Juma Volter Mwapachu was born on 27 September 1942 in Mwanza, Tanzania, although his genealogical home is in Tanga, to the north-east of Tanzania. The employment postings of his father, a Makerere College graduate and one of the early professional servants of the colonial government must have influenced the birth place and educational mobility of his son. For his primary and secondary education, Juma went to primary schools in Mwanza, Mbulu and Dar es Salaam (1949-1954), to middle school in Mpuguso in Tukuyu/Rungwe (1955–1958) and for his secondary “A-Level” education to Tabora (1959–1962) and secondary “O-Level” to St. Michael’s and St. George’s School Iringa, subsequently Mkwawa High School (1963–1964). With high pass grades, Juma was admitted, in 1965, at University College Dar es Salaam (UCD), which was then as a constituent college of the University of East Africa. He is one of the most-reckoned alumni of the University of Dar es Salaam, having graduated in 1969, when UCD was a constituent college of the University of East Africa, together with Makerere College in Uganda and University College Nairobi in Kenya. Mwapachu’s student life at Dar es Salaam was clearly marked not only by an intellectual habit in readership (‘the habit and quality of reading, discussing and raising questions for the sake of wider knowledge and intellectual growth), but also by an emergent sense and quality of leadership among fellow students - who took chances to argue, explain and ‘lend’ opinion to others, especially as he happened to be a fast reader and fast and eloquent speaker. This made things even “boiling” as he combined this attribute with an intellectual love of ‘revolutionary leaders’ such as Karl Marx of Germany, Vladimir Lenin of Russia, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Ernesto Che Guevara of Argentina, and many more. In hindsight, this raised him above ground in intellectual debates and competitions against opponents. But this also endeared him to invitations by national and international sponsors to many international conferences and forums throughout his time at UCD in July 1965 to March 1969.
Upon graduation in 1969, Mwapachu became a first Tanzanian university graduate to join the Tanzania Police Force (as Asst. Supt. of Police) from April 1969 to September 1969, thereafter relocating to the Attorney General’s Chambers as a state attorney. Subsequently he was seconded to the National Bank of Commerce as Assistant Legal Secretary. He went through the ranks of bank management to the position of Chief Manpower Manager (1969–1973). From 1973 to 1976 he was appointed District Development Director under the decentralisation programme previously introduced in July 1972. The public-sector appointments that followed include: Principal Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1976–1980), Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission in the Tanzania Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1976–1977), Minister Counsellor in the Tanzania High Commission in New Delhi, India (1977–1980) and Acting Director for the Information, Research and Policy Planning Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dar es Salaam (1980); and Ambassador to France, with accreditations to Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria (2002-2006). He also has had wide working experience in the private sector, for instance as principal consultant with Coopers and Lybrand Associates Limited, Tanzania, now renamed Pricewaterhouse Coopers (1980–1982); Director in Juthalal Velji Ltd, holding company of J V Group (1983–1996), among others.
For the University of Dar es Salaam, apart from the leadership profile of his student years, Mr. Mwapachu, as a UDSM alumnus, played a vital elective role as President of the Convocation for a whole 15 years from 1988-2003, by virtue of which he was Vice-Chairman of the University Council. The University will always remember for part he played in granting material and financial support for a number of biennial Convocation Symposia held during that period. Upon retiring from his diplomatic service in France, Mr. Mwapachu was appointed by the East African Community authority (the E.A. presidents) Secretary General of the august East African organisation, serving for a period of five years (2006-2011). On 26 November 2005, Ambassador Mwapachu was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Dar es Salaam for the long service and contributions he had rendered not only to the University but also to his nation Tanzania, East Africa and to the wider world of intellectualism. Another honorary doctorate came to be conferred on him, later in 2012, by the National University of Rwanda (NUR). Ambassador Mwapachu has written widely. His publications include Confronting New Realities: Reflections on Tanzania’s Radical Transformation (2005); Challenging the Frontiers of African Integration: The Dynamics of Policies, Politics and Transformation in the East African Community (2012); and Tanzania in the Age of Change and Transformation (2018).