EDITORIAL: Mkapa book should be a guide for leaders

Wednesday November 13 2019

Retired President Benjamin Mkapa yesterday launched his biography ‘My life, my purpose’ that revealed a moving narration of where he came from; his humble beginning, his presidency and his regrets, and successes as the holder of the highest office of the land.

A masterpiece confession about his life, if we may call it so.

The motivation and his decision to put his life in a book is a bit strange culture that has otherwise presented, those in leadership position, particularly African leaders with important lesson about managing their people and national resources.

The former president has offered us a classic narration about his regrets. For instance, he discusses in the book of how he was misled into endorsing the use of the money deposited in the External Payment Arrears (EPA) accounts that was fraudulently used to make Sh133 billion illegal payments to about 20 national and foreign private enterprises.

He has confessed of how 2001 killings of 21 people in Pemba following political unrest in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 general election results in Zanzibar has continued to haunt him nearly two decades after the incident.

The book has presented classic cases of how today’s and future leaders can learn from mistakes and great achievements of their predecessors.

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National interests

In many ways, the book has provided a guidance on how the leaders are supposed to sacrifice and put national interests first over their own personal interests.

In a humble way, Mr Mkapa reminded leaders that the countries they lead are of great importance than personal or political parties interests through which they came to power.

Indeed, it is a wakeup call for the leaders to start creating their own legacy immediately after assuming power.

Mr Mkapa’s book is a challenge for retired Tanzanian who have held leadership positions to do the same for the benefit of the current and the coming generations.

A memoir, like the Mkapa’s one, is more of a national treasure than a narration of a personal life for things like what to embrace in leadership and what to ignore are clearly seen in such writings

Reading the mind of great statesman like Mkapa is a sure way of broadening knowledge and acquiring new insight on how to behave as a public servant.

The ball remains on every Tanzanian’s court to emulate Mkapa’s exemplary leadership whose errors could not overshadow his successes and contribution in the building of the nation.

We encourage other political leaders and senior public servants to write memoirs that would help in shaping the conduct of their subordinates.

Besides, we urge every Tanzanian and those in power to start inculcating the reading culture. It is immaterial to write many good memoirs in a country where the reading culture is dying.

The Mkapa book should remind parents and educational authorities to invest in promoting the reading culture, a cornerstone of knowledge acquisition and promotion of decent civilisation of the people.