Juliana Daniel SHONZA

B.A (in Sociology), University of Dar es Salaam: 2011
M.A. (Sociology), University of Dodoma : 2015

Juliana Daniel Shonza, one of the University of Dar es Salaam graduates known to have assumed a public office at an early age, is the University’s ‘Alumna of the Month’ for November 2021. Juliana Shonza is reckoned to have become one of the youngest Members of Parliament and one of the youngest public-office appointees in the country at the time she got that position of public trust. She actually was 28 years old, almost fresh from college. Only one or two others are remembered to have been that young when they became MPs. Hon. Juliana Shonza is a graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam belonging to the graduating class of 2011.

She was born on 23 April 1987 in Mbozi district in Songwe region [a district that was then part of Mbeya region before 29th January 2016]. She is the first of four of children of her father, Mzee Shonza. She had her primary school education at Sinde Primary School in Mbozi from 1995 to 2001, proceeding thereafter to Kibasila Secondary School in Dar es Salaam (2002-2005) for O-Level/CSEE and Dakawa High School in Morogoro for advanced-level secondary education from 2006 to 2008. On passing her Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations (ACSEE), she was admitted at the University of Dar es Salaam for a three-year degree programme in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology in the College of Social Sciences. She successfully completed her programme and was awarded a BA (Hons) in Sociology in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, Juliana applied to the University of Dodoma for pursuit of postgraduate study in Sociology, getting a Master’s degree award in 2015. Evidently, her study in these disciplines was an asset to her both in intellectual development and in practical everyday encounters after college and in the wider world of social relations and exchange. While sociology and anthropology—alongside each other—involve a systematic study of social life and culture as a context in understanding the causes and consequences of human action, they do also help individuals in creating better relations in communities and social organisations. Among other things, they help individuals to define and mark lines between traditional cultures and forces that require modern perspectives and insights that help individuals and groups to trudge along otherwise unpredictable treacherous paths that could lead to social misadventure. Juliana must have mastered some of these principles of social survival.

Juliana first got interested in ‘politics’ while as a student at university, becoming a vice-chairperson of the National Youth Council of CHADEMA, the biggest opposition political party in the country. She helped establish a national Students Organisation for the Party (TASO) and became its founding chairperson before being elected vice-chair of the Party’s youth council (BAVICHA). In the course of conducting the ‘politics of development’ associated with these organisations, since 2013, Juliana had time and data that enabled her to reflect carefully on the several events that came to pass. More particularly—and painfully—according to her, were acts she observed and/or interpreted as meant to misguide youths towards wrong ends of serious consequence to civil order, social trust as well as personal integrity. Could this have been an advantage of mastery of some of the sociological theories of conflict and change? She simply joined the other party.

For the General Election of 2015, Juliana Shonza was appointed to the Tanzanian Parliament as a special-seats MP for Momba constituency in the 2015-2020 term. She subsequently “crossed the floor” and joined the ruling CCM party, getting appointed as Assistant Secretary of Motivation at the Party’s headquarters. In 2017, she was she was appointed Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports. She maintained this position until 2020. As an MP, Ms Shonza had additional special assignments, including that of membership in the parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence (2017-2020).

In her reflections on social and political developments in Tanzania, Juliana is appreciative of the space and role the Tanzanian government has accorded to young people and especially to the womenfolk in terms of government sensitivity to issues of equality of opportunity, equity and affirmative action towards egalitarian social development. This is something that began to feature more with the fourth-phase government, continuing even more visibly with the current regime. Like many of her age, sex, educational attainment and political inclination, Juliana Shonza is critical of the traditionally oppressive system of African patriarchy and the associated male chauvinism and domination. Her studies in sociology and social anthropology were of particular value and strength for her kind of self-confidence and self-expression, quite apart from her own political experiences. The University wishes her all the best.