The Matumbi of Tanzania
Location and Background: South Eastern Tanzania.The Matumbu live on the South-eastern coastal delta area between the Rufuji River and Kilwa and from the Indian Ocean to the Matumbi Hills.
History: The Matumbi believe they have been in their present area for about 700-800 years. Before that they reportedly made their way northeast from what is now Malawi. They came under the influence of Muslim traders and many converted to Islam. German colonists arrived in Tanganyika in 1885, and forced many to be slaves. In 1905-1906 the Matumbi staged a major rebellion against the German colonial rulers, called the Maji-Mai Rebellion. The Germans eventually put down the rebellion in 1907, at a great loss of life among the African tribal peoples. After the Germans lost World War I, the British colonized Tanzania. With the coming of independence, the first President, Julius Nyerere, strongly emphasized that Tanzania was a unified country. All peoples were to learn and speak Kiswahili with the use of tribal languages discouraged and today, Kiswahili is widely spoken among the Matumbi people.
Culture: They are of Bantu origin, closely related to the Ndengereko and Rufiji. They are described as having an independent spirit and are proud and honest. Many Matumbi are forest dwellers. They use herbal remedies and have knowledge of about 200 medicinal native plants. Most Matumbi people live in small villages, doing subsistence farming and agriculture. Some are fishermen along the Rufiji River. Others own small shops along the main highway. Most build huts of pole and stick frame with mud wattle for the walls. Roofs are made of thatched palm leaf. If finances permit, some will plaster the inside and outside of the house walls with cement and put in a cement floor. The Matumbi Caves in the Matumbi Hills were an important hideaway for local rebel troops during the Maji Maji revolution. The most impressive cave, Nangoma, is revered locally for housing an important deity, and its name probably derives from the Swahili ngoma – dance – suggesting a history of use for ritual celebrations and worship. Matumbi children are expected to attend government primary schools, located in major villages.
Religion: Islam and Folk Islam. Ancestor worship, Islam, spiritism and superstition are all part of present-day Matumbi culture and religion.
Ask the Lord to lift the veil from the eyes of the Matumbi, that they could proclaim, “And we have seen and testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14)
Latest Prayer Updates:
The Catalyst team met again two weeks ago. They made plans to start training others from within the groups to go out to nine other villages with the goal of sharing the Gospel and starting new discipleship groups. Three other Matumbi men will be joining the next Catalyst team meeting in January, who have shown leadership potential and who attended the discipleship trainings we facilitated. We hope to be able to provide ongoing encouragement, accountability, and training/coaching for them. Please pray for Augustine as he leads these meetings for the next few months.
We heard some discouraging news that the 4 denominational churches have stopped meeting together for prayer. Pray for the unity of the local churches to be strengthened again and for these church leaders to be instruments to unite the Body of Christ instead of dividing it.