Chief Simeon Laiseri

Born 1888

Dies 1983

Name ID 1803

See also

Arusha Times
Page Number: 311
Extract Date: 14 Jan 1948

first leadership of the United Waarusha community

Chief Simeon Laiseri posing with British Government officers at the official inauguration of the first leadership of the United Waarusha community on January 14, 1948. (File photo)

Extract ID: 4701

See also

Arusha Times
Page Number: 311
Extract Date: 1979

a special award

Chief Simeon Laiseri (left) presenting the late Mwalimu Nyerere with a special award at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha shortly after Tanzania’s victory in the 1978-79 war against Idd Amin Dada of Uganda (File photo).

Extract ID: 4700

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Arusha Times Reporters
Page Number: 311
Extract Date: 13 March 2004

Local hero ‘knocked out’

Chief Simeon Laiseri posing with British Government officers at the official inauguration of the first leadership of the United Waarusha community on January 14, 1948. (File photo)

The decision to change the identity of the road previously named after the legendary chief of the Waarusha community has annoyed various residents of the municipality and its environs.

Running between the Goliondoi roundabout and Sanawari junction via the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC), Simeon Road was on the 2nd of March this year, given a new name.

The road was christened, "Barabara ya Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki" (East African Community road) in a ceremony graced by Ugandan President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the current chairman of the EAC Heads of State.

This event preceded the official signing of the Customs Union protocol for the East African Community which was carried out by the three presidents of the EAC member states.

Speaking during the signing ceremony at the Sheikh Amri Abeid stadium, President Museveni lauded the Arusha Municipal Mayor, Paul Lotta Laizer for "donating" the road to EAC.

The news of the road-re-labelling reached the family of the late Chief Simeon, who later told The Arusha Times that they were shocked.

"We weren’t even contacted", said Mesiaki Simeon Kokan (67), the last born of the legendary chief and hero of the Waarusha tribe, when this paper visited his home at Olturoto village in Arumeru district.

Both Mesiaki and his wife, Hellen (61) admitted that they were irked by the decision to wipe out of public memory the first indigenous ruler of the Waarusha community.

Chief Simeon’s youngest grandson, Thadei Kokan lamented that the council had even ignored Simeon’s family. "They should have at least invited some family members to the road-naming occasion".

"He was the light of Arusha!" said Lazaro Simeon Kokan (85), the chief’s eldest son, when the Arusha Times visited his home also located in Arumeru.

Lazaro suggested that Simeon be given another road to immortalize his legend as the first chief to bring together the two communities of Waarusha namely Burka and Boru.

"In some ways it is also a legend that, Simeon’s name has kept one road long enough for it to mature into an East African one", added Lazaro. His views are also shared by the former head of the Arusha Town Council , Ismail Letawo who suggested that another road should be named after Simeon.

"A road like Goliondoi for instance", said Letawo, "Which was named after a river", he explained.

However, a Taxi driver operating from Sanawari was adamant: "Why should Simeon’s name be shifted?" he asked. "EAC should be given another unnamed road like the Kaloleni one which is being constructed". "They totally want to wipe out the history and presence of the Waarusha community, don’t they?" asked Gasper Mollel, a teacher in Arusha.

Other residents called for the remaining local elders to intervene and ensure that the old Simeon road has been restored in memory of the chief.

It took four phone calls before the Municipal Mayor, Paul Lotta Laizer finally made his comment.

"The decision to change Simeon road into EAC road was reached after the council received a letter of request from the Secretary of the East African Legislative Assembly", said the mayor.

Mayor Laizer, responding to the residents complaints said the council has decided to name the road which runs from Phillips junction to Kijenge roundabout after Simeon to replace the fallen identity.

However, the Philips-Kijenge roundabout road, had already been named after the first President of Tanzania. A large sign indicates that the road is actually called "Nyerere Road".

Died in April 1983 at the age of 95 years, Chief Simeon Laiseri Kokan Benne became the first "Orkasis" of the Waarusha community on the 14th January 1948.

Before that, Simeon was the "Orkasis" for the Boru community while his counterpart , Chief Simon headed the Burka community.

Later, the then British colonial rule, decided that the Waarusha tribe was rather small to be governed by two chiefs, hence a council of elders met and the two communities were united.

Both "Orkasises" Simeon (Boru) and Simon (Burka) resigned their positions, but after a new election, Simeon emerged the first Orkasis for the newly united Waarusha community. The chief was also instrumental in the campaign against colonialism.

Extract ID: 4699

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: lute wa lutengano
Page Number: 314
Extract Date: 3 April 2004

Crying with the Waarusha

My friend, whom I will not name for obvious reasons, is very upset. He originates from Ngorbob a village located in the southern suburbs of Arusha. Most residents of this municipality do not know where this village is. Take heart! I will delightfully be your temporary Arusha guide.

There is a famous village, a few kilometers after the Arusha airport, along Dodoma road. The village is very popular with Arusha residents who love ‘nyama choma’ and those frothy liquids imbibed profusely during weekends.

To most people, the village is known as Kisongo. But that is a misrepresentation. Kisongo happens to cover a bigger area which includes that village, whose actual name is Ngorbob.

Now when you go for your weekend ‘nyama choma’ to those popular joints located next to the village market, you are actually going to Ngorbob. But that is another story all together.

I said that my friend is very upset. His anger began a few weeks ago. Actually it began to boil up soon after the inauguration of the East African Customs Union. It was then that something very traumatic happened to him and, he says, to other members of the Waarusha tribe as well.

My friend requested me to accompany him around the down town streets of Arusha. We went down the Sokoine road, the main shopping street in town. He told me that the name Sokoine is in recognition of a famous Maasai leader, who, had it not been for his untimely death might have been President of Tanzania.

We then explored the side streets. And here he explained to me the cosmopolitan nature of Arusha. Streets were and are named after various tribes and lands in recognition of their people’s historical presence and that of their descendants in this part of the world.

We came across the Wasangu Street, these are from Mbeya region. Actually my mother is Sangu, I proudly proclaimed to my friend. Then there was the Lindi Street ­ you know Lindi is located deep-south near the border with Mozambique. The Wadigo Street, for the Tanga-line people was also there and the Wasukuma Street for the big tribe from western Tanzania was around.

Also there were the Wapare and Wachaga streets in recognition of people from Kilimanjaro region. The Zaramos from coast were not left out; they had a street in their name. So were the Makua from southern Tanzania, the Kikuyu from Kenya and Pangani from Tanga. There also was a street named after the migrants from the north, the Ehtiopia Street.

Even Seth Benjamin, the young man who lost his life marching in support of the Arusha Declaration had a street. And so was one Col. Middleton who, I am told, played a pivotal role in developing Arusha and her sports stadium.

Coming up to the Arusha Central Business District, my friend showed me India Street, in appreciation of the allegedly commercial role people who originated from India played in this town.

It was when we reached the street straddling the Arusha International Conference Centre that my friend’s anger boiled to the surface. Almost in tears he told me, "...and this is the only street which recognised the warmth and hospitality of the natives of this town. It used to be called Simeoni Street in recognition of the first chief of the united Waarusha. Now look what has happened!" he sobbed.

Truly the street had been re-named "Barabara ya Afrika Mashariki" ­ the ‘East African (community?) Street". I cried with him.

Extract ID: 4709
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