BY H.E. Ambassador Mary O’Neill
Today is St Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s national holiday, a day when we celebrate all things Irish. When Mwalimu Nyerere spoke in Dublin in 1979, he remarked how much he felt at home.
Though a small island off the north west of Europe and a large tropical African country might seem like unlikely friends, I believe that three cultural traits unite us: solidarity, humanity and optimism.
Ireland and Tanzania share a post-colonial experience and are still relatively young countries. 2023 marks 100 years of Ireland in the world and Tanzania recently celebrated 60 years of freedom.
Since independence, both countries have been active members of the international community in the promotion of democracy, peace and security. We stood shoulder to shoulder in condemning colonialism and minority rule in Africa and elsewhere.
Hospitality is at the core of our cultures. In Ireland, instead of karibu, you will hear fáilte (welcome). Tanzania has long been a haven of peace for people fleeing war; and Ireland in the last year has welcomed almost 80,000 refugees escaping Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Even before independence, Irish and Tanzanians have worked together at community levels. Irish missionaries promoted education and health. Indeed, Irish priests educated several of Tanzania’s past Presidents. Now Tanzanian priests serve communities in Ireland.
This tradition of investing in people is at the heart of Ireland’s development cooperation in Tanzania. Over the next four years, Ireland will support programmes for the poorest, focused on marginalised women and girls, through primary health care and social protection; protecting the environment through the Bahari Mali programme; and promoting business through Trademark Africa and Maiziwa Faida initiatives.
Our countries are energetic, endowed with growing economies and growing populations. We have known hardship, but have ambitious plans for better futures.
An increasing number of young Tanzanians are travelling to Ireland to study in our world class universities, and work in the world’s leading companies in the tech and pharmaceutical sectors, many of which have bases in Ireland.
I am excited about the even better days that lie ahead for Irish-Tanzanian relations. Together we can respond to the climate crisis; we can strengthen our trade and economic ties; we can continue to be leaders in promoting peace and sustainable development.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a special moment to connect with friends of Ireland worldwide. I look forward to strengthening the relationship between Tanzania and Ireland and nurturing the affection between our peoples.
Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Phádraig daoibh go léir. Heri ya Sikukuu ya Mtakatifu Patrick. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all!
H.E. Ambassador Mary O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland to Tanzania