Hundreds remember Tanzanian student killed in Israel-Hamas conflict

Wednesday November 29 2023

Clemence Mtenga's family and friends gather for his funeral. PHOTO | COURTESY


Hundreds of Tanzanians bid a tearful farewell on Tuesday to a young agriculture student who was killed in the Hamas-Israel conflict several thousand kilometres away.

Clemence Felix Mtenga, 22, was reported missing after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel on October 7, killing a reported 1,200 people and taking scores more hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Israel's retaliatory ground and air operation in the Gaza Strip following the deadliest attack in its history has killed almost 15,000 people, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian territory's Hamas government.

Family members -- wearing black shirts bearing Mtenga's picture -- broke down as they filed past the closed coffin at a ceremony in his home village of Kirwa in the Mount Kilimanjaro region.

Read: Tanzania: Student abducted by Hamas is dead

Mtenga and another Tanzanian student, Joshua Mollel, 21, went to Israel in September for an agricultural internship programme but both went missing after the October 7 attack.


Tanzania's foreign ministry confirmed his death in a statement last week, without elaborating on how he was killed, and said Mollel was still missing.

Friends who studied with Mtenga before he moved to Israel described him as being "lovely and friendly".

"It was sad and difficult to accept news of his death because we used to communicate with him almost every evening," said Anthony Kanyanza.

"He was a leader of one of the class groups and we all enjoyed his company."

A member of the local choir, Mtenga had been due to graduate from his university in Tanzania last week. 

"Clemence died innocent. Let's keep Israel and Palestine in our prayers every day to end this kind of innocent deaths," said priest Alfred Minja who led the burial service attended by government officials. 

Read: Israel-Hamas guns silent as hostage release awaited

The head of Israel's international development agency Eynat Shlein had said on X, formerly Twitter, that Mtenga "was murdered by Hamas terrorists on October 7".

The two students were among about 260 Tanzanian youths who went to Israel for an internship in modern farming under a partnership programme between the two countries.

Many of the places worst affected by the Hamas attacks were Israeli agricultural communes lining the region bordering the Gaza Strip.

Mtenga's sister Christina Mtenga told AFP by phone that they had paid their "final respects".