by Ben Taylor

Bernard Membe

Bernard Membe, the former Foreign Affairs Minister and later opposition party presidential candidate, died in Dar es Salaam in May 2023 at the age of 69, after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

Membe was born in Rondo, Lindi Region on November 9, 1953. He began his career as a security analyst at the Office of the President between 1978 and 1989 before proceeding to study International Relations at John Hopkins University, Washington DC, from 1990 to 1992. He then served at the Tanzanian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada for eight years.

He successfully ran to become the MP for the Mtama constituency in 2000 and represented the constituency for CCM for 15 years. He swiftly rose to prominence and was appointed as a minister shortly after the 2005 elections. The high point of his political career was nine years (2007-2015) as Minister for Foreign Affairs under President Jakaya Kikwete, during which time he became known as a polished communicator – particularly when dealing with the international diplomatic community – and also as someone who was highly adept at navigating party politics.

“I knew him for many years,” said President Kikwete in a tribute. “We came a long way and helped each other in many areas. I knew him as a good diplomat, serious activist, scholar, God-fearing patriot, and hard worker,” he said. “I believed and trusted him in all positions he served in my cabinet.”

Freeman Mbowe, national chair of the opposition party, Chadema, said that although they belonged to different political parties, he still appreciated Membe as a keen leader and that he will always be remembered for his service to the country. “In the history of multiparty democracy in our country, Membe remained one of the senior leaders at the ministerial level who did not have the habit of denigrating the opposition,” said Mbowe.

Membe served also at high levels within the CCM party hierarchy, most notably as a member of the National Executive Committee of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party from 2007.

In January 2013, Membe informed his constituents that he would not be vying for a seat in the next parliamentary elections in 2015 thus giving rise to speculation that he may be considering a run for the presidency. Indeed, the battle to become the CCM presidential candidate in 2015 became a heated struggle between himself and the controversial former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.

It was a contest that threatened to divide the party into the Membe and Lowassa factions. To avoid this danger, party elders intervened to remove both candidates from the process, which ultimately delivered the relatively unknown John Pombe Magufuli to the nomination as something of a compromise candidate. Magufuli went on to become President of Tanzania.

The relationship between Membe and President Magufuli was never a close one, with Membe widely perceived to be organising resistance within CCM to President Magufuli’s anti-democratic tendencies. In 2020, in February 2020, the CCM central committee expelled Membe from the party after accusing him of “indiscipline and violating the party’s ethics and constitution”. He denied any wrongdoing.

In July 2020 he handed back his CCM membership card, shortly after which he joined the opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT- Wazalendo) and said he was willing to stand as its candidate in the 2020 General Election. He did indeed run for President, coming third with 0.5% of the vote, in an election that was marred by irregularities.

In 2022, Membe rejoined CCM after writing a letter asking for readmission. By this time, President Magufuli had sadly died and President Samia Suluhu Hassan had taken office.

“I have received with sadness the news of the death of Bernard Membe,” said President Samia in a statement posted on Twitter. “For more than 40 years, Membe was a brilliant public servant, diplomat, Member of Parliament and Minister who served our country professionally,” she wrote.

ACT Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe said on his Twitter account: “There are no words that can describe my shock following reports of his death other than thanking God for the life of our elder Bernard Membe. A brilliant politician and a representative of citizens.”

The UK High Commissioner to Tanzania, David Concar, also used his Twitter account to pay tribute to Membe. “Condolences to the government and people of Tanzania over the sad news of the passing of former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe. He was a top diplomat, a voice for international peace, and a supporter of African democracy. We will remember him with respect and fondness. Apumzike kwa amani.”

Prominent business leader and founder of Precision Air, Michael Shirima, has died at the age of 80.

Mr. Shirima’s rise to the top started after he left Air Tanzania in 1979, after becoming disillusioned both with the airline and with the failure of those in office to address the issues he raised with them.
He gave up his dependably salary and had to move his family out of his government-owned house. He survived by running a barbeque business. Later on, he secured a loan and started selling cotton oil, then timber, then exporting coffee.

