Category: Tributes

Walter Bgoya: As I Remember The Late Benjamin Mkapa; One Year Later

After the death of President Mkapa on 23rd July, 2020, many wrote of the fallen leader, except Walter Bgoya. A year later, Walter highlights a face of Mr. Mkapa that many are unaware.

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The Legacy of the Late Benjamin William Mkapa in the Higher Education Sector: Reflections on My Life My Purpose

Rwekaza S. Mukandala, Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere Professor of Pan African Studies and Former Vice Chancellor, University of Dar es Salaam pays homage and celebrates the life achievements and legacy of our departed former president and the Founding Chancellor of The University of Dodoma.

This essay was delivered at The Convocation Ceremony, University of Dodoma in honour of President Benjamin William Mkapa, Founding Chancellor of the University, 6th December, 2020.

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BMF’s Development in Memory of Mkapa

The late Benjamin Mkapa, former Tanzania president has surely left behind a legacy that will continue to live across different generations, especially his charismatic leadership.

The celebrated Tanzanian leader died on July 23 in a Dar es Salaam hospital and his body was heroically laid to rest in his ancestral gravesite at Lupaso village in Masasi District on July 29 this year.

Apart from his great achievements as a former statesman, Mkapa will be remembered for his contributions in building a strong pillar for decision making, accountability, control and behaviour through his Foundation.

Through his visionary and patriotic leadership principles as well as philosophy that were the brain behind the Foundation, he also played an active and oversight role, which many would remember him for.

After serving as the third phase Head of State for ten years (1995-2005), Mkapa established a foundation to support the government in strengthening sustainable and resilient health systems, particularly to combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and M  aternal and under five Child Mortality amongst others.

The BMF Settlor H.E Benjamin Mkapa with the first board members chaired by Dr. Hussein Mwinyi

Dubbed the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) it also worked to address shortage of skilled health workers, particularly in remote parts of the Country by complementing the Government’s work in the health sector.

Looked at keenly, transforming the lives of Tanzanians was Benjamin Mkapa’s life-long work and he committed it to improving the citizens’ health.

That required more than his official clause directed as a president, but also physical being if one might get time to read his book-My Life My Purpose.

Mkapa was a patriotic, servant leader, an intellectual polymath who used his talent to improve the lives of Tanzanians.

The BMF Settlor, H.E Benjamin Mkapa with the current Board of Trustees chaired by Dr. Adeline Kimambo

By establishing BMF, the fallen hero was fulfilling his father’s dream among Tanzanians who will be striving to save lives of their fellow citizens.

Mkapa’s father had wished him to become a priest or medical doctor but he later became the president as is stated in his book- “My life, My purpose”.

This was a great milestone for his family because Mkapa had gone beyond his father’s expectations.

By 2020, and upon President Mkapa’s untimely demise, the Foundation in close collaboration with the Government and Partners focusing on transforming lives of millions Tanzanians to acquire quality healthcare, hired more than 3,500 skilled facility health workers and deployed more than 1,000 Community Health Workers and as well renovated 13 diagnostic laboratories,

The foundation also constructed and equipped 11 operating theatres and as well built 482 houses for health workers- all targeting rural underserved population.

The late Mkapa believed that education is an important weapon which can be used to storm various challenges facing people, that is why his Foundation offered sponsorship to 933 students to pursue health related courses and later be dispatched to health facilities in villages.

The foundation has also trained 4,500 managers from the health sector at the Local Government Level, simply to improve their managerial skills.

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BMF Commits to Continue Mkapa’s Legacy

As everyone’s death demises, the news of the death of the third phase President Benjamin Mkapa on July 23 this year came as great shock not only to Tanzanians but also to the staff of Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF).

To BMF, President Mkapa was a Patron, Founder and Settlor of the organization, who played an active oversight role with his charismatic leadership style.

It was bad news to the nation especially the BMF family, when President John Magufuli announced the death of the fallen hero in the wee hours of Friday July 24, leaving the country grief-stricken and auguring in the declared seven-day national mourning.

The President announcement was followed by various activities as part of preparations for his burial. BMF board members and senior management team joined Mkapa’s family at Msasani residence in Dar es Salaam to mourn the death of their patron whose death has left them in disbelief.

Dr. Ellen Senkoro and the BMF staff attend the Settlor’s funeral at his residence in Masaki on 25th July 2020.
The BMF Board of Trustees during the Settlor’s funeral at his residence in Masaki Dar es Salaam on 25th July 2020.

