Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (born October 7, 1950) is a Tanzanian politician and current President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Kikwete was born in Msonga, Bagamoyo District, Tanganyika in present day Tanzania. Kikwete was also the Chairperson of the African Union from 31 January 2008 to 2 February 2009.
Kikwete grew up witnessing the exercise of leadership by his grandfather Mrisho Kikwete as a local chief and father as a District Commissioner in colonial Tanganyika and Regional Administrative Secretary and an Ombudsman in post-colonial Tanganyika and the United Republic of Tanzania. He spent part of his childhood moving from one area of country to another as his father was transferred to different outposts. He also spent a better part of his childhood in the village under the guidance of his grandfather. Kikwete became a natural choice for leadership in school and later in the party (TANU and CCM) youth movements.
His leadership talents emerged at early stages in life. He was a student leader both in middle and secondary schools and at the University of Dar es Salaam. He was elected Chairman of the Students Council at Kibaha Secondary School and Deputy Head Prefect at Tanga Secondary School. He became very active in student politics at University. He was eventually elected Vice President of the Dar es Salaam University Students Organisation and de-facto President of the student government at the Main Campus in 1973/74. As a student leader, he spearheaded efforts to fight for student's rights and welfare. He was in the forefront in bringing about awareness and activism in liberation and anti-apartheid politics in the campus and the University community at large. He represented the Dar es Salaam University students and the students and youths of the African continent in several international conferences. Among such meetings were the International Youth Population Conference in 1974 in Bucharest, Romania.