LIVE BLOG: President John Magufuli’s final journey

President Suluhu laying a wreath at the grave. [Courtesy]

5:45pm: President Samia Suluhu lays wreath at the grave of Magufuli

5:40pm: Janet Magufuli handed her husband’s Presidential Standard.

5:00pm: Magufuli's family led by his widow, Janet, lead mourners in tossing a handful of soil on the coffin.

4:50pm: Magufuli’s body lowered to the grave. Burial honored with an aerial salute performed as part of a flypast of aircraft. Members of the Tanzania Army mount the last guard of honor.

4:35pm: Catholic priest, in line with Catholic burial rites, and the gathered assembly receive the body of Magufuli.

4:15pm: Hearse carrying the body of Magufuli arrives at his Chato home. 

Magufuli's hearse arrives at his Chato home. [Courtesy TBC]

4:00pm: Procession: The body of Tanzania's late President John Pombe Magufuli on its way to his ancestral home of Chato.

3.46pm: Magufuli's body removed from the stadium. 

Last salute during the requiem mass for the late John Pombe Magufuli in Chato. [Courtesy]

3:15pm: President Samia Suluhu exists venue for Magufuli’s Chato home.

3.05pm: Closing prayer.

2.50pm: President Samia Suluhu says Magufuli’s passing is a big loss and reveals that she is pained that her third trip to his home was in grief.

“This is the third time I am in Chato. The first time I was here for campaigns, and the second time to condole and mourn the passing of Magufuli’s sister. I was here alongside other leaders and he showed me where his family members are laid to rest. I didn’t know that in a span of 10 years I would be sending him off. It is with a heavy heart, but we have to accept God’s will,” said Suluhu.

Adding, “Today we are sending off a father, a warrior, and a general. Let us pray that he rests in eternal peace. What we are burying is nothing but his body; his vision, and ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ philosophy lives on, and we’ll work on it. To the people of Chato and Tanzania, I assure you that the pledges he made will be fulfilled. I besiege all public servants and religious leaders to foster love, peace, and unity. If there was ever a time to show unity, it is this.”

President Samia Suluhu. [Courtesy]

2:30pm: Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa thanks the nation for uniting in grief to mourn Magufuli, says the country is stronger and in a good trajectory courtesy of the late leader’s passion to serve.

“We are grateful for the dignified sendoff granted to our late brother and leader, President Magufuli, during the state funeral procession. The peace we have had is courtesy of the contributions of all, among them local leaders, youth, artists, media, citizens, and friends across the region, who turned up and sent messages of condolences.”

1:50pm: “I was in disbelief when President Suluhu announced that Dr Magufuli had passed on,” says former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. “He is no more, but he lives through his legacy. He selflessly worked for Tanzanians. For a short five-year period, he wowed the world with how fast he transformed his country.  He linked the country by road and opened up air travel. In Magufuli, Tanzania had a savior, a defender, a fighter, and a visionary. His death is a loss to all.”

Former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi and the late Magufuli. [Courtesy]

1:16pm: Former President Jakaya Kikwete says Magufuli was a close friend and confidant; a hardworking minister, who served in three ministries during his tenure, and a patriot. Kikwete added that Magufuli’s death hit closer to home than imagined.

“I lack words to express the loss; to contextualize the passing of our party leader and president. It was painful to accept when I learned of the news. It was my hope that he would have finished his term, retired, and got a chance to be with other retired leaders. His age was ripe and his good leadership still badly needed. It would have been pleasurable had he lived longer to see the fruits of his labor, a greater Tanzania. We were friends; our friendship was fostered greatly by our wives, Janet and Salma. Magufuli gifted me a piece of land here in Chato, and greatly desired that I build a house. I never did, but I had hoped to do so, such that when he retired, we would catch up. It never materialized,” said Kikwete.

In his message to President Samia Suluhu, Kikwete assured her of his unwavering support and that of fellow Tanzanians as she takes the reins. “You are more than capable… You know well the hopes and admirations of Chama Chama Cha Mapinduzi and your countrymen. You are the best suited to lead; to fulfill Magufuli’s dreams and that of your compatriots. I am comforted that Tanzania’s future is in your hands.”

Former President Jakaya Kikwete.

1:06pm: The Chief Justice of Tanzania, Ibrahim Hamis Juma, says he was lucky enough to work closely with the late Magufuli.

“I know a lot about his work ethic; I know a lot about him as a person. His history is still being written because he envisioned a lot for his people - many of which are still in motion. He used his power to work for Tanzania and the continent. He used his voice to speak forth his dreams. He wanted Tanzania, especially its laws, to be at par with the century, and used his words to impact lives,” said the Chief Justice. 

Chief Justice of Tanzania, Ibrahim Hamis Juma, when he was sworn in. [Courtesy]

12:50pm: The Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania Job Ndugai condoles with the family of the late Pombe Magufuli saying he was always involved in matters of national development. 

