Munwigili Kitundu, Elias
Elias Munwigili was born at Kinalilya, Iramba in the Singida Region. He and his parents moved from Singida to Italelyambiji, Maswa Shinyanga when the area experienced a great famine at the end of World War I in 1918.
In 1921, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior in Nyida, Lohumbo, under the evangelist Yusufu Shija. A year later he left Nyida to attend school in Kolandoto. He was brought up spiritually under the supervision of Ibrahimu Milyango and Miss Thompson, who arrived accompanied by “Nangi” Maynard from the U.S.A.
From 1924 to 1929, Munwigili attended classes and achieved standard VI level. In 1930, he went to the Kolandoto Nurses’ Training Center to take a nursing course, which he didn’t complete due to a problem with his eyes. After a year of eye treatments, he went to the Caddie Davis Training School for a Teachers’ Training course.
In 1931, Africa Inland Mission (AIM) employed him as a teacher at Kolandoto Primary School. The following year, he married Esther Kweji Daniel Mayunga of Kolandoto, Shinyanga. They were blessed with eleven children: Flora, Martin, Daudi, Ibrahimu, Raheli, Elizabeth, Marble, Rabecca Kulwa, Joyce Dotto, Charles and Jorgensen.
After his Bible training in the Kijima Bible School in 1935, the administration sent him to Ng’wadanga, Shinyanga as an evangelist. He worked there hand in hand with Miss Thompson, planting churches, some of which are: Ikonda, Somagedi, Ishinabulandi, Mihama, and Shagihilu. In 1936, the Field Council of AIM transferred him to Katunguru to be head teacher of Aggrey Preparatory School (APS), a school founded by Mr. William Jestor to help the nationals academically. Munwigili worked there with Mr. Moore and Pastor Reach Dilworth. He was also the head teacher of Ng’wataga, before the school was taken over by the government of Tanzania in 1967.
On December 7, 1969, he was ordained a pastor of Africa Inland Church Tanzania (AICT) and the leadership sent him to Mihama, where he worked until his retirement in 1978.
In spite of his age, he is still preaching, is able to read without glasses, and regularly attends Sunday services at Matanda Local Church in Shinyanga. His wife Esther was called to rest in the Peaceful Land in 1992, at age 81. Munwigili will be remembered for his love for Wanyiramba. Every year, he pays a visit to Iramba to testify to the love of God for the lost ones. The names of some of the places where he evangelized and planted churches in Iramba are Ishayi, Nyahaa and Ibaga.
Rev. Elias Munwigili, interview by the author, January 2003, in Matanda, Shinyanga.
Writings by D. N. M. Nghosha from the headquarters of AICT in Mwanza.
This article, submitted in 2003, was written by Rev. Joseph N. Gisayi, 2003-2004 Project Luke fellow, a minister in the AICT for the past twenty-four years, as well as a member of the Africa Inland Executive Council and chairperson of the AICT Mission and Evangelism Department. This article was reviewed and approved by AICT bishop Peter Kitula, David N. M. Nghosha, historian of the Africa Inland Church Tanzania and by Stephen Kapongo, coordinator of AICT Department of Mission and Evangelism.