FAREWELL, MKAPA: President Magufuli Leads Mourners in Fallen Leader Send-Off & Renames Stadium [VIDEO]
July. 29, 2020
President John Magufuli led Tanzanians to bid farewell to fallen leader Benjamin Mkapa at the national stadium in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
In a tearful tribute, Dr Magufuli renamed the 60,000-seater Uhuru Stadium after the late president who spearheaded its construction during his reign.
"Many of the successful projects that we see today were initiated by Mzee Mkapa ... and even the national vision to make the country a middle-income economy was established by him. We are grateful we were able to achieve this before the deadline (2025)," said President Magufuli.
He noted that while Mkapa, who died on Thursday night, July 23, did not want places named after him, he found it fit to rename it Benjamin William Mkapa Stadium.
"I know that had he been alive he wouldn't have accepted this," said the President, adding that he had also received petitions to rename the stadium after Mkapa.
Among dignitaries and diplomats who attended the farewell ceremony was Burundi's Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni.
On the other hand, the plane carrying the Kenyan delegation was forced to turn back to Nairobi mid-air due to bad weather in Dar, Tanzania Foreign Affairs minister Prof Palamagamba Kabudi announced.
Read also: Magufuli Blocked Kenya Delegation Plane From Landing Upon Kenya President's Blast on Tanzania's Covid-19 Policy
Mkapa, ruled the country as the third president from 1995 to 2005, has been lying in state at the stadium since Sunday, July 26, to allow Tanzanians to pay their last respects.
His family said he had been admitted for malaria treatment at a Dar es Salaam hospital and died of cardiac arrest, dispelling rumours spreading on social media that Mkapa had contracted coronavirus disease.
The president's body was ferried in a military helicopter to his home village of Lupaso, Mtwara in southern Tanzania, where he will be laid to rest on Wednesday.
Mkapa, who ruled Tanzania for from 1995 to 2005, died Thursday night aged 81.
On Sunday, his family said that the former Tanzanian president was suffering from malaria and died of a heart attack, scotching rumours that he succumbed to coronavirus.
“President Mkapa was found with malaria and he was admitted for treatment on Wednesday,” William Erio, a family member said during a funeral mass aired on State television.
May him rest in peace
His body will be transported to his rural home in Lupaso, Mtwara for burial scheduled Wednesday.
Mkapa was instrumental as the lead negotiator of the 2007-2008 post-election peace deal signed between former Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and ODM party leader Raila Odinga.
The national funeral of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa is held in Uhuru Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
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