DAR ES SALAAM, 18 March 2021 – Africa has joined Tanzanians as they mourn their President, John Magufuli, who died Wednesday at the age of 61.
Thursday is the first of 14 days of national mourning declared Wednesday, as some of the finest tributes to the late president as well as some of the sharpest criticisms of his rule have started rolling in.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared seven days of national mourning, calling Magufuli a visionary ally and a champion of pan-Africanism.
“I have lost a friend, colleague, and visionary ally,” Kenyatta said.
“The flag of the East African Community (EAC) will be flown at half-mast until sunset on the day of Magufuli’s funeral”, the Kenyan leader added, speaking in his capacity as chairperson of the EAC rotating presidency.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said he is “saddened by the loss of my brother and friend”, adding that his contribution to the EAC “will not be forgotten”.
During Magufuli’s visit to Rwanda, Kagame offered him five cows, a sign of their strong friendship.
On Twitter, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he and fellow Ugandans are united with Tanzanians “in mourning the passing of a great son of Africa”.
Museveni eulogized Magufuli as a “pragmatic leader who believed in and worked for the economic empowerment of East Africans”.
“South Africa is united in grief with the government and people of Tanzania as they go through this difficult moment,” said South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa’s statement expressing “deep sadness” revealed that the South African leader had spoken to Tanzanian Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan, “to express condolences in his personal capacity and on behalf of all South Africans”.
The reaction to Magufuli’s passing by Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera is best summarized in his tweet that exclaimed “what a loss to Africa”.
“President Magufuli was a towering symbol of Africa’s economic resurgence, and his passing is an incalculable loss to the continent,” Chakwera wrote on Twitter.
President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi described Magufuli, as a “great leader” and a “true pan-Africanist”.
Burundi’s Ndayishimiye is the only other African leader who joined Magufuli in announcing that his country has no plan to import vaccines to fight against the new coronavirus.
As part of the mourning, Kenya’s football federation has cancelled a friendly match against Tanzania, that was scheduled to be played on Thursday in the capital, Nairobi.
The friendly was part of preparations for the Harambee Stars, ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches against Egypt and Togo, scheduled for later this month.