March 28, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

Tanzania, an east African country, is presently going through a very interesting period. The public seems locked in a row, regarding the title of their new President, SAMIA SULUHI HASSAN,  a woman. She is the first female President of the country.

She is not a new political figure in Tanzania. She has been in national politics for a considerable period of time. She served as Vice President, since 2015, under John Pombe Magufuli, who died recently. Samia Hassan, took oath on 19th March 2021, as first female President of the country.

Over the years, the people of Tanzania have nicknamed her “MAMA SAMIA”, meaning mother Samia. It was considered acceptable, until she was sworn in as the President of the country. For the last week, people in general have started arguing about whether it’s correct to continue calling her “mama” or not.

That’s where the public opinion stands divided. Some argue that the title “mama” refers to a caretaker, humble and gentle leader who loves and takes care of her children. In that capacity she takes care of every Tanzanian. But there are others, mostly the pro-feminism groups who argue that she is a mama in her personal capacity, but her post is not a gender oriented one. They argue that in context to the constitution of the country, laws and regulations, the word “mother” does not exist.

In person I agree with the second group. A person in a particular public post, loses all sort of personal titles. A President is a President, this is a public post which does not have any gender. Continuing the argument, I understand that none of us would have heard calling any president as “Father President”, or “Uncle President” or “Brother President”. So if there cannot be Father /Uncle/Brother President, then how come we have “Mother President”? This is something very simple, basic and logical.

If that would be the case, I wonder why the British never thought of referring to “Queen Elizabeth” as “Mother Queen”. The answer is very simple, a public post has not got any relevance with the gender of the holder.

But still, the argument goes on. The general opinion in the country still stands divided on this issue. A large number of people still refer to her as “Mama Samia”, which I am sure would continue in the future too, because it’s human nature.

The best way out, in my opinion, is that President Samia should come up with her own personal opinion on this issue. Once she speaks out her opinion, that would not only bring this row to an end but would also make its impact internationally.

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