Tanzania: Mkapa's Book a Big Success

DEMAND of memoirs of former President Benjamin Mkapa titled 'My Life, My Purpose: Tanzanian President Remembers' is everywhere, with the publisher of the book, Mkuki na Nyota, revealing that the book has broken the record since the company was established 30 years ago.

The book was launched last Tuesday, the latest birthday of the former president and people immediately started rushing for it, scouting for bookshops from where they could buy copies.

The day after the launch, the book was not on the shelves of the Mkuki na Nyota book shops as they had ran out of stock.

The book details the life of the former President, from his childhood, time in school up to university and his political struggles.

In his recollections, Mr Mkapa highlights the highs and lows of his presidency between 1995 and 2005.

People are looking for where to get the book as they are eager to read about the personal life of the third President of Tanzania, who was close to the founder of the nation, the late Julius Nyerere.

While this reporter was at the Mkuki na Nyota bookshop in the city centre on Thursday, a man came in and had only one question: "Do you have a book on President Mkapa?" An attendant responded: "No, we don't; we have run out of stock. It will be re-stocked in two weeks' time."

The visibly upset man quickly opened the door of the shop and left.

The 'Daily News' decided to have an interview with the management of the company over demand and supply of the book.

Mr Mkuki Bgoya, the company's director and production manager, told this paper that as publishers it was comforting for them to see the way the book was sold so fast.

Mr Bgoya said the stock was out in just 12 hours after the launch.

Commenting on why the book was in such high demand, Mr Bgoya said it was the first time ever in the country for a former president to write an autobiography.

Presence of the incumbent President, Dr John Magufuli, and retired presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete also gave more weight to the launch of the book, a situation which attracted the readers.

However, he quickly explained that availability of the book was not a problem, only that the company airlifted 1000 copies for a purpose of the launch during the birthday anniversary of mzee Mkapa.

"We printed the book outside the country and it is very expensive to transport a whole cargo by air, so many copies are coming with a vessel and the consignment will arrive in Tanzania in three weeks' time," he said.

The company assured that the consignment in transit will meet demand of the market since it will distribute to all suppliers and main book shops in all regions so that everyone who needs it can get anywhere.

Mkuki na Nyota has already received orders from number of shops countrywide.

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