Why young Africans should participate in UONGOZI Institute essay contest

UONGOZI Institute recognises that knowledge and learning is necessary for the progress of youth in Africa. Therefore, we consciously provide opportunities for the “future generation” to grow and develop through various regional initiatives. In April 2019, we challenged young Africans between the ages of 18 and 25 years to write and submit essays on the following topic: 

“If you were an African leader, how would you promote sustainable use of the renewable natural resources for fostering socio-economic transformation in Africa?”

This was organised as our seventh African Youth Leadership Essay Competition: A component of our flagship forum (African Leadership Forum), chaired by H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania. 

Similar to previous contests, our aim was to provide a space for the youth of Africa and the next generation of leaders from the region to contribute to important discussions on leadership for sustainable development, and suggest solutions that would resolve the issues identified. 

“Knowledge and talent are valuable resources that African nations can possess,” says Kadari Singo, Acting CEO of UONGOZI Institute. He adds, “The progress of future generations has implications on the sustainability of natural resources. Therefore, it is necessary to harness and cultivate today’s youth by setting impactful foundations for them.”

We received over 2,000 essays from young Africans. A panel of judges rigorously evaluated these essays on the basis of originality, organisation, creativity, appropriateness to contest theme and the use of language. Finally, four winners were announced in early August. 

The overall winner was Panashe Gombiro, a 22-year-old Zimbabwean pursuing a Bachelor of Law at the University of Zimbabwe. His essay, “The Educating, Adjudicating, Communicating and Executing Ants” depicted good principles for sustainable use of natural resources, as well as his ability to see things from a different perspective and spice it up with humour. 

In an interview with UONGOZI Institute, Gombiro revealed that the missed opportunity to take part in previous competitions inspired him to enter the 2019 contest. He said, “I had learnt about the competition in 2017 but failed to participate due to some chronic procrastination issues. In 2019, when I received an email about the competition from my brother, I knew I had to participate.”

The 22-year old recalled the urge to check his email every few minutes around the time that results were set to be released. He said taking the top prize reassured him of his competence among other young and gifted Africans.  

In recognition of their achievement, Gombiro and three runners-up from Tanzania, Nigeria and Ivory Coast were invited to attend the plenary session of African Leadership Forum on August 29. The four also attended the Forum’s Gala Dinner, where they were presented with their prizes by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa. 

Apart from receiving a certificate and cash prize of $2,000, Gombiro had the opportunity to present his essay before an audience of about 100 high-level African leaders, including the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, and former Presidents of Madagascar, Tanzania, Somalia and South Africa.

Gombiro used two words to describe his experience at the Forum, “Captivating” and “Unforgettable”. 

“The most outstanding part was the plenary session, where former African Heads of State shared their thoughts on managing natural resources above the ground. It was gratifying to note the wisdom, candour and ingenuity in their suggestions,” he added.  

The 22-year old later admitted that contemplating the importance of preserving natural resources and its connection with empowerment was something he had never done before. He said the research he conducted when preparing his essay “awakened” him to the centrality of natural resources to development.

“I believe that all young Africans should take part in the contest. The research and preparation involved in writing your essay is the most rewarding part of it. Through this, we gain knowledge, awaken to and engage with the realities of our Continent. The contest becomes a sustainable pedestal to equip youth to take the action needed,” said Gombiro. 

Gombiro’s advice to all young Africans interested in participating in the contest was: 

“Be you, it is your essay after all but never ever write without planning. Read widely, and think about your essay over time and jot down the ‘little’ ideas you may think of on the bus or whilst having a meal. Chill and rest in the ever-helpful advice to any writer: It always gets better after editing, so just write. Lastly, proofread and revise your work. You may request someone to proofread and seriously consider their suggestions.”

Gombiro aspires to pursue a master’s degree in criminology, and become an advocate in his country. He is passionate about writing good stories, ending poverty, and justice. 

Gombiro as he presents his essay during the award ceremony. 

UONGOZI Institute Leadership Essay Competition 2020 now open

UONGOZI Institute is pleased to announce this year’s Leadership Essay Competition, the eighth since inception (2013). Similar to previous years, this year’s topic aims to solicit thoughts on the theme of the African Leadership Forum (ALF). The essays should respond to the following question:

If you were an African leader, how would you promote African intra-trade to unlock agricultural potential in the Continent?


