Dr Fratern Mboya: Life well lived - An obituary

Dr Fratern Mboya.The old adage that dynamites come in small packages seems to rightly apply to Dr Fratern Mboya, who was not only humble, tiny and short in stature but also had super brains that made him a force to reckon with.

You would realise, Dr Mboya’s brain capacity once he opened his mouth to speak. The soft spoken fundi had a strong and authoritative voice that easily depicted his intelligence, confidence and ability to impart comfort on his listeners. 

It is, however, heartrending that Dr Mboya’s sphere of influence had to be cut short as he passed away on Thursday July 23, 2013, at Regency Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

The news of the untimely death of Dr Mboya shocked me to the bone as it robbed the nation of a think tank. The death took him at a time when the media in this land needed him most— especially on the formation of Enterprise Growth Market— the new wing of Dar es Salam Stock Exchange for starter up and small businesses.

What shocked me most was that the day I received the news of his death; I was about to call him to followup on one of many stories we had discussed barley two months ago: the listing of new and the first companies at EGM. Instead of calling him straight, as he was the Managing Director of the Enterprise Growth Market Advisors (EGMA), I thought it best to first check up with Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA).

When I called CMSA Principal Public Relation Officer, he did not pick up my call and rather, he returned a text message telling me he was at the burial ceremony for Dr Mboya. I had a difficult moment believing the news and stomaching the sad reality was not easy to say the least.

He was my close source on capital markets and securities. To me and I know to many, one of the most hard things to deal with in life is the death of a loved one. Despite becoming a common phenomenon as we are exposed to more deaths these days, the death of a loved one is never easy and too hard to accept. The Bible teaches us in Romans 14:8 that, “For if we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord.

So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” But, despite having this comfort, death remains a bitter pill to swallow for humanity. Having made in his respective field, Dr Mboya, set up the EGMA office with two other partners after retiring from a long public office stint, the latest being the founding Chief Executive Officer of CMSA where he worked for 17 years from 1995 to 2011.

The man was very humble and very open. I remember when he was the CEO of CMSA; he used to give me an interview regardless of where we met. At several times, when the ‘Daily News’ newsroom was still located in the central business district, I used to bump on him along Samora Avenue where he will be coming or going to the then DSE headquarters at Twiga House.

We could stand, at the middle of pavements and talk for 30-minutes on sensitive stories regarding money markets. One of the pertinent stories we discussed was when the Postal and Telecom Act was drafted and debated. One of the Act sections wanted the tele-companies to list at DSE after being in business for three years. It was later, though, changed to voluntary from compulsory status.

Another story was stockbrokers request to up-lift foreigner’s ownership cap for listed companies at the bourse, from 60 to at least 70 per cent; this to date has not been squared off. Dr Mboya, usually let the question sink and after a brief digestion he would start by lecturing you humbly before arriving at the answer.

I think lecturing was important as he started heading CSMA without a product or a bourse to trade those products. He was a regulator with nothing to regulate in 1995. DSE was established in 1998 and TOL Gases was the first to be listed. To me, Dr Mboya was a special source, the talks hardly lasted five minutes and you’ll be glued to what he was telling you, because you won’t get tired of listening to his money market wisdoms.

I remember at my early stage of market reportage, I incorrectly reported the bourse activities, when we met he politely told me my mistakes and what I should look at when covering such stories. This encouraged me to keep seeking guidance from him from time to time despite his busy schedule. He was more than willing to address my education needs.

I think he realised that since the economy was yet to understand the money market and so were its journalists. He was one of many who sharpened my reporting skills on capital and securities. Today, Dr Mboya is no more, gone with him is his wisdom, freeness and humbleness.

He was a down to earth person and a news source per excellence and to be honest, I have not met such an informed and open source for my almost 15-years journalism career. Actually, when one of my colleagues heard the news of the death of Dr Mboya said, “We have lost a treasure on capital market.”

And the sector will never be the same again as his shoes are too big to be filled. The media fraternity, especially business desks will definitely be more poorer after losing not only an informed and friendly source but also a tutor and lecturer on capital markets. 

To you Dr Mboya, I say you left us too soon and your contributions to my career are immeasurable. May you rest in eternal peace.
Source: Daily News, reported by Abduel Elinaza from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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