Kenya: Songs That Defined Suluhu's State Visit to Kenya

What kind of message can one President deliver to another in a song?

For visiting President Samia Suluhu, there might have been one in the choice by the military brass band at State House.

The Tanzanian leader personally selected the song to be played as she inspected the traditional guard of honour. It was a subtle message about the agenda of her trip on her first ever state visit to Kenya.

On Tuesday, moments after arriving in Kenya, Ms Suluhu headed to State House where the Kenya Defence Forces mounted the guard of honour and performed the 21-gun salute.

Members of the military brass band told Nation the President had personally selected Tazama Ramani, a patriotic call for Tanzanians from President Julius Nyerere's time.

The song was composed by a Nyerere-era Minister for Culture and Sports Moses Nnauye, who also composed Tanzania Nakupenda Kwa Moyo Wote. It typically describes the beauty of Tanzania's geography and people and is often played at state functions by the Tanzanian police brass band.

Suluhu's favourite songs

It says: "I love you to an extent I shelter you... I will complain if I left you. A country with a vision of hope, is the only light of the way for Tanzanians."

"I will value you in public and in my heart. Please take care of me so I can take care of you."

Members of the Kenya military band said they had to practise playing the song for five days to ensure they don't miss a beat. They engaged in daily drills from last week on Wednesday, once the Tanzanian leader confirmed the trip.

It is normal for visiting leaders to be asked to choose songs they want played at guards of honour. And, often, it reflects little more than celebrating the occasion.

But for Ms Suluhu, the song is reportedly one of her favourites, sang during post-independence years to rally for the cause of the country.

Message in the song

She was coming for bilateral talks, and with so many issues at stake; was the message in the song about Tanzania first? Or was it about reciprocity and taking care of one another?

We may never know for now. But her host, President Uhuru Kenyatta had also prepared for his own way of delivering a message.

The military brass band played the Mama Mulayi by Kenyan musician Vincent Ongidi. It celebrates mothers and women in general.

Kenya's preparations for the state visit also went as far as selecting women leaders to guide her entourage.

At State House, a state banquet was organised by President Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and relations. But it involved women leaders from the Muslim faith to provide company.

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