Arusha. Monduli and the broader Arusha region was plunged into deep mourning on Saturday, February 10, 2024, following the death of former premier Edward Lowassa.
Scores of people were visibly shocked to hear the demise of a high profile politician they believed was steadfast in leadership.
For Arusha city, where the late Lowassa went to school and worked at different times for different institutions, many learned about his death at around 3pm.
His photos made rounds in the social media and breaking news channels of mainstream media only minutes after a heavy downpour pounded the city.
The entourage of the Vice President Phillip Mpango, who was visiting Longido district, had to stop briefly to allow the VP to formally announce the death.
The late Lowassa was eulogized for his stand on the use of Lake Victoria waters by the upstream states which include Tanzania.
Mr Emmanuel Ghawoga, a resident of Ukonga in Dar es Salaam, said the deceased was steadfast in ensuring that Tanzania had its rightful share of Lake Victoria waters.
He told off Egypt on the issue when he was the minister for Water and Livestock Development.
Also read: Lowassa's role in water issues recognised
Egypt and Sudan had been against diversion of water from the Nile River and its tributaries by the upstream countries.
The two countries in North Africa banked their refusal on the treaties they signed during the British colonial rule in the early 20th century.
As other countries joined Tanzania in the charade against monopoly of Nile water use, water from Lake Victoria (the main source of the Nile) started being supplied in several Lake Regions which are drought prone.
Mr Ghawoga, who went to school with the late premier at Mirambo Secondary School in the early 1970s, said he was an active Tanu Youth League (TYL).
"Even at that age, he used to attend the national conferences of the ruling party, an indication that he was active in politics and leadership", he stated.
Residents of Monduli district, where he served as an MP for 20 years, said the late prime minister would be fondly remembered.
"He was behind many development projects especially those which touched the lives of people", said Richard Kamakia when reached on the phone.
He told The Citizen that Tanzania has lost a person who was keen on assisting people who were in difficulties due to poverty.
Mr Kamakia, an activist advocating for the welfare of nomadic pastoralists, cited water supply, health and education projects.
He said he was aware that Mr Lowassa, who served as a prime minister from 2005 to 2008, was in bad health.
"Only a few years ago, we travelled together in a plane and I realized he was in bad health. Later, I was told he had been hospitalized in South Africa", he said.
Mr Meshack Ndaskoi, a retired government official, said the late Lowassa cut an image of a patriot from his early days in public service and leadership.
"He stood firm for the country's rights and interests and did not waver in his position," he told this newspaper from his home in Arusha.
He said even after crossing to the opposition, he remained firm on what he believed was right and did not agitate for chaos even after losing.
"He did a lot for the people of Monduli. As you know, the pastoralist communities had been left behind in education in the past,” he added.
Mr Ndaskoi who spent most of his years in the public service in Arusha, specifically cited 'shule za kata' literally means wards schools, which the late premier pioneered after he was appointed the PM in 2005.
He said although he was not close to the fallen leader, "I could see him active as a CCM youth league from his early days.”
Mr Calvin Richard, a resident of Monduli, said Mr Lowassa would be remembered for being behind a number of water supply projects in the semi-arid district.
He cited a mega water supply project financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) which, upon completion, would significantly end water shortages facing many people there.
The late PM has also been eulogized for being behind fundraising stints for a host of development projects, including those run by faith-based institutions.
Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCT), in particular, said they were saddened by his death which happened when the North-Central Diocese (Arusha) were preparing to consecrate a new Bishop on Sunday, February 11, 2024.
The late Lowassa, a member of the Lutheran church, was born at Arash village on the outskirts of Monduli town in the heart of Maasailand in August 1953 and went to school there.
His 'dalliance' with Arusha city was three pronged; starting with joining Arusha Secondary School in 1968 for his O level until 1971 before moving to Mirambo.
Upon finishing his studies at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1977, he was posted to work in Arusha where he stayed briefly.
He was to return to the country's safari capital in 1989 as the managing director of the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).
He did not stay too long in the executive position of the country's largest convention centre amid expectations that he would turn around the public enterprise.
After the 1990 General Election, he won the parliamentary seat through the CCM Youth window, paving his way up the political ladder.
He was appointed the minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office the same year (late 1990) and later the Lands minister until 1995.
Thereafter, he served as the Minister of State responsible for Environment, Water and Livestock and was later appointed by President Jakaya Kikwete as the Prime Minister, the position he served between 2005 and 2008.