Petro Kime Risase, a Pare (Asu), was born between 1888 and 1891, at Kihurio, South Pare Mountains, Tanzania. He was the third Tanzanian to be ordained as a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was an important spiritual leader among Adventists in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.
His parents lived at Kihurio-Mareti, and his father manufactured beds in this economically active community, which is located on an old caravan route at the foot of the Pare Mountains. When Seventh-day Adventists opened a mission at Kihurio in 1905, the second station in the country, he was among the first pupils to attend school. At the same time, he served as missionary Ernst Kotz’s house boy and soon also worked as his language and translation assistant. Risase was baptized in 1909 at Mamba-Giti (then called Friedenstal Mission Station, the first Adventist station established in Tanzania in 1903), and his sister Rebekka married Petro Mlungwana, another early convert and Pare church leader of the first generation.
After working as a secretary for the mission for a short time, Risase became a teacher in 1910. Subsequently, he taught at the schools in Giti and Vunta, both located in his native South Pare Mountains. In 1914, he worked as a full-time assistant to Ernst Kotz translating the New Testament into Pare (Asu) and personally typed the whole manuscript.
In 1912 he had married Maria, the daughter of a chief called Kantu. Maria gave birth to a baby girl they named Anna, but both died shortly after Anna was born. During World War I, Risase and several of his teacher colleagues were interned at Lushoto for two months after which they were released and could continue encouraging the flock of about 250 Christians in South Pare. After the war, Risase served as a teacher at Kihurio, Mkomazi, and Bendera. In 1919 he married Naetwe.
In 1927, he was called to accompany missionary Spencer Maxwell to the first permanent Adventist venture in Uganda, Nchwanga Mission. From there he was assigned to Mityana Mission, also in Uganda, with Abrahamu and Raheli Msangi, their fellow Pare missionaries, from 1928 to 1931. Fifteen individuals were baptized as a result of their efforts there. From 1931 onward, he worked at Kampala with missionary Valdemar Toppenberg. In that area, Adventist evangelism was most successful on the villages outside the town. In 1934, after being ordained as a pastor, he opened an Adventist mission at Changamwe, a little distance inland from Mombasa island, together with missionary W. C. Raitt. Risase founded the Chonyi, Paziani, and Singwaya congregations and baptized many people. In 1942, he returned to Suji, but life in the cold mountains had become hard for him. As a result, he worked at his native Kihurio, a relatively warm place located in the plains adjacent to the mountains from 1945 to 1949. He died at Kihurio on December 7, 1982, leaving behind eleven of his fourteen children and his wife.
With several other early Tanzanian Adventists who also served as missionaries to other regions in Tanzania and beyond, Petro Risase represents the first generation of Tanzanian Adventist leaders and the missionary vigor that flowed out of the youthful congregations of South Pare.
Articles by Petro Risase:
Petro Risase, “Petro Risase,” Adventbote, Vol. 44/18 (1938), p. 287.
Kotz, Ernst, “Negerbriefe,” Adventbote in der Heidenwelt, Vol. 7/4 (1921), p. 30. [Includes one of Petro Risase’s letters]
Elineema, K. B. Historia ya Kanisa la Waadventista Wasabato Tanzania, 1903-1993. Dar es Salaam: By the Author, 1993.
Höschele, Stefan. “Christian Remnant - African Folk Church: The History of Seventh-Day Adventism in Tanzania, 1903-1980.” Ph.D. diss., University of Malawi, 2005.
Kime, Godson Petro. “Maisha ya Petro Risase,” ms., n.d. [Short manuscript about “The Life of Petro Risase” by his son, written in the 1970s or 1980s.]
Seventh-Day Adventist Church: 75 Years in Northeast Tanzania, 1903-1978. Morogoro: Tanzania Adventist Press, 1978.
Mauya, Nikundiwe N. “Taarifa ya Wainjilisti Wapare toka 1913-1953,” ms., , file “Various Correspondence, 1954-1960,” Suji Materials, located at North-East Tanzania Conference, Same (Tanzania). [Short notes about African Adventist missionaries from Pare to other regions]
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).