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A true son of Africa: Tanzania's Salim Salim, rubbed the US the wrong way

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by Invisible, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. Invisible

    Invisible Admin Staff Member

    Dec 11, 2008
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    In Summary

    writes OKELLO OCULI

    “When you release the energy of our people, this continent will be unstoppable,” said Former Tanzanian Prime Minister and one-time OAU Secretary General Salim Salim.

    Salim’s illustrious diplomatic career thrust him into the centre of Africa’s immediate post independence diplomacy at the height of the Cold War in his twenties. He did the continent proud, writes OKELLO OCULI, a former diplomat and Prime Minister of Tanzania, during an interview last month in Nairobi.

    Describing himself as an “optimist about Africa”, the former Tanzanian Prime Minister and OAU Secretary General Salim illustrates his point by citing an incident he regards as routine: “When you fly Ethiopian Airlines and the Nigerian woman trader is being assertive and firm, that is Africa,” he says.

    “Africa has been underestimated,” he insists.

    For a continent that has suffered from the ravages of slavery, colonial barbarism, poverty, and misuse of authority by its rulers since independence, Africa is a source of great optimism.

    “Witness the resilience and vibrancy of our people,” he says adding that “historic injuries have happened but our people are still dynamic.”
    Salim recalls starting his diplomatic career at the tender age of 23 as Zanzibar’s and (after the 1964 Union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika), Tanzania’s ambassador to Egypt whose capital Cairo, during Gamal Nasser’s rule, had turned into a Mecca for liberation movements.

    As the hub of anti-colonial activity, Cairo gave sanctuary to the Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), the South West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO), the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), the Uganda National Congress, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and others. Seeing Egypt as the northern gateway to Africa, Nasser cast his eyes down and across the Nile — on whose waters a civilisation built by the black African Pharaohs before him had flourished — and resolved to contribute to the end of European colonisation of the continent.

    Salim recalls some hilarious incidents in his diplomatic career. When Mwalimu Nyerere came on a State visit, for example, he was taken to see Luxor, a city in central Egypt on the east bank of the Nile that is a centre for visitors to the ruins of and about Thebes.
    Nyerere’s ambassador was no where to be seen. “It was a scandal!” recalls Salim. That is not the end of the story. Salim did a repeat performance by showing up late to a state banquet. “I was a bit late; the Heads of State were already seated.”

    On arrival the police mistook him for a Head of State and put outriders ahead of his car that was flying the Tanzanian flag. What saved the situation for him, Salim adds, was his president.

    “Nyerere knew this was part of the training I was going through as a 23- year-old ambassador.”

    Salim notes that from Nasser, newly out of Egypt’s post-double colonisation by Britain and France, Ben Bella emerging from Algeria’s bloody revolution through Mwalimu Nyerere as an emerging host of the liberation movements in southern Africa, Africa had “leaders who thought more in terms of their countries and the continent’s liberation.

    Cairo was a learning experience for Salim who knew very little about Egypt. When he was transferred to India, he resolved to correct that error. Not only did he do his undergraduate studies as an external student with “good professors” from the University of Delhi. He also travelled, eager to know everything about the country.

    “I travelled by car, by train, by air all over India. It was a remarkable training”.

    He go travel anywhere without giving notice to Indian officials. He recalls going to Mrs Indira Gandhi (as information minister) and complaining to her about the bad press that Africa was getting in the Indian mass media to which Mrs Gandhi retorted:” My dear High Commissioner, let me tell you something: These papers criticise me too! But meet them; know them!”

    He followed her advice and with access to more and accurate information about African events, the Indian press began to report Africa in more favourable light and more useful insight and criticism.

    In New York, diplomacy presented new challenges and opportunities for Salim. He would work with a crop of other diplomats from Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea, Ethiopia and North Africa to whom “the divisive notion of Arabphone, Francophone or Commonwealth Africa “was never an issue”.

    Instead says Salim, “we considered ourselves as Africans; we had obligation not only to talk for our countries but for Africa”.

    In that spirit, the President of the Council for Namibia at the United Nations was the Zambian ambassador while Nigeria headed the Anti-Apartheid Committee. With China demonstrating its total support for liberation of Africa, including building the Tazara Railway line from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka, African diplomats took it upon themselves the task of restoring China’s membership of the United Nations.

    Salim recalls the drama of this event with much animation mixed with deep courtesy for Ambassador George Bush (Snr), who he described as a “very decent man”. They knew that Henry Kissinger, the legendary Secretary of State in 70s, was making secret trips to China through Pakistan, and therefore “didn’t have to apologise” for their initiative and brought up the matter for a vote under a procedural rule known as “responsibility for the unexpected”.

    Ambassador Bush Snr stood up to ask for an amendment of the motion when the process of voting had already begun.

    Salim intervened and demanded that the President of the General Assembly rule that Ambassador Bush “was completely, utterly and resolutely out of order”. After a brief hesitation, the President of the General Assembly, and Vice-President of Indonesia ruled that “the Representative of the United States was out of Order”. As he recalls it, the ruling was followed by “an acclamation” and then “there was pandemonium”.

    Salim attributes their victory to the fact that they were more organised than the supporters of the United States whom they took by surprise.
    The African diplomats had to speed up their motion after learning that some Caribbean heads of state were under tremendous pressure from the US and could easily break ranks with the Africans. Time was of essence.

    Revisiting the subsequent American complaint that the Tanzanian representative danced in celebration of their victory, Salim retorts that: “Yes we danced! The only thing we regret is that we did not bring our drums!”

    In contrast to hate-mail that he received from irate Americans (including slur like, “You African monkey, go to the jungle”), Salim says “I received a message of commendation from my leader.”

    It was a tale of diplomatic triumph that was anchored on African unity. The Americans would later take their revenge by blocking Salim Salem’s election as the first African Secretary General of the United Nations when he defeated the incumbent Kurt Waldheim from Austria. to which Salim retorts: “I have no regrets for what I did. I am very proud of having had the opportunity to serve Africa”.

  2. bokassa

    bokassa JF-Expert Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    Hivi, haya mazungu yanadhani binadamu ni wao tu!!!!! Sisi wote manyani!!!!!!
  3. S

    Son of Alaska JF-Expert Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    huyu Salim at 23,he was an ambassador,it looks like his history begans then,before then alikuwa wapi?
  4. E

    Englisher Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    sema yote mzee, mbona unabaniabania. wewe kuchelewa shule unafikiri wote, hisoria yake inaanza tangu akiwa na siku moja tumboni, wee unasema anaanza akiwa na miaka 23!

    wewe umechelewa shule wapi??
  5. Ochu

    Ochu JF-Expert Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    hapa huwa napata utata sana!!! alisoma lini?
  6. Mr. Zero

    Mr. Zero JF-Expert Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    This is now we call presidential material.

    We will alrways remember the mistake we made in 2005.
  7. S

    Son of Alaska JF-Expert Member

    Dec 12, 2008
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    ENGLISHER,ochu kakujibu,kasoma lini,au hiyo kazi kapewa kinamnanamna.go do your homework hombre
  8. T


    May 15, 2014
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    The best president tanzania never had
  9. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    May 15, 2014
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    Alikuwa ZPPP na waliposhinda Uchaguzi akapelekwa Ubalozini kwa Umbrella ya Zanzibar then after 1964 Tanzania... Hiyo ni baada ya Nyerere kugoma kumrudisha Nyumbani eti ni Mwarabu hafai nchini...
  10. T


    Jun 30, 2014
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    leteni historia ya famlia yake kwanza