Ndugu January Yusuph Makamba is the new Member of Parliament (MP) for Bumbuli constituency in the Tanzanian National Assembly (The Bunge). He sailed through unopposed in the October 31, 2010 general elections, representing the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ticket. He won the August 1st primary election within CCM with a margin of 80.11% against 8 other contestants.
Before running for Bumbuli parliamentary seat, January was Aide to Tanzanian President Hon. Jakaya Kikwete for 5 years since 2005.
Born in January 28, 1974, January obtained his primary education from various schools across Tanzania, completing his studies at Masiwani Primary School in Tanga. He did his O-level secondary school in Handeni and at Galanos in Tanga. He further pursued his A-levels at Forest Hills in Morogoro.
January never imagined himself pursuing a political career. As a young secondary school student he aspired to be a doctor or perhaps engage in a career in business. This all changed during a gap year before university when he spent time in Kigoma, in the northwest of Tanzania. The year was 1994 and the Rwandan genocide was at its most murderous phase, forcing a huge influx of refugees into Tanzania. While in Kigoma, January got a job in the refugee camps, first as a Registration Clerk and later as an Assistant Camp Manager for the second biggest camp in Kigoma with 120,000 refugees, known to its residents as Mtabila II. Witnessing the extraordinary daily suffering of human beings in the camps left an indelible mark on the young January, and from then on he made a promise to himself that he will dedicate his life to conflict resolution, to ensure that such untold suffering never happens again.
With that in mind, January attended St. John’s University, a small catholic school in Minnesota, USA, majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies. As a sophomore, he won the Upper Midwest International Human Rights Fellowship organized by the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center. The fellowship funded his internship and research on refugees’ protection at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Field Office in Kasulu, Kigoma. After graduating in 2000, he became a Research Assistant at the Carter Center, an institute founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and housing the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, out of Atlanta, Georgia. As part of the fellowship, in 2002 he spent time in Sierra Leone with the election monitoring team, an experience that deepened his desire to understand issues of democracy and governance and the nature of war and the pursuit of peace.
After completing his assignment at the Carter Center, he enrolled for a Master of Science degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Virginia. After graduating in 2004, January returned to Tanzania and joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as a Foreign Service Officer (Grade II), where he teamed up with then Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete. He worked closely with him in the regional peace negotiations that Tanzania was involved in at the time. After the latter ran for president in 2005, January joined him on the campaign trail, traveling with the candidate to every district in the country. The experience made January realize that perhaps public service was his calling and when candidate Jakaya Kikwete was elected President, January joined him at State House as one of his appointed senior aides and speechwriter.
In that capacity, January has also occasionally acted as a personal envoy of the President to various sections of the society, particularly the urban youth. As aide to the President, he has attended Cabinet meetings, as well as National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings, the top decision making body of the ruling party CCM as an observer. He has widely traveled, inside the country and globally, along the way gaining knowledge on leadership, development plans and policy making, as well as in national and international politics.
January has been involved with CCM as a “young pioneer” in primary school and later as a member of CCM Youth Wing since 1989 while in secondary school. He has been a member of National CCM Youth League Governing Council since May 2010. He was recently appointed a Director of the Board at the Tea Board of Tanzania (TBT).
January is an avid reader and author of one book and several opinion articles. He is married and has two children.