Former Tanzania motor rally driver Bert Shankland has died in London at the age of 71 and two months, the Automobile Association of Tanzania official Satinder Birdisingh confirmed yesterday.
The exact date of his death is still unknown but Singh said his body is yet to be buried as family members are still organizing it.
Singh said the AAT has been severely shocked by the demise of the man who used to flap high the country’s flag despite of his British citizenship.
The driver used to be an icon of the Tanzania motor rally, particularly the East African Safari that used to draw competitors from all over the world.
Shankland used to drive with Peugeot brand of a car and was born on November 11, 1950.
As for Tanzania, the highlight of the East African rally as it existed, was the two victories scored by a pair of Tanzanian drivers (who were however, British citizens), Bert Shankland and Chris Rothwell.
Shankland was then the chief executive officer and sales representatives of Marshall Peugeot in Tanzania and his office and motor showroom was then located in the same building where the City Bank is presently located in the city centre.
Shankland, who drove Peugeot 404, won the rally back to back in 1965 and 1966, hence putting Tanzania and the car model in regional and international map.
Even before he won the rally, the Tanganyika and later Tanzanian motor car market had been dominated by Peugeots.
After his double victory, the cars’ sales shot up and for any upcoming Tanzanian or East African for that matter to consider himself a modern man to own a top of the range car in those days he was supposed to drive a Peugeot.
The cars were believed to be the fastest in the realm of motor cars after the two Britons won the regional rally two years in succession.
Later came the second version, faster and more robust, Peugeot 504, and Shankland turned to the new car but the best he did in the rally was to finish second and third.
This time his navigator was not Rothwell who had returned to England, but Chris Bates. However, the participation of Shankland and Bates continued to bring a lot of excitement and thrill in the regional rally.
The Guardian is still following closely the details of his funeral and readers are advised to buy more copies in the next editions as we hope to produce more coverage.
Rest in Peace- Amen.
NB: Additional reporting by Attilio Tagalile’s previous profile: