Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - President Obama got a hero's welcome from chanting throngs of excited citizens as he arrived in Tanzania on Monday afternoon. President Jakaya Kikwete made note of it as he toasted his guest of honor at the Official Dinner that ended the day, held at the State House where live peacocks roam the lush grounds and the Indian Ocean glitters in the near distance. (Above, the Presidents and Mrs. Obama at the Head Table as the US National Anthem is played)
"You are so special to Tanzania," President Kikwete said. "There has never been a visit by a head of state to Tanzania that has attracted such big crowds...the first one of its kind."
The crowds lining the streets for miles were five and six deep as the President and First Lady Michelle Obama drove through the city to the State House, his motorcade moving at a snail's pace along a roadway officially renamed "Barack Obama Drive." (Above, a long view of the banquet, as Kikwete toasts Obama)
Thousands wore shirts emblazoned with President Obama's image; women and girls were clad in traditional "khanga" cloth tied into skirts and dresses that also featured photos of the smiling Mr. Obama, who is as beloved for his father's Kenyan citizenship as he is for anything he's done for the continent.
"You have been an inspiration to all of us," Kikwete, 62, told the President as he thanked him for reassurances of continued partnership and support. "You are a true friend of Tanzania and a dear friend of Africa."
"We've been deeply touched by the welcome and the warm wishes from the Tanzanian people along the streets as we came in here with you tonight," President Obama responded.
Tanzania, which Kikwete has led since 2005, is Mr. Obama's final stop on his week-long visit to the continent, his most significant period of engagement since taking office. The "dear friend of Africa" came bearing many gifts, including promises of billions of dollars in aid and investment.
The President and Mrs. Obama arrived in the ballroom for the two-hour dinner at 8:47 PM to a standing ovation, capping the President's day of bilateral meetings, a joint press conference, and an extended meeting with African and international business CEOs. The First Couple took their seats at the Head Table with Kikwete and his wife, Mama Salma Kikwete, who escorted Mrs. Obama to a series of events during the day. (Above, the two Presidents)
In an history-maker for social media, Mrs. Obama spent her first-ever day in country personally recounting her activities on Twitter, taking over the @FLOTUS account from staff. Her tweets included mentions of tea with Mrs. Kikwete ("had a wonderful time"), a cultural exhibition, and a visit to the memorial to the victims of the 1998 terrorist bombing attack on the US Embassy. Mrs. Obama also mentioned the dinner on Twitter.
"Tonight, Barack & I are attending an Official Dinner hosted by the President & First Lady of Tanzania. So touched by their hospitality.-mo," Mrs. Obama wrote.
Monday was bright and warm in Dar es Salaam, and for the dinner Mrs. Obama wore a popping orange textured straight skirt, paired with a white, short sleeved, button-down blouse and a slim coppery belt wrapped around her waist. Her hair was down, her bangs pushed to one side. (Above: The Tanzanian National Anthem is played)
President Obama wore a dark suit with a white shirt and a bright red tie that matched the lush red flower arrangements that decorated the tables, as he had during his day spent touting America and Africa's twinned futures. His gifts were many: With a major port for the continent and Africa's largest economy, Tanzania is a coveted trading partner for the US, especially in light of China's obvious interest and President Obama's assertion that Africa is crucial to America's global power, a theme of his trip. The "newly announced "Trade Africa" project will ease restrictions between the two nations, as well as boost the presence of American companies in Tanzania.
The President's "Power Africa" plan will invest $7 billion in the continent's electrical infrastructure and be a boon for Tanzania, which has daily power outages. Earlier on Monday he said US efforts have rejuvenated Tanzania's agricultural economy, with USAID's Feed the Future program helping 14,000 Tanzanian farmers better manage their crops and increase their yields by almost 50%. Tanzania is also one of four African nations in The Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership, a $47 million, three-year partnership that President Obama announced last Friday as he visited an agricultural expo in Dakar before departing Senegal for South Africa.
Each menu beside the fine china place-settings in the ornate ballroom featured a drawing of a giraffe: On Monday, the President signed an Executive Order designed to better organize US agencies in helping Africa combat the devastating poaching trade in wildlife, especially elephants and rhinos. The plan includes "additional millions of dollars to help countries across the region build their capacity to meet this challenge," President Obama said.
