At the eve of Tanzania's independence, Brig. Nyirenda hoisted Tanzania's flag (then Tanganyika) on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro as the Union Jack was lowered at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
|Lt. Alex Nyirenda, with Tanganyika's flag and the Uhuru torch, at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro on the eve of Tanzania's independence, 9 December 1961 (Photo courtesy of Tanzania Information Services)|
We the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro which would shine beyond our borders giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where there was before only humiliation.That candle (which came to be known to Tanzanians as the Uhuru torch) was placed on Mt. Kilimanjaro by Nyirenda, and signalled Tanzania's long and unwavering commitment to the liberation struggle of those African countries that remained in the early sixties under colonialism and white minority rule.
Brig. Nyirenda was the first Tanganyikan in 1958 to graduate from Sandhurst Military Academy in England. He also became, prior to independence, the first African to become an officer in the King's African Rifles.
He was also related, through a common ancestor, to former Zambian President, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, which is a stark reminder to Africans that they are often closer to each other than artificial boundaries would indicate.