The Competition is open to all African citizens between 18-25 years.

All essays must be typed. The maximum length is two (2) A4 pages. The format shall be of single spaced, Arial font size 11 with page margins of 1 inch (2.54 cm) for each margin, and sent as a Microsoft Word document.

Essays will be judged on the basis of originality, creativity, use of language and appropriateness to contest theme. All essays must be written in English.


A grand prize of USD $2,000 will be awarded to the overall winner.  Up to five winners will be selected.

The winners will receive their awards at a prize-giving event, which will be held online during the ALF in July 2020. The ceremony will be attended by former African Heads of State and other distinguished leaders from the public sector, private sector, academia and civil society. The overall winner will be asked to read the winning essay at the event.


Applicants must be African citizens between 18-25 years.


Essays should be submitted by email to: submissions@uongozi.or.tz

Applicants must also submit a written Statement of Originality and ownership of intellectual property rights.

The final deadline for submission will be Friday, 10 July, 2020 at 17:00 hours (EAT). The winners will be notified via email on the third week of July, 2020. Feedback will not be provided on individual essays.


The Leadership Essay Competition is organised annually by UONGOZI Institute to provide a space for the youth of Africa and the next generation of leaders in the region to contribute to important discussions on leadership and sustainable development. Since 2013, seven Competitions have been organised.


Need advice on how to write a winning essay? Follow these tips from some of the previous overall winners: Liz Guantai (2016), Victor Azure (2017), Victor Ndede (2018), Panashe Gombiro (2019).


UONGOZI Certificate Programme in Leadership

Designed for emerging leaders and executives working in any function or industry across Africa, the self-paced programme provides tools for leaders to effectively manage their resources to achieve sustainable development.

Module 1: Strategic Leader

Succeeding in today’s rapidly changing and challenging organisational environment requires leaders with strategic thinking and the ability to make strategic and financially sound choices. This engaging module helps equip leaders with these crucial leadership attributes. The module expands participants’ understanding of sound strategic management techniques and financial initiatives to allow them to excel as truly strategic leaders in their line of work.

Module 2: Service and Process Development for Executives

This Module focuses on innovative process development and the development of efficient public service delivery, as well as their implications for the customers and citizens’ satisfaction. It provides a toolbox for the leaders to better understand the most useful approaches for efficiently blending services with technology, as well as delivering and managing services successfully.

Module 3: Driving Change

Change is inevitable. This module is designed to expose participants to concepts and best practices of managing and leading change in their organisations. The module also touches on modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to help leaders plan for the future when grasping the changes that these technologies may bring into the organisational environment.

Selection Criteria

  • Minimum 3 years of work experience in a supervisory or managerial position.
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Good command of written and spoken English
  • Good computer skills

How to apply

Complete and submit the UONGOZI Certificate Programme in Leadership application formFemale candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Programme Details

Start Dates: September 2020

Duration: 6 months (2 months per Module)

Commitment Estimate: 2-4 hours a week

Tuition Fee: Euro 880 per person (Group packages are negotiable)

After completion of this programme, participants will receive a Certificate in Leadership Development. Qualified participants will also have additional advantage/consideration into the UONGOZI Executive Programme. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Navigating through a global pandemic

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has left almost no nation or organisation untouched. Across the globe, governments have been implementing significant interventions in response to COVID-19. Since Tanzania confirmed its first case on 16 March 2020, the Institute has witnessed, among others, schools and universities closed, public gatherings banned and mandatory self-quarantine for incoming travellers imposed.

Amidst these unprecedented times, the Institute remains resilient. Our first and foremost priority is the safety and health of our staff, clients and stakeholders; following that, business continuity.

We continue to embrace technology to ensure core activities and operations continue. The executive education programmes are being delivered remotely through virtual platforms and where social distance can be maintained. For example, our last Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership module on ‘Leading Change’ was conducted through a virtual class. The two-day module was facilitated by Dr. Pekka Mattila from Aalto University in Finland, with participants based in Dodoma, Arusha and two locations in Dar es Salaam. The Institute will also be introducing an online Certificate in Leadership in August 2020. Plans are underway to organise upcoming policy dialogues through virtual platforms as well.

