Business in Dar es Salaam yesterday came to a standstill as US President Barack Obama landed in Tanzania for a two-day state visit.
The visiting President and his entourage jetted at the commercial city’s Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) as the final leg of his tour to three African countries which began on June 28 this year. Obama also visited Senegal and South Africa.
At JNIA Obama accompanied by the First Lady Michelle Obama and his daughters Malia and Sasha and other officials from the US government, was greeted by crowds of excited Tanzanians gathered who had gathered since early morning to get a glimpse of the US leader, while even more were lined along the major roads leading to the State House.
The Obamas were welcomed by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and other government officials including Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein. The national anthems of the two countries were played followed by a 21 – gun salute before President Obama inspected the guard of honor.
Obama was also treated to traditional dance and multitudes waving the US and Tanzanian flags.
A resident of Dar es Salaam Rose John said she was excited over Obama’s visit to Tanzania since he is ‘the leader of a very powerful nation.’
“This is credit to our country and we should feel proud of it because he could have decided to visit other African countries,” John said.
Another resident who preferred anonymity but was no doubt extremely excited to have Obama in the country as he chose to temporarily close his business yesterday to join the crowds along the road to welcome Obama.
“I wanted to see him live not through television that is why I have decided to close my business and come out to the airport to see him,” he said and the man was not alone in his decision.
President Obama and his host had a private meeting at the State House and later on conducted a joint press conference. He also met with business leaders from the US and across Africa including several Tanzanian businessmen.
Today, President Obama is scheduled to visit the Symbion power plant in Ubungo and the US embassy where he will lay a wreath at the site of the memorial to the 1998 embassy bombings and also meet with former US president George W. Bush at a ceremony to honour Americans killed 15 years ago at the embassy bombing.
Bush is in Tanzania for a conference on African women organized by the George W. Bush Institute.
Obama becomes the third US President to visit Tanzania after Bill Clinton in 2000, and George Bush who visited Tanzania in February 2008 and signed Millennium Challenge agreement with President Jakaya Kikwete.