President’s Royal Tour should be backed by many local loyal tours

Tuesday May 03 2022
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu. PHOTO | POOL


What, has our president become a movie star? This has been one of the questions asked by the Dar es Salaam chattering classes, wondering just what was happening with President Samia Suluhu playing the lead role in a Royal Tour production depicting her showing off Tanzania’s tourism attractions in the company of an American super producer, Peter Greenberg.

The relative novelty of this kind of activity was guaranteed to kick up a comment storm, because, quite simply, presidents are not in the habit of starring in Hollywood-style productions, and a lot of time some people would incline to think that it is infra-dig for a head of state to abase herself by posing for the camera; she is supposed to be rather more dignified, above the reach of such popular media.

So, it is comprehensible that eyebrows would be raised, especially in a country where the movie-going culture itself is long dead. Samia’s predecessor and his advisers would have dismissed Greenberg as an “imperialist,” but it was these same advisers who facilitated this one!

Sneak view

When the public was afforded a sneak view of what she had been up to, the effect was not all that unwholesome, and in some areas it was even beautiful. This was a lady-boss opening the doors of her domicile to visitors to allow them an insight into her family home and life, to allow the world to reach across, touch and feel.

All in all, I thought it came off well. Let me tell you, I have had occasion to be mortally embarrassed when, as a young man on a summer vacation in the 1970s, I wandered into a matinee theatre in the Quartier Latin of Paris, only to find out that they were screening some “royal tour” of sorts about a real-life film of Iddi Amin, where the big buffoon was talking to crocodiles “as friends” and haranguing his ministers (real people we knew) about the imperative of people “loving their leaders.”


On that occasion I had to gather courage to get up and tiptoe out of the cinema as the majority mzungus in the audience were cracking their ribs with laughter at Amin’s tragicomical antics, and, I was aware as an African, that I must have been seen by these mzungus as a smaller version of Iddi Amin.

But give it to Amin, even he thought it was important to invite television crews to Uganda and bare its realities to the world outside, in the hope of generating favourable publicity and promoting goodwill for his country. Only it was so shameful.

For me, the question as whether our president is moonlighting as a latter-day Woodie Goldberg is a tad unfair on our president, for she is only playing her part in making this country better known after five or so years of a degree of isolation ; she is playing her part in national salesmanship that all of us should be engaged in, each according to their ability, station and opportunity.

Agreement on that point would obviate the question as to whether the time for which she is paid a salary as an officer of the country is well spent on that tour. I believe it is.

Our realities

In fact, I would encourage many other officers of the republic, even non-officers, to take cue from Samia’s example and do expositions, displays and tours aimed at exposing as many people and countries as possible to our realities, and to showcase all the attributes of our country that we would love to share with the rest of humanity.

There is so much in this area. Too often, we tend to rush to point out “natural resources” such as wildlife and geological features, which is fine by me, but we should not behave as if our country is inhabited only by animals and gorges. We also have people, and this is the most basic endowment we are blessed with: people, the masters of all that the visitor surveys.

If we want to showcase our people, our most basic asset, we must be able to show off a proud and dignified people living in harmony with one another as supreme masters of their resources and future, people who have done away with oppression and injustice and are fully and consciously engaged in the struggle to better their lives free from domination by the dark forces of backwardness.

Those who cast doubt on the Royal Tour must have doubts about individuals whose mainstay in public service has been obfuscation, opacity and mystification.

Can these same people be believed as people who want to open up the country to the outside world when they have been unwilling to open it to its own people, its masters?

More welcoming

If charity must begin at home, let those who govern us try to be more open, more welcoming and more receptive to our people who want to know more about the way they are governed.

In this way we can have so many Royal Tours with Greenberg predicated on many loyal tours with the Tanzanian people.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]