Haruni Kija Mashigan, a Sukuma, was born in 1924 in the Itilima area in Sukumaland, Tanzania, of parents who became Seventh-day Adventists around 1928. He was a major leader of the post-independence Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tanzania. Mashigan was baptized in 1940 at Ikizu Training School. There he studied in a teacher training program from 1940 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952, he served as a teacher at Utimbaru Mission, mainly among the Kuria people, who at that time were not yet very responsive to Seventh-day Adventist missionary activities.
From 1953 to 1954, Mashigan attended the “evangelists’ course” at Bugema College, Uganda, a denominational institution which prepared students for the ministry. Afterwards, he was ordained in 1956 and pastored in Nassa district until 1957. Under his leadership, membership in this area, where Adventist work had begun in the 1920s and where a school existed since 1932, grew from 150 to 300. In these early years of his pastoral ministry his talents in particular lines of church work and his passion for building sizeable sanctuaries first developed. Moreover, two schools were built at that time.
From 1958 to 1959, he was the pastor of Ntusu district. In 1960 to 1961, his zeal for church construction contributed to his election as the building secretary of the Eastern Africa Union based in Nairobi. In 1961 to 1962, he attended a leadership course taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Solusi College, Zimbabwe.
After this, Mashigan began a long career in church administration. He first became church development and publishing director of Tanzania Union (1962-1965) and then West Lake/South Nyanza Field president (1965-1968). He again took a position at Tanzania Union as stewardship and church development director (1968-1972) and finally served several terms as president of South Nyanza Field (1972-1977), Mara Field (1977-1983), and again South Nyanza Field (1984-1991). The crowning glory of Mashigan’s lifetime service in church administration was when his native South Nyanza Field (made up of the Mwanza and Shinyanga regions) was inaugurated as the first conference in 1989, which meant the church in that area had matured enough to be fully self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating.
Throughout his life, Mashigan exhibited strong leadership abilities and a constant drive to pursue church development, especially in the area of infrastructure. He was, for example, instrumental in campaigning for the building of a 1000-seat church at Bupandagila–an unusually large sanctuary at that time–which was finished in 1971. During the next three years, he revived permanent church operations at Habiya–where the pre-World War I Kanadi mission station had been located–by organizing a church and building a dispensary. Mashigan was also a public evangelist and under his leadership many Adventist congregations were organized in the Mwanza and Shinyanga towns.
Alongside a few other Tanzanian Adventist leaders who held major leadership positions in this denomination from the 1960s to the 1980s, Mashigan belongs to the first generation of national Adventist leaders. They gave the denomination an identity greater than that of a local Adventist folk church which was also no longer dominated by European patterns.
K. B. Elineema, Historia ya Kanisa la Waadventista Wasabato Tanzania, 1903-1993 (Dar es Salaam: By the Author, 1993).
Stefan Höschele, “Christian Remnant - African Folk Church: The History of Seventh-Day Adventism in Tanzania, 1903-1980,” Ph.D. diss. (University of Malawi, 2005).
Harun Kija Mashigan, interview by the author, Bupandagila, August 26-27, 2001.
*Seventh-Day Adventist Church 1909-1979, Mara Field *(Kendu Bay: Africa Herald, 1979).
*Seventh-Day Adventist Church - South Nyanza Field: Jubilee 1912-1973 *(N.p.: n.pub., 1973).
Seventh-Day Adventist Church - South Nyanza Field: Jubilee 1912-1987 (Morogoro: Tanzania Adventist Press, 1987).
This story, sent to us in 2005 by Dr. Hudson E. Kibuuka, DACB liaison coordinator for the SDA East Africa Division, was written by Dr. Stefan Höschele, of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a lecturer in Systematic Theology at Friedensau University, Friedensau, Germany (email: [email protected]; Web: www.stefan-hoeschele.de or www.thh-friedensau.de).