Central Tanzania Field

By Rabson Ntambala Nkoko

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Rabson Ntambala Nkoko, Ph.D. (The Open University of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), serves as executive secretary of Southern Tanzania Union Mission. Previously, he served as president of Southern Highlands Conference, departmental director at the conference and union levels, and front line pastor in Tanzania. He has published two Swahili books, Sauti ya Mungu katika Bustani and Nafasi ya Mwanamke katika Ibada na Uongozi wa Kanisa, and numerous articles.

First Published: April 8, 2021

Central Tanzania Field is one of the four church administrative units of Southern Tanzania Union Mission. Formerly part of East-Central Tanzania Conference, Central Tanzania Field was organized in 2019.1

Territory: Government Administrative Regions of Dodoma and Iringa; and the Government Administrative District of Kiteto in Manyara Region.

Statistics (June 30, 2020): Churches, 249; membership, 30,077; population, 4,160,261.2

Origins of the Adventist Work in the Central Tanzania Field

The earliest attempt to take the Adventist message to Central Tanzania Field was made in 1933 by George A. Ellingworth, president of Tanganyika Mission Field, who made an exploratory trip to the south to search for land with the intention of starting a mission station. In the course of his search, he identified seven plots of land—four among the Hehe of Iringa and three in Mbeya region. However, there was no follow up on this attempt.3

Adventist outreach activities that made a lasting impact on the territory are attributed to several individuals who went to the territory in the 1950s and in subsequent years. In 1958 a literature evangelist named John Lyambwa, from Morogoro, sold books in Dododma. He began his work at Makutupa village in Mpwapwa-Dodoma region. On arrival in the village, he found some elders playing a traditional game called Bao. He told them that he had a new game which was different from and better than Bao. They listened when he told them he was bringing them spiritual books. He shared with them some spiritual lessons from the Adventist books which were written in Swahili and included Maendeleo ya Afrika, Wafalme wajao, and Kuja Kwa Kristo. As a result of this contact, Yared Kupyeta and his wife believed, and gradually the number of believers increased to six people who were baptized that year.4

The work was strengthened by Pastor Elizaphan Bwirima Wanjara (1924-2005). After completing a one-year (1956-1957) ministerial course at Bugema College in Uganda, Wanjara became a powerful tool in establishing work in unentered areas. Among the areas he covered were parts of the present Central Tanzania Field. From 1960 to 1966 he worked in the town of Morogoro, where the headquarters of the East-Central Tanzania Conference is now located.

Pastor Wanjara next strengthened the Adventist work in Dodoma and Mpwapwa (now Central Tanzania Field) with the assistance of a global mission pioneer and literature evangelist, John Lyambwa, who was assigned to stay and work in the Mpwapwa and Dodoma areas. Meanwhile, Wanjara was in charge of the entire east and central Tanzania territory. As a result of these efforts, a church was organized in Mpwapwa due to the work done by Elizapahan Wanjara, who spent most of his time preaching in that town in collaboration with evangelist John Lyambwa. As a result of their hard work, Yohana Chilungwana and Wilson Mogoire joined the first converts at Mpwapwa.5 From Mpwapwa and Dodoma the gospel spread to the Kiteto district through literature evangelist Elia Kudeli in June 1980. He sold spiritual books in Ng’ipa in Kiteto district where the first church in that district was established.6

Iringa was reached for the first time in 1960 by Medylene Howard, an Adventist woman married to a non-Adventist. The Howards came from South Africa and settled in Mufindi as large-scale farmers and owned a pyrethrum plantation at Kibidula in Mafinga. Medylene turned out to be a fervent Adventist who shared the Adventist message with everyone she met. She distributed Bibles and other literature bearing the present truth to her employees. As a result of her outreach activities, the first baptism in Iringa took place in 1962 in which three people were baptized. The Howards returned to South Africa in 1964.7

