Samia Suluhu as new Tanzania President

Samia Suluhu

The United States Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday congratulated Samia Suluhu Hassan,as the new president and the first woman to hold that office, and said the United States was ready to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Harris, the first woman and first person to serve as U.S. vice president, made the comment in a posting on Twitter.

“Sending best wishes to @SuluhuSamia following her swearing in as Tanzania’s new President – the first woman to hold the office. The United States stands ready to work with you to strengthen relations between our countries,” she wrote.

First elected as Magufuli’s running mate in 2015, she was re-elected last year along with him and, according to the constitution, she should serve out the rest of the five-year term in the top job.

She becomes Africa’s only current female national leader – the Ethiopian presidency is a largely ceremonial role – and joins a short list of women on the continent to have run their countries.

The 61-year-old is affectionately known as Mama Samia – in Tanzanian culture that reflects the respect she is held in, rather than reducing her to a gendered role in Africa .

Despite being vice-president since 2015, and having served as a state minister in the previous government, little is known about Ms Samia’s private life.

She was born in January 1960 on Zanzibar – the semi-autonomous islands off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Later she went on to study public administration, first in Tanzania and then as a post-graduate at UK’s Manchester University.

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