his most senior civil servant.


by Ben Taylor

Prominent Tanzanian business leader, Subhash Patel, died in Dar es Salaam in December, at the age of 62.

Mr Patel was the founder and managing director of Motisun Group, which is a multimillion-dollar business, which is among the leading manufacturers in Tanzania. Among other things, the group of companies runs one of the finest hotel and resort chains in Tanzania under the Sea Cliff and White Sands brand names.

He started his entrepreneurial life as a shopkeeper in his father’s shop and later on as a trader selling spices, gradually moved into the automobile business and later into manufacturing. He went on to build a business empire ranging from manufacturing of steel sheeting and pipes, rubber, paint and fizzy drinks.

Until his passing, Subhash was the chairman of the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and board member of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), the umbrella body of the private sector. He was also a religious leader who often led prayers at his local Hindu temple in Dar es Salaam.

“I offer my sincere condolences to family members, relatives and all those who have been touched by his death. The nation has lost one of its patriots, may God rest his soul in eternal peace, Amen,” said Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

The former minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs in Zanzibar, Mr Abubakar Khamis Bakar, died in November at the age of 69.

Mr Bakar placed a prominent role in union government politics in the year 2014 when he was a member of the Constituent Assembly (CA). He did not mince his words in voting against the proposed two-tier system favoured by the then President Kikwete, despite being a cabinet minister. The decision later cost him his cabinet job in the Zanzibar government under President Ali Mohamed Shein.

Born in 1951 in Pemba, Mr Bakar achieved his primary and secondary education in the Isles before joining the University of Dar es Salaam for a law degree. He later pursued a Master’s degree in law at the West Indies University. He worked in all three pillars of state: as minister in the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (RGZ), deputy Chief Justice and Attorney General and representative in the House of Representative.
He served as a member of the Afro-Shiraz Party (ASP) and CCM, but later, he decamped to CUF and became member of the executive committee. Following the post-2015 political wrangles within CUF, Mr Bakar was among those who decamped to ACT-Wazalendo, where he served on the party’s executive committee.

The ACT-Wazalendo vice chairman for Zanzibar Juma Duni Haji said that Mr Bakar will be remembered for his role in writing constitutions of Zanzibar and that of the United Republic.

A political science lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Bakari Mohamed, said the deceased has left a huge legacy through the 1984 constitution that provided the Isles with principles of political and economic development of Zanzibar. “He successfully served the CCM government and the opposition CUF as head of legal issues hence greatly benefiting Zanzibar and Tanzania at large,” he said.


by Ben Taylor

The third President of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, passed away late in the evening of Thursday 23rd July, 2020, after suffering a heart attack at the age of 81.

Mkapa was born in 1938 to a poor family in Mtwara region. He earned a degree in English at Makerere College in Uganda in 1959, after which he went on to study at Columbia University in New York. He later worked as a journalist, including as Editor of The Nationalist and Uhuru (both owned by TANU) and became the founding editor of the state-owned Daily News in 1972, before being appointed the press secretary for the country’s first President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, in 1974.

Under President Nyerere and President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Mkapa held several cabinet posts, including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Information and Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. He also served as Tanzania’s ambassador to the United States.

However, he was, to many, a surprise choice to be the ruling party’s presidential candidate in 1995. Jakaya Kikwete and Edward Lowassa were the favourites for this position, along with Salim Ahmed Salim, who was seen as Nyerere’s preferred choice. Salim declined to run for personal reasons, and Nyerere intervened against Lowassa, citing concerns about the sources of his wealth. This left Kikwete as the strong favourite, at least until a second intervention by Nyerere promoted the less well known Mkapa as a more experienced and responsible figure. In the final round Mkapa won the internal party vote over Kikwete by the narrow margin of 689 votes to 639.

Nyerere campaigned hard for Mkapa in the 1995 election – Tanzania’s first multi-party election since the early 1960s – to the extent that some newspapers treated Nyerere as if he were the nominee, side-lining Mkapa somewhat in their reporting. Mkapa won the election with 62%, well ahead of his closest rival Augustino Mrema on 28%.

As President, Mkapa was noted for continuing President Mwinyi efforts to open up the economy, and most particularly for the large-scale privatisation of state-owned industry and parastatals. He is credited/blamed (delete according to political leanings) for boosting tax collection, instituting austerity measures to curb wasteful expenditure and opening doors to foreign investors. A sleight of hand involving revised definitions allowed Mkapa to do this without either CCM or Tanzania officially abandoning Ujamaa, though it was clear that in practice economic policy under Mkapa owed little to Nyerere’s ideology.

These reforms were welcomed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and partly resulted in the cancellation of Tanzania’s foreign debts. Nevertheless, the privatisations in particular were much criticised within Tanzania, and Mkapa later stated that although he had good intentions the policy was not well executed.

Privatisation also led to one of two corruption scandals that tarnished Mkapa’s legacy. It has been widely reported – and denied – that he improperly appropriated to himself and his former finance Minister Daniel Yona the lucrative Kiwira coal mine in Mbeya.

