Just when we begin to unfold from the Covid-19 downfall, the sudden death of former President HE. Benjamin Mkapa is another bolt from the blue to the Tanzania society, and the International community in general.
I received this news with a greater shock and almost break into tears but instead, I thanked God for giving us this brave, diligent, and public-spirited head of state. So instead of mourning the passing of Big Ben, an alias usually referred to him, let’s celebrate his life by harkening back to some of the great memories and lessons he shared with the world during his presence on earth.
As a '90s millennial, my childhood wasn't filled with the social media, and there was no such thing as smartphones; the only place to let off steam and have fun was in the living room with a thick TV (CRT television), or listening to a radio with AM bandwidth (lol!)
Back in the days, we always get the freedom to watch any kind of programs for as long as it’s PG-rated but one thing was not up for the debate when it came to TV: evening bulletin was never skipped.
The evening news bulletin was the period I and
my sibling’s intelligence was put into test when our father turns home late. When he arrives back, he usually expects a recap for the news from his children and since I was the last born; an opener position was a no brainer.
When I’m opening, without further ado, all the Benjamin’s news even my father acknowledged was under my department, no one could’ve taken that from me.
Benjamin, not only was an idol, but he also was a book where I could learn so many great things that I was going to employ as a way to steal my peer’s attention. To many of my childhood peers, friends, and family members; winding up in Journalism and Communication was not a surprise. It was a fulfillment of my childhood desire and the talent God bestowed upon me.
As a reward from his teachings, I’m going to put down some of the greater things that today’s millennials and African future leaders need to learn to thrive for any quest in life. I will use most of the life-teaching scenarios, President Mkapa highlighted in his Autobiography: “My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzania President remembers,” and a little bit of what I reminisce as a child grew up during his reign as the URT President.
The Importance of having a mentor in our life
“A future leader could be born with natural leadership traits; yet even divinely bestowed qualities of leadership need nurturing and enhancement to make them relevant to contemporary challenges.” When launching his memoir at the Mwalimu Nyerere International Conference Centre last year, Ben insisted on the importance of having a mentor, citing how he harnessed leadership qualities from the late founder of our nation Mwl. Nyerere. Whether it’s professionally, spiritually, or in any of our doings we should always seek for mentorship as a way to grow. The idea of mentoring future leaders has always been Ben’s agenda for decades. Even after hanging boots in 2006 from the presidency, whenever he was offered a stage in local or international forums he never hesitated to raise this agenda.
One must always stand for criticism
As human beings, we all encountering criticism daily. We often receiving criticisms from family members, friends, coworkers, and sometimes from strangers. But how we respond to them is what will always make a difference in our lives. On different occasions, Ben elucidated how he embrace criticisms even after realizing how ill-mannered, or biased they were. Though he admitted there were times he was aggravated by his critics when they used that privilege to channel their vendettas. But what President Mkapa insisted is that we should always be forgiving, and learn to let things go even how disgraceful they might be.
We should always accept who we are, and sometimes change for better
Remorseful, Ben explained how some memories will always leave a blemish to his leadership and life allude to the brutal killings of 22 people, post-2000 general election in Zanzibar. We all have been through the dark side of our lives, we have been through hell and back, and sometimes wish to have second shot to right the wrongs but as impossible as it sounds, we should learn to move on, and accept responsibilities. Adding to that, Ben also explained how in many times was referred to as the cold-hearted and that he was ignorant of the fact that, as president of a nation he’s also the chief comforter and agreeing that it wasn’t his strong suit referring his successor HE. Jakaya Kikwete as an expert for that.
Do good to others. It’ll always come back in unexpected ways.
Two weeks before he breathed his last, Ben was part of the NEC members who were vetted for the Chama Cha Mapinduzi members vying for the presidency on this year’s October general election. Again, the torch was passed to two of his protégé: Hussein Mwinyi vying for Zanzibar presidency, and one more term for “Chuma”, a nickname referring to President John Magufuli. When addressing the NEC and members of the ruling party’s committee, both expressed how thankful and honored they were for being mentored by President Mkapa and trusted with the office when nobody thought of them. What more the 81 years’ past master would want in life than seeing the flowers he’d groomed for years grew flawlessly.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
His memoir is full of life-teaching and despicable events. Going through his up-bringing you’d realize Ben has gone through fire and water to get where he was. Raised in the crooked society, aggravated poverty, and oppressive colonial government he even described being a president was neither his nor his parent's dream. Despite all the roadblocks, Ben moved the mountains, sail through the storm, and triumph a close combat to prove only one thing: whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve. His legacies will always leave a mark on our society, and Africa at large.
I could jot pages explaining how great HE. Benjamin Mkapa was but that’ll not fill the hollowness he has left inside our hearts. As we going through these tough times, let’s use this moment to honor the great memories he has left to do better, and build a better society. The developed society, good leadership, and even distribution of resources and wealth this is what president Mkapa had always lived for. To him, this was all in a day’s work.
“Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so the world will at least be a little bit different for our having passed through it.,” Harold Kushner.
Lord God, we thank you for the life of Ben!!!
By David Andy on 02 Oct 2020
By David Andy on 28 Aug 2020