• Rima Kohli

President Magufuli’s passing leaves a strong and stable region in Africa vulnerable and uncertain.

Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, has died aged 61. ©GETTY IMAGES

Social media has been very quick to create emojis for Asian hate and black lives matter. But this week the news of President Magufuli’s passing leaves a very strong and stable region in Africa vulnerable and uncertain. President Magufuli came to power in 2015, when I lived in Rwanda. And I have been a fan of the man ever since.

Everything I learned about east Africa and the Great Lakes, I learned from my house help. My guard and my driver Justin (who was Tanzanian) from music to history to cultural sensitives of East Africa and the Great Lakes. They were my greatest teachers of all.

Tanzanians have a lot of pride. Rightfully so. They are resource-rich nation, larger than many countries in the Great Lakes put together, and can boast of being one of the most stable peaceful countries with no coups and bloody wars in comparison to many of its brothers on the continent. It is the birthplace of Swahili and their biggest strength is that they are united as people.

In 2019, China offered to give Tanzania a loan to expand Dar es Salaam port if they agree to,

- No construction of a new port. - Chinese to head the port for 30 years - 99-year lease. President Magufuli refused, saying only a mad man would sign that. I agree!

President John Magufuli with Chinese ambassador Wang Ke

- He took a firm stand against illegal mining in his country.

- He refused shoddy deals from mining companies that undermined the value of Tanzanian gold.

- He rejected loans and grants

- He rejected negotiations that took away jobs from Tanzanians.

He fought corruption, neo-colonialism, and literally single-handedly transitioned his country into middle-income status in one term! He is Africa’s hero.

Magufuli received the nickname "The Bulldozer" in reference to his roadworks projects, but the term was also used about his moves to reduce spending and corruption within the government. The BBC used that nickname "the bulldozer" at the announcement of his death.

In case of change in air pressure in an aeroplane, the standard emergency procedure is to put your mask on first before assisting your child. Women are survivors of war as they tend to stay calm in the moment of reckoning, to protect their young and stay strong for them. Last March when the world pressed the existential panic button to lockdown - several countries showed us another way, - Sweden, Burundi, Tanzania, Madagascar to name a few. The virus was so upset it shamed Sweden and Madagascar, allegedly took the Burundi president, and complained to the Guardian newspaper and it quickly headlined that Magufuli needed to be ‘reigned in.

Magufuli was accused of cracking down on media, LGBT and of being very tough on the opposition. But he fought corruption like a lion and created jobs for his people as good leaders do. He turned the negotiation tables on the neo-colonialists and broke the clutches of this debt trap dependency. If a country rejects loans and bribes. How else will you control him? No one likes a rough negotiator indeed.

While we burn statutes in the northern hemisphere and paint ‘Black lives matter' on the streets of DC and create social media emojis for the same, nothing will change if we don’t tackle neo-colonialism at its root that continues to plague and destabilize developing nations.

Everyone is entitled to their point of view on Magufuli, and many like me, will mourn his loss and remember his legacy.

May your soul travel well Magufuli, you did more in 5 years than any leader around the world. May you reincarnate in many. You fought the big fight. You stood tall and you roared! The day Africa releases its grip from the clutches of neo-colonialism it will be an unstoppable force!

#themagufuliweknow #UhuruNaUmoja