He had started with the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) in 1975, immediately after his graduation at the College of African Wildlife Management (CAWM), which is commonly known as Mweka College or just Mweka. This is the name of the village within which this higher learning institution is located, about 14 kilometres north of Moshi Municipality, on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
During a conversation with the ‘Daily News on Saturday,’ the wildlife veteran talked about his first appointment in Serengeti National Park before going for further studies at the University of Dar es Salaam’s then Faculty of Forestry and Agriculture, which was in Morogoro Region. After graduation from there he returned to his former employer until 1981, when he joined the CAWM, as a faculty member.
It was at this education establishment that he stayed doing such things he enjoys, like research and teaching on issues related to wildlife, until late in 2007. Then he was transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources within the Forest and Planning Division, as head of the Monitoring and Evaluation section. When he reached the age of retirement in 2010 he was given a one-year contract, which he finished last June.
He kept busy with his own activities for the next six months then was approached to take-up his present post at the WCST, which he started at the beginning of December, on a two year contract. Gamassa is the younger of two siblings, who hails from Budekwa Village in Maswa District of Shinyanga Region.
Currently, he is the only survivor because his elder brother had past away in 2000. His late father since 1987 was basically a farmer, he said, but managed to reach a stage whereby he had attained employment as a guard for the native authorities, in one of the sub-divisions of the district, until he retired in the mid 1960s. Unfortunately, the new CEO at WCST never got the chance to know his biological mother because she had passed away when he was only two years old.
“I grew-up with a stepmother, who was very, very good. So when people say that step-mothers are unkind I find it strange because I grew-up with a different experience. I grew-up knowing this mother to be my biological mother. When people started telling me she wasn’t my mother it gave me a broken heart. I could not understand it. Later on of course, I came to know it but it all went well and in 1979 she passed away,” he explained.
These are some of his not so pleasant memories, which took place when he was between six and seven years of age, soon after starting school. He obtained his primary and middle level of formal education right there in his village before going to Mara Region for his secondary stint, which he finished in 1970. Then he went to Old Moshi High School, where he finished with his Advance Level, two years later.
It was while at this establishment that he knew about Mweka College, which he joined under the sponsorship of TANAPA. Before leaving this authority he had worked at the Serengeti, Mikumi and Ruwaha national parks. There is one other thing in this man’s life that contributed to how is today, which the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ thinks worth noting here. He opted to raise his four children, two of each gender, alone; after his wife had passed away in 1997.
“My children were very young then, so I thought I couldn’t get married again because I didn’t want to get someone, who would not get on with them. That’s when I came to the decision that I should bear my cross and see them through alone,” he said. His eldest child, a son, graduated last year in architecture and is currently seeking employment, while his first daughter, who took computer science at the University of Dar es Salaam is currently working with one of the mobile telephone communication service providers.
His third child, a daughter is studying medicine at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC) in Moshi and the fourth, another son is
in Form Five. All live together in a rented house within the Mbezi Beach suburbs. Their family home is in Moshi, where he spent so many years working and his children grew-up knowing as home. In reply to a question put to him, as to how he feels about his life, especially without his wife, he simply said: “Generally speaking, life is always full of challenges.
No one can have a smooth ride throughout. So it’s just how one set out to meet these challenges.” A relaxed Gamassa praised his children for being “a wonderful help,” which enabled him to manage their home without a mother being around, despite him having had to travel much because of his work. Sharing such things with him as his love for reading has also helped make the goings smoother than it would have been, he added.
That may be as to why it can be seen that his reading taste seems to have changed as they went through the years. There was a time when the children were at secondary school when he was reading authors like Agatha Christy followed by the Ngugi Wa
Thiong’o and other African writers. Then came writers like Frederick Forsyth and David Yallo. From reading he can see how he can increase his knowledge on whatever the subject matter is. This is why he is pleased to see that this habit has also influenced the children, who certainly have inherited this love for reading.
Needless to say when he was at Mweka they would often go out on excursion in the parks. Now in Dar es Salaam things have changed but they still have time to go out as a family unit whether it’s for a meal or to spend some time on the beach. Concerning the future he told the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ that having a passion for conservation and development as he does means he will
always be looking for ways to further this cause, but it is also very important for him that he sees his family continue growing positively. This year they have plans of doing something in the family farm back in Budekwa Village. The central thing here, he maintains, is that the unit remains consolidated.