The second scandal was his association with the controversial USD$40m radar system purchased by Tanzania from BAE, said to be incompatible with Tanzania’s needs at the time and which involved a $12m payment to a middleman for “marketing purposes”. This case attracted the ire of the UK International Development Secretary at the time, Clare Short.

President Mkapa also attracted international criticism for his handling of the 2000 elections in Zanzibar, where a CCM President was elected for Zanzibar despite evidence that the opposition party candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad had more votes. The polls were described by Commonwealth observers as a “shambles.” In the aftermath, the army and police shot into crowds of protestors, killing at least 35 and wounding more than 600, and those forces, accompanied by ruling party officials and militias, went on a house-to-house rampage, arresting, beating, and sexually abusing residents, according to Human Rights Watch. Approximately 2,000 temporarily fled to Kenya.

Nevertheless, Mkapa was generally a popular President, and, after stepping down following two terms in 2005, became a respected elder statesman in regional politics. Most prominently, he attempted to act as mediator between Burundi’s government and opposition groups after a disputed 2015 election plunged the country into crisis, though talks went nowhere as the government repeatedly refused to take part.

President Magufuli led tributes to the former President. “I will remember him for his great love for the nation, his piety, hard work and performance in building the economy,” he said, and declared a seven-day mourning period, with all flags flown at half-mast.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta sent a message of condolences and mourned the departed Tanzanian leader as an “outstanding East African who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace and progress of the region.”

Justice Augustino Ramadhani, former Chief Justice of Tanzania, died at the Aga Khan hospital in Dar es Salaam in April after a long illness.
Justice Ramadhani’s CV is long and impressive. Most prominently, he has been one of Tanzania’s foremost judges for many years, having served as Chief Justice of both Zanzibar (1978-1979 and 1980-1989) and Tanzania (2007-2010), as well as a judge of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ; 2001-2007) and a judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR; 2010-2016) including three years as President of the Court.

But he was also ordained as an Anglican Priest in 2013, where he had previously served as Provincial Registrar of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (2000-2007), and was appointed to lead St Albans Cathedral Church in Dar es Salaam in 2017.

He served as vice chairman of the National Electoral Commission (1993­2003), vice chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (2002-2007) and deputy chairman of the Warioba Commission on Constitutional Reform (2012).

And if that wasn’t enough, after obtaining his first degree in 1970, Ramadhani joined the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (JWTZ), reaching the rank of Brigadier General. His roles included JWTZ lawyer, head of Mugulani Camp in Dar es Salaam and head of JWTZ’s Faru Brigade in Tabora. He was involved in the war against Uganda under Idi Amin and then became Judge of the military court in Uganda.

He played piano, and in his youth was a talented basketball player. Born on Zanzibar in 1945, the grandson of Rev Cecil Majaliwa, first African priest of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, both his parents were teachers. Ramadhani went to primary school in Mpwapwa before attending the prestigious Tabora Boys High School. At the age of 15, he lost his father to a train crash in Manchester, UK.

He married Lieutenant Colonel Saada Mbarouk, a Muslim, in November 1975. They had four children, Francis, Bridget, Marine and Matthew.

Briefly, in 2015, Ramadhani’s name was discussed as a potential President of Tanzania, with various newspapers reporting that he was President Kiketwe’s preferred choice as a successor. As a Zanzibari Christian with broad experience and a reputation for integrity, it is easy to see the appeal. He submitted his nomination, but the party committees did not put him on the five-person shortlist.

In his various roles as a jurist, Ramadhani was seen as a passionate protector of the rule of law, and in later years, of democratic rights and freedoms. He was disappointed and privately critical of the country’s direction under President Magufuli.

Nevertheless, President Magufuli led the tributes. “I have received with great sadness the news of the death of the late Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani,” he said in a statement. “I wish to express my sincere condolences to you, the family of the deceased, all the honourable judges and the staff of the Judiciary of Tanzania.”

Experienced diplomat and serving Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Augustine Mahiga, died on May 1, 2020 in Dodoma after a short illness, at the age of 74.

Mahiga served as Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs for four years under President Magufuli (2015–2019) before moving to his final cabinet
Obituaries 47

position. He previously served his country as an army colonel, head of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS), and Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the United Nations from 2003 to 2010. From 2010 to 2013 he was the UN Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia.

Mahiga was born in Tosamaganga, Iringa in 1945. He studied in Tosamaganga from Primary level up to High School, then earned a BA in Education at the University of East Africa in Dar es Salaam. He later attained a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and in 1975 a PhD in International Relations from the same institution.
“Despite his advanced age, experience and the high positions he held in government and internationally, Dr Mahiga was a humble and obedient person in the way he fulfilled his responsibilities,’’ said President Magufuli in a statement.

Opposition MP, Zitto Kabwe paid tribute, describing Mahiga as “an outstanding diplomat”.

The outgoing British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Sarah Cooke, described Mahiga as “a wise and experienced diplomat who was a close partner and friend of the UK. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time,’’ she posted on Twitter.