A rousing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was played by the Tanzanian military band framed by arched windows rising to a soaring ceiling laden with gold chandeliers before President Obama gave his response toast to President Kikwete. And though he was the hero of the hour, President Obama told the story of another American hero who'd visited Tanzania long ago--Robert Kennedy, in 1966.
Just as the Obamas had, Kennedy also arrived in Tanzania after a stop in South Africa, the President explained, saying the visit, and Kennedy's "tiny ripple of hope" speech, have long been remembered.
"It was a little different back then. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, rode in the back of an open truck," President Obama joked, to laughter. "As Kennedy's truck made its way through the crowds, he picked up two boys and let them ride alongside them. The Secret Service doesn't let me do these things," he added, to more laughter.
Kennedy was also featured in the President's toast during the State Dinner in his honor last Saturday in South Africa.
"But while these times have changed, the good feelings stay the same," President Obama said. "We thank you for sharing that sense of peace and brotherhood for which this country and its people have long been known."
He saluted Kikwete for his "wisdom and strength in seeking reforms so that more Tanzanians can enjoy progress, more opportunity," and also paid tribute to Mama Kikwete.
"Like me, you're strengthened by a woman who is a leader in her own right," President Obama said to applause.
"I am told that Mama Kikwete is fond of a traditional Tanzanian saying--"My neighbor's child is my child.' And that sentiment I think also captures the feeling, the partnership between--our two countries must have."
"So you might say an American child is my child. We might say a Tanzanian child is my child. In this way, both of our nations will be looking after all of our children and we'll be living out the vision of President Nyerere. The core values that he proclaimed for Tanzania also describe what both our countries seek--wisdom, unity, and peace--Hekima, Umoja, na Amani," President Obama said to applause.
He closed by raising a glass of water to toast.
"So what I'd like to do is to propose a toast--if I can get my water here--to our gracious Tanzanian hosts, to our Tanzanian friends and to wisdom, unity and peace that we all seek in the world. Cheers," President Obama said.
No menu was released for the dinner, and the traveling press pool was held far away from the action, except for the Presidents' toast remarks. "We are holding outside, with the mosquitos," pool noted. (Above, Mrs. Obama and Kikwete toast)
The President and his entourage arrived back at their hotel in Dar es Salaam at 10:26 PM local time. Mrs. Obama ended the evening with a Twitter nightcap.
"Just got back from dinner. Thanks for joining me on @twitter for such an incredible day. Signing off! -mo #FLOTUSinAfrica," Mrs. Obama wrote.
*The full transcript of President Obama's toast remarks.
Advisors and aides accompanying the President in Africa include Senior Advisors Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer; Press Secretary Jay Carney; Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes; USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah; Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco; newly minted US Trade Representative Mike Froman and Grant Harris, Senior Director for Africa for the National Security Council. First Daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 12, First Grandmother Marian Robinson, and Mrs. Obama's niece Leslie Robinson are also in Africa with the President.
Tuesday concludes the President's trip to Africa. In the morning, he will have a closed-press meet and greet with US Embassy personnel. After, the President will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the 1998 Embassy Bombing Memorial, joined by President George W. Bush. (UPDATE: A White House photo of the Presidents at the Embassy Memorial)
Mrs. Obama on Tuesday will join former First Lady Laura Bush at the African First Ladies Summit: “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” hosted by the George W. Bush Institute. African First Ladies from across the continent are gathered "to focus on the important role First Ladies play in promoting women’s education, health and economic empowerment," the White House said.
Before departing for Washington on Tuesday afternoon, the President will visit the Symbion Power Plant to further tout the Power Africa Initiative. He will then depart from the Julius Nyerere Airport en route Washington, DC, traveling aboard Air Force One with the First Family. (Above: The President and Mrs. Obama greet crowds outside the State House on Monday morning)
CLICK HERE for links to all posts about the President's trip to Africa, his fourth abroad in his second term.
Tonight, Barack & I are attending an Official Dinner hosted by the President & First Lady of Tanzania. So touched by their hospitality. -mo
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) July 1, 2013
Just got back from dinner. Thanks for joining me on @twitter for such an incredible day. Signing off! -mo #FLOTUSinAfrica
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) July 1, 2013
*Top, Memorial and crowd photos by Pete Souza/White House; others by pool