Egid Mavanza, who was employed in Dar es Salaam, was terminated from his work due to his Sabbath keeping. In 1961 he decided to go to Ilula-Iringa where his non-Adventist brother, Emilius Mavanza, lived. He shared with him the Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, and finally Emilius accepted the Sabbath truth and was baptized.8

The Significant Events that Led to the Formation of Central Tanzania Field

In 1968 the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tanzania formed a new territory which covered the eastern, southern, and western parts of Tanganyika, called Tanganyika General Field. The territory was reorganized again in 1982 into two fields called East Tanzania Field, with headquarters in Morogoro, and West Tanzania Field, with headquarters at Mbeya. On March 22, 2005, the East Tanzania Field became a conference and the name was changed to East Tanzania Conference. On January 6 to 8, 2015, East Tanzania Conference was reorganized into two conferences, East Central Tanzania Conference and South East Tanzania Conference.9

In 2017 Southern Tanzania Union Mission Executive Committee reorganized the East Central Tanzania Conference and Southern Highlands Conference to form the new field—Central Tanzania Field, which consists of Dodoma and Kiteto from East Central Tanzania Conference, and Iringa region from Southern Highlands Conference.10

The South Tanzania Union Executive Committee appointed a union reorganization study team on November 9, 2015, to reorganize the Southern Tanzania Union Mission (STU) into more entities than the three that existed then. The committee was composed of the following: Steven Ngussa (chair), Athanas Sigoma, Toto Kusaga, Uswege Kajigiri, Simon Bukuku, Dr. Jimmy Yonazi, Albert Chamriho, and Esther Abayo. The committee proposed restructuring Southern Tanzania Union into two more conferences: Central Tanzania Conference, covering Iringa, Dodoma, and Morogoro regions; and Indian Ocean Tanzania Conference, comprising the northern parts of Dar es Salaam and Coast regions as well as the islands of Unguja and Pemba.11

Southern Tanzania Union Mission yearend committee (EXCOM) which met in 2016 appointed the conference organization team which was composed of the following: Rabson Nkoko (chair), Filbert Mwanga, Herbert Nziku, Richard Khaniki, Ruth Eyembe, Aron Mwanandewe, and Esther Abayo. The role of this team was to assess the readiness of entities for conference status. During this process, the team came up with a proposal from church members to formulate a new field that would cover the territories of Iringa region, Dodoma region, and Kiteto District-Manyara. EXCOM consented to organize the new Central Tanzania Field.12

Southern Tanzania Union Mission (STU) Executive Committee met in 2017 and voted the formation of a trial field called Central Tanzania Field by appointing the following: Toto Ndege Bwire Kusaga, chief coordinator; Joshua Mwambopo, coordinator/treasurer; David Azael Mmbaga, coordinator/stewardship; and Festo Mng’ong’o, coordinator/personal ministries. Their main purpose was to prepare for the new field which had been approved by the STU EXCOM.13 The subsequent Southern Tanzania Union Mission Executive Committee decided to send a request to the East-Central Africa Division to assess and authorize the organization of the proposed Central Tanzania Field into a full-fledged field.14

The East-Central Africa Division midyear Executive Committee formed an evaluation team comprised of: Tom Ogal (chair), Philip Javaid (secretary), and Hesron Byilingiro. It also included the following invitees: Southern Tanzania Union Mission president, secretary, and treasurer. The team started the evaluation process of the proposed Central Tanzania Field on June 24-27, 2018. They were satisfied with the preparation and recommended that the Central Tanzania Field be established.15 During its year-end meeting, ECD accepted the report from the survey team and recommended the formation of the Central Tanzania Field.16

The 2018 Southern Tanzania Union Mission yearend executive committee meetings voted Central Tanzania Field leadership as follows: Toto Ndege Bwire Kusaga (president), Festo Augen Mng’ongo (executive secretary), and Joshua Mwambopo (treasurer).17

