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Your grief is Tanzania’s, says Kikwete


Jakaya Kikwete
Qunu - South Africa's grief following the death of former president Nelson Mandela was shared by Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete said on Sunday.

Speaking at Mandela's funeral in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, Kikwete said Mandela and Tanzania's first president Julius Nyerere built the foundation upon which the two countries' close relationship was based.

"That is why your sadness, grief and sorrow are ours as well. That is why we also join you in celebrating the life of this great man," Kikwete said.

"He has left behind a vibrant democracy. A nation where nobody is denied their basic rights because of the colour of their skin. A nation where blacks can also prosper, where in the past they were condemned to live in squalor... and [as] second class citizens in their own country."

 When Mandela visited Dar es Salaam after his release from prison, he was greeted by the biggest crowds ever to meet a foreign dignitary, even though it was raining at the time.

"This record has not been broken," said Kikwete.

He recited the close historical links between Tanzania and the ANC, which the apartheid government had banned at the time, severely restricting the movement of members in and beyond South Africa.

Nyerere, after meeting Mandela when he first visited the country in 1962 as he was gathering support for the ANC's armed struggle against apartheid, allowed Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadres to stay and train in the country.

"Beyond availing places to live and train, he [Nyerere] offered Tanzania's own moral and material support," said Kikwete.

Mandela’s charisma

"Beside that, Tanzania was generous enough to give cadres of the liberation movement travel documents, passports... and when necessary, some of them assumed Tanzanian names."

When Mandela came to Tanzania, he had no passport and intended going to first Accra in Ghana, then Lagos in Nigeria, and then Addis Abba in Ethiopia.

"He was given a Tanzanian travel document. It facilitated his movement and I know a number of you [here] used Tanzanian travel documents. I don't know if Thabo [Mbeki] returned his," Kikwete said, which induced laughter.

"The ANC found a new home in Tanzania from where it operated, organised, spearheaded, and prosecuted the struggle."

When Madiba left for Accra, he left behind his boots in the home of the family where he stayed in the hope he could pick them up on the way back.

Shortly after arriving back in South Africa he was imprisoned.

"In 1995, when Mandela was president, the pair of boots was handed back to him."

Kikwete said Mandela's charisma was unmatched in modern times and it was no accident that South Africa and Tanzania enjoyed excellent bilateral relations, given the common history uniting the two countries.

Mandela died at his Houghton home in Johannesburg on 5 December. He was 95.

A memorial service was held at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
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