Diary of a Working Married Mother: Lessons from late Magufuli

Saturday March 27 2021

The President of the United Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli died last week. The country declared two weeks of mourning to allow the citizens bid him farewell and come to terms with his passing on. After seeing all the videos and pictures coming out of Tanzania, it is obvious why they need this time.

Two things stood out for me.  First, the legacy that Magufuli left behind is an eye-opener for all of us. From the minute he took power, the late president endeared himself to most of his people with his no-nonsense approach and fight against corruption. He certainly had a lasting impact on them as seen in videos, photos and orbituaries.

It challenged me to reflect on the kind of legacy I will leave. I wonder if Magufuli knew what impact he was making and if he deliberately worked on it. Certainly, just like any ordinary being, Magufuli was not perfect. And if stories of his personal life are anything to go by, it is puzzling that he got the reaction he did. Perhaps it is because people overlook imperfections and concentrate more on the positives. This would serve us all very well in the workplace. Bosses need to remember this when dealing with their junior staff. The reason they are the boss is that they know better or at least they should.

And they are there to build the people they supervise, not load it over them. One can be no-nonsense and get results without being mean or petty. That is my preferred method of work – accepting no mediocrity but doing it in a way that makes the person feel like they are learning and improving all the time.

The second thing that stood out is the mystery surrounding Magufuli’s death. The death, injury or illness of a leader of a country during a war or pandemic will always be shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories. Does it have to be this way? Death is death and we will die one day. Why hide that fact when it happens?

One of our bosses took a page out of the same book that Magufuli’s machinery used. To this day, we are not sure if he ever took a Covid-19 test after a couple of people in the office tested positive for the coronavirus.


He claimed he would do it at his pace, but there is no proof. If a leader behaves this way, how are their subordinates expected to behave? This goes back to legacy – what do you want to be remembered for and what impact do you want to have on those you leave behind?