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H.E. William Benjamin Mkapa

The 3rd  President  of the United Republic  of Tanzania, the late Benjamin William Mkapa, was born out of the family of Mzee William Matwani and Mama Stephania  Nambaga on  12th November, 1938, at Lupaso village, Masasi, in Mtwara Region. He was the last born in the family of four children (4).


The  Late Benjamin William Mkapa completed his Primary education at Lupaso Primary School and thereafter joined Ndanda Secondary School for three years (1948 – 1951), before joining Kigonsera Seminary School in Ruvuma Region.

  • He joined St. Francis College at Pugu in Dar es Salaam in 1955 and competed form Five and Six in 1956.
  • He joined Makerere University in Uganda for undergraduate studies from 1959 – 1962 after which he acquired his first degree in English Literature and Phonetics.
  • In 1963, he obtained his Master’s Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Colombia University, in the United States of America.


The  Late Benjamin  William Mkapa began his  career as  a Government Administrative Officer in Dodoma district, in Dodoma Region, April, 1962. In August 1962, after four months of work, he proceeded to pursue his Post Graduate Studies in Diplomacy from Colombia University in the United States of America.

Upon return from his studies in 1963, he joined the Ministry of Foreign  Affairs as a Foreign Service Officer where he served  as Desk Officer for Africa. Among his responsibilities  was to take minutes of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the President when they had international meetings.


The Late President Benjamin William Mkapa worked in the Civil Service  as an ordinary government officer for a very short period of time. For a good long time, the late, was a leader in various positions as follows:

  • In 1966, he was  appointed a Managing Editor  of the Tanganyika  African National Union (TANU)  Party Newspaper – The Nationalist. By virtue of this position he was permitted to attend the Party’s Central Committee Meetings.
  • He was  a Member of Parliament  of the East African Parliament from 1970 – 1975.
  • In April 1972, the Late Benjamin  William Mkapa was appointed the first Managing Editor of the Government English Newspapers namely the Daily News and Sunday News.
  • From 1974 to 1976, he was appointed as the President’s Press Secretary.
  • In 1976 he was assigned  to establish Shirika la Habari Tanzania  (SHIHATA) and was later made the CEO of the same.
  • In 1976 he was  appointed Tanzania’s  Ambassador  to Nigeria.
  • In 1977, he served as  Minister for Foreign Affairs and nominated Member of Parliament.  He led the Ministry for  three years before he was  appointed Minister of Information and Culture, the Ministry he led from 1980 –1982.
  • Between 1982 – 1983 he was appointed and served  as Tanzania’s Ambassador  to Canada where he had a brief tour of service and was transferred to the United States as Tanzania’s Ambassador, where he served until 1984.
  • In 1984, he was again appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he held for six years – until 1990 when he was  again appointed Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
  • From 1990 to 1992, he was Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
  • In 1992, he was made Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, the position he held until 1995, when he decided to  stand for presidential candidature and emerged triumphant as President of the United Republic of Tanzania as flag bearer of Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM.


The late Mkapa was married to Mama Anna and were blessed with two children namely Stephen (Steve) and Nicholas (Nico). He also has two grandchildren.


  • The late Benjamin William Mkapa was appointed Member of Parliament, in 1977.
  • Between 1985 and 1995 he served as an elected Member of Parliament for Nanyumbu Constituency in Masasi District, Mtwara Region.
  • For a number of years, the late Mkapa was a member of the Central Committee  of Chama cha Mapinduzi– CCM, Member of  the National Executive Committee  and a Member of the Secretariat of CCM responsible  for Foreign Affairs.
  • In November 1995, he was elected President as the 3rd President of the United Republic of Tanzania until 2005 and simultaneously  served as the Chairperson of Chama cha Mapinduzi.
  • The  late President  B.  W.  Mkapa was  the First  elected President under Multi-party system, put in place in 1992.


During the time when the late Benjamin Mkapa was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, among other important activities, he was fully and steadfastly engaged in the liberation struggle of the African continent. He established very good rapport at international level which enabled Tanzania to get unflinching support from the world over including that of big nations like China and Russia. The late Benjamin William Mkapa was highly respected in Southern African countries for his grand contributions he made during

the liberation struggle under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Many of those Southern African countries awarded the late Mkapa with Medals of the Highest Order in recognition of his contribution during the liberation struggle.

After his presidential ascendancy, he vigorously began to adjust the economy by introducing reforms in the Government  in order to solve the challenges which prevailed then. In the plight against corruption, the late Mkapa, in 1996, created a Presidential Commission  to  investigate corruption in  the  country under the leadership of the retired Prime minister, Hon. Joseph Sinde Warioba. The outcome of the Commission did, to a great extent, re-enforced the war against corruption in the country leading to the creation of the Anti-Corruption Institution in the country.

