By: Roohi Sahajpal
DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzania marked its 52nd Independence Day in Dar es Salaam on Monday with celebrations and a tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Speaking at the National Stadium to thousands of people, President Jakaya Kikwete paid tribute to the anti-apartheid icon and human rights crusader who died on December 5, with one minute of silence before speaking about Madiba’s impact.
“He told his white tormentors to admit they did wrong; they did and he forgave them. This is what we should learn from him,” Kikwete said.
After Tanzania gained independence in 1961, Mandela visited with Tanzania’s first president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. While in Tanzania, Mandela was hosted by the late Nsilo Swai. Mandela left his shoes at his home saying that one day he would come back for them. Soon after leaving, he was sent to prison. When President Kikwete was appointed as foreign minister in 2000, Swai’s widow told him about the forgotten shoes of Mandela at their home.
Kikwete, along with Swai’s widow, arranged a trip to South Africa and with the pair of shoes in one suitcase, handed them over to Mandela who remembered the shoes and was glad to receive them.
Kikwete said that the gesture gave insight to the close relationship between Tanzania and South Africa. After being released from prison in 1990, Tanzania was one of the first countries Mandela visited. He thanked Tanzanians for their contribution to the struggle against apartheid.
With files from The Citizen.