Retired Chief of the Tanzania Peoples Defense Forces (TPDF) General George Waitara is leading a team of 36 trekkers up the snow-capped and highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro to mark the 55th Anniversary of Tanzanian independence.
General Waitara was Chief of Defence Force between 2001 to 2007.
When the country (then Tanganyika) attained its Independence from Britain at midnight on the 9th of December 1961, the Uhuru Torch was lit on top of Mount Kilimanjaro to mark the occasion. The ‘Mwenge’ was also taken atop the mountain when Tanzania celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence in December 2011.
Tanzania’s founding Chief of Defence Forces, General Mrisho Sarakikya, has set the record of being the first Tanzanian who has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro the most. The retired General has climbed the peak over 40 times!
But General Waitara, who is also the chairman of TANAPA Board of Trustees, is a veteran when it comes to climbing the Kilimanjaro, the now retired chief of the defence force leads by example in this years celebratory climb. The theme for the expedition; To maintain cleanliness and safe environment on the ‘Crown of Africa!’.
During the initial ceremony of the expedition at Marangu gate yesterday, General Waitara explained that they took to the mountain to celebrate 55 years of independence with a particular emphasis on cleaning, protecting and conserving mount Kilimanjaro of Tanzania. The new chairman of the TANAPA also used the opportunity to declare war against poaching in the country “Tanapa should make sure all parks remain no go areas for poachers”, urging those those involved in poaching to find another Job.
The initial flag off ceremony was attended by government officials from Ministry of Natural resource and Tourism, Tanzania Tourist Board, The Director General of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Kilimanjaro regional Commissional, including District Executive Director, among many others.
Speaking during the ceremony at Marangu, The minister of Natural Resource and Tourism Professor Jumanne Magembe explained that the Uhuru Expedition, which has become an annual event to mark and celebrate Tanzania’s Independence, had year carried an additional message, of maintaining the cleanliness of the trails and encouraging domestic tourism.
“Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from many countries but you can only climb Mt. Kilimanjaro from its home in Tanzania.”
The six-day Mt. Kilimanjaro expedition dubbed ‘Uhuru Expedition 2016’ through the famous Marangu route was organized by the Zara Tanzania Adventures (Zara tours).
The mountain Chief Guide supervising the expedition, Faustine Chombo explained that in the group there were top government officials including Ambassador Charles Sanga, The chief of Land force TYC General Mwaseba, amongst many others.
“I have experience of over 20 years on mountain climbing as a professional mountain guide; and I’m happy I’m leading this historical event marking the independence of our country, Chombo said.
One of the trekkers of this year’s Uhuru Expedition commended the role played by Zara Tours in promoting tourism in the country as well as creating employment. The founder and Director of Zara Tours Ms. Zainab Ansell said various achievements have been attained in tourism sector in 55 years since our country’s independence.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the ‘Rooftop of Africa’ at 5895 m, is arguably one of the biggest attractions in Africa, in which there is always a special recognition for those who take the liberty and risk to experience it in their lifetime.