Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli, political leaders and academics yesterday highly praised Tanzania's third phase President Benjamin Mkapa during the launching of the latter's book titled: 'My Life, My Purpose: Tanzania president remembers.'
Those, who were given the podium during the ceremony hailed the former Head of State as a great and visionary leader, who took bold steps to turn the country's fortunes around by undertaking numerous reforms within the government.
Dr Magufuli said it was President Mkapa who taught him politics.
President Magufuli said during the 1995 general election, Mr Mkapa, who was running for presidency for his first term, campaigned for him (Magufuli) as he was running for the Biharamulo West seat.
He explained that Mr Mkapa was a highly principled leader and one of the unique qualities he manifested was working on advice given to hm by his aides.
"I remember one incidence during the construction of the Morogoro Road from Ubungo to Kimara. We (the government) were taken to court by residents of the area whose houses had been demolished but President Mkapa never backed down," said President Magufuli, who worked under Mkapa as the minister for Works. Dr Magufuli also revealed yesterday that he was poisoned by unknown people while in Dodoma, yet President Mkapa continued to support him and even provided him with security. "After I had recovered, I went to President Mkapa to inform him of my intention to resign, but he stopped me from doing so. I'm grateful to him for his wise guidance," said Dr Magufuli.
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President Mkapa thanked Uongozi Institute chief Prof Joseph Semboja, former heads of state of Nigeria and Mozambique--Mr Olusugun Obasanjo and Mr Joachim Chisano respectively for having convinced him to share his life and leadership experiences through the memoir.
"At first, when Prof Semboja approached me, I wasn't ready because I didn't see the importance; but after his insistence I changed my mind," said Mr Mkapa. Former President said he changed his mind after carefully thinking about the honour Tanzanians gave him to serve in the country's highest office.
"I'm one of only five Tanzanians, four of who are still alive, to have been given the honour of leading the country in the past 58 years, so, I had to change my mind," said Mr Mkapa.
He added, "as you know I worked closely with the Father of the Nation, who was my mentor. I'm happy that the book has given me a platform to explain how I understood him and his philosophy."
Prof Semboja, who is the chief executive officer of Uongozi Institute, which coordinated the writing of the book, said it cost Sh230 million to organise the writing of the memoir.
The don said the work began in 2016, making it a total of four years. The writing constituted several consultative works and meetings before and during the writing process.
He said the memoir has been published by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers. Initially, the book will be available in hard copies, to be followed by paper back copies but it will also be available online.
The Uongozi Institute boss challenged retired and serving leaders to write their memoirs, which would help the young generation to learn more about their country.
"The launch of President Benjamin Mkapa's book is just the beginning. Very soon we shall be celebrating Mzee Hassan Mwinyi's book on his life," said Prof Semboja.
"Most western world leaders spend a lot of money to write their memoirs. The objective is to reach out to the young generation and citizens to learn. This is the reason we have initiated this project," said Prof Semboja.
According to Prof Semboja, money to be generated sales of the book would be used by Uongozi Institute to implement other projects.