Digital accessibility also encouraged the Institute’s staff to avail themselves for Emotional Intelligence training via zoom. The topics covered were; how emotional intelligence skills can help reduce the fear of the unknown, and how to prepare for the unknown.

Indeed, the pandemic has changed our way of life as well as attitudes and behaviours. But we embrace the opportunity to accelerate in digital approaches to reach clients and stakeholders within and outside the country.

Congratulations PGD Class of 2020!

UONGOZI Institute in collaboration with Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE) completed its 3rd Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Programme (PGD), for Senior Leaders on 31 March 2020.

Introduced in 2017, the UONGOZI PGD Programme is designed for leaders whose desire is to propel their professional development without putting their careers on hold. The programme, undertaken on an annual basis, has a total of 10 modules facilitated through in-class and online workshops, as well as individual or group assignments.

Thirty-two candidates have just completed their studies and joined the PGD alumni of sixty-four, making a total of ninety-six candidates. Although the official commencement ceremony, along with the first class of the 4th Cohort, have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still important to celebrate our candidates’ achievement. This year’s PGD graduates are from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society organisations.

During these unpredictable times, the Institute has introduced teaching methodologies that will allow certain Executive Education Programmes to continue through distance learning. The 4th Cohort classes (with thirty-four candidates) have been postponed until the COVID-19 situation is improved.

As the Institute celebrates its 10th Anniversary in Leadership Development, we are delighted to introduce an online Certificate in Leadership scheduled to start in July 2020. More information and the application will be made available through our website.

Only two modules to Graduation!

Eleven months have passed since the third cohort of our Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership programme embarked on a one-year journey of enhancing leadership competencies, but seems like only yesterday.

With a composition 35 senior leaders from public, private and civil society organisations within Tanzania, the third cohort began its first module on 9 April, 2019. 

So far, eight out of ten modules have been covered, namely Financial Skills, Leading for results, Design Thinking for Organisational Development, Sustainable Development, Ethical Leadership, and Strategic Communication. 

The remaining modules, Strategic Human Resource Management and Leading Change, have been scheduled in February and March 2020, respectively. 

The programme, undertaken in collaboration with Aalto University Executive Education of Finland aims to equip senior leaders in Tanzania with the necessary skills and competencies to achieve sustainable development through competent leadership. 

The Graduation ceremony will be held on March 31, this year. Participants from the fourth cohort to be in attendance.

To learn more about this programme, visit www.uongozi.or.tz/postgraduate-diploma

TARURA’s Senior Officers participate in the leadership retreat

The Senior Officers from the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA) participated in a five-day leadership retreat, organised by UONGOZI Institute from 18 – 22 November 2019.

The retreat sessions were customised to allow participants to reflect on the Agency’s systems as well as administration and human resource challenges and opportunities. They were taken through seven leadership modules, namely Government Communication, Personal Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Internal Controls in Public Entities, Leadership of Public Resources, Ethical Leadership, and Government Security. 

Speaking at the end of the programme, the Regional Coordinator for Simiyu, Eng. Dr. Philemon Msomba commended the approaches used by UONGOZI Institute’s facilitators, which according to him made the retreat “lively and engaging”.

“Since 2017, we have attended various leadership programmes but only in this one, there were no absences. This shows that the retreat was well planned and organised,” he stated.

He added, “I liked that facilitators led us from presentations to team-building exercises and group discussions. It made the sessions interactive and informative.” 

Uchambuzi wa Tawasifu ya Rais Mstaafu wa Tanzania, Mhe. Benjamin William Mkapa “Maisha Yangu, Dhamira Yangu: Rais wa Tanzania Akumbuka”

Mchambuzi: Prof. Rwekaza Mukandala


Mtoto Benjamin William Mkapa, alifundishwa kupika chakula na mama mzazi Stephania akiwa mdogo. Alipokwenda shule hapo kijijini Lupaso, Ndanda na hatimaye St. Francis Pugu na Makerere, alifundishwa kupika, kufinyanga, kubuni na kuchambua mawazo na kuyaweka sawa kama msomi mbunifu na mwandishi. Kitabu hiki ni zao la mpishi wa mawazo mahiri aliyebobea.  Ni kitabu cha kurasa mia tatu na kumi na tisa, katika sura ya kumi na sita.   Kuna utangulizi ulioandikwa na Mheshimiwa Joaquim Chissano, Rais mstaafu wa Msumbiji, Pia kuna picha nyinge nzuri, na viambatisho viwili.  Mchapaji Mkuki na Nyota wamefanya kazi nzuri sana, sikubaini kosa hata moja.  

