Samia Suluhu Hassan is a soft-spoken politician serving as the sixth and current Tanzanian president after the sudden death of John Magufuli. Under the constitution, Hassan will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term. If she completes this term, she will only be eligible to be elected for one full term in her own right. Ms. Samia becomes the second native of Zanzibar and the third Muslim to be the country’s head of state.
Despite holding senior seats in the government, little is known about Hassan’s personal life. The 61-year-old was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Hassan took a clerkship in a government office at 17. She graduated from the present-day Mzumbe university with a diploma in public administration and a diploma in economics from Manchester University. In 2015, she graduated with MSc in community development from the Open University of Tanzania and the Southern New Hampshire University. Hassan is married to Hafidh Ameir, a retired agricultural officer. They have four children, with their second child, Mwanu Hafidh, a member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives.
After running for public office in 2000, she was elected to the Zanzibar house of representatives and was later assigned senior ministry by president Karume. Hassan later sought election to the national assembly and won by more than 80%. She was later elected for a senior seat in the constituent assembly, which drafted her country’s new constitution. In 2015, Chama Cha Mapinduzi presidential nominee, John Pombe Magufuli, chose her as his running mate in his presidential election campaign. Upon Magufuli’s victory, Hassan became the country’s first female vice president. They were both re-elected for a second five-year term in October 2020.
A Capable Leader
The late president Magufuli trusted her and would send her to represent him both locally and internationally. Despite being loyal to Magufuli, Hassan’s first major test is reframing Tanzanian’s response to the ongoing pandemic COVID-19.
In her speech last year, she described herself as polite but committed to getting things done in the right way. As a model and mentor for young women in Africa, president Samia has set a precedent of how far committed women can rise if they remain focused on their dreams.