John Pombe Joseph Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959 and raised in Chato, a village in Kagera region [now in Geita region.

He was born into the family of Christian-observant Mzee Joseph Magufuli and his wife Mama Suzana Magufuli.

His late father Joseph engaged in mixed faming, and Magufuli grew up in typical village life, taking part in agricultural activities, especially raising his father’s cattle.

He was sent to several schools for his primary and secondary education – Chato Primary, 1967-74; Katoke Seminary/secondary, 1975-77; Lake Secondary, 1977-78 and, for senior secondary education, Mkwawa High School, 1979-81.

Magufuli enrolled for teacher training to obtain Diploma in Education Science (Sc) in science subjects (Chemistry, Mathematics and Education) at Mkwawa College of Education from 1981 – 1982.

He briefly taught Chemistry and Mathematics at Sengerema Secondary School (1982-83).


After completing his military national service (1983-1984),during which time he crisscrossed between the Makutopora (Dodoma), Makuyuni (Arusha), and Mpwapwa (Dodoma) National Service Camps, Magufuli earned his Bachelor Degree BSc (Ed) at the University of Dar es Salaam majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics from 1985- 1988, and then worked as an industrial chemist at Nyanza Cooperative Union in Mwanza from 1989 – 1995.

In that year, he ran for and succeeded in winning parliamentary elections in his own Chato constituency.

This was the beginning of John Magufuli’s long and successful political journey of 25 years of service to the nation.

He was re-elected, unopposed, in 2000, and in 2005 after winning a third term – again unopposed- as an MP for Chato.

He served continuously at ministerial level in the Ministry of Works as deputy minister (1995-2000), then as full minister (2000-2005);

then in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development (2005-2008);

Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries (2008-2010); and the Ministry of Works for a second time (2010-2015).

These ministries and their incumbent minister during these year periods were publicly reckoned to be some of the most efficient, circumspect and corruption-free zones in public service.

Magufuli came to be one of rare UDSM’s alumni on record to have been elected three continuous times and appointed to a string of ministerial posts for a continuous period of 20 years from 1995 to 2015.


In between these years, he read, researched and completed the requirements for postgraduate degrees (an MSc at UDSM/Salford (UK) in 1994 and a PhD at UDSM in 2009).

His 2009 doctoral thesis was tilted “The Potential of Anacardic Acid Self – Assembled Monolayer from Cashew Nut Shell Liquid as Corrosion Protection Coating”, and was the basis to establish that iso-anacardic acid would be one of the promising surface treatments to replace the conventional phosphonic acid treatmen

Before being a president, he acquired the nickname the bulldozer for driving a programme to build roads as minister for works, and later was hailed for his anti-corruption stance and his distinct dislike for wasting money.

But his time in power has attracted considerable criticism for changes that critics say threaten freedom of expression and business.

On his first day in office in November 2015 he made a big impression.

He made a surprise visit to the finance ministry to check on how many people had actually turned up to work – sending a message that he would not tolerate the reputation Tanzanian civil servants have for absenteeism.

That same week, as an economising measure, he also banned all foreign trips for public servants


Married with five children, Mr Magufuli was born in north-western Tanzania’s Chato district along the shores of Lake Victoria.

He has portrayed himself as a humble man who came from a poor background.

“Our home was grass thatched and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family,” he said on the campaign trail.

“I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare,” he added.

Once a maths and chemistry teacher, he went on to become an industrial chemist – and was awarded a doctorate in chemistry from Dar es Salaam University in 2009.

A loyalist to the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party since 1977, Mr Magufuli was elected an MP in 1995.


For many years he was the minister for works, supervising the execution of mega projects worth trillions of Tanzanian shillings, “but was never implicated in any corruption scandal,” Joseph Warioba, a former prime minster and veteran CCM politician once said

“He could have been the richest politician in the country.”

He was never part of CCM’s inner circle, so it came as a surprise to his critics that he became its candidate for president.

On the campaign trail he vowed that he would not tolerate corruption and refuted allegations by the opposition that was physically unfit for the job by performing push-ups at rallies.

It did the job – Mr Magufuli won the poll with 58% of the votes to ex-Prime Minister Edward Lowassa’s 40% in a fiercely contested election.

Mr Magufuli is a staunch Catholic who loves singing in the church choir and playing traditional drums.

His supporters say he upholds traditional family values.


In public life, he scuppered an attempt to overturn the stipulation that pregnant pupils should be expelled from school, a move which attracted international criticism.

He has also made controversial moves against international businesses.

In 2017 he accused gold miner Acacia of evading tax and slapped the company with a mammoth tax bill of $190bn.

It rocked the country’s mining industry.

While Acacia denied any wrongdoing, its parent company Barrick Gold eventually agreed in October 2019 to pay $300m and give the government a 16% stake in their renamed company Twiga.

But it was Magufuli’s denial of COVID-19 that brought him intense international attention.

Soon after the first case of the disease was confirmed in Tanzania in March 2020,

Magufuli urged people to go to churches and mosques to pray.

Magufuli, a devout Catholic, pronounced that “coronavirus is a devil … and cannot sit in the body of Christ.”

Then in April the country stopped cooperating with the international community regarding its COVID-19 caseload.


Magufuli announced in June that COVID-19 had been eradicated from Tanzania by three days of national prayer.

He spoke against social distancing and the wearing of masks and questioned the efficacy of vaccines.

He even sent samples from bicycle lubricant, papaya fruit and a quail bird to be tested for the coronavirus in his bid to discredit testing.

“Countries in Africa will be coming here to buy food in the years to come … they will be suffering because of shutting down their economy,” he said of others imposing lockdowns.

Magufuli promoted herbs and exercise as COVID-19 remedies.

Since 2015, Dr. Magufuli has been President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Aware of what had been ‘troubling’ his own nation for a long time, and backed up by his own professional background, he decided to confront several challenges, ‘holding by the horns’ at least three of them:

the rampant level of corruption, the shrinking employment opportunities particularly among youths, as well as the still limited access to education among Tanzanians.

He has been in office for four years, and this is still too brief a period for an intensive evaluation of any government’s performance.


However, a cool and reflective assessment by many on the work done so far to is positive.

He has earned high praise for working tirelessly to supervise the construction of a road network in major parts of the country, which resulted in a connected, efficient system which even earned him the bill of a ‘Bulldozer’;

youth employment opportunities are being pursued in a now reverberating policy towards a middle-level industrial economy by 2025.

With respect to educational access, not only has universal and compulsory education been pushed up to secondary level but also more classrooms and desks are a mandatory directive for expanded primary and secondary education.

In enforcing these, the argument is that ‘actions must run consistent with policies’ as was read in the minds of leaders before him such as Castro of Cuba:

‘History will absolve me’. As for other challenges he is to grapple with, well, he pleads for time. Rome was not built in one day.

He died of Heart Disease on 17th March, 2021



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