John Magufuli

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi has said Tanzania’s former leader John Magufuli “will stay in the hearts” of many following his death last week at the age of 61.

He spoke during the state funeral ceremony held in the capital Dodoma, which is being attended by a number of African heads of state.

Tanzania’s government said Mr Magufuli died of a heart condition, but the opposition said he had Covid-19.

In his tribute, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera referred to Mr Magufuli as “Africa’s finest son” whose “life of service” would be remembered.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described him as a “true pan-Africanist” who was unapologetic about being an African.

Mr Ramaphosa remembered the former president for being a “warrior” against corruption, and who worked for his people.

He also said the Tanzanian president was a champion for African culture and traditions, especially the use of Swahili throughout the continent.

“Swahili has been introduced in South African schools as a honour to the late President John Magufuli who insisted on its use,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

Expressing a similar view, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masese said that Mr Magufuli was a “great teacher” like Tanzania’s founding President Julius Nyerere.

“Even in Botswana he expected us to speak Swahili…We too have introduced Swahili in our curricula,” Mr Masese added.

In his tribute, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta also addressed Mr Magufuli’s successor Samia Suluhu Hassan, saying: “To you my sister and now my counterpart, the road has been shown to you by our brother President Magufuli.”

Mr Kenyatta briefly stopped his speech, when the azan was given at a nearby mosque to call Muslims for regular daily prayers.

President Kenyatta goes momentarily silent in respect of Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer.