Cablegate: Zanzibar: Home Grown "U.S. Election Rally" A
R 040938Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7840
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
CIA WASHINGTON DC
HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
UNCLAS DAR ES SALAAM 000567
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI SCUL PGOV KDEM TZ
SUBJECT: ZANZIBAR: HOME GROWN "U.S. ELECTION RALLY" A
SOUNDING BOARD FOR LOCAL THEMES
1. On August 31, Muloud Salim, a young, self-appointed
Zanzibari "U.S. Election Organizer" held an "Obama for
President" Rally in the old fort at the epicenter of the
capital of Stonetown. Despite never having been outside of
Tanzania, for the last several months Salim has taken it upon
himself to try to activate his fellow islanders about the
U.S. elections in general and Senator Obama in particular.
In his day job as a tour guide for travel agent Abercrombie
and Kent, Salim has even gone as far as to carry absentee
voter forms that he distributes to unregistered American
tourists he sees at the airport (NOTE: Salim's activities are
separate and unrelated to voting assitance activities carried
out by the Embassy Consular Section. END NOTE). Taxis
throughout the island sport either American flags or U.S.
partisan stickers because of Salim, and in front of the
principal hotel in the capital there is an "Obama tree"
decorated with election regalia, that has become something of
a tourist attraction in its own right.
2. Salim's "rally" brought out about 100 curious locals
and around 25 bemused tourists of various nationalities and
featured local dancers and music, including a group of
transplanted Masai warriors. He paid for use of the venue
and PA equipment from small donations by signatories of his
&petition,8 a list of about 400 names, about half of them
local. At the rally, Salim,s speech focused on Senator
Obama's African origins, but especially on the campaign
slogan "yes we can", suggesting that Zanzibaris could and
should initiate their own change.
3. At the denouement of his speech, Salim said he was often
asked what would be the benefit for Zanzibaris if Obama won.
Salim said that Africans should expect little change from the
United States post-election, regardless of the outcome, but
that was not the real question. He criticized the mentality
of those that would ask such as question, saying that
positive change would not come from the U.S. or anywhere else
outside of Africa. Change had to come from within, and
Africans needed to take responsibility for their own
problems, he asserted. Salim went on to say that Zanzibar
was one people, not two factions, and that Zanzibar was
united into one country ) Tanzania. Threatening that unity
was corruption, which eroded the institutions that would
otherwise spur development and unity. Just as Americans were
renewing their society with the November election, Zanzibaris
needed to watch and learn. When Salim finished speaking, the
crowd's echo "Yes we can!" had a different meaning and
context from the U.S. electoral campaign.