Under normal circumstances most people would fail to answer how a person could be a student and a politician rolled into one, especially when the student is an elected Member of Parliament in a poor country like Tanzania.
But to 24-year-old Felix Mkosamali, the student-cum-parliamentarian at the centre of this subject, the answer is simple. The NCCR-Mageuzi MP representing Muhambwe Constituency in the august House says it is all about commitment.
Mkosamali’s name generated an unprecedented interest after the results of the Parliamentary election for Muhambwe Constituency in Kibondo district, western Tanzania’s Kigoma region along the shorelines of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s second deepest lake bordering Burundi were out.
The interest surrounded the circumstances in the race under which Mkosamali defeated strong candidates, some the age mates of his father.
He defeated the likes of Arcado Ntagazwa, a veteran politician who became CCM MP for Muhambwe in the 1980s when Mkosamali was not born. For that reason alone, it is enough to conclude the NCCR- Mageuzi MP defeated “his father” who had sought election on Chadema ticket.
Young and literally penniless Mkosamali also defeated affluent businessman Jamal Abdallah who threw his card into the Parliamentary race on CCM ticket. As such he has achieved what majority of his age cannot dream of.
The young man confides that he started developing interest in politics in 1995. He attended all the presidential campaign rallies held in Kibondo to listen to presidential aspirants. He said the then NCCR- Mageuzi chairman Augustine Mrema impressed him immensely.
A fourth-year law student at St.Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) in Mwanza, Mkosamali is well known in Kibondo where he studied at Kibondo Primary School from 1994 to 2000.
After that in 2001 he joined Malagalasi Community Secondary School for Ordinary Level of secondary education, also in Kibondo.
In 2005 he was enrolled at St. Patrick Secondary School located at Tegeta, Dar es Salaam for Advanced Level of secondary education. After completing A-level studies, he engaged in teaching English Language and History at Bon Council Mission Secondary School in Kibondo as a part time teacher.
While teaching, Mkosamali developed deep interest in activist ideas that he believes boosted his popularity. Even after joining SAUT for an LLB degree course in late 2007, he continued teaching at Bon Council Mission Secondary School. Apart from teaching, the law student went on practical law training at the Kibondo primary court.
During the second year of studies at SAUT, he had practical training in Mwanza with advocates, but whenever he got an opportunity, he says, he rushed to Kibondo where he spent time doing politics.
Last year, he says, he was elected Chadema (Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo political party) chairman for Kibondo district and a member of the party’s National Executive Committee.
He recalls how in 2008 he vied for the position of president of SAUT students’ organisation but his name was axed from the list of candidates reportedly on the grounds that he was too radical. However, after the election he was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs of the students’ organisation.
Mkosamali, who keeps himself simple in terms of appearance, says he made up his mind of participating in the Parliamentary race in 2008 but in February this year he crossed over to NCCR - Mageuzi after being disillusioned by the state of politics in Chadema.
“You know I like democracy but when I learnt that youths are not given freedom to speak their mind, like challenging certain personalities during election, it is when I decided to quit Chadema,” he says.
Mkosamali thinks he will be a very busy man to strike a balance between studies, party activities at the head office in Dar es Salaam and serving the electorate in Muhambwe constituency.
Showing how politics has never affected his studies, Mkosamali has never failed in a single subject; instead he has usually been scoring ‘As’ and ‘Bs’. In one subject, once, however, he says he scored a ‘C.’
The MP says the money he spent during election campaigns was either donated by relatives and close friends in Muhambwe or sent to him from the head office in Dar es Salaam. “I can tell you that elders, youth and children love me.”
To date Mkosamali has not received his second semester results of the third year because he still owes SAUT school fees. “I hope this time the SAUT management will be able to give me my results as I am now able to pay for the required fees,” he adds.
When the Parliamentary results were being released Mkosamali said he could not believe he had defeated both the veteran politician Ntagazwa and businessman Abdallah. Meanwhile, he thinks much about a daunting task ahead - of serving the electorate. However, he says he is happy he is completing studies next June, when he should be able to serve his electorate most effectively.
Mkosamali says Muhambwe Constituency lags behind almost in everything; from education, health, poverty, to scarcity of electricity, all of which pose a big challenge to him.
The young MP believes in unity and is irked on seeing signs that could lead to the opposition parties failing to cooperate in the House. He says young people should vie for political positions and stop thinking that politics is a preserve of a few individuals in the society.