Arusha to host May Day, after 22 years

By Marc Nkwame , The Guardian
Published at 10:04 AM Apr 18 2024
President Samia Suluhu Hassanc
Photo: File
President Samia Suluhu Hassanc

WHEN Arusha gets to host International Workers’ Day celebrations on May 1, it will be the first time in 22 years for the region to finally organize May Day at national level.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan who is expected to officiate at the event will also become the first national leader to lead the ceremony at the Sheikh Amri Abeid in recent memory.

The last time it was the late President Benjamin Mkapa who officiated at the ceremony back in 2002, hosted by the regional commissioner at the time, Daniel ole Njoolay, while first time voters now aged 22 have no memory of that event.

When asked why it took 22 years for Arusha to host the key event, the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) president Tumaini Nyamhokya wondered ‘what is so special about Arusha anyway.’

Past national leaders like former president Jakaya Kikwete and the late John Magufuli led those events in various regional capitals like Tanga, Mara, Mbeya, Mwanza, Iringa, Dodoma, Morogoro and Dar es Salaam regions only.

Some regions, such as Mwanza, Dodoma, Iringa and Morogoro have been hosting the May Day celebrations at national levels twice or even thrice.

In 2023, Morogoro organized the May Day celebrations, with President Samia Suluhu Hassan gracing the occasion, in 2022 the events went to Dodoma, in 2021 it was Mwanza played the host.

President Magufuli led the Workers’ Day fete at the Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya in 2019 and following the outbreak of Covid-19 fete was skipped for 2020.

In 2018 the May Day event was held in Iringa at national level with President Magufuli officiating, and earlier in 2017, he presided over the ceremony at Moshi Cooperative grounds, after having led that event in 2016 at the capital, Dodoma.

President Kikwete officiated at the Workers’ Day ceremony at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza during his last year in office, after Dar es Salaam hosted this event in 2014, preceded by Mbeya in 2013, Tanga in 2012 and Morogoro in 2011 and Dar in 2010.

During that event workers in Dar es Salaam carried a banner saying, 'The 2010 election will be the solution to the workers' problems, pressing President Kikwete to raise the minimum wage to 300,000/- per month.

The president flatly rejected the demand, asserting that he was ready to do without their votes in that year’s polls, and created a new aphorism in cultural life, with an expression that ‘however intelligent what you have been told might be, add to that your own intelligence.’

Mara hosted the 2009 May Day event, presided over by then Vice President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein.

In 2008 Iringa played host to it, while in 2007 the ceremony was held in Mwanza; earlier in 2006 the incoming president Jakaya Kikwete led that event in Shinyanga.

Before Arusha hosted May Day at the national levels in 2002, it had organized it eight years earlier, in 1994, convened by the Organization of Tanzanian Trade Unions (OTTU) led by Secretary General Bruno Mpangala.

Backed by conservative leaders in the ruling party, he declined to invite President Ali Hassan Mwinyi who had a year to his second term, and in 1995 the organisation invited retired President Julius Nyerere to the Mbeya event.