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Anosisye Mwansombelo Jongo
1914 to 1981
Moravian Church
Tanzania

Jongo was born in November 1914 at Ikinga, Ileje district, Tanzania. [1] He was Ndali by tribe. His wife's name was Elikaga Mtawa Kyandwike. They had eight children, one of whom died in childhood. The names of their children are Edward, Leah, Esther, John, Paulo, Angetile, and Sam.

Anosisye Jongo was sent to Marangu Lutheran Theological College in northern Tanganyika in 1958 to study for a diploma in theology. But for some unknown reason the Moravian Church asked him to discontinue his studies. Consequently he returned home and was assigned to work in a congregation. At the 1962 synod, he was elected assistant superintendent of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania, replacing Yona Mwaitebele. In 1963 Jongo served as acting superintendent while Superintendent Beck went to Germany for a long vacation. This meant a lot of work for Jongo and he acquired valuable experience leading the province. He did such competent work that he was sent a letter of congratulations from the Moravian Mission Board of Britain which sponsored the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania at that time.

As acting superintendent, Jongo was invited to spend a period of six months visiting the mission boards in Europe which supported the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania. Superintendent Beck was displeased at the invitation given to Jongo and sent letters to all the congregations of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania stating his displeasure with Jongo. As a result of Beck's negative influence, Jongo was not re-elected at the following synod held in 1966. Instead, Mwamakula was elected assistant superintendent in his place. The Provincial Board assigned Jongo to work in the Tukuyu congregation.

The Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania became an independent province in 1967 by the resolution made by the Unity Synod of the Unitas Fratrum ("Unity of the Brethren," the name for the Moravian Church) which stated that the affiliated Moravian provinces of Southern Tanzania and Western Tanzania, were thereafter recognized as full provinces.

The Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania thus became officially independent in 1968. The provincial synod was held the same year for elections. H. Beck pleaded before the synod that Jongo not be re-elected. Fortunately though, Jongo was elected superintendent of the province--the first African to hold this position, seventy-seven years after missionaries started mission work in 1891 in Tanzania. The Provincial Constitutional Synod, convened in 1969, had a lot of work to do. One of their tasks was to change the name of "superintendent of the church" to "chairman of the provincial board." Jongo was re-elected provincial chairman at the 1970 synod.

Anosisye Jongo and Theophil Kisanji led one of the pastors' retreat held November 22-25, 1976, and the pastors' ordination ceremony on November 26, 1976 at Chunya congregation. Part of the retreat was done at Rungwe and the rest at Chunya. In his message, Jongo emphasized the importance of the pastoral ministry of preaching, pastoral care, counseling, teaching, church self-reliance, and church administration.

Jongo lived a life of simplicity and self denial. Although he was the chairman of the provincial board, he did not act like an important person. He lived so simply that he did not eat lunch in hotels when he traveled to Mbeya town, Tukuyu, Chunya or other places, but ate ripe bananas or sweet potatoes for lunch instead. Pastors and other people to whom he gave a lift in his car would eat in hotels, but not him. He also didn't wear expensive clothes but instead had simple clothes that he wore on a daily basis. One might say that he liked to live a simple life for Christ's sake.

At synodal and provincial board meetings, he listened to all parties patiently, even those he disagreed with. When the discussion got bogged down, he moved on to another item on the agenda. When the discussion became too heated and confused he made the gesture of washing his face with his two hands on his brow and said, "Ndugu, ndugu tufikie azimio" (Brother, brother, let us reach a resolution). After everyone had their say, Jongo did not allow troublemakers or antagonists to influence the outcome of the meetings and made whatever decisions were necessary.

It was not an easy task to lead the province at that time due to the fact that some pastors and laymen stirred up trouble against him. There were three major reasons for this. First, some of them wanted to see Jongo fail in his leadership so that a white man could take over the position again. Secondly, some antagonism was due to tribalism. Thirdly, some power hungry pastors simply wanted to take over his position as provincial chairman. But things did not happen as Jongo's opponents had hoped and he was re-elected again in 1974. In October 1976, Jongo led the synod which passed the resolution to divide the province into Southern Province (headquartered at Rungwe) and Southwest Province (headquartered at Mbeya).

Even after the division of the province, Jongo continued to be provincial chairman of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania until January 4, 1979 when he was elected bishop. During his tenure as chairman, Jongo led the province in tough times but he still remained patient and powerful, enabled by God, the owner of the church. On casual occasions it was his custom to greet pastors or Christians, asking them how his "home church" was ("Kanisa la nyumbani halijambo?"). By this he meant that the church begins at home.

His last work of ordaining pastors was at Vwawa/Southwest Province where he led the retreat with the executive committee of Southwest Province from May 27 to 30, 1981. Before the ordination, he reminded those at the retreat to be obedient to their calling and to be good examples in the church and in society, especially at their workplace. He also emphasized that the pastor and his wife must know that the foundation of their marriage is God. They have to have a true love for each other, be patient and faithful to one another, and be good examples. The ordination took place on May 31, 1981 at Vwawa. Many people attended the ceremony that day and Jongo preached a long sermon full of challenges and spiritual highlights.

Jongo died on August 18, 1981 in Nairobi, Kenya during the meeting of the All Africa Conference of Churches. His body was flown to Mbeya and was transported by municipal car followed by a long queue of traffic from Mbeya to Rungwe where his body was laid. Many people flocked to the airstrip at Mbeya and to Rungwe and mourned for him for several weeks.

Angolwisye I. Malambugi



Author's note: I got to know Rev. Anosisye Jongo in 1972 when he was provincial chairman of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania. When I received the call to serve in the church, I was required to fill out the application form. I filled out the form of intent for the call to be a pastor and sent it to the provincial office through the pastor of the Mbeya Moravian Church congregation. My wife and I were interviewed by Anosisye Jongo.

Notes:

1. There is conflicting information on the actual place of Jongo's birth. However, the information that leads me to say that Ikinga is his birthplace seems the most reliable.

Sources:

Angetile Y. Musomba (former provincial chairman of the Moravian Church in Tanzania--Southern Province), Historia ya Kanisa la Moravian - Jimbo la Kusini 1891-1976 (Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam University Press, 1993).
Nelson Mwaisango, former general secretary of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania--Southern Province, interview by Justa Shibanda, a student at Teofilo Kisanji University, in November 2006.
William Mwakikato, 73 years old, retired pastor, interview by the author on July 5, 2006 at Iwambi, Mbeya city, Tanzania.
Mashimbi, provincial secretary of Christian religious education for Southern Province, at a seminar at Dodoma Christian Council of Tanzania Training Centre, telephone interview by the author on March 18, 2007.
Mrs. Maryane Ntandu, secretary at the Christian Council of Tanzania, email message dated May 28, 2007.



This article, received in 2007, was researched and written by Rev. Angolowisye Isakwisa Malambugi, former chairman of the Moravian Church in Tanzania, Southwest Province, lecturer at Teofilo Kisanji University (formerly Moravian Theological College) in Mbeya from July 1995 to December 2006, and part-time lecturer at Open University of Tanzania from 1999 to the present. He was also Project Luke fellow in Spring 2007.