Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Weekly Sneak: Hail To The Chief

I have been asked a couple of times what Tanzanians think about Obama's impending visit- hazard of the job. Honestly, I haven't got the foggiest. I imagine there are those who are terribly excited, like, say, the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with State House and various political/business creatures who are certain to benefit directly. And then there's the rest of us, who hold a kaleidoscope of opinions.

So, you know, I'm just going to channel some solo opinion here. I do get the whole whoop-de-doo about being 'honored' with a visit from the Leader of the Free(ish) World. Symbolic win? Sure. I don't get why it's a competition to attract the attention of an American president, but since it apparently is, I am not above enjoying the thinly veiled venom of our disappointed 'competitors.' That said: meh. 

It's not personal. Barack Obama the human being is intensely appealing, so much so that I keep away from POTUS footage in order not to get dragged into his vortex. Best of all, he's married to Michelle. If I grow up, I want to be Michelle right after I am done being Morgan Freeman (don't ask, it's a long story). But this is the real world and he's the American president and I am one of those Africans who likes to toss the word 'neocolonialism' around:

"Supposedly between China and America we have been honored with diplomatic and economic attention. Ah, sure. Camaraderie, is it? We the plebeians are still asking ourselves and each other what was the exact nature of those very many contracts that we signed with China. 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 on the one hand, and China on the other."

Seemed mean-spirited to admit that at the moment I am far more preoccupied with issues of police brutality, internal security and civil rights, inflation and corruption and state incompetence than I am with presidents. And I don't think I am the only one. 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.*


  1. Heh, touché!

    I am curious how the reaction will be when he gets there. I am guessing people will be lining up just to witness the occasion.

    But yeah, I can't see any reason for the average person to be overly excited as it won't directly change their lives in any way.

    Still, I wish I was there. It may not be terribly significant to the countries fortunes, but it is still one of those historic occasions which it is nice to witness if you get a chance.

  2. Ten nil, you are right. The leader of the free (ish) world is coming over for a visit. Was this planned before or after Xi Jinping made a visit, are American interests in the country being infringed upon. And then there is the question of George Bush tagging along.

    Suspicious. Anyway yes,we should be worried about "kupigwa tu"!

  3. Is one of the reasons that he's coming to Tanzania cos Uhuruto won in Kenya, and M7 still being in power rather rules out Uganda? The supposed competition might not have been particularly fierce this time round.

  4. I too was very meh about all the fuss and brouhaha; yes, perhaps getting the POTUS to come see us in Bongo is a diplomatic win but that is never the whole story now, is it? Personally, I would like to see us recognising our own importance and valuing our own dignity more. We are Tanzania, nothing less. Let's be consistent. If Tzedians are some of the most friendly people in the world, we need to show this without discrimination or favouritism. I have no problem with how excited 'we' were; why lie, Obama moves me too. That said, now that the excitement is over, was it worth it?


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