Samia Suluhu Hassan now has a good date with fate as she becomes Tanzania’s first female President. Just six years ago, she rose out of the obscurity of Tanzanian politics to become the country’s first female Vice President.
The death of former President, John Pombe Magufuli has opened the doors to yet another female President in Africa and she has instant responsibilities on her shoulders. She was given the heavy duty of making the difficult announcement of Magufuli’s death, but with grace, she has assumed the office, as dictated by the constitution.
A soft-spoken Muslim woman who has been in active politics for 21 years, she now has a chance to lead her country, in a rare feat, out of the blues.
Suluhu Hassan has the next four years to direct the affairs of Tanzania and her political journey is a story of grass to grace. From Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago, she rose to become a Member of Parliament in Tanzania before becoming a Minister of State.
Currently Africa’s only female leader, she’s known as “Mama Samia” in the country, where she’s adored, loved and respected. Should her compassion resonate round the country again, as shown previously, she may be making even greater history.
Her leadership acumen is not in doubt as she has previously managed the eccentric nature of people in the past as the head of a constitution review committee. The presidency is a different ball game and it may not take so long before she feels the burden on her shoulders, but if her past is anything to go by, her shoulders are broad enough.
Suluhu Hassan’s calm mien may be her greatest strength yet, as she achieves her objectives a step at a time. She has been described as a capable leader and one who has passion for Tanzania.
Tanzania’s 6th President is not afraid of anyone, and has a mind of her own. In 2017, she visited Tundu Lissu, a leader of the opposition in hospital after attempts on his life. Humanity drives her morale, and she needs that more than ever in her position.
Mama Samia keeps her life private despite her public profile but with four kids, the 61-year old is now the mother of the nation. One of her children, Mwanu Hafidh Ameir is currently a Member of the Zanziba House of Representatives and is cutting a teeth for himself in politics.
She joins a small but powerful list of women who have become Presidents in Africa including; Sylvie Kinigi, Burundi’s caretaker President between 1993 and 1994, following the killing of Melchior Ndadaye, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Liberian President between 2012 and 2018, Rose Francine Rogombé, Interim President of Gabon following the death of Omar Bongo, Monique Belepeau, Acting President of Mauritius since 2012 after the resignation of Sir Anerood Jugnauth.
Others are Joyce Banda, President of Malawi between 2012 and 2014, after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, Catherine Samba-Panza, the transitional President of Central African Republic between 2014 and 2016, elected by parliament. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was the President of Mauritius between 2015 and 2018 after she was elected by parliament.
Sahle-Work Zewde has been the President of Ethiopia since 2018, elected by parliament. Her role however is a ceremonial one.
Her date with fate may have been completed by a stroke of another man’s misfortune but the eyes of a nation are all on her now. And it’s time to work.