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‘Until death do us unite?’

‘Until death do us unite?’

The ‘dark cloud’ was the tragic human loss, in terms of the Grim Reaper descending upon Tanzania, scything to death two of its famous sons and daughters within a week of each other. Thirty-two-year old Regia Mtema, died from a motor-vehicle accident along the notorious Dar- Morogoro Road on Jan. 14, 2012 as she was driving home.

Ms Mtema was a Special Seats Member of Parliament on the ticket of the Official Opposition Political Party for Democracy and Development (Chadema). Hardly a week later, on January 19, 2012, the nation lost another of its famous personages. Jeremiah Solomon Sumari (69) reportedly died from cancer of the brain after efforts at major hospitals in Tanzania and India failed in their noble efforts to reverse the malignancy.

Sumari was a Member of Parliament for the Arumeru East Constituency, elected on the ticket of the ruling CCM. He was a successful businessman in finance, especially securities brokerage and bureaux d’exchange. The man also served ministerial spells in the incumbent Government of President Jakaya Kikwete. If the loss of these two hasn’t been a dark cloud hanging over the country, then I don’t know what else it would be.

But, when you come down to basics, the bottom line is that, tragic though both developments were, they nonetheless were laced with a silver lining. At least, this is for all those who took the trouble and made the effort to separate the lining from
the cloud. Look at it this way. Both developments brought together thousands of mourners from all walks of life, and all corners of the country.

But, for a country whose population has a lot in common, including Kiswahili (the lingua franca that is spoken virtually by all the population), such sympathetic resonance in responding to tragic developments wouldn’t be particularly surprising. What borders on the magical, however, is the way political nemeses smartly cast aside their ideological differences, and came together to commiserate with the bereft relatives and friends of the deceased.

Whether the response was an instinctive, kneejerk reaction, or whether it was a tactical maneouvre designed to further narrower personal/political objectives isn’t particularly important here. What’s important is that otherwise tragic events brought together top-echelon officials of the four Estates of the Realm: the Legislature; the Judiciary; the Executive and the Mass Media fraternity.

The events also brought together top-notch leaders of the major political parties in Tanzania. Among them were the national chairmen and their top aides of the ruling CCM and its political nemesis, the Chadema. Others were the Civic United Front (CUF); the National Convention for Construction & Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi); the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP).

To discern the silver lining associated with the tragic cloud, one had only to see how the leaders exuded goodwill, trust and communality at each other and all round. These included especially President Jakaya Kikwete and the leader of the Official Opposition Camp in Parliament and Chadema national chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe.

One only had to see how the leaders mingled with each other and with ‘ordinary’ Tanzanians in erstwhile unaccustomed radiance, thus, further demonstrating the validity of the cloud/silver lining adage. All that happened at the wake, formal ‘lying-instate’ and burial of Ms Regia Mtema, who was solemnly interred at Ifakara on January 18, this year.

Those divine scenarios were replicated in high fidelity at the wake, formal ‘lying-in-state’ and burial of Jeremiah Sumari, who was interred in Akheri, Arumeru District, on January 23, this year. Is there a valid reason for Tanzanians not to believe that their hopes and prospects for such pervasive communality, such positive developments born of a redeeming silver lining in a very dark, tragic cloud, will firmly hold for now and well into the future?

That these positive developments weren’t interred with their prime movers, Regia and Jeremiah? All Tanzanians of goodwill need these as their security blanket, a familiar object whose presence dispels anxiety as a matter of course. But, did we have to lose the two to the Grim Reaper in the manner and style that suggests the pledge ‘till death do us UNITE?’ Did we? I ask you! Cheers!



Mwandishi: KARL LYIMO

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