He decided to invest in the aviation sector, founding Precision Air in 1991. It operated at first as a private charter air transport company, but in November 1993, it began to offer scheduled services to serve the growing tourist market. Based in Arusha, the airline proved successful and grew rapidly, triggering the acquisition of more equipment and the expansion of routes. In 2003, Kenya Airways purchased a 49% stake in the company for $2 million. In 2006, Precision Air became the first Tanzanian airline to pass the IATA Operational Safety Audit.

British diplomat, David Le Breton, has died at the age of 91. Amid a distinguished career in the colonial era Overseas Civil Service and then the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he spent time in both Zanzibar – a brief spell that coincided with the 1964 revolution – and earlier as an administrator in southern Tanganyika. Around the time of independence, he was based in Dar es Salaam, as private secretary to the governor.

He met his future wife, Patricia Byrne, in 1958, when she had recently arrived in Dar to teach English at a secondary school.

Born and brought up in colonial Kenya, David was a fluent speaker of Swahili and felt a strong affinity for Africa. Through a long career of postings, mostly around Africa, he rose to the position of British High Commissioner in 1981 before retiring in 1987. In 1978 he was appointed CBE for his commitment to service amid difficult circumstances in Anguilla.


by Ben Taylor

Liz and Ron Fennel, pictured in 2013

BTS Vice President and former BTS Chair, Ron Fennell, passed away peacefully on April 12th, attended by family. He and his wife, the late Liz Fennell MBE, had a great love for Tanzania and were stalwarts of the Society, including providing substantial support to the work of the Tanzania Development Trust.

Ron and Liz met in 1950 while both were studying geography at Cambridge University and they married in 1956. He worked in Sierra Leone for 12 years until 1966, when he joined the International Monetary Fund and moved to Washington, DC. He joined the World Bank three years later and the family lived first in Nigeria and then Tanzania, where Ron served as the World Bank’s Resident Representative for four years, before returning to the United States in 1987. They retired to the UK in 1995, settling in West London.
Thereafter, Ron and Liz were active members of BTS known in particular for their energetic support to the Society at events and to TDT where they would take long trips to Tanzania to assess and support projects, at their own cost and even to the most remote areas.

Writing in 2000 about his time in Tanzania, Ron wrote: “When I was sent to Dar as World Bank Resident Representative in January 1984, the Bank’s Senior Vice President made it clear to me that all Bank lending to Tanzania would stop after the approval of the Mtera Power Project in early 1984 unless the government entered into a more active dialogue with the World Bank on economic reform. Times were hard. People were suffering. The picking of tea in the Mufindi plantations fell behind because the women pickers were unable to get sugar to put in their own morning tea, which constituted their main source of energy in the fields. There was a severe shortage of basic consumer goods.”

It was an unpromising situation to be facing, and the negotiations between the government and the World Bank were at times highly strained. Tensions were also high between reformists and traditionalists within the government and ruling party – this was after all, the same period that saw President Julius Nyerere step down.

The World Bank’s insistence that policy change should come before Bank funds were released weighed heavily on Finance Minister Msuya. Nevertheless, agreement was reached, in the form of a Structural Adjustment Programme, which Nyerere accepted as necessary.

“There is no doubt that mistakes had been made by both sides,” wrote Ron. “The Bank itself went through major changes in its approach to development assistance over the period,” and Nyerere “was slow to recognise that parastatal inefficiencies were having such a detrimental impact on peasant farmers. … He refused to accept the need to devalue the shilling until donor consensus and the parlous state of the economy made it unavoidable.”

These reforms, and the Bank’s role, are still somewhat contentious in Tanzania. Researchers like Prof Ruth Meena have repeatedly said that World Bank/IMF-driven structural adjustment programmes undermined development in health and education. It was a difficult time for the population, as the government reduced spending on public services and introduced cost-sharing for schooling and health services, price controls were lifted and the shilling was devalued. And yet few would dispute that the state of the economy necessitated major changes.

Despite these challenges, Ron maintained good relations with his counterparts in the Tanzanian government, later commenting that the friendliness of the people, the stable political environment and a commitment to consensus building, made it possible to work through the difficulties. And his ongoing work in Tanzania after his retirement amply demonstrates the fondness he felt for the country.

