What would MAGUFULI do

18th March 2021. Social media was awash with the news of his passing. Our typical response in the post COVID era to announcements on social media is cyncism or at best a frenzied search for cross references. This time, the news came cross referenced. It was difficult to believe. Even more difficult to accept. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli at the age of 61 had succumbed to a heart condition, Vice President Samia Suluhu announced.

He had rested from his labor. In 2015, when he burst on the scene, he made it crystal clear that his priority would be Tanzania. One of my most memorable quotes from him is:

Our home was grass thatched and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family, I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

Bill Hybels in his book, Courageous Leadership entreats leaders to have a compelling vision. A leader sees the vision. Rais John Pombe Magufuli had a very compelling vision for Tanzania. In His Tanzania, it was possible for all citizens to prosper. He painted this vision continually, whether it was mineral rights, or education, or roads, the Tanzanian citizens were always first. First things first, corruption either in terms of money or time was dealt with swiftly. It robbed the citizens. He would show up unannounced in government offices and ask difficult questions.

You cannot talk of preserving environment when the majority of the citizens are depending on charcol or wood for most of their energy source.

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

He felt so deeply about this that became so famous for his austerity. He barred unnecessary foreign travel, cut his own salary to USD 4,000. At one point, he chose to clean up to curb the spread of Cholera rather than hold national independence celebrations. What? Was this in Africa? Whose that guy? And so came the trending hashtag which is the title of this blog. #WhatwouldMagufulido.

We were awestruck. We were inspired. Could this be the rise of a new breed of leaders? How long would he last? We watched his every move with bated breath. We tweeted and retweeted his lastest actions. We dramatized every single action of his.

Indeed, even when COVID-19 struck, he did not disappoint. While everyone was scrambling to lockdown, Tanzanian borders were open and it was business as usual. The Magufuli approach. There were pictures of him praying in various places, but the most iconic were the ones where he was without a mask. We were all masked, in our homes, shut in tightly. He looked like some renegade cowboy or modern John Rambo, just ready to shoot down this virus. It was in the same 2020 that Tanzania moved to lower middle income status. We clapped and celebrated with them, while hoping and praying for the end of our lockdown and a return to the normal.

While we were locked down, he managed to convince our own President to take a trip down to Tanzania to expedite the harmonization of pending issues on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Chato, Tanzania.
This is East Africa’s first major oil pipeline. The $3.5bn project will connect Uganda’s oil fields to port Tanga of Tanzania on the Indian Ocean for about 1,445 km (898 miles). extraction agreements. Tanzania was kind enough to allow the Ugandan oil pipeline to pass through their territory to the coast. He built so many bridges, physical and mental.

The bilateral meeting in Chato, Tanzania. Source; web

Visions are priceless. They are holy entrustments from God that must be taken seriously. To squander a vision is an unthinkable sin.

Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership

Habbakuk reminds us that all visions have an appointed time. (Habbakuk 2:3) As leaders, it is imperative that we know the seasons of our visions so that they speak in their time. We are grateful for the gift of John Pombe Joseph Magufuli and his emulation of a visionary leader. May His Soul Rest in Peace.

Fully known

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Psalms 139:13‭-‬15 NKJV

I made up my mind, that I was in a waiting space and when the time was right, like Elizabeth, my sons would come. Of course, everyone is asking how do you know they will be boys? Or inviting me to more prayers for the barren. I simply told them, I am not barren. This was the promise God made to those who obeyed Him, there shall be none barren among you.( Exodus 23:26) Loads of eyes rolling and angst because these conversations tired me. For crying out loud, I had done it all. Alllll! I even had notes.

I got into a space where random people would walk up to me and tell me how they dreamt that I was pregnant. Or they would see me holding a baby. I had been there, done that so I didn’t find it as fascinating as I should have. I would get into prayer meetings and they would pray for me. I would visit someone and it would end up being a prayer meeting. I was like Jacob, the Lord was in this place and I knew it not. God has jokes.