Judge Mark Bomani has passed away in early September at the age of
88. He had been receiving treatment for the past month at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

Bomani served as Tanzania’s Attorney General from 1965 to 1976, the first indigenous Tanzania to hold the position, succeeding Roland Brown. He played a big role in advising President Nyerere on the appointment of the first indigenous Chief Justice Francis Nyalali and other judges of the High Court of Tanganyika, currently the High Court of Tanzania.
After serving in the government, Judge Bomani became a senior legal advisory in the United Nations between 1976 and 1990, working towards Namibian independence from South Africa and working to devise an independent legal system for the country. He was also the chief aide to both Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela on peace negotiations during the first Burundian Civil War.

In 1993, he chaired the Legal Sector Task Force, which resulted in a comprehensive report on legal sector reform in Tanzania. And in 2007 he was entrusted by President Kikwete to chair a Commission on the operations of the Mining Industry in Tanzania, with a broad scope that encompassed economic benefits, governance of the sector and alleged human rights abuses.

He was also briefly a Commissioner on the National Electoral Commission
– a position he resigned in 1995 in order to seek the CCM nomination as Presidential Candidate. This controversy is still cited today as evidence that the electoral commission is not truly independent.
At various times he was Chair of the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), the Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TEITI) and the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT).

“I send my heartfelt condolences to the late Bomani’s family and all who in one way or another have been touched by the demised of the retired judge,” said President Magufuli on Twitter.

Former Industry and Trade Minister Iddi Simba passed away in February while receiving medical treatment at the Muhimbili National Hospital’s Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI).

Simba, described as “Tanzania’s staunchest proponent of indigenisation policy” and one of Tanzania’s foremost “intellectuals of capital”. He served as Minister of Commerce and then of Industry and Trade under President Mkapa, and as Chair of the Confederation of Tanzanian Industry (CTI), as well as holding senior positions with the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

Born in 1935, Simba grew up in Dar es Salaam where he received his primary and secondary education. He then attended the elite Tabora Boys School and became one of the first university graduates in post­colonial Tanganyika after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1961 from Panjab University in Pakistan.

Mr Simba is credited to have conceived the concept of indigenisation, a policy that sought to integrate Tanzanians of Africans descent into the modern economy and economically empower poor Tanzanians. In 1999, he told a gathering of members of the CTI that foreign companies which want to invest in Tanzania will be compelled to identify local partners. “If they cannot do so, the government will help them identify partners because we are now aiming at localising and promoting local participation in investments,” he said.

In June 2003, he published a twenty-page booklet titled A Concept of Indigenisation (Dhana ya Uzawa). The publication prompted the leadership of the ruling CCM, a party which Mr Simba was serving as a member of its National Executive Committee (NEC), to ban its members from using the term indigenisation (uzawa) on the grounds that it had no relation to the party’s 2000 election manifesto.

President Mkapa led the tributes to Mr Simba: “He always held to his position and he lived to be a good fighter for the advancement of the private sector,” said Mr Mkapa.

The last surviving member of the first cabinet of independent Tanganyika, Job Lusinde, died in July at the age of 89.

Job Lusinde (standing extreme left) in first cabinet of independent Tanganyika

After early schooling in Dodoma, Lusinde studied at Tabora Boys High School and Makerere University. He returned to Dodoma as a teacher, then served as District Executive Director where he drew the attention of the future President Nyerere.

At a time of the mutiny by soldiers in January 1964, Lusinde was Minister for Home Affairs. Alongside Oscar Kambona, the powerful Defence Minister, he calmed the soldiers who were demanding fast pace of Africanisation. Lusinde was awoken by the rioting soldiers in the early hours and ordered to show where President Nyerere and his vice Rashid Kawawa were hiding. He managed to get into the State House where he found Mama Maria Nyerere and Sophia Kawawa safe. From there, it is said, he communicated directly with all the ministers, pleading with them to stay indoors for their safety. The confusion as to the whereabouts of Nyerere and Kawawa ended after Lusinde, Kambona and Bhoke Munanka traced them in Kigamboni.

For many years, he held the Communications, Transport and Works dockets. In this role, he oversaw several large infrastructure projects including negotiations and construction of the Tanzania-Zambia

Railway (TAZARA), the Tanzania-Zambia Pipeline (TANZAM) and the highway to Zambia. He stood side by side with Mwalimu Nyerere as the President inaugurated one project after another.

He lost his seat in parliament in 1975, after which he served as Tanzania’s Ambassador in China and High Commissioner in Kenya, and later as chair of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA).

“There was no blemish on his performance,” said Former Dodoma Mayor Peter Mavunde. “He strived to discharge his roles to utmost perfection. He was my role model, I did not expect that one day I would become a politician, but under his watch, I matured steadily, ultimately becoming a mayor for Dodoma. Many politicians benefited from his wisdom.”

Former personal assistant to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Annar Cassam, died in Geneva in July after a long illness.

Annar Cassam with President Nyerere

Cassam was never a well-known figure in Tanzania, despite the role she played – certainly far less well-known than Joan Wicken. And yet she played a major role in Nyerere’s presidency, particularly in foreign affairs.

