Red Pepper Uganda

Tanzania’s Conjoined Twins, Die At 21

Tanzanian conjoined twins Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti have died at the age 21 after suffering respiratory complications at a local hospital.

The women, who were joined from the navel downwards and shared organs like the liver and lungs, had two hearts and separate heads and arms.

They were admitted to hospital in December due to issues relating to heart disease but died on Saturday.

The twins were popular in Tanzania and the news has caused sadness nationwide.

Many people took to social media on Sunday to send messages of condolence to the family and friends.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli tweeted that he was “saddened” by their deaths, adding that Consolata and Maria had “dreamed of serving the nation”.

“I am saddened by the death of twins, Maria and Consolata. When I last visited them at hospital they prayed for the nation. My condolences to their family… Rest in peace my children,” President Magufuli tweeted.

SAD: Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti became heroes for the disabled in TZ

The twins were abandoned by their mother after the death of their father, and later taken in by a Catholic mission.

In an emotional statement on state television last July, Maria urged parents not to “hide or lock up their handicapped children”.

“They must know they as human beings, handicapped or not, are equal and have the same rights,” she said.

At the time, the sisters, who enjoyed knitting and cooking together, thanked the teachers who helped them through high school, as well as the government who provided a vehicle to take them from their home to school each day.

“We didn’t expect this day to come, it is by the grace of God that we are here today,” said Consolata, the chattier of the two, on their admission to university.

In an interview last year, the twins said that after they had completed their university education, they wanted to become teachers.

“We will teach using a projector and computers,” they said.

People later remarked on their determination to acquire higher education qualifications regardless of a challenging system, which often found their condition hard to accommodate.

They were able to continue their studies as they grew older thanks in part to funding from local government and private donations.

Maria and Consolata, who were against the idea of being surgically separated, also told the BBC that they hoped to get married to one husband someday.

The two, whose parents died while they were still infants, were raised by the Catholic charity Maria Consolata, which had adopted and named them.

Last year, their high school graduation triggered a wave of congratulatory messages nationwide.

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