One Friday, I purposed to go to Rubaga Miracle Centre for the overnight. I had spent many overnights there while still a university student. I missed the fire and the noise and just being in a space where believers expected miracles. So I went. It was awesome, never to disappoint. The prayer time. The praise and worship, wooow. The testimonies. Pastor Robert Kayanja came on started ministering to several categories of people, and he called up women who had been told by doctors that they would not give birth. He went on to affirm that as Christians, we are not barren because the Bible says they shall be none barren among you. I knew this was the mother of all setups, so I walked to the front. I just need you to know that if for any reason he had said those words in a different way, I was not leaving my seat. He was not in a hurry, for some reason that overnight was live streaming so we were on cameras. He tells us to imagine we are holding our babies in our hands and rock them to sleep, sing to them. This was like for eternity. He invited the rest of the church not to spectate but to pray. So there we are with our arms cradling babies, we have called forth. Then he says, you have received your expectation, you may go. And back we went to our seats. Only we were received like conquering heroes, there was a loud cheer. A friend of mine, I didn’t know was at the overnight, came running to hug me. Wooowww!

Photo Credit: Pintrest

I took to spending Saturday mornings or afternoons with my mother in town. There were always errands to run in Kampala and home was a convenient stop over. My mother loved my company and I hers, so it worked for both of us. This one Saturday, I decided to head to Nakasero market first, because it could get really crowded. However, I could not get in at my usual 5am because I needed to get Mpafu, a type of fig, from the lower market which did not open till later. By the time, I got there it was crowded. Oh well. Off to see mummy. I spent a whole day there, hoping the traffic will ease so I get in at about 5 pm. My mum asks me what it is I must buy from the market that I could not get in another market. I tell her mpafu, she laughed and told me how I was becoming like her. When she was expecting me, she used to go to that same lady, early in the morning to get mpafu. Hahaha.

I went to the market, picked my mpafu and debated whether to take a pregnancy test. I decided, if not, why not? Headed to SAS clinic and did the test. The waiting was of, real butterflies, my hands were shaking literally. I started shivering but I was determined to maintain composure. Thankfully, the clinic traffic was low. I was the only client in the lab. It was a short wait. The test was positive.

I can’t hear youuuu, louder doctor. Did you say positive? Whenever I receive news that I didn’t anticipate, my ears get a humming sound and all sound is like an echo or buzzing. I was going through that.

I could see the doctor smiling and going on about something. It’s positive. All my years of waiting had ended. Just like that. The doctor recommended a scan to confirm and I am like, sure. Scans are good things. I was at peace with the world. All things were good. I have no problem.

Elated. Out onto the street. Excited. Up the stairs. Exhilarating. Onto the bed. Cold gel. Experience loading.

There he was. My baby. Just a bleep. Such a beautiful, black and white bleep. 7 weeks. God bless the creator of scans.

In part

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
Psalms 116:1‭-‬2 NLT

I met another guy, cool as can be. Very accepting and confident about the situation. Well, let’s see how long he lasts. He married me.

And started what I now call my fertility journey. This story is intertwined with another story, there was a long standing custody battle for my step daughter going on. The issue of stress and it’s effects on your cycle is the fodder of medical journals. This is not my story, my story is one of overcoming even in the midst of such a strained, stressed and distressed environment.

I had determined, NEVER to go through hormonal therapy again. I was adamant about it. My husband was not there while I was going through it and I could not explain it in enough vivid detail. It was a sore point for some time, but I didn’t see any value addition in taking the medical journey. Yes, I met so many ladies for whom this had worked but it was too painful to go through Godzilla again. Especially as a young, blushing bride.

This was ok for the first year, a few nudges, side eyes at events to check for bulges but well, we were in a new millennium. Who rushes into child birth anymore, right? Laughter and onto more pressing matters.

The second year, pressure started mounting. What are you people up to? One person walked into the office, we had an open office and loudly announced, you girl, if you cannot give birth, you return our contributions to the wedding. Wow! It is a custom to fundraise for a wedding and up till that point, I always thought people did it because they were happy to see you wed. Clearly, naive. There are vested interests. There was a hush in the office, till one of the supervisors checked him for his remark. Later, a few work mates walked over to just encourage me and tell me so many stories about ladies who had gone through years and conceived, some we worked with and others remained stories. Two ladies took me under their wings, and prayed with me every day and encouraged me. One passed on but I shall never forget her kindness and compassion.

