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Tanzania’s President Remembered for Exemplary Trust in God at Requiem Mass

Tanzanian's President John Pombe Magufuli collects offertory at a Catholic Church service

Top on the list of the qualities that Tanzania’s late President John Pombe Magufuli exhibited was his unwavering trust in God, which he declared publicly, a Catholic Archbishop who presided over the President’s Requiem Mass has said.

In his homily during the Friday, March 26 event, Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga of Mbeya said that Tanzania’s leaders have a lot to learn from the late President Magufuli who, he said, never relented in praising God.

“Magufuli has left us an important lesson in our lives: to always trust in God,” Archbishop Nyaisonga said at Mary the Virgin Chato Parish of Tanzania’s Catholic Diocese of Geita.

The Archbishop said, in reference to the late President who was buried March 26 in his ancestral home of Chato in the country’s Northwest region, “He never feared telling us to trust in God and in asking us to pray for him during his presidency.”

The Archbishop who doubles as President of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) remembered the late Head of State as a leader whose selflessness and sacrifice had been evident in his leadership.

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“I urge all leaders present today, let us learn from this man. There is no joy in seeking to enrich oneself at the expense of others,” Archbishop Nyaisonga said, and explained that such leadership that does not put the interest of the people at heart hurts the nation.

“It hurts the poor and the vulnerable,” he said, and added in reference to President Magufuli whose death was announced March 17, “Let us give ourselves wholeheartedly, with all our strength in the example of this man who gave himself completely.”

He recounted that though Magufuli did not complete his term as President of Tanzania, his deeds, his sacrifice and the fruits of his work will dwell in the hearts of Tanzanians for many years.

“These six years he served have left testimonies of development in this country,” the 54-year-old Archbishop said, and added in reference to the late President, “He has left memories as a result of his sacrifice and a selfless heart for us. We thank him wholeheartedly as we pray for his final journey.”

The leadership of the late Magufuli was likened to the good shepherd described in the Gospel of according to John 10, that is, one who is willing “to lay down his life for the sake of his sheep.”

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“Those who knew our president closely say that he used to keep vigil,” Archbishop Nyaisonga recalled, and added, “I believe he did that, not for his own good or the good of his family but for the good of our nation.”

The Tanzanian Archbishop said that when the world lived in deep fear owing to COVID-19, President Magufuli was ready to oppose many people for the good of the nation and its peoples.

He said that just like many Biblical characters, Magufuli was never understood and was insulted but stayed true to what he believed in.

He said that the former Head of State’s steadfastness had started paying off, saying, “With time, we have started receiving calls from many parts of the world from people telling us that they are tired. That COVID-19 is a mystery to them.”

The Archbishop of Mbeya described the late President Magufuli as a man who “didn’t stutter.”

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“He didn’t stutter and so we will not stutter,” the Archbishop said in his homily March 26.

He lamented that in today’s world, trusting God and including Him in people’s daily lives is considered backward and shameful.

He said that in some countries, including the name of God in the constitutions that are supposed to unite people has brought about controversy.

“There are those who say that there is no God. This is the highest level of paganism,” the Tanzanian Archbishop said.

He added in reference to those who deny God’s existence, “They say that God doesn’t mean anything in their lives. But even then, you don’t expect a person who sets out to make a nuclear weapon to pray. We are always encouraged to pray before we do anything; how can anyone pray before making such destructive equipment?”

“When a man in Tanzania kept mentioning the name of God in reverence, these nations said he was confused. It baffled them that instead of relying on science and research, this man chose to trust in God,” the Prelate said in reference to the late President.

He called upon the people of God in the East African country not to find themselves in situations where they omit God in their lives.

“Let’s remain faithful to our creator,” he said, and explained, “Today, because of development, people have started to say that there is no God. Such betrayal happened in history and it led to people being taken into slavery because they had disobeyed God.”

He quoted Psalms 53 saying, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” and added, “Let us work but also remember the one who created us.”

The Archbishop regretted that people, especially in developed countries, would rather believe science and research than trust in God.

Their attitude, the Archbishop said, can be seen in the “ungodly” cultures they have adopted including abortion and homosexuality, which he describes as “total madness”.

“The other day, one of these countries came up with something they referred to as the Equality Act. It is total madness and we pray that our leaders will not get us to such levels of madness,” said Archbishop Nyaisonga.

Addressing government leaders who attended the Requiem Mass, the Tanzanian Archbishop added, “When in parliament, remember that you are in holy grounds. Don’t mention things such as abortion or things like gender transition when in parliament.”

Addressing the country’s new President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Archbishop implored, “I know you understand the meaning of these evils. Help us. Be firm so that Tanzania and if possible, all her neighbors, does not get to entertain such behaviors as homosexuality, gender transition and other unacceptable practices.”

Archbishop Nyaisonga urged the people of God in Tanzania to continue trusting in God, following the example of the late President saying, “As Magufuli used to tell us, if we work hard and continue trusting in God, we’ll one day develop to the level of being donors to other countries.”