Msinjili, Tulinawo Luhomano
Tulinawo Luhomano Msinjili was born on November 25, 1924 at Mpela, Mbozi District in Tanzania, a Nyiha by tribe. His father, Luhomano Msinjili, was an evangelist. His mother’s name was Mwazile Nankonde.
Tulinawo Msinjili attended a Tetiteti school where the language of instruction was Nyiha. He learned how to read and write and studied Rufingwa (Old Testament) and Utestament Umupwa (New Testament). He married Nseva Nambeye and they had several children: John, Anton, Anna, Seth, Rehema, Alinaswe, and Geschenk.
In 1944 he went to Rungwe Middle School but in 1945 his studies were interrupted by World War II. In the early 1950s, he moved from Mpela to Halambo village where he became a teacher at Hampangala Primary School. He was also a church elder. Later, he was selected by the Mbozi church elders’ council to study at Utengule Bible School in 1956. After that he studied at St. Philip’s Theological College, Kongwa from 1956 to 1958. After finishing his studies, he was given a teacher’s position at Utengule Bible School. He was ordained a pastor in 1958.
In 1960, Msinjli was elected provincial secretary of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanganyika. He was among the church leaders who celebrated the independence of Tanganyika at Tukuyu on December 9, 1961. In 1968 he became the provincial assistant and worked at the headquarters at Mbeya. He was an overseer and assisted the executive committee of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania in the districts of Mbeya, Chunya, and Mbozi. This area of Southwest Tanzania was in one way or another under the oversight of the provincial assistant during the preparatory period before becoming a province. At the synod of 1970, he was not re-appointed provincial assistant but was assigned to work at the Chunya congregation and then was transferred to the Tukuyu congregation. In 1974, he was elected in absentia provincial vice chairman of the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania.
In October 1976, the Province of Southern Tanzania was divided. One part remained the Moravian Church in Southern Tanzania with its headquarters at Rungwe and the other part became the Moravian Church in Southwest Tanzania and had its headquarters at Mbeya. The Moravian Church in Southwest Tanzania officially started with its first synod at Utengule on December 17, 1976. Msinjili was elected the first provincial chairman of the Moravian Church in Southwest Tanzania.
As the first chairman, Msinjili had a lot of work to do in order to develop the new province. He visited congregations where he preached and taught about the importance of self-reliance, tithing, and contributing 50% of the congregation’s income to the central fund of the province. He also taught about evangelism and more generally how to take care of the new province. Another one of his initiatives was to start new congregations. Whereas at the beginning of his tenure, the province had fifty-two congregations, by the time he left office in 1988, this number had grown to seventy-eight. He chaired provincial meetings for ordinary routine and emergency meetings if any significant need arose before the next scheduled meeting. Furthermore, he had good contacts with the mission board of the European Continental Province headquartered at Bad Boll in Germany. They supported him morally and financially to such an extent that the province received both subsidies and construction funds. The construction funds were used to build three executive houses and three office buildings.
Msinjili was re-elected provincial chairman in 1980. Although he was a good administrator, during this period he had a serious problem involving his nephew Mwamlima, a pastor at Mbeya town congregation. Even though the provincial board had ordered Mwamlima’s transfer to Utengule and then later to Santilya, he had refused to comply with their decisions. Instead he remained at the Mbeya congregation which seceded from the provincial jurisdiction. This was a difficult time for Msinjili but he remained courageous and patient and God helped him to lead the province.
In 1984, he was re-elected for a third term. During this period another problem arose caused by an illegal meeting at Mbalizi in 1985. At this meeting, members from various congregations demanded that Msinjili resign as provincial chairman on the grounds that they had not been in favor of his 1984 re-election and did not recognize him as chairman. At their meeting the provincial board advised Msinjili not to heed the statements issued by this illegal gathering. Consequently he continued working without paying attention to this group and Mwamlima’s who later combined their efforts.
After losing the election to Malambugi in 1988, Msinjili left office and decided to retire. But the problems of Mbeya Town congregation with Mwamlima and the Mbalizi group were not solved and they continued under Malambugi’s leadership. The government intervened in 1993 when Hon. Lyatonga Mrema, who was minister of Home Affairs at that time gave Mwamlima seven days to evacuate the church’s premises. He complied and that was the end of the conflict.
Generally speaking, Msinjili was gentle, kind, and decent. He stood by his principles and obeyed decisions handed down to him from the synod or the provincial board. He was a good administrator because he followed the church constitution. Due to his strict compliance with rules and decisions, he made many friends but also many enemies.
Msinjli often insisted that as the people of God we must not forget that we are sinners. We need the love and mercy of God. He also believed that getting into heaven and receiving eternal life was not a result of personal merit but of grace in Jesus Christ. One noteworthy thing about Msinjili is that often he did not feel he had accomplished anything worthy of appreciation.
Msinjili died on September 16, 1995 at Mbeya Referral Hospital and was buried on September 19, 1995 on the premises of the headquarters of the Moravian Church in Tanzania, Southwest Province.
Angolwisye I. Malambugi
Author’s Note: I got to know Msinjili in 1969 when he was provincial assistant. Later, when he was chairman of Southwest Province, I worked with him as a parish pastor, principal of Utengule Bible College, and provincial vice-chairman. I then succeeded him as chairman of the Moravian Church, Southwest Province in 1988.
Menard Sikana, 83 years old, interviewed by J. Munkodya at Old Vwawa, Mbozi District on July 2006 while a student at Teofilo Kisanji University.
William Mwakikato, 73 years old, interviewed by the author at Iwambi, Mbeya city, July 2006.
Antony T. Msinjili, 59 years old, son of T. Msinjili, interviewed by the author at Dar es Salaam University, November 2006.
Mrs. Elizabeth A. Malambugi, 58 years old, interview by author at Iwambi, Mbeya city on June 16, 2006.
Nosigwe Buya, 44 years old, provincial vice chairman of the Moravian Church in Tanzania, Southwest Province, who answered the questionnaire on December 19, 2006.
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.