United Nations, New York
United Nations, Geneva
Dr Wilbert Kumalija Chagula was born in the village of Mondo, Shinyanga, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1926. After finishing his schooling at the Tabora Government Secondary School, Tanganyika/he was admitted to Makerere University College, Uganda, in 1945. Having completed the Licentiateship in Medicine and Surgery at the age of 25 he returned to Tanganyika as an Intern at the Sewa Hadji Hospital, Dares Salaam where he gained his final qualifications Co practice medicine.
In 1953, he returned to the Makerere University College Medical School, initially as [Tutorial] Assistant in the Department of Anatomy, and later as a full member of the academic staff, remaining there for eight years in all. However, much of that time was spent abroad, studying Human Anatomy at King's College, Cambridge, UK and then - as a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation in Histochemistry - at the University College of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, and Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA.
The establishment of the University College, Dar es Salaam in the early 1960's soon after Independence, drew Dr Chagula back to his native country. It was a step which was to change the direction of his career for ever. Although his short academic career in medical science had been full of promise it was after this critical move chat he was to record his major achievements.
As Vice-Principal and Registrar of the then University College, Dar es Salaam (1963-65) and its first indigenous Principal (1960s-1970) he guided the College through the important growth phase that led to its emergence as the independent University of Dar es Salaam when the College's umbrella institution, the University of East Africa, was dissolved in 1970. During that period he began to apply his strong scientific background to the wider range of activities and interests that provide much of the substance of this book. As, without question, the most senior Tanzanian scientist of the time, but being no longer in a position to continue his medical research, Dr Chagula applied the rigour of his scientific training to promote the development of his country, to which he made a substantial and unique contribution.
Frequently he was called upon by the Government to represent Tanzania at important conferences and meetings concerned with development, especially in the areas of education and science. In his individual capacity he was often invited to participate in endeavours for which he, among very few if any other Tanzanians at that time, was well qualified. For example he was, at various times, a Member of the Council of the United Nations University, a foundation member of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana, and a member of the Pugwash Movement for Science and World Affairs, established to promote communication between distinguished scientists from East and West. Pugwash has met annually for the past four decades to discuss and propose specific solutions to globally significant questions such as the application of science and technology to the production and monitoring of weapons, and later to broader development issues. The opportunity to debate such topics with some of the world's greatest thinkers was an invaluable experience for Dr Chagula. In 1963 he was elected President (later Chairman) of The East African Academy, an office he held until duties with the Government of Tanzania Cook him away from Dar es Salaam in 1977.
Dr Chagula joined the Tanzanian Parliament as a National Member after the 1970 election and was immediately appointed to the Government as Minister for Water Development and Power. Early in 1972 he moved to the higher-profile position of Minister for Economic Affairs and Development Planning and, in June 1972 assumed the additional role of Chairman of the newly created rational Scientific Research Council, the forerunner of COSTECH. Later he served as Minister for Water, Minerals and Energy and as Minister for Finance and Administration for the East African Community. During that period he frequently represented the Government of Tanzania at international meetings abroad, becoming very familiar with the United Nations and its specialised agencies, studying its modus operandi, and always looking for ways that Tanzania could derive benefit from its activities and cap its resources.
Following the demise of the East African Community Dr Chagula moved to Switzerland as Tanzania's first Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and its representative to other international organizations in Switzerland and Austria. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1980-81. His appointment to Geneva (1978-1986) coincided with Tanzania's Chairmanship of the G77 in the early 1980's giving him heavy responsibilities - and challenging opportunities - in providing leadership to entrench the Croup of the Developing Countries as an effective negotiating force in the United Nations system. In 1986 he was transferred to the post of Ambassador to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, his last career posting prior to retirement in 1989.