PRESIDENT John Magufuli glorified the late former President Benjamin Mkapa for treasuring his birthplace, noting the fallen statesman had opted for his ancestral gravesite at Lupaso village in Masasi District.
Dr Magufuli said Mkapa’s unwavering desire to be buried in his homestead signified his love for his native land and his fellow citizens, and should be emulated by all Tanzanians.
Mr Mkapa, who served as Tanzania’s third president between 1995 and 2005, died in a Dar es Salaam hospital last week.
He was laid to rest, in a highly-attended burial ceremony that was preceded by the state funeral held at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
Dr Magufuli made the revelation as he offered his condolences to Mkapa’s family and the nation during the burial event held at the family gravesite.
“The government once allocated a burial site for national leaders in Dodoma... but in the past two to three years, Mkapa told me that he would prefer to be buried in his home village of Lupaso,” Dr Magufuli said.
He further said that Mkapa treasured his homeland, urging Tanzanians to draw a leaf from the late leader’s distinguished life.
“He could have chosen to be buried in other places such as Dar es Salaam, where he has farms or Lushoto in Tanga Region,” said the president.
Dr Magufuli noted that since most of the national leaders prefer to be buried in their homelands once they die, he decided to distribute the land allocated as a graveyard for them to the villagers to be used for other activities.
He said that Mkapa has accomplished his mission, calling upon Tanzanians to continue praying for his soul to rest in eternal peace.
Early this week, Mkapa’s clan Chief Mkonona, said the late Mzee Mkapa had told the members of his family where they should lay his body once he dies.
“He told us to lay his body beside his father’s grave after he dies,” the chief said.
Lupaso V illage is located about 34 kilometres from Masasi town and 11 kilometres from the highway to Newala District.
Chief Mkonona said the void left by Mzee Mkapa was massive and a big blow to the clan.
“He was someone, who was helping us very much whenever social economic issues arose. He has left us shrouded in darkness. He was our hero who made our village known not only within the country but also all over the world,” he mourned.
Being the product of Lupaso village, many youths at the village saw him as their role model and someone, who inspired them to prosper, especially academically, the chief said.
“Pupils at the village developed love for education when they looked up at the noble man, who was born at the village and became the third president of this country,” he noted.
During his life as Tanzanian leader, the late Mkapa worked tirelessly to help uplift the living standard of the people in his native village.
This is why, Lupaso villagers said they would remember him dearly, especially for his contribution in improving water accessibility and education.
Today, water shortage remains history for Lupaso villagers after the late Mkapa decided to donate 100m/- from his own pocket to drill wells for supplying water to the village.