Tanzania chiefs and monarchs

Tanganyika has it was called over 50 years ago had monarchs, kings, sultans and chiefs ruling the many different tribal communities. These royal dynasties and royal families have existed for centuries and held immense power and influence among their people. Remember they were the negotiators who signed treaties with the colonialists as the heads of these many communities. Some of them even helped a great deal in achieving independence from the colonialists.

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Unfortunately after attaining independence in 1962 they were abolished by the first government of Julius Nyerere. Some of these monarchs entered into the civil service and served their government as cabinet ministers and officers of the government.

While their influence diminished overtime, some tribal communities continued the tradition of crowning new monarchs after one passes on. Their roles today are mainly traditional as heads of these clans or tribes.


Zanzibar or sultanate of Zanzibar was a monarchical Sultanate that was ruled by the al said dynasty who are related to the Oman royal dynasty. In 1856 the Sultanate of Oman and Zanzibar was split into two, with one son ruling oman and another Zanzibar. The dynasty initially ruled the Zanzibar archipelago and the 16km coastline of Kenya but ceded the kenya part to Kenya in 1963. The ruled for many years until a deadly revolution on 12 January 1964 by the indigenous inhabitants led to the end of the monarchy. The last sultan Jamshid al said escaped to London with his family but is still the current pretender to the throne as of 2020. Their former sultan stone palace is now a museum. Previously living in exile in UK, he currently has been allowed to live the rest of his life in Oman near his royal family members

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images


 Kiziba kingdom was a precolonial monarchy of the Haya people of Tanzania that existed since 1400s. The Haya people were organized into many kingdoms with different kings, kiziba being one of them. With colonisation and Tanzania independence in 1962, the monarchies and their royal rulers were abolished despite most of them fighting for independence among the political elite. The kings of Kiziba were titled Omukama and belonged to the babiito dynasty which is also related to the Tooro and Bunyoro kitara kingdoms in Uganda.

King (Omukama) Nestor Lutinwa of Kiziba
(reigned 1937-1972)

The current King of Kiziba kingdom, Tanzania is Omukama Lutinwa Mutatembwa II. He is married with three children (two are twins) namely Prince Lennox Lutinwa, Prince Lewis Lutinwa and Princess Eless Lutinwa.


The Luguru people are a tribe in Tanzania that still have retained their traditional monarchs. From 1906 they were called sultans until the abolition of the traditional leaders. Today the leader is mainly addressed as chief or chifu in swahili language.

The current chief /sultan Kingalu XV of Uluguru or Luguru people of Tanzania.

The late chief or sultan /Ruler Kingalu XIV Mwanabanzi reigned from 1962 until his death in 2015. The late monarch was a close friend of former president Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania who was bestowed with a title by the late monarch. After his funeral his successor was immediately installed as the new monarch, chief Kingalu xv.


The most famous monarch was chief Mkwawa who reigned from 1855-1898. He is famous for his skull which was taken to Germany during the colonial era after he shot himself to resist german rule and arrest. His skull is currently on display at his museum at Iringa, Tanzania.

Chief Mkwawa

The current chief or monarch is Chief Adam Abdul Sapi Mkwawa Mfwimi ii. He became monarch in 2015 after the death of his father at the age of 13 and officially installed in june 2020 after reaching adulthood. He is a descendant of the famous chief Mkwawa.

Chief Adam Abdul Sapi Mkwawa Mfwimi ii of Hehe of Tanzania
📷Source : Fatmah Mkwawa

CHAGGA / waChagga

Paramount chief or Mangi mkuu Thomas Marealle of chagga tribe of Tanzania. (1915-2007). He was selected Mangi Mkuu for all Chagga chiefdoms. He attended the British coronation of Queen Elizabeth together with his wife (mkamangi). He later served as UN diplomat after indepndence and abolition of traditional monarchies. He was succeded by his brother Mangi Frank Marealle

HERU People / waheru /Buha

The Heru are part of the Ha people who lived in kingdoms including Buha kingdom. Mwami or Female King Theresa Ntare iv of the Heru of Ha people, Buha kingdom, Kasulu District, Tanzania. She was the only female monarch in Tanzania succeeding her father in 1946 and reigning until 1962. Her son Costa Shinyanga is currently the Mwami or monarch of the Heru. https://theafricanroyalfamilies.com/2020/07/15/mwami-theresa-ntare-iv-of-heru/

UKEREWE (Kerewe) people

Bukerewe kingdom existed from 1600s by the Kerewe tribe or Wakerewe people. They largely are found on the ukerewe island in lake Victoria which is also the largest lake island in Africa. It has amazing beaches and tourist sites such as the kings palace where you can see royal artefacts and royal graves.

