Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Mbogo, Danieli

Anglican Communion (Church Missionary Society)

Danieli Mbogo was a prominent teacher in Ugogo whose life and work was full of drama. A musician who played the trumpet, he was the son of Mariamu and Ibrahimu Mbogo–a Mnyamwezi who settled at Mpwapwa perhaps in the late 1870s.[1] Danieli Mbogo was born at Mpwapwa in 1880,[2] and baptized there in 1892.[3] In May 1903, he was appointed by Henry Cole to start working as a teacher at Mpwapwa with his fellow indigenous workers Natanaeli Goigoi and Andrea Kapina. At Cole’s request, Danieli Mbogo went to teach children when a new station was opened at Kongwa in 1904. His missionary career began there. He stayed there for three months only and returned to Mpwapwa in 1905. An extract from his own diary gives an insight into the cross-cultural encounters he had with the Kaguru:

…Tena sikuweza kukaa na Wakaguru maana tabia yao ilikuwa mbali na maisha ya Wagogo. Desturi.[4]


I could not live with the Kaguru people because their conduct was different from that of the people of Ugogo. Customs.[5]

Danieli Mbogo’s account does not reveal exactly what it was that he found “odd” about the conduct of the Kaguru who lived in Kongwa area at the time. Nevertheless, it gives an insight into the difficulties the indigenous missionaries from one ethnic group to another were facing. It is not clear whether his Nyamwezi roots [6] made his cultural adjustment among the Kaguru more difficult (most teachers at the time who were either Gogo or Kaguru).

Fortunately, Mbogo’s career as a missionary did not end with his departure from Kongwa. He went back to Mpwapwa, but in 1906 (following the closure of Mpwapwa as a station), [7] he was transferred to Kiboriani to work with Madari Mulutu [8] and Thomas Westgate. He was there for a year. It was during this time that his son, Rev. Yakobo Mbogo says he used to light up a fireball during Easter and Christmas festivals. The fireball could be viewed as far as Mvumi, Buigiri, and western Ukaguru, and reminded resident CMS missionaries and teachers to light up their fireballs too. [9] Mbogo returned to Kongwa in November 1907 to work with Ernest Doulton for about two months. This time he probably coped better. However, his missionary service at Kongwa was interrupted again. Towards the end of 1908, the executive committee of the CMS mission decided that he should accompany Thomas Westgate to work at Buigiri. At this time, part of his financial support came from Christian Union, Kingston branch, Canada. Presumably, this arrangement was made by Westgate, himself a Canadian. [10]

Cross-cultural communication was not the only challenge indigenous workers faced. They often gave up their properties for the sake of mission just as men and women crossing national frontiers for missionary service overseas did. Danieli Mbogo wrote painfully about his transfer from Kongwa in 1908 to Buigiri, nearly 40 miles away:

Nilikuwa na uchungu kuacha shamba langu. Nilikuwa nimekwisha kupanda mbegu shamba kubwa, tena sikuweza kuchukua uhemba wangu mutama wangu. Ule mtama niligawa kwa ndugu zangu wenyi shida ya njaa, shamba niliuza nikapewa sh. 1.50 basi, nikakaza wito wangu niende niwasaidie watu wa Buigiri. [11]


I found it painful to leave my cultivated plot. I had already sowed seed on a large plot, and I did not take my sorghum. I gave away that sorghum to brethren who had been hit by famine. I sold the cultivated plot and got 1.50 shillings and focused on my calling to go and help the people of Buigiri. [12]

The sorghum that Mbogo is referring to must have been from the previous harvest, and not from the plot he just cultivated for the new planting season, which he sold. Many parts of Ugogo including Kongwa suffered numerous famines owing to poor climatic conditions. Kongwa was no exception, and from this writer’s first hand knowledge of the place,[13] the decision to distribute one’s food reserves, and forsake a cultivated plot was a brave and generous one indeed. It was brave because Mbogo had to start life midway the planting season at a new location where the climatic conditions were equally unfavourable. Had it not been that part of his financial support now came from Canada, one might have concluded that Mbogo faced an uncertain future at Buigiri because at the time, many teachers working under the CMS mission received less than twelve rupees (96 pence).

Nevertheless, one fact remains: Mbogo was dedicated to his work. He became indispensable in mission work. Already, as has been noted, two CMS missionaries (Doulton and Westgate) felt comfortable to work with him in new environments. One only has to remember how he helped Westgate out of a potentially explosive situation at Lindi when they encountered opposition from a Benedictine mission teacher. [14] His indispensability may be illustrated further. There were other teachers at Buigiri at the time of Mbogo’s arrival-Yohana Malecela, Yakobo Kongowa, and Isaka Kibolyani (variant Chibolyani).[15] Danieli Mbogo’s main tasks were to teach at the school, and do evangelistic work at other villages, for example Mukwala, Ipala lya Nhambo, Nghoha, Maduma, and Finga (variant Ifinga). [16] In 1912, the re-arrangement of teachers in Buigiri district took place as follows. Yohana Malecela who had been there since 1901 when the station was opened, was transferred to Ihumwa. Andrea Kanyanka (a Kaguru missionary to Ugogo who first worked under Andrea Mwaka at Chamuhawi) went to Dodoma.[17] Yohana Meda was sent to Msamalo, and Isaka Kibolyani and Yakobo Kongowa were posted to Hombolo and Finga respectively. Yoshua Madungh’u and Yeremia Chiligati went to Solowa, while Ebeneza Mulilo and Yona Mbogoni were posted to Lindi and Nzasa respectively. [18]

But Danieli Mbogo remained at the main mission station at Buigiri, and was put in charge of junior workers known at the time as “helpers” such as Nehemiya Masing’oti and Mudachi. In the same year (1912) a school was built at Buigiri, which according to Danieli Mbogo, “many” pupils attended. In 1908 (the year Mbogo had moved there) Buigiri district had 172 [19] scholars. There were now 2646 scholars in the district, spread over some fifteen outstations with some 80 schools and preaching places where the people were taught, and the gospel was preached. [20] His encouragement to the junior teachers he visited in the outstations, especially at a time when competition between the CMS mission and the Benedictines had just started, could be one of the reasons why good results were obtained in the district as a whole.

In 1913 Thomas Westgate went to Kongwa to start the construction of a college for church teachers. The first college intake in January 1914 [21] comprised thirteen senior teachers from various places in the mission. But Danieli Mbogo was not one of them because work at the Buigiri station school depended on him. It is around this time when he was described in a report on the mission work in Ugogo as “an exceedingly intelligent young man, and of great promise.” [22] There is little doubt that Danieli Mbogo’s contribution made the difference at Buigiri where he served as a missionary and teacher before his ordination. After the war, he joined the college in 1922 and trained until 1923. He returned to college in April 1932 [23] to train as a certified teacher qualified to teach at a registered school, but his training was cut short so that he could be ordained. His ordination took place on 29 June 1932. He was made a priest on 16 July 1933 on a historic day for the Diocese of Central Tanganyika–the day Andrea Mwaka was made a canon of the diocese.

Though beyond the timeline of this study, a complement made by deaconess Louise Wilmot (one of the CMS missionaries at Mpwapwa) shows how Mbogo-then the local pastor-was successful in his pastoral work:

The Rev Danyeli Mboga [Mbogo] is a true shepherd to the people. Our success in the Church is due to him. He is a good visitor, understands people, is patient and reverent. He has been a blessing to me and a great help.[24]

This quote makes it clear that Mbogo was a reliable companion. This quality, together with his dedication to his missionary calling, are of significant importance in his legacy. He was appointed canon in 1946, and after serving in several parishes, he retired in 1959. Danieli Mbogo died in 1961. [25]

Raphael Mwita Akiri


  1. Ibrahimu Mbogo was a famous builder who was employed by the CMS mission, and became a foreman during the construction of the three major stations: Mvumi (1901), Buigiri (1902), Kongwa college (1913). See Dan Mbogoni, oral interview, 11/6/1997.

  2. Clergy Register, CMS Mission and DCT, 1913 onwards.

  3. This is the date written in the Clergy Register. Danieli Mbogo’s diary has 1885 as the baptism date (entered by pencil, rather than ink, perhaps by himself, but possibly by another person later). See Danieli Mbogo, personal diary.

  4. Danieli Mbogo, personal diary.

  5. Translation by this writer.

  6. Yakobo Mbogo, oral interview, 30/6/1997.

  7. Mpwapwa was deprived of its status as a mission station since 1906, and thereafter was used as an outstation along with Chamuhawi. It re-opened in 1921, and reclaimed its status as a mission station. See Rees to Baylis, 3/8/19106, G3 A8/0/1906/54; Proceedings of the Church Missionary for Africa and the East (PCMS), 1907, 77; PCMS, 1922, 34.

  8. See Appendix 3 for Madari’s photograph and some notes about his ministry.

  9. Yakobo Mbogo, oral interview, 30/6/1997.

  10. See Minutes, Executive Committee of the CMS Mission (EC), 24-25 /11/1908, G3 A8/0/1909/1.

  11. Danieli Mbogo, personal diary.

  12. Translation by the writer.

  13. This writer did a three-year pre-ordination theological training at St. Philips’ College at Kongwa from 1982-1985.

  14. Roman Catholic missions arrived in the area after the CMS and there was much rivalry between the two.

  15. Isaka’s surname “Kibolyani” could also be spelt as “Kiboriani,” or “Kiboryani.”

  16. Dan Mbogoni, oral interview, 11/6/1997.

  17. Andrea Kanyanka was probably sent to Dodoma because of his good communication skills. In 1911, Doulton praised him saying, “Andrea Kanyanka who promises to be most valuable man and is well worth teaching; he formerly worked as a teacher at Mamboya …. Andrea Kanyanka can preach effectively the gospel in four languages viz. Kiswahili, Chigogo, Kimegi and Kinyamwezi, so his possibility for usefulness in the service of Christ is very great.” See Doulton to Baylis, 21/11/1910, G3 A8/0/1910/83.

  18. Danieli Mbogo, personal diary.

  19. See statistical table, PCMS, 1909, 60.

  20. Church Missionary Review (CMR), Vol. LXV, September 1914, 550.

  21. PCMS, 1914, 61.

  22. CMR, Vol. LXV, September 1914, 550.

  23. Danieli Mbogo, personal diary.

  24. CTDL, No. 37, October 1937, 16.

  25. Yakobo Mbogo, oral interview, 30/6/1997.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from “The Growth of Christianity in Ugogo and Ukaguru (Central Tanzania): A Socio-Historical Analysis of the Role of Indigenous Agents 1876-1933,” unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of Edinburgh, 1999) by Raphael Mwita Akiri.