Today, November 12, historians tell us, President of the 3rd Phase Government of Tanzania Benjamin William Mkapa celebrates the 78th anniversary of his birth in the Year of Our Lord 1938.
Cheers, ‘Doctor’ Mkapa – the ‘holder’ of a baker’s dozen honourary awards by distinguished academic and other institutions!
Not many people know this. So, I’ll briefly note that, as Tanzania’s President for two, five-year terms (1995-2005), Mkapa was honoured twice while still President – and eleven times after he left the Presidency to Year-2013!
In the Year-1998, the Soka University (Japan) awarded Mkapa an ‘Honoris Causa’ – followed by a similar Cloak of Dignity by the US-based Morehouse College in 1999. In 2003, the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) awarded the man with the ‘Tanzania Honoris Causa.’ Then followed a near-avalanche of Awards in the final year of his Presidency, 2005, that included the ‘Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya,’ an Honorary Doctor of Law from the National University of Lesotho in southern Africa – and a Doctorate of Education by the Kenyatta University (Kenya).
Post-his Presidency, ‘our’ Mkapa was recognized with an ‘Honoris Causa’ in Year-2006 by the University of Dar es Salaam (UDsm) – and a Doctorate of CIVIL Law in 2007 by the Newcastle University (UK).
Perhaps not to be outdone by Academic Institutions, the Jane Goodall Foundation presented ex-President Mkapa with the Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award in 2007. Another non-academic institution awarded him the ‘Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’ in 2011.
But, that was after Mkapa’s alma mater, the Makerere University (Uganda) had awarded its very own alumnus with a ‘Doctorate of Law’ in 2009… Mkapa hadn’t studied Law at Makerere – or, indeed anywhere else. Records show that he graduated from Makerere in 1962 with a ‘Degree in English!’
He also attended Columbia University in the US, where he was awarded a Master’s in International Affairs in 1963! So, the University of Cape Coast (Ghana) wasn’t far off the mark when it awarded Mkapa an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in 2008! ‘Scholarly’ Mkapa went on to work as a Journalist (of sorts), a
Diplomat (of sorts) and a Politician (of sorts) before becoming Tanzania’s Third President (November 23, 1995-December 21, 2005)! This was compliments of the founder of Tanzanian Nationalism, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (1922-99) whose unstinted efforts – for all practical purposes – shoehorned into the Presidency as ‘Mister Clean!’ Never mind that – elected on a popular anti-corruption campaign – Mkapa formed the Presidential (Warioba) Commission on Corruption whose, findings were just as soon deep-sixed like the Watergate records…
Anyway, as wags say, the rest is History… Happy Birthday, Benjamin
William Mkapa! Oh, I nearly forgot that today in History is also ‘Fathers’ & ‘National Health Day’ in Indonesia; ‘National Youth Day’ in East Timor – and International Pneumonia Day! It was also on a date like today’s (November 12) that the Durand Line Treaty was signed in 1893 that delineated the border between present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Oh, how I wish Malawi and Tanzania would soonest sign their own version of the ‘Durand Treaty’ so that we can all live happily hereafter… Cheers, everybody!