Homage: Edward Lowassa's last public event that never was

What you need to know:

  • Although not present, Mr Lowassa’s name rang loud, not because he was among the alumni of the Arusha Secondary School but because he was one of the dedicated leaders who has helped the needy

Arusha. If it were not for health challenges, December 4, 2019 would have been the last public event for Edward Lowassa in his home town of Arusha.

Friends, colleagues and schoolmates, including some of his teachers, met here to share ideas on how to support their ageing learning centre.

The gathering attracted not only his schoolmates but also his former teachers, who had long retired from public service.

This was at Arusha Secondary School, one of the oldest in the region after the famous Ilboru, in the heart of the city.

The former students, who included Mr Lowassa, initiated the event in order to discuss how to raise funds for the construction of additional buildings.

The group of ex-students had prominent individuals, many of whom had retired after serving in various capacities in different institutions.

The school alumni include CCM vice chairman (Mainland) Abdulrahman Kinana, former regional commissioner Daniel Ole Njoolay and retired banker Mathew Ole Kisambo.

The list includes Walter Maeda, the chairman of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA), one Sambai Nailejileji, financial expert Hamisi Kibola and others.

Mr Lowassa was among those who could not make it to the meeting at the school premises, during which some Sh50 million was raised.

A total of Sh250 million was needed to construct a new administration building for the government-owned school.

Although not present, Mr Lowassa's name rang loud, not because he was among the alumni of the school at the time education was shunned by the nomadic communities.

The former PM was singled out as one of the dedicated leaders who has helped the needy in droves through fund-raising and the like.

Glowing words of appreciation came from none other than Mama Materu, who served as the school headmistress from 1963 to 1982.

These were not the first positive remarks from her about the former PM, who breathed his last at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiology Institute in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.

Ms Materu admitted during the height of the 2015 General Election campaign that she had seen the potential of Mr Lowassa as a leader long before.

Ever since her former student entered politics after graduating, she has seen the ex-PM as somebody destined for a higher position in leadership.

During his heydays, Lowassa was a crowd-puller in Arusha, especially during his stint (2005–2008) as the prime minister.

His motorcades from the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) through Arusha all the way to Monduli would attract multitudes of people.

He was, nevertheless, out of the radar of the majority of people after he resigned as PM on February 8th, 2008, over the Richmond issue.

But he would bounce back to the centre stage as the nation inched closer to the hotly contested presidential elections in 2015.

After years of speculation, he finally announced his intention to vie for the highest office on land through the CCM ticket on May 30th, 2015.

Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium, in the centre of Arusha, was filled to capacity, probably more than at any other time in its long history.

His message was not that he was contesting the presidency under the CCM ticket; he critically needed the support of none other than President Jakaya Kikwete.

But that was not to be, as his name was deleted among the CCM presidential aspirants. He then crossed over to the opposition.

Mr Lowassa was later forced to conduct his crowd-pulling campaign meetings in the suburbs away from the CCM-owned main stadium.

Lowassa was eulogised yesterday during the consecration of a new bishop for the North-Central Diocese of the Evagelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT).

A well-attended mass, whose guest was Vice President Dr Phillip Mpango, observed a one-minute silence to eulogise the fallen ex-PM.

Bishop Stanley Hotay of the Anglican Church, who conducted the mass at the Kimandolu Lutheran Church, said Mr Lowassa will be missed by many Tanzanians.

"He was among the leaders who stood for the welfare of the people," he said, noting that he was an outstanding leader above many.

The newly installed bishop for ELCT's North-Central Diocese, Dr Godson Abel Mollel, also eulogised the late PM, who was also a member of the Lutheran Church.

A member of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), Jame Ole Millya, said the late Lowassa was a principled politician.

He said he was groomed into politics by the late Lowassa when he served as a UVCCM leader in Arusha some years ago.

Mr Ole Millya would later cross over to Chadema, where he won the Simanjiro parliamentary seat during the 2015 elections, before bouncing back to CCM.

Despite stroding high like a colossus in the country's political landscape, Mr Lowassa often found himself in the murky waters of politics.

Of course, he was for a long time an elected MP for Monduli constituency in the Arusha region, but there were times ministerial posts eluded him. Something strange happened in the middle of 1997 when scores of residents of his constituency (his voters) raised hell against him. They marched all the way from Monduli, some 40km away, to Arusha city with placards, saying they did not want Mr. Lowassa as their MP!

No clear reasons as to why they denounced the MP they had elected two years earlier were given. That could have been part of the political war in Maasailand.

But to the surprise of his opponents, only days after the march, Mr.Lowassa was appointed a minister of state in the Vice President's Office in charge of the environment.

The ministerial position has eluded him since the third-phase government of President Benjamin Mkapa came to power in late 1995.

The deal was done. He was now in charge, charting his way to higher positions. He would later land in the ministry of water and livestock.

His influence kept rising within the government. Boldness and no-nonsense character would once again prevail, as was the case during his school days.