She first saw and heard Nyerere as a student at the London School of Economics (LSE) in the 1960s. After specialising in international law, she went on to Geneva on a fellowship at the International Commission of Jurists until she was asked to return to Tanzania in the 1970s to work at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Dar es Salaam was then the headquarters of the African Liberation Committee (ALC) and Tanzania was instrumental in supporting Southern African Liberation Movements. Nyerere invested a lot of time, effort and attention on this, and with her expertise, Cassam ended up working closely with him at State House.

Her role included helping him with translations of all French correspondence, to be with the President when he was meeting French speaking leaders, and to represent the president in meetings with key local actors including revolutionary-minded scholars at the University of Dar es Salaam.

After President Nyerere’s retirement, Cassam left Tanzania to work in Geneva for the United Nations. She maintained a close interest in Tanzania and in Nyerere’s legacy, however, including co-editing a book on Nyerere’s role in Africa’s liberation struggles, published in 2010.

Her co-editor on that book, Chambi Chachage, paid tribute. “One of the lessons I learned from her is the importance of not mincing words and not refraining from challenging the ideas of others, especially when they depart from historical facts,” he wrote. “It was indeed an honour and a privilege to collaborate with someone who christened herself my ‘old shangazi’.”


by Ben Taylor

Graham Mercer was a teacher, writer and lover of Tanzania, a familiar figure to the thousands of students who passed through the International School of Tanganyika (IST), and to thousands more who read his books.

Born in St Helens in the north west of England during the Second World War, Graham attended the local Grammar School before embarking on a life-long education at “various campuses of the University of Life”, as he described it. This included time as a hotel scullery boy, post office clerk and nine years in the Royal Navy – which first took him to East Africa – before he settled into teaching. He taught first in a primary school in St Helens, for three years, before his passion for wildlife led him to Tanzania.

He began teaching at IST in 1977, where he taught for 34 years. Initially he taught elementary school classes, gradually moving towards science and information technology. This have him a front seat view as the school, the country and technology evolved. He became the school’s resident historian, publishing a book on the subject, A Very Special School, in 2010.

Indeed, writing had already become a major part of Graham’s life and work. He wrote sixteen books in all, including several tourist guidebooks on Tanzania, photobooks (some with Javed Jafferji) on various national parks, and his own memoirs. Most recently, in January of this year, he published Into the Eyes of Lions, about his experiences on safari in Tanzania over the decades. In 1988, his writing won the BBC Wildlife Magazine’s award for nature writers, and in 2016 he won the I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition.

Graham retired in 2012 and returned to the UK with his wife Anjum. Four years later he was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. He refused to let this define him, however, and pressed on with his writing.

Rev Dr Gertrude Rwakatare MP was a prominent entrepreneur, a force to be reckoned with, whose interests took in education, religion and politics. She died on April 20th, 2020, at the age of 69, following a short illness.

In 1987, she founded St Mary’s school in Tabata, Dar es Salaam, meeting a demand for English-medium education among a growing middle class. This became the first of several schools in the St Mary’s chain, along with others in Morogoro, Mbeya, Dodoma and Mwanza. She later established a teachers’ college.

Rwakatare was more well-known, however as the founder (in 1995) and leader of Mikocheni B Assemblies of God church, one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Tanzania. In this role, she became a prominent figure in public life, inspiring blind devotion in her followers and scepticism and distrust from many others. She preached a severe morality, but somehow managed to become famous and (very) rich in the process.
President Kikwete appointed her as an MP in 2007, and she continued to serve as a CCM member of parliament until her death.

Josephat Torner

Human rights activist and prominent defender of the rights of people with albinism, Josephat Torner, died on April 12, 2020, at the age of 42, after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the road in Mwanza.

Torner, who himself had albinism, spent his life fighting to protect and empower those with the condition across Africa and beyond. He worked with documentary film maker Harry Freeland to make a documentary on albinism, In the Shadow of the Sun [see TA issue 125]. As part of this, Torner confronted a witchdoctor about the role of witchcraft beliefs and practices in the spate of violent attacks and murders of people with albinism in Tanzania.

Torner himself was the subject of such attacks: twice he survived attempts to take his life.

As a campaigner, he spoke out publicly against what he saw as the government’s failure to combat superstition and misconceptions surrounding albinism. He also fought to dispel such beliefs through his actions, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro twice, for example, to demonstrate that people with albinism can achieve if given the chance.


by Ben Taylor

Ali Mufuruki (15 November 1958 to 7 December 2019) was one of the few businessmen of Tanzanian African origin to make it onto the Forbes Rich List, where, in 2011, his assets were estimated at $110m. The figure may have been exaggerated, and he did not appear on the list in subsequent years, but his achievements are not in doubt.

He was born in Bukoba to parents Abdul Hassan Mufuruki and Jalliya Rutaihwa. He was employed by Daimler-Benz and studied in Germany, where in 1986 he achieved a degree-level qualification in Mechanical Design Engineering from the Fachhochschule (or Technical High School) in Reutlingen. He returned to Tanzania to be head of mechanical engineering at the state-owned National Engineering Company. Two years later he created his own company, Infotec Computers Ltd, which installed and maintained computers across Tanzania, supplying both the hardware and software. The timing was perfect: computers were suddenly a key part of the business world. The business expanded rapidly and a few years later the South African based Woolworths Holdings Ltd licensed its interests in Tanzania to the Infotec Investment Group (his holding company). Its first store in Tanzania opened in December 1999, and the franchise was subsequently extended to Uganda. Mufuruki started many other companies; the long list included a franchise of Levi’s, the US-owned maker of jeans, and, with a Norwegian company, a business selling internet-based booking systems to tourist venues. It opened office buildings, locating its headquarters in one of them, a prestigious building in Mikocheni, Dar es Salaam.