Ron and Liz were both made MBEs in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list for services to building relations between the UK and Tanzania. “We are thrilled,” said Ron at the time. “It is nice that we both got one because we have worked as a team for many years.”


by Ben Taylor
Tanzania’s most decorated public servant and diplomat, Paul Rupia, has died at the age of 84.
Ambassador Rupia was born in July 1938 in Shinyanga region, the son of John Rupia, a prominent independence activist, politician and businessman. His journey in public service began in 1963 when he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as Tanzania’s envoy to various countries including the United Kingdom 1968-1970, permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), Tanzanian representative in Council of Ministers and summit meetings of Organization of African Unity, and Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Between 1986 and 1995, Rupia served as Tanzania’s fifth Chief Secretary – the most senior role in the civil service – serving under President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. Speaking at his funeral, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said that the government recognises the great contribution made by the late ambassador Paul Rupia during his service and even after his retirement.

Retired Prime Minister Judge Joseph Warioba said that the late Ambassador Rupia had contributed significantly to the economic reform in the country during his time in office, and that he had started the process of political reform that led to adoption of the multi-party system in the country.

Professor Kim Monroe Howell, a distinguished Professor of Zoology at the University of Dar es Salaam, has died at the age of 77. Born in the United States in 1945, he moved to Tanzania in 1970 after a brief time in Zambia, becoming a prominent zoologist and conservationist.

Prof Howell’s research, consultancy, teaching and supervision of students at the University spanned almost 50 years. He joined the Department of Zoology and Marine Biology at the University in 1970, earned his PhD in 1976, and remained a prominent figure even after his official retirement in 2016. Among his significant academic contributions was the discovery of several amphibians, including the Kihansi Spray Toad Nectophrynoides asperginis, the bat Rhinolophus maendeleo, and many other mammal species new to science. At least three species were given his name – the gecko Lygodactylus kimhowelli, as well as a bird and a shrew. His major field of research was biodiversity inventory, ecology and conservation of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles of eastern Africa.

Prof Howell’s publications include A Field Guide to East African Reptiles and Pocket Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa, as well as over 90 scientific papers, 7 books and 18 book chapters. Howell’s big find came in 1996 when he discovered a small toad at the base of a waterfall in the Udzungwa Mountains above Kilombero valley. The Kihansi spray toad, believed to inhabit the smallest native habitat of any vertebrate on earth – a two-hectare spray zone around that specific waterfall – became the focus of a highly controversial conservation effort, a clash between biodiversity conservation and Tanzania’s need for economic development.

“I’ve often said I wish I had never discovered the toad,” reflected Howell. “I felt it had to be a species new to science because I knew all the other ones in Tanzania,” he said. The consequences of a planned new hydropower project were immediately clear, he noted: it would become extinct. What followed was a lengthy dispute involving the World Bank and other financiers of the planned hydropower dam at the site, Friends of the Earth and other conservation groups and the Government of Tanzania. Efforts to protect the toad on site were unsuccessful, and a captive breeding programme was controversial and expensive. Are these toads really more important than providing electricity to our people, asked the politicians.

Leading researcher on hunter-gatherer and egalitarian societies, James Woodburn (1934-2022), has died.

Having first studied History at Cambridge University in the 1950s, Woodburn returned to the university after his national service to study for a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology. He conducted fieldwork in (then) Tanganyika, graduating in 1964 with a thesis entitled Social organisation of the Hadza of North Tanganyika.

The Hadza remained his long-term field project. In the late 1960s he collected Hadza material culture for the Horniman Museum in London and in 1970 he published Hunters and Gatherers: The Material Culture of the nomadic Hadza.

He taught at the London School of Economics for many years, remained a keen participant in the scholarly enterprise long after retirement, and was an honorary member of the International Society of Hunter-Gatherer Research.

Daudi Peterson, an expert in Tanzanian hunter-gatherer societies said that Woodburn “almost certainly knew the Hadza and their society better than any other non-Hadza. More importantly, he cared deeply about them as individuals and as a group… When the Hadza were informed of his death,” he explained, “they collectively gathered honey and brought it on a two-day journey to Arusha as a tribute to a man they considered one of them.”


by Ben Taylor

Augustine Mrema

Former Minister of Home Affairs and leading opposition Presidential candidate, Augustine Mrema, died in August at the age of 77.

