The visit coincided with equally important events such as the Smart Partnership Dialogue, the Opening of Saba Saba International Trade Fair by King Mswati II and the Summit of the First Ladies held here in Dar es Salaam.
What appeared strange but a reality was the presence of two Presidents, Bush and Obama meeting in a foreign land and sharing a function in paying homage to the Al Qaeda bombing victims of 1998 in Dar es Salaam. Could it be a reminiscent to the famous British Explorers, David Livingstone and H.M.
Stanley when they met at Ujiji in Kigoma on Nov 10, 1871, when Stanley uttered in disbelief! “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” However, the two days of Obama’s presence in Dar e Salaam, the traffic jam disappeared; the city was immaculately clean with unbelievably fewer vehicles in the streets; and the people full of ecstasy that could be equated to Obama-philia!
I would not like to imagine that President Obama was more of a political actor rather than a real of himself. Surrounded with the highest security precautions never experienced in this country before, he could at least shake hands with a few lucky ones and yet he had to apologise for those who thronged the streets to see him only to be let down by the supersonic speed of the vehicle was moving in.
Indeed, he read the minds of the Tanzanians on those petty issues like dancing; he showed them at the Airport when dancing to the tune of brass band, football juggling, he displayed his talents at the Symbion Power Plant but to crown it all, mentioning of Thabeet was enough to show a sense of belonging with Tanzanians.
As expectedly, the Sports Pages of our local newspapers carried headlines with catchy words like ‘Obama Wamo.” On a serious note, Obama had a mission and a message to convey to Africa. His personal charm dictates on how to put across his messages as noted on those humorous interventions. In his maiden visit to Africa in Ghana, President Obama enunciated his vision of a new relationship between the United States and Africa.
It was in Ghana where Obama spoke against one man rule in Africa: “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions,” he said. Obama went on to tell Africa that the United States will increase assistance for responsible individual and responsible institutions and focus on supporting good governance, “on parliaments which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law and equal administration of justice.”
It is on the basis of this stand, Obama had singled out three countries for his second trip to Africa. He started with Senegal with its special uniqueness and probably had a case to prove with Senegal. It may be remembered that ever since United States embarked on fighting Al Qaeda, the United States government has been at pains to remind the world that it is not fighting against Muslims.
The United States has made points to show that it has good relationships with Muslim countries and Senegal is one of such countries. The second country was South Africa for obvious reasons of its economic might and how it has emerged from political conflict of apartheid to the now democratically elected government.
In its short history, it has exhibited real features of democratic vibrancy, the early peaceful exit from power of Thabu Mbeki giving way to Jacob Zuma, never experienced in African politics! The last country on his second African trip was Tanzania which seems to have attracted interest and awe from many African countries including its neighbours!
In my considered opinion, I feel Tanzania has gone a long way in meeting those requirements as advanced by the United Stated government that “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions, and the parliament should check abuses of power and ensure that the voice of opposition is heard and on the rule of law and equal administration of justice.” So are we in the right track?
Definitely we are; we may not see it because we do not want to accept the reality that we have a vibrant democratic dispensation. Democratic practice requires that the majority should win the day but the minority be allowed to talk.
That is how it is, and our parliament has won the respect of checking abuses of power and that the opposition voices are heard. The oversight committees are just doing that and we have seen some of the top officials losing their jobs! Basically that is what the United States wants. Mindful of corrupt governments, President Obama has made it clear that his country is ready to work in partnership with deserving countries and not dishing out aids.
The American investments aim at stimulating capacity development in order to improve development of the people. Tanzania has been made the hub of the seven billion US$ Power Africa Programme seeking to double access of electricity to Tanzania and other African countries. Another noted project is the Africa Trade which is the increased trade with Africa and USA.
This is envisaged to double the intra-regional trade in East African Countries by 40% and reduction by 15% average time needed to import or export container for Mombasa or Dar es Salaam ports to the landlocked countries. Youths will be empowered through a Fellows Programme where companies will be created to provide employment for the youth.
Fighting pouching to protect wildlife has also been funded. Ten billion US $ has been offered and shortly the executive order will be signed by President Obama for implementation. These aids from both China and USA, with the endowment of our abundant natural resources should we continue to be poor? God forbid! firstname.lastname@example.org +255754342711