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HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ZANZIBAR

The Missionaries Move Inland:
When the Holy Ghost missionaries moved the short distance across the water to
Bagamoyo on the mainland in 1868. the center of missionary activity moved also. Only vestiges of that early attempt are still visible but Christianity remained up to the present.

The One Hundred Year Interim:
While not isolated, yet the geographical position of the islands that make up Zanzibarlargely accounts for its very slow response to a changing world. A still stronger factor lies in the strong religious motives of the Muslim people. Germans before World War I and the British until Independence in 1963 did not have much influence on the life of Zanzibaris.The Church merely maintained its presence, coming under the Prefecture of Kilimanjaro, later under Mombasa. and then under the Archdiocese of Dar-es-Salaam with a Vicar here on the island. In 1963. it came under the Diocese of Morogoro until 1973 when it became an Apostolic Administration of Zanzibar and Pemba, and Msgr. Bernard M. Ngaviliau, C.S.Sp., appointed as the Apostolic Administrator. It became a full Diocese in 1980, and Bishop Bernard M. Ngaviliau, C.S.Sp., became the first Resident Bishop, on 5th June 1980. During this time the Church was tolerated in a culture that continues to be Arabic in nature and Islamic in religion.

Winds of Change:
All over Africa the indigenous peoples were becoming aware of the move for
independence from the colonial powers in Europe: Belgium Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal. They wanted to rule their own countries. Tanganyika gained its independence from Britain in 1961 and the next year so did Kenya. The change of rule affected the influence of the missionaries in every aspect of evangelization since they were identified with the foreign powers. Both were white and the Africans did not distinguish. To them the ministries of religion and government were the same and in fact, some missionaries were paid by colonial governments and served political interests.

 

 

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