Chief David Makwaia

Name ID 2208

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Guardian (UK)
Extract Author: Awam Amkpa
Extract Date: Thursday May 31, 2007

Chief David Kidaha Makwaia: Tanzanian politician, businessman and head of the Sukuma

Chief David Kidaha Makwaia of Tanzania, who has died aged 84, was one of the last great bridges between colonial and postcolonial Africa. Paramount chief of the Sukuma Federation and an ally of Tanganyika's governor from 1949 to 1958, Lord Twining, Makwaia liaised between British rulers and various constituencies of their Tanzanian subjects, witnessing East Africa's transition from imperialism through independence to postcolonial repression.

Makwaia's life offers a window to the overlapping identities and cosmopolitan experiences that defined the colonised elites of 20th-century Africa. He was born a Muslim son of the Sukuma chief, Makwaia Mwandu of Usiha, in the Shinyanga region of Tanganyika. He trained in agriculture at Uganda's Makerere University College in the early 1940s before entering Lincoln College, Oxford, where he read principles and praxis of local government, philosophy and politics.

Makwaia's political life unfolded along multiple channels bestriding the worlds of Tanzania's colonial rulers and its local chiefdoms. He succeeded his father as Usiha chief in 1945 and later became "paramount chief" of the Sukuma Federation, an autonomous institution of more than 50 chiefdoms, with its own offices and flag. This won him British recognition as an authoritative native voice - a privilege cemented by his appointment in the same year as the first of two Africans to Tanganyika's Legislative Council (Legico).

Other offices followed. In the course of the 1950s, he served as the only African member of the East African royal commission on land and population, was an unofficial member of the governor's executive council, and a consultant to the colonial government as an administrator in the African aspirations section of the social welfare department.

He was a guest at Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953; two years later he was awarded an OBE. He was viewed by the British as a likely president of Tanzania. Along the way, Makwaia underwent a conversion, embracing Roman Catholicism. This reawakening shaped his subsequent sense of mission. Although one of the most influential chiefs in East Africa, he was not driven by the need for power, but had always considered himself a servant of the people.

As the winds of independence gathered steam, he facilitated the political rise of his long-time college friend Julius Nyerere by winning him British support as well as by securing the allegiance of Sukuma chiefs to Nyerere's party, Tanu (Tanganyika African National Union). As prime minister, later president of independent Tanganyika, Nyerere repaid Chief Kidaha, as he was known, by abolishing the role of chiefs, and banishing him for some months to the remote Tunduru district of the Southern Province for undisclosed reasons. This experience alienated him from politics forever, prompting him to turn his energies to private business and religious pursuits.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he served as managing director of Market Research (T) Ltd, and was appointed public relations officer of the Nairobi-based East African Railways and Harbours administration. Upon his retirement in 1975, he moved to the northern Tanzanian town of Moshi, where he operated a private insurance agency. Active in local religious affairs, he founded the Moshi chapter of the Order of Franciscans.

At the time of his death, Chief Kidaha had resumed the leadership of the Sukuma community from his late brother Hussein, and was active in preserving Sukuma cultural legacies. He was buried at Ibadakuli in Shinyanga, the site of his state house during the heyday of his chiefdom. Most people who met the chief commented on his charismatic yet welcoming presence. He was proud of having fulfilled his promise to his father to ensure all his 43 siblings were properly educated.

He is survived by his wife, Grace, his former wife, Mary, four children, Misuka, Edward, Jonathan and Simona, eight grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

� David Paul Kidaha Makwaia, politician and businessman, born May 7 1922; died March 31 2007

Extract ID: 5398