Ex-TSN journalist John Kulekana dies

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A PROMINENT journalist and former Business Editor of ‘Daily News’ , Mr John Kulekana, 61, is dead. Mr Kulekana died yesterday at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam, to which he was referred from Regency Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for diabetes and kidney problems.

The deceased, who retired from Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN) Limited last year after a long service, held different positions, including News Editor and Chief Sub Editor. He will be buried today at Mji Mpya Catholic Church graveyard in Ukonga area at 4pm.

According to a son of the deceased, Francis Kulekana, his father was transferred to MNH after doctors discovered that he had heart problems as well. He expressed profound appreciation that TSN had extended to the family during Mr Kulekana’s illness.

The deceased is survived by a wife, five children and four grandchildren. TSN was where the deceased started his media practice journey in 1986, serving the company that publishes government-run newspa pers up to 1998.

He relocated to New Habari as Editor of The African from 1998 to 2000, following which he bounced back to TSN until he retired. In his remembrance, Mr Abduel Elinaza, a senior writer on the Business Desk , remarks: “Kulekana was among the first business journalists in the country and had left a rich legacy at ‘Daily News’. He had specialized in insurance reporting.”

Mr Sosthenes Mwita, a ‘Daily News’ sub-editor, says: “ I knew the late John Kulekana as a diligent journalist who had a critical eye for excellence. I learned a lot from him during his engagement with TSN.

He was a polite person and invariably, was approachable and easy to befriend. Consequently, he fitted well in the world of work. The departed Kulekana joined the newspaper establishment as a writer but due to his expertise, he rose quickly through the ranks to become a sub editor, news editor, chief sub-editor and eventually business editor. He covered many events, including troubled spots.

Veteran journalist Wilson Kaigarula, a sub-editor on the ‘Daily News’ , had this to say of Mr Kulekana: “In newsrooms, like in workplaces elsewhere, nick-names are coined for some colleagues, most of which stick, and which the targeted individuals often embrace, because they are essentially well-intentioned.

‘Kul’, the shortened version of ‘Kulekana’, the surname of the late long-serving, and recently retired TSN staffer whose first name was John, was in a class of its own. Coined by Sukhdev Chhatbar, it became a popular reference point for the deceased, especially among his core circle of friends, but rang a loud bell beyond, as its pronunciation rhymed with the English word ‘Cool’.

It is a safe bet that for many colleagues – old generation league members and younger entrants into journalism alike – John Kulekana was a cool person. His ‘coolness’ was manifested in official and social circles alike.

On the official front, especially, John’s disposition was relatively exceptional. Media practice is deeply stressful, often driving quite many of the practitioners on the cliff-edge of nervous breakdown.

But John seldom betrayed the stress, often putting up a brave, ‘all is well’ face. He may have been internally burning (literally), but he bravely suppressed emotions whose weaker-willed colleagues literally exploded in forms like nasty quarrels and in some cases near-fisticuffs.

On the social front, he was a good mixer who, typical of jour nalists letting off steam after taxing newsroom operations, socialized with friends at recreation centres. He was part of a ‘group’ of which I was an active member in the 80s, that, almost with religious devotion, patronised Friday evening music shows by (the currently jailed) Nguza Viking-led Achigo Band.

A man of above-above intelligence, John Kulekana initially belonged to the business and finance world, but easily blended into journalism, where his expertise and experience came in handy, as business editor of the English wing of TSN publications.

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