United States Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt (L) presents 2013 Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Drum Major for Justice Award to Dr Esther Daniel Mwaikambo in Dar es Salaam yesterday recognition of her tireless efforts to promote human rights and access to education and health care for Tanzanian women and girls.(Photo courtesy of US Embassy)
The American Ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso E. Lenhardt, yesterday bestowed the 2013 Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Drum Major for Justice Award on Dr Esther Daniel Mwaikambo in recognition of her tireless efforts to promote human rights and access to education and health care for Tanzanian women and girls.
Dr Mwaikambo is Vice Chancellor of the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University of Health Sciences in Dar es Salaam and senior professor of Pediatrics and Child Health at the university.
The Award is presented every year by the American Ambassador at the US Embassy in Tanzania in commemoration of the life and achievements of Dr King and of a Tanzanian whose life embodies the work and commitment of Dr Luther King’s life.
In a sermon on February 4, 1968, Dr Luther King said, “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, and say that I was a drum major for peace.
I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Lenhardt lauded Dr Mwaikambo’s leadership as a pioneer in Tanzania’s medical sector by noting that her life experiences from an early age taught her the value of perseverance in the face of tough adversity as well as compassion for those forgotten and most in need.
“Those experiences embedded in her soul a deep commitment to ensuring Tanzanian women and girls enjoy their full rights, including receiving access to education and health care to reduce preventable deaths, thereby ensuring they can meet their highest potential as far as their own talents can take them.
She also understands that talent and potential must be nurtured by mentors,” he said.
“Often a hero is a person who tackles unpopular causes and encounters obstacles and challenges along their journey in the name of protecting others,” noted the envoy, adding: “Little by little, the moral force of their convictions gains support by transforming minds, winning support for their cause, and earning the admiration of those who share their passion for justice.”
In her remarks, Dr Mwaikambo said she accepted the award “on behalf of the hard-working fellow doctors in Tanzania, who deliver services under difficult if not harsh conditions, and for the Tanzanian girl who has a dream to make contributions towards society and save others in the future, in the spirit of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who wanted to be remembered for his service to others”.
She said it was the responsibility of all citizens to build a better future for the Tanzanian girl child, adding: “There is more happening, in terms of some killing and destroying other people’s property in the name of religion, regionalism and other divisive factors.”
Elaborating, she said: “This is dismantling all the efforts made by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the first President of the United Republic of Tanzania, to unite the country, and to motivate his countrymen and women to fight poverty, disease and ignorance.”
She made an impassioned appeal to “all responsible systems to work hard against this situation to allow this Tanzanian girl child to thrive in peace”, adding:
“I have faith in this young girl, with a dream in Tanzania. I believe, that despite all the odds, she will wake up to the clarion.”
Other Dr Martin Luther King Jr Drum Major for Justice award recipients have included: Judge (rtd) Joseph Sinde Warioba in 1999, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (posthumously) in 2000, former Chief Justice Francis Nyalali in 2002, Prof Geoffrey Mmari in 2003, Justa Mwaituka in 2004, Gertrude Mongella in 2005, Dr Salim A. Salim in 2006, and Mzee Rashidi Kawawa in 2007.
Others are IPP Executive Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi in 2008, The People of the Albinism Community of Tanzania in 2009, Dr Marina Njelekela in 2010, the Zanzibar Committee of Six in 2011, and former Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani last year.
Dr Luther King was ordained in 1948, at the age of 19, and received his PhD in Systematic Theology from Boston University in 1955.
Upon completion of his studies at Boston University, he accepted the call of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where he served as pastor from September 1954 through November 1959.
He resigned to move to Atlanta, Georgia to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and serve as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.