The BMF also took part at the President Mkapa’s state funeral that was held at Uhuru National Stadium in Dar es Salaam before his body was flown to his native land of Lupaso for burial.

BMF Board members, management and staff during the Settlor’s state funeral at the Uhuru National Stadium on 28th July 2020, Dar es Salaam .

At the state funeral, President John Magufuli led Tanzanians and foreign dignitaries to pay their last respects to the late former president.

Mkapa’s body was flown to his treasured homeland where he had opted for his burial.

However, the Foundation staff were among the people who joined thousands of ordinary citizens at the Lupaso home village, packed to the brim with people from all corners of the country and beyond to pay their last respects and bury the globally hero-known Mkapa.

Benjamin Mkapa Foundation Board members, management and staff arrive at the Settlor’s home village in Lupaso-Mtwara for his burial on 29th July 2020.

BMF board members and senior staff were among the few groups, who were given the opportunity to bid farewell to the departed president by laying a wreath on his grave.

Benjamin Mkapa Foundation Board members and senior staff lay a wreath on the Settlor’s grave in Lupaso.

“Our Settlor was a life well lived and time meaningfully spent. We thank God for the gift of his life. We pray for his eternal peace,” said Dr. Adeline Kimambo, Chair of the Board of Trustees of BMF as she offered her condolences.

“Rest in peace Mzee Mkapa, and we as the Foundation shall continue implementing your legacy,” she said.

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BMF Partners Mourns H.E Mkapa

The Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) partners have come together to mourn the death of its Founder and Settlor Benjamin Mkapa whom they eulogised as a brilliant public servant who dedicated his entire adult life in serving his country.

BMF Partners (Irish Aid & DFID) joined the BMF Management and Staff at the Settlor’s Funeral Ceremony at his Residence in Masaki.

Mkapa the former Tanzanian President, died on July 23 in Dar es Salaam and his body was laid to rest in his home village Lupaso in Masasi District on July 29 this year.

With the partners they paid tribute to the third phase president saying his brainchild idea of establishing the Foundation has immensely improved lives of millions of Tanzanians, and particular health of people in rural areas.

Ms. Veronica Kessy a representative from African Academy for Public Health (AAPH) writing her condolence message at the BMF Office in Dar es Salaam.

In its condolence message, Compass Technical Team in Tanzania, said President Mkapa has contributed a lot in strengthening health systems and in admirable ways, benefited many nationals.

For Tanzania Network of Women Living with HIV and AIDS Executive Director, Joan Chamungu Msuya, Tanzania has lost a brilliant servant, who dedicated his entire adult life serving his beloved nation with dignity and excellence.

She said Mkapa will be remembered by many things including championing the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa.

Dr. Redemptia Mbatia from Tanzania Health Promotion Support (THPS) said her organization joins the BMF to fly the vision of the great leader of the nation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director, Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases Dr. Mwele Malecela described President Mkapa as a true statesman and transformational leader.

 “His legacy lives on through the institutions he built and systems he put in place … in his retirement he played a critical role in advancing the health workforce agenda … He is one of the giants whose shoulders we stood on,” Dr Malecela said.

In his condolences the Executive Director of Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) Dr. Honorathi Masanja said “another great son of Africa has fallen” and prayed for his soul to rest in eternal peace.

Jane Miller – OBE from the Department for International Development (DFID) said the work being done by BMF is an amazing legacy to his commitment to the Tanzanians

 Dr. Josephine Ballart from CSSC said BMF has lost a guardian and a leader praying for his soul to rest in eternal peace.

 In her condolence message Dr. Marina Njelekela from USAID Boresha Afya Southern Zone Program said that Mkapa has left a legacy that will never be forgotten as a visionary and a true African leader, who embraced health issues fully to the extent of formulating BMF that is a health-related Foundation.

The Ariel Glaser Pediatric AIDS Healthcare Initiative (AGPAHI)’s Dr. Sekela Mwakyusa consoled BMF saying Mkapa has left behind a lot of things thanking God for his life.

Angela Makota from Save the Children consoled the entire BMF team for the loss of their Fonder.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the AIDS response has lost one of its most committed champions. “He was a patron of BMF which he reached millions of Tanzanians and continues to improve rural health services.

The list also included taking health services to the grassroots, especially for the well being of women, men and children including people living and affected by HIV,” reads part of the message.

Embassy of Ireland Chargé d’affaires, Adrian Fitzgerald said Mkapa was a remarkable man who cared deeply for his people and his beloved Tanzania. “His legacy includes the great work of BMF…our most sincere condolences to the people of Tanzania for this terrible loss and in particular to the family and his friends at this very sad time.”

The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender Elderly and Children Ms Ummy Mwalimu Mkapa spirit will continue to live in the hearts of many Tanzanians especially those in the health sector.

She said that even after his retirement as president, Mkapa continued to contribute in improving the health sector, adding: “Through BMF you have facilitated the construction of houses for health personnel   especially in regions with dire need of health workers including Katavi, Kigoma, Rukwa, Songwe, Tabora and Simiyu.”

For the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Donan Mbando, the sad news of Mkapa’s death was a shock, particularly because the country has lost its Founding father.

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Irish Aid Remembers His Excellency President Mkapa’s legacy through the Mkapa Fellows Programme (MFP)

Mr. Edmond Chiwanga, a Clinical Officer at Chambalo Dispensary attending to a child.

On the week of H.E. Benjamin Mkapa’s death, Ireland joins the people of Tanzania in mourning a great leader and friend. President Mkapa played a central role in strengthening accountability institutions, transforming the public sector and incentivising growth of the private sector, and he will be remembered for his work to promote peace and democracy across the East Africa region. Even in retirement he contributed to build the primary healthcare system that will continue to change the lives of millions of Tanzanians for many years to come.

Ireland has supported the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) since 2012 and to date Ireland has provided a total of €3.7m in funding to support to improve maternal and child health care.

Ireland first contributed to the Mkapa Fellows Programme, a 5-year initiative aimed at strengthening health systems, especially in rural underserved and hard-to-reach areas in Tanzania. Over the span of 5 years, the programme improved quality of life for people living with HIV, reduced transmission of HIV from mother to child, and reduced maternal and neonatal deaths.

Ireland continues to support Mkapa Fellows Programme now in its Phase III, which aims to improve primary healthcare services. The Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) develops innovative solutions to address human resources for health deficiencies in primary health care facilities. Ireland supports this programme to recruit, train and deploy qualified medical staff to rural and underserved areas as well as building capacity of LGAs and health facilities to improve the quality of primary healthcare services.

The Mkapa Fellows Programme has recorded significant achievements, with nearly a million people benefiting from the programme to date. Achievements include a 43% increase in pregnant women tested for HIV, a 31% increase in pregnant women on HIV treatments, and a 26% increase of women delivering at health facilities. To date, the programme has focused on reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health (RMNCH) and HIV/AIDS services in 11 selected districts of Mwanza, Dodoma, Kigoma, Simiyu, Rukwa and Shinyanga regions. This focus was in direct response to the high maternal and infant mortality rates these regions.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit Tanzania in March 2020 and stretched the health system due to the lack of human resources for health presenting huge risks for the welfare of the population. BMF was quick in its response to these challenges, adapting its 2020 programmes to the emerging need.

Ireland has prioritised national efforts to respond to COVID-19, to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations. Support to the Tanzanian health system, including support and protection for frontline health workers has been key. Ireland’s grant of €500,000 to support implementation of year three of MFP Phase III, aims to contribute to the improved health and community based systems to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, while continuing the provision of primary health care services.

Through this year’s grant, BMF has supported and deployed 90 health workers in key specialisms to support the COVID-19 response, including molecular biologists, laboratory technicians, environmental health assistants, social welfare assistants, and pharmacy technicians. In addition to facility-based staff, BMF has also recruited and deployed 500 community health workers in Simiyu, Mwanza and Dodoma.

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UNAIDS Pays Tribute to AIDS Champion Benjamin William Mkapa, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The UNAIDS who are one amongst the many partners of the Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation released a press statement to pay tribute to the Late His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa, the Settlor of the Mkapa Foundation and 3rd phase President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Below is the statement:

GENEVA, 24 July 2020—UNAIDS is saddened by the death of the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa. Mr Mkapa was a bold and compassionate leader who worked to promote peace in eastern Africa and was committed to ending AIDS, being credited with much of the United Republic of Tanzania’s success in responding to HIV.

“I’ve learned with sadness that the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, has passed away,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “He was a tireless champion for peace and an AIDS-free Africa. UNAIDS pays tribute to him for his courage, his strength and his leadership.” In 1999, he declared HIV a national disaster and quickly spearheaded the country’s national response to HIV by establishing the Tanzania Commission for AIDS. He also formed the Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS Coalition (TAPAC) in 2001, which united the President and Prime Minister, members of parliament and other high-level politicians in the response to HIV.

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UNAIDS Country Director Dr. Leo Zekeng with BMF Settlor during the launch of the Foundation’s third Strategic Business Plan in October 2019

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Mkapa Foundation
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