Mrema played a prominent role in national politics for several decades. As Minister of the Interior (Home Affairs) under President Ali Hassan Mwinyi from 1990 to 1994, he campaigned against corruption, waste and tax evasion in a manner that shared much in common with the later efforts of President Magufuli. This eventually led Mrema into disagreement with the President, and he left the ruling party, CCM, six months before the general election in 1995 in order to join the new opposition party, NCCR Mageuzi, and run as the party’s presidential candidate. He ended up losing the election to Benjamin Mkapa of CCM, but winning a greater percentage of the vote (27.8%) than any other opposition candidate until Edward Lowassa in 2015.

During the campaign, Mrema spoke on corruption within CCM, building on his previous attacks while serving as a cabinet minister. He used anti-foreigner rhetoric and castigated the government for siding with foreign investors over citizens, and branded himself as a candidate of the “Walalahoi” (poor and downtrodden), rhetoric that was again echoed later by President John Magufuli.

Through this, Mrema managed to pull massive crowds while campaigning in 1995, appealing to urban youth and those in the informal sector. It is said that his popularity scared Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who had publicly backed Mkapa. Nyerere warned that Mrema was not fit to be President, and that the country would be “thrown into the dogs” with Mrema in the role.
Prior to entering formal politics, Mrema had taught civics and served as a (Bulgarian-trained) intelligence officer. His political career started in 1985 when he tried to run for MP in his home district of Kilimanjaro. His candidacy was blocked by the High Court, and in 1987 he was officially announced as the winner after a lengthy appeals process. He retained his seat in 1990 without much difficulty.

He ran again for President in 2000 (representing NCCR) and 2005 (representing TLP), but found that voters had either decided to stick with CCM or switch their allegiances to other opposition parties, primarily CUF and Chadema. He received just 8% of the vote in 2000 and 1% in 2005. In 2010, he contested the seat of Vunjo, representing TLP, and won, serving as the MP for a single five-year term.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan was among those who mourned Mrema. “I will remember him for his contribution to political reforms, patriotism and his love for Tanzanians. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and all TLP members. May God rest his soul in eternal peace,” she said in a tweet.

ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe said Mrema had left behind a living legacy of fighting vices, adding that this was what made it impossible for him to continue to remain in CCM. “He significantly contributed to Opposition politics during the formative years of political pluralism. We have a lot to learn from him,” he said.

Li Jinglan with Mwalimu Nyerere in Mbeya 1977

Li Jinglan, popularly known as “Mama Li”, Chinese interpreter to President Julius Nyerere, has died at a Dar es Salaam hospital at the age of 75.
Mama Li made many friends in Tanzania. She had been among the Chinese nationals who were brought to Tanzania in 1975 to offer their expertise during the implementation of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) project. At this point, already she was an expert in Kiswahili language, working as a producer of Kiswahili programs in Radio Beijing, China. She later became a naturalised citizen of Tanzania.

“I was taken to Mbeya as an interpreter of Chinese nationals who were teaching Tanzanians how to drive trains,” she explained. She also helped in training locals on effective management of train stations.

She stayed in Mbeya for around a year before she was shifted to Dar es Salaam to start working on other projects being run by the Chinese government in Tanzania after the completion of Tazara. This brought her into regular contact with President Nyerere, and later President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Mama Li made her name in Tanzania as someone who was not ready to be oppressed or to tolerate other people being oppressed, at the same time remained humble. She used to travel on public transport, and didn’t hesitate to scold a daladala conductor if she saw them preventing school children from boarding the buses.

Since 2003, Mama Li found herself in deep frustration in a court battle that dragged on for almost two decades, remaining unresolved at the time of her death. She was evicted from her National Housing Corporation (NHC) house in Dar es Salaam by the NHC. After ten years of fighting the case, the High Court declared her the legal tenant of the property, but the NHC had never relented and on twenty separate occasions convinced the High Court to stay execution of the court order. Over 19 years, her case was heard by a total of 51 different judges, among them ten from the High Court and 41 others of the Court of Appeal, without ever achieving final resolution.

