Tanzania and Kenya have maintained close relations over the years. The bond that these two countries share predates the colonial era.
Just as in the case of siblings, the countries share similar fundamental principles and values with regard to the rule of law, fundamental freedom, social and economic activities, and good governance.
For most of the colonial period, both Tanzania and Kenya were under British rule-with Kenya having been a British Colony and Tanzania, a British Protectorate.
Both countries were granted independence around the same time, with Tanzania gaining its freedom in 1961 and Kenya two years later in 1963.Kenya and Tanzania view each other as siblings. Both Tanzanians and Kenyans live with each other amicably.
The warm relations can be traced back to the founding fathers of both countries, the Late Julius Nyerere and the Late Jomo Kenyatta, who regarded each other as brothers. The brotherly relations were cemented by successive presidents. This closeness continues to date, even as both countries continue to heavily rely on each other in this globalizing world.
So strong are the relations that when the Late President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli passed on, President Uhuru Kenyatta came to Dodoma to pay his last respects, and pledged to President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Tanzanians, his unwavering support to the new leadership.
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Hon. Dan Kazungu spoke exclusively to the Citizen about these longstanding relations between Tanzania and Kenya:
Qns: Tanzania, East Africa and Africa at large were grief stricken after the loss of Dr. John Pombe Magufuli. How did Kenya a close friend of Tanzania-react to this devastating news?
Ans: First, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the High Commission of the Republic of Kenya to offer our heartfelt condolences to Mama Janeth Magufuli, the bereaved family and relatives of the departed the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and all Tanzanians for the loss of their beloved, trustworthy, visionary, diligent, and heroic president, the Late John Pombe Magufuli. We would also like to send special condolences to President Samia Suluhu Hassan as well as the country’s top officials who worked closely with him. May God grant them all the peace and strength they need.
Kenya received the news of the death of President Magufuli with great shock and grief. The reason for this is that we were not aware that the president had been unwell, because he had always been very active and high spirited.
The Late President was a celebrated figure in Kenya who had many admirers. Many people liked his leadership style, principles and policies. Therefore, as Tanzania mourns, Kenya also mourns. For this reason, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared seven days of national mourning. He also directed that the Kenyan flag be flown at half-mast until the day that the Late President is buried.
The Late president was also viewed as a remarkable leader within the East African Community. His death is therefore not only a loss to Tanzania but also to Kenya and the entire East African Community.
Qns: What is your take on the efforts that the Late John Magufuli took to sustain the brotherly relations between Tanzania and Kenya?
Ans: As you may be aware, Kenya was among the first countries that the Late President John Magufuli visited soon after ascending to power 2015. This visit was important in the sense that it enhanced the brotherly relations that existed between President Magufuli and President Kenyatta.
During the visit the two presidents discussed and agreed upon among other things, the strengthening of bilateral relations, as well as how to improve the lives of their citizens of both countries. During his tenure as the Chair of the East African Community, the Late President championed the socio-economic growth and development of the East African region. He called for unity, cordial relationships, cooperation and collaboration for the mutual benefit of all Partner States.
Qns: What benefits were accrued during Dr. Magufuli’s reign by both Tanzania and Kenya?
Ans: It is very important for both Kenyans and Tanzanians to understand that the bond that exists between them is that of brotherhood. We are not merely neighbors.
We are brothers. Our relations are historical, having begun long before the colonial period. We traded, intermarried, and generally shared a common way of life. Today, our interdependence has increased substantially. We rely on each other as our economies are interlinked.
There was a lot of effort made during Dr. Magufuli’s tenure to synergize government operations to enable seamless processes that would contribute to the growth and development of both economies.
As Kenya, we shall forever be grateful for the Late President John Magufuli’s contribution and willingness to work alongside his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Qns: What shall Kenya remember the Late Dr. Magufuli for?
Ans: Among the things that Kenya will fondly remember the Late President John Magufuli, is his astute leadership and his patriotism. He loved his country and his people. He was a visionary whose tireless efforts to institutionalize good governance and prudent use of available resources saw Tanzania’s economy grow, and the country attain Lower Middle Income Status five years ahead of schedule. President Magufuli will also be remembered for how he passionately championed the Pan- African dream of political and economic emancipation.
Qns: How will Kenya remember the close relationship that existed between the late John Magufuli and Uhuru Kenyatta?
Ans: It is true that these two leaders were very close. President Kenyatta always spoke of the common bond that bind Kenyans and Tanzanians.
The closeness between the two presidents was evident when President Magufuli was invited to visit President Uhuru Kenyatta’s mother, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Mother of the Nation, at her home during his State Visit to Kenya.
Similarly, when President Kenyatta was invited to Chato by President Magufuli, he visited his mother who was unwell at the time. Not only did President Kenyatta visit President Magufuli’s home, but he also spent the night in Chato and visited the burial grounds of President Magufuli’s kinsmen.
As he bade his guest farewell, President Magufuli gifted President Kenyatta four peacocks. The gift was a sign of love and brotherhood. The Late President Magufuli mentioned this was the first time he was offering such a gift to anyone. This action speaks of the special relationship that the two leaders had. Kenya will forever cherish that gesture.
Qns: After the demise of the Late Magufuli, Tanzania now has President Madam Samia Suluhu Hassan. What should Madam President expect from Kenya?
Ans: Let me begin by congratulating Her Excellency Madam Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania. We wish her well as she takes up this very important role. We are confident that under her leadership, the country will continue to prosper.
From where I sit, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, should expect nothing but love, cooperation, closer ties, deepened brotherly relations, and a willingness to continue working together to improve the living standards our people, as well as for the economic development of our countries, and the East African region.
Qns: What is the fate of the unfinished joint development projects between Kenya and Tanzania following the death of Dr. Magufuli?
Ans: Indeed, there are some joint projects that are still unfinished. One example is the construction of Malindi Bagamoyo Road which is co-funded by Africa Development Bank and East Africa Community. Another project is the Kenya-Tanzania Power Interconnectivity Project which is part of the East Africa Pool Connectivity Project.
It is our belief that these projects as well as others that are at various stages will be successfully completed or implemented under the able stewardship of President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Qns: President Samia Suluhu Hassan gained tremendous experience by working with the Late Dr. John Magufuli as his Vice President. How does Kenya intend to work with the new President?
Ans: Kenya has, and will continue to respect Madam Samia Suluhu Hassan as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. President Kenyatta regards her as his own sister. The president is therefore ready to forge closer ties with her for the benefit of the citizens of our both countries.
Our expectations are that these two leaders will collaborate more and work closely together for the prosperity of both countries as well as the East African Community. If we cooperate, nothing will hinder us from achieving our goals. Our unity and concerted efforts will certainly bear the desired economic and social progress.