The Story of the First Tanzanian Female President Samia Suluhu Hassan

On March 17th, 2021, the president of Tanzania John Pombe Magufuli died at 61 from a heart condition. He was rumored to have had Covid-19 while refuting the idea that Covid was real and boiling it down to a religious entity, and protecting his country with prayer. These actions were accompanied by hidden Covid rates and controversial theories towards the pandemic. However, after his death, Tanzanian politician Samia Suluhu set the stage as she was sworn in as the new president. 

Germs/coronavirus TheDigitalArt

Samia Suluhu is the very first female president that Tanzania has ever seen and many other nations are excited to see a woman take the lead during Women’s History Month. Sadly, the country must mourn the death of a leader before they can truly celebrate their new president. She is also the first female Muslim to hold the role of the presidency and the third Zanzibari (a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa). 

Three muslim women under a cherry blossom tree Photo by Hasan Almasi from Unsplash

Suluhu is most commonly known in the international field as "the most underrated politician in Tanzania" because of her excellent work ethic and ability to listen, a quality that most leaders lack. In Tanzania, she is known as Mama Samia, which culturally is a sign of respect and wisdom rather than an oppressive reduction to gender role in Tanzanian culture. She began her political journey in 2000 when she was first elected to public office. Then in 2014, she was the vice-chairperson of the Constituent Assembly, working to create a new constitution. Samia Suluhu is known for her calm demeanor when trouble rises and her outspokenness towards her peers. In 2005, when she was the minister of labor, gender development, and children, she worked to overturn a ban on young mothers returning to school after giving birth. By doing so she went against the current president’s wishes for the ban to continue. This was not her only act of defiance, as she also visited Magufuli’s opposition Mr. Lissu after he experienced an exempted assassination. black and white photo of Lady Justice holding the scales of justice Photo by Ezequiel Octaviano from Pixabay

Overall, this strive towards women in positions of power is very inspiring to me. This story especially stood out to me because as a young girl growing up in Uganda, I was often stirred away from political discussion and never had the chance to truly understand it. President Samia Suluhu Hassan represents the boundaries broken in the hegemonic masculine society we live in and the boundaries put on women in politics in every part of the world. Knowing that not only the United States but also Africa, is moving towards a more equal society is inspiring and I hope you take the time to share this story of female empowerment with your friends and family. Click here to read more.