RELIGIOUS leaders, diplomats and other international dignitaries celebrated the life of global statesman, iconic diplomat and journalist, the late Benjamin Mkapa, eulogising his role in transforming his country and the world.
They called on Tanzanians to strengthen unity and solidarity as a sign to remember and honour the late retired President Benjamin Mkapa, who was laid to rest at his home village, Lupaso, in Masasi District.
“It is important when great national leaders depart for all of us to draw a certain lesson from them, let the death of Mkapa unite us now than ever and ask G od to add more to us,” Archbishop of Songea, Damian Dallu remarked during a requiem mass held at the late leader’s residence.
Bishop Dallu said through the death of Mkapa, the country had also learnt the importance of observing principles of leadership, and for those who are Christians, should observe several virtues namely faith, hope, love, justice, humility, justice, repentance, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and responsibility.
He also described Mkapa as a devoted Catholic which he portrayed even when he joined various colleges abroad. According to him, the fallen retired leader made sure he joined religious worship groups to strengthen his faith even when in colleges.
“My dear brothers and sisters, we learn that Mkapa was not intimidated by people outside and inside the church, he believed in equality of all human beings, and serve them in their equality, prosperity and freedom,” he said.
Bishop Dallu said further that as the nation was contemplating on the death of Mkapa, the goal should be to reflect on the life and its meaning given to everyone by G od as a gift.
The Holy mass was led by Tanzania Episcopal C onference ( TEC ) President, Archbishop G ervas Nyaisonga assisted by Bishop Filbert Mhasi, Tunduru– Masasi Diocese and Archbishop Dallu.
He further urged people to live and act wisely so that they do not lose sight of their purpose as well as make the most of the present moment and fill their lives with compassion, generosity, kindness, gentleness and purity.
Pope Francis also mourned the passing on of Tanzania’s third president. In a condolence message to President John Magufuli, he wished the people of Tanzania and the family of the late Mkapa comfort and courage during this difficult time.
Representing Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and the country’s former President Joachim C hisano, Mozambique’s Ambassador to Tanzania Ms Monica Clemente said Africa had lost a great man.
She said that the late Mkapa worked closely with Mr Chisano, especially during their tenures, and he played a key role in strengthening the historical relations of the two countries.
The US Embassy in Tanzania said in a statement that the late Mkapa dedicated his life to the service of his country.
As the first president elected under Tanzania’s multi-party democratic system, he built legacies of the First President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and the second President Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi, said the US Embassy.
The Embassy recalled that the late former president championed Tanzania’s transformation into a market economy and made it a pillar of regional stability.
“As a student, a diplomat, foreign minister and president, Mkapa was a friend and partner to the United States,” read the statement.