MZEE Philemon Kiwelu Ndesamburo breathed his last at about 1045hrs on Wednesday last week at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), where he was rushed for treatment after his condition deteriorated precipitously.
This is a man who had development in his heart and successfully achieved it for himself and others cleverly; a prominent businessman, who has been operating his activities in and outside Tanzania, including the UK.
He was born on February 19, 1935 at Mahoma village, Old Moshi ward, Moshi District in Kilimanjaro Region, who now leaves behind Ms Ndehorio Ndemasi (82) as a widow and 11 children, three of them being male.
Apart from business acumen, this is a seasoned politician – one of the founders of the now Main Opposition party, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), a duty he committed to alongside mzee Edwin Mtei. He was fondly referred by many as Mzee Ndesa while others, due to his sound financial situation, added, Mzee Ndesa Pesa.
Passing on at 82, he leaves behind thousands of files attended with beneficiaries expansively regardless of their political affiliations, creed or origin. The day of his demise had begun as any other day, having woken up seemingly healthy, negotiated his way from home to his normal schedules that would include his office, at Keys Hotel Building, situated at Moshi Municipality.
For that day, early in the morning, Mzee Ndesa decided to pay a short visit at his drinking water producing plant – Moshi Water and enquired a bit about how the production process is getting on. On the day, he had an appointment with Arusha City Mayor, Mr Calist Lazaro, so that he would hand over to him 3.5m/- cheque for 35 families of the Lucky Vincent Primary School bus accident victims.
As Mr Ndesamburo sat in his office, all other activities ongoing as typically, he was about to put pen on a paper to authorize payment of the money that he had wanted Mr Lazaro (Chadema) to handover personally to the families, the former also being Kilimanjaro regional chairman.
He was then on process to accomplish the task as he had promised some days back, and his video clip to that effect is still on the social media domain to date, the retired Member of Parliament (MP) who has served three terms for Moshi Urban Constituency, collapsed and after about half an hour, at KCMC, he had passed on.
When the news broke in the social media, there were several denials, some being from the people employed by his companies, such as Moshi FM Radio, several staff members saying it was hoax, as they had seen their boss that very morning and left him in the pink at his office.
It took time for many to come to terms with the sad truth, as finally it was officially announced by Chadema National Chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe from Dodoma as well as Chadema Kilimanjaro Regional Secretary, Mr Basil Lema, from Moshi.
That signaled the end of the journey for a person of high esteem from people of different walks of life, mainly due to his attitude towards them. Mzee Ndesa, whose body lies at KCMC morgue as of now, is expected to be peacefully laid to rest at his KDC Home, Moshi Municipality on June 6, 2017.
A loving father, caring fellow, politician without enmity, supporter of business initiatives and improvement regardless of political affiliations, caretaker of the sick and disadvantaged and generally a guardian in the wider sense of the word.
It is only proper to share some words and give credence where due, for a person so loved by many, having involved himself in support of school buildings construction, offering ambulance to the regional referral hospital, supporting the needy and to be remembered as a benefactor to groups of women and youth entrepreneurs.
When Mr Ambilikile Mwasapile, a retired pastor with the Lutheran Church emerged, at Lemunge, offering a miracle cure, leading to thousands of people flocking his area to get cured of their chronic illnesses from 2011, Mr Ndesamburo supported the needy by offering vehicles or shouldering transport costs, in quest of their wellbeing.
On the political front, Mzee Ndesamburo leaves behind a legacy– as he conducted civilized politics, course-plotting evolution in the country’s politics, and has since been an icon in the political life of the Opposition Camp in Kilimanjaro Region as he has continually kept the pressure high on the ruling party, but mingling sweetly with its cadres in different activities.
Did he ever work as a civil servant? Yes, Mr Ndesamburo, with a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Business from London, UK, in 1970s was reportedly posted to a position he considered not conforming to what he studied; hence he opted for life out of the government system.
He first ventured openly in politics in pursuit of reforms in 1988, as he was among few individuals who advocated for change in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (1977) version.
In 1990, he was at the forefront in opinion collection in regards to what political system the citizens favored. Mzee Ndesamburo was one of those who initiated UDETA (Umoja wa Demokrasia Tanzania) that could be literally translated into Democracy Union of Tanzania and later he was a cofounder of Chadema, becoming one of the first 10 members.
In spite of being financially strong, he did not go straight to vie for parliamentary seat, but rather wanted to be a Councilor at his native Kiboriloni ward in 1994. He could not make it as the campaigns took a rather different swing at the very last day, when the then CCM bigwig, Mr Augustino Lyatonga Mrema was thought to have changed people’s mindsets. He was then very famous, holding a deputy prime minister and minister of home affairs portfolios as well as Moshi Rural MP.
In 1995 Mr Ndesamburo opted to vie for Moshi Urban legislative seat under Chadema ticket, but once again he was downed by Mr Mrema, who had defected from CCM to an opposition NCCR-Mageuzi and successfully campaigned for Mr Joseph Mtui.
Mr Ndesamburo stood firm, did not cross to another party as opposed to what several politicians did, and in 2000 he went back on the stage – winning the seat in three consecutive elections until when he decided to call it quits in 2015. He successfully campaigned for the then Moshi Municipality Mayor, Mr Japhery Michael to the House.
He has since held different positions in the party, such as Central Committee (CC) member, regional chairman, a member of Chadema Board of Trustees, an MP since 2000 to 2015, took part in different committees as well as being a parliament commissioner, denoting that he has left his mark in many places.
As a regional chairman, the late Ndesamburo boasted of bolstering the party from grassroots and as a result he garnered a remarkable number of councilors, MPs, village and hamlet leaders in the recent elections. His chopper was used in the election campaign in 2010 and 2015.
He was due to vie for a post of Northern Zone Chadema chairman this year. On the late Ndesamburo’s political line, even CCM leaders, cadres and members have witnessed that, one of them being President John Magufuli who in his condolences to the family he said he remembers Mr Ndesamburo for his wisdom and political maturity.
“I have been saddened by the news about Mr Ndesamburo’s demise... I remember him for his wisdom and political maturity,” the President was quoted as saying. The President added that he knew Mr Ndesamburo during all his time he had served as a legislator.
He prayed to God to give strength to Mr Ndesamburo’s family as well as to other people, who have been touched by the veteran politician’s demise.