Photo credit: Pintrest

My MIL never took life sitting down. She has always been a fighter. She determined that this situation needed a fighter. She told me if you are not going to the doctors, we are going to pray. And so we started the rounds of looking for pastors all over the town. Any pastor she heard who healed, we were there. Sowing seeds. Praying. Counselling. Eventually, her home became a church. She hosted prayer meetings everyday. She lived 20kms away from our home at the time, we were there till late. Praying. It started to take a toll on me, I wasn’t sleeping well and eating well. One night, we had a near kidnap incident while waiting for Traffic lights to change. I opted out of this.

A friend of mine landed on Kenneth Copeland and his teachings on faith. While watching TBN, Kenneth Copeland was never one I would watch. I was watching TD Jakes, Juanita Bynum, Rod Parsley….fire in my bones. Well, here was this calm, Kenneth with his beloved Gloria and their southern drawls teaching on faith. The seed was sown. Every day we discussed the podcasts and faith began to grow. We prayed together daily.

A young, fiery, prophet Kakuru joined as an intern in our unit. As it is with prophets, the first encounters are dramatic. When he saw us across the room, he walked to us and told us he was going to sit next to us for his entire internship. Wow! We didn’t know him from Adam. He came back later, and started to teach us about prayer. Everything he said would tally with what Kenneth Copeland had taught.

Another young, quiet man with a pastoral heart joined our team after Kakuru left, he introduced us to e- sword. It was a downloadable Bible. I started to study the Word of God. I do not take it for granted that in this time, all these resources were available to me. I know God was at work, preparing me and teaching me about Himself so I could be like the tree in Psalm 1.

Still, I did not conceive. The frustration of doing all you know to do and still have negative pregnancy results started to set in. It seeped in like a cancer, slowly and started to settle. My days darkened and I began to feel worthless and useless. I was depressed but I didn’t know it.

God will not let you go. He will come to you. He came to me. Despite, the frustration, the only hope I had was in God. I took leave and decided to have a retreat with God. My maid had headaches that would keep her down for an entire day. I knew God to be the healer. James says if anyone is sick, let him call the elders. I called my pastor to pray for her. He decided to pray with me as well. Some thing lifted off me, I could see clearly.

First things first, faith without works is dead. I decided to go shopping for my baby. I knew it would be a boy so everything was blue. I found a lovely yellow outfit, my mother loved yellow, I got it for him. It was the only non-blue outfit. I researched about pregnancy, what to eat, what to wear, how to manage on a budget, the trending gyns, the hospitals. I attended baby showers, birthday parties and took notes about everything and I mean everything- maids, daycare, schools, curriculums, language, prayer-What I would do and what not to do.

During a visit to my SIL, I learnt that even with children,the romance is not over. A mother was still a wife and a companion.

A vivid conversation, I recall was that babies are also spirit beings so they know God. Hoooo…baby Bibles, baby gospel music. I started speaking to the eggs and hormones to hear the Word of God. I was high on the Most High.

At this point, I was doing pregnancy tests almost every week. They were negative, sometimes it felt there were two Doras. One willing to go and the other questioning her logic. If you keep doing the same thing you have always done, with the same results, why keep on doing it? Well, if it ain’t broke, you can fix it! Then I had it, the very last test, I wrote all the promises of God all over it. I spoke back to that report and told it to keep quiet. And I kept quiet.

5 years

It’s been five years since I last heard your voice. What was it’s pitch? How did you inflect? How did you Intonate?

It’s been five years since I last heard you sing. Sometimes strumming an imaginary violin. Sometimes conducting an imaginary orchestra. Sometimes high pitched. Sometimes in Rukiga.

It’s been five years since I looked into your eyes. What color were they? How they popped out as you told us animated stories?

It’s been five years since you smiled at me. What was that curl in your lips? What was the sound of your smile?

It’s been five years since you called my name. Dora.

It’s been five years since your number rang on my phone. It’s been a long since mummy lit up my screen.

Five. 5. V.

A lifetime or a number.

A shift or a permutation.

The gap, the void it remains.

A mummy shaped hole that only you filled.

Do not be disheartened.

The Lord is with you.

I am grateful and thankful.

Thank you for being my mummy.

Thank you for teaching me compassion.

Thank you for surrounding me with virtuous women.

Thank you for watching over me like a hawk.

Thank you for good food;

Thank you for good music;

Thank you for fashion;

Thank you for keeping it real.

Thank you for good grooming.

Thank you for supporting me to the utmost.

Thank you for leading me to Jesus.

Nsiimye