But Mufuruki was not just interested in his own businesses. He served as a director or chair of a list of companies and committees far too long to list here (but including the Tanzanian arm of Coca Cola, Vodacom Tanzania, Air Tanzania, Mwananchi Communications Ltd and the Nation Media Group in Kenya). He became involved in the international circuit of business conferences where he spoke, very effectively, about the potential, but also the weaknesses, of businesses in Africa. In 2000, he was a co-founder – and from 2005 chair – of the Chief Executive Officers Roundtable of Tanzania, providing a voice representing business interests across the whole private sector (agriculture and services as well as manufacturing), not controlled or dominated by the government.

But his long-term legacy is likely to be the book which with three friends he published in 2017. [Ali Mufuruki, Rahim Mawji, Moremi Marwa, Gilman Kasiga. Tanzania’s Industrialization Journey, 2015-2056: From an Agrarian to an Industrialised State in 40 Years. Nairobi: Moran Publishers, 2017. Also on the internet at See also the review in Tanzanian Affairs Issue 120, May 2018]. It broke new ground in many ways. It was probably the first book about economic strategy in Tanzania written from within the business community, rather than by academic economists or consultants from overseas. It used the authors’ experiences of their business dealings in the Asian tiger economies, and the work of the Chinese economist Justin Lin and the Korean, Ha-Jung Chang, to demonstrate the benefits of government intervention to steer the process of industrialisation. It was far ahead of its time in much of what it advocated, e.g. that energy policy be based on solar power and not on gas and oil, with as much as possible of the solar hardware fabricated in Tanzania. It presented figures to show that Tanzanian wage rates are below those in China or Bangladesh, so Tanzania can undercut them in the production of labour-intensive products such as garments or the assembly of light electronic products, and export to the whole world, provided the infrastructure is in place and efficient. Its deeper purpose was to give Tanzanians confidence that they can take control of their destinies and make their nation a better place, socially as well as economically. Tanzania has lost another of its leading businessmen, but his ideas will live on in this book, and in his many speeches and presentations on the internet. [Andrew Coulson]

Professor Harold John Cooke, FRGS (1927-2019), was one of the last of the post-war geographers who pursued successful careers in both the Colonial Service and post-Independence African academia.

Born into a working class Manchester family, John entered Manchester University on a scholarship and graduated with a Geography degree in 1948. Following a year’s National Service in the Intelligence Corps in Egypt he was posted to Tanganyika as a District Officer (cadet) in the Colonial Service in 1951. There followed a series of postings, mostly in the districts surrounding Lake Victoria, and culminating in appointment as District Commissioner in the Bukoba District in 1960.

An accomplished mountaineer, he used his free time to climb the mountains of East Africa. He made three ascents of Mt Kilimanjaro, including, in 1957, the first recorded ascent of the Heim Glacier, and the first west-east transect across the entire massif.

In 1956 he married Sylvia Kaufmann, whose family fled from Germany to Tanganyika in 1936, in Tanga. She was to be his constant companion and partner until her death in 2018.

With Tanzanian Independence in 1961 John resigned as DC and moved to the coast where he taught secondary level geography at Tanga and then Karimjee secondary schools. In 1969 he completed a PhD on the Karst of the Tanga limestone, awarded by the University College of Dar-es-Salaam.
Later that same year, John and Sylvia moved back to the UK where John took up a job as a geography teacher, before taking the opportunity two years later to establish the Department of Environmental Science at the new Botswana campus of the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1991 they moved to rural Wales for a quiet retirement. [Philippa John-Cooke]

Sultan Qaboos bin Said (1940-2020) of Oman was the world’s longest ruling King, and a much-loved friend of Tanzania. Though an absolute monarch, who served for almost 50 years, he was both relatively benevolent and popular, including in Tanzania, where historic bonds between Zanzibar and the Omani Kingdom remain powerful.

He came to power in a bloodless coup that overthrew his father, Sultan Said bin Taimur, in 1970, and went on to turn the country from a back­ward and isolated country into a prosperous, modern state, engaged in the wider Arab region. Less impressive was the lack of political change; Qaboos retained personal control of all the main government posts and refused to delegate any real power even to other members of the royal family that has ruled Oman continuously since 1749.

The sultans of Oman ruled over much of the East African coast from 1689 to 1856, maintaining extensive trade routes. In either 1832 or 1840, the sultans moved their capital from Muscat to Zanzibar.

In December 1963, Zanzibar had a brief moment of independence when the British, who had shared power with the sultans as a protectorate (1890-1963), left the islands as a constitutional monarchy back under Omani rule. On January 12, 1964, a violent revolution in Zanzibar overthrew the sultanate, ending over two centuries of power in the region.

