Lucy Lameck

Lucy Selina Lameck Somi was born in 1934 near to the Kilimanjaro ward in the British territory of Tanganyika (modern day Tanzania). She was a Tanzanian politician and the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the government.

Lucy came from a family of politically-active farmers. After training as a nurse in 1950, she began working as a secretary. Between 1955 and 1957, she worked for the Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union, and began to become involved in politics. Working with the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), Lucy became the head of the women’s section. Her political activities resulted in a scholarship from the Trades Union Congress to study Politics at Ruskin College.

While in the UK, she spoke at East Africa House in London and also completed a semester at Western Michigan University in the United States. Sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, she conducted a tour of African-American communities across the USA in 1960, to investigate the economic differences between the United States and Tanganyika.

She later returned to Tanganyika, where she was appointed to a seat in the National Assembly. Between 1962 and 1965, she was Parliamentary Secretary of Cooperatives and Community Development, the first ministerial post held by a woman in Tanganyika or Tanzania.

When the newly-formed Tanzania held elections in 1965, she ran and won a seat in the National Assembly, holding dual posts of Deputy Minister for Cooperatives and Community Development between 1965 and 1970, and Deputy Minister of Health between 1967 and 1972. She held her seat in the 1970 elections, but lost it in 1975.

Lucy won the seat back again following the general election in 1980, and continued to hold it until her death. She introduced significant legislation, including improving the conditions for women within the country.

When Lucy died in March 1993, her funeral with full honours was attended by the President of Zanzibar, Salmin Amour, and the Prime Minister of Tanzania, John Malecela. She has since been considered a role model for women, in particular female politicians, within Tanzania.

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