Prominent African Leaders Gather in Tanzanian, Raise late President Magufuli to Sainthood, Magnify his Dev’t Credentials

As a man who rarely travelled, deceased President John Pombe Magufuli should have been a recluse, with only a few friends coming from outside of Tanzania. But his state funeral proved that President Magufuli had somehow managed to have a big impact on African leaders attracting a fair number of heads of state when most leaders across the world hesitate to travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The emotional tributes from heads of state and dignitaries across the continent suggested a leader that had the ability to leave a lasting impression on those he met and interacted with. At the state funeral and service held in Dodoma, the administrative capital of Tanzania, President Magufuli who died on March 17, 2021, was described as a patriot and Pan Africanist.

Children reportedly died in a stampede as Tanzanians mourn late John Magufuli (C) Yahoo News

Heads of state who flew in to join different dignitaries from across the continent for Magufuli’s state funeral include South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Felix Tshisekedi of the Republic of Congo, Zambia’s Edgar Lungu, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, Azali Assoumani President of the island nation of Comoros and Malawi’s Lazarus Chakwera.

President Chakwera described Magufuli, as a man who had died the same way he lived, with his cards close to his chest.

“Today, I join you all in a state of shock and grief at the passing of one of Africa’s finest sons because none of us saw it coming. This ability to let no one see his next move coming, which we find unsettling in his death, is also what we found inspiring about his life,” said Chakwera at a ceremony attended by several dignitaries including Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

President Chakwera who had last met President Magufuli less than six months before his death said President Magufuli always had a surprise up his sleeve, even in the execution of Presidential duties. 

“When they said laziness and sloth in public service cannot be cured, they did not see Magufuli coming,” said Chakwera adding “when they said the cartels of corruption strangling Africa’s governments cannot be defeated, they did not see Magufuli coming”.

Lazarus Chakwera, Malawian President Pays Tribute to late President Magufuli

Chakwera also extolled Magufuli’s timely and on-budget completion of infrastructure, the success achieved turning Tanzania into a middle-income country in one term and the general reorganization of the economy to benefit the population.   

“When they said the only way to pursue our development is to follow the failed prescriptions of foreign financial institutions that have left Africa more impoverished and in debt than they found it, they did not see Magufuli coming,” he said.

Kenya’ President Uhuru Kenyatta also held similar sentiments about Magufuli’s ability to come up with economic policies that were right for Tanzania.

“In a very short span of time, President Magufuli has shown that we as Africans are able to disentangle ourselves from dependence on foreigners and that we have the ability to manage our own economy and ensure that our people get what is rightfully theirs,” President Kenyatta said.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta raises late President Magufuli to Sainthood

Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Chairperson of the African Union reechoed and held similar sentiments about Magufuli’s transformation of Tanzania’s economy and his Pan Africanism.

Among other things, leaders on the continent including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi thanked Magufuli for his Pan Africanism and for pushing the continent to speak Swahili more which is a truly African language.

President Masisi also promised support to President Suluhu in the push to continue the development of Tanzania.

“Madam President Hassan, you have very big shoes to fill, but know that as our only sister President we will hold your hand always for the success of Tanzania, as Tanzania’s success is our success,” said Masisi.

President Suluhu in her own message said she would be working hard to develop Tanzania because that had been President Magufuli last wish. According to Ms. Suluhi, even on his death bed, Magufuli had been preoccupied with the development of Tanzania saying in his last message to her:

“Samia don’t worry about my health, go check out the projects we promised our people, send my greetings to them and tell them I love them,” she quoted her predecessor as having said.