By Mike Mande,
Monday, September 7 2009 at 00:00
Tanzania is to become the first East African country to provide an official resting place for deceased national leaders and other great Tanzanians who have shaped the nation’s history. Serving and retired presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, chief justices and the speakers of the national assembly will be buried in the multi-faith national cemetery. Those designated as national leaders and eligible for the burial include the United Republic of Tanzania president, vice president and prime minister and the president and vice president of Zanzibar.
However, the Isles chief minister and deputy chief minister are not provided for. The EastAfrican has learnt that the government is looking for an international firm to provide a detailed design for the national leaders’ cemetery at Iyumbu village in the capital city of Dodoma, 500 kilometres from Dar es Salaam. The government has acquired 120 hectares of land for the purpose and President Jakaya Kikwete has already assented to the Act for the establishment of the national leaders’ burial site.
Fanuel Mbonde, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the government has already set aside funds for the national cemetery. Mr Mbonde said a 50-metre memorial monument will be constructed at the highest point of the site, with the Uhuru Torch at the top and a base that offers a 360-degree view of the site. “The graveyard will take into account the religious customs of Muslims, Christians and others,” he said, adding that the National Leaders’ Funeral Act, 2006, stipulates funeral rites of the national leader or specified leader that will be conducted according to the religion, custom and traditions of the deceased depending on the cause of death.
The Act also stipulates the days of mourning for presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers and specified leaders as well as two types of funeral ceremonies — state or government funerals — depending on the status of the deceased leaders. The issue of an official resting place for national leaders surfaced at the time of the death of the first president of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, in 1999 when the government, having no official site, buried him in his home village of Butiama in Musoma.
The first president of Zanzibar, Abeid Amani Karume, who was assassinated in 1972, was buried in Zanzibar as were former president Abdul Wakil Jumaa, who died in 2000, and former vice president Omari Ali Juma, who died in 2001. A former prime minister of Tanzania, Edward Moringe Sokoine, who died in 1984, was buried in Mondulu district in Arusha Region.