W HILE w ords can never fully express how much someone means to us in the event of death, language can still provide comfort, solace, hope, and even inspiration especially this time when Tanzanians and friends rememb er, the third phase President, Benjamin Mkapa, w ho passed aw ay on the 24th of July last week.
This w as a charismatic leader, w ell skilled in persuasion and commitment to achieve a goal tasked to him b y the community especially to b ring peace w here it is threatened.
Mention the name of Benjamin Mkapa in any quarter and the first thing that rings in many peoples mind is an eloq uent speaker of peace, no w onder in many conflicts in the Great Lakes region he w as the first to b e consulted.
This w as a leader w ho reiterated the importance of education to Africa, saying it w ould enab le its people understand b etter their constitutional and political rights. “ Education makes people easy to lead, b ut difficult to drive; Easy to govern, but impossib le to enslave.
My message to this University’s community(on b eing aw arded the honourary degree of Doctor of Letters of the Open University of Tanzania), and to those of our other Universities in this country, is that the time has come for our education system to give our young men and w omen new eyes; Eyes that will set them off on a true voyage of discovery a voyage of inner reflection, of renaissance and of new sightings,” he would say.
Benja as he w as fondly called w as a leader, who w as mostly describ ed as a shining example of a peacemaker who advocated for justice and eq uality in East Africa and the w orld at large.
During his lifetime, President Mkapa led several peace mediation efforts in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rw anda where, in addition to hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees, they contrib uted significantly to the restoration of peace to the respective countries.
The list may b e long as w e now eulogise him, b ut all these w ould not live to his goals, if Tanzanians and the b loc w ould not implement and sustain peace he longed for. The greatest homage w e can pay him is to maintain, w hat he left b ehind