On July 1-2, 2013, US President Barack Obama traveled with his family on a State visit to meet with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, reinforcing a long and friendly relationship between the two nations. Fifty years previously, in 1963 (then) Tanganyika’s first President, Julius Nyerere, had travelled to Washington to meet President John F. Kennedy. In 1966, Robert Kennedy, as a US Senator from New York, also made an official visit to the African nation.
Obama received an enthusiastic reception, with admirers lining the parade route between the airport and the State House. On arrival, Kikwete showed him a sign designating the newly re-named ‘Barack Obama Drive’, a picturesque street that fronts the State House and runs along the Indian Ocean. After an afternoon press conference, a tree planting ceremony on the grounds was held in the evening, with Obama planting an mpingo, the national tree of Tanzania. When observing this ceremony on television, Sebastian Chuwa commented that he was touched to see the tree being so honored in international circles and recalled that he himself, some years ago, had planted two mpingo trees on the State House grounds.
During his stay, Obama announced several new initiatives to the peaceful East African nation. Power Africa, in partnership with the African Development Bank, will attempt to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Trade Africa will boost trade both internally and internationally, with initiatives beginning in eastern Africa. An executive order will aid anti-poaching efforts to overcome the alarming increase in elephant and rhino slaughter that has re-commenced across Africa.
During the visit Michelle Obama attended the African First Ladies’ Summit in Dar es Salaam with First Lady Salma Kikwete officiating. It was also attended by George and Laura Bush and Cherie Blair, wife of Tony Blair.
Makuyuni Planting Project
Since 2008 we have been reporting on an mpingo planting project in Makuyuni. As a result of funding by the British Good Gifts Catalogue Sebastian sought out a village area where large numbers of mpingo could be planted. In Tanzania, each village has at its disposal some amount of land that is held in common and a Village Community Council decides how that land can be used for the best interests of its citizens.
In Makuyuni it was decided to devote some acreage of their community land to the growing of mpingo, in association with the ABCP. This has been an ongoing effort, involving many village workers and keeping the ABCP Moshi Mpingo Plot nursery attendants busy in producing seedlings for the project. Residents of Makuyuni have been devoted to the project, even digging by hand a 1½ mile pipeline to bring water to the plot from a nearby water source. Mr. Gladstone Mariki, a Makuyuni landowner, supervises work at the project site.
Since most of the funding for the project is given to villagers who help with the planting and infrastructure effort, many of the villagers have been able to improve their lives. They have repaired and renovated houses, or purchased bicycles, farm implements and supplies.
Most notably, some have been able to send their children to secondary school, often a rare privilege in African society. This year the village allocated
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James E. Harris, © 2000.
Last revised 13 Nov 2013.