Can peacocks mend frosty Kenya-Tanzania ties?


Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday received a special gift of four peacocks from his Tanzanian counterpart, John Pombe Magufuli but how far will this overture go to mend frosty ties between the two countries?

By Joseph Kimani Kabiru

The ornamental birds were delivered to Kenyatta by Tanzania High Commissioner to Kenya Dr Pindi Hazara Chana who also delivered a goodwill message from President Magufuli.

The birds were gifted to President Kenyatta by his host during his recent private visit to Tanzania in what President Magufuli termed as a sign of deep respect and appreciation for the Kenyan leader.

But since Mugufuli took power, relations between the two countries have been frosty. 

The two neighbours have been engaged in bitter trade wars as recently as January this year.

However, a private visit by Kenyatta to Tanzania last month seems to have eased the tension.

 Kenyatta had explained that his unofficial visit was to break the ice so that “when we meet officially, things will go smoothly."

In September last year, Kenya imposed tariffs on flour and other products from Tanzania after Dar-es-Salaam ignored a deal that granted Kenyan-made chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and sweets unrestricted entry into its market.

Tanzania has for a long time been an uneasy member of the East African Community, always accusing Kenya and other member states of seeking to exploit their resources.

According to Magufuli, there are 504 Kenyan-owned companies in Tanzania, valued at $1.7 billion.

At the same time, 24 Tanzanian companies in Kenya are valued at $189 million.

Speaking while receiving the four birds, Kenyatta expressed his deep gratitude and appreciation to President Mugufuli, saying the birds signify the values of love, unity and brotherhood that exist between the people of the two countries.

“On my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Kenya, I receive this special gift. This is in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship of the East African residents,” the president said.

“It’s a great honour not only between us as presidents but as the people of East Africa. This deep relationship and brotherhood should continue so as to benefit our current and future generations," he added.

The President said Kenya doesn’t just take Tanzania as a neighbour but rather as a sister republic with a shared aspiration of a prosperous region.

"Aided by the unity that exist between our two nations, we will fight with what is negatively affecting our people and any other challenge which might rise until we build a strong and cohesive brotherhood that will enable our people in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi to be referred to as East Africans,” the President emphasized.

He assured the Tanzanian delegation led by Dr Chana that Kenya will ensure the four peacocks will be given great care to ensure that the pride grows.

It remains to be seen whether the suddenly warming relationship between the two presidents will see an end to the trade restrictions still in force.


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