Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

July 01, 2013

Well, President Kikwete, Madam First Lady, distinguished guests: On behalf of myself and Michelle, our delegation, our daughters, we want to thank you for the incredible warmth and hospitality with which you've greeted us throughout the day. We could not be more grateful.

I am not the first American leader to visit this beautiful country. Other Presidents and prominent citizens have come before me. We just came from South Africa, where Robert Kennedy famously spoke of how every time we stand up for an ideal, we send out a "tiny ripple of hope." Less known is that after that trip to South Africa, Robert Kennedy also came here to Tanzania. It was a little different back then. Kennedy and his wife Ethel rode in the back of an open truck. The Secret Service has me and Michelle inside a fortified limousine. We call it the Beast. [Laughter] As Kennedy's truck made its way through the crowds, he picked up two boys and let them ride alongside them. The Secret Service doesn't let me do these things. [Laughter] When Kennedy came, it was a public holiday here. I apologize to Tanzanians that you all had to work today. [Laughter]

But while have—while these times have changed, the good feelings stay the same. We've been deeply touched by the welcome and the warm wishes from the Tanzanian people: along the streets as we came in here, with you tonight. Dar es Salaam means "harbor of peace," and we thank you for sharing that sense of peace and brotherhood for which this country and its people have long been known.

Mr. President, you've shown wisdom and strength in seeking reforms so that more Tanzanians can enjoy progress, more opportunity. And like me, you're strengthened by a woman who is a leader in her own right. I am told that Mama Kikwete is fond of a traditional Tanzanian saying: "My neighbor's child is my child." And that sentiment, I think, also captures the feeling the partnership between our two countries must have. We live thousands of miles apart, but as fellow human beings, we share a sense of obligation to each other, especially to the youngest among us.

So you might say an American child is my child. We might say a Tanzanian child is my child. In this way, both of our nations will be looking after all of our children, and we'll be living out the vision of President Nyerere. The core values that he proclaimed for Tanzania also describe what both our countries seek: wisdom, unity, and peace—hekima, umoja, na amani.

So what I'd like to do is to propose a toast, if I can get my water here: To our gracious Tanzanian hosts, to our Tanzanian friends, and to wisdom, unity, and peace that we all seek in the world.

[At this point, a toast was offered.]


NOTE: The President spoke at 8:58 p.m. at the State House. In his remarks, he referred to Salma Kikwete, wife of President Kikwete.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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