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Tanzania bids farewell to former President Benjamin Mkapa

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Thousands of Tanzanians attended the funeral mass to honour the former President Benjamin Mkapa, who passed away early Friday at age 81, after suffering from malaria and a heart attack. 

Alongside his family, many political figures of the East African country, such as current President John Magufuli. 

The president of Tanzania spoke at Mkapa's wake in the Tanzania National Main Stadium, also known as Mkapa Stadium, in capital city Dar es Salaam.

Magufuli paid his respects, stating "Benjamin's death is a big loss not only to his family, but also to other countries in Eastern Africa, the Great Lake region and Africa in general. "

Other leaders of the continent paid hommage to the late Mkapa, such as Chadian politician and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, that described the late president as an "indefatigable peacemaker in the East African nation".

"In his death, Africa has lost a giant" added Kenya's historical leader of the oppositon and African Union Envoy Raila Odinga.

Third president after the country gained its independence from the UK, Mkapa, ruled the East African country for two terms from 1995 to 2005. 

Before his rise to power, Benjamin Mkapa served as Ambassador to the United States, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, and Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The leader will be rememebered by many for his mediation efforts when he took part in mediation talks, alongside Kofi Annan, after Kenya's 2007-08 election violence. He also attempted, unsuccessfully, to mediate between Burundi's government and opposition groups after the disputed 2015 election plunged the country into crisis. 

Benjamin Mkapa will be buried in his hometown Ndanda.