Charles Faraghit was born in Mali, West Africa, and was a member of the Bambara tribe. In childhood he was captured by slave raiders and taken across the Sahara desert. In Algeria he was ransomed from slavery by the Society of Missionaries of Africa. After education and baptism, he was sent as a teenager to study in Malta, where Cardinal Lavigerie had founded an institute for training African doctor-catechists. On finishing his training in 1888, he travelled to Lake Tanganyika (East Africa, on the border of German East Africa with the Congo Free State) in a caravan led by the newly appointed Vicar Apostolic of Tanganyika, Leon Bridoux, in the company of two fellow Malta graduates, Adrian Atiman and Joseph Gatchi. Bridoux died after only a year as bishop, and the vicariate was divided in 1892, Adolphe Lechaptois becoming vicar apostolic of Tanganyika in 1890 and Victor Roelens vicar apostolic of Upper Congo.
Atiman remained on the eastern shore of the lake, while Faraghit and Gatchi crossed to Upper Congo, where they became religion teachers at the catechist training centre of Mpala. Afterwards, Faraghit became the resident doctor-catechist at the outstation of St. Michael’s Kipongwe. In the confused situation of the Upper Congo caused by the activities of Afro-Arab slave raiders, the Catholic authorities exercised civil power in their stations. Consequently, Faraghit became the Chief of Kipongwe.
In 1917, the first African Catholic priest of Congo, Stephen Kaoze, was ordained by Bishop Roelens. Faraghit, who had married in the Congo, became the father of the second Congolese priest to be ordained on November 1, 1921, Joseph Faraghit. About this time, Charles Faraghit entered government medical service at Mpweto and not long afterwards settled in the Tanganyika vicariate (German East Africa, now Tanzania). In his last years he returned to Congo and died at Baudouinville (Kasongo) on April 24, 1931.
Aylward Shorter M.Afr.
Roger Heremans, L’Education dans les missions des Pères Blancs 1897-1914 (Brussels: Editions Nauwelaerts, 1983).
Victor Roelens, (ed. N. Antoine) Notre Vieux Congo 1891-1917 - Souvenirs du premier évêque du Congo Belge, 2 vols. (Namur, Grands Lacs, 1948).
John B. Kabeya, Daktari Adriano Atiman (Tabora: TMP Book Department/Arusha, Eastern Africa Publications, 1978).
This article, submitted in 2003, was researched and written by Dr. Aylward Shorter M.Afr., Emeritus Principal of Tangaza College Nairobi, Catholic University of Eastern Africa.