Speech

British High Commission in Tanzania celebrates HM The Queen's 90th Birthday

Speech by the British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose at celebration of HM The Queen's 90th Birthday celebration

Habari za jioni? Karibuni. Ramadhan Kareem.

Nimefurai sana kuona marafiki wengi, kwenye sherehe ya miaka tisini, ya Malkia Elizabeth.

A very warm welcome to you all. And a special welcome to our Guest of Honour – Minister Harrison Mwakyembe, who’s travelled all the way from Dodoma to be here this evening.

This is a special celebration of Queen Elizabeth, the Head of the Commonwealth’s 90th birthday. Sixty three years after her coronation, she’s now the longest serving British monarch. Much respected, very hard-working and well-travelled.

On screen and around garden you can see pictures of her life, including her 1979 visit to Tanzania. I thought her grandson got it spot on when he said the best birthday present we could give her is a day off. Did you know that when she was 18 she worked as a mechanic and military truck driver during the Second World War?

There have been street parties up and down the UK – including a giant picnic for 10,000 people on Sunday in London - in the rain. It was to celebrate the Queen’s patronage of more than 600 UK and Commonwealth organisations and highlight their work.

At the street party, the Queen said she hoped “these happy celebrations will remind us of the many benefits that can flow - when people come together for a common purpose.” –

Coming together for a common purpose is central to the UK’s work in Tanzania. We value our partnership with Tanzania, in promoting Prosperity through more trade and investment. And our partnership in promoting Security – in Tanzania and the wider region.

We’re really pleased to have increased UK/Tanzania collaboration in tackling corruption, financial and organised crime, including over the new Anti-Corruption division of the High Court and Criminal Justice Reform championed by Minister Mwakyembe. A new partnership between the UK National Crime Agency and PCCB was agreed at the London Anti-Corruption Summit.

Tanzania is one of our most important development partners. This year our development programme will be £182 million (around $260m). These resources are being directed to the priorities set out by the President, including improving infrastructure, industrialisation, supporting smallholder farmers and tackling major business constraints like access to finance and land.

The UK will be investing more in improving the quality of education for young Tanzanians. This is something both the President and young people are telling us they want. Young people are Tanzania’s future. That’s why we’re championing their voice and involving them more and more in what we do and how we do it. As we go forward, we’ll ask ourselves how everything we do impacts on young people. Earlier this year we had an event here, to celebrate Young Tanzanian Leaders and Entrepreneurs. Their stories were really inspiring: the common theme was don’t limit yourself – live out your dreams.

They reminded me of my favourite line from William Shakespeare’s play “Measure for Measure”: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good, we oft might win - by fearing to attempt”

This year we’re celebrating Shakespeare‘s work 400 years since his death. Julius Nyerere was a Shakespeare fan: he translated Julius Caesar into Kiswahili to celebrate the 1st anniversary of independence - and The Merchant of Venice. The collected works of Shakespeare was one of the most prized books of political prisoners on Robben Island.

Shakespeare’s plays still resonate today. One of my most vivid memories of Tanzania will be the excitement of some Tanzanian school girls after they’d seen Hamlet performed by the Globe Theatre. Many had never been to the theatre before. They were asked which themes in the play were relevant to Tanzania. They found lots - one girl singled out corruption.

This is the last Queen’s Birthday Party I’ll host as I’m leaving Tanzania at the end of July. My successor, Sarah Cooke (3rd in a succession of British women High Commissioners to Tanzania) will be arriving towards the end of August.

I’ve loved living in Tanzania amongst such warm and welcoming people. It’s hard leaving so many friends. In Shakespeare’s words: “Parting is such sweet sorrow”.

You can be sure I’ll be avidly reading news of Tanzania.

I hope Tanzania will thrive into the future as a vibrant multi-party democracy in which civil society organisations, political parties and the media have the space to help President Magufuli succeed with his bold agenda of rooting out corruption, demanding accountability and good use of resources.

I hope the government will achieve its bold vision of pro-poor economic development by creating the conditions for the private sector to thrive, and be the motor of inclusive growth. And that, with a better business environment Tanzania will attract more foreign and local investment.

Quoting from Hamlet: “Brevity is the Soul of Wit”.

Let me end by thanking our sponsors for their generous support to this Queens Birthday Party: Our Silver sponsors: Shell, Serengeti Breweries and Songas. And our Bronze sponsors: Standard Chartered Bank, Vodacom, Unilever, Ernst and Young, Ophir Energy, and DLA Piper.

Thank you all. Asanteni.

Know more about the High Commissioner’s top priorities for 2016