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Tanzanians Review Highly Anticipated Obama Visit

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's commercial capital, is getting back to normal after two days in which the city found itself playing host to arguably the most powerful man on earth: President Barack Obama of the United States. The city's streets were inundated with posters of the man.

Image of President Barack Obama on a billboard in Dar Es Salaam. Photo courtesy of Sandy Temu.

Image of President Barack Obama on a billboard in Dar Es Salaam. Photo courtesy of Sandy Temu.

This instagrammer captured an image on one of the billboards and seemed quite pleased about the prospect of Obama's visit:

 

Folks lined up the streets to welcome the first African-American president to their shores, as the image posted with the tweet below demonstrates:

@shurufu: Tanzanians along Sokoine Drive waiting to welcome @BarackObama to #Tanzania. #ObamainTanzania #ObamainAfrica pic.twitter.com/yXMtpDE9KO

Screen shot 2013-07-03 at 2.00.23 PM

Obama was visiting Tanzania, as part of a week long, three-nation tour of Africa, his first comprehensive visit to the continent of his ancestral roots since he was first elected President in 2008. On the back of his arrival to Tanzania, Obama announced a $7 billion plan to invest in electricity initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. This, it was said, was at the core of the relationship the US President was trying to cultivate, one that is built on investment and partnership:

@whitehouse: “Ultimately, the goal here is for Africa to build Africa for Africans.” —Obama in Tanzania: http://at.wh.gov/mz2hT , pic.twitter.com/pnBCU7bSCQ

And upon landing, Obama received an especially warm reception, as photo-blogger Issa Michuzi was able to capture in this photograph the mood at Julius Nyerere International Airport:

President Obama arriving at Julius Nyerere International Airport. Photo courtesy of Issa Michuzi.

President Obama arriving at Julius Nyerere International Airport. Photo courtesy of Issa Michuzi.

Such images prompted one tweep to say this:

@bkyeyune: By the looks of the online images/photos, Obama had more fun in Tanzania than he had in South Africa.

The interest in Obama's visit extended farther than the streets of Dar es Salaam. Gaure Mdee (@Profesy) tweeted this image from Stone Town, Zanzibar showing people watching his visit on local television:

Zanzibaris watching Obama's visit on local television station. Photo courtesy of

Zanzibaris watching Obama's visit on local television station. Photo courtesy of @Profesy.

However, not everyone in the country was as enthused about Mr. Obama's visit. The gentleman in the YouTube video below posted by Omar A. Mohammed, Karabani, Ras Novatus and John Mahundi, who was working just a street away from where the presidential motorcade eventually passed through, suggested that Obama was in Tanzania purely for self-interested motives and that his time in Tanzania had nothing to do with helping the country or its people.

This view seemed to be shared by blogger Elsie Eyakuze of The Mikocheni Report who, a week ago, conjured up the word ‘neocolonialism’ in describing the relevance of Mr. Obama's visit:

Now there's going to be a delegation of hundreds of businessmen in the Obama entourage looking to explore opportunities in Tanzania. There is something disconcerting about being considered a sweet little morsel by America on the planet…Gas, Africom, the Millenium Challenge Corporation, businessmen – what are these in the face of our current situation? Yes, Barack Obama is coming to Tanzania. If he could bring along plane-load of respect for civil rights and inject it directly into my government's veins I would be happier. But I understand POTUS has a few problems of his own respecting the freedoms of Americans- like, say, freedom from state surveillance? *shrug.*

Over at Vijana.FM, there were complaints about why there was more brouhaha for this Head of State than usually afforded to other visiting Presidents:

I can understand the vast security preparations for him, but should we only clean up when we have a high profile guest? I understand that he comes to visit our country and maybe he has good things in store, but our reaction to his visit is absurd. What message are we sending to our fellow African states, and most importantly, to the world? What message are we passing along to the young generation, the leaders in the making?

Elsewhere, January Makamba, who also happens to be the Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, blogging at Taifa Letu, argued that it is not Tanzania, and in extension Africa, that needs the US. Rather, it was America that needed Africa more:

America’s global leadership remains robust – at least for now. One way to retain and strengthen it in the face of insecure world and a deepening economic and cultural competition is to project it for the good of humanity. And this is the expectation of most Africans – that America shouldn’t befriend a country just for security or strategic concerns but because of advancement of shared values – of freedom, equality, tolerance and human progress.

Some Tanzanians seemed just glad to have Obama visit their country, a view encapsulated by the gentleman in the video below posted by Omar A. Mohammed, Karabani, Ras Novatus and John Mahundi, speaking after seeing the US President's motorcade pass through on its way to State House:

As Obama departed, Ahmed Salim (@asalim86) captured what the country felt yesterday evening:

@asalim86: …and POTUS [President of the United States] is gone, back to our regularly scheduled program in #Tanzania

And while the significance of his visit continues to be a point of contention, it seems like Mr. Obama is already entrenching his legacy into Dar es Salaam's identity:

@shurufu: #ObamainTanzania: The newly christened Barabara ya Barack Obama. Cc: @BarackObama pic.twitter.com/IuSXycqsL7

The newly christened Barabara [Road] ya Barack Obama. Image courtesy of @shurufu.

The newly christened Barabara [Road] ya Barack Obama. Image courtesy of @shurufu.

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