“We are with all Tanzanians in grief and are grateful to God for the life of Magufuli. He made parliament's headquarters in Dodoma home during his six-year tenure. We worked closely and we assure you [Suluhu] of the assembly’s unwavering support in propelling the nation forward,” pledged Ndugai.

12:30pm: Magufuli’s passing has hit the defense forces hard, says Chief of Defence Forces Venance Salvatory Mabeyo.

“Magufuli loved the defense forces; he made sure he facilitated them in infrastructure and manpower. He involved them in nation-building. He always said that there can be no security with no development. Magufuli, for instance, contracted the security forces in the protection of Tanzanite. He explained that before it could be exported, the site needed to be fenced in. He also involved the defense forces in the construction of the new State House offices at Chamwino in Dodoma. He wanted Tanzania to succeed.”

Venance Salvatory Mabeyo with the late President Magufuli. [Courtesy]

12:07pm: The Christian leaders in Tanzania have assured President Suluhu of their support wishing her all the best in her new office.

12:03pm: Magufuli praised by the Supreme Council of Muslim Preachers for greatly contributing to the construction of a huge mosque in Dodoma despite him being a Christian.

“We were honored to be of service during his tenure. Magufuli loved all. He extended his time, ear, resources, and respect to all faiths, without favor. We remember him greatly for facilitating the construction of Tanzania Muslim Council (Bakwata)'s biggest mosque,” said the Grand Mufti in Tanzania, Sheikh Abubakary Zubeir.

The late Magufuli (in green) during a visit to the mosque. [Courtesy]

11:25am: In line with the Catholic Church's burial traditions, Magufuli’s funeral includes a requiem mass then bread and wine that has been placed on the altar for Holy Communion.

Mourners have formed a procession to receive Holy Communion or, if they are not a Catholic, a blessing from the priest.

After Holy Communion, a further eulogy is expected before special prayers, called the Final Commendation. Afterward, the coffin will be sprinkled with holy water, and friends and family say goodbye to their loved ones.

10:05am: The funeral liturgy led the mourners with several Catholic hymns most in Kiswahili and later the catholic priest is expected to read a chapter from the Old Testament and a Psalm, according to the Catholic funeral tradition. The coffin is placed on a catafalque and covered with the Tanzania National flag.

The Catholic Archbishop of Mwanza, Jude Thaddaeus, mourned Magufuli saying he ruled Tanzania for six years, but left a permanent mark.

“Despite having a heart condition for years, Magufuli never relented in his fight for the rights of Tanzanians... Magufuli was abused, but he never tired. As we speak, we are being called and asked how we managed the coronavirus pandemic. We have not bought the idea and our lives are going on as usual," said Archbishop Thaddaeus.

Adding, "Magufuli never shied or flinched when it came to religion. He was always praising and attributing everything to God. This is unlike other nations that do not even have the name of God in their constitution. We are hoping our new president won’t be coerced into what is going on in other western nations to legalize abortion, homosexuality, and other 'ungodly things'.” 

Hundreds attended the service. [Courtesy]

09:50am: The National anthem is now playing, all have stood attention.

09:35am: Hearse containing the coffin makes way into the grounds.

The military Land Rover towing the coffin on late Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli draped in the national flag finally arrives at his Chato hometown.

The Land Rover was being driven at a slow speed was led by a serpent black Toyota Land Cruiser followed closely by 12 outrider bikes as hundreds thronged by the roadside, bidding farewell to their President who had just been re-elected to serve the second term.

Eight well-built military officers lifted the casket to their shoulders, four on each side, and their counterparts sang the military songs through their gigantic trumpets and minimal beats of the drum.

Magufuli's casket. [Courtesy, East African Radio]

09:21am: President Samia Suluhu arrives at the memorial service at a Catholic Church in Chato.

Among those in attendance are Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, Former Zanzibar President Mohammed Hussein, and former Tanzania presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Hassan Mwinyi.

President Samia Suluhu. [Courtesy, East African Radio]

07:30am: The final sendoff of the late Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli begins with hundreds of mourners braving the already scorching sun of the little know town of Chato, Geita Region of northwestern Tanzania.

A handful of those seated, all dressed in black, in the already packed white tent at Magufuli’s home where he will finally be laid to rest have their masks on although some not worn properly.

Among those who have already arrived at the venue is Janeth Magufuli, widow of the late who has taken to the seats at the fully red-carpeted dais.

The ceremony is being led by the Catholic Church with those in attendance publicly defying World Health Organisation, WHO regulations for Covid-19 including social distancing and above all, wearing facemasks.

Magufuli’s body arrived in his hometown of Chato on Wednesday evening from Mwanza. 

Magufuli's casket. [Courtesy, East African Radio]

At the weekend, his body was in Dar es Salaam for viewing. It was then moved to Dodoma on Monday for the public to pay their last respects and proceeded to Zanzibar on Tuesday.

Magufuli died of heart disease on March 17, as announced by the then-Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan.