Church and State in Tanzania: Aspects of Changing Relationships, 1961-1994

By Frieder Ludwig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

THE CHALLENGE OF
THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT

A revivalist and charismatic form of Christianity is not new in Tanzania. The Balokole movement, which originated in Rwanda, had spread to the Buhaya region in the north-west of Tanzania by the end of the 1930s. The confession of sins, the consciousness of forgiveness and the commencement of a new and different life were central characteristics of this movement.' Those who had joined the movement called themselves the “Abalokole” or the “saved” and rejected African customs, which they considered to threaten their faith.2 Part of the movement considered the mission churches not to be radical enough in their approach and, in 1953, the “Church of the Holy Spirit” split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church. But this independent African church did not succeed in gaining much influence; in 1962 half the members had already returned to the Lutherans.3 While most of Tanzania's other African independent churches suffered a similar fate, various pentecostal churches (in which teaching about redemption also plays a key role) enjoyed a continual increase in popularity. The Holiness Mission had reached the Mbeya region as early as 1927, but in 1949 this field was taken over by the Assemblies of God. In 1932 the Swedish Free Mission arrived, which evangelised in the Tabora region and, in 1946, the ELIM Pentecostal Church reached the Morogoro region. Many others followed.4 The influence of the pentecostals was, however, marginal until the end of the 1960s.

1 J. Kibira, Aus einer afrikanischen Kirche (Bielefeld, 1960), pp 31ff.

2 W.B. Niwagila, From the Catacomb to a self-governing church: a case study of the African
initiative and the participation of the foreign mission in the mission history of the North-Western
Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
, 1890–1965 (Hamburg, 1991,)
p. 249.

3 T.O. Ranger, “Christian independency in Tanzania”, in: D.B. Barrett (ed.),
African initiatives in Religion (Nairobi, 1971, pp. 122–141), p. 122.

4 S. Gamanywa, Ruala Ta PCT Kwa Waziri Wa Mambo Ya Ndandi Naibu Waziri
Mkuu Moshimiwa A.L. Mrema
(unpublished document, 19.7. 1993), gives a short over-
view on the history of the Pentecostal movement in Tanzania and includes also a list
of 22 Pentecostal Churches which joined the Pentecostal Council of Tanzania in
1993. also F. Ludwig, “After Ujamaa: is Religious Revivalism a Threat to Tanzania's
Stabibility?”, in: D. Westerlund (ed.), Questioning the Secular State. The Worldwide Resur-
gence of Religion in Politics
(London, 1996, pp. 216–236).

-181-

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