Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in as the East African country’s first female president after the sudden death of John Magufuli. Samia Suluhu Hassan is a soft-spoken, veteran politician unexpectedly thrust from the role of vice president to become Tanzania’s first female leader.
Hassan made history on Friday when she was sworn in at a ceremony in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam before a roomful of dignitaries. “It’s not a good day for me to talk to you because I have a wound in my heart,” said Hassan. “Today I have taken an oath different from the rest that I have taken in my career. Those were taken in happiness. Today I took the highest oath of office in mourning,” she said in her maiden speech. First elected as Magufuli’s running mate in 2015, she was re-elected last year along with him and under the constitution, Hassan will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025. She becomes Africa’s only current female national leader – the Ethiopian presidency is a largely ceremonial role – and joins a short list of women on the continent to have run their countries.
The 61-year-old is affectionately known as Mama Samia – in Tanzanian culture that reflects the respect she is held in, rather than reducing her to a gendered role. A former office clerk and development worker, Hassan began her political career in 2000 in her native Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago, before being elected to the national assembly on mainland Tanzania and assigned a senior ministry.