50th DEATH ANNIVERSARY: Meet Mwl Mathew Douglas Ramadhani
By a Correspondent, 28th February 2011
IT is 50 years today since Mwalimu Mathew Douglas Ramadhani died. Mwalimu Mathew was a man of many firsts – he was Tanzania’s first university graduate, first black education officer and first black secondary school headmaster.
Born on September 11, 1915 in Zanzibar, Mwalimu Mathew was the fifth out of 10 children of Mwalimu Augustino Ramadhani and Bibi Margaret Majaliwa. Mwalimu Augustino was the founder and the first president of the African Association (AA) of Zanzibar in 1936.
Mwl Mathew got his education at St Paul’s High School in Zanzibar from September, 1925 to July, 1931, when he completed Standard Six and proceeded to St Andrew’s College, Minaki, Kisarawe, where he obtained the Grade I Teachers’ Certificate in 1936. At Minaki, for three consecutive years, he was the Head Prefect.
He then went to Makerere College, Uganda, for two years and obtained the Cambridge School Certificate in 1938.
Because of his father’s death on August 28, 1938, he was permitted by the Director of Education of Tanganyika, who had sponsored him, to terminate his studies in Makerere and to return to Zanzibar to teach at St Paul’s High School, Kiungani, since the school had a majority of pupils from Tanga.
On September 6, 1942, he married Bridget Anne Constance Masoud, a fellow teacher who qualified in 1940 at Kitchwele Girls School, Dar es Salaam.
Five years later, in September, 1947, Mwalimu Mathew obtained a two-year Colonial Development and Welfare Scholarship for Zanzibar and went to the London Institute of Education where he obtained a Teachers’ Professional Certificate in 1948.
He was advised to proceed to a three year degree course as it would be difficult to return to England for a degree. However, the Zanzibar Government was reluctant to sponsor him beyond the initial two years.
One of the reasons given was that the government could not guarantee an employment for him as a graduate! Nevertheless, he went ahead using the funds of the remaining one year of scholarship.
He proceeded to Sheffield University where he studied English, Geography, Mathematics and Economics.
He then toiled for his second under graduate year by washing dishes in hotels and restaurants. His eldest brother, Francis Cecil Ramadhani, contributed immensely by looking after Mathew’s family of a wife and three children: Marina, Augustino and Henry.
However, he was lucky to secure a Colonial Development and Welfare Scholarship for Tanganyika for his third year and he graduated with B.A. (Econ) in 1951.
Because of the scholarship for the third year, he was required to work in Tanganyika for at least three years and he was to teach at St Andrew’s College, Minaki, Kisarawe.
However, a misunderstanding over the terms of service led him to join the Department of Education of Tanganyika as an Assistant Education Officer, though a graduate and was posted to Mpwapwa Secondary School in April, 1952.
On June 9, 1953, he was promoted as an education officer and was posted to Tabora Senior Boys’ Secondary School as a teacher from January 1954 to December 1958, when he returned to Mpwapwa as the Headmaster.
In September 1960, he went to Manchester University for further studies and met his death in a train accident at Guidebridge Station, Ashton-under-Lyne, on March 1, 1961, leaving behind a widow and eight children.
He was buried a week later at the Southern Grave Yard, Manchester, after the Government of Tanganyika decided not to bring his body back home.
The late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere had all through wanted Mwalimu Mathew to resign from teaching and assist the late Mzee Abeid Amani Karume in the fight for the independence of Zanzibar.
Every time Mwl Nyerere was in Tabora he sent a taxi at night to pick Mwalimu Mathew for a discussion. However, Mwalimu Mathew was reluctant to join Zanzibar politics. There will be a service at the All Saints Cathedral at Vinghawe, Mpwapwa, where the Bishop’s throne and Canons stalls will be consecrated in his memory.
MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE - AMEN