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Benjamin Mkapa
Benjamin Mkapa 2010-05-07.jpg
Mkapa in 2010
3rd President of Tanzania
In office
23 November 1995 – 21 December 2005
Vice President Omar Ali Juma (1995–2001)
Ali Mohamed Shein (2001–05)
Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye
Preceded by Ali Hassan Mwinyi
Succeeded by Jakaya Kikwete
Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education
In office
President Ali Hassan Mwinyi
Minister for Information and Broadcasting
In office
President Ali Hassan Mwinyi
Personal details
Benjamin William Mkapa

(1938-11-12)12 November 1938
Ndanda, Masasi, Tanganyika
Died 24 July 2020(2020-07-24) (aged 81)
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Nationality Tanzanian
Political party CCM
Other political
Spouse Anna Joseph Maro
Children 2
Alma mater Makerere University(B.A.)
Columbia University(M.A.) Open University of Tanzania

Benjamin William Mkapa (12 November 1938 – 24 July 2020) was the third president of Tanzania, in office from 1995 to 2005. He was Chairman of the Revolutionary State Political Party (Chama Cha Mapinduzi, CCM).

Early life

Mkapa was born in Lupaso, near Masasi, Tanganyika, on 12 November 1938. He graduated from Makerere University in Uganda in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He went on to study at Columbia University the following year, and earned a master's degree in International Affairs.

Previous posts include being an administrative officer in Dodoma and the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. Mkapa was the head of the Tanzanian mission to Canada in 1982 and to the United States in 1983–84. He was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1990, before meeting his best friend Edward Mwassaga.


The President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with the President of Tanzania Mr. Benjamin William Mkapa at Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) on September 11, 2004
Mkapa meeting with Indian president Abdul Kalam in Dar es Salaam on 11 September 2004

In 1995, Mkapa was elected as president based on a popular anti-corruption campaign and the strong support of former president Julius Nyerere. Mkapa's anti-corruption efforts included creation of an open forum called the Presidential Commission on Corruption (Warioba Commission) and increased support for the Prevention of Corruption Bureau. His second five-year term of office as president ended in December 2005. During this term in office, Mkapa privatized state-owned corporations and instituted free market policies. His supporters argued that attracting foreign investment would promote economic growth. His policies won the support of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and resulted in the cancellation of some of Tanzania's foreign debts.

He was criticized for some ineffectiveness of his anti-corruption efforts as well as for his lavish spending. He spent £15 million on a private presidential jet, as well as almost £30 million on military aviation equipment from BAE Systems, which experts deemed beyond the limited needs of the country's armed forces. It was over the latter purchase that British International Development Secretary Clare Short expressed public outrage, resulting in her becoming known as 'Mama Radar' in the Tanzanian press.


Benjamin William Mkapa - World Economic Forum on Africa 2010 - 1
Mkapa at the 2010 World Economic Forum in Africa

Having left office due to a two-term limit, Mkapa was dogged by many accusations of corruption, among them improperly appropriating to himself and his former finance Minister Daniel Yona the lucrative Kiwira coal mine in the southern highlands of Tanzania without following lawful procedures. For privatizing the mine to himself, he was accused of a breach of the Tanzanian constitution, which does not allow a president to do business at the state house.

In 2007, Mkapa was part of the African Union's Panel of Eminent African Personalities, who were deployed to Kenya to resolve political violence that had broken out due to disputed election results. Mkapa - along with humanitarian and former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa, Graça Machel and former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan (Chair) - led the group in mediation efforts that resulted in the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act of 2008.

Mkapa served as a trustee of the Aga Khan University from 2007 to 2012.


Mkapa suffered from malaria and treated on 22 July 2020. He died of heart attack in Dar Es Salaam in the early hours of 24 July at the age of 81. Tanzanian President, John Pombe Magufuli, announced his death. The last farewell was conducted by Tanzania People's Defense Forces. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Lupaso, Masasi.

In recognition of the role Mkapa played in resolving Kenya's 2007/2008 post-election violence, Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, declared a three-day period of national mourning following his death, ordering all flags at public buildings and grounds to fly at half-mast.

Honours and awards


Order Country Year Ref
Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya.svg Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (Chief)  Kenya 2005
Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (Tanzania) - ribbon bar.png Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere  Tanzania 2011


Honorary degrees

University Country Degree Year
Sōka University  Japan Honorary degree 1998
Morehouse College  United States Honorary degree 1999
Open University of Tanzania  Tanzania Honorary degree 2003
National University of Lesotho  Lesotho Doctor of Law 2005
Kenyatta University  Kenya Doctor of Education 2005
University of Dar es Salaam  Tanzania Honorary degree 2006
Newcastle University  United Kingdom Doctor of Civil Law 2007
University of Cape Coast  Ghana Doctor of Letters 2008
Makerere University  Uganda Doctor of Law 2009

See also

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