By Moshi Shabani, Zanzibar and Habakuki Urio, Dar
Tanzania President John Magufuli vowed to keep on racing the Uhuru Torch as it is one of the national symbols which signifies freedom and light, ignored those who want the race to be stopped.
The Uhuru torch race opened by the Zanzibar Second Vice President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi, in April 2017 at Katavi Region, concludes today after a 31-region marathon in 195 councils across the country.
“The torch unites our citizens and build our union every year, it stimulates development projects in the areas where it passed. This is a sign of our freedom so we have to be proud of it always,” he said.
The President insisted that, Tanzania Mainland President and President of Zanzibar Dr Ali Mohamed Shein will keep on conducting torch racing every year.
The History of Uhuru Torch
The Uhuru torch (which uses kerosene) 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 enemity and human respect where there is contempt”.
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.
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.