Dark and dull post-Lenten time looms in grieving Tanzania

Saturday April 03 2021

Church staff wait for believers to arrive to take body temperature at Palm Sunday Mass at the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship Church in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PHOTO | AFP


The past year was hard enough, with the coronavirus pandemic surging, claiming a number of our beloved ones, and then losing president John Pombe Magufuli to heart complications.

Easter celebrations met us still dressed in black mourning the late president, socially distancing and trying to find the silver lining through all these losses.

“There is no celebratory mood at all... it’s all quiet and sad. Televisions and radio still broadcast mourning songs and documentaries in honour of the late president,” said Samuel Paul, an Iringa resident.


Easter 2021 looks a lot like the previous one of 2020, where we celebrated in small numbers of close family as majority held virtual celebrations. We still sit two seats apart from each other at church or attend online church services.

On top of all that, it falls within the 21 days of mourning.


“This Easter is even sadder than the previous one, but at least my children got new clothes and a nice meal. Most of us thought this Easter would have been a lot like Christmas, more lively with celebrations and joyous songs,” said Lydia Mabande, a mother of two and Dar resident.

Palm Sunday was no different, church sermons were all about Magufuli, no celebration plans or mood to look forward to.

The meaning behind Easter celebrations remains strong, but the celebrations have changed over the past year due to the pandemic and a state funeral.

Indeed, Easter in Tanzania in the time of coronavirus is marked by empty churches and unused communion hosts, reflecting a world where prayer has gone online.