Tanzania swore in its first female President in history, Samia Suluhu Hassan, on Friday, March 19 2021, following the recent demise of former President John Magufuli. Her inauguration comes two days after she announced the death of Former President Magufuli and in her first public address, she declared 21 days of mourning for him with public holidays on the 22 March and 25 March which is set for his burial.

Dressed in a black suit and red headscarf, the 61-year-old Hassan, took the oath of office to assume office in Dar es Salaam before inspecting troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute in an inauguration that was witnessed by Cabinet members and Tanzania’s Former Presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Jakaya Kikwete and Abeid Karume.

Accepting the task she is now saddled with, Hassan pledged herself to serve in the following words: “I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and obey and protect the constitution of Tanzania”

Under the constitution, Hassan will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025. Referring to the sad time in which the nation found itself, she said:

“It’s not a good day for me to talk to you because I have a wound in my heart.

Today I have taken an oath different from the rest that I have taken in my career. Those were taken in happiness. Today I took the highest oath of office in mourning”

She assured the country that nothing would go wrong under her watch as her predecessor had prepared her for the task ahead by teaching her.  She also urged the country’s people to work to unite the nation, noting that: “This is the time to stand together and get connected. It’s time to bury our differences, show love to one another and look forward with confidence. It is not the time to point fingers at each other but to hold hands and move forward to build the new Tanzania that President Magufuli aspired to.”

Hassan, who hails from Zanzibar, rose through the ranks over a 20-year political career from local government to the national assembly before she was named Magufuli’s running mate in the 2015 presidential campaign.

Currently, she is the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.