British conservationist, Tony Fitzjohn, OBE, a driving force in the rescue and rehabilitation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania, died in May at the age of 76 of a brain tumour.

Having worked with George Adamson at the Kora national reserve in Kenya for 18 years, in 1989 Tony was invited by the government of Tanzania to rehabilitate Mkomazi Game Reserve, an area covering 1,350 square miles. Under Tony’s leadership, the previously neglected reserve was transformed into a much-heralded conservation success in East Africa (though not without its critics), resulting in its designation as a National Park in 2006.

For many conservationists, Mkomazi is a success story. A reserve which was threatened by people and grazing has been restored to good health. The compounds for African wild dog, and the extensive, patrolled sanctuary for the black rhinoceros (which are breeding) have giving the reserve international recognition. For Mkomazi’s critics, however, this is not the whole story. They highlight the eviction, pre-dating Tony’s time there, of former residents who had long-held associations with the land, pointing out that thousands of herders were forced off the land with inadequate compensation for a few and for most none.

When he arrived at Mkomazi, the challenge facing Tony required determination, ingenuity and myriad skills – wildlife management, engineering, mechanics, Swahili and the diplomatic skills to negotiate the bureaucracy. Tony had all this, as well as a commitment to constructing and repairing schools, helping with medical dispensaries and maintaining positive relations with the communities in the villages in the vicinity of the reserve.

In recognition of his service to wildlife conservation, Fitzjohn was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2006.


by Ben Taylor

John Sankey
Former British High Commissioner to Tanzania, John Sankey, died in November 2021 at the age of 91.
He was appointed to the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) in 1983, while serving as High Commissioner in Tanzania.

Born in 1930 in London, in a Catholic family, John attended Cardinal Vaughan School before winning a scholarship to Peterhouse at Cambridge University, where he studied classics and graduated with first class honours.

He did national service with the Royal Artillery, seeing active service Malaya in 1952, before joining the Colonial Office a year later. In 1961 he was posted to the United Nations in New York, then in 1964 he transferred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He served in Guyana, Singapore, Malta and the Netherlands, before returning to London in 1979 to become the first head of the newly formed Central African Department.

Between 1982 and 1985, John served as British High Commissioner in Tanzania, a posting that overlapped with the handover of power from President Julius Nyerere to President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. While in the role, John fought hard to ensure British aid spending was maintained despite the political and economic differences between Tanzania and the British Conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – most notably by ensuring the British-funded road from Makambako to Songea was not simply abandoned halfway, as had been proposed.

In 1985, John took up a new post as UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, his final position before retiring in 1990.

“Retirement” however, for John, merely meant the start of a new career. He took up historical research, having become fascinated by the life and work of Sir Thomas Brock, sculptor of the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace. He earned a PhD from the University of Leeds, and then published a book, Thomas Brock, Forgotten Sculptor of the Victoria Memorial (2012). In 1990, John was appointed secretary general of the Society of London Art Dealers and later became a director of the Art Loss Register.

In retirement, John was also an active member of the Britain-Tanzania Society, including contributing to the publication of Tanzanian Affairs. He finally stepped down as proof-reader in 2013.

John is survived by his wife of 54 years, Gwen, their four children and eight grandchildren.

Dr Mwele Ntuli Malecela

Dr Mwele Ntuli Malecela

Highly respected Tanzanian scientist, Dr Mwele Ntuli Malecela, died in Geneva in February at the age of 58. She had revealed in 2019 that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Dr Mwele was serving as the World Health Organisation’s director of the Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

Born in 1963, daughter of the future Prime Minister John Malecela, she graduated in Zoology at the University of Dar es Salaam, and went on to join the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in 1987, where she worked at the Amani Centre to conduct research on lymphatic filariasis. Between 1990 and 1995 she pursued further studies in London where she attained a masters and PhD at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

She held numerous leadership roles in Tanzania, including as Director of Research Coordination and Promotion (DRCP) at NIMR from 1998 and then the Director of the Lymphatic Filariasis program from 2000. She further climbed the leadership ladder and in 2010 was appointed NIMR’s Director General – the first woman to hold this prominent position.