Late Chief Michael Lukumbuzya of Bukerewe kingdom, Ukerewe island, Lake Victoria, Tanzania. He was the 17th king (Omukama) of bukerewe or ukerewe from 1938-1981. Tanzania usually addresses traditional kings as chiefs since independence. He was the son of late16th King Chief Gabriel Ruhumbika who reigned until 1938. After the abolition of the traditional monarchies of Tanzania after independence, he entered public service serving as ambassador of Tanzania to USA, Mexico and world bank, later ambassador to Sweden, Denmark, finland etc and last ambassador to Canada. He died in 1981. His son is the current 18th chief of Ukerewe and lives in Austria.

Chief ambassador Michael Lukumbuzya
Photo : tzembassy

His father was also the mastermind behind the palace located at Bukindo which was built in 1927/1928 under an Italian architect.

ZANAKI (WaZanaki) people

Chief Japhet Wanzagi Nyerere is the current reigning monarch of the Zanaki tribe of Tanzania. He succeded his late father in 1997 after the death of his father late Chief Edward Wanzagi Nyerere who himself had succeded his late father King( chief) Burito Nyerere in 1942. He is th grandson of late King Burito Nyerere of Zanaki tribe of Tanzania. He is also the nephew of the first president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere. Chief Japhet Wanzagi Nyerere is married to one wife.

Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania was the son of late King (chief) Burito Nyerere of Zanaki tribe of Tanzania, one of the smallest tribes of Tanzania.

His father King (chief) Burito Nyerere reigned for 30 years from 1912 to 1942. His mother was the fifth of 22 wives of late King Burito Nyerere.

He married Mary Nyerere who became the first lady of Tanzania and they were blessed with 8 children


The Sukuma people of Tanzania are a bantu ethnic group and are the largest ethnic group in Tanzania. They were organized into 52 clans or chiefdoms each headed by a chief or monarch called Ntemi/Mtemi. During colonial era they selected one of their own as paramount chief for colonial independence lobbies.

Busiha is an area inhabited by the Usiha subtribe of Sukuma people of Tanzania. They have always had a monarch since the ancient times which exists to today. The most famous chief monarch of busiha is late chief David Kidaha Makwaia. Born in 1922 to late Chief Makwaia mwandu, he studied in makerere University and oxford University. He succeeded his father in 1945 as chief of Usiha. David Makwaia later became paramount chief of the Sukuma tribes federation oversseing over 50 chiefdoms. In 1948 he was elected to the legislative Council for 10 years. The role he played in helping Tanzania attain a independence is usually overshadowed due to the fact that the first government abolished the role of chiefs.


He was among the few African royals who attended the British coronation 1953 in London and is a member of order of the British empire. He moved to Nairobi for business but later returned in 1975. He was quite popular and was at once seen as a possible president for Tanzania by the colonialists. He died in 2007 leaving his wife and four children and is buried in his Ibadakuli state house site . His son Edward Makwaia succeeded him as chief of Usiha.

Bukumbi, Sukuma people, Mwanza region

Their late monarch was Ntemi Ilago Charles Kafipa/Kaphipha who died in 2021. He was crowned in 1944 to succeed his late father Ntemi Shimbe Anthony at the age of 16/17. His father was Ntemi Shimbe Anthony Kaphipha reigned from 1915 to 1944,while his grandfather Minzimalulu reigned 1896 – 1915. He was monarch for 77 years, married to Ngole (Queen) Mary Kaphipha with children.

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  1. This website is very useful and informative. I am happy that a person like you, committing yourself and your time to educate us.
    Be blessed. And keep your work ip.!!

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