Samia installed first woman head of Tanzanian chiefs

Saturday September 18 2021
President Samia

President Samia being installed as chief by the United Chiefs of Tanzania in Iringa. PHOTO | COURTESY


Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan made history again after being installed head of chiefs by the Union of Chiefs in Tanzania. The colourful ceremony was held on September 8 at the Bujora Cultural Centre in Kisesa ward in Magu district, Mwanza region. All her predecessors were installed as leaders and not chiefs.

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 ceremony was also part of the president’s marketing and publicity project, and the recording of the Royal Tour.

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.

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

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."


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.

Tanzania had influential traditional chiefs in historical events before colonial rule. They include Mangi Meli and Mandara both of Moshi; Kimweri of Usambara in Tanga.