samia hassan suluhu

Samia Hassan Suluhu: Five things to know about Tanzania’s new president

Published by Andile Sicetsha

Tanzania and other East African neighbouring states witnessed history when Samia Hassan Suluhu was sworn in as the new president.

Samia Hassan Suluhu sworn-in as Tanzania’s president

Two days before this, the 61-year-old was broadcast across the continent as she delivered the news of John Magufuli’s passing.

According to the former vice-president, Magufuli lost his life after a decade-long battle with a heart-related disease. The natural process that follows when a head of state dies during his tenure has seen Suluhu rise to one of the most powerful positions in African politics.

East Africa’s first female president is in the driver’s seat and important allies like South Africa — whose import/export relationship is one of the strongest in the continent — will be keen to hear of the plans she has to steer cooperation and growth in the region.

Five things to know about Suluhu

On a more civic level, there has been a spark of interest in who Suluhu is; when the curtains are drawn and her political face mask is removed.

Here are five interesting facts about the 61-year-old that we have sourced.

She was born in Zanzibar

By all accounts, Suluhu is a true Tanzanian. She was born on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar in 1960. Much of her education was gained in the country, but her post-graduate qualifications in public administration were earned at the University of Manchester.

She’s the first woman to serve as president in East Africa

Here’s a mind-boggler, Suluhu is the only current president that is female in Africa and the first-ever in East Africa. In the entire continent’s history, there have only ever been nine female presidents, most of which — ironically — served in an ‘acting’ capacity.

She joins the ranks of most powerful women in Africa

Suluhu is largely respected and revered by Tanzanians as a nurturer. However, the scale of her responsibility as the number one citizen has shifted considerably. She now holds control over Tanzania’s Executive and will be expected to usher forth a fresh strategy on the country’s ailing economy.

Why Tanzania refers to her as ‘Mama Samia’

Tanzanian locals have for the 61-year-old’s entire political career, referred to her as ‘Mama Samia’. Her calm demeanour, the way she has maintained quiet-yet-assured posture at the height of pandemonium has earned her the nickname.

Mama Samia’s a mother of four

Outside of police, Suluhu is the wife of agriculture expert Hafidh Ameir, a marriage that has stayed strong for 43 years. Together they have four children, one of which — Mwanu Hafidh Ameir — is a member of Zanzibar’s House of Representatives.