Africa with President Clinton
Africa with Clinton: Zambia / Tanzania (Day 5)
Fifth day of our journey was spent in Dar Es Salaam
We had a very early call time – bags in the lobby by 6am, departure at 7:30am. It’s important that your bags are down on time because the staff takes them to the airport ahead of your arrival so that they can be cleared and loaded onto the plane before we get there. Once the staff takes your bags, you don’t see them again until you get to your room in the next city. I didn’t want to get up so early, so I took my bags down the night before.
Made it to breakfast and was calmly sipping my way through my tea when the Trip Director came into the dining room and said, Everyone, we’re leaving now. Head to the bus immediately. It was 15 minutes earlier than we’d planned, but it turns out that President Clinton was on time – early even. THAT is a minor miracle. And once the President is in his car, the motorcade rolls; there is no such thing as waiting for anyone. Anybody not on the bus will be left behind. Fortunately for us, the hotel staff all want pictures with Clinton as he’s leaving the property, so that bought the stragglers a few extra minutes to get on the bus.
We pull out and head to the airport, about a 15 minute drive. Advantage of traveling with a President – the bus drives right onto the tarmac. You get off the bus and walk right up the back stairs into the aircraft. At the front of the aircraft, a Zambian delegation lines the walkway to say farewell to the President. Only the President, Chelsea and his immediate staff walk up the front staircase. Thank God for a long flight – 3 hours – and I sleep the whole way.
Dar Es Salaam
We land in Tanzanian early .. the President being on time this morning caused us to arrive earlier than planned … and we head straight to the first event: A Barclays Commitment event. (During the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference in New York, corporations and businesses make formal “Commitments” to devote resources/time/energy/investment in some sort of initiative that will support community development efforts in countries where the Clinton Foundation works. Barclays committed to support micro-lending efforts in developing countries, which will allow small businesses to get loans easier and more quickly. This first event showcases the work that Barclays has been doing since they made their Commitment.
The event is in a local market downtown Dar Es Salaam. We have a police escort for the motorcade so we whip through town pretty quickly, as all traffic is stopped to let us pass. People line the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of Clinton. We get off the buses and head right into the event. We hear a presentation from the local “bank” members, who tell us how their bank works. It is sort of like a sous-sous, in that everyone contributes (deposits) a certain amount of money into the “bank” which is a metal box that has three separate locks; three different people have keys to the locks. Each month, the members meet to make deposits, make loan decisions, receive loan payments, and hear other reports. The only difference is that loan takers must pay interest on their loans, and that interest is divided among the members. My colleagues and I have no idea what this has to do with Barclays – since the money is all coming from depositors and it’s kept in a metal box – but the entire meeting was conducted in KiSwahili, and the translation was spotty.
After the event we wandered through the market, and visited a business owned by one of the bank members — a hair salon. It was a market where local people shop, not one made for visitors or tourists. So unless you needed tires, pots, or Fanta, there was nothing for us to buy here. People crowd around trying to get close to Clinton. Secret Service has their work cut out for them here!
We head to the hotel, The Hyatt. Since we’re early we have two whole hours before our next event, which is at Parliament. We have to wear business attire for this next event (as opposed to the business casual we’ve been wearing) so we definitely need time to change clothes. Turns out our luggage is stuck in traffic, so I head to lunch with my new sister-friend, Dawn Staley. She is a three-time Olympic Gold medalist and is now Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at University of South Carolina. A wonderful person and we’ve enjoyed spending time together. So far, we are the only two black women on this trip (besides the staff), though Linda Johnson Rice (owner of Ebony Magazine) is scheduled to join the delegation this evening.
After lunch, I go to my room … the staff pre-checks you into every hotel, so all you have to do is go to your room … it’s always unlocked and latched open; the keys are inside on the desk, along with your Country Memo from the ground staff (detailing schedule, weather, attire, info about the hotel, where to change money, how to connect to the wi-fi, etc.). My suitcase has been delivered to my room, and I have 20 minutes to dress and get to the lobby.
At the State House
We go to the State House, for a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Clinton Foundation and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. This MOU will allow the Clinton Foundation to begin working in the agricultural industry in Tanzania, supporting local, small farmers – much like the program they run in Malawi. In fact, the folks in Tanzania heard about the program in Malawi (and Rwanda) and appealed to the Foundation to expand it to Tanzania. In the lobby of the State House is a bust of Julius Nyerere, father of Tanzania. The delegation heads to one of the ceremonial rooms and meet some of the farmers who will participate in the program – nearly half of them are women, which is wonderful to see. President Clinton and his foreign policy staff go off to meet with the President of Tanzania.
Then we go outside to a tented courtyard where the MOU signing will take place. This is one of those hurry-up-and-wait moments. We sit and sit and sit and sit, waiting for the two Presidents to finish their bi-lat. (A bi-lateral meeting is when representatives from two countries meet together. A tri-lat is three countries.) The meeting goes on forever and I am wilting in the humidity. FINALLY, they come out, make remarks, and the MOU is signed. We board the vans and head to an unannounced stop: the US Embassy.
US Embassy : In Memoriam
You may recall that on August 7, 1998, terrorists exploded bombs at the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We stop at the Embassy to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the attacks. There is a lovely memorial built in the yard of the Embassy property – which, like all American Embassies, has been re-configured to be surrounded with concrete barricades and other precautionary measures to prevent another bomber from ever getting close enough again to take lives. The US Ambassador to Tanzania is Alfonso Lenhardt, an African American retired US Army Major-General, who also served as Sergeant at Arms of the US Senate, the first African American to do so.
We had a moment of silence at the Memorial, followed by some very poignant remarks from President Clinton. Then back to the vans and to the hotel. Delegation dinner in the hotel restaurant. And then to my room – I am hitting a wall; so tired. But first, I have to re-pack my suitcase, and get it to the lobby tonight because I don’t want to have to get up early enough to make the 715am bag call. I need to look at emails from by business partners but I just can’t solve or address any more problems today. Bed is calling.
Fairly late start tomorrow. First event is meeting the former president of Tanzania at 9:20, then depart for airport at 930am, heading to Zanzibar.
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