Tanzania's beloved conjoined twin sisters, Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti, have died at the age of 21. Known for their determination and desire to overcome obstacles and gain an education as much as for their rare condition, the sisters were so well-known even Tanzania's president John Magufuli tweeted about their deaths, per BBC. "I am saddened by the death of twins, Maria and Consolata," the president wrote. "When I last visited them at hospital they prayed for the nation. My condolences to their family... Rest in peace my children." Maria and Consolata were admitted to a hospital after starting to suffer from cardiac issues back in January, according to AFP.
Despite some improvements, the twins died Saturday. Joined at the navel down and sharing lungs and a liver, their short lives were marked by both tragedy and triumph starting while they were still infants. The twins were raised by the Catholic charity Maria Consolata, for which they were named, after their mother abandoned them following the death of their father. In a country not known for its kindness toward the disabled, the twins became national figures after beating the odds to graduate from high school in 2017 before enrolling in college, an even more stunning accomplishment. They'd hoped to go on to serve their country as language and history teachers. (Read more conjoined twins stories.)