Mwalimu Nyerere with Sultan Qaboos bin Said

And yet, the ousting of the Omanis from Zanzibar in 1964 left many Zanzibaris with have strong familial and historical ties to Oman. To this day, many East Africans share a special connection with Oman, and many Omanis speak fluent Swahili.

Sultan Qaboos made quiet but a concerted effort to maintain these ties of family and friendship, particularly after Tanzania began, in the 1980s, to open her doors to tourism and trade. This included various charitable and diplomatic initiatives, the establishment of direct flights between Oman and Zanzibar in 2011, funding the construction of a new Grand Mosque of Zanzibar and the restoration of the Beit el-Ajaib (House of Wonders), and a delegation that visited Zanzibar in 2017 to strengthen cooperation along the coast.

The Sultan’s death was mourned on Zanzibar and in wider Tanzania. Even before he died, residents of Stone Town gathered at Jaws Corner to pray for his health after news circulated that he was ill.

Sultan Qaboos never married and had no children. However, he left a letter nominating his chosen successor and a meeting of the royal family agreed to support his choice: his cousin, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the Minister of Culture.

James Mapalala, veteran politician and one of the leading pioneers of pluralism in Tanzania, died in Dar es Salaam in October, aged 83.

Mr Mapalala is probably best known for being the first prominent Tanzanian politician to publicly demand the reinstatement of the multiparty democracy. He did so in 1986, something that angered the government at the time. Accused of forming a political party contrary to the then constitution, he was jailed for two years in Lindi and later taken to detention in the Mafia Island before being released in 1989.

He officially formed the Chama cha Wananchi (CCW) in 1991, one of the two parties (along with Kamahuru, in Zanzibar) that merged in 1993 to form the Civic United Front (CUF). He was elected to be the first CUF national chairman, the position he served until 1994, when his tenure ended following a political wrangle that erupted in the party.

To many young Tanzanians, Ambassador Paul Ndobho (1938-2019) isn’t a familiar name. But to the older generation Ndobho is revered as a strong politician, who had guts to stand even against Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

In 1968, Ndobho opposed a bill, which was orchestrated by Mwalimu Nyerere, which sought to provide gratuity allowances to MPs and ministers. His main argument was that Tanzania was still too poor to afford such kind of expenditure. Standing up to President Nyerere at that time was seen as political suicide, but Mr Ndobho’s motion sailed through with only one legislator opposing it.

Ndobho became a legislator at the young age of 27 after he won the Musoma North parliamentary seat in 1965 through Tanzania African National Unity (TANU). The constituency included the home village of Mwalimu Nyerere.

He was appointed to various positions under President Nyerere’s administration, including: Kigoma regional secretary (1975) and Tanzania ambassador to Russia (1976). After the reintroduction of multi-party politics in the early 1990s, Ndobho defected to the then main opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, winning both the endorsement of former President Nyerere and the Musoma Rural seat in parliament.


by Ben Taylor

Tanzanian billionaire, business mogul, author and philanthropist Reginald Mengi has died aged 75. From humble roots, Mr Mengi had grown a business empire spanning mining, consumer goods and the media, worth, according to Forbes Magazine, US$550 million.

The legend of Mengi’s rise is well-known, as he was not shy to tell the story regularly, including in his 2018 Memoire, I Can, I Must, I Will. He describes how he started life bedding down with the farm animals in a small hut, but made his way out of poverty via an accounting college in Glasgow. He took night classes and worked as a bus conductor and cleaner to pay his way. He got a job as an accountant with PwC and was posted first to Nairobi then back home to Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam. By 1989, when he left the firm, he had risen to the role of Chairman and Managing Partner.

In an interview with Forbes Magazine in 2014, Mengi describes how the want of a pen sparked his mind on the way to his fortune. Amid wide­spread shortages of basic supplies in the 1980s, he had spent a whole day searching the streets of Dar es Salaam for a pen when he ran into a friend who knew someone, who knew someone else, who could export pen parts to Tanzania. He assembled them on his bedroom floor. “That little business gave me my first million dollars,” said Mengi.

The extent to which such stories were exaggerated as part of the man­agement of his public profile is unclear, but it is also said that Mengi’s first marriage, into a well-connected family in his home region of Kilimanjaro, helped move his career and business along considerably.

Today, his flagship IPP Limited owns several newspapers including The Guardian and Nipashe as well as several TV and Radio stations includ­ing the country’s leading TV station, ITV. He pioneered independent media in Tanzania when state monopolies were relaxed in the 1990s. The company also has interests in a number of Coca-Cola’s bottlers and bottles its own brand of water, Kilimanjaro Drinking Water. At the time of his death, Mengi was planning to expand into vehicle assembly for Hyundai, Kia and Daewoo cars in East Africa, as well as mobile phone manufacturing.

Mengi was also one of Tanzania’s most prominent philanthropists. He gave away large sums – reportedly millions of dollars every year – to Tanzanian educational, medical and religious institutions. Through this, and with the assistance of the highly visible presence he was able to command through his own media outlets, he had become a very popular figure among Tanzanians, well known even outside business, media and political circles.

