As I drove to Dodoma today, I saw a couple of accidents along the road – and reflected on the fragility of life. And recalled a couple of my own incidents. I will recount one. In October 2008, President Kikwete made a visit to Ileje district in Mbeya region. As usual, as a close aide, I was on hand. We were traveling from Kyela district where we spent the previous night. We scaled up steep mountains and braved sharp corners towards Ileje. As the motorcade snaked through the mountains , one of the rear tires of our car blew and the driver missed one sharp corner and our car jumped down the deep cliff, rolling about eight times before it stood perfectly on its wheels down the valley. Because the drop was so sudden and at the corner, people in the car behind us didn’t see us tumbling and the motorcade proceeded to Ileje as if nothing happened (we were told later that some people in the motorcade, saw a “parked car” down the valley and wondered how it got there and what was it doing”). Only when we were “missing” at the final destination, everyone scampered to find what happened and where we were – and someone clever figured that we may be in the car that was “parked” down the valley. We came out safely – with no major injuries (yes, seatbelts save lives) and proceeded with day’s work. Given the depth of the valley, and the number of times our car rolled, it was simply a miracle that we came out alive.
In another incident, during another presidential visit in Liwale district in Lindi, a police officer, on the back of police escort pickup truck, hit his chest in the iron bar when the truck stopped abruptly. He fell unconscious. Medical personnel in the motorcade ambulance from Lindi tried to resuscitate him to avail – and he was declared dead. The President’s physician, Prof. Mohammed Janabi, didn’t give up and asked me to help him push the gentleman’s legs up and down while he performed another type of CPR. When Prof. Janabi was about to lose his breath, the “dead” gentleman came to life.
The point of remembering and recounting these incidents is this: all of us – with all our health, achievements, knowledge, prestige and pride – are hanging by a very thin thread separating life and death. People in public life who have lately found it fashionable to feign near-death experiences should be discouraged. Near-death experiences is a privilege served as a dramatic reminder to live right and love all.