Characteristics Of Samia Suluhu Hassan have been unveiled
OpenLife Nigeria reports that the world in general and East Africa in particular woke on Wednesday, March 17, unsuspecting of what would happen in Tanzania, an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas.
By the end of the day, the 60 years old country by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park, went to bed, mourning.
The President of the country, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, was announced dead at age 61.
Magufuli died in a Dar es Salaam hospital, twenty days after his last public appearance. The late president was rumored to be suffering from COVID-19, which he long denied was present in Tanzania.
However, official statement said he died of heart failure.
He served as the fifth president of Tanzania from 2015 until his death in 2021. He served as Minister of Works, Transport and Communications from 2000 to 2005 and 2010 to 2015 and was chairman of the Southern African Development Community from 2019 to 2020.
He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995, he served in the Cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2005, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works for a second time from 2010 to 2015.
He ran as the candidate of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the country’s dominant party.
Magufuli won the October 2015 presidential election and was sworn in on 5 November 2015; he was re-elected in 2020.
He ran on a platform of reducing government corruption and spending while also investing in Tanzania’s industries but was accused of having had increasingly autocratic tendencies seen in restrictions on freedom of speech and a crackdown on members of the political opposition. Magufuli was known for promoting misinformation about COVID-19 during his leadership over the pandemic in Tanzania. After a lengthy absence from public appearances, unconfirmed rumours circulated that he, himself, had been hospitalized with the disease. His death on 17 March 2021 was attributed to a long-standing heart issue by the government.
Magufuli will be remembered for infrastructural renewal and promoting the country’s airline.
Since nature abhors vacuum, his deputy, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has been sworn in as President of Tanzania.
Hassan, mother of four, was born on January 27, 1960 in Zanzibar, a former slaving hub and trading outpost in the Indian Ocean.
Then still a Muslim sultanate, Zanzibar did not merge formally with mainland Tanzania for another four years.
Her father was a school teacher and her mother, a housewife. Hassan graduated from high school but has said publicly that her finishing results were poor, and she took a clerkship in a government office at 17.
By 1988, after undertaking further study, Hassan had risen through the ranks to become a development officer in the Zanzibar government.
She was employed as a project manager for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) and later in the 1990s was made executive director of an umbrella body governing non-governmental organisations in Zanzibar.
In 2000, she was nominated by the CCM to a special seat in Zanzibar’s House of Representatives. She then served as a local government minister – first for youth employment, women and children and then for tourism and trade investment.
In 2010, she was elected to the National Assembly on mainland Tanzania. Then-President Jakaya Kikwete appointed her as Minister of State for Union Affairs.
She holds university qualifications from Tanzania, Britain and the United States. The mother of four has spoken publicly to encourage Tanzanian women and girls to pursue their dreams.
Hassan is the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.
The 61-year-old Tanzania first-ever female president took the oath of office on Friday.
The inauguration was witnessed by members of the cabinet and former presidents at the statehouse in Dar es Salaam.
Some citizens say Hassan’s new leadership could bring about positive changes to the country..
“We are praying [for] the best to her,” Joseph Aboubakar, who lives in Dar es Salaam, told VOA. “Our mother has already taken the country’s leadership and we believe she will lead the country in a good direction.”
Aboubakar added that Hassan is not new to leadership, as she has been in a top position for more than five years.
Kyande Muro, a small kiosk owner in Dar es Salaam, said raising people’s incomes would be the best thing the new president could do, and that he would like the new president to attract more investment in the country so people in the streets can find jobs.
Some see Hassan’s presidency as challenging the stereotype that women cannot hold top leadership positions.
Rose Reuben, a chairperson of the Tanzania Media Women Association, said she believes that Tanzania is going to move forward under Hassan’s leadership.
In addition, Nadou Sasegbon, a journalist, while speaking with OpenLife Nigeria said Hassan is a quite woman whose actions speak louder than words.
“She is well loved by Tanzanian and among party members. The characteristics of Hassan are enviable ”
Continuing Sasegbon stressed that Hassan’s first assignment would be to recall exiled Tanzanians who fled the country as a result of what has been described as the hostile tendency of late Magufuli.
To demonstrate that her regime would enjoy peaceful co operation, the opposition political party in the country is said to have congratulated her, a development that speaks volume of acceptance and belief.
List of Female African Presidents
Slyvie Kiningi, Acting President of Burundi (February – October 1993)
The first female President in Africa was Slyvie Kiningi. She was the Prime Minister of Burundi from February 10, 1993 to October 7, 1994. During this period, she served as the acting President of the country from October 27, 1993 to February 5, 1994 when the incumbent President Melchior Ndadaye was shot together with 6 of his officials. After his death, Kiningi gathered 15 ministers to continue to govern the country. Thus, technically making her the first female president on the continent.
Ivy Matsepe-Cassaburi, Acting President of South Africa (September 2005)
Ivy Matsepe-Cassaburi also served temporarily as the acting President of South Africa when the President and his vice were out of the country for four days in September of 2005. She was also selected by the cabinet to serve as the constitutional and official head of state for an interim period of 14 hours on September 25, 2008. This was the period between the resignation of the current President Thabo Mbeki and the taking of office by the Kgalema Motlanthe.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia ( January 2006 – January 2018)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first elected President who served two consecutive terms after winning the 2005 and 2011 Presidential elections. She had initially run for Presidential office in 1997 against Charles Taylor, but she lost. During her tenure she was also elected Chair of the Economic Community of West African States in June of 2016.
Rose Francine Rogombe, Interim President of Gabon (June 2009 – October 2009)
Rose Francine Rogombe served as interim President of Gabon from June 2009 to October 2009 after the death of President of Omar Bongo. As President of the Senate at that time, she automatically became the Head of State because she was constitutionally the first in line for presidential succession.
Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau, Acting President of Mauritius (March – July 2012 and May – June 2015)
Agnes Monique Ohsan Bellepeau was the Acting President of Mauritius from March 31, 2012 – July 21, 2012. This was the transition period between the resignation of the current President Anerood Jugnauth to the inauguration of the new President Kailash Purryag. She served again as Acting President between the resignation of Purryag and the inauguration of the new President, Ameenah Gurib from May 29, 2015 – June 5, 2015.
Joyce Hilda Banda, President of Malawi (April 2012 – May 2014)
Joyce Hilda Banda served as President of Malawi from April 7, 2012 to May 31, 2014 following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She was the country’s fourth President. She was also the country’s first female Vice President (May 2009 to April 2012). In 2014, Forbes named President Banda as the 40th most powerful woman in the world and the most powerful woman in Africa.
Catherine Samba, Acting President of Central African Republic (January 2014 – March 2016)
Catherine Samba Panza was the Acting Head of State of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016. She became interim President when rebel leader Michael Djotodia resigned from his self appointed Presidency. Before she took on this role, she was the mayor of the capital city Bangui from 2013 to 2014.
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius (June 2015 – March 2018)
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was the first female President of Mauritius from 2015 to 2018. She was selected to be a Presidential candidate in 2014 following the resignation of then President Kailash Purryag. She was unanimously elected President by the National Assembly.
Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia ( October 2018 – Present)
Sahle-Work Zewde is the first elected female President of Ethiopia and currently the only female out of the 54 Presidents in Africa. She took office on October 25, 2018 after being unanimously elected by members of the National Parliamentary Assembly. Prior to her election as President, she worked as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union.