President Samia Shines as First Woman Head of Tanzanian Chiefs

The Union of Chiefs in Tanzania has installed Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan as the head of chiefs in a colourful ceremony at the Bujora Cultural Centre in Kisesa ward in Magu district, Mwanza region.

In a ground-breaking ceremony held on September 8, she was installed as chief and not as leader as all her predecessors were installed.

The honour comes during the sixth month of her tenure, as well as celebrating her as the first woman head of state since independence, 60 years ago.

The decision to install her was unanimously agreed on by 96 tribal chiefs who gave her the name of “Hangaya,”which means a shining star.

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Chairman of the Union of Chiefs in Tanzania (UCT), chief Charles Dotto of the largest in the country (Wasukuma ethnic group) swathed the president with cultural attire made of animal skin and gave her a traditional spear. According to Chief Dotto, she will now be recognised as the chief administrator of all traditional matters.

The UCT is run through a secretariat that administers its jurisdiction and discusses various issues of national interests such as security, honouring of traditional myths and values, which sustain traditional culture. The UCT also acts as the nation’s intercessor by seeking blessings for the nation.

As vice-president in 2018, President Samia was conferred by the UCT who gave her the name “Kilela,”which means “the guardian of the destitute orphans in the country.”

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Traditional chiefs were recognised by founding father Julius Nyerere in the early years of independence, when he introduced the Ministry of Culture and put chiefs in its jurisdiction and administration to show the importance of cultural values.

Some of Tanzania’s most influential traditional chiefs before colonial rule include Mangi Meli and Mandara both of Moshi; Kimweri of Usambara in Tanga.

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