Rumours often circulated that Mengi had aspirations for a political career. His name was mentioned occasionally as an outside candidate for leadership within CCM, though this never materialised. Perhaps his occasionally outspoken remarks on environmental causes and good governance made it impossible. Or perhaps this was part of an astute business strategy: rumours of political ambitions could provide useful leverage in his dealings with government.

“I am shocked at the death of an elder and a friend Dr. Reginald Mengi,” said President Magufuli. “I will remember him for his immense contribution to the development of our country and for the words he wrote in his book. I offer my condolences to members of his family, IPP workers and the entire business community.”

Previously, the President had spoken at the launch of Mengi’s book. “One of the things that Mengi has showed us with his life is that it is possible to rise above one’s circumstances if one is willing to pay the price,” he said. “There is no shortcut to success. Mengi’s story is a wake-up call to young Africans to work hard and persevere despite of the odds,” he added.

Mengi is survived by his second wife, former beauty queen Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe Mengi, and four children.


by Ben Taylor

Ruge Matahaba
Media and entertainment entrepreneur, Ruge Mutahaba, died in a South African hospital in February at the age of 49, following kidney failure. Officially, Ruge was Director of Strategy and Programmes Development at Clouds Media Group, but he was much more than this. He had played a leading role in transforming the popular music and entertainment industry in Tanzania over the past two decades.

Ruge co-founded Clouds Media with his long-time collaborator and business partner, Joseph Kusaga. The new radio station arrived into a music scene dominated by decades-old Tanzanian classics and stars and their music imported from the DRC or USA, and up-ended it. Ruge promoted local acts, enabling young Tanzanians to develop a musical style and culture of their own. Bongo Flava may draw heavily on American hip-hop, but it combines this with elements from taarab and dansi music as well as the creativity and imagination of street Swahili to create something uniquely and recognisably Tanzanian.

Ruge didn’t invent the style, but he enabled it to flourish. And with Ruge at the helm, Tanzanian youth culture became cool again. As social and political commentator, Elsie Eyakuze, notes, “we youth went from being nobodies to a real demographic with a voice and power. And all this because one young man decided to dedicate his entire life-force to what he loved and to do it in the country he loved. That’s why nowadays anything youth is possible.”

“We believed there was room for us to make some money in the most unconventional ways, and to promote local content because some young men had started making music,” Ruge said. Besides Clouds Media, Ruge played influential roles in establishing the Fiesta concert series, Primetime Promotions, the Smooth Vibes record label, the Sauti za Busara festival, the Fursa campaign, and Tanzania House of Talent.

Ruge Mutahaba was born in Berkeley, California in 1970. He studied primary school in Arusha and Dar es Salaam, before progressing to Forodhani Secondary for O-level and Pugu High School for A–level studies. He later joined San Jose University of California for degrees in marketing and finance.

Perhaps the best evidence of Ruge’s impact on popular culture in Tanzania is to witness the response to his death. Thousands lined the streets in mourning, first in Dar es Salaam and later in Bukoba when his body returned from South Africa.

“It is with great sadness that I received the news on the passing of my son Ruge Mutahaba,” said President John Magufuli on Twitter. “I will forever remember him for his huge contribution in the media and entertainment industry as well as his efforts in mentoring the youth. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

Former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete said he was at a loss for words. “My heart bleeds and is filled with sadness after receiving news on the death of Ruge Mutahaba. The nation has lost a young visionary and patriot. He helped me during and even after my presidency. May he rest in peace,” Kikwete posted on Twitter.

“I do not like small dreams, I like big dreams,” Mutahaba said while delivering a lecture at University of Dodoma. “You need to be aggressive and please do not stop until you are a star.”

Hatim Amir Karimjee
It is with profound sadness that the Karimjee Jivanjee family announce the passing of Hatim Amir Karimjee on 12 January, 2019 at the age of 73, in London, England, surrounded by family and close friends. He was born in Zanzibar, Tanzania on 27 July, 1945 to the late Amir Yusufali Karimjee O.B.E and the late Kulsum Amir Karimjee.

Hatim leaves behind a deep-rooted legacy of professional and philanthropic achievements honouring his family, his community, and his country. Hatim will be deeply missed and forever cherished by his wife, Razia, his son, Yusuf, his daughter-in-law Aran, his adored grandchildren Kaleem and Danyal, and his two siblings, Zamy and Mahmood Karimjee.

He will be greatly remembered for his generosity, his sharp wit and booming spirit; his appreciation of art, and his fervent love for food, wine and travel. Hatim’s appetite for life will live on through those who knew and loved him.
Hafiz Khandwala

Peter Le Mare
Soil scientist, woodworker, yoghurt maker, occasional needleworker and environmentalist, Peter Le Mare, has died aged 95. Peter worked on the Tanganyika groundnut scheme at Kongwa in the 1940s, initially living and working in tents until houses were built.

When the scheme, intended to supply vegetable oil for the UK’s post-war diet, folded in 1952, Peter moved to Uganda, before returning to Tanzania in 1963. Peter worked on fertiliser use for tropical soils at Ukiriguru, where, in 1965, he had the honour of escorting President Julius Nyerere, for whom he had great respect, around the research plots.

