PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete on Sunday led Tanzanians in marking 51st Independence Anniversary at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam and commended the people for maintaining peace and tranquility in the country during the period.
"Our country has remained peaceful and politically stable, social and economic development are vivid there for everyone to see, save for some prophets of doom who would view it otherwise," Mr Kikwete told a multitude of citizens who braced scorching sun to take part in the event. Mr Kikwete also thanked about 12 regional leaders, mainly from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), for joining Tanzanians in celebrating the anniversary.
This year's Uhuru anniversary was celebrated under the theme: 'Accountability, Integrity and Patriotism are the pillars for development of our country.' "I don't usually make speeches on Independence Day, but I feel indebted to thank you and introduce you to the people of Tanzania," Mr Kikwete told the leaders, led by the current SADC Chairman, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique.
The Uhuru celebrations, which are usually marked at national level at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, featured various activities including a military parade, mass displays and traditional dances. It was the same Uhuru Stadium that on the eve of December 9, 1961, the Union Jack was lowered to give way for the flag of Tanganyika, then Tanganyika, under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
During Sunday's celebrations, President Kikwete who is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, arrived at the stadium at 10:09 am aboard an open-roof military vehicle flanked by the Chief of Defence Forces, General Davis Mwamunyange. The presidential motorcade was escorted by about 16 motorbike riders. Soon after he arrived he was led to a dais where he received a 21-gun salute, as the National Anthem was played.
Afterwards, the Head of State inspected a guard of honour mounted by members of the armed forces including the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF), National Service (JKT) in addition to the police and prisons department. A military parade then snaked past the President, in a slow march, before moving into hard ground-hitting goose march, amid cheers and applause from the crowd.
The crowd was vividly wild when servicewomen displayed gallantry during the march past also pledging allegiance to the Commander-in-Chief. Mass displays by a group of more than 2,500 children spiced the celebrations and thrilled thousands who had turned out.
They moved in different shapes creating various messages while others thrilled the audience with acrobatics. On their background was yet an organized army of children who enchanted the multitudes with creation of images they created. Heads of State present at the occasion included Presidents Armando Guebuza and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Mozambique and Namibia respectively.
President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was also present. The presidents were among leaders of SADC that had attended the two-day extraordinary meeting of the regional block that ended in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.
When given a chance to greet Tanzanians at the stadium, Mr Pohamba recalled how he came to Tanzania on December 9, 1961, during the time of the liberation struggle in the Southern Africa through the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). "I would like to congratulate you for marking 51 years of independence. Allow me to also convey to you greetings from the people of Namibia whom you assisted to fight for their independence," Mr Pohamba said.
Other leaders that attended the occasion included Vice-Presidents of Malawi and Angola, Khumbo Hasting Kachali and Manuel Domingos Vicente, respectively. Zambia's Vice-President Guy Scott and Seychelles's Danny Faure also attended the celebrations. Lesotho was represented by its Prime Minister, Tom Thabane and so were Swaziland's Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and Rwanda's Pierre Habumuremyi.
Zimbabwe was represented by its Foreign Affairs Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi. The Secretary General of SADC, Dr Tomaz Salomao and the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Prof Alphonse Ntumba Luaba, were also present.
Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, the President of Zanzibar, Dr Ali Shein Mohamed and Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, were among local leaders who attended the celebrations. Also on attendance, were former presidents of Tanzania, Ali Hassan Mwinyi and his Zanzibari counterpart Amani Abeid Karume and widow of the Father of the Nation, Mama Maria Nyerere.
Some leaders of opposition parties including Chairman of the United Democratic Party (UDP), who is also an MP for Bariadi East, Mr John Cheyo and his NCCR-Mageuzi counterpart James Mbatia (Nominated MP) also joined Tanzanians at the Uhuru Stadium to celebrate the Independence Day.