In 2016 in this role, she found herself in conflict with President Magufuli. She reported the presence of the Zika virus in Morogoro, at a time when the virus was causing alarm in Brazil and elsewhere. The President fired her immediately, explaining much later that “The imperialists had sent her to announce we have the disease so that tourists would not come to our country. Then they gave her a job [at the WHO].”

Dr Malecela’s unceremonious exit from NIMR was seen by researchers as an attack on science, and it was something talked about each time her name came up. Some also argued that the dispute stemmed from her unsuccessful attempt to become the CCM Presidential candidate in 2015, running against the future President Magufuli.

Shortly after this incident, in 2017, Dr Malecela joined WHO’s Regional Office for Africa as Director in the Office of the Regional Director. 18 months later, she was appointed by WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to her defining role as Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, based at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

In 2021, she was awarded an honorary degree as Doctor of Science by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. On the occasion, Professor Mark Taylor described Dr Mwele as “a truly inspirational figure in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases, and a proud daughter of Tanzania.”
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine posted a statement, describing Dr Malecela as “an eloquent and passionate speaker, her approach was characterised also by strict adherence to honesty and integrity on behalf of the people and causes in which she believed. She preferred the truth over seeking to please and this earned her widespread respect.”
The statement also spoke of Dr Malecela’s position as an African woman in the predominantly male field of science. “She consistently broke through glass ceilings and remained conscious of the role she had to play in empowering and mentoring the generations of women who will follow her. Always generous with her time, her energy and her wisdom, she encouraged and inspired younger people from around the world to see science, in the service of global health, as viable and vital avenues for their talents.”

A WHO statement said that “Dr Malecela will be remembered as an inspirational figure, a dedicated leader and a committed listener. She deployed her many qualities in the service of ideals, all of which were firmly rooted in community service and in the intrinsic value of people’s lives. Her death will be felt deeply and personally by many across the globe, and her inspiration, enthusiasm and unstinting engagement will continue to serve as a guide to all those who knew her.”

President Samia Suluhu Hassan called upon Tanzanians to emulate Dr Mwele Malecela’s efforts as demonstrated both within and outside the country. “She is a great role model for public servants and Tanzanians in general as she worked for many years, held various positions and her ability to work found her rising to become one of the Tanzanians who have worked abroad holding high positions,” said the President.

She added that Dr Mwele’s death “has caused a great loss to nation, and surely she was an important and hardworking woman.”


by Ben Taylor

Al Noor Kassum (known to many as Nick) died on 18 November 2021 in Dar es Salaam, aged 97. Continuously from 1977 until his retirement from Government in 1990 he served Presidents Nyerere and Mwinyi as the Minister for Energy, at different times also having responsibility for Water and Minerals. As is apparent from his fascinating 2007 book, Africa’s Winds of Change: Memoirs of an International Tanzanian, Nick had an illustrious career in both the public and private sectors, at the national and international levels spanning the colonial and Independence eras.

Educated in England and India (from where his family migrated to Tanganyika in 1896), he qualified as a lawyer in London and later established a legal practice in Dar. Before Independence he was a member of the Legislative Assembly, MP for Dodoma and TANU’s Chief Whip. After Independence he held junior Ministerial positions covering Education and Information, and then Industries, Minerals and Power. In the mid-1960s he moved to work with the UN in Paris and New York before the UN Secretary-General U-Thant appointed him Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1967. In 1970, he returned to Tanzania as Deputy General Manager of Williamson Diamonds and then from 1972 he served as Minister of Finance in the East Africa Community in Arusha. After 1990 Kassum held several senior University, Foundation and Board positions in Tanzania. He was also The Aga Khan’s Personal Representative in the country.

Having known Nyerere from pre-Independence days, Nick Kassum was the only serving Cabinet Minister to be awarded the ‘Order of Tanzania’ when Mwalimu retired in 1985. Nyerere particularly valued his ability during the acutely difficult economic years of the early 1980s to keep the nation supplied with critical oil imports, an almost impossible task for a country with meagre foreign exchange and burdened with huge outstanding international debts.