Wasilisho hili linamega simulizi hii katika sehemu kuu tatu. Kwanza tunapewa vionjo vitamu tukielezwa kuzaliwa kwake, kukua na kwenda shule. Hii ilikuwa matayarisho ya kufikia nia au azma yake ya maisha. Kisha tunaletewa mlo wenyewe (main course) uliosheheni kumbukumbu  na ngano za huyo kijana sasa mtu mzima akiwa kazini, mpaka akaukwaa urais wa Tanzania. Mwisho tunaelezwa kwa ufupi maisha yake baada ya kumaliza ngwe yake ya miaka kumi ya urais.

Soma zaidi: http://uongozi.or.tz/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/UCHAMBUZI-WA-MAISHA-YANGU-DHAMIRA-YANGU.pdf

H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa’s memoirs released

The memoirs by the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa, titled “My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzanian President Remembers”, were released on Tuesday 12 November 2019 at Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The release coincided with his 81st birthday.

The memoirs, published by Mkuki na Nyota with support of UONGOZI Institute, contain H.E. Mkapa’s personal account of his unique memories. They range from his childhood, time as president, and his continuing post-retirement involvement at the domestic and international stages.

The launching ceremony was officiated by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Dr. John Pombe Joseph MagufuliThe President of Zanzibar, H.E. Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein; Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Kassim Majaliwa Majaliwa (MP); Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Hon. Job Yustino Ndugai (MP); and two former Tanzanian Presidents; H.E. Ali Hassan Mwinyi and H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete; were in attendance. The event also included current and former high-level government officials; heads of regional organisations; business leaders; development partners; academia; representatives from book stores, libraries, civil society, and youth.

Speaking during the event, the Chief Executive Officer of UONGOZI Institute, Prof. Joseph Semboja, highlighted the link between the Institute’s mission and leadership memoirs project.

“Since inception in 2010, our mission as an institute has been to inspire and equip Tanzanian as well as African leaders to deliver inclusive and sustainable solutions,” said Prof. Semboja.

He added, “We believe that sound leadership is the foundation and prerequisite for sustainable development. In fact, this is a continuation of our founding father Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s thoughts on development. He said that to develop, we need people, land, clean politics and good leadership.”

Prof. Semboja went on to state that many leaders from developed countries, particularly the western countries, have written about their personal and leadership lives. He, however, noted that the story changes when it comes to Africa, where only a few books have been written by senior African leaders.

“As a result, leaders and students of development, political science and diplomacy draw lessons from the publications of leaders from developed countries, which consider a non-African context,” he stated.

“We therefore believe that memoirs of senior African leaders contribute to Africa’s political, economic, social and cultural history. The history we are celebrating here today is not H.E. Mkapa’s but Tanzania’s,” said Prof. Semboja, adding that the book is the best birthday gift by H.E. Mkapa to the country.

According to Prof. Semboja, the process of producing H.E. Mkapa’s memoirs was initiated in 2016, and among others, it involved research, meetings with various individuals and institutions, as well as data and information verification. He added that the project costs totalled TZS 230,000,000 (EUR 88,061). According to him, the project would not have been a success without the support of the Government of Finland.

“I would like to thank the Government of Finland for its contribution to the implementation of our programmes. Since inception, our Institute has been receiving both financial and technical support from the Finnish Government. Without their support, today’s event would not have become a reality or if it had, it would have been at high costs,” he stated.

In her remarks, the Ambassador of Finland to Tanzania, Riita Swan, expressed how honoured she was to take part in the launching ceremony of H.E. Mkapa’s memoirs. She went on to highlight the good relations between Tanzania and Finland, which are based on long-term cooperation conducted in a variety of fields ranging from projects at a high political level to grassroots-level.

“For about ten years now, as part of operations between the Governments of Finland and Tanzania, we have been supporting UONGOZI Institute and its work on leadership for sustainable development,” said Amb. Swan.

