Sombre mood clouds Dar streets

DAR ES SAALAM: DAR ES SALAAM like other parts of the country was plunged into sadness as military pallbearers carried the casket with the remains of the late former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa to Karimjee Grounds for State funeral.

Yesterday, being the fourth day in the national mourning as directed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the occasion was graced by the Vice-President Dr Philip Mpango.

Also in presence were Zanzibar’s President Dr Hussein Mwinyi, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, former President Jakaya Kikwete, former Zanzibar Presidents Dr Ali Mohamed Shein and Amani Abeid Karume, among other top dignitaries.

The late Lowassa’s body was moved from Lugalo Army General Hospital to Karimjee Grounds via Bagamoyo road, Ali Hassan Mwinyi road, Toure Drive, Tanzanite Bridge, Obama Street and Luthuli Road in a procession that was witnessed by Tanzanians who lined Dar es Salaam streets in mournful mood.

The convoy, flanked by an esteemed military van and police escort, made its way through the calm city streets, drawing citizens to pay their respects along the route as others waited to enter Karimjee Grounds to view the body of the former PM, who died at the age of 70.

The military van started the last voyage of a great son of Tanzania by pulling a distinctive trailer with the national flag emblazoned on it and a unique artillery arsenal that attracts notice with its red hue and white and red tires.

Moving between 20 and 30 miles per hour (mph), occasionally reaching 40 mph, but never going over 50 mph, the task of directing the convoy fell to the Ilala Police Escort under the road safety squad led by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mori Mori.

Along with nine or eleven military cars, the convoy was also made up of family vehicles, which joined the procession carrying Lowassa’s wife, Regina Lowassa, children, and grandchildren.

The event reflected the deep respect and honour accorded to the late leader as majority of the citizens gathered, notably in the Mwenge, Bamaga, Victoria, and Oyster Bay areas, waiving their hands and even throwing flowers to bid a final farewell.

The last time Tanzania witnessed a procession like this was during the death of fifth phase, President Dr John Magufuli on March 17, 2021. Born in 1959 in the northwestern town of Geita, Tanzania, he was the first state leader to die while in office.

At Karimjee Grounds, crowds assembled to solemnly witness the dignified final rites. As the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) lowered the casket, the crowd including bodaboda riders wept, ascertaining that Lowassa was really no more.

During his lifetime, the late Lowassa initiated a fundraising event that collected 85m/- for them towards addressing unemployment in their midst.

Flashing back to the occasion, the Association of Bodaboda Riders in Dar es Salaam Chairman, Said Kagomba said that Lowassa cautioned them to refrain from being used by politicians to participate in unproductive demonstrations. In reference, he quoted Lowassa as saying:

“Let us help bodaboda business to remove a culture that criminal offences on the roads are caused by bodaboda riders and rampant because they are drunk.” In particular, in 2014 Lowassa initiated a Bodaboda Day, where he emphasised on education to the group, so that they are respected just like any other industry in eking out a living.

A Temeke resident, Ms Jamila Masanja described the fallen hero as a leader with an unwavering attitude, who made tough decisions for the betterment of the country.

Equally, she recalled his indelible mark of establishing public schools in every ward, which significantly increased enrolment rate in the country’s secondary schools.

“We shall remember him for all the good deeds he has done for our nation, among others his great ability to manage government activities, to oversee and follow up on what has been planned to ensure implementation is met,” Ms Masanja pointed out.

Commenting, Economist and National Chairman of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, eulogised Lowassa as a man of unique character and quick to adapt to changing situations during crises with ease.

“He was a born leader. He liked to do his job properly. As our prefect, he tolerated no nonsense. He was straightforward and courageous,” he added.

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