Within the Tanzanian Government, Kassum also then led the development of the country’s only known hydrocarbon resource (the gas field at Songo Songo) and spear-headed the considerable petroleum and mineral exploration efforts by the many multinational companies which signed sole-risk agreements with Government. He also oversaw the largest expansion of the national electricity grid that the country had ever witnessed. Effectively, he laid the foundations for Tanzania’s substantial offshore gas discoveries in the 1990s and 2000s, also bequeathing a strengthened TPDC and Ministry staffed with an expanded cadre of excellent Tanzanian professionals. At one Cabinet meeting in the early-1980s, Nyerere told him: “Nick, you are the only optimist among us. One day you will be remembered for all this”.

I worked closely with Nick Kassum in Tanzania during the 1980s and we remained in contact subsequently. It was a privilege to know him, and his wife Yasmin too, whose tragic and untimely death in 2016 was a blow from which he never really recovered. Rightly, many warm tributes have been paid to Nick since his passing – applauding his abilities, humanity and generosity. He features large in my own memoir, to be published in early 2022.

Roger M Nellist
Roger Nellist is a former analyst and advisor to the Tanzanian government on energy and minerals. He also covered the energy and minerals brief for Tanzanian Affairs between 2013 and 2021.

Zacharia Hans Poppe, a prominent figure in the Tanzanian business community, well known particularly for his leadership role at Simba Sports Club, died in September 2021 at the age of 65.

Born in Dar es Salaam to a Greek father and Tanzanian mother, Poppe was brought up in Iringa by his mother. He joined the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) shortly after completing his secondary education, and served in the war against Idi Amin’s Uganda. He reached the rank of Captain before being dismissed and sentenced to life in prison in 1983 for his role in an unsuccessful coup plot against President Julius Nyerere.

“Some of us got fed up and decided to look for change. The only viable option to achieve change at that time was through the use of force. We had nothing personal against Nyerere. The only thing was that he was surrounded by hypocrites whose survival depended solely on maintaining the status quo,” he later recounted.

In 1995, the second-term President, Alhaj Ally Hassan Mwinyi released Poppe on a presidential pardon.

While in Butimba Prison, Poppe founded the Prison’s Premier League and formed the Simba Prison team. His love of football, and of Simba in particular, was deep. He became a prominent figure at the club, in the influential role as head of the Player Registration Committee, responsible for signing new players.

Poppe was also a leading figure in the transportation sector, both for his own fuel and truck businesses and as president and founder of the Tanzania Association of Transporters (TAT).

Tanzania Truck Owners Association’s spokesperson Raheem Dosa said: “During his lifetime Hans Poppe was a loud voice when he saw things were not going well. He was honest, open and fearless, a very talented person who had made a significant contribution to the development of the country and the region.”

Professor Reginald Herbold Green who died in Sussex, England in October 2021, was a seasoned “old Africa hand.” Often dishevelled or eccentric in appearance, he was nevertheless hugely respected as a sharp-minded, deeply moral, progressive economist, at least by those on the left of economic debates.

As an American at a time when US involvement in African politics was controversial, people sometimes looked at him with suspicion. But he earned the trust of many African leaders including President Julius Nyerere as well as leaders of liberation movements from Mozambique to Namibia.

From the late 1960s, he worked as advisor in the Tanzanian Treasury, economic advisor to President Nyerere, and taught economic planning in the Master’s degree programme at the University of Dar es Salaam. An ardent supporter of the thrust of President Nyerere’s policies and programmes, he nevertheless steered clear of the sharp ideological debates between “Ujamaa” and Marxism.

He left Tanzania in 1974 to take up a post at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. He remained in touch with Tanzania’s political leaders and academic community [and was a contributor to Tanzanian Affairs].

Professor Green wrote prolifically, including more than 500 published professional articles, papers, book chapters and books. His influential early book, Unity or Poverty: The Economics of Pan Africanism (1968), made the case for African countries to coordinate as a key condition for development. But his most impactful contribution was probably Children on the Front Line (1987), in which he estimated that more than two million children under five in Mozambique and Angola had died as a result of South Africa’s destructive economic and military policies targeted on these countries. The study helped bring a change in western support to the apartheid regime of South Africa.


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’.”