The climax of Tanzania’s Uhuru Torch race ceremony this year will be held without thousands of invited guests and award winners after President John Magufuli directed that they celebrate in their home regions to cut cost.
The directive issued on Wednesday will also affect the presentation of annual achievement awards that will now be sent to awardees in their respective regions after they are announced on Friday at the venue in the Simiyu regional capital, Bariadi.
“President Dr. John Magufuli has instructed all the heads of government invited to attend the ceremony … not to attend, and those who have been paid allowances for the trip to refund them,” the statement said.
President Dr. John Magufuli has instructed all the heads of government invited to attend the ceremony … not to attend, and those who have been paid allowances for the trip to refund them.
The statement estimates that about 1,500 people will have to cancel their trips and they include Regional Commissioners, District Commissioners, Mayors and Municipal Chairpersons and their directors as well as supporting staff and drivers.
The president called on regional leaders and citizens of the Simiyu region to come out in their numbers and participate in the ceremony. He also called on those barred from attending to celebrate in their respective regions.
The climax of the Uhuru Torch race ceremony coincides with the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the death of Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere.
The torch which was lit in April 2016 and sent around Tanzania’s 30 administrative regions will be extinguished by the Zanzibar President Dr Ali Shein Mohamed on Friday.
What is the Uhuru Torch race ceremony?
The Uhuru Torch is one of the national symbols of Tanzania which signifies freedom and light.
The kerosene torch was first lit on top of Mount Kilimanjaro on December 9, 1961 by Alexander Nyirenda to mark the country’s independence from colonial rule.
In 1964, the first president Julius Nyerere introduced the annual race in which a group of selected youths carry the torch around the country “to bring hope where there is despair, love instead of enmity and human respect where there is contempt”.
Each year, hundreds of climbers disperse across four different routes on Kilimanjaro and begin their ascent carrying the Uhuru Torch. At the summit, they reenact the symbolic torch lighting and later send it around the country.
After months of journeying nationwide, the torch is extinguished on October 14 before national leaders, government officials and the general public in a chosen region.
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