IF you talk of the media veterans of this country, earnestly you cannot miss the name of Paul Sozigwa who died a fortnight ago at the age of 83. Rather belatedly, I am obliged to pay tribute to his colossal contributions to this country as a technocrat, a journalist and a politician of our times.
Very unfortunately the young generation seems not to know him as I could gather what was being dialogued in the social media networks after the announcement of his death.
Sozigwa is one of those few Tanzanians who can rightly be described as unsung heroes and his deteriorating health went unnoticed until when the cruel death met him on that Friday of 12th May; probably because he had never been a Member of Parliament otherwise we could see dignitaries flocking to see him at his hospital bed! ‘Paulo,’ as he used to call himself, was already a spent force, retired from all public functions ; the last time I saw him was during the paying of last respect to the late Justice Lewis Makame at the Karamjee Hall in August 2014.
Sozigwa backed by his sound educational background as one of the first generation of graduates of Tanganyika, he had a brilliant career spiced with hard work from District Commissioner of Kisarawe, Director-General of Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), Principal Secretary of the Ministry Information to the Press Secretary of Mwalimu Nyerere.
With his impeccable patriotism, loyalty and workholism, he later found himself being enticed into politics where he became Central Committee’s Chairman of Party Ethical and Discipline issues..
Hailing from Kisarawe, a typical area known to have less educational opportunities by then, with only one known government School of Mwanarumango, Paul went to Minaki Primary School before going to Mpwapwa Central School later to Tabora Boys up to Makerere University College.
He jokingly attributes his good track record of education to his obedience to the colonial government that allowed him to pursue his studies. Sozigwa born at Kidunda in Kisarawe the hub of Zaramo traditions embedded with the Swahili cultural values, he could mix the two better with his intellectual endowment that made him to be the more popular and a humorous character.
The intellectual arrogance could not corrupt him and this could be revealed in his TBC editorials in:”Mazungumzo baada ya Habari” castigating those people who had wished to change their native names to sound like Europeans, names such as ‘Hiza to be Hizes,’ ‘Kwetukia to be Kwegyir’ and so on.
I have known Paul Sozigwa way back in 1962 when I was a pupil at St Andrews College Minaki, he used to come to Kisarawe as his home town for either weekend or holidays.
He was our role model as a learned person and former District Commissioner of that town at that difficult period during colonial era. Not only that but by then he was already having a captivating commanding voice in TBC when the country was in its infancy gripped with euphoria of independence; working with a strong team of Suleiman Hegga, Steven Mlatie, Ellie Mbotto, David Wakati and Allen Heri.
Sozigwa was a fiery orator and a good writer whose skills were unearthed and sharpened at Syracuse University, New York and London University in the fifties. So being moved to TBC from Kisarawe was the right move at the right time to utilise his skills which were really begging.
His close friend Mohamed Rashid writes in his Blog that Sozigwa was good at languages and would coin the words to fit the situation. He refers to the Commonwealth Meeting that he attended at Singapore and Sozigwa was responsible for reporting for TBC.
He changed the name of Singapore in his live report to sound more African and introduced it as Singapure. At the height of cold war Tanzania was an obvious victim of the warring parties either West or East though our stand was that of Non Alignment States.
Since our ideology was that of Socialism then we were grouped in the Eastern Block. This is where the importance of our National Radio was seen and that we needed a person like the former Minister of Information of Iraq, Mohammad Saeed Sahhf, a great propagandist for mass mobilization.
Sozigwa’s eloquence in languages could enable him to handle this situation. There must be some of you who remember those continuous slogans over the national radio station, with blared slogans such as: “Ubepari ni Unyama, Ujamaa ni Utu” That was in defence of our Socialist inclination where there was clear bombardment of polemics from our local press, indeed Sozigwa did the needful!
Some of you might remember also his reportage on the war with Idi Amin Dada of Uganda in the Kagera Region where he interviewed those residents of Mutukula on how their homes were destroyed and their properties looted. Everybody would be glued to his radio to listen to him.
Sozigwa as Press Secretary to Mwalimu, he used to write some of Mwalimu’s speeches. In an interview he granted to the New River Media, one of the international newspapers, Sozigwa revealed that the Azimio la Arusha Document was an oral edition of Mwalimu whose transcript Sozigwa later printed as booklet.
Sozigwa was also the conqueror of Mount Kilimanjaro as he dared and succeeded to climb it then serialized his expedition in the ‘Daily News’ that made a very interesting reading.
Indeed he was a man of all seasons, a good devout Christian who would move around with his organ to play hymns in his spare time. Yes, not all is lost; his legacy still remains as a man of the people with a luxury of talking and acting.
He was a testimony of incorruptible leaders and died as a pauper with insignificant properties like Sokoine or Nyerere comparatively to what we know. May His Soul Rest in Peace, Amen.