With the sudden transition of one of Tanzania’s veteran actor, Steven Kanumba, on Friday, a number of state governors and many of Kanumba’s younger colleagues have continued to eulogize his virtues and qualities.
President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete yesterday joined millions of Tanzanians to pay tribute to the late Kanumbaa. While recalling his beginning with his role in a movie Johari, which first featured Kanumba, Ray, Johari and others in 2004, Dar to Lagos (directed by Femi Ogedegbe (Nigerian) featuring Nkiru Silvanus, Mercy Johnson and Emanuel France (Nigerians), Family Tears featuring Richard BBA 2 winner and Kanumber’s girlfriend Lulu and his part in Devil Kingdom with Ramsey Nouah Tonkubo (Nigerian), Uncle JJ and many more, Kikwete said Kanumba remained a leading and dominant figure on the country’s very vibrant acting scene until his death.

“His professional accomplishments helped to raise the profile of the Tanzanian actor on the contemporary stage. I urge members of his family, his fans across Tanzania, his colleagues in Bongo Movie to take solace in the knowledge that he was a most accomplished artiste, a natural and gifted entertainer, who will always be remembered with respect and admirations.”

East African league Minister Samuel Sitta described him as an extraordinarily gifted thespian whose mastery of his craft on both stage and screen was unrivalled. Said Sitta: “Kanumba was a cultural model, who truly belonged to the class of greats in the world of creative arts…I hope his unwavering commitment to his chosen profession, discipline and legacy of high standards would serve as source of inspiration to generations of up and coming artistes.”
He brought smiles to the faces of Tanzanians with his witty roles in almost all his movies.”

In the same vein, Steps Entertainment director Jairaj, said: “We will not forget Kanumba’s ability to get our ribs cracking with laughter with his hilarious performances…he was a polyglot, who did not only speak the major languages in Tanzania but could easily have passed as an indigene of any of the regions of the country.”

Madam Rita the BSS boss when she spoke with me, she also said: “Kanumba! That’s some treasure gone! Many of us, we will miss the tiger on stage, self pronounced, albeit indisputable senior artiste of Tanzania. His versalitility gave him an easy inroad into Bongo Movie.

As for me (Selles Mapunda) a Tanzanian movie write, Director and Producer, “Kanumba was a professional and I have no doubt he died before finishing to do what we loved best.”
“In civilized countries, the acting style of the late actor would have been studied and taught to upcoming actors who wish to carve a niche for themselves. I can simply describe him as a serious performer who set a standard in the industry. ‘’When you see him, you see an all rounded performer. Bongo Movie will miss him, his professionalism, the fun he added on set because he was a very funny person that gave him the name Uncle JJ. He will be remembered from his glaring contribution to the industry because he lived for acting.’’

For what I know inside the Tanzanian movie industry the tragedy that has lately befallen the entertainment industry is troubling.
“It is sad news and a great loss to the entertainment industry. I pray that God will comfort his friends and family at this trying period of their lives. Although I met him in 3 hours before his death, I will miss his funny, natural attributes as an actor. I have watched and worked together in some of his movies and I ended up laughing so much. He was a born entertainer, who cannot be replaced. We in the industry wish and pray that there will be no more deaths in the industry. Tanzania has lost an icon, a major contributor to the growth of the movie industry.”

Another Bongo Movie actress, Wema Sepetu, also said she would miss the late actor because of his uniqueness. “There is no one like him in the industry as he was someone who cannot be replaced. He was a rare breed, a natural entertainer and actor, who derived great pleasure from what he did. I am going to miss his lively but funny personality. May his soul rest in peace.”

Tanzania’s foremost Film maker, Jacob Stephen JB, described late Kanumba as one of the best actors Tanzania had produced. He ranked the late actor among the likes of Jimmy Ike, Desimond Eliot from Nigeria, and John Dumelo of Ghana.

Single Mtambilike (Bonge la Bwana) is yet to come to terms with the news that Kanumba has left the Bongo Movie industry. “If it is true that Kanumba is dead, this is one blow too many on Bongo Movie. I pray a stop to the incessant deaths, plaguing the industry. This is a wake up call for all of us to seek the Lord while He may be found.”

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