The body of Tanzania’s former President, Benjamin Mkapa has been laid to rest today at his home village of Lupaso in Mtwara region.
President John Pombe Magufuli led Tanzanians and foreign dignitaries in bidding farewell to the late former Head of State Benjamin Mkapa who died on the night of 23rd July at a hospital in Dar es Salaam at the age of 81.
A former journalist and diplomat, Mkapa was laid to rest with all the protocols of a state funeral where the Tanzanian military took charge. Thousands of people from across the country have attended the burial.
The body of the former Head of State was lowered to the grave as Tanzania Defense Forces fired 21 cannons in honour of the man who led the Swahili-speaking nation for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005, and managed to oversee the growth of the country’s economy.
Mkapa has been praised as a firm leader who loved his nation and people.
“Mkapa was a great leader, he had a great love for Tanzanian people, he abhorred poverty, he was responsible for the growth of the economy” said former President Dr Jakaya Kikwete, who was Mkapa’s successor.
Mkapa was also eulogized as a man who had a great vision for Tanzania and her people and one who aspired to eradicate poverty from his people.
Mkapa’s predecessor, retired President Hassan Ali Mwinyi eulogized his successor as a hardworking man, public servant who knew the meaning of being firm and tough.
Speaking in deep Swahili, Mwinyi (95) noted that mzee Mkapa’s efforts included lifting the lives of his people.
President John Magufuli said, the late Mkapa loved his nation and home village Lupaso. He revealed that the Tanzanian government had set a specific place in Dodoma where the former head of states were to be buried, however, three-years ago, Benjamin Mkapa declined and said he will be buried at his rural home in Lupaso.
“Let’s continue praying for mama Anna Mkapa and the family” Magufuli said.
The burial ceremony has concluded the 7-days of mourning the fallen former President who was described as an indefatigable peacemaker and a pan-Africanist in the region and beyond, whose efforts saw the establishment of the East African Community.
The late Benjamin Mkapa was involved in many peace processes during his time as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and as a former president. Mkapa is survived by his two children and spouse Anna Mkapa.