Africa mourns former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa

FILE PHOTO: Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa (R) speaks with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti during a meeting in Khartoum October 11, 2010. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Tanzanian President John Magufuli on early on Friday announced the death of former Head of State Benjamin Mkapa.

Mkapa died late on Thursday after a short illness, which forced him to be admitted at a Dar es Salaam hospital.

“Benjamin William Mkapa, the third president of Tanzania, has died… I urge Tanzanians to receive the news. We have been hit by a great tragedy. Let us continue praying for our leader, the former President Benjamin William Mkapa,” Magufuli said in a televised address.

Born on 12 November 1938, Mkapa rose to the presidency in 1995 and served until 2005 before handing over to Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

Upon retirement, Mkapa was part of various peace missions across the continent, including the mediation team that helped resolve Kenya’s post-election chaos in 2008.

Following the news, various leaders across Africa have sent their messages of condolence to Tanzanians for their loss.

The Kenyan presidency sent out a statement on social media saying: “President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a message of condolence to President John Joseph Pombe Magufuli, the People of the United Republic of Tanzania and the family of Former President Benjamin Mkapa who passed away earlier today. In his message of comfort, the President mourned the departed Tanzanian leader as an outstanding East African who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace and progress of the region.”

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob also took to social media to convey his condolences: “Following the passing of the former President of Tanzania, H.E Benjamin Mkapa, a brilliant son of Africa and Tanzania, I join the international community in extending my most sincere condolences to President John Magufuli and the people of Tanzania.”

Former Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Odinga said: “I mourn former President Benjamin Mkapa, a great friend of the Kenyan people, a pan-Africanist, a true believer in South-South Cooperation and a global statesman.”

The African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also sent his message of condolence via social media: “It is with deep sadness that I learnt of the passing of Mzee Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania. A statesman particularly remembered as an indefatigable peacemaker in the East African region. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, the people and govt of Tanzania.”