Bartholomew Ihema, a Msukuma by tribe, of the Bahwela clan, was born in Nyankuji Busumabu-Kwimba, Mwanza in Tanzania. His father’s name was Ihema and his mother’s name Kado. His family name was Mashamba but he was also known by his traditional dance name, Mang’hyamasangwa. He was healthy up until just before he turned seven years old when a famine hit the country. The famine was called Nzala ya Maharage because people survived by eating only beans.
He married Ruth Mpanda, his first wife, who later died on April 24, 1936. He married his second wife, Tizra Nagana, in 1988.
He did not continue his education after reaching the fifth grade level in 1944. His desire in life was to be a traditional dance leader, a popular vocation of the young people in those days. He accepted Christ in 1935 under the mentoring of Jonathan Malongo, an AICT church leader at Hamuyebe-Ukerewe in the Mwanza region.
It was in 1944 that he heard the call to ministry and began his ministry as a Nangi-Teacher or local unordained minister at Myegelezo. He was moved to Katungulu, Mwanza to oversee another local church as a Nangi in 1961. He was ordained a pastor in 1961 and moved to Bulima local church where he was pastor from that year until May 31, 1990 when he officially retired.
He had ten children and nineteen grandchildren. His children’s names are: Salome, Hitla (deceased), Obed (deceased), David (deceased), Perpetua, Rahab (deceased), Butogwa Tizra, Daniel, and Kado. His grandchildren’s names are: Esther, Flora, John, Bartholomew, Emmanuel, Ruth, Happy, Sospeter, Suzannah, Gerald, Phillip, Paul, Dinnah, Bartholomew, Zachariah, Ruth, Esther, Deborah, and Bartholomew. He is fluent in Kisukuma, Kijita, Kizinza, and Kiswahili.
He is credited with starting the following Africa Inland churches: Mukura, Ng’waniga, Bukabile, Nyamikoma, Kabujaja, Ramadi, Chamugasa, Nyakaboja, Ngasamo, Ngunga, Nassa Ginnery, Ng’wasamba, Igegu, and Sanga. He was a church planter and still plants churches to this day (AD 2001). A book on his life and ministry is forthcoming.
Bela B. Kalumbete
Nungwana, Daniel, interview by the author, November 2000, Mwanza.
This article was researched and written by Bela B. Kalumbete, a Project Luke Fellow associated with the Africa Inland Church, Tanzania.