AS the country commemorates the 24th Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Anniversary today, Cricket Legends of Tanzania, many of them based abroad have joined the rest in describing Mwalimu as the sports-living torch bearer.
In an interview with the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ Kanu Rathod, one of the Cricket legends of Tanzania Reunion group leader stressed that they are fortunate to join sportsmen and women in saluting the true Son of Africa, Mwalimu Nyerere.
Rathod said: “Nyerere gave us our identity and dignity as free Tanzanians and made the Land of Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar known to the world.”
The Birmingham-based legend Rathod stressed that many cricket legends met for the Reunion in Dar es Salaam in October 2022 was for them to see for their own eyes that Tanzania has become modern, without compromising traditional values set by Mwalimu Nyerere after such many years since he departed.
“Mwalimu encouraged all sports, including cricket, to flourish through a dedicated ministry responsible for sports and the National Sports Council (NSC), but he helped more to make Tanzania, an Omnisport nation, the legacy that is held high now under current President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
“As Cricket Legends Reunion, we join all Tanzanian sportsmen and women in remembering the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere…our teacher. Mungu Ibariki Tanzania (God bless Tanzania),” concluded Rathod.
Kulbir Singh Gupta one of the legends currently living abroad said: “People talk on the subject of truthful living; they write about it profusely and they compose songs on the same theme. There are very few who live in simplicity, frugality and humility like Mwalimu Nyerere did.
“When I was at Ligula Hospital in Mtwara as the Dental Surgeon of the Region I came in close touch with the people belonging to the Wamakonde tribe. I remember their love and affection as patients in that they showed their gratitude to me by bringing me fresh fish caught directly from the sea and eggs from their farms,” he said.
He noted of an incident about a 60-year-old lady with the ‘ndonya’ (wooden peg) in her upper lip who refused to sit in the dental chair for her treatment because she thought such a ‘High Chair’ was the prerogative of ‘Bwana Kubas’ (top officials).
“Her innocence moved me. I could not persuade her to take to the chair. I treated her by going along with her wish in rendering her the treatment at ‘ground level’. The ministries of health and education planned a programme, which ultimately succeeded in weaning the Wamakonde women from ‘adorning’ the upper lip with the ndonya.
“To me personally, Mwalimu Nyerere’s clarion call in the late sixties and early seventies when I was about to graduate as a Dental Surgeon (DS) from the University of Bombay, for a socialist reform in Tanzania held a special appeal,” he added.
Gupta noted that in his capacity as a DS at Muhimbili Hospital, Ligula Hospital, HH The Aga Khan Hospital and finally centred within Gupta Dental Clinic, was involved in Clinical Dental Practice for almost 40 years but never had the opportunity to meet Mwalimu Nyerere on a one-to-one basis.
But he said His teachings and principles to this day provide the ingredients of honest toil, charity and contemplation on the divinity of the Lord.
“He is the first African Statesman, in my humble opinion, to have relinquished the Office of the President when he could have continued for a longer period,” he said.
He explained that his professional and his alignment to cricket in Tanzania went hand in hand as the Captain of Dar es Salaam Gymkhana Club (DGC), served on the Management Committee of the Club for about 20 years enjoying support and comraderies from the distinguished members.
“I played for Tanzania four years as the opening batsman and wicketkeeper. Later I headed the Panel of Cricket Umpires of Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA). I served on the panel of Umpires for the East and Central Africa Cricket Conference with huge government’s support,” he said.
Gupta added that keeping Mwalimu Nyerere Day in mind, it would be not out of place to state that instead of just talking loudly or writing volumes about him, there is a need to ingrain an iota of his humility, a little of his simplicity and a wee bit of his outlook to rational thought.
He said Tanzanians would be slightly better than what we have been so far in our outlook if would walk the Mwalimu Nyerere talk.
“To those with a socialist bent of mind, Nyerere will always remain a torch bearer,” insisted Gupta.