The subsequent actions were taken in accordance with Church policy: “The union shall call a constituency meeting of the new organization as soon as possible in order to organize the mission. At this meeting, departmental directors and the executive committee shall be elected according to provisions of the mission operating policy.”18

The Inauguration of Central Tanzania Field took place on February 29, 2019, at Dodoma Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. After the inauguration, there followed the first Central Tanzania Field Session which was conducted on March 1, 2019. The following departmental directors were elected: Yared M. Nkoswe (stewardship and ministerial departments), Harold Lissi (publishing and health ministry departments), David Azael Mmbaga (personal ministries and Sabbath School departments), Sabato P. Maseke (youth and education departments), Janeth Bwaira (women’s ministries and children’s ministries departments).19

Administrators

President: Toto Ndege Bwire Kussaga (2019- )

Secretary: Festo Eugen Mng'ong'o (2019- )

Treasurer: Joshua Adamson Mwambopo (2019- )

Sources

Central Tanzania Field Statistical Report, fourth quarter, 2019. Central Tanzania Field archives, Dodoma, Tanzania.

Hoschele, S. Christian Remnant-African Folk Church: Seventh-day Adventism in Tanzania, 1903-1980. Leiden: IDC Publishers, 2007.

Kusaga, Toto. President’s Report for Mission Extravaganza at Morogoro September 18-21, 2019. Central Tanzania Field archives, Dodoma, Tanzania.

Kuyenga J., Historia Yetu Mpaka hapa Tulipo. Unpublished manuscript, 2017. Central Tanzania Field archives, Dodoma, Tanzania.

Okeyo, E. A. Kanisa Safarini Tanzania, Morogoro: Tanzania Adventist Press, 2014.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. https://www.adventistyearbook.org.

Southern Tanzania Union Mission Minutes. Southern Tanzania Union Mission archives, Dar es Salaam; Tanzania.

Notes

  1. Southern Tanzania Union Mission, Statistical Report, Second Quarter 2019.

  2. “Central Tanzania Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2020), https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=54660.

  3. Stefan Hoschele, Christian Remnant-African Folk Church: Seventh-day Adventism in Tanzania, 1903-1980 (Leiden: IDC Publishers, 2007), 178-186.

  4. Stefan Höschele, “Christian Remnant - African Folk Church: The History of Seventh-Day Adventism in Tanzania, 1903-1980.” Ph.D. diss, University of Malawi, 2005.

  5. Elisha A. Okeyo, Kanisa Safarini Tanzania (Morogoro: Tanzania Adventist Press, 2014), 58-60.

  6. Pr. J. Kuyenga, Historia Yetu Mpaka hapa Tulipo (East Tanzania Conference, unpublished manuscript, 2017), 1.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Southern Tanzania Union, Minutes number 68/2016.

  10. Southern Tanzania Union, Minutes number 113/2017.

  11. Southern Tanzania Union, Minutes number 003/2017.

  12. Southern Tanzania Union Mission, minutes number112/2017.

  13. Southern Tanzania Union minutes number 116/2017.

  14. Alain Coralie, the ECD executive secretary, interview by the author, during Central Tanzania Field Session, February 29, 2019.

  15. East- Central Africa Division Executive Committee Minutes, ECD 2018-045.

  16. East-Central Africa Division Minutes, ECD 2018-128.

  17. Southern Tanzania Union minutes number 157/2018.

  18. ECD Working Policy B65, Section 15, par. 6.

  19. Toto Kusaga, President’s Report for Mission Extravaganza at Morogoro September 18-21, 2019.

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Nkoko, Rabson Ntambala. "Central Tanzania Field." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 08, 2021. Accessed May 21, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9FK1.

Nkoko, Rabson Ntambala. "Central Tanzania Field." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 08, 2021. Date of access May 21, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9FK1.

Nkoko, Rabson Ntambala (2021, April 08). Central Tanzania Field. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 21, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9FK1.