Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday pledged to issue 100 million Tanzanian shillings (about 44,000 U.S. dollars) to reward Jumanne Ngoma who discovered tanzanite gemstone.
Magufuli made the pledge when speaking at the official launch of the perimeter wall built around tanzanite mines in Mererani area in northern Tanzania’s region of Manyara. Magufuli described the tanzanite discoverer as one of Tanzania’s unsung heroes. He said the money would help him in different ways, including meeting treatment expenses of Ngoma who is now half paralyzed. “Ngoma is a veritable Tanzanian hero. But what did he get after discovering Tanzanite about 50 years ago? Nothing. Nothing at all. In fact it is people from other countries who have benefited more from this unique gemstone,” he said.
According to Magufuli, the first Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere signed the certificate of recognition for Ngoma in 1980, but there was no financial reward for his efforts. “He was later, in 1984 given another certificate of recognition by the government for scientific discovery. But he has been struggling financially for all this time,” Magufuli noted. “We must stop this wrong habit of neglecting people who do great things for this country,” he said. The gemstone was discovered by Ngoma in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania, in a very small mining area (approximately 7 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide) near the Mirerani Hills. In September 20, 2017, Magufuli ordered the military to build walls around its tanzanite mines and directed the central bank to buy the precious stone to boost reserves, following a spat with mining firms over alleged tax evasion. Magufuli’s government accuses mining firms of cheating Tanzania out of its fair share of mineral wealth through tax dodging and smuggling, allegations that they have denied.