Peter went to Friends’ school, Saffron Walden, in Essex, and Leighton Park school, Reading. A conscientious objector during the second world war, he was instructed to “work full-time on the land”. He went first to Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, where he assisted with field experiments to improve soil fertility and the wartime production of food.

In 1945 he began working at the ICI Research Station near Bracknell, Berkshire, where he met Joy Smallwood, a horticulturalist. They married in 1946, before moving to east Africa the following year. While there, Peter sailed on Lake Victoria in a dinghy he had built himself and climbed Kilimanjaro.

The family returned to the UK in 1969 where, back at Rothamsted, Peter wrote his PhD based on his overseas work. In 1973 he became a research fellow at Reading University specialising in tropical food crops.
Margaret Le Mare


by Ben Taylor

Mama Zippora Shekilango

Mama Zippora Shekilango, an education and gender activist, died in September at the age of 80.

Her late husband, Hussein Ramadhani Shekilango, is perhaps more famous, and even has a prominent road named after him (Shekilango Road in Dar es Salaam). But it would be a mistake to see Mama Shekilango as merely her husband’s wife.

For many years, she was a doughty campaigner on gender and education issues. First, she had been a teacher and headmistress at highly successful schools including Zanaki, Msalato, Kisutu, Jangwani and Forodhani.

It was her love of education, for the girl child to have equal chances of education as the boychild, that led her to become one of the country’s leading gender rights activists. Despite coming from a generation where both men and women celebrated patriarchy, she became instrumental in advocating for gender equality. Twenty-five years ago, out of con­viction that gender equality was the way to inclusive development, with others she founded the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP). The organisation has been at the forefront of the struggle for gender equality in Tanzania ever since.

Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition party ACT Wazalendo reflected on her passing by quoting her: “Without quality education the nation will find itself stagnant and this is why it’s always important to meet and discuss the way forward.”

Saumu Jumanne, of the University of Dar es Salaam, paid tribute: “The knowledge that a teacher passes on to the students, more often than not outlives the teacher. Her values will live on. Hopefully as a nation we can learn from her dedication to teaching, gender activism and all in the spirit of patriotism. To the likes of Mama Zippora, Tanzania always came first in their doings. This is a great lesson to all of us in public services today.”


by Ben Taylor

Derek Ingram

Derek with the other founders of the Britain-Tanzania Society in 1975

Derek Ingram (20 June 1925 – 17 June 2018) was one of the founders of the Britain Tanzania Society. The official picture shows him with Bishop Trevor Huddleston, Roger Carter, the indefatigable first Secretary of the Society, and John Malecela and Amon Nsekala, both of whom were Tanzanian High Commissioners in London (John left the post to become Prime Minister in 1990).

Derek was a tall man – gaunt, serious, loveable, a little other-worldly, but entirely reliable and utterly frank. By 1975, when BTS was founded, he had known Julius Nyerere for at least 15 years. He described a journey to Nigeria, and on to Nkrumah’s Ghana, in 1960, which makes it clear how much he valued Nyerere’s judgements, even before Independence the following year.

Derek left school early to become a journalist – he made a good living as a sub-editor when he was only 17. After service in the navy, he worked on the Daily Express, then the Daily Mail where he was repeatedly promoted till he became Deputy Editor, before falling out with the proprietor Lord Rothermere over what he saw as his racist attitudes to Rhodesia. At this point, in 1967, he and a friend set up Gemini News Service, a network of journalists across the Commonwealth. Six stories were printed on gestetner machines, stuffed into enveloped and mailed out to its loyal subscribers twice a week. It was never a financial suc­cess but launched many careers, including Lindsay Hilsum and Trevor MacDonald, and enabled those living and working in one part of the Commonwealth to know a little about what was happening elsewhere. Derek insisted on accuracy, clarity, clear simple English, and the impor­tance of contacts built up over many years. It made him one of the most respected journalists in the Commonwealth, an expert on all its coun­tries. Derek himself lived quietly in London, never married, devoted to his life’s work.

Gemini carried on till 2002. Derek never lost his interest, and continued reading the newspapers every day and writing and talking to his huge circle of friends. He died peacefully just short of his 93rd birthday. The Britain Tanzania Society was just one of his interests, but we would be very different without him.

Andrew Coulson

Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti

Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti

Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti (1996-2018) were conjoined twins whose positive outlook and determination to survive against the odds had captured the hearts of Tanzanians. They died in June at the age 21 after suffering respiratory complications at Iringa Regional Hospital.

The women, who were joined from the navel downwards and shared organs like the liver and lungs, had two hearts and separate heads and arms, and were against the idea of being surgically separated. The twins were very well known in Tanzania and the news of their deaths caused sadness nationwide.

President John Magufuli tweeted that he was “saddened” by their deaths, adding that Consolata and Maria had “dreamed of serving the nation”.
Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu, said the twins “have fought a war to an end. Rest in peace, Maria and Consolata.”

Maria and Consolata were born in Makete, Njombe Region, in 1996. With care and support provided by Maria Consolata, a Catholic charity that adopted and named them, they were able to complete secondary education. Last year they enrolled with the Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU) with the goal of becoming teachers.