The late Benjamin William Mkapa introduced and encouraged economic reforms which included giving wider space in the private sector and privatization of  Public  Institutions which were mal-functioning and those which had already collapsed. He introduced a system of dialogue between the Government and the Private Sector where he personally oversaw through the National Business Council – NBC.

He also strengthened  fiscal policies and controlled circulation of money and inflation in the country. He augmented tremendously government revenues and in general instilled economic principles in the country.

The  late Benjamin William Mkapa initiated and began to implement National Development Vision 2000 – 2005, which is currently being implemented.  He also put in place various important institutions in order to improve government execution in the following areas:-

  • The National Health Insurance Fund (Mfuko wa Bima Taifa)
  • Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) (Mamlaka  ya Mapato Tanzania)
  • Tanzania National  Roads Agency (TANROADS) (Wakala wa Barabara Tanzania)
  • Tanzania Social Support Fund (TASAF) (Mfuko wa Jamii)
  • Tanzania  Commission   for  AIDs (TACAIDS)  (Tume  ya Kupambana na Ugonjwa wa Ukimwi).
  • Tanzania Poverty Reduction Strategy (MKUKUTA) (Mkakati wa Kuondoa Umaskini na Kukuza Uchumi Tanzania).
  • Property  and  Business Formalization  Program  (BFFP) (Mpango wa Kuimarisha Raslimali na Biashara (MKURABITA).
  • National Business Council (NBC) (Baraza la Biashara la Taifa (BBT).
  • Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) (Taasisi ya Sekta Binafsi Tanzania).

The Late Benjamin William Mkapa strengthened the freedom of the Mass Media and politics. He fully recognized and supported the development of religious institutions in the nation; with that in mind, he handed over government buildings to some institutions in order to establish universities. For example, he handed over the Mazengo Secondary  buildings to the Anglican Church to establish St. John’s University. He gave the Iringa Bank College buildings to the Catholic Church in order to establish the Ruaha University; and TANESCO buildings in Morogoro to BAKWATA in order to establish the Islamic University of Morogoro. He also handed over the buildings of the Secondary School Magamba to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania  (KKKT) so that they may start their Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU). As incumbent President, the Late Benjamin William Mkapa occupied the following international positions.

  • Chairperson of  the World Commission  on  the  Social Dimension of Globalization
  • Chairperson  of the Advisory Board  Panel of Microsoft Africa
  • Founder Member of the Panel of African Leadership Forum


From the year 2005, the Late Benjamin William Mkapa occupied himself with various political and development issues including:-

  • The  creation of his Foundation,  The Benjamin  William Mkapa Foundation  (BMF), geared toward  combating HIV/AIDS including the improvement of health services delivery system especially in the periphery areas of the country.
  • Acting as Chancellor  of the University of Dodoma (UDOM).
  • Chancellor of the Cavendish University in Uganda.
  • Serving as member of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University.
  • Facilitator to the Inter-Burundi Dialogue in Burundi.
  • Member,  Committee  of  the  Club of  Retired  African Presidents on the Campaign Against HIV/AIDS.
  • Member,   Panel  of  Eminent Persons:   Enhancing the development role and impact of UNCTAD.
  • Member,  Secretary-General’s  High-Level Panel  on  UN System-Wide  Coherence  in the areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment.
  • Member,  Commission for Africa established by former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom.
  • Member, Board of Trustees, African Wildlife  Foundation.
  • Chair of the United Nation’s  Panel monitoring  Sudan referenda.
  • Co- Mediator and African Union Special Envoy with former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Republic of Nigeria in the political conflict in DRC.
  • Co-chief Negotiator with Former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, on the Political Conflicts in Kenya.
  • Co-Founder of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa.


The Late Benjamin William Mkapa was awarded the following medals:-

  • The Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (Chief ) (2005)
  • The Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award (2007)
  • The Order of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (2011).


The Late Benjamin William Mkapa, was honored and awarded the following Honorary Degrees from various national and foreign Universities:-

The Late Benjamin William Mkapa had clarions which fitted well with his thinking regarding national development and self- reliance,  “Ukweli na Uwazi”,  meaning Truth and Transparency. And, “Mtaji wa Maskini ni Nguvu zake Mwenyewe”,meaning “Poor man’s capital is his own strength” and reliance on God during the labor. He often said; “Oraet labora” meaning “Prayer and Work”. We should be guarded by his clarions as we emulate him.

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