Adios President Mkapa, a true friend of Kenya
A good man died in Tanzania last Friday. The good man was yesterday buried in Lipusa, in his native Mtwara province in southern Tanzania.
The good man was Tanzania’s third President Benjamin William Mkapa, who ruled the East African nation between 1995 and 2005.
We in Kenya, have mourned with our Tanzanian counterparts since Friday and join them in wishing the soul of the departed leader to forever be kept in peace.
Mkapa was a great leader. The former journalist and diplomat was more than the President of Tanzania.
He was a political stalwart in the region and an African patriot of admirable repute.
Kenyans will for a long time remember Mkapa for the important role he played in mediating the conflict that followed the 2007 General-Election.
An integral member of the team headed by former United Nations Secretary General, the late Kofi Annan and former South African First Lady Gracia Machel, they were tasked by the African Union to bring the protagonists to the negotiating table and talk peace. They did not disappoint.
From the tales and narratives of those who participated in the negotiations, Mkapa put his best foot forward and ensured that peace returned to Kenya.
Through patience and diplomatic experience, the Tanzanian leader and his team managed to navigate around the egos and political grandstanding among Kenyan politicians, resulting in the Grand Coalition Government that brought together Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga.
It is a result of those winding days and nights at the Serena Hotel that peace finally returned to Kenya.
Courtesy of Mkapa, Annan and Gracia, we were able to start living peacefully again.
It is sad, however, that because of the coronavirus pandemic and other factors, Kenya was under-represented at Mkapa’s burial yesterday.
Indeed, Nairobi’s delegation to the funeral service on Tuesday had to return home after failing to make it to destination.
Be that as it may, in Mtwara lies the embodiment of the words of Carl Joseph Roberts in his poem, A Good Man Died: “A good man died and we say goodbye. On earth he touched so many lives.
A guardian sent to protect and serve. Now with Angels, much deserved. We pay respect for the life he lived.”
Fare thee well, Benjamin William Mkapa, the peace ambassador. Kenyans loved you.