Tanzania mourns conjoined twins, dead after heart ailment

DAR ES SALAAM: Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti, conjoined twins who captured the hearts of Tanzanians, have died at the age of 21, according to a hospital statement on Sunday. Maria and Consolata died on Saturday at Iringa Regional Hospital in south-western Tanzania, where they were being treated for heart complications, the hospital said in a statement. They died within two hours of each other. Tanzanian President John Magufuli mourned their passing, saying he had met the twins on an earlier occasion. “It is a great loss,” the president said in a statement. “When I met them few weeks ago, they prayed for the country and they showed high eagerness to serve their nation.”

The two were born in Makete in Njombe Region in south-western Tanzania in 1996, conjoined at the chest, sharing a torso and lower body. After their parents died, Catholic nuns raised them. They completed high school last year and were planning to become teachers. In earlier interviews with local media, they said they believed technology would help them overcome their disability and enable them to work in a classroom. “We have started learning computer and we know that, through computer, we can be teachers and attend classes,” they said. The Tanzanian government paid for the twins’ university education. While at the Catholic University of Ruaha in Iringa, they would go to campus before classes started in order to learn how to use a computer. — dpa