Observe, listen, understand: key to German state visit

German Federal President Joachim Gauck has wrapped up his four day state visit to Tanzania. Photo: Bundespräsident

German Federal President Joachim Gauck has wrapped up his four day state visit to Tanzania. Photo: Bundespräsident

German President Joachim Gauck wraps up his state visit to Tanzania today after appointments in Dar, Zanzibar, Arusha and of course, a bit of work and pleasure in the Serengeti.

The Bundespräsident, 75, ended his visit awe inspiring visit to the Serengeti  on a grateful note, thanking, “those who’ve teamed up to preserve this great gift to humanity. May it stay this way.”

But behind the magical parade of elephants, giraffes and lions is a somber message: every day over 300 animals are poached and 40 traps are discovered. At this rate, in 25 years there may be no more elephants or rhinos in the Serengeti.

On Thursday, Gauck symbolically handed over a new anti-poaching centre. Currently, three poachers are caught daily in and around the Serengeti.

With organizations like the Frankfurt Zoological Society operating across Tanzania, Germany is well positioned to further partner in conservation and anti-poaching efforts. (It was Germany who started the first designated a wildlife protected area, the Selous, in 1896.)

Partnership was a motif of Gauck’s visit, as he put it, “observe, listen and learn to understand.”

Speaking to the East African Community (EAC) he urged it’s members (Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi) to use the EU as an example.

“[Collaboration means] expressing your opinion only once you’ve understood that a perspective other than your own exists,” says Gauck, reminding President Jakaya Kikwete about the importance of press freedom and human rights — especially with regard to activists and opposition parties in light of recent beatings and the banning of the EastAfrican newspaper.

Gauck did state that Tanzania has made improvements and that he would be willing to share his expertise.

But the tone of Gauck’s visit, which also included a visit with the Joint Committee of Religious Leaders for Peace and Tranquility in Zanzibar, was not one of a lecturer. He wants to look forward in collaboration and understanding, and where Germany is concerned, providing investment.

Flanked with a high-ranking business delegation, Gauck says German businesses are impressed by the potential investment potential in East Africa — there are currently 150 German companies with investments of over $340 million US Dollars.

“Tanzania is what it is today because of the support by partners like Germany,” says Kikwete, noting he’d like to see investments to the tune of several billion dollars.

As the former colonial ruler of the region, the “dark side” as Gauck called it, was largely kept to the past.

Though standing at the German-built colonial era State House, staring out at the Indian Ocean, Gauck did muse, “what did our German forefathers see and feel, what hymns did they sing, when they first arrived in this place in the days of the Kaiser?”

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