The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

How Ali Hassan Mwinyi escaped death in Cairo when Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat was being assassinated

Former Tanzanian President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who passed away in Dar-es-salaam on the last day of February 2024, could have actually died in Cairo, October 1981 as he recalls in his autobiography.

Ali Hassan Mwinyi had apparently just left Egypt where he served as Tanzanian Ambassador for four years, from 1978 to the first week of October 1981.

“A few days after I left Cairo, the then Egyptian President, Mohammed Anwar Sadat, got assassinated,” wrote Mwinyi in his now iconic book, ‘Mzee Rukhsa,’ published by Mkuki na Nyota through the Uongozi Institute series.

Anwar Sadat was the third President of Egypt, who was killed on 6 October 1981 during the annual victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate the success of Operation Badr.

Through Operation Badr the Egyptian Army managed to cross the Suez Canal and annexed back the Sinai Peninsula from Israel at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War.

It was suspected that the assassination of President Sadat could have been the work of the members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

If he hadn’t left Cairo a few days earlier, Ali Hassan Mwinyi who was the Tanzanian envoy in Egypt would have been seated very close to President Sadat during the annual celebrations and at the time of the terrorists’ attacks.

“I wouldn’t have been seated very far from Sadat and chances are I could also have been killed in the resulting violence,” recalls Mwinyi.

Before being sent to Egypt, Ali Hassan Mwinyi recalls being summoned by the then President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere at the latter’s house in Msasani area of Dar-es-salaam.

Upon arriving there in his self driven car, Mwinyi was received by the head of state who stated that he wanted to send him to Nigeria to serve as the country representative there.

A few days later, Nyerere summoned Mwinyi again and broke the news that he and the then Minister of Foreign affairs, Benjamin William Mkapa had decided that Hassan would serve the country better in Egypt than Nigeria.

After returning from Egypt, Ali Hassan Mwinyi was anointed to serve as the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, before again being made the Minister of State, President’s office in-charge of the matters of Union.

He was later to climb ladders into Zanzibar presidency before again becoming the overall Tanzanian Head of State.

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