“Nguvu yetu ni umoja“—”our strength is unity”, was one of the catchphrases in Tanzanian politics after independence. This also had implications for the internal affairs of the religious bodies: Since the leaders of the young state stressed cooperation and harmony, denominational rivalries and quarrels were regarded as threats to national unity.1 It is therefore no mere coincidence that attempts to unite the different Protestant denominations were intensified during the time immediately after independence.
Early attempts—as during the ill-fated Kikuyu Conference of 1913 for instance—had failed, but the initiative started in 19592 tried to make use of previous experiences.3 In August 1961 an informal twoday discussion was held in Dodoma. The participants included Lutherans, Mennonites, Moravians and Anglicans who had been united in the Church of the Province of East Africa just a short time previously. Since the formation of this Church, which included both Kenya and Tanzania and had been a successful but complex balancing act of the various forces within the Anglican Church, the Anglicans were very concerned that Kenya should also be included in the East African Church Union. Talks began in Limuru (Kenya) and the first conference took place at Ilburu at the beginning of 1963. As a
' L. Marquardt, “Katholische Kirche und Mission” in: E. Jaeschke (ed.), Zwischm
Sansibar und Serengeti. Lutherische Kirche in Tansania (Erlangen, 1968, pp. 202–214), p.
2 It is not quite clear from the literature who was responsible for the initiative. G.
Jasper, “The East African Church Union Discussions”, Africa Theological Journal
(1968/1) p. 51 refers to a letter of the Vice-President of the Lutheran Church of
Northern Tanganyika, Dr. E. Danielson, as starting point, while C.G. Oosthuizen,
Theological Battleground in Asia and Africa. The Issues facing the Churches and the Efforts to
Overcome Western Divisions (London, 1972), p. 332 points out that the Christian Council
took the initiative.
3 The East African Church Union Consultation, Interim Basis of Union (Kikuyu,
Kenya, 1965) refers to the Kikuyu-Conference of 1913 “when missionaries from
Kenya and Uganda of the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches and the
interdenominational Africa Inland Mission approved a draft constitution for a,
Scheme of Federation of Missionary Societies in British East Africa.”'