2013 Tutu Fellow January Makamba has written a moving tribute for the late Tanzanian President, Mzee Mkapa, who died in July 2020. The tribute is a heartfelt and poetic portrait of a graceful leader, and the leadership he inspired in January and many others. Poignantly, he writes that, “Mkapa taught me that prominence is good when it comes to you, not when you seek it.”
January Makamba is a political leader, a former cabinet minister, and a Member of Parliament for the Bumbuli constituency.
In this moving tribute to a “good, decent man who represented, to the world, the best of Tanzania”, January writes that he first “fell in love with ‘Candidate Mkapa’ on the day of the first, and since then, the only presidential debate to have ever taken place in Tanzania.” He goes on to tell the story of how the debate was seen as a showdown between the popular Augustine Lyatonga Mrema and Mkapa, a technocrat not known for his rousing oratory. Listening in to the debate on the radio, he said that in a booming, clear and confident voice, Mkapa delivered a masterful performance which left no doubt about his vision for the country and readiness for the presidency.
Januar said that that performance was among the first classes in my political education - that high office has to be pursued with the solemnity and seriousness that it deserves. It also introduced him to not just Mkapa’s political style, but also to his personality - preparedness, earnestness, and seriousness.
Later on, they would work together, providing more opportunities for interaction and learning. January includes in his piece a number of personal anecdotes that demonstrate Mkapa's humility. In closing his tribute, January wrote: We have lost not just a great leader but also a good, decent man who represented, to the world, the best of Tanzania. The new generation of political leaders has a lot to learn from his example. May he rest in eternal peace.
Read the full tribute on Medium. The cover picture is from his piece.