Samia Suluhu Hassan has made history as Tanzania’s first female president, and she has a bold vision to transform the nation, the New York Times reports.
Known as “Mama Samia,” she succeeded President John Magufuli, who denied that Covid-19 existed, rejected Covid vaccines, and died amid reports that he had contracted the virus.
Hassan has led the country in a new direction by publicly taking the vaccines, overturning a ban of pregnant girls in schools, and seeking to turn back the previous administration's economic regulations to attract new investors to the country.
In an interview last week, Hassan expressed the challenges she’s overcome as a woman who’s leading a nation.
“Most of the people couldn’t believe that we can have a woman president and [that] she can deliver,” Hassan said. “The challenge was to create a trust to the people that, yes, I can do it.”
Other African female leaders, including Liberia’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Sahle-Work Zewde, the president of Ethiopia gave her support in a virtual meeting.
“They all gave me courage that [I could] do it,” she added.
“Our administration is deeply committed to strengthening the ties in Tanzania and to African countries in general,” said Harris. “This has been an area of attentional focus and priority for both the President [Joe Biden] and for me.”
With a population of 60 million, Tanzania has a set of complex challenges. The country borders eight other nations in eastern, central, and southern Africa, and was long seen as a bastion of civil war.
Hassan, who is expected to run again for president in 2025, is facing slow delays in vaccine deployment, economic challenges and calls to revamp the nation’s constitution.
Fatma Karume, a prominent Tanzanian lawyer who was disbarred and had her office bombed for opposing Magufuli’s policies, said that Hassan “has the chance to restore Tanzanians’ faith in democracy and transform the country.”
“She could leave behind a legacy that few other presidents have managed,” Karume said. “And imagine doing that as a result of a historical accident. It will be amazing.”