Obama Inauguration: Most covered event in Tanzania history


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – This week was marked with Tanzanian media focusing and paying their attention to swearing-in of the American President Barack Obama and his first day in the White House, where some big and highly circulating newspapers published special editions to honor the new US President.

Being the first of its kind coverage which even Tanzanian elected presidents were not accorded, all big Tanzanian print and electronic media houses covered all events during the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Obama and the first day of duty in the White House.

Tanzania’s media titan the IPP Media was the most excited among others through its electronic and print media which gave good coverage of Mr. Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. IPP Media’s ITV television and Radio One station covered the event with good and wide audience reception.

The Obama news, analysis and comments dominated Tanzanian media which are printed in English and lingua franca, Swahili. It was the most covered event in Tanzania’s media history, though some could not understand the English language spoken before and during the swearing-in ceremony in Washington.

This eTN reporter was much excited by the big turn-out of people watching live coverage of the swearing-in of Mr. Obama that was brought by CNN and BBC channels from Washington, DC and televised through local television stations in the Tanzanian capital city of Dar es Salaam.

When this reporter roved various streets of the Tanzanian capital he found groups of people watching televised images from shops and bars to follow-up the event that was taking place far away in the other side of the world.

This eTN reporter learned later that Tanzanians were mostly attracted by the US democracy and the whole process of voting which brought Mr. Obama to the White House. It is worth noting that since Mr. Obama came out to seek nomination from his party, many people in Tanzania were attracted to see whether an African descendant in the US could be elected president of the United States of America.

But most exciting were the newspaper headlines on Tuesday, the inaugural and swearing-in day for Mr. Obama. The Swahili dailies outshone the English papers with their eye-catching and hard-hitting front-page headlines.

The broadsheet Guardian newspaper came with a headline “It’s Obama’s big day,” in addition with an eight-page full color special edition of Mr. Obama photos and news. The paper printed a big portrait of the new US president.

Most exciting was the headline by an evening tabloid, Alasiri which read, “Leo ni Leo”, meaning “It is Today!” with a portrait of Mr. Obama, while Mtanzania, the other Swahili tabloid had its big headline reading, “Historia yaandikwa ” meaning “History is written.”

Uhuru, the daily mouthpiece of Tanzania’s ruling CCM party came out with its headline reading, “Obama kuiteka dunia” meaning Obama to conquer the world and the daily English tabloid, The Citizen had its headline read “Obama to make history today.”

The African’s headline read, “Obama: A dream come true,” while Majira, a Swahili daily came out with “Obama amuenzi Martin Luther King,” meaning “Obama honors Martin Luther King.” Tanzania Daima, another lingua franca daily gave its readers 10 pages of Obama news and photos free, printed in full-color with postcard size of Obama’s full cabinet.

On Wednesday, the day President Obama officially went on duty, Tanzanian dailies took other headline angles on their front pages. ThisDay came out with a headline of “Hopes high as President Barack Obama assumes office.”

Mwananchi, another Swahili daily said, “Obama aandika historia” meaning, “Obama writes the history.” Nipashe, Tanzania’s leading selling daily had its headline reading “Dunia mikononi mwa Rais Obama,” meaning, “The world under the hands of President Obama.”

Mtanzania came out with, “Dunia yamtazamia Rais Obama” (The world expects from President Obama), the Guardian had its news analysis reading as “Obama brings challenges, opportunities.”

Tanzania Daima made its headline with “Obama aiteka dunia” (Obama conquers the world), Majira had its headline reading as “Ndoto yatimia, Obama aapishwa (The Dream is over, Obama sworn-in), Uhuru had its headline blown with “Barack Obama atinga Ikulu” (Barack Obama enters State House), Daily News – the Tanzania government English daily said in its headline: “Barack Obama takes office: says ‘Choose hope over fear’ and the African concluded by a hitting headline of “Obama finally sworn-in.”

A cross section of people took the US election as a lesson that Africa could borrow a leaf and learn how to conduct free, fair and democratic elections. Though others were proud to see a man of African descent entering the White House with hopes to see him bringing changes to Africa and give more support to this poorest continent, there were cries to Mr. Obama to press for more democracy in the continent marred by corruption and endless strife.