Vice-president of the United Republic of Tanzania Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal and first lady Salma Kikwete led thousands of mourners during the funeral services of movie star Stephen Kanumba at the Kinondoni cemetery in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The funeral of Kanumba, who died suddenly on the dawn of Saturday at his residence in Sinza, attracted a multitude of people from all over the country and beyond borders.
Business between Sinza and Kinondoni areas came to a stand still as mourners were packed in vehicles, bicycles, tricycles and what have you to attend the biggest ever funeral so far for the year.
The funeral that was held four days after his sudden death left people in profound shock and deep grief.
The funeral organisers were forced to cut short the exercise of paying last respect as it would have taken longer than expected.
Besides the Vice-President and First Lady, other top Government officials including the Minister for Information, Culture, Youth and Sport Emmanuel Nchimbi, were not to be missed at the funeral venue.
Ministers, Members of the Parliament and other Government, political parties’ officials and others were not to be missed during the Kanumba funeral.
The coffin containing the body of the most cherished film star in the country was lowered into the grave around noon as people struggled to have a glimpse of the incident.
Virtually, both the Leaders Club and the Kinondoni Cemetery where Kanumba’s coffin was paid last respect and later buried was not sufficient in terms of space to accommodate the crows.
A number of people collapsed to keep the standby Red Cross workers busy before loading them into ambulance for medical services. Paramedics were busy too to provide services to those with mild shocks during the funeral.
Besides the Dar es Salaam residents, Kanumba death had astonishingly attracted people from upcountry who took trouble to witness the funeral yesterday.
It was a funeral that had no comparison for an individual like Kanumba who had no authority in the Government of Tanzania but his movie industry artistic was sufficient to award him the immense popularity.
Had the late Kanumba been able to have at least a glance of what was happening after his death and during the funeral, most likely he would have been shocked by the presence of grief stricken crowd.
All roads in Dar es Salaam suburbs were heading to Leaders Club and Kinondoni Cemetery during the morning hours of yesterday.
The policemen were overwhelmed by the turnout of the people and had to work beyond the call of duty to take control of both crowd and traffic congestion on the roads.
People of all ages, sexes, races and regardless of their blood connection to Kanumba, wept openly throughout the funeral procession that left Dar es Salaam city at a stand still up to the late afternoon.
Kanumba’s death shocked even the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, who took trouble to visit mourners at Sinza on Sunday afternoon.
People gathered in multiple groups discussing about Kanumba’s life and his movie star profession.
It was one of rare sunny days inside the month when torrential rains were supposed to peak but instead hot weather prevailed and seemed not to bother mourners who were determined to express their in depth devotion and love to Kanumba.
The reason for the huge congregation of people at Kanumba’s funeral was based on his film productions that were available in most of the households across the nation and beyond borders.
UNAUTHORISED ROAD TOLL
While people were busy trying to find their way to the Kinondoni Cemetery, some unscrupulous young men had organized road toll along the Magomeni-Kinondoni Mkwajuni service roads.
Tricycles, bicycles and motor bikes were being charged up to 500/- to cross over. The young men had put logs to block smooth passage of the three-wheelers.
There was no time to report to the Police authorities for the offence as time was running out with people finding it better to comply rather than taking a legal process.
UNOFFICIAL DALADALA ROUTES
A number of Daladala operators had switched to the Leaders Club destination as they cancelled their official routes to cash in on people who were in urgent need to attend the burial ceremony.