Tanzanian girls' education icon, Dr Maria Kamm joins Lyra

Dr. Maria Kamm, an icon in the education sector in Tanzania and beyond, joins Lyra in Africa as Honorary Member and Patron

By Roselyne Mariki, Lyra Tanzania National Director


It was one of my greatest moments, when Dr. Maria Josephine Kamm accepted our request to join the Lyra Tanzania Board as Honorary Member and become the very first Patron. I’m one of many who call her ‘Mama’, a person who shaped the education of thousands of girls over a four-year period of lower Secondary Education. She was the larger-than-life headmistress of the Moshi-based Weruweru Girls’ Secondary School from 1970 to 1992. To-date she still treats all of us as her daughters.

Roselyne Mariki, Lyra National Director, and Weruweru alumni

So how does one describe Mama Kamm? While it’s impossible to capture her journey, it is notable that she is and started her life from a humble beginning, born in rural Iringa in June 1937. She attended Tosamaganga Girls School (Iringa), Loleza Girls (Mbeya) and later Kilakala Secondary School (Morogoro). Her foundation in education was built in Tanzania, and in her later years she studied at St. Mary Notre Dame, Indiana and Syracuse University NYC for her Masters’ degree.

She started teaching in 1965 at a number of Secondary Schools and later at Weruweru Girls - Tanzania's top school for girls under her 22-year leadership - where she inspired and motivated thousands of girls who have later become very successful women in different fields. She is a strong believer of combining classroom teaching with entrepreneurial skills building (self-reliance spirit), and all girls who passed under her leadership have and continue to achieve both. She retired in 1992 after registering the Mama Clementina Foundation to help educate young girls who became pregnant while at school.

Mama Kamm, has a record of breaking down barriers so that girls, especially those less-privileged, get a valuable education. Her name has been engraved on the plaque containing the history of the struggle of girls in Tanzania, in the last five decades.

Mama Kamm was deeply inspired by the educational philosophies of Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first President, known affectionately by Tanzanians as ‘teacher’- Mwalimu. Mama Maria Kamm founded the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation in honour of Mwalimu’s great legacy. She is a beneficiary to many awards both in and outside the borders of Tanzania.

A mother, a teacher, a politician, a businesswoman and a philanthropist, she is a shining example of a true Tanzanian woman achiever. It is a great pleasure to Lyra in Africa to have such an iconic woman, a driver of education in Tanzania, as part of our team. We welcome you Mama on behalf of all the girls in Iringa and Tanzania whose lives you continue to touch. -