Obama-kikwete
Tanzania will soon host American President Barack Obama. People have different views on the visit, especially considering that it comes not very long after that of Chienese President Xi Jinping. Mr Obama becomes the third consecutive US President to visit Tanzania after Bill Clinton in 2000, and George Bush in 2008. The overriding view is that such visits are opportunistic, focused on benefiting from the country’s vast natural resources. Here are a few choice comments from readers of The Citizens, in their own words:

Ihongoo from Dar es Salaam says: Normally the big guys always seek to dominate developing countries like Tanzania. However, the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping focused to overtake Western countries especially on areas of trade and sources of raw materials.

Obama is coming only to convince, convert and implement his policies on our gas, Tanzanite and the agriculture sector. Therefore, President Jakaya Kikwete has to be careful with dubious contracts on natural resources.

Anonymous notes via SMS: I believe there are some opportunities which the US government discovered in Tanzania. We Tanzanians, especially our government, need to set a mode which will make the country and the citizen get more involved and benefit from this opportunity emerging in Tanzania.

Also there are many problems when it comes to the relations between European countries which make African countries still backward and without any sign of development like Tanzania.

Dar resident Immaculate Theopholius adds: President Obama’s visit to Tanzania is not a surprise as even his predecessor George Bush came over. But the question is: what is the secret agenda behind these visits?

Could it be because our country is blessed with abundant natural resources? If the focus was discussions on bringing about development, we could have experienced that since the visit by Bush. And why would he visit Tanzania and not his motherland Kenya ?

Victor Paul writes from Arusha: President Barack Obama’s visit to Tanzania is a gesture of friendship. We welcome people from all over the world. We are friendly to all nations regardless of political orientation.

But we should not expect too much aid from Obama! We expected much from George Bush but we ended up getting mosquito nets. Fine, but we remain poor. We also got something from China!

In the 60s, the Chinese told us that it was shameful to import baby clothes. Today, 50 years later, we are importing the same. Isn’t it shameful? We should minimise dependence on aid. But we welcome President Obama.

Shahanga in Kibaha surmises: Let the US president come to Tanzania just as the Chinese President did and we should expect more of their type to flow in, to occupy investment areas, source of raw materials, external markets, military bases, cheap labour and creation of puppet leadership in Africa. The capitalist’s demands have never changed. What’s changed is their approach and technique.

As someone with a grip on Economics and Development, the 500 investors should be welcomed, but what is needed more than the investors is an explanation, if there exist, of how to turn the investment and high rates of development into everyday lived experiences in countries like Tanzania.

On the other hand, I join those who have argued that unless it is a vacation, which we very well know it is not, this visit by the most powerful man on the planet, is the continuation of a scramble for resources between the two major economic superpowers. Indeed, there is a saying in Swahili that translates to “When two elephants fight, the grass, it is, that suffers.”

To Tanzanians, watch out, to Obama as well as Xi Jinping, remember what Mugabe said, “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!” Change Mugabe to an informed youth in Tanzania, and Zimbabwe to Tanzania.