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Magufuli buried Glowing tributes to Magufuli during State funeral

By Emmanuel Too | March 27th 2021

Late President John Pombe Magufuli was accorded a State burial yesterday by military officers, complete with a 21-gun salute.

Magufuli, in a coffin draped in the Tanzanian flag, was laid to rest at his Chato home in Geita during a private burial ceremony.

The military band played dirges as their soldiers marched during the final send-off of Africa’s most controversial and yet progressive leader. 

The ceremony was reminiscent of the sendoff of the country’s founding father Mzee Julius Kambarage Nyerere who was interred 22 years ago.

A staunch Catholic to the end, Nyerere was laid to rest in his Butiama village after a State funeral.

Earlier, there was a requiem mass for the late president at Chato Catholic parish.

The residents had kept a night vigil in honour of Magufuli, who was a devout Catholic.

Inside the church, congregants, most of whom were dressed in black and white, followed pensively through the mass. 

Distraught faces of mourners told a story of unimaginable grief.

His wife Janet, who some days ago wept inconsolably, had grown stronger.

She even joined the rest of the congregation in worship songs and occasionally laughed when speakers cracked jokes.

Just like in the previous week-long functions, she also sat side-by-side with President Samia Suluhu, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and Zanzibar President Hassan Mwinyi. 

Retired presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and other dignitaries were also present.

In his eulogy, President Suluhu reiterated the fact that the country had lost a true patriot who always put his county first.

“His service to the people of Tanzania will outlive him. His sacrifices to the country will forever be embedded in our hearts.

“We might just be burying his remains but he lives on in our hearts,” she said. 

Monumental task

President Suluhu said she never imagined that Magufuli would die in office and leave her with the task of leading the nation through mourning, and the more monumental task of guiding it through the remainder of the second five-year term.

During the speeches, the silence would be broken by applause whenever a relatable quality that Magufuli espoused was mentioned.

The master of ceremonies had difficult task managing time for speakers as they poured tributes to Magufuli.

“Tears rolled down my cheeks when I first received the news of the demise of President Magufuli,” recalled Kikwete, the fourth president of Tanzania.

“He was an ardent worker, determined and always delivered in his mandate when he served under my Cabinet for 10 years.

“There were no differences between me and him,” he said.

For the whole week, Magufuli’s cortege snaked through major cities of Tanzania for mourners to pay their last respects before his burial yesterday.

Last military salute during requiem mass for the late John Pombe Magufuli in Chato.

While recounting the days of his service, Tanzania’s second President Mwinyi said the only way to honour Magufuli was to live by what he believed in.

“Let us live by his tenets. Let us keep alive the work that he began for the time he was serving the country,” said Mwinyi.

The country’s prime minister Majaliwa recounted Magufuli’s love for Tanzanian, a quality he said he would emulate.

Religious leaders also paid glowing tributes of the late Magufuli.

“He believed in God and never shied away from mentioning that it is only God who could help us in difficulties,” said Archbishop Gervas John Nyaisonga, the president of Tanzania Episcopal Conference.

After the church service, Magufuli’s cortege was taken back to his home.

Earlier in the week, the streets of major cities were littered with lessos, symbolic of the reverence the nation’s women had for the late president. 

Mourners also carried twigs and erupted into songs and cheers as the cortege passed by.

His farewell was befitting a man who had strived throughout his presidency to stay close to the people.

Magufuli broke imaginary barriers that kept the high and mighty at an unapproachable distance and mingled with people.

He would cut short official tours to listen to the cries of common folks. 

The body of the 61-year old, fifth President of Tanzania, had laid in state since last Saturday.

President Suluhu had announced that the country would remain in a state of mourning for 21 days, with the national flag flying at half-mast. 

Last Saturday, the body left Jeshi Lugalo Hospital in Dar es Salaam for St Peter’s Parish, Oyster Bay, before it was brought at Uhuru Stadium for leaders to pay their last respects.

President Suluhu was the first to view Magufuli’s body.

Other leaders, including Zanzibar President Mwinyi and Prime Minister Majaliwa, then followed.

The same week also saw 10 heads of state, including President Uhuru Kenyatta who is the chair of the East African Community, attend a memorial service in Dodoma to pay their last respects.

Magufuli’s “hapa kazi tu” slogan defined his presidency, an attribute that was recognised by his peers from other African nations who spoke at the funeral. Magufuli died from heart complications on March 17, 2021.

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