Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, on Saturday said he was very grateful that Malawi President, Dr. Joyce Banda, and five other African leaders had attended the country’s 50th anniversary of a union government of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
Kikwete expressed this in his keynote address during the Anniversary celebrations which were held at Uhuru Stadium in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, with the theme centering on calling all Tanzanians to continue uniting and owning the union.
The Tanzanian leader said the presence of President Banda as Malawi president and SADC Chair and other African leaders at the event showed the importance the leaders attached to the decision that was made by the founding presidents of the union government, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika and Abed Aman Karume of Zanzibar to have the two countries united.
He described the union as a “bold decision” and that its existence 50 years after it was signed was evidence to African leaders and beyond that it was possible to have union governments in Africa.
“The union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika is evidence that it is possible to have the East African Federation, and it is also evidence that it is possible to have the United States of Africa,” said Kikwete.
He said under the union government, Tanzania had registered, and continued to register, political, economic and social growth.
Among other leaders who attended the Anniversary celebrations were Pierre Mkuluziza of Burundi, Yoweli Museven of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, and King Mtswati of Swaziland.
Also in attendance were Zambian Vice President, Guy Scott, and former presidents of Zambia, Rupia Banda; Namibia, Sam N’njoma; Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa; and Kenya, Mwai Kibaki.
The event was marked with a number of activities among them dances and various performances by school children, military displays, and a joint performance of the theme song by Tanzanian 50 renowned musicians.
The event attracted hundreds of thousands of Tanzanians who began trekking to Uhuru Stadium from as early as 5 O’clock (local time) in the morning and it received wide international media coverage.
According to the Articles of the Union between The People’s Republic of Zanzibar and The Republic o Tanganyika, the presidents of the two countries signed the Agreement on April 22, 1964 in Zanzibar, but it came into force on April 26, in the same year, hence the Anniversary.