Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, Metropolitan Archbishop emeritus of Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania), was born on 5 August 1944 in the parish of Mwazye, diocese of Sumbawanga in Tanzania.
From 1959 to 1964 he did his higher secondary schooling at the minor seminary in Kaengesa. In 1965 he entered the major seminary in Kipalapala for three years of philosophy (1965-67) and four years of theology (1968-71).
He was ordained a priest in the diocese of Sumbawanga on 20 June 1971 and for two years - from June 1971 to July 1973 - he was Secretary to the Bishop.
From 1973 to 1977, he studied moral theology in Rome at the Pontifical Lateran University (Academy of St Alphonsus), obtaining a doctorate. After his studies, he returned to Tanzania and taught moral theology at the major seminary in Kipalapala for nine months in 1977. He then was made the first Rector of the major seminary in Segerea, a position which he held from 1978 to 1983.
Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Nachingwea on 11 November 1983 and ordained him on 6 January 1984 on the Feast of the Epiphany in St Peter’s Basilica. He took possession of the diocese on 19 February 1984.
On 17 October 1986 he was named Bishop of the new diocese of Tunduru-Masasi and he was installed there on 12 February 1987.
Named Coadjutor Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam on 22 January 1990, he took possession of the Archdiocese on 22 July 1992 following the resignation of Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa.
On Sunday 2 September 1990, on the occasion of the Apostolic Visit of John Paul II to Tanzania, the then Coadjutor Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, addressed to the Pope the words of homage at the beginning of the meeting with clergy and religious in St. Peter’s Church in Dar-es-Salaam. In introducing the Church in Tanzania to the Pope, he underlined in particular the fidelity to, the love of and the passion for the task of evangelization.
On 12 April 1984 he spoke at the Fourth General Congregation of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. The theme of his speech was, "The Deepening of Christian Faith in Daily Life".
From 2007 to 2009, he was elected President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
He was a Member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI and in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 1998, of the Title of Nostra Signora de La Salette (Our Lady of La Salette).