United States, Washington D.C
Benjamin William Mkapa (born November 12, 1938) is a Tanzanian politician who was the third President of Tanzania, in office from 1995 to 2005. He was also Chairman of the Revolutionary State Political Party (Chama Cha Mapinduzi, CCM).
Benjamin W. Mkapa, a seasoned journalist, diplomat and politician, was elected President of Tanzania in November 1995. He is the third President of the United Republic of Tanzania since independence in1961.
President Mkapa was born in 1938 in Masasi, Mtwara region. 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.
President 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 Press Secretary to the then President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the position he held 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 ranking postings, namely, 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, (1996-2006). He was re-elected President in 2000 for another 5-year term.
Throughout his political career, President Mkapa worked to strengthen Tanzanian democracy, entrench civil rights and fight poverty, while increasing the country's exposure to international trade and investment. He was active in conflict resolution in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, he was instrumental together with Kofi Annan and Graca Machel - Mandela in finding solution to Kenyan post-election disputes in 2008, similarly he was an active player in regional economic co-operation within the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community of which he was Chairperson for 2003/2004.
In January 2002, President Mkapa was appointed, together with the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen Co-Chair of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization. In March 2004, he was appointed one of the Commissioners in the Commission for Africa established by the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
On 21st December 2005, President Mkapa relinquished powers voluntarily after the end of his two terms in office as President of United Republic of Tanzania. He continued to be the Chairman of the ruling party CCM until June 2006, when he voluntarily handed the chairmanship to his successor, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
President Mkapa continued to serve in a number of international engagements, among them, he was a Co-Chair of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, an initiative supported by British Government, European Union, World Bank, African Development Bank, and Multinational corporations. Effective from October 2006, serves as Chairman of South Centre an intergovernmental organization which fight for the issue of paramount importance for developing countries, including China and the Chairperson for the Emerging Markets Forum (Africa Region).
He was a member of Panel of Eminent Persons appointed by the UNCTAD Secretary General (2005) to review and enhance the role of UNCTAD within the United Nations reforms. He was also a member of the panel appointed by United Nations General Secretary in 2006, to review the United Nations Reforms on the system wide coherence in environment, humanitarian assistance and development. He served in a board of trustees for African wildlife foundation, and also served as a Commissioner on the United Nations Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (2006-2008).
President Mkapa was awarded seven honorary doctorate degrees from Soka University in Japan (1998), Morehouse College, Atlanta, USA (1999), the Open University of Tanzania (2003) and the National University of Lesotho (2005), University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (2006), Newcastle University, United Kingdom (2007) and the University of Ghana, Cape Coast (2008). In October 2007, he was awarded by Jane Goodall Institute, Global Leadership Award, for his leadership in conservation.
His first book in the series, Uwazi na Ukweli: Rais wa Watu Azungumza na Wananchi (Truth and Transparency: The People's President Talks to the People) was published by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam in 2003. The second book in the series was published by the same publisher in 2005. He passed on in July 2020 and he is survived by a widow Ms. Anna Joseph Maro, two sons and two grandsons. His main hobby was reading
- Trustee of the Aga Khan University from November 2007 until 2012.
- 1962, BA (Hons) in English, Makerere University College;
- 1962 - 63, Studies in Diplomacy, School of International Affairs, Columbia University, New York.
- 1962, Administrative Officer, Dodoma; District Officer; Foreign Service Officer.
- 1966, Managing Editor, Nationalist and Uhuru;
- 1972, Managing Editor, Daily News and Sunday News;
- 1974, Press Secretary to President;
- 1976, Founding Director, Tanzania News Agency;
- 1976, High Commissioner to Nigeria;
- 1977 - 80, Member of Parliament and Minister for Foreign Affairs;
- 1980 - 82, Minister for Information and Culture;
- 1982 - 83, High Commissioner to Canada;
- 1983 - 84, Ambassador to US;
- 1984 - 90, Minister for Foreign Affairs;
- 1985, MP elected to National Assembly for Nanyumbu constituency, Masasi District;
- 1990, Re-elected MP
- 1990 - 92, Minister for Information and Broadcasting;
- 1992 - 95, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education;
- 1995 - 2005, President of Tanzania;
- 1996 - 2006, Chairman, Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party. Member, Club of Madrid.