She further noted that a few months ago at the African Leadership Forum, organised by UONGOZI Institute in Dar es Salaam, H.E. Mkapa spoke on how forests can offer opportunities for socio-economic development in the country. She said that these opportunities are needed to address the growing population, particularly youth and women, and that H.E. Mkapa’s way of addressing the issue shows how a leader has actually assimilated the concept of sustainable development.

To begin, H.E. Mkapa warmly thanked President Magufuli and all present for accepting the invitation to come and take part in the launching ceremony of his memoirs. He further thanked those who counselled and encouraged him to write the book but were unable to attend the event; H.E. Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique and H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

H.E. Mkapa recalled what his father said to him when he had entered secondary school: “I want any one of these futures for you: first as a priest. If this is impossible, I hope that you will become a doctor, but if those two are impossible, then at least become a teacher.”

He said, “As you all know, I instead became the third President of the United Republic of Tanzania, serving two five-year terms. This is something that my father had never dreamt of, and unfortunately, did not live long enough to witness.”

The Former President further recalled that it was not easy for him to accept writing about his life. He said that the book arose due to encouragement from Prof. Semboja.

“I was hesitant at the beginning, not that I did not want to share on my leadership journey and challenges I encountered along the way but rather I never thought that there is anything remarkable to learn from it,” H.E. Mkapa recalled.

Eventually, H.E. Mkapa agreed to write his memoirs and according to him, there were three reasons behind his decision.

First, he wanted to share his experience with those who aspire to serve in the position that he and his predecessors and successors have served in nearly 58 years. His hope was that they would not only learn from the mistakes and achievements but also be inspired to pursue similar leadership roles.

Second, he wanted to pay tribute to those who in one way or another contributed to his personal growth, as well as leadership life.

Third, he wanted to provide his perspective on various issues concerning the liberation of African states and leadership in Africa. Most importantly, he wanted to share his perspective of Mwalimu Nyerere, as a person and as a leader.

H.E. Mkapa stated, “I have written: A future leader could be born with natural leadership traits; yet even divinely bestowed qualities of leadership need nurturing and enhancement to make them relevant to contemporary challenges.”

He further highlighted the importance of mentorship.

“I benefitted from having Mwalimu as a mentor and many of you will have benefited from a mentor at some stage in your life. I urge you all to make a conscious effort to mentor those you see exhibiting the potential to become a leader or those who could reach higher in their leadership goals,” said the former President.

To conclude, H.E. Mkapa revisited the words that conclude his book, a quote from a prominent American rabbi and popular author, Harold Kushner:

“Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so the world will at least be a little bit different for our having passed through it.”

He stated that these words have been, and still are the purpose in his life; a purpose that God, his family, friends and loyal colleagues have helped him to achieve.

To open his address, President Magufuli congratulated H.E. Mkapa for writing memoirs that will enrich the history of Tanzania and extended special appreciation to him for the invitation. He was gratified with the presence of two other former Tanzanian Presidents. He said their presence demonstrates how peaceful and unified the country is.

President Magufuli told the audience on how H.E. Mkapa contributed to his political career growth.

He said, “During the 1995 elections, when I was running for a seat in the parliament for the first time, through CCM, at the Biharamulo Constituency (now Chato Constituency), Mzee Mkapa, who was running for president at that time came to Biharamulo. I remember that day Mzee Mkapa held my hand and told the crowd in front of us, “Vote for this young gentleman.” Personally, I think his statement was enough to get me elected.”

“When I was Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, I learned a lot about being confident and bold from Mzee Mkapa,” said President Magufuli.

Speaking about lessons he picked from H.E. Mkapa, President Magufuli said, “Mzee Mkapa was fair to all his appointees. What mattered to him was people who could deliver. Also, when he agrees to take your advice, no matter what, he will stand with you until the end.”

Towards the end of his speech, President Magufuli congratulated UONGOZI Institute for coordinating the publication process of H.E. Mkapa’s memoirs and directed that the book be translated to Swahili.

Lastly, President Magufuli urged other former senior leaders to write memoirs to inform and inspire a new generation of leaders.

The launching ceremony also featured a review by Prof. Rwekaza Mukandala, Mwalimu Nyerere Chair in Pan-African Studies.