DAUNTING military parade, spectacular exhibitions by police units, colourful and skilful mass displays by the youth depicting the four colours of the national flag, were among the highlights of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar with pomp.
President Jakaya Kikwete led the mammoth crowd that included Heads of State and government from various countries that packed the Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam to capacity, to observe the auspicious occasion.
Exuberance dominated the scene upon arrival at the stadium of Mr Kikwete, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, in an open military Jeep. His appearance sparked ululations and hand clapping from the excited crowd.
Standing on the presidential dais, twenty one gun salutes were fired amid the rhythm of the national anthem which was jointly sung by those at the stadium and perhaps those glued to television sets across the country.
Mr Kikwete then inspected the guard of honour mounted by the armed forces.
Expressing gratitude to invited Heads of state and government and dignitaries representing their countries and international organisations for attendance, President Kikwete said the celebrated event was a result of bold and historic decision by the founding leaders of the nation, the Late President Julius Nyerere of then Tanganyika and the late President Abeid Aman Karume of Zanzibar.
“We deserve to celebrate the auspicious occasion because through the Union, Tanzania has recorded commendable achievements. It has made us stronger in social, economic and military arena.
The country is more united and peaceful. Thank you for joining us,” Kikwete said. He likened the significance of yesterday’s celebrations to two historic events, namely December 9, 1961, the day Tanganyika gained her independence from the British and January 12, 1964 Zanzibar Revolution that overthrew the sultanate.
Every display at Uhuru stadium yesterday was extraordinary. Special unit of the armed forces, commandos showing their physical strength and skills, the police dogs manoeuvres, para-dropping free fall (parachutes) display by five soldiers from about 4,500 ft above sea level was among the most dramatic shows that sent the crowd applauding wildly.
This caught the attention of many including President Kikwete who invited them to the podium for a hand shake.
Other shows included the fast moving jet fighters, children gymnastic shows, children ‘commandos’, and presentation by the famous orator, Mrisho Mpoto on behalf of other artists who sang together to mark the 50th union anniversary.
Among the invited guests were six Heads of state, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Joyce Banda (Malawi), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi), King Mswati (Swaziland) and King Letsie III (Lesotho).
Others were two Vice-Presidents, three prime ministers, three retired presidents, representatives from 24 different international organisations and partner states including the Seychelles, Turkey, DRC, Burundi, Egypt and the United Kingdom (UK).
Others were from Oman, Comoro, Seychelles, Mozambique, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria Botswana, Ghana, South Sudan, Jamaica among others.