Benjamin W. Mkapa

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Benjamin W. Mkapa, "a seasoned journalist, diplomat and politician, was elected President of Tanzania in November 1995. He was the third President of the United Republic of Tanzania since independence in 1961.

"Former President Mkapa was born in 1938 in Masasi, in the Mtwara region of the country. He received his primary and secondary education in Tanzania, and continued his studies at Makerere University College in Uganda, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with honours) in 1962.

"Hon. Mkapa’s career began in local administration in Dodoma where he was appointed District Officer in 1962. He became a Foreign Service Officer later that year. In 1966 Mr. Mkapa embarked upon a long career in journalism. During the 1960s and 70s he served as Managing Editor of Tanzania’s leading newspapers, The Nationalist, Uhuru, The Daily News, and The Sunday News.

"His experience in the news media led to his being appointed, in 1974, as Press Secretary to the first President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, whom he served for two years. In 1976, Mr. Mkapa became the Founding Editor of the Tanzania News Agency (SHIHATA). He also became Minister for Information and Culture in 1980-82; and again Minister for Information and Broadcasting in 1990-92.

"President Mkapa’s equally long diplomatic career included a number of high postings, being High Commissioner to Nigeria in 1976 and Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1980. In 1982, he served as High Commissioner to Canada and between 1983 and 1984 as Ambassador to the United States of America. He returned home in 1984 where he was again appointed Member of Parliament and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

"In 1992, he served as Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, prior to being elected President in 1995, and Chairman of his Party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, in 1996. He was re-elected President in 2000 for another 5 year term.

"Throughout his political career, Former President Mkapa has worked hard to strengthen democracy in Tanzania, entrench civil rights and fight poverty, while increasing the country’s exposure to international trade and investment. He is active in conflict prevention, management and resolution in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and is an active player in regional economic co-operation within the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) an organisation he served as Chairperson for one year from August 2003.

"Former President was a Co-Chair with President Tarja Hallonen of Finland to the Commission on the Social-dimension of Globalization in 2003 – 2004. He was also a member of the Commission for Africa initiated by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"Former President Mkapa holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees, among others, from Soka University in Japan in 1998, Morehouse College, Atlanta, USA in 1999, and the Open University of Tanzania in September 2003. His main hobby is reading.

"After handing over power following his ruling party’s successful elections in 2005, Former President Mkapa is engaged in a number of prominent global initiatives aimed at reducing abject poverty in Africa, equal economic opportunity for all mankind, and combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Hon. Mkapa is a Co-Chair of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, an off-shot of the Blair Commission for Africa. He is currently serving as a Panellist in the UNCTAD High Level Panel, and High Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence on Development, Environment and Humanitarian Assistance. He is also serving as a Commissioner on a UN High Level Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor, a member of the prestigious Paris Club of Former Heads of States and Government, and member to the boards of the African Wildlife Foundation and the Dead Sea Institute. Hon Mkapa is a Co-founder of the Benjamin William Mkapa HIV/AIDS Fellowship Programme, an initiative aimed at supporting delivery of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs to the under-privileged sufferers of HIV/AIDS in remote rural areas.

"He is married to the former Anna Joseph Maro, and they have two sons." [1]

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Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Benjamin W. Mkapa, South Centre, accessed June 14, 2008.
  2. Board Members, South Centre, accessed June 14, 2008.
  3. Governance, Aga Khan University, accessed August 29, 2008.