by David Brewin
Huge crowds lined the streets, often twelve deep, with warm welcoming smiles on their faces. There were also a few articles in the media from some of the professional classes questioning President Obama’s motives in coming to Tanzania. This probably sums up the historic visit by President Obama to Dar es Salaam from June 29 to July 1 accompanied by a large contingent of business leaders.
And then, by coincidence, another American President was found to be there too. Former President Bush, who had made himself popular in the country by arranging substantial support for a big US-supported AIDS relief programme which had saved many lives. He was attending a conference on empowering African women, organised by an institute he had founded after leaving office. Mrs Bush was holding a summit meeting for African first ladies.
And then there was somebody else reported to be on the way from her home near Kisumo in Kenya. It was Mama Sara, President Obama’s grandmother and the second wife of his maternal grandfather.
President Obama in his speeches stressed America’s commitment to improving electricity supplies as well as other aid and investment. At the end of the visit, as the Global edition of the New York Times put it (Thank you Elsbeth Court for sending this) the two presidents stood solemnly together as a US marine placed a wreath to mark the memory of the Tanzanians who were killed in the US embassy grounds by Al Qaeda terrorists fifteen years ago.